One of every ten public school students may experience some form of sexual abuse from public school employees, a U. S. Department of Education (DOE) study shows.
“Results of prevalence studies differ based upon definitions of sexual abuse, sample and data collection methods but range from 13 to 34 percent of females and 7 to 16 percent of males,” Carole Shakeshaft of Hofstra University reported. Shakeshaft undertook the study, “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A synthesis of Existing Literature” for the DOE.
The actual proportions may be even higher. “Several studies estimate that only about 6 percent of all children report sexual abuse by an adult to someone who can do something about it,” Shakeshaft writes. “The other 94 percent do not tell anyone or talk only to a friend.”
Ironically, the results of Shakeshaft’s study indicate that children are infinitely more likely to be abused by public school employees than Catholic priests. Wayward men of the cloth have received far more publicity than public school employees with deviancy issues
“Where is the media in all this?,” William Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights asks. “Isn’t it news that the number of public school students who have been abused by a school employee is more than 100 times greater than the number of minors who have been abused by priests?”
Interestingly, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Va. released its Child Protection Update earlier this year. The Diocese reported that between 1974 and 1994, “9 of the 891 diocesan and religious priests who have served in the diocese, or 1 percent, were accused of sexual abuse of minors by 11 victims.”
“Of the nine priests, one was exonerated; two are deceased; one is retired without faculties; and the remaining five are no longer in ministry. They are not permitted to serve in any ministry, celebrate Mass publicly, administer the sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present themselves publicly as priests. One permanent deacon was also accused of child sexual abuse and is no longer in ministry. All of the alleged incidents occurred before 1994. No cases are currently pending in the diocese.”
Herndon, Va. is part of the Arlington diocese. Ironically, around the time that the Diocese released its report, local police arrested the male choreographer at a public high school in Herndon for soliciting sex from three teenage boys who were students at the school.
A judge found the choreographer guilty of sexual abuse and solicitation. Although he worked with students at the school, the choreographer, who was hired last summer, was officially paid not by the school district but by the band parents asscociation. Also, school officials notified police immediately when one of the dance teacher’s victims told them his story
The response of the rest of the educational establishment to allegations of molestation is more curious. While Catholic Churches have implemented zero-tolerance policies, the reaction of America’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association (NEA) is a bit less clear cut. The NEA has gone to court on behalf of public school students who were victims of sexual abuse.
Nonetheless, in the resolution that it passed on sex education at its convention here in Washington, D. C. last summer, the NEA proclaimed: “Teachers and health professionals must be qualified to teach in this area and must be legally protected from censorship and lawsuits.” The NEA has not returned the call we placed in order to find out what lawsuits and censorship such educators face.
“The Association also believes that to facilitate the realization of human potential, it is the right of every individual to live in an environment of freely available information and knowledge about sexuality and encourages affiliates and members to support appropriately established sex education programs.”
The NEA recommends that sex education programs cover, in this order:
Diversity of culture
Diversity of sexual orientation and gender identification
Sexually transmitted diseases
In California, openly lesbian state assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl has introduced a bill to lower the age of consent for minors, but only if they are engaged in sex acts with other minors. The Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), a family rights group, does not find this restriction comforting. “This is what groups that promote pedophilia would like to happen so that, someday, the laws can be further changed to say that minors have the capacity to consent to sex with an adult as well,” according to CRI.
Donahue has another suggestion for addressing the problem of sex abuse of students by public school employees. He offered it in a letter to the attorneys general in all 50 of the United States.
“Given that many attorneys general throughout the U.S. were impelled to subpoena the personnel files of priests, it is only just that the personnel files of teachers be subpoenaed as well,” Donahue wrote. “Not to do so would smack of selective indignation—even prejudice—and that is not something the citizenry would approve.”