Protecting the Innocent

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.  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.  Likewise, most parents do not believe that sending their child to school will result in exposure to sexual predators.

Folks, sick people do exist.  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.  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.  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.  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?  I doubt it.  To the contrary, it’s often at school that abuse in the home is revealed.  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.  William Marcus Kendall was fired, arrested, and convicted of sexual battery, statutory rape, and attempted rape, and sentenced to prison.  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.  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.  Summer jobs, camp, and other activities that students engage in may hold dangers unknown… so know your kids.  Talk to them, and hear what they’re telling you.

Their lives depend on it.

3 Responses to “Protecting the Innocent”

  1. on 24 Sep 2006 at 10:06 pm AnotherAtomicCitizen

    Netmom, I would never put our government institution below what a single or two or more parent home can do. I truly meant that home schooling parents should be monitored just the same as government schools. 2 Teachers in 6 years have allegations and 1 is convicted. Please do not take my words and suggest that home schooling is perfect. It is not. I just want our governing people to watch out for our children in ALL places where they may be, including home.

    My comment in ASS&S

    “This is an issue with parents that home school also, if the state does not investigate home schools, the children are in danger.”

  2. on 25 Sep 2006 at 6:36 am AT

    The way I see it, a well rounded person comes out of both good and bad experiences in mass socalization. Putting a kid in Boy Scouts or Soccer to make up for the socialization missed by homeschooling ain’t the same thing, because its essentially putting the kid with friends, or at least putting it with other similarly aged kids with the same goal.
    I like that parents have the choice to home school. I think that most do it in order to provide some sort of narrow worldview that the parents feel (perhaps rightly) that the kid would want to eschew were he/she to get out in the real world.
    OK, that keeps the kid being Mommy’s Little Angel until 18, and then screws the kid when it gets out of the house.

    Course, this has nothing to do with what you were saying, does it?
    Of course sickos are everywhere. Not only does a parent have to know whats up with the kid, the parent also has to trust the kid to be able to avoid those situations.

  3. on 25 Sep 2006 at 8:53 am Joel

    Thoughtful, well-crafted post, netmom.

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