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]


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.


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.