Monday, October 24, 2005

Supersex me!

According to an article in today’s Tennessean, the number one reason teachers lose their licenses in Tennessee is due to sexual misconduct. There were 35 sex-related revocations since 2003, which is 35 too many. Educators are now concerned that people who resign due to sex related accusations are falling outside of the radar.

New rules passed by the state board last week would also allow for administrators to lose their licenses if they fail to report teachers who resign after allegations emerge. The idea is to prevent problem teachers from moving from one district or state to another.

"We're concerned there may be underreporting and that there may be more cases out there that we just haven't been notified of," said Rich Haglund, an attorney for the board. "And so we wanted to put a few more teeth into the reporting requirement."

Apparently, Tennessee is not alone. South Carolina and New York both report sexual misconduct as a key reason for license revocation.

Charol Shakeshaft, a professor at Hofstra University, recently studied teacher sexual misconduct for the federal government.

Her 2004 analysis found that as much as 10% of students experience some type of sexual misconduct at the hands of an educator, whether verbal, physical or visual. (Visual abuse would include being shown pornography or observing masturbation.) About 7% of kids reported being physically abused, she found, though other studies have placed that number lower.

These are staggering statistics. It seems some small proportion of teachers are only teaching for access to students. In this time of “everything is more”, do they feel they have just cause for treating their students as sexual objects? Is love behind it, or pedophilia?

But is it cause for concern? One parent doesn’t think so:

Steve Glover, president of the parent group at Nashville's McGavock High and the elementary and middle schools that feed into it, said that while the issue is important, problem teachers make up a very small percentage of the profession.

"I don't think it's anything people need to get up in arms about. Certainly, if it happened to your child, you'd be up in arms, but I don't think we have an epidemic on our hands."

He said that the increased scrutiny had a negative effect of placing teachers' actions "under a microscope."

"But the pro side is heightening awareness so that teachers — or any adult — don't try to pull that kind of garbage."

I think these statistics should be great cause for concern. If ONE child in America is sexually or physically abused by a teacher, it is one child too many. This type of treatment of students not only affects their psyche but can affect their desire to learn. Teachers are supposed to be role models, and we should be able to feel safe leaving our children with them on a daily basis.

No, I don’t think this is any reason to get “up in arms”, but I do think this should propel parents to make an effort to get to know their kid’s teachers, to open discussion with their children on a daily basis about their day at school and to look for any signs of abuse or potential abusive behavior on the part of the teacher. Parents need to be involved just as much as administrators in order to make sure these incidents don’t happen.

Our children are our greatest resource. Let us treat them and teach them well.

1 comment:

Kat Coble said...

When I was a senior in High School my English teacher hit on me. To be honest, I was a wee bit flattered. Then again, I was 6 weeks from 18, and that's kind of different from the whole gym-teacher-hitting-on-twelve-year-olds scenario.

I really do think it's more common than anyone realizes for there to be teacher-student relationships in high-school. I don't think it's okay, and it really screws everyone up, but I also don't think it's rare.