New M-Net Docuseries School Ties Flags Abuse Signs to Save Victims

New M-Net Docuseries School Ties Flags Abuse Signs to Save Victims
New M-Net Docuseries School Ties Flags Abuse Signs to Save Victims

On top of the varying degrees of bullying, substance abuse, verbal abuse, racism, gangsterism, guns and weapons and vandalism, South Africa’s schoolchildren are also experiencing rampant sexual abuse and grooming – largely at the hands of those who are in charge of their care and education at school.

In 2019, the South African Council of Educators (SACE) recorded 122 cases of sexual abuse of pupils by teachers – noting that two out of three cases go unreported. School Ties, a ground-breaking and harrowing four-part documentary series about the grooming and sexual abuse of learners at some of South Africa’s most prominent, prestigious boys’ schools, comes to M-Net Channel 102 on May 16 at 9pm. While virtually all schools in the country will grapple with sexual misconduct at some point, abuse that happens in the most prestigious schools tends to be well hidden and therefore has perpetrators who get away with it for many years – leaving many harmed children in their wake.

Produced by Devilsdop, Steinheist and Convict Conman producers Idea Candy, the docuseries series uncovers the truth behind grooming and abuse in schools across the country, the aftermath and what government, schools and society are doing to stop abuse in its tracks. The four episodes tackle one case at a time: the suicide of 16-year-old Thomas Kruger after an allegedly inappropriate relationship with the school’s charismatic water polo coach, another water polo coach caught on surveillance camera abusing boys in his care, at a school where the silence was maintained for too long. The series also explores Julio Mordoh’s suicide a decade after allegedly experiencing abuse by his own school sports coach and the discovery of a previously convicted water polo coach who was located working with children at a holiday camp in the UK.

Rather than sensationalising the details, the series focuses on expert interviews with child protection experts to help parents identify tell-tale signs of sexual abuse from their children, unpacks the history of elite institutions that in many cases acts as a breeding ground for these behaviours and speaks to the law enforcement team involved in investigating the wide-ranging abuse that occurs at schools across the country. “In creating School Ties, there’s no desire to simply create moral panic, but rather to highlight an urgent issue. Nobody can change the psychology of predators and those who engage in the grooming of children, however, our hope in sharing these very personal accounts is to create a space where children, parents, educators and schools have the information to identify the possible scenarios where inappropriate behaviour might take place before it happens, and to feel empowered to strengthen their systems as much as possible,” says producer, Wim Steyn.

Series Director, Richard Finn Gregory, says that the docuseries was incredibly harrowing to make, because the accounts of abuse are so hard to hear – but that there are also stories of hope and resilience in the face of unimaginable tragedy that must be told. “We met survivors of abuse who found the inner fortitude and courage to speak out.

We spent time with child protection experts who work with cases of sexual assault and grooming all day long, and yet find the will to get up every morning and do it again, in their efforts to make a difference,” he says. “And we spoke to parents whose children had taken their own lives, and yet they refused to let this experience crush them - they chose to speak out about their children’s lives, so that their passing will not be in vain and other boys can be protected from abuse.” As a result, School Ties aims to bring into focus the solutions and interventions that need to be adopted to safeguard learners at schools. Although the tragedies that have occurred are heart-breaking, there is the opportunity to ensure that we address and relook systems that should be protecting scholars. Watch School Ties on M-Net (DStv channel 102), at 9pm for four weeks, from May 16. The series will also live-stream on DStv Stream and will be available on DStv Catch Up after broadcast. Visit the M-Net Website and join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.

Editor's Comment
Stop the children killing madness!

The incident comes on the heels of a similar one where a father murdered his two toddlers in Francistown. As we grapple with the shock and sorrow of this loss, it is essential to address the underlying issues that led to such a horrific outcome.Our hearts go out to the innocent victims, the three boys aged 13, 10, and eight who lost their lives in circumstances that defy comprehension. Their deep cuts and untimely demise have left a scar on the...

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