Why is it that supposedly sane rational prosocuters and judges give women a slap on the wrist for the same crimes that condemn men to years, often times decades behind bars?
Oh wait a minute, I forgot. Men don’t count. Boys don’t count. Only woman count.
By SYLVIA GRIGGS Local Columnist for the News and Tribune
A New Jersey Superior Court Judge shocked observers during the sentencing hearing of a 43-year-old female teacher who had pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault with a 13-year-old boy many times over a six-month period. The judge, who gave the offender probation rather than three years in prison, opined:
“So I really don’t see the harm that was done here … I don’t see anything here that shows that this young man has been psychologically damaged by her actions. And don’t forget, this was mutual consent. Now certainly under the law, he is too young to legally consent, but that’s what the law says. Some of the legislators should remember when they were that age. Maybe these ages have to be changed a little bit.”
It is difficult to believe, to grasp, and to understand that this judge, in a position of trust and legal and moral authority, would suggest that legislators lower the legal age of sexual contact with children. The laws that criminalize sexual activities between an adult and a minor, boy or girl, are strongly based on the understanding that minors are especially vulnerable and subject to harm from sexual acts with adults and that they do not have the understanding or maturity to consent to sex, regardless of the strength of their sexual feelings.
The bias against male offenders versus female offenders
I will give one example, but there are many cases, of bias against male sexual offenders versus females. A male teacher who had sex with three teenage female students was sentenced to 26 years in prison while the next day, a female swimming coach who had an “affair” with an 11-year-old boy and sexual “encounters” with two others got 30 days. Not only is there bias against male offenders, there is the mistaken belief that male victims do not suffer short-term and long-term trauma. It is egregious to think that boys suffer less harm when sexually abused at such a young age than girls. Children, boys as well as girls, are losing their childhood.
I compiled a list of 30 females charged with sexual abuse, all in the education field. Most victims were young boys but there were instances of sexual abuse to girls as well. Most were teachers, two were behavioral counselors and one was the school psychologist. Many took plea deals and received lighter sentences that ranged from no time in jail, one month in jail, probation, psychological evaluation, relinquishing teaching license and community service. One was sentenced to 6 years in prison but without a plea deal she could have gotten 64 years for seducing boys 11-13 years of age.
The reality of some of these episodes is hard to accept as true. One teacher was seven months pregnant when caught having sex with a 17-year-old boy. Many were married with children; another was found in a parked car having sex and her 2-year-old son was in the back seat. One raped her son’s friend, one paid three teens a total of $5,000 in exchange for sex, and another had sex with an 11-year-boy and the boy’s father. Many seduced the boys with favors such as letting them drive their car, money, and giving them beer or marijuana.
A problem being ignored
An Associated Press investigation found more than 2,500 sex-abuse cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions ranging from bizarre to sadistic. A 2004 study commissioned by the Department of Education indicated that nearly 10 percent of U.S. public school students have experienced sexual advances from school employees. However, very few abusers get caught and for many that are, the offender goes unpunished and lives to teach again.
In the AP investigation, it was discovered that fellow teachers looked away or felt powerless to help and school administrators made behind-the-scenes deals to avoid lawsuits and other troubles. Lawmakers shy away from tough state punishments or any cohesive national polity for fear of disparaging the teaching profession. This astounding convoluted thinking leaves children in these dire situations to fend for themselves against cunning and skilled sex offenders.
The teachers’ unions should not be omnipotent. If they are not policing their own members and instituting programs to offset this increasing problem, the future for many children is in jeopardy. According to one expert, it is difficult to pinpoint a budding offender among the ranks of female teachers, but one of the most common characteristics is extreme neediness and the desire for attention. All schools should have a plan in place to address such situations because the incidents, along with the opportunities, are increasing.
When the light and beauty shines through
There are three million public school teachers nationwide who are devoted to their work. Most are absolutely convinced of the true value of their efforts and have the courage and the persistence to see them through each day. I personally know one teacher, my sister, who devotes more time and energy on her students and her profession that she does on herself. She and her fellow teachers are distressed and saddened by the increasing sexual abuse of students by teachers and others employed in the education system.
To these aware, devoted and caring teachers, parents and all citizens should have no other comment than thanks, thanks, thanks.
Sylvia Griggs retired as an editor in the sales and marketing field. She is now a freelance writer residing in Jeffersonville. Please write to her at email@example.com.