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By Scott Tibbs, March 18th, 2004

I'll home school my children, thanks.

The March 16 Herald-Times reported that a report in Education Week estimates that 290,000 students in government schools "experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee from 1991 to 2000." (The original study is here.) By comparison, there have been about 10,600 allegations of abuse within the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2002, a much longer time frame.

This story is an outrage. Americans send their children to government schools, hoping that their tax dollars are being spent well to educate their children. As it turns out, for far too many children, a good education is the least of their worries. For them, the bigger concern is whether or not they will be abused by a government school teacher.

Government school teachers are in a tremendous position of power. They have control of children’s lives for six or seven hours a day, instructing them in academic material necessary for children to compete in the global economy. Overall, teachers can shape a child's life as much as a parent can. For someone to abuse that power is shocking.

There must be no tolerance for government school teachers who abuse children. The depraved monsters that prey on children have violated the trust of the taxpayers, the parents, and most importantly the children whom they are called on to instruct. Everyone should be outraged when a government school employee abuses his position to harm a child. The fact that tax dollars go to pay the salaries of people who use their position of state power to hurt children sickens me.

If a government school employee (a teacher, administrator or anyone else) is found to have abused a child, he should be immediately fired and banned from working in any other government school. While they, with counseling and spiritual help, may be able to overcome their depravity, child abusers have shown by their behavior that they can not be trusted around children.

This also raises the question of liability of government schools in the abuse. Were administrators complacent in the abuse? Can government school districts afford the kind of lawsuits the Catholic Church is facing? The victims of any abuse must be compensated, and the government schools will have to find the money to pay for lawsuits.

This is a story that is screaming for media attention. There has been much coverage of the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, but it appears that this scandal is a far wider one. If the media is doing its job, there will be at least as much attention to this as to the Catholic scandal.