Home Australia Schools should be strictly liable for sexual abuse by staff, royal commission recommends

Schools should be strictly liable for sexual abuse by staff, royal commission recommends

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Schools could be sued for sexual abuse committed by their staff regardless of whether the school was negligent, under major reforms recommended by the child abuse royal commission.

Children would also be taught from preschool to recognise signs of grooming and protect themselves against sexual abuse or exploitation as part of the school curriculum.

Schools could be sued for sexual abuse committed by their staff regardless of whether the school was negligent, under major reforms recommended by the child abuse royal commission.

Children would also be taught from preschool to recognise signs of grooming and protect themselves against sexual abuse or exploitation as part of the school curriculum.

It found three-quarters of school abuse survivors were male, and the first instances of abuse commonly occurred between 10 and 14, especially among girls. A quarter of those who reported abuse at school said they suffered academic difficulties as a result.

Of those who identified their abuser as an adult, 96.2 per cent of those adults were male, more than half were teachers and four in 10 were in religious ministry. Of those abused at private schools, almost three-quarters were at Catholic schools.

The report also expressed concern about “clusters” of perpetrators acting together, such as The Hutchins School in Tasmania, where a group of alleged abusers led by headmaster David Lawrence acted in the 1960s.

Over five years, the commission examined specific allegations of abuse at schools including Knox Grammar in Sydney, the Marist Brothers colleges, Geelong Grammar and many others, often pointing the finger at the schools’ “ineffective leadership”.

Former Knox Grammar headmaster Ian Paterson covered up abuse allegations and deliberately withheld information from police, an earlier report found.

Boys’ boarding schools were at high risk, partly due to “poor institutional cultures such as strong hierarchies and allegiance to the institution”, Friday’s report concluded.

Former Knox Grammar headmaster Ian Paterson covered up abuse allegations and deliberately withheld information from police, an earlier report found.

Boys’ boarding schools were at high risk, partly due to “poor institutional cultures such as strong hierarchies and allegiance to the institution”, Friday’s report concluded.

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