Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sexual abuse of children by persons in trusted positions of authority

I heard an NPR report yesterday about the ongoing scandal of Catholic priests' sexual exploitation of children and the Church's stalwart protection of those priests . . . and failure to protect the children.

A devastating story. As the story ended, I thought, "Supposing these power players in the Church actually believe anything they teach about the spiritual realm, how can they imagine this kind of behavior wouldn't wreak spiritual havoc in the lives of these children's--not to mention the children's parents'--eternal souls?"

Strange "coincidence" (???): I also received a gentle question about my modification of a story I reported on a month ago . . . about sexual abuse in public schools.

I had modified a blog post by Matt Walsh with the following annotations:
[T]here was a 2004 study titled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, commissioned by the Department of Education. It received no attention from anyone, but the findings were terrifying: nearly 10 percent of all public schooled students had been raped, abused, or sexually harassed by teachers someone at school. Over two percent by teachers. [NOTE: . . . I . . . replaced the link in [Walsh's] article [with a link] to the actual study by Charol Shakeshaft. If you go to the original study, see pp. 16ff (PDF pages 24ff) and pay particular attention to the paragraph that straddles pp. 17 and 18 (25 and 26). There you will read, "This analysis (Shakeshaft, 2003) indicates that 9.6 percent of all students in grades 8 to 11 report contact and/or noncontact educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted." Many reports--like Walsh's--have run with that number alone. They have not gone on to note (what appears three sentences later, in the same paragraph) that "Of students who experienced any kind of sexual misconduct in schools, 21 percent were targets of educators, while the remaining 79 percent were targets of other students" (emphases added; JAH). Multiply 9.6% by 21 percent and you wind up with 2.016%. So--adding in one more caveat made by Shakeshaft (p. 17 (25)), that her "findings can be generalized to all public school students in 8th to 11th grades at a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points"--we can conclude that approximately 2 percent of all students may, indeed, be sexually abused or harassed by adult educators at school using "civil and criminal definitions of sexual abuse and harassment." --I find that figure more believable. But every bit as much disturbing!--JAH]

TEN TWO PERCENT.

That makes the sex scandal in public schools many, many, many times more prevalent than the abuse epidemic in the Catholic Church. . . .

My correspondent, Melinda, wrote,
John, I think you made a mistake. . . . [T]he quote you give says 9.6% report EDUCATOR sexual misconduct. The second quote says that of those who experienced any kind of sexual misconduct, 21% were the targets of educators. I would read those 2 statistics as 9.6% experienced educator misconduct, and far, far more experienced sexual misconduct from other sources. If I'm right, there would be just under 10% who experienced educator sexual misconduct, and that number is only 1/5 of the total number who experienced sexual misconduct. . . . The total number of students in grades 8-11 who experienced some type of sexual misconduct by somebody would be closer to 50%!

Well, I re-looked at the underlying document. I recalled that Melinda's interpretation had been my own at first. But, then, the suggestion that almost 50 percent of all students are sexually abused seemed completely unbelievable. And when you read Shakeshaft's article, she goes to great lengths describing the abuse by all manner of people (and, most especially, students) in the public schools.

On the other hand, Shakeshaft consistently refers to educator abuse. And I would never classify students as educators!

Still, I was uncomfortable. Because when Shakeshaft puts "students" in a list of possible abusers, she never includes "educators" as a separate class of potential abusers; instead, she always refers to "teachers," "school employees," "coaches" and so forth. The word "educators" always comes up separately. Then again, how else might one refer to teachers, coaches, administrators, and so forth in one word? Educator seems appropriate.

I kept digging. Finally, I came across another document that Shakeshaft referenced--a document that she herself wrote.

After reading this second document, I have come to the conclusion that Melinda is correct. I was wrong. Matt Walsh was right. Which--sadly--means Walsh's (and others') comments about the comparison between the Catholic Church's scandal and sexual abuse in the public schools totally appropriate.

In this new document I read, Dr. Shakeshaft writes (see the last page of the linked PDF):
[W]hen alleged abuse is reported [in the public schools], the majority of complaints are ignored or disbelieved. Other students note this lack of response and reason that it is futile to try to stop a teacher from harassing since the school has not done anything about it in the past.

