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School Silence Puts Students At Risk

STUDENTS at Walkerville Primary School were placed at risk of a sexual attack after the school failed to inform parents of an indecent assault on one of its pupils, angry parents claim.
The school came under attack yesterday after it was revealed it did not contact parents or send a letter from the police home with students following the incident on Tuesday morning.
Police said the female student was approached on Stephen Tce by a male who grabbed her ankle and attempted to lift her skirt while walking to school.
Carene, mother of fellow student Hannah, 12, was "shocked and disappointed" the school failed to inform her of the incident.
"My daughter rode (her bike) home on her own and she was pretty upset and frightened," she said.
"There's no way I would have let her ride home on her own if I'd known, I would have gone and collected her. You just dont know what could happen.
"My daughter saw the girl who was assaulted come into the school grounds, and she was quite hysterical." She said it was a "joke" that other schools in the area sent the police letter to parents but the school in which its own student was assaulted did not.
"Parents should have been given the opportunity to know straight away," she said. "It's exactly like the girls down south - the issue is that the public weren't informed until later.
"They had the opportunity to send the letter home on Tuesday but they gave no excuse for not."
She said she only received a letter about the assault from the school yesterday afternoon.
Chief Inspector Peter Anderson, of Holden Hill police- said the letter was faxed to eight schools in the area of the assault on Tuesday. "Walkerville was certainly provided with the fax message detailing the circumstances, for the information of staff and parents," he said.
"I would have thought that the school would certainly make their staff aware and would give serious consideration to relaying that information to parents.
"You would think the school would be concerned about the safety of all tbeir students."
A Department of Education and Children's Services spokeswoman denied accusations the school had placed its students at risk, saying it acted in a "responsible and timely fashion to ensure its community was notified".
"As official police information was not received by the school principal until late in the day, it could not be effectively distributed until today," she said.
"To support the release of the letter to parents a school assembly was held in which police addressed students about their personal safety. Students also had classroom discussions with their teacher."
The spokeswoman said the school would continue to co-operate with police to ensure the safety and well-being of its students.

Adelaide Advertiser (11-11-2004)
Daniel Clarke


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