It’s a horrifying disgusting story that strikes fear in every parent. And if the original revelation wasn’t bad enough, there was more. What am I talking about? A news story that broke last week when a third grade elementary school teacher was arrested for felony child abuse.
What makes this case so despicable are the details. A film developer at a Southern California CVS store called police when the developer noticed 40 pictures they were processing allegedly depicted children who were blindfolded and sometimes gagged. The pictures allegedly showed children who had insects (cockroaches) on their faces. If that wasn’t bad enough, the photos also allegedly revealed children being fed fluid from a plastic spoon or being given a cookie to eat. The cookies were allegedly covered in a similar-looking fluid.
The investigation revealed the mysterious fluid in the plastic spoon and on the cookie was actually bodily fluids, (semen) allegedly from the teacher. This teacher taught at the school for over 30 years! At this time, the investigation has revealed 23 alleged victims ages six to ten covering the period between 2005 and 2010.
Even for unflappable Los Angeles, this is a highly disturbing story. But it gets worse. The teacher accused of these crimes was arrested last Monday. On last Friday, a second teacher was arrested at the same school for allegedly committing lewd acts with a child. At this time, it doesn’t appear the two cases are related.
In the second situation, two students came forward alleging their teacher had fondled them in the classroom. I saw one news story where one of the girls had allegedly been molested by both teachers.
So, now you have a little background…which brings me to the true point of my blog today. As parents, it is imperative that you talk to your children about inappropriate behavior by anyone. Because, sadly, the fact today is that a molester can be anyone.
Parents, it’s up to you to teach your children about boundaries and about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. And don’t think just because you’ve talked to your kids once that’s enough. There are molesters out there who ‘specialize’ in different ages of children, so your child is vulnerable at any age.
I know my mother talked to me on numerous occasions about different dangerous scenarios I might find myself in and how I’d respond. By bringing up things that might possibly happen to me (and I’m betting her examples were from local news stories) it allowed us to discuss how I could protect myself from such situations and what to do, if despite my best efforts, I was in danger.
While it sounds dark and ominous and like a real kill-joy to time spent with your child, I didn’t view it in that light. I felt better prepared, when at age 13, a man pulled up next to me and wanted me to get into his car.
You don’t have to spend an hour each day lecturing your kids…but you do need to open that line of communication and get your children to realize there are bad people in the world who may try to prey on them. How many times do you ask your kids what they did at school today and they say something like: “The same old thing. Nothin’.” And, because you’ve got twenty other things on your mind, you’re satisfied with that answer.
Apparently, in the first situation, the teacher had allegedly told the students they were playing a game and many of the kids didn’t think this type of behavior was odd or unusual. Now, imagine this…You pick your child up from school and ask them what they did that day. They tell you their teacher blindfolded them and gagged them and took pictures of them with bugs on their faces. Wouldn’t this set off alarm bells in your mind? You bet it would. And this is what I’m trying to get you to see. You’ve got to, not only talk to your children, but engage with them. Get them to open up – no easy feat, I know.
As a parent, it’s easy to think, My Johnny (or Sally) is too smart to be taken in by some pervert. Don’t fool yourself! With the advent of the internet, many of these creeps share information about how and where to find victims. They discuss what works and what doesn’t. They also discuss how to get children to not alert their parents of what’s going on. These sickos live and breathe for their next opportunity to victimize a child. Don’t let it be your child. Talk to your kids about boundaries. Let your children know you will believe them if they come to you if they are victimized – no matter who the suspect is.
I know you’re busy. I know it’s uncomfortable. But if you aren’t willing to put in the time with your children, there are plenty of molesters who are.
Until next time…