Until recently, teacher unions have been active in keeping fingerprinting legislation or statutes that prohibit educator sexual abuse from being passed. And, as in the case of fingerprinting, current teachers are exempt from the regulations.

Even when students allege abuse and the district responds, few students, families or school districts report this sexual abuse to the police or other law enforcement officials. As a result, most cases are not logged into the criminal justice system. Instead, abusers are dealt with using internal channels. In one of my early studies of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York, none of the abusers were reported to authorities, and only 1 percent lost the license to teach.

In the aforementioned study, all of the accused had admitted to physical sexual abuse of a student, but only 35 percent suffered a negative consequence of these actions: 15 percent were terminated or, if not tenured, were not
rehired; and 20 percent received a formal reprimand or suspension. Another 25 percent received no consequence or were spoken with informally. Nearly 39 percent chose to leave the district, most with retirement packages or positive
recommendations intact.

Of the 54 percent who were terminated or retired, superintendents reported that 16 percent were teaching in other schools and that they did not know what had happened to the other 84 percent. A recent report on sexual abuse in New
York City indicates that 60 percent of employees who were accused of sexual abuse were transferred to desk jobs at offices inside schools, and 40 percent of these teachers were repeat offenders.
The Church (rightly) is being hung out to dry for the offenses of its priests. These preachers of virtue, one would hope, would be virtuous themselves.

But even acknowledging that the public schools long ago disavowed any responsibility to teach morals or ethics, where is the outrage against the schools for their unseemly cover-ups?

Why is there so little public knowledge of the dangers in the public schools? (Note the comment by one person on the NPR site: "Public schools have never engaged in widespread abuse of children and subsequent cover-up." --Really?!?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Magical photos. Absolutely gorgeous. . . . From Russia. For Fun


There's something about the lighting, the focus, the colors. GORGEOUS composition.

A mother's love for her two sons expressed in photographs over the course of a year as the boys interact with their natural environment.

Enjoy!

http://www.boredpanda.com/animal-children-photography-elena-shumilova/

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Brilliant and SIMPLE car safety precaution for parents of toddlers

Place a sticker on your child's car seat that includes child's name, DOB, parents' names, phone, emergency contact info, child's doctor, and information about any medical issues and medications.

Full story here.

Amazing story . . . from a map

Check out this Google maps location.


View Larger Map

Then zoom in one notch at a time.

Obviously, we are talking about a place “in the middle of absolutely nowhere.”

So what’s there? Keep zooming.

When the scale gets to 1 mi, you will see a more-or-less black dot.

At the 2000 ft scale, you will see a verbal marker that tells you what it is.

At 1000 ft, you will actually begin to see what it is, but I'm sure you won't believe your eyes. . . .

Feel free to zoom in further.

For the back story of this object, to see how it was constructed, and to verify that what you see really is real.

The author of the article suggests this memorial will "live on forever." I'm astonished it still shows up over six years after it was constructed. I would think the desert sands will soon cover it up. In the meantime, however, I'm impressed!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Cue the Black Swan

One of those events that ought to cause us to take notice:
On 31 December 2013, only hours after the Panamanian Government gazetted a new law, shock waves went through Panama's business community. The outcry generated demands that the law be amended or repealed immediately.
The primary subject of Law No. 120 of 2013 had nothing to do with income taxes, but two articles had been inserted into it to amend the tax code. Of greatest concern was that,
"Every natural or juridical, domestic or foreign, who receives any taxable income within or outside Panamanian territory, must pay taxes."
The meaning was clear: Those who pay taxes in Panama must in the future, pay based on their worldwide income instead of just their Panamanian-sourced income.
What do those of us here in the United States care about Panama and its tax law?

I urge you to read the rest of the article.

Take note of how the law was passed. And why it was passed. And why it was passed in the way it was passed. . . . And then pay attention to parallels here in the United States.

And while you're there, I encourage you to read the first three responses to or comments on the article. Mike Robinson adds another exemplary story of what we are observing . . . and/or are about to observe.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Homeschooling anti-social?

Hot button issues like Senator Cafaro's proposed legislation in Ohio often brings out passionate commentary. And, sadly, too often, over-the-top, mean-spirited, little-better-than-name-calling vitriol.

