Monday, February 20, 2012

Scary statistic: 10% may suffer sexual abuse in public schools

There seems to be a double standard in our society over sexual abuse.  The Catholic church was hammered when adults stepped forward to report abuse, yet many more children may be suffering in government schools and little seems to fundamentally improve.

How Many Kids Are Sexually Abused by Their Teachers? starts:

Los Angeles police are investigating a teacher aide at Miramonte Elementary School who allegedly sent love letters to an 11-year-old student. The student’s mother discovered the letters in 2009, but she says police and school officials didn’t take the matter seriously until last week, when two other teachers at the same school were arrested for sexually abusing students in separate cases. Is sexual abuse in schools really as common as these reports make it seem?

Possibly. The best available study suggests that about 10 percent of students suffer some form of sexual abuse during their school careers. In the 2000 report, commissioned by the American Association of University Women, surveyors asked students between eighth and 11th grades whether they had ever experienced inappropriate sexual conduct at school. The list of such conduct included lewd comments, exposure to pornography, peeping in the locker room, and sexual touching or grabbing. Around one in 10 students said they had been the victim of one or more such things from a teacher or other school employee, and two-thirds of those reported the incident involved physical contact. If these numbers are representative of the student population nationwide, 4.5 million students currently in grades K-12 have suffered some form of sexual abuse by an educator, and more than 3 million have experienced sexual touching or assault. This number would include both inappropriate romantic relationships between teachers and upperclassmen, and outright pedophilia.

It is very disturbing that this one school has three cases which seem to be unrelated.  This implies that there is something systemic happening.  If it was just a random case we could pass it off as unusual, but for one school to have three cases in the same year says there is a serious problem.

I think one of the differences between the Catholic church and public schools is the Catholic church as a private organization is subject to the full force of the law whereas government schools have a lot of protection by being part of the government.  Additionally the teacher unions do a lot to protect teachers, no matter what the teacher may have done.

I would like to know the breakdown from the study.  While a lewd comment is inappropriate it is not in the same category as a teacher having sexual intercourse with a student.  If the vast majority of "sexual abuse" reported by students was lewd comments then we have a problem, but it would be near as bad as if even 20% of the sexual abuse incidents were physical in nature.


Karen said...

OK, so we are homeschoolers, right. We decided to check out the local high school's theater department, hope we could participate.
I came in with my daughter for the first (and only) theater meeting. As the door opened and she walked in the room there were cat calls and various other boys yelling stuff at her.
She turned and looked at me with fear in her eyes!
She stayed for the meeting, but she lost all taste for the high school theater idea.
Happily she is working with a local community theater and is beyond thrilled!

You can check out my blog if you wish at:

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Some years ago one of the local Honolulu newspapers published descriptions that included employment history of seven recently convicted pedophiles. Three were teachers. Teaching is to pedophiles what a job in a candy store is to chocoholics.

It's got to be more than 10% total over the 12 year school lifespan if the survey includes students other than 12th graders; a 7th grader still has five years left to endure.

Henry Cate said...

Karen - we recently found a local community theater that works for us and our daughters are also having a great time.

Malcolm - you make a great point.