The convicted sexual predator is already in jail, since 2002. News reports from abroad begin to surface how this sexual predator assaulted a student from your school, but their tenure at your school was 30 years ago. What dilemma does this pose for you as a school leader? The appropriate reaction and response is to identify additional victims from that period and investigate what role you can play in helping them.
The Japan Times reported just such a case, Tokyo-based international school reaches out to alumni after ex-teacher jailed for sex abuse. The Headmaster of Nishimachi International School, Mr. Christian, took a very interesting and original step in dealing with the school’s past, especially since his school is based in Japan, where discretion reigns supreme. I am assuming The Japan Times got involved because Mr. Christian’s email got leaked to the paper, which would be unfortunate. However, using the media should have been part of the communications and due diligence plan.
I personally believe its the right step, when careful consideration and planning are involved, to alert the wider community, especially after so many years. I pray there are no more victims, but if there are, part of healing is confronting the past. Also, if there is a way to keep Richard Biddick behind bars and help victims get closure, then Mr. Christian is in an excellent position to facilitate that process.
Its important to realize that as educators, our responsibility to students and the community does not begin and end with each school year. An argument similar to the one I made in my last article about inclusion holds true here. Schools are an integral part of the community, and International Schools especially should be held to this standard. The task for International Schools to connect with and stay connected with it’s staffs and families is much more difficult, but as this article highlights, the ability to stay connected is immensely important.
If you are a head of school and your school doesn’t have an Alumni network, especially one that is actively tracking alumni from the schools inception, then you need to begin working on it ASAP. This case demonstrates an example of how the network is used for crisis management, but there are also numerous benefits for far more positive purposes.
Additionally, for those schools debating how to deal with educating staff and the community about sexual predation, I have an excellent resource for you, http://www.ministrysafe.com
I recently facilitated a Conflict Resolution workshop at Concordia International School of Shanghai. Prior to my arrival to the school I got an email from Ministry Safe asking me to completer a series of online learning modules related to identifying and managing circumstances where concerns about sexual abuse may occur.
Although the company is Christian based, I found the videos quite secular in content. I believe they do have a secular version of this product as well.