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Psychologist warns schools must confront sex abuse or die

Schools are the best place to take decisive action against sex abuse, according to a Sydney psychologist and complaints consultant.

Michelle Mulvihill of complaints management consultancy Interactive Life Skills will address the topic at a Parramatta Catholic Education conference this week.

Citing the example of Newfoundland in Canada, she warned that if schools do not confront sex abuse, they will likely lose not only entrolments, but government funding as well.

Ms Mulvihill has worked with church and religious institutes and schools for several years. She said the wo main problems she continues to come up against are silence and denial.

"Authorities, people who for so long have been in denial that the crime has occurred in their area of responsibility, then strive to keep the problem quiet in the hope it will just go away! I can assure them, it won't. Go away," she said.

She plans to tell the Parramatta teachers that while there have been progress in dealing with abuse in recent years, "the silence has been deafening in the very forum where the major focus for change needs to be directed ... and that's in Catholic schools".

Simon Feeley Publicity

Interactive Life Skills

13 May 2003