Truth and Reconciliation? #MeToo
By responding promptly, equitably, and transparently when incidents of misconduct came to their attention, [some schools] were able to help victims find restitution and healing and strengthen the long-term health and resilience of the school.
(from the National Association of Independent Schools)
I went for a walk today. There were flyers distributed in the neighborhood of Saint David’s School this morning. As I was reading one, I noticed a man taking pictures of me with his phone.
I asked him, “Why are you taking pictures of me as I’m reading this flyer about Saint David’s?”
“Oh, no! I’m just reading my email!” he replied, and hurried away.
Ironically, he was taking pictures of me in front of an envelope that had been ripped open on a light pole overhanging Fifth Avenue, on which other apropos stickers were applied. The flyers had all been removed, too, it appeared. I had the last one.
Who is this dapper character? Anyone know?
Saint David’s and this man appear to have forgotten that the issue facing the school is a moral one involving the safety of children.
You may see flyers in the Saint David’s neighborhood and be disturbed by them, and think they are motivated by anger, or money, but I would urge you to understand that deep sadness and disappointment and the feeling of betrayal is what must be behind them.
On every count so far, the school has been dismissive of men who were sexually abused there in the past.
In so doing, the school also acts in direct opposition to its mission, which includes the statement, “Boys are taught to respect and learn from all religious traditions, to recognize their own capacity for spiritual experience, and to develop strong moral values ... Saint David's is a true community, known for its sense of family, compassion and kindness.”
Saint David’s tactics in replying to allegations of rape also fly in the face – and this is frankly unbelievable – of all of the good practice recommendations of the National Association of Independent Schools, which in 2018 published Prevention and Response: Recommendations for Independent School Leaders from the Independent School Task Force on Educator Sexual Misconduct.
It is the clear responsibility of each school to act unfailingly on its commitment to provide a safe learning environment for students and, if an incident of abuse occurs at the school, to help victims and survivors. Recent years have seen a shift in the public nature of institutional responses to historical allegations of abuse.
Open and transparent approaches that reflect care, acknowledge responsibility, offer apology, share information, and take remedial action are becoming more commonplace.
Schools that honestly and openly confront abuse are the standard-bearers for the independent school community.
As recent headlines have shown, individuals who perpetrate sexual misconduct, as well as those who fail in their obligations to address misconduct, can cast a long shadow on the lives of those affected — and their school communities.
Show alumni how the school is making student safety a priority. In cases of past abuse, for example, alumni may be angry with the institution, but often the way present-day school administrators handle allegations of abuse can mitigate harm done in the past.
A school’s commitment to helping survivors should continue after any investigation has been concluded. Continue to ask survivors how the school can help them.
Instead, Saint David’s has sadly fallen into the trap of defensiveness, silence, and re-victimization of alumni. The NAIS addresses this problem too:
However, some schools have responded to incidents of educator sexual misconduct in ways that have further harmed survivors and failed to protect future students from abuse ... misguided concern about community disruption; the reputation of the school, the abuser, or the abused; or personal loyalties — among other considerations — took precedence over caring for victims, protecting students, and preventing future misconduct.
Several schools have compounded survivors’ injuries — and their own institutional challenges — by failing to understand the expectations of students, parents, alumni, and local community members.
As a result, school reputation and financial well-being — crucial to effectively serving the current and future students to which schools are likewise answerable — experienced collateral damage.
With several $20 million lawsuits pending against Saint David’s, the “collateral damage” referenced by the NAIS will have long-lasting effects.
During a pandemic, one would hope that people would know and trust their family. Let us pray that this can be reversed. It’s never too late.
In the meantime, the NAIS should revoke Saint David's membership and alumni should cease making any kind of donation to the school that refuses to take action against alleged and charged child rapists at 12 East 89th Street.
Present and former teachers should come forward and tell the world what they know.
Call the school and tell them what you think.
There is NO excuse for not supporting victims of child sexual abuse.
Disclaimer: I receive no compensation from anyone for any of these writings. This blog is self-maintained without funding from any source related to the issues above.