Pennsylvania is known for many things, some of which are positive and others which are decidedly not. It is difficult for much of the country to think of Pennsylvania these days without also thinking of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Sadly, it seems as though Sandusky-like acts of child sexual abuse are more common than people realize. According to a recent national analysis, Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation for the number of reported sex crimes perpetrated by teachers.
News reports tracked and analyzed by a Texas-based company found that Texas actually leads the nation in this disturbing metric. But Pennsylvania is tied for second place with California, in that each had at least 24 cases this year involving teachers who committed sex crimes.
There are some who believe that the high number of reported cases in Pennsylvania may be related to more stringent reporting requirements enacted in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. That being said, teacher sexual abuse may also be on the rise nationally because there are simply more opportunities for teachers and students to privately interact than there once were.
Commenting on the rising number of inappropriate teacher-student relationships, an attorney for the Education Department said: “Social media has definitely increased that kind of conduct. When I was in school, if a teacher wanted to talk to me, he had to call my home and talk to my mom. Now you can have 24-hour access to a student [through social media]. That’s not always a good thing.”
Hopefully, the high number of complaints also means that we are fostering an environment in which victims feel comfortable reporting acts of teacher sexual abuse. If we truly want to put an end to this horrible crime, better reporting is a good place to start.
Source: The Times Herald, “Pennsylvania ranks No. 2 in teacher sex crimes,” Megan Harris, July 31, 2014