In times of tragedy people come together. Communities and whole countries unite to help each other cope and understand. Grief isn’t isolated, but shared. Questions- even if there are no answers- can be posed to others rather than pondered alone. However, most importantly in times like these, it is our shared background that can help us make sense of, or at the very least, try to move on from an experience.
As I’m sure you know by now, the International School community has been rocked by recent reports of abuse and pedophilia. Hitting especially close to home is the knowledge that a teacher- a colleague- for many, a friend- was responsible. For me, this news is especially challenging to digest because I’m a life-long member of this community. A third-culture teacher’s kid no less.
Behind every news report I find myself asking questions I’m sure you’ve asked yourself or heard others say… How could this happen? Why didn’t someone know? How will all of these children cope with this knowledge and sadness?
Those questions are important for us to ask and of course important to try and answer. However, what I’ve been thinking about more so today is what should we do now? What should we do as a community- a Third Culture or Global Nomad Teacher community- to support each other, the children and our schools?
First, I think we need to grieve. This happened. It happened at our schools, under our watch, and to our students. It is our collective tragedy and we need to acknowledge the horrible facts as well as our feelings of guilt, rage, and sadness for all involved.
From there, we need to find immediate ways to conduct better background checks on everyone working inside our walls- not just those coming in new to us next year. Through our common job fair ties, I think we can find a way to utilize those systems to house shared data. We need advice on what to ask for and how to procure the records, but between our world embassies we should be able to find a solution that can travel with a person who moves from place to place as many of us do. (This summer I was planning on getting an FBI background check for another purpose, however now I will also upload it to Search Associates so recruiters can use it.)
Finally, as administrators, we need to find ways to provide details about any concerns through our recommendations. My understanding is that in this case, there was a suspicion, which resulted in another background check being done. Although the background check didn’t provide details to warrant action, the fact that it had to be done again might have been important information for the next school to know.
Supporting each other as International School Educators right now is key. As a TCK, without a “home”, without “roots”, (without, without, without) what I do have is all of you. YOU are my community, my home and my people. Together we can all get through this.