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Teddy Bear Clinic offers help for Reiger Park High learners traumatised by sex video

Thabo Mohlala

The Teddy Bear Clinic has made contact with Reiger Park High School to assist learners and teachers left traumatised after a video of principal having sex with some learners went viral.

The clinic’s director, Shaheda Omar, yesterday told Inside Education they would provide support for learners to enable them to overcome the shock brought about by the incident.  The clinic also provided counselling to the 87 learners who were molested at AB Xuma Primary School in Orlando Soweto in October last year.

The Gauteng education MEC yesterday removed three more teachers allegedly involved in the video saga. The Principal also resigned. Although it was later discovered the principal left the system already, Lesufi said he would report him to the South African Council of Educators.

“We will employ a wide range of intervention strategies to assist the learners to get through the effects of this traumatic experience. We will be working with learners on an individual basis and then in group sessions. Our intervention also encompasses creating awareness among the learners about appropriate behaviour, how to report abuse; what is an acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and the reporting mechanisms. The whole idea is to enable the learners to get the right support that they deserve because it is part of our duty to ensure children are protected,” said Omar.

Speaking about the progress at AB Xuma Primary School, Omar said there was a lot of progress and that learners also responded well to their interventions.

Omar said they used widespread intervention techniques to ensure learners affected by the abuse, including those who were not, also benefit from the sessions.

“[At AB Xuma]We also used the one-on-one approach as well as group sessions to help learners deal better with the pain. The initial response we received from the learners was a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. But if we look at where they were then and where they are now, I must say they showed a great deal of improvement. We feel they have been empowered and given a voice; a platform they can use in future to report any incident of abuse,” said Omar.

She said they also worked with teachers through their ‘Educators’ Training Programme’ aimed at empowering them on what to do when they noticed abuse. Omar said she noticed during her interactions with most teachers that they had no clue what to do in such a situation.

“We remind them that reporting these incidents is part of their responsibility and we also share with them reporting mechanisms and procedures. But others may be aware of incidences of abuse but may decide not to stick their necks out in terms of reporting the matter for fear of reprisals,” Omar said.

She said it was crucial that both teachers and learners were in a position to not only identify abuse but to also understand procedures to be followed. Omar said the clinic was always proactive and worked closely with schools throughout the year to raise awareness about issues of abuse.

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