Bishops’ students, teachers to get training & counseling

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Teachers and students of The Bishops High School (BHS) will soon be receiving counseling and training as part of a recovery plan developed by the Old Students’ Association (BHSOSA).

The initiative was embarked upon after both teachers and students were thrown into a state of shock following allegations of sexual misconduct against the school’s business teacher, Coen Jackson.

In a public statement, the Association noted that many students and teachers have complained about being the subject to ridicule and abuse by members of public as they commute to and from school. In addition to condemning those actions, the BHSOSA called on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and other relevant authorities take the relevant steps to protect all students and teachers from such negative behaviour.

Further, the Association underscored the need for support during this challenging time and as such its members called an extraordinary meeting on November 28, 2017, to map the way forward. This meeting was well attended by alumni and 6th form students of the school.

It was decided during the meeting that mentoring and counselling for psychological trauma will be implemented with immediate effect and will be available to both students and teachers.

Bishops’ High School Teacher, Coen Jackson

In collaboration with the Childcare and Protection Agency, teaching staff will receive training in protocols for sexual abuse and abuse in general and thus enhance the capability of teachers to detect and report allegations and incidents of abuse and harassment. Additionally, the Association said recommendations will be made to employ child protection and related policies within the school.

Additionally, sessions coordinated and led by alumni will be held to sensitise the male students of the school about sexual harassment, abuse, gender equality, and ethics. Sessions will commence next week.

Sensitisation sessions will also be held to equip students with the necessary information on abuse and the process of reporting any act of abuse or victimisation. Further, the Association said an anonymous reporting system is currently being developed by the alumni.

The BHSOSA said it unequivocally condemns any act of sexual misconduct and abuse against students and recommended that the Ministry of Education immediately commissions an inquiry into the issue of sexual misconduct, abuse and subsequent reporting in the school and that policies and protocols are put in place to ensure that such behaviour is eliminated and students are encouraged to report such matters without fear of ridicule or repercussion.

Jackson, a teacher of over 20 years, was sent on administrative leave pending the outcome of a police investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. Jackson is accused of sexualizing his classes, having inappropriate conversations with students and having sex with students.

The 39-year-old teacher has since denied the allegations, however, he admitted to having intimate relationships with two former students of the school  – both of whom are in their early twenties.

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