When parents send their children off on a yellow bus everyday, there’s an assumption that the children will be kept safe by the public school system. Recent reports of sexual abuse in the schools, however, have caused that trust to be questioned. Many families debate over whether or not to home school their children. It’s a serious commitment, often requiring sacrifice from every family member. In some places, like California, home schooling is highly restricted, so the stakes are even higher. This article is by no means the only ten reasons, or even the top ten reasons to home school. Rather, it’s a collection of facts taken from news headlines that remind us all of the dangers inherent in public school, which will hopefully help families make a wise choice.
1. Mark Berndt and Martin Springer of Miramonte elementary in Los Angeles, California made national news with their cases of graphic sexual abuse in the school. Berndt, under the guise of playing a game, blindfolded his young students and spoon fed them semen-laced cookies. He also photographed it, and in attempting to have the photos printed was turned in by the photo technician. He taught children for 30 years before his arrest. Springer was shortly thereafter indicted on counts of lewd acts with his students as well. One might hope that arresting these two and drastically replacing all staff at Miramonte would solve the problem, however, they’re not alone in LA county when it comes to the title of “child sex abuser”. In the last three weeks, six employees of the LAUSD school system have been booked in sex-related crimes while several others have been pulled from the classroom amid investigations. In California, the only way a parent can home school is if they have a teaching certificate, which most parents don’t. That means they have no choice but to send their children to public school, where it is now proven that child sexual abusers have been for decades. So much for freedom.
2. Richard Davis Jr., a teacher aide at Arlington Elementary school in Kentucky, has been indicted on charges of sexually abusing two children. The alleged incidents did not occur on school property. The charges are one count of incest, one count of first degree sodomy and three counts of first degree sexual abuse. Officials said he had no contact alone with kids at the school, but I can’t help but ask, does that make a difference to the parents? This was a man responsible for helping to shape and mold the young minds of the students in his classroom. This was also a man who had sexual desires for children in his mind. Would you want your child to be in his class?
3. Jason Fennes, a former first grade teacher in Morris county, New Jersey, was arrested for sexually abusing one of this six-year-old students in 2005. According to the victim, the abuse incidents happened during class. One incident happened in the school bathroom, and the other happened when Fennes made her sit on his lap while the rest of the class did an art project. The victim reported the abuse to someone in 2007, but this person was unsure what to do until December of 2011, when the incident was finally reported to police. Keep in mind that until this was reported to police last December, Fennes was still teaching first grade children. No other victims have come forward, but statistically speaking most don’t. The damage often remains in the shadows for years, and only comes to light in the scarred lives of the children.
4. Daniel Acker Jr., a retired elementary teacher in Shelby county, Alabama, has admitted to groping little girls on at least 20 occasions, including an incident in 1992 where the community rallied around him, and he was allowed to keep teaching. He has a stellar community service record in the schools where he worked and in the churches where he served, but that’s not unusual for child molesters. He was arrested January 4th after confessing to an allegation by a 12-year-old former student that said he molested her three times while she was in his fourth grade class in 2009. That was the year he retired from teaching. He also worked as a bus driver, even after retiring. At least one former student has accused him of molesting her on the bus when she was nine years old. Now that the allegations have been confirmed as true, all those who once supported him are silent. If parents think their child’s school is safe because the teacher seems to be a moral and faithful person with a good service record, that assumption must be reassessed and questioned. Parents must ask themselves, “how well do I really know my child’s teacher? What do I know that’s beyond public information? Am I willing to risk my child’s innocence?”
5. Darryl Lynch, a 55-year-old ROTC teacher at a midtown, Manhattan high school faces charges of forcible touching, sexual abuse and acting in a manner to injure a child under 17. The victim is a 14-year-old girl. According to the New York Times, “the charges are the latest in a string of sexual abuse accusations made against city school employees.” New York City public schools are in deed experiencing a rash of these cases, but more of that will come later in the list. This is just another example of how child sex abusers come in all shapes and sizes. The Reserve Officer Training Corps is supposed to encourage and train young people that want to go on and protect the United States of America and defend the Constitution in the armed forces. There is no such thing as a risk-free environment in the public school system.
6. Christopher Cox, a Jr. high School principal in Blackfoot Idaho, is charged with three counts of felony sexual abuse of a minor child. The victim was 14 at the time of the abuse in 2011. She was abused on school grounds, including once in his office. One report says that during this time, he gave her a copy of the book of Mormon and said in a note that she was going to be with him forever. Religious overtones aside, this girl was clearly drawn into a sexual relationship by someone she saw as a respected authority figure. The deception of child sexual abusers is so powerful over their victims that the children often blame themselves for taking part and allowing it to happen. The victim‘s family has since moved to another state, but there will be no escaping the emotional damage.
