Sexual Abuse in International Schools

These days it would be very wise to choose your International School carefully following recent revelations of sexual abuse of children at a prestigious International School in Jakarta. The abuse was initially thought to be limited to kindergarten children, but further investigation has revealed that the pattern of sexual abuse at this school included 12 to 14 year olds and that at least one American teacher who formerly taught at this International school in Jakarta has been implicated (a catalogue of all his abuses was found on his hard drive just last month after he got fired from a school in the US and committed suicide). Criticism has been harsh about the standards of recruitment of foreign teachers and the often poor screening process at International Schools in Indonesia. As a father of two young children this concerns me as my own children will shortly begin attending a kindergarten in Indonesia. I am hoping that International Schools and Kindergartens throughout Indonesia will increase their standards and not only look at a teacher's experience in teaching but also carry out background checks on any criminal records or check if they are on any sex offenders lists. Unfortunately Asia seems to be a magnet to these sick people. What do you all think about this?

A timely post, and I agree that this recent and horrific event involving the sexual assault of this five year old boy at the renown Jakarta International School (JIS) serves as a stark wake up call for all of us who place our children into the trusting care of educators and school staff members. 

While there are some 111 international schools throughout Indonesia, there are far more private schools, and of course thousands of public schools.   

As expats on Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia, it is easy for us to get accustomed and lulled into a comfort zone living in this paradise.  We can easily kid ourselves into thinking that this sort of thing only happens elsewhere, and that it couldn’t happen to our own children.

The Indonesian mother of this child, who is married to a Dutch expat, was very astute and careful to notice very subtle behavioral changes in her young son before consulting with medical experts, and eventually learning the horrific truth that her 5 year old son had been sodomized at school.  That of course causes us to ponder how many more incidents like this go unreported and even unnoticed by parents?   

The reaction and public outcry over this incident is comforting.  Such incidents, when they occur in many western cultures often seem to get less attention and public outrage…perhaps because such incidents there are more common?  I don’t know.  In this case, the perpetrators of the crime were Indonesian, and not western.  Pedophiles can be found within all cultures. 

For me, the salient lesson in this tragedy can be learned from the boy’s mom, specifically to paying attention to our children and understanding their inclination to remain quiet when they are victims of sexual assault.

JIS seem to, on the face of it, had experienced a list of problems.
One event suggests a flaw in the system 0 several events suggest some major problems in that establishment.
When I was in England, I had to have a police background check, proving I had no criminal record. I still have it, just in case I take up employment.
That brings me to the question - Did the American chap have a record and did the school check background?
Of course, a clean sheet doesn't stop a first offence, but it does tell you there is nothing so far. … 893953299#

JIS have issued a letter that confirms this story.

Interesting that there is a swing to a western pedophile teaching at JIS (12 years ago) in the press which is gathering more momentum than the actual people who committed the crime, I guess that is a sad reflection on sensationalising stories in the press.

Even CNN picked up on the Pedophile. … hpt=ias_c2

But in terms of sexual abuse in International schools, I am sure abuse happens, there are always tales in the press in far flung places in Indonesia that does not really mean  much to people in Jakarta but I would not like to think it is a common thing.

I think that there should be a clear and open discussion about how children should be made aware of the dangers of growing up and how to react to strangers young and old and to not to be afraid to speak up. I also think that parents need to pay more attention to their children, not just leaving them with family or friends, the maid, the driver and so on and take responsibility for them and make sure that they also teach their children about strangers.

Whilst I am sure that there will be more uncovered and more sad tales of abused children, there will be more shock and horror to the fact that schools are unlicenced or checked and there will lots of heads being scratched by those wondering how that could happen in the Education Ministry while they talk on their iphone 5 with their shiny new BMW outside being polished. Hmmm

Teachers in every school I am sure will feel upset over this issue and again moving on they should also be supported and educated to identify signs of abuse, beit from within their workplace or from outside and not be afraid to ask or report it. I would imagine a lot of the time they wont in case the parents get upset and pull their child from that school and go next door and the school gets a bad name, which sadly is the case in the city due to the amount of schools all jostling and competing for students. However, again I feel everyone in education needs to take responsibility for the safety of every child from the cleaners to the principal and that there are checks, training, support and guidance issued to the employees on how to behave and act around children.

