I am not sure if sexual molestation by school personnel against students is on the rise or if the explosion of web-based media has simply drawn more attention and awareness to the problem. Either way, it’s absolutely tragic when this stuff happens.
And it devastates lives.
As this story in the L.A. Times shows, the victims, the kids, suffer in ways that color their existence and worldview for the rest of their life… and what scares me is how numb I think we in our society have become to the crime because of the frequency with which it is being reported these days.
Having had students confess to me their victimhood over and over (it’s so much more common than I ever realized — like SO MUCH MORE!) is what drove me to want to do more. And the fact is, an incident right out of my own classroom (the tale a female student told me about her uncle) was the original spark for my latest book of fiction, The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez.
In some ways, I am just amazed how SONIA has hit a nerve with so many kids. Especially girls. And even more especially, with Latina girls. This novel hasn’t become breakout big like TWILIGHT or anything like that but it does have a very strong group of kids and teachers that really support it extremely well and it’s being brought into classrooms all around the country. (And oh the emails they send to me.) For that I am honored.
But still, I want to do more.
I guess the question is, how can we better protect our kids? And what more can we do to help them when this stuff happens?
BTW, was it always so prevalent and yet under-reported, or is society so much more sexualized that seeing more and more of this type of abhorrent behavior is simply inevitable?
Yet, this still brings me back to the bigger point: what can be done?
I do know that banning books like Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK is not the answer. Books open conversations in a way that few other forms of media can do. Read Laurie’s answer as to how she feels about banning books right here… you go Laurie!
The tragedy of sexual molestation is a plague on teens today and yet so many folks are sweeping it under the rug pretending it’s not happening in their school, their community, their world.
As Mark Twain once quipped, “Denial ain’t a river in Egypt.”