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Marist rejects sex abuse victim’s call for a memorial plaque : petition launched.

By nquaine - 23 June 2012 59

A call to install a plaque at Marist College Canberra, in remembrance of the victims of sexual abuse at the college over a period spanning three decades, has been rejected by the school.

Nicholas Quaine, himself a former student and victim, proposed the plaque as a permanent warning to future generations of students, reminding them that child sexual abuse is a real threat, that it can happen at their school, that it is wrong and should be reported.

The plaque was discussed at the College Advisory Board meeting on the 22nd of March 2012. Following that meeting, the headmaster and Advisory Board of the college made known their decision to turn down the proposal, citing “unintended negative impact of giving rise to mistrust and fear”.

Canberra Times article and ONLINE PETITION

The plaque and the school’s refusal were the subject of a recent Canberra Times article. An online poll run at that time (1332 participants) revealed that 49% of readers were for such a plaque, versus only 45% against, the remainder being uncertain.

Since the refusal by the school and the Canberra Times article, an online petition has been set up to garner public support for the plaque and pressure the school to reverse their decision.

To access and sign the petition you can follow this link or, alternatively, go to change.org and type “Marist” in the search bar – the petition for the plaque is at the top of the results.

The proposal

The full text of the proposal made to the school :
It is requested that a plaque be placed permanently on the school grounds, placed at eye level and such that it is prominently visible to students, teachers and visitors to the school, and made of sturdy materials. The plaque to carry the following inscription, in large and prominently visible type:


In remembrance of the students who
were victims of sexual abuse in this
school over the years 1970 to 1993.
Lest it ever happen again.

Arguments put forward for the plaque :

  • If there is one thing that the Catholic church should do is confront these issues head on – their constant efforts to hide these issues is only serving to alienate people from them. [Petition supporter]
  • As uncomfortable as this recent history may be for Marist college, it is undeniably more uncomfortable to the students who were sexually abused. Sidorko and the college would do well to remember this. [Letters to the editor, Canberra Times]
  • This plaque would serve as a sober reminder of what can happen when we fail in our duty to protect our most vulnerable citizens – children. [Petition supporter]
  • The advisory board and the headmaster are of the opinion that it would have a “negative” impact on the school body… What they really mean by that is that they want all of these shocking episodes to be buried and forgotten. The fear, the humiliation, the abuse that these students had to endure for decades will never be forgotten, they will have to live with that for ever. [Letters to the editor, Canberra Times]
  • Installing a plaque is the school’s best way of demonstrating to the public it is serious about addressing child sexual abuse. [Petition supporter]
  • It gives dignity to those who suffered and permanently reminds all of us to be forever vigilent. [Petition supporter]
  • The plaque will give students the vocabulary to talk about any inappropriate behaviour, and as such would arm them with the ability to protect themselves. [Nicholas Quaine]
  • It would convince us that the College is mindful and serious about eradicating the scourge of this harmful menace. [Petition supporter]
  • If a plaque assists just one potential future child victim then it is worth installing. [Petition supporter]
  • The plaque will empower students to think, to talk and to question, surely the aim of any good school. [Petition supporter]
  • It is time for transparency, and this plaque will signify that Marist College has taken that step. [Petition supporter]
  • To shine light where it is sadly lacking. [Petition supporter]
  • What happened is an inescapable part of the school’s, and the order’s, legacy… It should never be forgotten. It shouldn’t be papered over by settlements and by saying it all happened in the past. [Petition supporter]
  • It’s my conviction that if such a plaque were in place when I was at the school, I would have either been able to protect myself against the abuse, or I would have spoken up about it. [Nicholas Quaine]

What’s Your opinion?


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59 Responses to
Marist rejects sex abuse victim’s call for a memorial plaque : petition launched.
banco 6:53 pm 24 Jun 12

nquaine said :

vg said :

You imply also that the belief that pedophilia is endemic is a false belief. However recent studies in the US, quoted in court during the Sandusky trials currently underway, reveal that around 20% of men are victims of sexual abuse ( http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2012/06/23/support_groups_for_sexual_abuse_survivors_issue_statements_following_jerry_sandusky_verdict.aspx ). If 20% is not endemic then what is?
.

Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life but I fight the 20% figure very hard to believe.

puppyfat67 6:35 pm 24 Jun 12

Don’t really agree with vg, I went to public and private schools and I am so thankful that my kids did not get into Marist a school that allowed a sexual predator to attack boys (read the archives for the sordid details) allowing a child into the teachers private accommodation each morning to wake a particular teacher even though it was against the rules– and no one did anything about it for a protracted time? shame on you Marist, you should be making an effort to redress your lax teaching practices

shauno 6:23 pm 24 Jun 12

I don’t think its appropriate at all at a school all it would do would instil mistrust in the Teachers for ever more.

Watson 5:59 pm 24 Jun 12

nquaine said :

I would equate it more with the German people raising monuments to the holocaust. It is both a recognition of wrong doing, and a warning for future generations of how evil humans can be.

“Not smart”? Do we respect Germans more or less for installing such reminders?

And just to be a three post nutter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

Watson 5:58 pm 24 Jun 12

nquaine said :

You imply also that the belief that pedophilia is endemic is a false belief. However recent studies in the US, quoted in court during the Sandusky trials currently underway, reveal that around 20% of men are victims of sexual abuse ( http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2012/06/23/support_groups_for_sexual_abuse_survivors_issue_statements_following_jerry_sandusky_verdict.aspx ). If 20% is not endemic then what is?

