August 24, 2022

Rector’s eNews – 24 August 2022

/ Rector's eNews

You will notice that this week’s eNews is not quite the “bumper edition” which you received before half-term, principally because your sons have been at home over the last number of days and only returned to Michaelhouse on Monday evening. Nevertheless, the days ahead will be extremely busy ones, especially for our A Block who started their trial exams yesterday. These run until the end of the term when there is the Matric Ball to which our senior boys will, undoubtedly, look forward.

The C Block Journey beckons for those who are in that year group and preparation for this is all important in terms of equipment, physical preparation (eg becoming more comfortable on a bicycle) and mental preparation. The C Block Journey is to be led by Mr Ryan Strudwick, Senior Master: Sport, and will begin on Saturday, 10 September. In a sense, this marks a rite of passage for so many of our boys who learn much about themselves in the two weeks in which they are paddling, cycling and walking through some of the most beautiful countryside in South Africa and, indeed, the world.

You will recall that last week I started to discuss the topic of grooming which can occur in schools, in extended families and online. Indeed, in the UK, the experience is that it is more common in extended families and online than in schools, but we need to be alert to all potential opportunities older people may have to groom younger people.

There are some quite simple guidelines as to how to respond to situations and, last week, we covered the topics of what grooming is, types of grooming and signs of grooming. Moving on from this, the following are considered appropriate measures to take by the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children in the UK, an organization which has given South African schools valuable guidance on helpful approaches:

  • If a young person reveals to you as an adult that he/she has been abused, the guidelines are that it is important to listen carefully to what they are saying, confirm that they have done the right thing by telling you, but be careful not to promise complete confidentiality as grooming needs to be reported; one needs to tell young people that you will take them seriously, that it’s not their fault and to explain what you will do next. Thereafter it is important to report what you have been told as soon as possible. In the UK there is a stipulation that this needs to be done within 24 hours and there are specific channels to follow. In South Africa, in most situations, the police are the people to contact.
  • Effects of grooming: grooming can have both short and long-term effects and its impact can last a lifetime regardless of whether it occurred in person, online or both. Young people who have been abused reportedly have difficulty sleeping, are anxious or struggle to concentrate or cope with schoolwork. They may become withdrawn, uncommunicative, angry or upset. They may live with anxiety and depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress, difficulty coping with stress, feelings of shame or guilt which may lead to drug and alcohol problems and also self-harm, suicidal thoughts and general problems in relationships with family and friends.
  • Who is at risk: both boys and girls can be groomed and could be abused by someone they know; this could be a person who commits a one-off act or somebody who builds a relationship with them. Some children are more at risk of grooming: these tend to be vulnerable children who have a greater susceptibility to become dependent on older people who identify them as being less likely to speak out against them.

I will conclude this brief consideration of grooming in the next eNews.

Read the full Rector’s eNews here



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