This story has been updated.
Recently, the highly-regarded town of Madison, Connecticut, experienced the unthinkable.
One of their female high school teachers was escorted out of the local high school (in handcuffs) for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a student…and not just any student but a prized football player. Worse yet, this teacher, who maintained a reputation of being extremely personable and adored by many of her students, happens to be married to another teacher who teaches at the very same school, Daniel Hand High School.
A parent to two young children herself, this teacher seemingly overlooked all of the internal and external inhibitors that would deter a teacher from morally and/or physically engaging in such a horrific behavior, including concern for one’s own family. The shock that befell this normally sleepy community couldn’t be described — except if you found your way onto “Yik Yak” during all of the turmoil.
As a parent living in Madison, myself, I could not help but feel the outrage and sadness that so many other parents and students were feeling, which was further exacerbated by the aggressive media coverage that descended upon the community. Beyond this, the very public knowledge regarding the victim's severe personal hardships leading up to this point made the impropriety seem even more atrocious and overtly calculated by the perpetrator.
Unfortunately, neither "anonymous" individual is alone nor the town of Madison for that matter. Primary and secondary schools tend to unknowingly invite predators' involvement merely because children are the "order" of the day. Sadly, some teachers confuse the meaning of the priorly noted word "order" with that used at a full-service buffet, where everything is on the menu and available for the taking! And although, one bad apple should not spoil the whole bunch for the rest of us per se, the magnitude of children affected by those that do is so monumental, that it would cost approximately $735 billion to rehabilitate all of the children needing psychiatric care given we placed each one of them in therapy.
Depression, suicide, intimacy issues that cross over into adulthood, lost interest in education, unexpected health issues as well as potentially mimicked behavior are just some of the affects known to result from the sexual abuse of children by teachers. Interestingly enough, although 40 percent of teachers accused of such abuse are women, only 10 percent of these women are ever arrested due to the double standard that seems to pervade in our society as to the acceptability of this particular dynamic over that of a male teacher sexually abusing a female student.
That same "acceptability" seems to underscore the motivation behind many of the female teachers that engage in such unlawful affairs. Predominantly falling into one of two categories, most female teachers who elicit sex with their male students while in the secondary school environment either feel that they are providing them with a positive sexual experience and education of which only a "mature" woman can do or remain so infantile in their own demeanors that they regress back to their own youths to carry out sexual fantasies that they had only wished they had back in the day.
More of an "opportunistic" abuser rather than a "fixated" abuser (found more readily in primary school environments), these teachers tend to be in their 20s and 30s; emit sexual, inappropriate overtones; and choose their conquests in purposeful manners, thus, reducing the risk of getting caught while testing the magnitude of secrecy the victim will maintain. Boys who tend to be quiet, shy, or troublemakers remain at a heightened risk for prospecting by these teachers -- the rationale being that they either won't tell or nobody will believe them anyway. It doesn't help that only 11 percent of teachers working in the United States, currently would take the next step and alert the school administration or authorities if one of these boys did come forward -- a rather discouraging statistic if you ask me.
In light of all of these realities, the best defense parents and schools can take is to enlist a powerful offense.
We need to educate and empower our kids to identify and act upon inappropriate teaching behavior in manners that will bring them to light and to the attention of authorities before any irreversible damage is done -- such as in the case of the many "grooming" techniques these teachers employ to increase the intimacy and alone time spent with their victims. To that same end, schools, specifically, need to work towards creating safer educational environments that hire, monitor, train and message with a no tolerance policy as standard.
They must encourage, support, reward, and protect students and teachers in a manner that allows them to confidently come forward when an issue like this occurs. Certainly, the more we do the better.
As we all know, no matter how on-guard students, parents, teachers, schools, and communities remain, none of what we do will eliminate this terrible problem in its entirety. That said, committing ourselves to reducing the propensity of this issue can not be overlooked. Robbing even one child of a proper education, security or a future because some screwball teacher has a different curriculum up her sleeve is unacceptable.
Stories like the one that happened at Daniel Hand High School in Madison might be great for Yik Yak, but they stink for our country. The U.S. education system is already in enormous turmoil; adding illegal sex to the long list of existing infractions does little more than further destroy the fabric in which this country is shakily resting upon.
It’s time to make a change – and a very explicit one at that – so that we may deter other teachers with similar intent from combing their student rosters for their next boyfriends (or girlfriends). Adding to the 4 million students per year that currently endure such victimization shouldn't be part of the existing public school agenda.
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