Sunday, September 25, 2016

Teacher Sex Scandal

By Stephen Wilson

Moscow, Russia --  "Frankly speaking, I did not believe until the end the veracity of the accusations, when it was heard from a member of a teacher of our collective. I considered it basic blackmail and emotional fantasy. Time has shown that I should have acted on those signals promptly and severly,  and an investigation begun by protective legal organs, now I accept the truth. There is no doubt that the main victims were children drawn into forbidden relationships - they have suffered difficult treatable traumas. I feel an oppressive feeling of guilt for this immoral behaviour. I offer my         personal apology to everyone who has suffered from this case."

                We will uncover a full picture of what happened, where each person will accept responsibility - morally, humanely and legally, declared the director of school number 57 in Moscow, Sergei Mendelevich, who had resigned, only to be ordered to remain in his post, and then dismissed by the Education authorities, thus betraying a degree of         uncertainty about how best to react to recent events.

                The apology was  made as rising allegations of teacher abuse were  openly published by former school students on Internet sites such as facebook .

                 Those allegations are not just being made by one ex-student but numerous students, many  who don't even know each other.

                 The allegations have stunned parents, pupils and school teachers at School 57. The first reaction was disbelief, shock , and then anger.

                 It has led to a split in opinion with some officials for believing, others against as well as a petition to reinstate the Director, Sergei Mendelich.

                 School number 57 is not just any school. It is one of the top elite schools in Moscow. The ratings rank it the fourth best school in Moscow. It 's pupils are practically guaranteed access to Moscow's best universities and institutes.

                 The school has a reputation for academic excellence. However , recent revelations have tarnished the reputation of the school. Some people even believe the school might be closed down for good. But with 1000 school
students attending this would surely represent a rash and reckless reaction.

                 The tabloid press have had a field day publishing exerts from facebook in its front pages. It represents just mere lurid entertainment to boost sales.

                 Rumours of sexual misconduct at this school may have been circulating for years. However, they were never taken seriously. They were dismissed as being based on malice, phantasy or just gossip.

                 So what are the accuasations and how were they finally made?

                 A few months ago, a former teacher, Olga Nikolayenko, of school 57 , approached  a teacher Nadia Shapirova about an incident.

                 She informed her that she had heard 19 year old Rivekki  Hershovich inform her she had been the sex victim of a history teacher, Boris Markovich.

                 Olga stated that Rivka had been working as a volunteer at the centre of Adaptation for Teaching Refugee Children, while she had been the director there. She stated : " Once she came to me and told me what had happened to me at school. She told me that she wanted that those events would never in future happen to anyone. And there are more people who are ready to come forward to tell me what happened to them."  The concerned teachers then began their own investigation, consulting lawyers, and gathering the
statements of past victims over the years. In July 2016, they presented the results of their investigation to the director of school. He answered that the evidence was too insufficent  to make a case. Nevertheless, the history teacher was dismissed from his job for ' inexplicable reasons'.

                 In a public statement of Facebook , Rivekka stated: 'Over the last two years , from the beginning of the 11th form, I want  from  all my heart that nothing like this happens to me as it all seems a terrible dream."

                 Rivekka states she kept silent about those painful events because the history teacher told her if she spilled the beans, the school would be closed down.

                 After this public statement, a flood of revelations from ex-pupils arose.

                 The statements not only suggested one teacher but  several who had been working in the school. Statements were written about improper conduct in cinemas, dachas and even of abortions.

                  The teachers who had taken up the defence of the pupils, resigned in disgust at the weak reaction  of the school director over those allegations.

                  It is an indictment of the legal system that school students feel they have to publicise their cases in facebook sites in order to make an impact.

                  I myself have encountered students who came across teachers who refused to let them pass an exam unless they slept with the teacher or paid a bribe. Twenty years ago in Kishinev I met a medical student who told me: "I was told by my teacher, that I would not be allowed to pass the exam unless I slept with him or paid a fine. I chose the latter action." She felt she had no choice but to pay. Many of the victims seem helpless and powerless to take action in their defence. Most students of abuse prefer to forget it and just carry on. It takes great courage to raise those issues. Many of those cases go unpunished . They don't even see the light of day. In some British boarding schools those         incidents could go on for twenty years without anything happening.

                  Clearly a distance between teachers and pupils has to be maintained irrespective of whether school students appear to be adults or are on the threshold of adulthood. Teachers are here  to help not abuse or exploit pupils.  They should never lose sense of the exact  purpose of 
their mission in schools.

                  The school 57 scandal is an unwanted tragedy for all those concerned.

                   It is  avoidable if  teachers keep faith with a wider vision.

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