Sex Abuse Laws Can Fail School Kids
Posted on Oct 28, 2007
Every school has rules governing teacher behavior. Every state has laws against child abuse, and many specifically outlaw teachers taking sexual liberties with students. Every district has administrators who watch out for sexual misconduct by teachers. Yet people like Chad Maughan stay in the classroom. Maughan got in trouble twice for viewing pornography at schools in Washington state but was allowed to keep teaching. Within two years, he was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl in his school. Legal loopholes, fear of lawsuits and inattention all have weakened the safeguards that are supposed to protect children in school. The system fails hundreds of kids each year, an AP investigation found. It undoubtedly fails many more whose offenders go free. State efforts to strengthen laws against sex abuse by teachers have run into opposition from school boards and teachers unions. In Congress, a measure that would train investigators and create a national registry of offenders hasn't even gotten a hearing. Few leaders recognize — let alone attack — a national shame. "Instead of ignoring it or fighting it, why don't you get ahead of it?" says Ted Thompson, executive director of the National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children.