MUSKEGON, Mich. – If you count on the mainstream media for most of your information, you might be under the mistaken impression that teacher sexual abuse of students is nothing more than an occasional problem.
Just the opposite is true.
It’s happening in every state across the nation, with an alarming frequency most good people fail to understand. How do we know that? In several different ways.
Every day EAGnews receives a prepared roundup of education news from across the nation. And every day there are at least three or four new reports of teachers being arrested or sentenced for having sexual relations with students.
Last year we published a four-part series titled “Sextracurricular Activities.” We tried to put our finger on the exact number of sexual abuse cases that have been reported in American schools in recent years, or at least an approximation.
Unfortunately nobody seems to be keeping national statistics. But there have been some tracking efforts at the local and state level.
Last spring New York City officials reported receiving 679 complaints about sexual misconduct by school employees in the previous year. That led to 287 investigations which substantiated 66 accusations.
The Texas Education Agency investigated 156 allegations of teacher-student sexual abuse in 2011-12, which was about 70 more cases than in 2007-08.
Terry Abbott, a former official at the U.S. Department of Education, said he counted 26 cases of reported abuse in Texas in the first three months of 2013.
“That tells us that we have an epidemic, and we’ve got to deal with it aggressively,” Abbott said.
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Even without national statistics, several experts told EAGnews they believe teacher-student sexual assault is a common problem that’s increased in recent years, or is finally being recognized as the massive plague it always has been.
Those who believe it’s a growing problem point the finger at popular technology tools like text messaging and Facebook, which allow teachers to make contact with students on a far more personal level, with nobody watching or suspecting anything.
Most experts also believe that for every reported case of teacher-student sexual abuse, any number of cases go unreported or are quietly swept under the rug.
Two recent cases underline that obvious truth.
Just how many former students are out there like “Jamie Carrillo,” who was 28 before she worked up the nerve to call the teacher who molested her in middle school and extract a confession. She secretly recorded the conversation and posted it on YouTube last month, forcing the educator to resign.
Jamie’s courage inspired another alleged victim of the same teacher to step forward days later.
How many former students are out there like the 15-year-old boy from Rochester, New York, who was molested by his gym teacher in the second grade, kept it to himself for years, and only admitted the truth after his younger brother found a note in his bedroom, listing the details of the assault.
That case was particularly disturbing because the district attorney who prosecuted the gym teacher said many teachers in the school system refused to cooperate with the police investigation, even when they knew a child had been raped.
That last case inspired us to create the new logo posted to the right of this column – “Epidemic – Predators in the Classroom.” It will be attached to every piece we publish regarding teacher-student sexual abuse, and we plan to publish at least one story every weekday until the issue becomes a matter of national discussion.
Why isn’t this issue all over the news?
It would help a great deal if the mainstream media would acknowledge this frightening epidemic and report it with the same zeal that it reports the ongoing sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.
For years the headlines have been screaming about allegations, arrests and lawsuits involving the sexual conduct of Catholic priests. And there are always new stories about church officials transferring offenders from one parish to another, instead of dismissing them from the clergy and keeping them away from children.
There’s nothing wrong with that type of news coverage. The church scandal had to come out, and the mainstream media deserves credit for unearthing a very difficult and troublesome storyline.
But guess what? The same type of crimes and cover-ups are happening in our public schools, perhaps at an even greater frequency. There have been countless documented cases where school administrators and union leaders have arranged for sexually abusive teachers to quietly resign – often with letters of recommendation – and go on to teach and molest at other schools.
This is an absolute outrage that deserves the full attention of the national media. In fact, we may never understand the full scope of this problem without the assistance of the national media and the resources it has at its disposal to knock down walls and get at the truth.
Yet the media doesn’t seem particularly interested.
Our guess is it has something to do with politics. The mainstream media is obviously quite liberal, and therefore tends to take it easy on the Democratic Party and its key constituencies, particularly teachers unions.
And the sad fact is that the unions are up to their ears in complicity when it comes to getting sexually abusive teachers off the hook.
We believe public outrage would be off the charts if average citizens ever understood how many child molesters the teachers unions have assisted over the years. The resulting public anger might just be enough to finish off the unions, which are already experiencing all-time lows in terms of membership and public respect.
Yet we hear so little about successful union efforts to kill legislation in California and New York that would have made it easier for schools to fire sexually problematic teachers. We hear so little about the unions’ successful effort to bottle up a bill in Congress that would ban sex offenders and other criminals from teaching in public schools.
The unions are protecting the predators and the media is protecting the unions. It’s a sickening cycle that has ruined the lives of far too many children over the years.
So EAGnews is joining crusaders like Campbell Brown, the former CNN anchor who has been trying, with limited success, to bring this monstrous problem to light. Instead of investigating the solid points she makes, her critics in the media quickly point out Brown’s “conflict of interest” because her husband works with anti-union school reformer Michelle Rhee.
There really shouldn’t be opposing sides when it comes to protecting children. Nobody should be on the side of the sexual predator. But the sick fact is that abusive teachers have powerful friends in high places.
Given that fact, we feel the need to make more noise than we’ve ever made about this foul epidemic plaguing our schools. Sooner or later the public will wake up, and not a moment too soon.