Monday, November 12, 2007

Teacher sex abuse cases reveal patterns

Excerpted from

"These people do a tremendous amount of harm to children, but oftentimes the adult says that they didn't do anything wrong, that it's true love and that people just don't understand," Shoop said. "The female or the male who quote 'falls in love' with a child doesn't have an understanding that they're actually raping and exploiting this child."

In this case coming out of Nebraska regarding 25-year-old school teacher, Kelsey Peterson and her alleged criminal sexual relationship with a 13-year-old former student from Mexico, it is becoming evident that there are more adults who have been placed in charge of our children's safety who need to be held accountable for their actions, or lack there of. There is an ongoing pattern of school administrators, principals, and superintendents who either ignore or even cover up criminal behavior by teachers against students. Acting as though it is up to their discretion as to whether punishment beyond the walls of the school grounds is in order.

Experts who study sexual misconduct by teachers says district officials should have seen a bad situation when they first fielded complaints, and done more.

"If a school district has reason to give warning, you conduct an investigation," said Robert Shoop, director of Kansas State University's Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership. "You don't just say 'Be a good person,' and then go about your business as if nothing has ever happened. You have to pay attention to what's going on."

Wayne Promisel, a retired Virginia detective who has investigated many sex abuse cases, said if the district had enough reason to put Peterson on administrative leave and start an investigation, it should have called police before calling the teacher.

"If you're that committed to realize that you think there's something afoot, that's when you ... call in the locals to bring objectivity to it," Promisel said. "Law enforcement is there 24/7, 365 and they don't turn away complaints, especially when kids are involved."

The case comes at a time when lawmakers and governors in seven states and Congress are expressing renewed interest in the issue of sexual misconduct by teachers following an investigation by the AP that concluded last month.

The AP found that states took action against the licenses of 2,570 educators from 2001 through 2005 following allegations of sexual misbehavior, and that investigators and academics who study the problem believe it is badly underreported. There are about 3 million public school teachers nationwide.

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