The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is calling for greater transparency when it comes to cases of sexual misconduct by teacher and school employees.
It released a survey on sexual abuse in Canadian schools over the past 20 years, and the consequences of known misconducts.
The report found 750 instances of student sexual abuse committed by school employees, whether they were teachers, principals or other staff members.
To be included in the statistics, the offenses must have occurred between 1997 and 2017 and been committed by someone who worked at an elementary, middle or high school.
The CCCP used data from disciplinary decisions, media reports and courts for its report. It found 1,272 children had been impacted by the cases of sexual abuse in schools over the last two decades.
Only Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan publish decisions on teachers’ professional misconduct for sexual offences, making it difficult to get an accurate perspective of instances of abuse.
In Manitoba, 86 per cent of cases discovered came to light through the media, and only one instance in the province over the last two decades saw disciplinary action taken on the teacher or school employee.
The media is credited with uncovering 71 per cent of cases included in the report, and was the sole source of information for 33 per cent of those 750 cases.
Of the known victims of sexual abuse over this period, 76 per cent were female students and 24 per cent were male students. The majority (69 per cent) of both the female victims and the male victims were in high school at the time of the offence, followed by victims in middle school and primary school.
The offenders were most often men, with 87 per cent of perpetrators discovered to be male.
Nearly three quarters — 73 per cent — of offenders abused one victim, but seven per cent of perpetrators abused upwards of five students. Of the abusers targeting more than one victim, 95 per cent were male offenders.
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The vast majority of abusers were teachers, with two thirds of the offenders employed by public schools. Catholic schools were the second most common place of employment for abusers, with 26 per cent of cases being perpetrated by someone working at a Catholic education institution.
The CCCP survey noted the use of technology in the sexual offences. Prior to 2010, technology was used in 42 per cent of cases. After 2010, technology was involved in 60 per cent of recorded instances — a figure that jumps to 83 per cent for 2016 and 2017 alone.
The abuse coming to light was nearly even between the victims disclosing the offence (53 per cent) and the abuse being discovered by a third party (47 per cent).
In court, 73 per cent of 750 cases saw the offender charged with at least one criminal offence, and 52 per cent saw multiple charges.
But the CCCP wants provincial boards governing teachers and other school employees to be held to a higher standard of accountability. Outside of the three provinces detailing disciplinary decisions, the organization said it’s difficult to get information on reported instances of sexual misconduct.
The report recommended “much greater transparency” to help prevent future cases of sexual abuse across the country, and suggested making disciplinary decisions publicly available to alert prospective employees of potential candidates’ backgrounds when hiring for environments where children would be present.
The full report is available here.