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Christchurch high school warns students of sex offender in Linwood community

Author
Nathan Morton, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Mar 2023, 1:42pm
Principal Richard Edmunson said the presence of a convicted offender nearby was revealed by Department of Corrections staff. Photo / George Heard
Principal Richard Edmunson said the presence of a convicted offender nearby was revealed by Department of Corrections staff. Photo / George Heard

Christchurch high school warns students of sex offender in Linwood community

Author
Nathan Morton, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Mar 2023, 1:42pm

A high school in the heart of Christchurch has warned its students a person in the community has been found guilty of sex offences against children.

Te Aratai College principal Richard Edmunson said the presence of the convicted offender was revealed to the school board after a meeting with Department of Corrections staff.

The Ministry of Education has also been informed.

 “Through this conversation, we were assured this person has good oversight from Corrections and other agencies,” Edmunson told the community of the 850-student Linwood school.

According to the information Edmunson was given by Corrections staff, the offender is “a safe distance” from any school or childcare facility, and is also being managed by an experienced probation officer, being visited at home regularly.

“[They are] not permitted to have contact, directly or indirectly with anyone under 16,” the principal outlined to the school community.

Corrections also told Edmunson the offender is GPS monitored, cannot approach places where children would congregate such as schools and parks, and is subject to a nightly curfew.

The principal said many assessments and checks are done before such offenders are returned to live in the community.

The offender is also being managed by an experienced Probation Officer and is visited at home regularly. Photo / George Heard

The offender is also being managed by an experienced Probation Officer and is visited at home regularly. Photo / George Heard

“Corrections and Police will continue to work closely together, and with other agencies, to ensure that these persons residing in the community continue to comply with the conditions of their order.”

Edmunson believed it was a timely reminder for whānau, schools and learning centres to have conversations with their children, to develop strategies for keeping themselves and each other safe, including on the way to and from schools or learning centres if not accompanied by adults, the principal said.

Parents should know what route their children are taking when going to and from school, children should “walk in pairs or groups” and know who is collecting them - if not a parent.

The principal outlined to students the importance of safe practice from students when walking or taking transport to and from school. Photo / George Heard

The principal outlined to students the importance of safe practice from students when walking or taking transport to and from school. Photo / George Heard

“It is important to know that there are many people on similar sentences and orders living safely in the community, across the country,” Edmunson wrote.

“This is not a new situation.”

When the Herald approached Edmunson, he said the college was following the “full guidance and procedures” from the authorities.

A parent of a Te Aratai student told the Herald she had brought her son up with strong awareness of sexual offence due to her own childhood experience.

“I have been at his school for all drop offs and pick ups while he was younger,” she said.

“The reality is most sexual abuse of children does come from someone known to the family, although in this day of the internet, strangers being able to easily access children is a big concern to me.”

The parent said she told the Linwood community of the letter from the school when she received it.

“[I wanted to] help the community be aware and watch out, for the safety of the children in the neighbourhood,” she said.

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