This week I want to discuss the uncomfortable, but seemingly growing, problem of adults in positions of trust who abuse that trust in their relationships with children. Evermore stories are appearing about public school teachers, many women, who enter into intimate relationships with their students. The latest story from Davis County involved a young boy who was actually involved with two public school teachers.
Is there a growing problem here? Are public school teachers increasingly twisted in their desire to prey upon their students?
The truth is that this sort of problem always has existed. I can recall from my middle school and high school days, outside of Washington, D.C., hearing about all sorts of these illicit situations. Most often those situations were either never discovered or kept under wraps when they were discovered. I had an 8th grade gym teacher who loved to watch boys going in and out of the showers. I remember thinking how creepy that was and never taking a shower around that guy. I still have an 8th grade report card where that teacher wrote to my parents instructing them to tell me to take showers after gym class. Only later did we find out the gym teacher was a homosexual who preferred boys and who was eventually fired from his job.
In our high school, we had a young man during my freshman year who had intimate relations with our Spanish teacher. In fact, they actually moved in together after he turned 18. Every kid knew what was going on. We used to tease him about it. And yet nothing was done by the administration. It’s hard to believe that no other adults knew what every kid knew.
The music teacher at our high school had sexual relations with at least a half-dozen girls. He was married and had children but he still was cavorting with his students. Again, every kid involved with that program knew what was going on but, for some reason, none of them really cared or couldn’t see the inherent problems involved. A few years later he transferred to another school. He wasn’t fired. He wasn’t put in jail. He was simply transferred…and we don’t even know if he was moved for this reason.
Then again, those things were going on in the early 1970’s just on the heels of the Summer of Love and the burgeoning sexual revolution.
Now that I’m a parent and a grandparent I see things differently. If I were a parent of a girl in that music class today, I think I might have been tempted to take matters into my own hands.
When you hear of these stories of abuse in our schools, what does it make you think of doing?
First of all, I think it’s important to remember that, for whatever problems our public school system has, the system isn’t to blame. Individual – sick people – are to blame. It could happen anywhere and it does.
And I think it’s important for public school advocates to remember as well, especially when we hear of the recent story about the little girl who was kidnapped and held against her will for 20 years – by the way, her captors necessarily had to “home school” the girl to keep her enslaved – that there are some child welfare advocates, inside and outside of the public school system, who argue that this sort of abuse is exactly the reason why we shouldn’t allow home schooling – because society can’t keep an eye on kids.
Again, the system isn’t the problem. Sick or seriously delusional individuals are the problem.
Lastly, for any liberals who might be listening – the three or four who live in Cache Valley – perhaps you might begin to understand why culture is so important. Does anyone really believe that liberal nonsense about “victimless crimes” or really believe Planned Parenthood when they argue that a sexualized culture is actually a healthy thing? Most of these adult abuses of young men and women inevitably involve exposures to pornography, drugs and alcohol to desensitize the youth.
Of course, this issue is very complex but the great lesson for all of us should be a play on Ronald Reagan’s axiom “trust but verify.” We can trust other people with our children as long as we take the necessary steps, as involved parents, to verify that adult-child relationships are kept within appropriate boundaries.
I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.