Campbell Brown’s WSJ op-ed “Teachers Unions Go to Bat for Sexual Predators” identifies a critical reality facing the growing movement in the fight to prevent child sexual abuse. Brown’s op-ed criticizes the NY Teacher’s Union, arguing that their obdurance and reticence to change has directly resulted in sexual predators being allowed access to children. Brown points out that, “Under current New York law, an accusation [of sexual misconduct] is first vetted by an independent investigator. Then the case goes before an employment arbitrator. The local teachers union and school district together choose the arbitrators, who in turn are paid up to $1,400 per day. And therein lies the problem.”
As shocking as this may seem, we’re not surprised by this failure in policy. As an issue, child sexual abuse prevention lags far behind its peer issues in legislation and policy guarantees of safety for children. Nationally, and locally, we have validated claims that we value child safety in terms of car seats, fences around pools, fire drills, sexting, bike helmets, exercise programs, etc, etc. What we have failed to do is draft effective legislation, and create zero tolerance policies that will ensure that children will not be sexually abused.
The idea of “zero tolerance,” is not new, and it has been an effective method in curbing sexual harassment in the workplace, drunk driving, seatbelts and a host of other significant issues. As our nation moves forward with child sexual abuse prevention, we need to adopt the zero tolerance mantra.
For reference, here are two simple examples:
1.It is very difficult for a pedophile to molest a child if they are not allowed one adult, one child access to children. Why would schools not immediately adopt a zero tolerance policy eliminating these situations?
2. Too often we see inappropriate relationships fostered by inappropriate contact via modern media communication. Let’s adopt a zero tolerance policy towards unmonitored communication via emails, texts, facebook messages or tweets.
While we know that implementing these rigorous policies will have expenses and trade-offs, we also know that right now we can save childhoods by saying yes to the idea of zero tolerance.