Sexual abuse in public schools
Rampant sexual abuse in our schools is a fact.
This headline should give every reader a headache and heartache, and evoke the response, “This can’t be true.” But unfortunately, every major study done, be it by the AMA (doctors), the ABA (lawyers), the federal government under President Clinton (the largest: 400,000 students, K-12), or, the most thorough, by John Jay Criminal Law School — all state that it is.
My congratulations to the Rutland Herald and its editorial staff for having the moral and ethical courage to even consider the subject, in its evocative editorial. Let all of your readers be informed that this is but the first drop of information, truth, to seep under the wall of political correctness that has heretofore dammed up the flow of information to the general public in Vermont and the nation on the subject of sexual abuse in our public schools. Whether it was intentional or not, prior to this, your focus, and that of the national media has been on sensationalizing the comparatively minor level of abuse in the Catholic Church and its priesthood. To clarify this observation, the Internet will inform you that the most recent study by John Jay Criminal Law School found the level of abuse in the public schools to be 200 times greater than the Catholic system.
My own professional, educational experience of 31 years, (10 parochial, 20 public) as an educator/coach at the senior high school level, in Connecticut and Long Island, N.Y., from 1962 to 1993, tends to bear this out.
The problem in the Catholic system was greatest in the period of social cultural upheaval of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and in the nation as a whole. Even today the bulk of the charges being made against the Catholic Church’s priesthood are from this period: 30 percent of the claims are against deceased persons, who obviously can’t defend themselves. Only seven possibly verifiable claims against the 43,000 existing priests have been substantiated by authorities in the last three years (2010-12).
Herein is the solution and the public problem: The Catholic Church admitted the problem, and now has the most thorough training and information-gathering program for administrators, teacher, parents, and students in K-12 education. The public schools continue to ignore the abuse problem, for the most part, because to begin sensitizing the system now, would be an admission that the problem has been serious all along.
Reason and logic would dictate that those who abuse children would be drawn to the profession, and the societal setting, where the most potential victims could be found — the public schools. When our society and the leadership of the educational system, locally and nationally admit this, as the Catholic Church has done, we can begin to save our most precious commodity, our children, from the life-shattering effects of sexual abuse. Let the light shine in.