Teachers are employed by the provincial department of education. The department of education in your province is responsible for your safety at school.
The school is required to follow the rules and when the rules are broken, the teacher must be reported to the department of education.
If your teacher sexually abuses you, you should report him or her to the principal. The principal must tell the department of education. If your principal is the one who is sexually abusing you, or if your principal does not report the case to the department of education, you should report the case to the department of education directly. Your family or friends can help you. You can also speak to another teacher who you trust.
Remember: The law says that if a teacher abuses you, the school must report him or her to the department of education.
Teachers and principals at all schools have the responsibility to:
* Check for signs that learners are being sexually abused.
* Tell the principal or the department of education if they think that a learner is being sexually abused by another teacher.
* Make learners feel safe enough to report any type of abuse.
* Help a learner to report sexual abuse to the police or the department of education.
The Department of Education must:
* Appoint an investigating officer to come and investigate your complaint. The investigating officer must listen to you and write down what happened. He or she must talk to all the people who saw, or know about, what happened to you.
* Tell you and the teacher who abused you when and where the disciplinary hearing will be.
* If the department of education has enough evidence to show that the teacher sexually abused you, they must dismiss teacher.
* The department of education is also required to tell the South African Council of Educators to stop the teacher from teaching at other schools as well. This will ensure that you and other children at school will remain safe.
How to report a case to the Education Department
1. You should write a letter to the department of education telling them exactly what happened.
2. The department of education must send someone, called an investigating officer, to collect evidence about what happened and to talk to you. The investigating officer must come to you to talk to you. You can talk at your home or wherever you feel safe.
3. This investigating officer will ask you to tell them everything that happened to you. You can write it down or use pictures to explain what happened. This may be hard but it is very important for the investigating officer to know exactly what happened. Ask someone you trust to be with you to support you.
4. The department of education can suspend the teacher while it investigates the matter. This means that he or she has to stay away from the school.
* The teacher can be suspended for up to three months. This is so that the teacher does not interfere with the investigation and so that you are kept safe while the evidence is being collected.
* While your teacher is away from school, another teacher will teach in his or her place. Remember not to let anyone make you feel bad about this. You are not responsible for your teacher’s job or your teacher’s behaviour.
5. Once the department of education has finished its investigation, the teacher who has been sexually abusing you may be called to a disciplinary hearing. This is similar to a court hearing.
6. At the disciplinary hearing, you will be asked to answer questions about what happened to you. This may be hard but it is important to tell the truth.
7. The teacher who sexually abused you will be there. If you don’t want to be in the same room as the teacher, you can tell your story in a separate room through an intermediary. The people at the disciplinary hearing will see you through a one-way mirror or a video camera and you will be asked to talk into a microphone. If the microphone or video camera is not working, you should ask to come back to give evidence when it is working again.
8. If there is enough evidence to prove that your teacher sexually abused you, the department of education must make the teacher leave the school immediately, and they must ensure that the teacher does not come back to teach at your school or at any other school.
9. If there is not enough evidence to prove that your teacher sexually abused you, the teacher will be allowed to go back to work at your school. If you feel uncomfortable you can transfer to a new school.
How to transfer to another school
1. Your parents should write a letter to the department of education (usually to the person managing the case), explaining the reasons for the transfer and why you are uncomfortable at the school.
2. The department of education must work with your parents to find a new school for you to attend.
3. You will need the following documents:
* your birth certificate;
* your immunization card; and
* a transfer card or your last school report.
The most important thing is that you feel safe. If you don’t have these documents ask the police, a community leader, an NGO or a church leader to help you.