Sexual Misconduct Continues to Plague U.S. Schools

An alarming rate of sexual misconduct by school staff members involving children is happening each year within the school systems. Parents are losing faith and seek restitution, while school districts are facing lawsuits. What can be done to curb sexual misconduct by school employees? Dr. Robert Shoop offers some insight into how to spot and stop sexual misconduct in our school systems.

Online PR News – 18-March-2010 – – While the vast number of school staff members are competent, capable, and caring professionals, sexual misconduct by staff involving students is occurring at an alarming rate in U.S. schools.

Research indicates that an estimated 10 percent of U.S. children will experience sexual misconduct perpetrated by a school employee at some point during their academic career. With more than 50 million students enrolled in U.S. schools that equates to roughly 5 million students who will be impacted by staff-to-student sexual misconduct while attending grades K-12.

According to the 2004 study “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature,” conducted for the U.S. Department of Education, by Dr. Charol Shakeshaft, 57.2 percent of school sexual offenders are male, and 42.8 percent are female; the majority of offenders serve as teachers, coaches, substitute teachers, or bus drivers – the very individuals who are supposed to be nurturing our children.

The numbers are startling. As more and more parents seek restitution in the legal system, districts nationwide are facing costly lawsuits. How can districts effectively reduce the risk of sexual misconduct by staff?

Dr. Robert Shoop, a noted author and leading national expert on sexual misconduct in schools, recommends key action steps for districts in his book “Sexual Exploitation in Schools: How to Spot It and Stop It”. The following is an excerpt:

I. Policies and Handbooks - Policies prohibiting sexual exploitation should specifically describe inappropriate behaviors, and include a separate sexual exploitation reporting procedure. Each staff member should submit a signed statement attesting that they have read and understand the policy, which should be kept on file. Handbooks should be updated regularly and include the anti-sexual exploitation policy.

II. Screening/Selecting New Employees - Develop a comprehensive, rigorous screening protocol that sends a very clear message to current and prospective staff members that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.

III. Central Record Keeping - Establish a uniform system of incident reporting and record keeping that facilitates tracking complaints from year to year and building to building, so that patterns become evident.

IV. Required Training for Employees - Require all staff to complete training regarding the content and implications of your anti-exploitation policy, the state reporting laws, the causes and consequences of exploitation and specific strategies to prevent and eliminate exploitation in your district.

One proven staff-training program is from SafeSchools, the leading provider of education-specific, web-based safety training for the K-12 market. Today, the company introduces a new Sexual Misconduct: Staff-to-Student course, written by Dr. Shoop, that educates teachers, coaches, and support staff members about the standards of care required for the education profession – including the legal requirements. In addition, the course will explain the law that requires all school staff members to act as mandatory reporters of sexual abuse of students.

The SafeSchools online training system is a subscription-based service that provides districts with a comprehensive library of more than 125 expertly written courses covering topics including Sexual Harassment, Bloodborne Pathogens, Slips, Trips, and Falls, Cyberbullying, School Violence, and many more.

These courses can easily be assigned to appropriate staff members, who then conveniently take the courses online. The SafeSchools Compliance Management System automatically tracks and records completions for each employee, and generates reports for administrators on-demand. Other administrative features, including automatic email notification, completely automate the training and tracking process for an entire district, making school safety training and tracking a simple, hassle-free process for administrators and staff alike. Using the SafeSchools system, districts can comply with important state regulations and develop a sound risk management culture to help mitigate their exposure and losses.