Which is more surprising to read these days?
- One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday
- A teacher is charged with sexually abusing a student
- A principal fails to protect students she, or he, is expected to educate and nurture?
Really? A principal? The very individual that is charged with setting standards of academic achievement and creating an environment where students are able to learn? Does it count less if it is a high school vs. a college university? Trudie Donovan, the principal for Kell High School for the past six years, failed to report within 24 hours, the inappropriate touching of a student by a teacher, see Failure to Report. She waited four days to make the report, four days!
Ms. Donovan is obviously not new to her principal role or to academia. She has been in the school system for 34 years. What could have been more important than following a reporting law? I am sure the student too would have liked to enjoy their weekend, but chances are they did not have that opportunity. It was also surprising to learn that a separate accusation was made on the same teacher the following week. Gratefully that report was made immediately. I suppose all doubt was gone by then.
I may be going out on a limb here, but I don't believe these were the first two students that the social studies teacher, Mr. Brigham, was "inappropriate" towards. At 37 years old, I will guess he is probably good at grooming his prey and the adults around him. I am however, hopeful many eyes have now been opened.
It is very good news that the students that came forward did disclose. Too many times, too many victims keep quiet and are often encouraged to do so. But times are changing. Adults are having conversations with their kids on what is and what is not appropriate behavior. Parents are taking it upon themselves to learn the signs of CSA and are taking steps to hold youth serving organizations accountable. Now if we can just ensure that “the powers that be” take protection seriously!
Do you know what policies and procedures are in place at your child's school, house of worship, or camp? Do you know what signs to look for in a CSA victim or in a potential predator? Do you know where to begin? If not, ask. Contact your local child advocacy center, the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, or Darkness to Light. There are many things we can do prevent child sexual abuse, even if a principal takes their time.