However, there can often be thoughtful discussion woven through the midst of all the garbage.

I was impressed by the following interchange on Matt Walsh's blog as a result of his post Wednesday on Senator Cafaro's proposed legislation.

imsargarepa wrote:
I think there is an ideology associated with some brands of homeschooling (and I sense this from you) that is a dangerous current in American society. Here’s why: how lovely that you are financially and intellectually able to educate your children in your home. Good for you. There are MANY, MANY, a MAJORITY of families who can’t. When families like yours continue to pull out of the public sector, you take with you valuable resources, energy, and parental support that could benefit the community as a whole. While there are some valid and good reasons to homeschool, I consider the practice, in general, to be incredibly selfish, shortsighted and individualistic. Way to teach your children to be a part of something greater than themselves and their own ideals.

What I fear more than the dystopia of which you speak is a generation of children who have never heard any other perspectives than those of their extremist parents.
And LYM replied:
Do you put your children in failing inner city schools? Or do you use schools with the highest academic standards whose participating homes you can afford? If you don’t put your kids in the worst schools, you are pulling out of their tax base and taking with you the valuable resources, energy, and parental support that could benefit that community as a whole. While there are some valid and good reasons to go to non-horrible schools, [should I quote back to you what you just wrote?] "I consider the practice, in general, to be incredibly selfish, shortsighted and individualistic. Way to teach your children to be a part of something greater than themselves and their own ideals."

Truly, unless you have had personal contact with schools like this (I have), you have NO IDEA how much they could benefit from a family like yours participating in it. How selfish that you go to a school where students can afford their own lunches, buses get the kids to school in time for the first bell, and teachers aren’t sworn at by, or swearing at, children every hour!
imsargarepa responded:
Yep. My husband [and I] do, in fact, live purposely in the inner city and send our children to the local school, which is not by anyone’s standard a stand out institution. Our school is 80% free and reduced lunch; however there is no swearing at or by teachers at our school. My children are thriving there despite many problems we encounter there. It’s a very real world situation. We try to pour ourselves and our resources in to making a difference where we can, with what we have.
And, once more, LYM replied:
If it is not a charter school, and truly is an inner city school, kudos to you for putting your money where your mouth is. With my honest admiration in mind, though, I have two points for you.

The schools I am talking about are 100% free (not even reduced) breakfast and lunch. Yes, the students swear at and hit the teachers. Daily. Yes, one of the school buses arrives half an hour late for school, every day. Yes, the 6 year old is bullied and beaten regularly (no one does anything), but is somehow expected to know what a declarative sentence is (developmentally inappropriate expectation). No, the middle schooler does not know who the first president of the US was. No, the high schooler making A’s in history does not know who George Washington was. Yes, the school calls CPS on parents because a child regularly loses her glasses and doesn’t tell the parents she lost them again, resulting in yet another pointless months-long investigation. Yes, the principals and teachers have been indicted for cheating scandals. Yes, 50% of the students are pregnant before graduation, if they graduate.

Now, with that in mind, would you put your children in *that* school? If not, why not?

My point is that there is a scale of what any individual is called to do on a given issue. And that brings me to my second point. I cloth diaper, make my own cleaners of baking soda & vinegar, compost, recycle, buy organic food from local farmers only, refuse to buy synthetic fabrics or new clothes made by sweat shops, and as a result of all my efforts, put out only one bag of trash per week for 7 people. Is it right for me to go around saying that any of my friends who do less are incredibly selfish and short-sighted? NO. We all have causes that tug at our hearts, and we throw ourselves into the things about which we’re most passionate, even while recognizing that there are other causes deserving of attention. We can’t all do everything, and we shouldn’t go around verbally assaulting those being called to work on something else, or work on the same issue in a different way.

I homeschool my children not because I’m selfish or individualistic (actually, I find that homeschooling them has created much more community-minded children than the dog-eat-dog public school peer-herd mentality in which I was educated), but because I feel that is the best way for me to produce well-rounded, compassionate, generous, extremely well-educated human beings for the next generation. I help inner city families who wish to get out of the atrocious schools I mentioned to homeschool. You help them by putting your children into the pit with their children, and I trust that your judgment is correct that the net effect is positive both for them and for your children. I help them by helping them to get out of the pit. Who am I and who are you to say that the other has made the wrong, selfish, short-sighted choice?