It doesn’t make the offense any less bad, but the majority of sexual abuse of minors occurs in their own home, tragically. Yes, teach kids to keep themselves safe from abuse whereever the threat may com from, but please don’t use a few tragic cases to make it appear that all our public institutions are staffed by mainly pedophiles.

dazzab 5:52 pm 24 Jun 12

I read the words for the plaque and I cringe. I wonder why? It just seems so permanently sad with no hope for moving forward or any kind of recovery.

Maybe something that speaks to prevention of abuse to all victims would be better? Or how about perpetual funding for awareness projects?

I just think something that honours the survivors would be better than something that keeps trying to shame those who are long gone thankfully. Speaking for myself I really don’t want to be labeled a ‘victim’ even though I totally support accountability and prevention.

nquaine 5:46 pm 24 Jun 12

wildturkeycanoe said :

This idea has about as much merit as installing a sign on a store, reminding everyone of how many customers they have ripped off in the past. Not smart by any means for the college’s future enrollments.

I would equate it more with the German people raising monuments to the holocaust. It is both a recognition of wrong doing, and a warning for future generations of how evil humans can be.

“Not smart”? Do we respect Germans more or less for installing such reminders?

If it does install the proposed plaque, the school would be showing that it has turned the page not only on the twenty plus years of abuse, but also on the forty plus years of trying to cover it up. And in doing so it might actually improve rather than damage its reputation.

nquaine 5:31 pm 24 Jun 12

vg said :

As much sympathy as I have for the victims in this matter I think the idea of a plaque is a load of rubbish. It serves no purpose whatsoever besides serving the faux outrage of a bunch of punters who’ve never been near a private school, but think this sort of thing is endemic.

The school has every right to decline it and no amount of public support should serve to influence what they do or don’t do with this on private property.

As organiser of the plaque proposal, I have had direct communication with many of its supporters. They are most often former students of the school, family of former students, parents of current students – nothing like the profile you describe. They do not take the question of showing support or signing the petition lightly, as you imply.

You imply also that the belief that pedophilia is endemic is a false belief. However recent studies in the US, quoted in court during the Sandusky trials currently underway, reveal that around 20% of men are victims of sexual abuse ( http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2012/06/23/support_groups_for_sexual_abuse_survivors_issue_statements_following_jerry_sandusky_verdict.aspx ). If 20% is not endemic then what is?

The school may have every right to decline the plaque. But ignoring or not the public support for the plaque is their choice, not yours.

The silence that shrouds sexual abuse protects its perpetrators. Breaking the silence is key to fighting this scourge. The plaque is one way of breaking that silence.

chewy14 4:58 pm 24 Jun 12

Slumlord said :

vg said :

As much sympathy as I have for the victims in this matter I think the idea of a plaque is a load of rubbish. It serves no purpose whatsoever besides serving the faux outrage of a bunch of punters who’ve never been near a private school, but think this sort of thing is endemic.

The school has every right to decline it and no amount of public support should serve to influence what they do or don’t do with this on private property.

Dont worry, clearly nothing has or will influence what they do or dont do on this private property, not even laws that make it an offence to sexually abuse children.

Yes, because the guy never went to jail……oh wait.

Deref 3:42 pm 24 Jun 12

wildturkeycanoe said :

This idea has about as much merit as installing a sign on a store, reminding everyone of how many customers they have ripped off in the past. Not smart by any means for the college’s future enrollments.

You say that like it’s a bad thing.

Watson 3:01 pm 24 Jun 12

“as a permanent warning to future generations of students, reminding them that child sexual abuse is a real threat, that it can happen at their school, that it is wrong and should be reported.”

I fail to see how a plaque on the wall is going to achieve that. It surprises me that a victim of sexual abuse would suggest that, no offense. There are well thought-out teaching programs out there that can give kids the tools they need to recognise and resist sexual abuse that would go a lot further in preventing a repeat.

There’s something else about this suggestion that doesn’t sit right with me either. It’s as if they want to humiliate and punish the school for what has happened. And I totally agree that they need to be held responsible for any involvement and prompted to implement prevention measures. But this plaque is a bit like making a naughty kid wear donkey ears. Can’t really put my finger on it so I am not expressing myself very well here.

wildturkeycanoe 1:18 pm 24 Jun 12

This idea has about as much merit as installing a sign on a store, reminding everyone of how many customers they have ripped off in the past. Not smart by any means for the college’s future enrollments.

LSWCHP 10:33 pm 23 Jun 12

It’ll be a cold day in hell when a priest gets near my kids..

Slumlord 9:45 pm 23 Jun 12

vg said :

As much sympathy as I have for the victims in this matter I think the idea of a plaque is a load of rubbish. It serves no purpose whatsoever besides serving the faux outrage of a bunch of punters who’ve never been near a private school, but think this sort of thing is endemic.

The school has every right to decline it and no amount of public support should serve to influence what they do or don’t do with this on private property.

Dont worry, clearly nothing has or will influence what they do or dont do on this private property, not even laws that make it an offence to sexually abuse children.

vg 4:40 pm 23 Jun 12

As much sympathy as I have for the victims in this matter I think the idea of a plaque is a load of rubbish. It serves no purpose whatsoever besides serving the faux outrage of a bunch of punters who’ve never been near a private school, but think this sort of thing is endemic.

The school has every right to decline it and no amount of public support should serve to influence what they do or don’t do with this on private property.

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