Victims of Teacher Misconduct Say Schools Should Go Beyond Checking Boxes [voiceofsandiego.org]

 

By Ashly McGlone, Voice of San Diego, November 4, 2019

“Just so you know, no one else has ever made a complaint,” a Chula Vista High graduate recalls being told by school officials before she complained her show choir teacher was sexually harassing her and groped her repeatedly.

“I feel like every adult who was an administrator in my life at the time failed me,” a former Bonita Vista High student sexually abused by his band teacher said. “I had a counselor talk to me for 10 minutes and then that was it.”

As we’ve been reporting on sexual misconduct cases in local schools for the past two years, we’ve revealed some obvious and egregious violations: teachers who failed to report their colleagues’ abuse despite being obligated to do so by state law, and administrators who did not report suspected criminal acts to police.

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When I was in college, I was sexually harassed by one of my professors.   I was an adult when this happened, yet the harassment mirrored what had happened to me throughout my childhood.  I had been kidnapped at age five by a coworker of my father's.  I escaped, but I recall that incident as if it were yesterday.    As I walked to school during my grammar school years, men would often stop and ask me to get into their cars.   I was sexually abused by a family member.  In high school, a male teacher often made inappropriate comments about my body and made me feel uncomfortable.    As a child, I often felt unsafe.

As for the professor, I reported him to the English department.  I was told that he was a tenured professor with a family, and for those reasons, nothing was done.  That was in 1981. Several years ago, I met with one of the professors to whom I reported.  She apologized for not doing anything when I reported, and told me that he had also sexually harassed her years after I graduated. 

Recently, I was sitting with a group of women and we all had stories of sexual harassment and abuse--as young girls, as young women, as middle-aged women, as older women.  The scars of abuse still linger among us.

Schools must follow the mandated child abuse reporting law.  School staff must listen to the children and rise up to their responsibility to help children who come forward with reports of abuse and those for whom abuse is suspected.  And adults who are charged with the responsibility for the well-being of our children must make sure that children who have been abused receive mental health care.  For many of us who suffered abuse and did not receive mental health care early on, we continue to suffer the repercussions of that lack of care--chronic illness, including mental illness.

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