"Why now?", I was recently asked. "Why are you deciding to come forward now?" It's an excellent question. It deserves an excellent answer.
The truth is, I've spent 31 years trying to protect the abuser. I hoped they would change. I hoped they wouldn't hurt anyone else. I hoped that all I would have to do was tell the school district and everything would be fine.
I was wrong.
The short version of the story is that I recently discovered that all of my attempts only gave my abuser more opportunities to abuse others...and there are at least four others at the most recent count. I expect that number will go up as courage rises.
I would like to share with you an important article from the Washington Post, written by the Associated Press (Oct. 2007) where it was found that a minimum of 2,500 teachers were disciplined in a five-year period for sexual conduct with a student. As horrid as those numbers are, they are just the beginning.
Those numbers don't include states such as Hawaii, who had not taken away anyone's license, even though some teachers were currently serving prison terms for such abuse. They didn't include some states who refuse to share their information with the public. And they don't include the thousands of teachers who simply have been shuffled from school district to school district...labeled with the title of "Mobile Molesters", while everyone turns a blind eye...hoping to leave the tough decisions to someone else.
I understand those tough decisions. For years I tried to avoid them. But it was a mistake that I will never make again.
How about you? Have you ever felt that a adult's behavior with a student was inappropriate, but not known what to do about it? Have you feared that if you talked to an administrator, another teacher, or a parent, that they would never believe you? Well, you're not alone. But the answer is not to turn our heads and look the other direction. The answer is to turn toward the problem with a unified voice...parents, teachers and administrators...all dedicated to protecting our students...our children...our Most Sacred Trust.