Millions of dollars have been allocated to “school safety” over the last year through local, state, and federal sources to ‘reduce school violence’ with a focus on the mental health of kids and preventing school shootings, but not a dime has been allocated to protect kids from sexual assault or predators in North Carolina classrooms.
School shootings are rare, but sexual abuse by a school employee is not.
Where are the millions to protect them?
Where is the federal grant to improve teacher background checks that include fingerprinting? A state-wide and nation-wide unified reporting system? A tip line for those being abused or for those to report suspected abuse? Training for teachers to prevent abuse and better identify those who might pose a threat? Counseling services for those students who have been abused?
The NC Dept. of Public Instruction (NCDPI) recently announced that the NC Center for Safer Schools has been awarded a grant of almost $1 million from the U.S. Justice Department to “enhance the key supports it provides to the state’s 116 school districts and 197 charter schools.”
In addition to this grant, over $3.1 million is being spent over the next five years on the school safety anonymous tip reporting app “Say Something.” This app is the product of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation and has a number of concerning issues that I’ll report on at a later date but for now, it bears mentioning that this app was inexplicably chosen over the “Speak Up” app, which had been piloted successfully during 2018.
No one is saying there shouldn’t be spending on making schools safer places, but how about we start with the bigger threat — sexual assault by a school employee.
One out of Ten Students Will Be Sexually Assaulted During K-12
According to a 2014 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, K-12 schools in the United States lack a systemic approach for reporting and preventing sexual abuse of students by educators or school staff.
The 2014 GAO report referred to a 2004 study which showed that 9.6 percent of students who are subjected to sexual misconduct by teachers, coaches, principals, bus drivers, and other personnel during their K-12 career. That 9.6 percent translates to 1 in 10 children being sexually assaulted by someone affiliated with a school who is entrusted with their safety.
The GAO report was confirmed and added to in a 2017 report commissioned by the Dept. of Justice which I reported last year. The 2017 report is titled “A Case Study of K–12 School Employee Sexual Misconduct,” and focuses on incidents during 2014.
The 2017 report looked at “five geographically and demographically diverse districts that experienced an incident of school employee sexual misconduct in 2014.” According to the first paragraph, “An estimated 10% of K–12 students will experience sexual misconduct by a school employee by the time they graduate from high school.”
Using 2017 data, there were nearly 51 million PreK-12 students in the United States and based on that number, 10% of 51 million students translates to 5.1 million kids.
Between 1977 and 2015, the State of North Carolina has revoked 785 teacher licenses; the vast majority of which were for sexual contact with students or drugs.
In 2016, 45 teachers lost their NC teaching license and 22 of those cases involved sex crimes or sexual misconduct with a student or minor child. The following year, 42 teachers lost their licenses and around half were tied to sexual contact with a student or minor.
In 2018, around 16 of the 29 teachers who lost their licenses did so due to sexual contact with a student or inappropriate communications such as ‘sexting.”
It’s now 2019, and 22 teachers have had their licenses revoked to date by the state and 18 of them stem from sexual activity with students. To clarify, those revocations may or may not be tied to an arrest either in the current year or in previous years. Eight of those who had their license revoked in 2019 were due to court convictions ranging from crimes against nature to taking indecent liberties and sexual misconduct to statutory rape.
And all of these are just the ones who were caught and either arrested and convicted or were brought before the State Board’s licensure discipline review board.
In 2019, this website has tracked 48 arrests of teachers or school personnel since January. Out of that 48, only a single one has had their license revoked. This site also tracked 42 arrests in 2018, 55 arrests in 2017 and 34 arrests in 2016.
It is worth noting that the arrests this website tracks are just the ones we have been tipped off about or that have been reported in the media. Given that 1 in 10 kids will be sexually assaulted during their K-12 careers, how many more cases are there that are not being reported on?
One out of 614 Million will be killed by a School Shooter
This website has tracked the Quiet Epidemic of teacher arrests for close to four years. During that time, there were roughly 175 teacher or school employee arrests and a single school shooting in North Carolina.
The last time there was what is called an “active shooter” in a K-12 NC classroom it was 2006 when 18-year old Alvaro Castillo, who is serving life without parole, wounded two students at Orange high school after having shot his father to death.
Now consider the statistics for school shooters, who represent a small risk to K-12 students by comparison.
According to a 2018 Washington Post article, “the statistical likelihood of any given public school student being killed by a gun, in school, on any given day since 1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000.”
A similar article in The Atlantic states that “The Washington Post has identified fewer than 150 people (children and adults) who have been shot to death in America’s schools since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, in Colorado. Not 150 people a year, but 150 in nearly two decades.”
The NY Post opined just this past June that “according to National Geographic, “the odds of becoming a lightning victim in the US in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000.” And according to the National Safety Council, your chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 103.”
But your child’s chance of being sexually assaulted by teachers, coaches, principals, bus drivers, and other personnel during their K-12 career is one in ten.