South Africa: The Parktown Boys Safety Bell - Breaking the Silence Around Abuse


On 11 October 2020, family, staff and child protection advocates stood in the pouring rain to honour the 'Parktown Boys 23', the victims of water polo coach Collan Rex's years of sexual abuse, as they rang the school's safety bell for the first time. But, as with everything related to this case, getting their voices heard and seeing meaningful change proved to be a battle, one that for some was just too hard to face.

There shouldn't have been anything controversial about the launch of the Parktown Boys' High School Safety Bell. The goal of the event was healing and hope, an opportunity to honour the courage of sexual abuser Collan Rex's victims and confirm the school and boarding house's commitment to ending the practice of initiation. It was also an opportunity to say thank you to those who supported the Parktown 23 and their families through the trial.

The beautiful ship's bell, now mounted on the wall outside Druce Hall, the school's boarding house, with the inscription "In memory of every boy who ever got hurt in boarding. Going forwards may no boy ever get hurt again" was donated by Michelle Hobkirk, a former member of the School Governing...

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