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Is Your School Safe From Sex Offenders?

Submitted by on January 8, 2011 – 2:37 pm7 Comments

As school begins for the spring semester (or lingers just around the corner for some of us), the inevitable evokes images of seeing our friends, studying hard, and dreaded exams and papers.

However, there may be more danger lurking in the halls of our educational institutions than we realize.

USA Today reports many schools across the nation have been unknowingly hiring registered sex offenders as teachers, principals, administrators, and other positions which put them in direct contact with young people—the exact situations that they are supposed to stay well away from.

How does this happen?

While laws explicitly prohibit this type of employment by those registered as sex offenders, it is up to the schools themselves to enforce policies which comply with the law. Simply put, schools have to do background checks and criminal history screenings. For many schools, these types of screenings either cost too much or take too long, especially when a vacancy in personnel needs to be filled quickly.

Also, the laws vary from state to state, meaning some states have much stricter laws than others for conducting these checks and determining who is eligible for employment by the various school systems.

Of course, none of these excuses are good enough when it comes to the safety of children, especially not when one considers these staggering numbers.

An Education Department study estimates that millions of kids in kindergarten through 12th grade are victims of sexual misconduct by a school employee at some point. The GAO report also notes most sexual abuse of children goes unreported. In one study it cites, 232 child molesters admitted to molesting a total of 17,000 victims, often without ever being caught.

Furthermore, many of the schools encountering these issues haven’t even had to deal with problems with the background checks, besides the fact that they failed to conduct them. In other cases, teachers dismissed from schools for sexual misconduct get glowing recommendation letters from colleagues which allows them to go to another school and continue the same criminal behavior. Failure to follow up on peculiar interview or application responses may also lead to rendering young students unsafe. Fear of lawsuits by the applicants is cited as well.

None of these excuses come close to justifying the lack of foresight (or sight in general) displayed by several of these school systems across the country. The fact of the matter is, the most important people at any school are the students and they should be able to come to school and learn unharmed. Obviously, school administration is supposed to take every single precaution—no matter the cost—to ensure this is the case. No matter how long the checks take, how much they cost, how uncomfortable it is to pry during interviews, or how many times the school is threatened with a lawsuit for doing its job, the major priority is keeping children safe.

The very fact that this needs to be said indicates communities need to do a better job of holding school officials accountable for the safety as well as the education of their children. Since many of these folks are so afraid of a lawsuit, maybe one filed by the parent of a child who suffered abuse from one of these unscreened employees will help to get the message across?

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  • I’m glad it was useful to me. Thanks for your work. Ill be in touch

  • Im glad to see this informative article. Thanks for such helpful and useful post.

  • Kwaping says:

    Hey Chris, welcome back! I was wondering where you’ve been.

    Besides faulting the schools, I think the sex offenders themselves are to blame for even applying for these positions. If a sex offender applies for a job that they know they are not allowed to have, they are most likely up to no good. In that case, I think even APPLYING for a banned position should put them in jail for a good amount of time. That would give real teeth to these background checks that schools are supposed to do. If they knew a positive hit on their check would send them back to jail, I’m sure they wouldn’t even try to get these jobs.

  • WLUK says:

    Dale akiki

  • Thanks, Mr. Kwaping!

    You have (once again) made an excellent point that in my haste, I hadn’t even considered.
    The only trouble with that is it would mean that we’re expecting honesty from… CRIMINALS. We’d very likely fill and overcrowd the prisons using that rationale.
    In an ideal situation, though, that’s exactly how it would work.

  • Trishasmith says:

    Thank you for posting this very informative post! The first thing I would do before enrolling my kids to a certain school is to check the school whether its’ safe or not. I do this because it’s where our kids stay most of time. I have actually a protection for my kids from Safekidzone in which they can view the crime data map and threat level of an area and they will be also alerted if they are near at the area where there are registered sex offenders. What I really love about the service is that my kids can ask immediate help from their trusted friends, family members and the nearest 911 if they are in danger by just press the panic button installed on their cell phones. Now I am confident that my kids are safe wethe they are at school or at home alone because I would also be able to know where they are currently located. If you want to check out, this is their site http://Safekidzone.com/

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