Chris Dawson abused his student a long time ago. But it still happens in our schools

However, in some cases the information only becomes known through the courts many years later. In one example from 2018, a 25-year-old math teacher was jailed for sexual relations with four 17-year-olds he supervised.

A relationship with a girl whom he lured to his home under the pretense of giving after-hours tutors and who saw him as her secret boyfriend ended in failure when she found out he already had a girlfriend.

“It’s stupid enough for me to get involved with a student that I’m still worried about, let alone do it while I still had a girlfriend,” he said, according to court documents. “I’m sorry if it upset you.”

She confided in a friend for whom the information came too late; She was also seduced by the same teacher, even during tutoring. He had kissed and touched her at school, and yet she was the one who told him, “We’re at school, this isn’t right.”

His behavior was only uncovered after a friend of the victim mentioned the rumors to her school counselor.

Another case from 2020 involved a music teacher who forced himself on a 17-year-old student. Even though he was her music teacher, her school-appointed mentor, and 20 years older, he accepted her request to follow her on Instagram.

He invited her to his parents’ house where he lived and made sexual advances, but ignored pleas to stop. “I know you like older men, you have daddy issues,” he told her. The girl’s mother alerted the school, which called the police.

It is not limited to schools. Civil and Administrative Court documents show that a man who ran a tutoring company lost his work with children check after watching porn on the main computer, touching a colleague’s breast and making sexual comments to a student .

The NSW Department of Education annually publishes a list of how many teachers have been dismissed for misconduct and for what offense, but the information is not current. The department has yet to release 2022 data.

Many of them are investigated by the NSW Department of Education’s own investigative unit, which decides whether they should remain employed on the balance of probabilities, but serious cases are referred to police.

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None of these examples indicate how well the case was handled by the schools, the department or the regulator, the Office of the Children’s Guardian. The OCG has not published anything on this topic in the last five years.

Teachers and students, like Dawson’s victims, have sued education authorities such as the NSW Department of Education for mishandling their cases. But these matters are usually resolved through non-disclosure agreements.

Thanks to a web of freedom of information laws and reservations, there is no way to know whether the system is serving victims well unless the victims themselves speak out.

Transparency is key to trust, something that is vital to the over one million parents who send their children to schools in NSW every day. Education authorities should follow the police’s example and inform parents about these incidents in a more timely manner, if only to prove that they are rare and well-handled.

A NSW Education spokesman said statements on criminal charges were a matter for police.

“When media seeks information on specific topics, decisions are made on an individual basis,” he said in a statement.

“The focus is always on the care and protection of children and maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of alleged victims.”

“The department is in contact with everyone involved, including parents and carers. Where appropriate, the department will work with NSW Police to notify school communities of any incidents that may have occurred.”

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Justin Scaccy

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