Sunday, October 21, 2007

Think Your Children are Safe at School? Think Again...

Legal loopholes, fear of lawsuits and inattention
all have weakened the safeguards
that are supposed to protect children in school.
The system fails hundreds of kids each year...
It undoubtedly fails many more
whose offenders go free.

Can't help wondering...what you're wondering about as you look at these beautiful children... so innocent and proud at their first graduation ceremony? I'll bet you wouldn't be thinking which ones might become victims of sexual abuse in school. I'll bet you wouldn't be wondering which of their future teachers might already have served time for sexual abuse of children before coming to their school to teach. I'll be bet you wouldn't be wondering ... But maybe you should begin wondering why:

  • A total of 2,570 educators nationwide were punished for sexual misconduct from 2001-05, representing about a quarter of all educator misconduct cases in that time period.
  • The total number of times an action was taken against a teacher s license for sexual misconduct was 2,625 (more than 50 teachers lost licenses in more than one state).
  • Licenses were revoked in 1,636 of the cases; surrendered in 440 cases; suspended in 376 cases; and denied in 108 cases. Other punishments were handed out in the remainder of the cases.
  • Students were clearly identified as victims in at least 1,467 of the sexual misconduct cases. The victim was a young person, a category including students, unidentified youths, family members and neighbors, in at least 1,801 of the cases.
  • Educators made physical contact in at least 1,297, or 72 percent, of the cases in which the victims were youths.
  • The remainder were cases that did not involve physical contact, including verbal sexual harassment and other offenses.
  • There were criminal convictions in at least 1,390, or 53 percent, of the cases.
  • Nearly nine out of 10 of the educators punished for sexual misconduct were male.
  • At least 446 of the cases that the AP found involved educators who had multiple victims.
    Above information from the AP Report via the Salt Lake Tribune:

Reported by Juliet Williams in a The Salt Lake Tribune article, "While some of the most egregious sex abuse is flagged, state law allows many offenses to remain confidential in education records, even when teachers go to prison and register as sex offenders….
Mary Armstrong, the state credentialing commission's legal counsel...says her agency seals some disciplinary records because state law requires it..."It's a balance between the rights of a teacher who may be falsely accused," she says, "and the rights of the public."

And the rights of the child victims? I think it's time to contact our legislators on this one! They haven't even held one hearing yet.

Read The Salt Lake Tribune's 3 day series on the 7 month AP investigation into School Sexual Misconduct for more information.

Then if you think it's time to do something:

A Child is Waiting.
Take care…be aware,
Nancy Lee

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