Monday, March 02, 2015

Another Shameful Statistic

Ky. has 2nd highest rate of inappropriate relationships 
between school employees, students 

This from the Herald-Leader:
Kentucky in 2014 had the second highest per-capita rate in the country of inappropriate relationships between school employees and students, according to a national study of media reports conducted by a former U.S. Department of Education official.

Kentucky was just behind Alabama, which had the highest rate of cases in the country, and just ahead of Louisiana, said Terry Abbott, who was chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education during the George W. Bush administration.

Abbott is currently chairman of Houston-based Drive West Communications, which collected data from media reports in every state daily in 2014 to catalog how often the inappropriate relationships are occurring and to identify trends.

Abbott said his study was not a scientific report.

"We tracked 781 cases nationwide of school employees who were accused or charged, or convicted or sentenced, in such cases in 2014. We tracked 22 cases in Kentucky, which gave Kentucky the second highest rate in the country per capita. We used the U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 estimates of the population in each state to establish the benchmark," he said.

"Our data shows that in Kentucky, the problem is largely an issue among male school employees, just as it is nationwide," said Abbott. "Our tracking showed that 68 percent of the cases in Kentucky in 2014 involved male school employees. It's basically the same story nationwide — while cases involving female employees seem to draw extra attention from the public, the fact is that nationally two-thirds of the cases involve men."

Alicia A. Sneed, legal services director for Kentucky's Education Professional Standards Board, said that board also tracks media reports. For 2014, the board had 37 cases initiated involving inappropriate relationships, and 38 cases in 2013.

Abbott's firm looked at age of the educators involved. Nationwide, the men averaged age 38 and the women 32. In Kentucky, the men averaged 41, and the women 29. The average age of the student victims in Kentucky was just under 15, and the national average was 15.

Abbott also tracked what role social media played because "we had been seeing so many reports around the country about teachers and other school employees using social media to lure students into relationships."

Abbott found that nationwide, private messages delivered through social media and text messaging were a factor in 38 percent of the cases in 2014. In Kentucky, social media and text messaging was involved in 36 percent of the cases. "Parents should closely monitor the social media interactions of their children," said Abbott. "Thankfully, many of these cases have been broken when parents have found nude pictures and other inappropriate messages to children from teachers. More parents should start monitoring their children's social media usage for signs of this kind of trouble."

He recommended that teachers be required to report to principals ahead of time when they plan to be alone in a classroom with a student.

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