Peace be with you.
As with so many things in life--whether haircuts and hair color, clothing, cars, sporting events, other forms of entertainment, exercise, health, food, drink, vacations . . . and just about anything else on which we might spend our time or money, some of us are willing to invest more . . . and some of us are willing to invest very much less.

So the question becomes: must everyone else toe my party line? Or . . . ????

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Petition | Sen. Capri Cafaro: Withdraw Ohio Senate Bill 248

Yay! Perfect response to Senator Cafaro's misguided proposed legislation . . . from Change.org: Petitioning The Governor of OH Sen. Capri Cafaro: Withdraw Ohio Senate Bill 248.

To my homeschooling friends: Let's write to the senator; but let's make sure we have our fact straight!

I thought I should write a Post Script to my previous post about the Ohio State Senator who believes potential homeschoolers require greater scrutiny.

My point in showing the various factual errors in Matt Walsh's blog post was not to disagree with his goal. But it was to encourage homeschoolers, when we write to Senator Cafaro, to get our facts straight.

Oh. And one more fact to keep in mind: She is female. Walsh used the masculine pronoun when referring to her ("To make his case, Senator Capri Cafaro . . ."). It would be rather uncool to refer to her as a male!

If you want the wording of the actual legislation, go here.

Boy! If they placed that kind of regulation over the public schools, I think Walsh is correct: virtually all government schools would have been shut down long ago! (And can you imagine the backlog on Social Services to interview every teacher, every administrator, and every student in every school in Ohio?)

Abuse at home and/or school; who is being regulated?

This just in courtesy Matt Walsh
[Ohio State Senator Capri Cafaro] wants to require all homeschool parents to undergo a Social Services investigation [before they will be permitted to teach their children. Her proposal comes following] the child abuse death of a 14 year old kid. Teddy Foltz-Tedesco died last year after his mother pulled him out of school to hide his abuse from authorities. The boy was finally beaten to death by the mother’s boyfriend. . . .

[Teddy]’s abuse was already reported to Social Services. Social Services failed to act, and now, in response to THEIR OWN failures, politicians want to give them MORE power. . . .
Walsh has more to say about tyranny in Ohio. But then he brings up something that completely blew me away. VERY disturbing.
[I]f the rare case of an abusive homeschool parent can serve as an indictment of homeschooling, why can’t the more common case of a sexually abusive teacher serve as an indictment of public schools? By this politician’s . . . logic, all government schools should have been shutdown long ago. In fact, there was a 2004 study titled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, commissioned by the Department of Education. It received no attention from anyone, but the findings were terrifying: nearly 10 percent of all public schooled students had been raped, abused, or sexually harassed by teachers someone at school. Over two percent by teachers. teachers [NOTE: I made the correction, here, based on the fact that I actually read the referenced study. (Walsh never referenced it directly. He merely referenced a Psychology Today article that referenced the study. I was the one who replaced the link in the article to the actual study by Charol Shakeshaft. If you go to the original study, see pp. 16ff (PDF pages 24ff) and pay particular attention to the paragraph that straddles pp. 17 and 18 (25 and 26). There you will read, "This analysis (Shakeshaft, 2003) indicates that 9.6 percent of all students in grades 8 to 11 report contact and/or noncontact educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted." Many reports--like Walsh's--have run with that number alone. They have not gone on to note (what appears three sentences later, in the same paragraph) that "Of students who experienced any kind of sexual misconduct in schools, 21 percent were targets of educators, while the remaining 79 percent were targets of other students" (emphases added; JAH). Multiply 9.6% by 21 percent and you wind up with 2.016%. So--adding in one more caveat made by Shakeshaft (p. 17 (25)), that her "findings can be generalized to all public school students in 8th to 11th grades at a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points"--we can conclude that approximately 2 percent of all students may, indeed, be sexually abused or harassed by adult educators at school using "civil and criminal definitions of sexual abuse and harassment." --I find that figure more believable. But every bit as much disturbing!--JAH] [NOTE (23 January 2014: Following Melissa's comment on 22 January, I re-read the article and did some further study. Walsh was correct all along. My emendations of the text of his article were unwarranted. Please see my follow-up article here.]

