The Problems & Solutions

Justiciable vicarious liability in the Public Service

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.

The Tiada.Guru Campaign
3 Jan 2022

Why now?

We must attack the root causes of misconduct; here, the severely weakened collective responsibility of misconduct. This root cause becomes an enabler that allows for years-long perpetuation of significant misconduct and/or corruption.

The Problems

Often, when a paedophile teacher molests or sexually assaults a student, the numerous superior officers in the school administration are rarely held totally accountable, even though failure to report misconduct is a serious misconduct in itself.

How can a competent principal “not know” that paedophilia and sexual assault are common occurrences inside their own school? It is wilful blindness, a psycho-social tactic when clear instances of wrongdoing are deliberately avoided to ensure the officer has plausible deniability if such cases are somehow exposed. Simply put, covering up misconduct makes their lives easier, no matter the SOP nor law.

The Solutions

If a public servant is accused of misconduct, the Public Ombudsman must be empowered to initiate investigations against their superior and/or co-equal officers in cases where negligence was responsible for such inaction.

These specific investigations must be independently executed by the Public Ombudsman, instead of the internal disciplinary department. The investigations must, as a minimum punishment, require a lowering of the officers’ ranks: warnings and notices have been shown to be weak and ineffective punishment for most serious misconduct.

Some may argue that we just need to “teach” errant officers to be more diligent. Incorrect: the strongest lesson is by example and any teacher knows it incredibly well. Children will understand vicarious responsibility once they see it executed, not when those in power become mouthpieces using the language of reform but without the conviction to enact it.