I am happy that this has not been allowed to be so far, brushed under the carpet but will remain in the public domain and as long as this does not become a witch hunt or finger pointing exercise to Western or Indonesian teachers and the support staff in schools then perhaps there will be healthy discussion and debate and learning from this.

As for background checks, there are no official guidelines I am aware of in Indonesia but as I have stated before EF has implemented them as a manatory part of the job application process along with drug and HiV free statments which is legally required.

The story of JIS is hot at the moment so all news is potentially bad news.
A wild kiddie fiddler working there, even years ago, is news, not just digging up dirt.

However, they should be more concerned with how this gang managed to get in.
Worry about the rest as well, including background checks for all, including long term teachers.

I couldn't agree more. Although I am not how useful background checks would be for long term expats. If they have a criminal record and the time spent has expired then it should not appear on a police file. If they are in the Sexual Offenders record again even that can have an expiry date.  I welcome all tests for all teachers from where ever but I would be concerned with the procedure for auxillary staff like the cleaners because that would just be a paper exercise. … acher.html

According to the FBI, Vahey was employed as a social studies teacher for middle school and high school students at JIS from 1992 to 2002. The FBI also recorded that in 1969, Vahey was arrested in California on six counts of child molestation. He pled guilty to one of the charges.

Yep, they hired a convicted sex offender.
There is NO excuse for this.

There are no excuses from our perspective but here in the 1990's would of that even have been a consideration? No Asian country had any formal guidelines back then, all are recenty introduced. Thailand for example went very formal from 2006 cracking down on all backbacker teachers and Indonesia has not really even started this properly yet.

Omission or lack of management skills isn't an excuse.
The principal is an expat, so should know the right thing to do.

No excuses.

Added. this school is a very expensive place, run on western lines.
They should know.

Yes I agree. The principal should have been more aware but sadly he was not. Nor were the other principals this guy worked for around the world including a school in London.

I agree with Luke in that a conviction of this guy Vahey going back to 1969 would almost certainly have been unavailable as a public record to JIS back in the year 1992.  I also think it’s safe to assume that any question on his employment record asking about prior arrests or criminal convictions was answered “no.”

For a guy like Vahey, to be employed today by an international school would be unforgivable given the Interpol data base and other resources available to check an applicant’s background. 

This “gang” was contract janitor workers officially not working for the school per se, but employed by the janitorial company contracted by JIS.  In some minds this seems to relieve the school of direct responsibility, but in fact, this 5 year old was allowed to go to the rest room unescorted by his teacher or a teacher’s assistant.  Moreover the kid was in the rest room for quite a long while and the teacher did nothing about looking into his whereabouts.

The mother of the 5 year old was on the program “Indonesian Lawyers Club” two nights ago and gave a compelling tale of the details involved in this case.

Have to agree with Ubudian. This is perhaps where the school is really at fault. In many kindergartens children must be escorted in the toilets by one of the teachers or teaching assistants, and in most cases a female. Parents and other employees are usually not allowed to go into the toilets when children are in there. This is a strict rule for most kindergartens and the very fact that the janitor was allowed in and nobody was around to notice it is the fault of the Principal for not implementing a safe system to protect the children from such threats.

One thought comes to mind.
Expat teachers could help force the issue by offering their police certificates when applying for a post.
Eventually, the schools would start asking, thus avoiding this issue (as far as expats go) and forcing out perverts such as this American chap.

Fred, it’s already been announced that there is going to be a full and complete audit of all of the 111 international schools in Indonesia, as well as a full investigation of all foreign teachers working at those international schools. 

There is no sense being too focused on that “American chap” as he’s history, and incidentally, he’s also dead.  He committed suicide last month, once he became aware of the FBI heat on him.

Personally I find all of this side bar attention on that American teacher as being a big distraction to the main issue…that issue being the negligence of JIS by not having a proper escort for that kindergarten age 5 boy when going to the bathroom.  In addition, this attention being focused on that “American chap” is another side bar to the real essence of this horrific crime…that being that it was perpetrated by Indonesians, and not a westerner.

JIS is an excellent international school and with a long standing superb reputation.  In this particular case involving this 5 year old, they were clearly negligent, and as such, the boy and his family deserve justice and reasonable restitution.

