Thursday, November 1, 2007

Attorney says sexual abuse in schools is epidemic

Excerpted from

In regards to a recent investigation by the Associated Press, a Santa Barbara, California-based attorney who investigates abuse and misconduct in schools believes that sexual abuse in American public schools is an "epidemic" and that it is largely ignored.

Mary Jo McGrath is a Santa Barbara, California-based attorney who investigates abuse and misconduct in schools, and conducts seminars to teach schools and parents how to recognize the signs that abuse may be taking place. McGrath says there are 17,500 school districts in the U.S. -- and she estimates that with the staggering number of sexual abuse cases being reported, it averages about one perpetrator per school.

According to the attorney, the problem is largely ignored because society as a whole does not want to confront something so repulsive.

"If you look at where the sexual abuse is most prevalent, it's in the home -- and we don't want to deal with that. It's just a topic that's so repulsive to us that we shut down," she says. "The same phenomenon takes place in schools. We cannot believe that the person with the friendly smile who we see in the supermarket and may even go to church with -- [we can't believe] that teacher is also an abuser."

McGrath says most abusers are not shadowy figures lurking in dark corners, but often are friendly, well-liked members of the community. AP's investigation bears that out, noting that the perpetrators it found included teachers, school psychologists, principals, and superintendents who are often popular, recognized for excellence, and (in almost 90 percent of the cases) male.

She said "it averages about one perpetrator per school". If averages are correct, and you claim that there is not a perpetrator in your school, then there are more than 1 in another school.

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