TEN TWO TEN PERCENT.

That makes the sex scandal in public schools many, many, many times more prevalent than the abuse epidemic in the Catholic Church. It’s not even close, actually. The Hofstra researcher who conducted the study had this to say: “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” [Quote found here. NOTE: It is well worth your while to study the larger context in which the quote appears. The multiplier might be far lower than that. Perhaps "only" 5 or 10 or 50. As the author of the article writes: "Ms. Shakeshaft acknowledged that the accuracy of such comparisons might be thrown off by any number of factors, including undercounting of youngsters abused by priests. But that uncertainty only underscores the need for better research on the prevalence of sexual misconduct in the schools. . . ."Educator sexual misconduct is woefully understudied." Despite all of these qualifiers, I think Walsh's point remains. --JAH]


And homeschool kids are the ones at risk?

Add school shootings, gang violence, fights, bullying, and administrative abuse in the form of zero tolerance policies that brand and label young kids as criminals, and public school is clearly a much more dangerous proposition.

But what serious attempt have our politicians made to curb the sexual abuse of kids in public schools? It’s hard to address a problem if you’ve decided that the problem doesn’t exist.

Some teacher’s unions even think teachers ought to be given cash rewards after being found guilty of serial rape. A severance package for a man who sexually abused a young boy for three years? That’s not just “inappropriate,” that’s co-conspiratorial, as far as I’m concerned.

The government has no place pointing the finger of suspicion at parents. We are the ones who have every possible reason to be suspicious of them. The vast majority of us are doing our best to raise our kids in a hostile environment; an environment made all the more hostile by the very government entities that pretend to be concerned about the health and safety of our children.
If you got this far, I hope you are as enraged as I am at the duplicity. Something about the pot calling the kettle black. Or people in glass houses throwing stones. Or, simply, justice, even playing fields, and getting your own house in order.

But Walsh continues. He's on a roll. Why not?

We have a problem, America. We seem to be under the impression that our kids are safer in government buildings than they are in our homes. We have succumbed to a brainwashing campaign. . . .

Homeschooling laws vary by state. Some have virtually no regulations, some make moderate efforts to “keep tabs” on those dangerous homeschooling terrorists, while others are ruthless in protecting and expanding their government education system. In these states, homeschooling parents have to (among other things) register their curriculum with the education department, and even endure home visitations from government agents.

Surely, we can all see how terrible that is, can’t we? A government agent invading your house to investigate what information you’re passing on to your child? Can any substantive notion of freedom coexist along side such a thing? Extremist that I am, I don’t think homeschool parents should be required to make any effort to “check in” with any government agency, no matter how convenient they make the process. But even if you aren’t ready to meet me there, even if you can’t quite get on board with full parental liberty, aren’t we at least on the same page that homeschool parents shouldn’t be treated like sex offenders on parole?
I'll buy that!

Full original article: Politician: “Let’s treat all homeschool parents like felony child abusers” | The Matt Walsh Blog

A little girl’s simple science project turns into an eye-opening discovery of what's in the food her family eats

Here, 8-year-old Elise tells the story of her experiment:



Mom wrote, in the comments section: "This was an innocently discovered conclusion.  No agenda ahead of time.  In fact. . . this opened our eyes and changed the way we eat in our family!!"

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mean? or the "perfect solution to obnoxiously loud public cellphone conversations"?



I don't think I'd have the chutzpah to do what Greg Benson does here.

From Gawker.com: The Perfect Solution to Obnoxiously Loud Public Cellphone Conversations

And the "outtakes":



Ouch!

Going against the flow. SOMEONE has to speak up! Will it be you? Or me?

Powerful video (watched at 2.5x using Enounce MySpeed)



Yay for the powerful women who refused to stand by silently. Most moving portion begins at about 6:28 . . . but you have to watch the build-up. The whole thing is strong, but if you're in a rush, start at about 4:47.

Yowza!

WWYD Employee With Down Syndrome Insulted By Customers - YouTube