Software won’t stop school sex abuse (or school shootings)

The TSA, Homeland Security, concealed carry, and the Raptor V-Soft Visitor Management System being installed in schools all over Kane County. “What are things that don’t make us safer,” Alex?

That is correct!

And anybody who’s read my columns for any length of time knows that pretending to address a serious issue, while you’re really doing absolutely nothing about it, drives me even crazier that crafty former county chairmen.

The TSA, who hasn’t managed to apprehend even one terrorist, think NFL linebackers are the ones who will take down an airplane. We all know Homeland Security is an oxymoron along the lines of jumbo shrimp and military intelligence. And the Raptor V software program, recently covered by a local newspaper, is just another feel good “safety” measure that doesn’t make our schools any safer.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Raptor V-Soft folks claim to have “the most comprehensive database of sex offenders in the United States” and they proceed to wax poetically about catching all sorts of sex offenders at school doorways. Bu even if I believed the latter part of their declaration, the truth of school sexual abuse is quite different.

For example, 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims knew their attacker who proceeded to “groom” them long before the first assault. It breaks down like this; 34.2 percent of abusers are family members, 58.7 percent are acquaintances, but just 7 percent of the perpetrators are complete strangers.

Please, please, please understand that I’m not accusing any Kane County teacher of anything, but if you read this 2004 Department of Education study covering educator sexual misconduct, it’s clear that, if a student is going to be abused at school, the vast likelihood is the predator will be a teacher, coach or school employee.

The most infamous case around here was West Aurora band teacher Stephen Orland who’s currently serving abusea 12-year term for having sexual relations with two female students. But when was the last time you heard about a registered sex offender assaulting a student on school grounds?

Don’t believe me? Then please perform a simple Google news search and, trust me, you’ll be stunned. Some folks call it a “classroom predator epidemic” and there’s a national group, Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, who’ve taken the cause all the way to Washington.

Are there cases of outsider school sexual assaults? Yes! But they are incredibly rare and, unless security was exceptionally lax, they generally don’t just walk in through the front door.

How do rogue educators generally go about grooming students? By using facebook, texts, email, and other electronic means which enable them to get straight through to their prey with a minimal fear of detection.

So while the Raptor V-Soft folks claim “we are keeping watch,” based on all the evidence, it’s pretty clear they’re watching the wrong people. And it’s exactly the same thing with school shooters.

Of course we don’t want to let anybody walk into our schools! But almost without exception, these shooters tend to be current or former students who would be granted access without a second glance anyway.

Columbine, Red Lake, MN, Virginia Tech, NIU, Sandy Hook, and now, Murrysville, PA, all came at the hands of insiders. The only school massacre that seems to be a completely random occurred in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where the gunman picked an Amish School because it had no real security measures.

So here’s the real irony. While we put most of our energy into feel-good measures like this new software system, not only does it fail to address the real issue, but it detracts from it. And then our back-patting complicity automatically puts our children at greater risk.

Because the only way to stop school sexual abuse (and shootings) is to put our focus internally where it belongs. We have to create an atmosphere were students believe they can come to us and administrators about anything without fear of repercussion. We have to insist upon school policies and state statutes that make it difficult for these predators to groom young boys and girls.

Currently there is a bipartisan bill working it’s way through Washington that would make it more difficult for school abusers to fall through the current cracks.

But most of all, we – all of us – have to be vigilant. None of these abuses (or shootings) ever occurs in a vacuum. In our perpetual hindsight, it’s only after the fact that we seem to find that mile-long trail we somehow missed.

The problem is, that actually requires an effort.

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