Sunday, September 2, 2012

Man Bites Dog

“It is very common for the teachers of the year, the championship coaches and the vanguards of education to be perpetrators,’ said Terri Miller, president of the national organization Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, who said such teachers wear “a mask of deception.”
That's from an article by Colleen Diskin in the Bergen Record.
It seems that last year's winner of the "Teacher of the Year" award for Essex County, New Jersey just got charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy in one of her honors classes. But, as Ron Popeil would say.  That's not all.
[She]* is not the first award-winning teacher to be accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenage student. In 2008, James Darden was sentenced to eight years in prison, after admitting to having a two-year sexual relationship with a student that started when she was 13. In 2005, Darden had won the prestigious Milken Family Foundation Educator Award and his arrest shocked the community at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Teaneck, where he had been a beloved and popular teacher.
See, it's a trend of two in four years.  Which is how we get to Terri Miller who tells us that a large percentage of the very best "educators" are also child molesters.
A couple of years ago, I told this story.
Emily Webb. Age 7. Left at the wrong school bus stop.
She told the school bus driver it wasn't her stop. She wasn't supposed to get off there. It's not where her mother was waiting. Didn't matter. The driver made her get off the bus.She was scared, crying.
An older man, old enough to be her father, offered to "help."
She left with him.
Amazingly enough, that man turned out not to be a child molester. He did not abduct Emily, did not rape her, did not abuse her in any way.
Clearly a miracle.  Her parents certainly thought so.

Both shudder at the thought she could just as easily have encountered a predator.
That's what Diane Petryk told us in the Sunbury [Pennsylvania] Daily Item, though I added the italics.  And let's focus on that italicized point for just a moment.  Here's what Lenore Skenazy had to say.
Really? "Just as easily?" So it's a 50-50 split now, between predators and everybody else on the street? If one person's walking a dog, the next one is probably carrying some duct tape and chloroform?
Well, actually, no.  No more than it's "very common" for star teachers, coaches, and other educators to be molesting their charges.
Does it happen? Sure.  And the media covers it with a vengeance when it does.  Why? Because it's rare.
Here's a question to consider?  Should you keep your kids away from the best teachers because they're probably rapists?  Hell, should you keep your kids out of school because all the teachers are predators?  
Yes, it happens that children are sometimes molested by their teachers. And sometimes by their doctors and their dentists and the guy at the shoe store.  
And sometimes (really, far more often), by their priest or their uncle or mom or dad or the family friend.
And even that's not the norm.
Maybe the Essex County Teacher of the Year did what she's accused of.  Maybe not.  Apparently James Darden, Milken Family Foundation Educator Award winner did.  It happens, and I don't mean to make light of it.  Abuse scars, even when the scars aren't visible.
But it really isn't the norm, isn't even common.
A sense of proportion, you know.

Remember, Emily Webb, age 7, Left at the wrong school bus stop.
Made it home safely. 
*In keeping with my new policy of not naming accused-but-not-convicted sex offenders and thereby ruining the lives of those presumed innocent, I refer to the woman accused in this case only as "she."  

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