I agree to a point, but it does show a potential history, one that should be investigated.
The cleaning staff are the biggest issue and, most importantly, how they managed to get a job in a school.
Seems at least one or two had a record, but no one seemed aware of it.
It is my understanding, most jobs here require a police check (SKCK) but theirs was either never asked for, bribed past or bribed to get a clean one.
If they had no check, the school is, rightly, in deep poo poo.
If they bribed the contract company, that lot should be history, but the latter possibility is the greatest worry.
It is, as I understand it, common for gangs to work together to get around the law and hide their disgusting crimes.
If there's a bent copper somewhere, taking cash to produce clean sheets, there goes a really serious problem.
At some level, the school has blame, either poor admin or poor security.
One wonders how men can sneak into the toilets and abuse a boy, several times and over a period of time.
I would imagine the child returned to class in pain or at least, distressed.
Why would the teachers not notice this?
The final question is, how did the school manage to cover this over for so long?

Other questions come up. … gung-jawab

This case has been brought to the police because the school ignored the parental reports

I'm led to understand this isn't a new story, more from a month ago, but hidden.
If it was hidden to protect the school, that's bad but, if it was to catch the criminals, that's ok.
However, according to the press (Quoting the mother), it was a cover up job, so she reported it to the police.
There is way too much speculation, so facts are very hard to find, but regardless, the school has a serious problem.

To the American - just for a moment … d/25604490

This guy was a well seasoned child molester.

It's interesting that there were also rumours flying around about the vice Principal of JIS being a pedophile in the past and that he had run away back to the US, but apparently he made an announcement today that he is not running away and will remain at the school. And, there was another announcement that of the local 28 outsourced staff at JIS, six of them have herpes and are now being investigated.

This whole thing is getting nastier and nastier. But one good thing is that schools should all do more careful screening of outsourced staff and teachers and that parents will be more attentive to their children's behaviour. However, one negative aspect is that honest male expatriate teachers may suffer indirectly.

What’s most interesting to me Fred is that this guy Vahey was able to teach at a prestigious London international school from 2009 to last year and was never detected by school administrators there either.

The problem with back ground checks is very simple. If you are asked to provide them from an employer and you are from another country the employer isn't likely to follow up on paperwork presented that looks official and in order. They will simply trust the paperwork. If the employer asks you to use a specific organisation to do the checks then they become harder to fake.
Some evil but highly intelligent child molester with a long list of references from schools around the world will not be put under too much scrutiny if they produce official looking documents. And here they certainly don't bother too much nor want to because of the language barriers, costs and time involved and also the pressure to hire teachers which meet their academic requirements to keep the money rolling in.

All in the above two posts is probably true. I've heard of a few foreign ones but this is the first time I've heard of a local gang in an Indonesian school.
However, not the first I've heard of this disgusting habit my locals.
I was too slow a few weeks ago when a taxi driver offered me a schoolgirl for 3 million/night.
If I'd been faster, I could have recorded the bugger on my phone and handed the thing to the cops.
Yesterday, a lady asked me how a man can do these these things but I was unable to answer.
There's just a total black area in my mind when I try to work out what a man would see in a little boy.
No logic, no thoughts at all, just a total blank. I simply can't imagine what these people are thinking.

Whether these perverts just naturally find themselves in the situation of being around children where they can take advantage or whether they purposely seek jobs that put them in close proximity of children is a key question. It would seem that with the problem of pedophiles in the catholic church that they purposely become priests with the sole aim of abusing children. The same with teachers, these seem to be pedophiles who move into education with the sole ulterior motive of abusing children. I remember back in the seventies at my school in Plymouth in England where three teachers were arrested, two for stealing school funds and the third, our music teacher, arrested for assaulting a young boy in the closet of his music room.

These revelations have really opened my eyes to this problem and I will carefully choose my children's kindergarten and make sure that there are only females working there, whether that is right or wrong. I will also ensure that the Director of the school is very aware of parents concerns about sexual abuse of young children and ensure that measures are in place to prevent it from happening.

As for making background checks on teachers, yes I believe it should be done, absolutely, no matter the time or cost incurred. We only have to imagine our own children becoming victims to understand the importance of this. We generally all take our children's safety in school for granted, but at least through these horrific stories at JIS we as parents can be on our toes and the schools hopefully will make changes in the way staff are checked and monitored. I say check out all teachers whether applying for a new job or pre-existing, and install more cctv cameras in vulnerable areas. … -jis-rape/

The latest news confirms my guess.
These people set themselves up in the place.

There's really little other option. Imaging walking up to a mate at work and suggesting you rape a little boy.
The dude will either toss you off the third floor balcony, hit you or drag you into the school office by your goolies.

