In the ASS&S post (which was about a group that is opposed to public education), AnotherAtomicCitizen comments about homeschooling being a means to protect children from sexual predators.
While Tennessee (and Oak Ridge Schools) go to great lengths to screen teachers, there’s no denying that every once in a while, the worst happens.Â Of course, the same thing could be said of stepparents, but most would not suggest that the solution is for single parents to never remarry.Â Likewise, most parents do not believe that sending their child to school will result in exposure to sexual predators.
Folks, sick people do exist.Â The best protection is to know the people with whom your children associate, to know your children well, and to cultivate open communication with them.Â As we have seen from explosive media stories over the past few years (magnified by television and the internet), the predator can be a priest, a teacher, the school crossing guard, babysitter, or a relative.
When children are uncomfortable, it’s essential that they can be open and honest with their parent or parents: the discomfort may be a dislike of math, just a normal interpersonal conflict, or it could be something much more serious.Â Listen to your kids, but follow up.
Children are not always truthful — “I don’t have any homework” often means “I don’t want to do my homework” and “my teacher doesn’t like me” sometimes means “my teacher gave me a bad grade because I didn’t do the homework I told you I didn’t have.”
“I don’t like my teacher” (or coach/babysitter/neighbor/etc.) could mean any number of different things, including some things that a parent never wants to hear.Â But we must have the kind of dialogue with our children that enables us to get to the truth… because there are those very rare instances where the truth demands immediate action to protect them from harm.
Would mass homeschooling or private schooling result in fewer instances of abuse?Â I doubt it.Â To the contrary, it’s often at school that abuse in the home is revealed.Â Sometimes, those allegations are unfounded, but at other times, intervention may save the child from death or ruin.
As AAC noted, there have been prior instances of middle school teachers found guilty.Â William Marcus Kendall was fired, arrested, and convicted of sexual battery, statutory rape, and attempted rape, and sentenced to prison.Â Since that time, Tennessee law has changed so that a teacher who is suspended or fired due to crimes of this nature are no longer able to simply move to another school district, as Kendall did — the state is notified, so that the teaching license is not transferrable to another district.
At the same time, it’s essential that we allow the investigation to be completed.Â If the allegations end up being false, tremendous damage has already been done to the accused.
In the world of public schools, there are numerous safeguards to protect children, but parents should also be aware that similar precautions do not exist in all circumstances.Â Summer jobs, camp, and other activities that students engage in may hold dangers unknown… so know your kids.Â Talk to them, and hear what they’re telling you.
Their lives depend on it.