Regular readers of this space will know that I have warned about the dangers of sending children to public schools. There is a quiet crisis occurring inn public schools: sexual abuse. Nearly every day in America a public school teacher or staffer is arrested for having sex with a student or for possessing child pornography or for otherwise abusing students. I was alerted to this reality by the Twitter account, Leave Public School. That account tracks local news stories about the arrest and prosecution of teachers, administrators, and staffers for the sorts of offenses listed above. After I wrote the essay, “Why It Is Reasonable Not To Send Your Children To Public School” I tracked the feed for a year and began posting news articles to the comments. Take a look for yourself. The results are amazing and not in a good way.
A couple of times, however, when I have posted the article to social media people have responded by asking, in effect, “what about Christian schools?” My response has been to say: show me the evidence. If there is a sexual abuse crisis happening in Christian schools, we should expose that too and take reasonable steps. Tuition paying parents have far more influence in a typical Christian school then tax-paying parents have in a public school. The public system is a machine run by administrators, teachers’ unions, and school boards. Charter schools have helped and the school-choice movement seems poised to give parents some leverage typically the machine simply ignores or dismisses parental concerns. Most Christian schools are survive on tuition. Since, unlike the public school machine, the local Christian school cannot levy property taxes to sustain itself, should enough parents remove their children from a given school, it will simply close.
So, the question remains: is there, as has been suggested, also a sexual abuse crisis in Christian schools in the USA? Yesterday I searched news aggregators for stories involving “Christian school” “teacher” “arrested” and got an unexpected number of results.
- Cape Fear, NC Administrator Facing Fraud, Sexual Abuse Charges
- Wichita, KS Christian School Teacher Arrested For Unlawful Sexual Relations With Student
- Tulsa, OK Christian School Teacher Arrested For Lewd or Indecent Proposals Or Acts To A Student
- Florida Christian School Teacher Arrested For Sexual Battery On A Student
- Goldsboro, NC Christian School Teacher Arrested For Sexual Assault On A Student In the 1990s
- Tallahassee, FL Christian School Teacher Arrested For Sexual Assault On A 17-Year Old
- North Cobb, GA Christian School Teacher Arrested For Sex With Underage Girl
- GA Christian School Teacher Arrested For Possessing Child Porn
- Jacksonville, FL Christian School Teacher Arrested For Molesting Student
- Orlando, FL Christian School Teacher Arrested For Paying Student For Sexual Videos
- St Petersburg, FL Pre-School Teacher Arrested For Abusing Three-Year Old
- LA Christian School Teacher Arrested For Sex With A Minor
This list is merely an indication of what I found. Read it and weep: the results of the search for the past 12 months.
At first glance there do not seem to be as many stories involving administrators, teachers, and staffers in Christian schools as there are stories involving employees of public schools but there are not as many Christian schools as public schools. Is the proportion the same? Of course, neither this casual survey nor my earlier casual survey of news reports about public schools is a scientific study nor should it be taken as such. Both, however, are wake-up calls to parents, teachers, and administrators.
Did you realize how many employees (administrators, teachers, and staff) of Christian schools were arrested over the last 12 months for sexual assault of minors, often students? I did not. How many of these cases occurred during the period of time when on-campus operations were reduced because of Covid?
A quick review of the secondary literature via some academic databases and publicly accessible sources (e.g., Google Scholar, which searches academic websites) shows very little literature addressing the question of sexual assaults by employees of Christian schools upon minors.
Are children in Christian schools in as much danger as they seem to be in public schools? It does not seem so but are they entirely safe from sexual predators? It does not seem so.
How should Christian parents and teachers respond?
- Do not assume that because students are in a Christian school environment that the students are necessarily safe.
- Insist that employees of the school are properly vetted.
- Talk to your children. Do they feel safe? Has anyone at school approached them or touched them inappropriately?
- Talk to teachers. Do they have any concerns about the faculty, staff, or administrators at their school?
- Pay attention to the local news.
- Do not cover up charges of abuse for fear of damaging the institution.
- Remove children from schools where administrators are unwilling to address the problem.
- Pray. These are criminal, social, psychological, emotional, and spiritual matters. Abuse stems from and creates spiritual problems for which prayer is the first (but not the only) response.
As I suggested above. Where problems do exist in a Christian school, the potential for reform seems much greater than it does in the public school machine. First, we are dealing with ostensibly Christian schools who purport to believe, teach, and practice the Christian faith. Concerned parents and teachers have an agreed basis on which to challenge Christian schools to adhere to their stated beliefs. Second, because they are tuition-driven, Christian schools are much more likely to be responsive when parents remove their children from an unsafe school.
Please do not take this as an attack on Christian schools generally. Christian schools often have to make bricks without straw. The vast majority of Christian school teachers and administrators are pious, hard-working folk who serve sacrificially. They are typically underpaid and overworked. I was challenged to look into this question and I am reporting what I found in published news accounts.
Facts (not myths, rumors, or hysteria) matter.
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