August 22, 2006

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: the place where children are most likely to be sexually abused by adults

The American Medical Association found in 1986 that one in four girls, and one in eight boys, are sexually abused in or out of school before the age of 18.
Two years later, a study included in “The Handbook on Sexual Abuse of Children,” reported that one in four girls, and one in six boys, is sexually abused by age 18.
[Michael Dobie, “Violation of Trust,” Newsday, June 9, 2002, p. C25.]
It was reported in 1991 that 17.7 percent of males who graduated from high school, and 82.2 percent of females, reported sexual harassment by faculty or staff during their years in school.
Fully 13.5 percent said they had sexual intercourse with their teacher.
[Daniel Wishnietsky, “Reported and Unreported Teacher-Student Sexual Harassment,” Journal of Ed Research, Vol. 3, 1991, pp. 164-69.]
In New York City alone, at least one child is sexually abused by a school employee every day.
One study concluded that more than 60 percent of employees accused of sexual abuse in the New York City schools were transferred to desk jobs at district offices located inside the schools.
Most of these teachers are tenured and 40 percent of those transferred are repeat offenders.
They call it “passing the garbage” in the schools.
One reason why this exists is due to efforts by the United Federation of Teachers to protect teachers at the expense of children.
[Douglas Montero, “Secret Shame of Our Schools: Sexual Abuse of Students Runs Rampant,” New York Post, July 30, 2001, p. 1.]
Another is the fact that teachers accused of sexual misconduct cannot be fired under New York State law. [“Schools Chancellor: Four Teachers Barred from Classroom,” Associated Press, June 12, 2003.]
One of the nation’s foremost authorities on the subject of the sexual abuse of minors in public schools is Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft.
In 1994, Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan did a study of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York City.
Their findings are astounding.
All of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers was reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach.
Only 35 percent suffered negative consequences of any kind, and 39 percent chose to leave their school district, most with positive recommendations.
Some were even given an early retirement package.
[Charol Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan, In loco parentis: Sexual abuse of students in schools, (What administrators should know). Report to the U.S. Department of Education, Field Initiated Grants.]
Moving molesting teachers from school district to school district is a common phenomenon.
And in only 1 percent of the cases do superintendents notify the new school district.
According to Diana Jean Schemo, the term “passing the trash” is the preferred jargon among educators. [Diana Jean Schemo, “Silently Shifting Teachers in Sex Abuse Cases,” New York Times, June 18, 2002, p. A19.]
Shakeshaft has also determined that 15 percent of all students have experienced some kind of sexual misconduct by a teacher between kindergarten and 12th grade; the behaviors range from touching to forced penetration. [Elizabeth Cohen, “Sex Abuse of Students Common; Research Suggests 15% of All Children Harassed,” Press & Sun-Bulletin, February 10, 2002, p. 1A.]
She and Cohan also found that up to 5 percent of teachers sexually abuse children. [Berta Delgado and Sarah Talalay, “Sex Cases Increase in Schools; Many Acts of Teacher Misconduct Not Being Reported,” Sun-Sentinel, June 4, 1995, p. 1A.]
Shakeshaft will soon be ready to release the findings of a vast study undertaken for the Planning and Evaluation Service Office of the Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education, titled, “Educator Sexual Misconduct with Students: A Synthesis of Existing Literature on Prevalence in Connection with the Design of a National Analysis.” [The study is in draft form and is not yet available for quotation.]

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From “Sexual Abuse in Social Context: Catholic Clergy and Other Professionals,” Special Report by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, February 2004.
Click HERE for it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

But to be fair, there are differences. The Bishops have deeper pockets, the abuse is more likely to be homosexual, and perhaps most importantly, the suits against the Catholic Church were kicked off by notorious cases where absolute garbage was "not passed around," but rather tolerated, and therefore implicitly tolerated by the hierarchy.

To sin is human and to forgive divine, but not for chronic offenders.

How can anybody respect a church which does not cashier a bishop that tolerated the likes of Rudi Kos, a priest who kept an 11 year old in his rectory?

"One man lived with Kos at his rectory for two years as his concubine in the mid-1980s under the ruse that the priest had legally adopted him. The arrangement was even the subject of an article in The Texas Catholic newspaper at the time."

I personally can't.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Dear Anonymous,

I share your indignation, and I agree with the facts you cite.

Given the sacramental reality of ordination (that a sacrament is a sign and instrument of worship and salvation), we Catholics are right to be more horrified than the mainstream media at the sexual crimes and sins of priests. Such wrongs are most ugly, most sick, most stupid, most wicked.

Bishops did not respond virtuously.

The fact still remains that public schools are where children are most likely to be sexually abused by adults.

The mainstream media have given little attention to that, but lots of attention to the sex crimes of priests. Furthermore, exactly as you say (and the article I cited says), the overwhelming majority (80 to 90%) of the victims of priests have been pubescent males-- i.e., "young men," not pre-pubescent boys and girls.

The level of media attention paid to public school teacher versus paid to priests is numerically out of balance. There are exceedingly far more teachers than Catholic priests. The percentage of priests who commit sexual sins and crimes is much smaller than the percentage of teachers who do so.

Nonetheless, I readily and willingly concede that the high level of moral outrage at priests and bishops is deserved and justified.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I thought anything had changed, your words would impress me far more. When the "new and cleaned" church produces the story below, the changes seem to cosmetic only.

Perhaps another reason why nobody is that upset about what passes for civilization in public skools is that nobody in their right mind sends their children to a public school if they can at all avoid it. Places like Brentwood, Palo Alto and the like are, of course, exceptions.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps another reason why nobody is that upset about what passes for civilization in public skools is that nobody in their right mind sends their children to a public school if they can at all avoid it.

The pity of it all, is that the United States so badly needs a moral authority.

9:00 AM  

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