Amsterdam police are investigating the case of a school lunchtime supervisor who forced children aged between seven and nine to watch supernatural horror film The Exorcist and other 16 rated films during the break.
This weekend the Parool reported that an agency supervisor at the Kleine Reus primary school had been alone with the children behind closed doors watching horror films. The children were allegedly told not to say anything about what they were really made to watch.
Parents who were told by their children they had to watch ‘creepy films’ alerted the school who sacked him on the sport and reported the incidents to police.
The incident, which left some children crying and hiding in the corridor, is another example of the impact of the shortage of school staff, Gjalt Jellesma of parents’ organisation BOINK told the Parool.
Schools, like day care centres, are hard put to find staff and are coping ‘any old how’, Jellesma said. Some skip the break completely, others ask volunteers or parents for help or send the children home. The man in question was sent by an agency and had the requisite declaration of good behaviour (VOG).
The school has now decided to keep all doors open and have at least two adults on duty, a principle that was introduced at daycare centres in 2013 following a large scale abuse case.
At the moment four in 10 school vacancies are unfilled because of a lack of suitable candidates, illness and people leaving the profession.
‘We are faced with the dilemma of keeping a group going and compromising on quality or telling the parents they’ll have to take their children home every single day,’ Emmeline Bijlsma,director of child care umbrella organisation Brancheorganisatie Kindropvang, told the paper.
Meanwhile, children at the school will need help to come to terms with what happened, development psychologist Steven Pont said.
‘There’s no quick fix. The best course of action is to talk to the children to explain what is real and what is not real, for instance by showing them how a film is made, with actors and people milling around the set,’ he said. ‘The point is to help them get a grip on the situation again.’
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