More than 700 Canadian school employees committed — or were charged with committing — child sexual abuse against nearly 1,300 children over the past two decades, says a new report from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection released to the Toronto Star.
The first-ever national inventory of sexual assault cases involving employees of kindergarten to Grade 12 schools identified 714 school staffers linked to sexual abuse charges, convictions and disciplinary actions between 1997 and 2017.
“That’s 1,300 victims whose lives have been absolutely damaged,” said Noni Classen, the centre’s director of education. “We know the impact of this type of offence, the betrayal of trust by someone who holds such a privileged position of power for children. The fallout and corrosion of that on their development is devastating. And we know this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Eighty-six per cent of the perpetrators were certified teachers. Educational assistants, student teachers, special-needs assistants, lunch monitors, custodians and school bus drivers made up the remaining 14 per cent. Nearly 140 of the offenders had secondary occupations providing them with added access to children including roles as sports coaches, tutors, community youth workers and guidance counsellors.
In all, the perpetrators were overwhelmingly men — 87 per cent — preying on girls — 75 per cent.
Victim impact statements filed with courts in the cases gathered by researchers reveal “the betrayal of trust and abuse of power” that has “serious, lasting impacts on the victims,” the study reads.