7. Alexander Pitkaphillips Evans, an 18-year-old high school student in Alaska, was indicted by a grand jury on one count of first degree sexual abuse of a minor and four counts of second degree sexual abuse. The abuse allegedly occurred on the bus to school. So then, it’s not just teachers and staff members that are potential abusers. Students have opportunities throughout the school day to abuse other students. This abuse often accompanies bullying and threats if the victims speaks out.
8. At Chahta-Ima Elementary school, in St. Tammany Parish Louisiana, a young boy was sexually abused in the school bathroom by another boy. The perpetrator was under age 10, so no charges could be filed. A safety plan has been put in place, but no other action was taken by the school. This brings to light the fact that a large percentage of child sexual abuse is what professionals refer to as “child on child” sexual abuse. When young children abuse their peers, it is often because they have been abused themselves. Again, one can only wonder how many of these incidents go unreported because of the victim’s fear or embarrassment.
9. This is a sampling of the string of New York City public school cases mentioned before. These could each make their own point, but then the article would become much larger than just ten reasons.
* Brett Picou, teacher aide in P.S. 52 in Queens, accused of sexually abusing six 9 and 10 year old girls.
* Taleek Brooks, school aide in P.S. 243 in Brooklyn, charged with creating child pornography in a classroom and with possession of child porn.
* Gregory Atkins, teacher aide at P.S. 87 in Manhattan, charged with molesting a young male student that he forced to strip down in the school bathroom.
* Wilbert Cortez, computer teacher at P.s. 174 in Queens, charged with fondling an 8-year-old and 9-year-old boy at his school.
* Chukwuma Duru, substitute teacher in P.S. 479 in the Bronx, accused of twisting a 16-year-old boy’s nipples.
Several of these men had histories of sexual contact with children buried in their personnel records. It’s obvious that these facts were buried deep enough to be missed when the men were hired to work with children. Common sense tells us this cannot be the first time in history that this has happened. It’s just coming to light because of all the news coverage. How many other men and women with histories of sexually touching children are currently working with kids in schools across America?
10. Paul Clifton Canally, a 29-year-old science teacher at Archer’s Lodge Middle school in Clayton North Carolina, has been charged with sexually abusing a boy from April 2010 to December 2011. The boy was 14 and 15 during the abuse. Canally has also been charged with possession of child pornography. Neighbors reported that he often had parties and barbeques at his house with students. Some neighbors reported that it was strange how he always had kids over at his house. However, in typical fashion he was a very nice guy that one would never expect to be molesting and raping young boys. The victim was obviously in high school, but none of Canally’s middle school students have come forward with reports of abuse…yet.
These are not isolated incidents; they are snapshots of a larger reality. They were randomly grabbed from news headlines in one day. This is not to suggest that every teacher and school staff member is a child sex abuser, of course. The real problem is that no one can tell who the abusers are until it‘s too late. Statistics say that only one in five cases of abuse ever get reported, which leads one to question how many more cases there are that have yet to come forward.
All of this being taken into consideration, parents have some serious questions to answer. How well do they know every single teacher, staff member and student that will have access to their child during a typical school day? Are they willing to risk their child’s safety in exchange for a pubic school education? Public school is far easier and more convenient for a family to educate their child than home schooling, but what is more valuable: a child’s innocence, or convenience?
Many proponents of public school say home schooling inadequately prepares children for the real world, and deprives them of socialization, but the statistics tell a different story. According to an independent study entitled “Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America”, home schooled children outperform their public school counterparts by 30 to 37 percentage points in all subjects. These results were not subjectively attained; they came from standardized state tests that both home schooled and public school children take. In another study titled “Socialization Skills in Home Schooled Children Versus Conventionally Schooled Children.”, researchers found that home schooled children scored better on the Social Skills Rating Scale. They collectively scored above average as opposed to publicly schooled children that scored average. In conclusion, there are a myriad of reasons to home school children, not the least of which are these incidences of abuse. One can only hope that this will jolt American parents awake about the truth of children’s safety at school.
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Remaly, Jake. “Affidavit: Former Teacher Sexually Assaulted Student.” Montville Patch. http://montville.patch.com
Faulk, Kent. “Accused as molester, Daniel Acker Jr. was once beloved Shelby county teacher.” The Birmingham News. http://blog.al.com
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