Ner, this gang were there with purpose.
ISS has a lot of blame here, as does the school.

I've heard about it, sometimes I'm also worrying about the security when living in this country. Fortunately, so far there are not so many criminals here in Jakarta.

Some of the news about this is getting nastier and nastier, with detailed confessions and a suicide. It would be bad enough if it involved just one pervert, but seems it was a gang of them, including a woman. Totally unbelievable that it went unnoticed at this school.

If there are not so many criminals in Jakarta then that is indeed good news.

jjjd :

I've heard about it, sometimes I'm also worrying about the security when living in this country. Fortunately, so far there are not so many criminals here in Jakarta.

I come from Yorkshire, an area plagued with crime (mostly because of the druggies).
people here have no idea what a crime wave is.

Happily, one of these evil little dogs won't be doing it again. … hroom.html

He drank cleaning fluid. Poetic justice for a man who raped a child in a toilet.
I'll bet he went out in agony as the caustic soda burned its way through his stomach.
Not that I'm complaining.

PS - I've heard rumour, totally unsupported, the police suicided him.
Unlikely, but I really wouldn't care anyway.

Interesting rumour Fred.   

For certain, if something like this happened on Bali, those guys would have never seen the inside of a jail.  They would simply vanish.  Jungle justice, Bali style.

With no autopsy and the body in the ground, we'll never know.

I have to agree with Lukereg and Ubudian on a lot of different points.
I just saw the news broadcast today...And after seeing the statement about the westerner. I did some looking in to him as well some of the schools he worked for claimed he was one of there best teachers... Even though the man is dead. And was here so long ago. To me that's just digging looking for dirt. And trying to take attention away from the more recent. Even though it is another black mark on the school.
Being a parent myself I always take high interest in my kids schooling. Meet there teachers and all so that I feel satisfied my kids are getting what they should. In fact I have pulled my kids from one school for way way less than something this serious. Just because I didn't agree with how they were being taught.
The teacher was fine I just didn't agree with there methods.

A police check is only as good as the day it was written.

Whats more concerning is the lack of attention of a similar incident in Kalimantan. … -students/

And because it is not a famous international school there is less attention less fury and less anything by those that  'care'.

"Police in East Kalimantan have arrested an elementary school teacher for allegedly sexually abusing four children and taking photos of the acts, in a case that has drawn little comment from activists riled up over a similar scandal at an international school in Jakarta."

That is more shocking in my opinion. The double standards throughout this country at times is apalling. Families feel the same pain even if they dont go to a 20 million a month school and in my opinion that is why nothing will change.

Yes again i agree.  I have seen this with so many issues surrounding jakarta and out bound places and its even in there tv news....The focus is always on 1 or 2 certian things what ever will bring news. But if they would cure some of the smaller issues then just maybe some of the bigger issues would never happen.. just my opion.

As I read that article Luke it sounds like it’s being properly handled. 

If you think about it, most anything that would or could happen in East Kalimantan would never get the same intensity of news coverage it would if it happened in Jakarta.

Another way to look at this is that the extreme publicity this JIS case has had, is a positive “heads up” to other areas of Indonesia where there might be more complacency about such matters.  In other words, there is a positive side to the heightened level of awareness.   

And sadly, there is another element to all of this…that being that child abuse is most always tied to poverty.  It is a sad reality that some poor families will knowingly let their children fall into the hands of a pedophile for money.  And that sad reality still exists here in Indonesia today.

Again i have to agree...i think it was last month they had a big story about that the news here in jakarta about the poverty and abuse stuff...on children.
Then this comes out.

Sorry misspelled Ubudian....i hate small touch screen phones at times hehehe

No problem about spelling error James, and nice to have you on board!  :top:

Yep you are correct Ubudian, my major concern is the groups demonstrating in the city but not creating the fuss in Kalimantan. The spotlight will hopefully light up a debate (which I have mentioned previously) and perhaps something positive and long lasting will be put into law which will reach into all corners of the country and have the same impact on the rich or poor.

Thanks Ubudian i only found this blog a few days ago but have been in and out of jakarta for 2 years now.  And just trying to keep a objective mind to things.

Big school, big story.
School hides it, bigger story.
Add a foreign teacher to the pot, very big story.

Small village school, no one in the press cares because it's hardly going to make a small story in most papers.

New topic