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Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2021
This past weekend, while laid up in bed with the current sickness, I stumbled upon a movie that caught my eye. It was a documentary on the infamous teacher, Mary Kay Letourneau, that had sex with her then, 13 year old student. This documentary was a whole rollercoaster of ups and downs. I know what you're thinking, "How can it get any worse?" - and it did. She ended up getting pregnant by her 6th grade student and leaving her husband and four children. She did go to jail and was released as long as she had no contact with the minor. Which, of course, being in love with her student Vili Fualaau, did not last long. She was arrested less than a month after being released and forced to serve the rest of her 7 year sentence in prison. Shockingly to the world, she was ONCE again pregnant by her 15 year old boyfriend and delivered another healthy baby girl, which her boyfriend's mother raised until she was released from prison in 2005. And here's another rollercoaster moment... Her and her student became a married couple.
They seemed to live fantastically together until 2019 when the couple divorced, and Mary Kay died a year later of cancer.
Such an odd story. I highly suggest checking out the documentary on A&E. It will leave you speechless.
So why do I bring up this story and completely destroy the ending? (Yeah, sorry about that) - because when Mary Kay was brought to court in 1997, a teacher/student relationship was not heard about. Mary Kay did not understand how much trouble she was in. She couldn't grasp the idea that she committed an illegal act with a minor and it was publishable by law. Now days, thanks to the media and cases that exploded after the Letourneau's case, we all know that teachers cannot in fact, have sexual relations with children.
But it made the wheels in my head start turning, because I have seen SO MANY teachers in my area accused of sexual relationships with students since I have been out of school. Have I just never seen the signs or is this form of abuse on the rise?
Did you know?
-Of children in 8th through 11th grade, about 3.5 million students (nearly 7%) surveyed reported having had physical sexual contact from an adult (most often a teacher or coach). The type of physical contact ranged from unwanted touching of their body, all the way up to sexual intercourse.
-This statistic increases to about 4.5 million children (10%) when it takes other types of sexual misconduct into consideration, such as being shown pornography or being subjected to sexually explicit language or exhibitionism.
-Very often, other teachers "thought there might be something going on", but were afraid to report a fellow educator if they were wrong. They didn't want to be responsible for "ruining a person's life," although that is exactly what they are doing to the child if they don't speak up, thus allowing the abuse to continue.
The United States is currently seeing around FIVE HUNDRED educators are arrested yearly for child sexual abuse.
Today's technology makes it easy for predators to discreetly prey on children. Students usually have their phones with them at all times, which allows the perpetrator free and unmonitored access to the child. Even children without cell phones can be targeted through their laptop, tablet, or personal computer.
Signs of Sexual Abuse by Teachers
If you are concerned your child might be being sexually abused, there are warning signs you can look for. Keep in mind that the presence of one sign doesn't necessarily mean your child is in danger, but seeing several signs should alert you to the need to ask questions.
Unexplained nightmares or sleep problems
Refusal to eat, loss of appetite, or trouble swallowing
Sudden mood swings, insecurity, or withdrawal
A new or unusual fear of a certain person or place
Exhibits knowledge of adult sexual behaviors and language
Draws, writes, dreams, or talks about frightening images or sexual acts
Thinks of themselves or their body as "bad" or "dirty"
Not wanting to be hugged or touched
In teens or adolescents:
Running away from home
Drug or alcohol abuse or may be sexually promiscuous
Either stops caring about bodily appearance or compulsively eats or diets obsessively
Anxiety or depression
What to do if You Suspect Sexual Misconduct by an Educator
If your child tells you about being abused or if you suspect it, your reaction is very important.
Don't overreact and don't criticize or blame the child
Don't demand details
Don't downplay their disclosure because you're trying to minimize their feelings (or yours)
Do listen calmly and keep in mind that children seldom lie about sexual abuse
Do assure the child it is not their fault
If necessary, seek appropriate medical care for the child
Notify local law enforcement,
as well as the appropriate child services organizations. You can call ChildHelp: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) or RAINN, the national sexual assault hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).