Aside from the 67 teachers who were charged and found guilty of rape and sexual assault in the past financial year, several more cases collapsed because of a lack of co-operation from their victims (their pupils) and their parents. File photo
On its website the SA Council for Educators (SACE) says it is the professional council for teachers, and “aims to enhance the status of the teaching profession through appropriate registration, management of professional development and inculcation of a code of ethics for all educators”.

Whatever it is using to take aim needs recalibration because it, and the Education Department, are hardly hitting the mark in curbing instances of teachers being involved in relationships with pupils.

Aside from the 67 teachers who were charged and found guilty of rape and sexual assault in the past financial year, several more cases collapsed because of a lack of co-operation from their victims (their pupils) and their parents, leaving these sex-pest teachers to continue preying on these children.

In one of the more egregious examples of such behaviour, a 51-year-old teacher from KwaZulu-Natal impregnated a 13-year-old and then gave her tablets to induce an abortion, which nearly killed her.

Another concerns a northern KZN teacher who impregnated five teenage pupils from different schools in the area before being exposed.

Teachers occupy positions of trust and confidence and are a vital cog in the integrity of the school system. Because of their positions, they are able to exert influence over pupils.

Instead of using this position in a positive way to benefit pupils, predator teachers are exploiting their pupils and robbing them of their childhood. This is particularly prevalent in rural areas, where parents may have a financial incentive to turn a blind eye.

SACE acknowledges in a report that the number of reported cases of improper relationships between teachers and pupils “is growing at an alarming rate, and needs to be addressed by all the provincial education departments as a matter of urgency”.

It is acknowledged that the duty to ensure that pupils are not molested or exploited is a societal issue more than a criminal justice, education department or SACE issue, but as the two entities most intimately connected to the matter, it is expected that the latter two would be at the forefront of efforts to curb the practice.

Far more than platitudes about codes of conduct is required if pupils are to be protected from teachers.