The seven grade eight students who were allegedly sexually abused by a sports master at a school in Hanwella have now become victims of bullying by a staff member simply because they went public with their ordeal, a senior official said yesterday.
In a story titled, ‘Sexercise scandal shocks Hanwella’, the Sunday Times last week highlighted how the sports master had allegedly sexually abused the students and videoed them on his mobile phone camera, on the pretext of conducting a leadership programme.
National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) Chairperson, Anoma Dissanayake yesterday warned teachers against bullying the students following complaints made by parents of the victim-students.
She said stern action would be taken against them if they were found to be bullying children who had already faced the ordeal of being abused by a member of the staff.
According to complaints made to the NCPA a female teacher at the Hanwella school was taunting the seven children who went public with the sex ordeal.
At a meeting of teachers, lawyers and parents held at Avissawella on Thursday morning, Ms. Dissanayake warned that bullying the students amounted to connivance with the main suspect and thereby they were courting arrest.
“The NCPA will not tolerate such activities from these so-called teachers who find it fit to be on the side of the offender simply because that person was a member of the staff. This should never be the case,” Ms. Dissanayake told the gathering.
The teaching staff of the school involved in the scandal chose to boycott the meeting that was held at the Municipal Council premises. “Their absence at the meeting only goes on to prove their guilt, and from now their actions will be closely monitored by the NCPA, police, senior education officials and other authorities,” Ms. Dissanayake added.
Homagama Education Zonal Director, Palitha Weerasooriya told the Sunday Times that a full investigation will be launched into the activities of this female teacher at the school in Hanwella, and that necessary action will be taken.
“Such behaviour from a member of the staff is deplorable and must be treated accordingly. This person will be investigated and if necessary dismissed after a full inquiry,” he said.
Meanwhile a three-member committee set up to investigate the alleged sex scandal at a school in Hanwella has recommended that the victims be provided with alternative schools of their choice to avoid further mental trauma, a senior education official said yesterday.
He said that the parents of the affected students had already been informed about this.
The Committee has also sought the immediate interdiction of the suspect sports master who is currently in remand prison, he said.
He added that a final decision in this matter has to be endorsed by the provincial education minister.
Meanwhile the Committee has also extended their probe outside the school in Hanwella, following information that the suspect may have been involved in similar activities in other educational institutes where he served as a sports master.
The suspect who was in produced at the Avissawella Magistrates Court on Monday was further remanded until December 5. The suspect was represented by four leading lawyers in the area.
Prior to the arrival of the suspect to the courts, parents and sympathizers staged a silent protest, with placards calling on the lawyers not to appear for the suspect in this case.
A parent of one victim told the Sunday Times that she had opted to take the child out of the school owing to the prevailing environment. “I will not allow my child to be taunted by teachers or any one for that matter,” she said urging the relevant authorities to take action. “The remarks made by the female teacher were disgusting and bordered on vulgarity,” the parent added.