A headteacher has likened allegations about sexual abuse in schools posted on a victim support website to discovering “the black hole of toxic masculinity”.
In a column for the Times Educational Supplement (TES), Patrick Moriarty, headteacher of the Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS) in Barnet, explored an escalation in the national debate surrounding sexual abuse in schools, which has been largely ignited by anonymous posts on Everyone’s Invited.
Since the website was set up last June, more than 14,000 testimonies of misogyny, harassment, abuse and assault have been submitted by anonymous victims, some as young as age nine and some involving Jewish schools, including JCoSS.
Moriarty wrote: “The phenomenon has brought some of the darkest days I have known as headteacher, and not only because my school is one of those named in some of the testimonies.
“Shame spawns shame, and I wonder how it is that violations unthinkable when I left school 35 years ago are now commonplace, and why, despite decades of legislation and progressive initiatives, things are getting worse, not better.”
He added that all schools must now face questions around how to better support victims, improve communication around consent, manage young people’s relationship with social media, drugs and harming, and prevent the harming of girls “without demonising boys.”
Moriarty praised the “young whistleblowers” while calling on the need for “wise educators”, adding that “truth is complicated, human beings are nuanced, and there are rules about confidentiality, integrity and fairness that we ignore at our peril.”
Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), said the allegations were “very troubling and reflect a worrying degradation in the values of our society,” though he called for a cautious approach.
He said: “It is important not to blow things out of proportion. None of us are immune and we must all be cognisant of the importance of positive relationships, however these stories reflect incidents over an extended period of time.
“Schools in our community already have extensive programming for students on relationship education and these are being reviewed and updated. PaJeS is also working with school leaders, the Metropolitan Police and other communal organisations to ensure an informed and comprehensive response to this issue.
“We are also planning an information evening for parents to take place later this term.”
Last week, Jewish Women’s Aid announced it had reached out to all mainstream Jewish schools in the wake of the allegations on Everyone’s Invited.
CEO Naomi Dickson said: “We can provide expert knowledge and experience of healthy relationships and consent education in Jewish school settings, both for pupils and teachers.
“We are happy to share this expertise and hope to be able to support school communities in developing healthier cultures.”
To contact JWA’s sexual violence support helpline, call 0808 801 0656 or visit www.jwa.org.uk
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