Tuesday, July 12, 2011


"This is the last Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Next year, boys will be involved too. I guess the church lobbied pretty hard on that one."
—Jay Leno

I've written about sexual abuse of students several times here and elsewhere in the past, and there's always been a common theme in my mind when I write them: this sure seems to happen an awful lot, but all we hear about is Roman Catholic Priests abusing kids.

While recently it was revealed that perhaps half of the priest cases were false or grossly exaggerated, someone finally found then data and ran down the numbers and discovered something about teachers. That someone was the US Department of Education, and what they discovered was this:
Comparing the incidence of sexual misconduct in schools with the Catholic Church scandal, Shakeshift notes that a study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded that 10,667 young people were sexually mistreated by priests between 1950 and 2002.

In contrast, the extrapolates from a national survey conducted for the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000 that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee between 1991 and 2000.

The figures suggest “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests,” said Shakshaft, according to Education Week.
Remember, the FBI estimates that as much as half of the priest cases were exaggerations or fraud. That means that there may have been as many as two hundred times as much abuse by teachers than priests in the same time period.

Two hundred times as many cases. Now, think back. When was the last time you heard a friend or a comedian crack a joke about how lousy and sick teachers are and how they shouldn't be allowed near kids. Because people joke about Roman Catholic priests all the time. Here's the pattern:
  • Priest=child molester.
  • Teacher=perfectly safe around kids, saintly, not to be criticized, and besides the teacher was hot and I wish my teachers had done that when I was a boy.
For every priest that molested a kid, there was 100 teachers doing it to kids. If that spread was 2 or 3 teachers to a priest, maybe you'd have some sort of case to ignore the teachers; after all they didn't take a vow of chastity and present themselves as virtuous moral authorities. But 10:1? 20:1? 50:1? When does the paradigm shift here? What does it take for people to start being upset at teachers for how they are abusing kids?

I'm not trying to excuse priests, I think what they did was morally repulsive and a basic betrayal of everything they stand for. The Roman Catholic Church was reprehensible for protecting and covering up these scum instead of instantly defrocking them. I mean good God what does it take to have your priesthood removed if violating your vow of chastitity with a child doesn't qualify.

And I condemn the priests more than the teachers on an individual case-by-case basis because of what I noted above.

And its not like I do not understand the pressure teachers are under. Girls get crushes on male teachers as authority figures. Boys have crushes on hot female teachers. The girls in schools tend to dress incredibly inappropriately and teachers have to work hard to not stare. I get it, students with raging hormones continually put teachers in a tough place.

But come on. A hundred times as many, as much as Two hundred times? Sure, kick the priests around but they're pikers compared to teachers. They aren't even in the same league. Maybe, just maybe, its time for a little condemnation of teachers as a profession for being such ghastly predators on the children they are given ward over by trusting parents.

Don't you think?


Eric said...

The only problem I have with those numbers is that they don't adjust for the number of kids who attend public school vs. the number of kids who go to church. Without that adjustment, you just can't tell much from these numbers. Even though two hundred times more kids got molested in school than church, it could still work out that your kid is statistically much more likely to be molested by a priest than a teacher. Now, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out it is more likely to happen at school, but you just can't tell with the data they give here.

Christopher R Taylor said...

Oh sure, there's probably more than 100 teachers to each priest but... come on, isn't it time to maybe give them a break or at least hammer on teachers?

Eric said...

Absolutely. I just think, sadly, that Americans have much higher expectations (in terms of moral behavior) from the clergy than they do from teachers.

alethiophile said...

My immediate thought here is that sexual abuse by both priests and teachers is statistically negligible; people harp on priests a lot more, because of the hypocrisy factor and some anti-religious sentiment, which is inappropriate, but it would also be inappropriate to jump on teachers to the degree that people have jumped on priests.