Law enforcement veteran and private investigator gives tips on keeping children safe from sexual abusers in the classroom.
by: Sloan Rachmuth
As school starts, parents get anxious about school safety. Is the campus secure from shooters? Will there be programs in place to stop and address classroom violence? Are school policies effectively tailored to tackle bullying?
Parents may be overlooking another school safety issue: teachers who are sexual predators.
Reports of teachers committing sex crimes against children seem to be on the rise.
Fox News released a year-long analysis and found at least 349 teachers were arrested for child sex crimes from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of 2022.
The 349 educators included five principals, three assistant principals, 290 teachers, 26 substitute teachers, and 25 teachers’ aides from nearly every state in the country.
3 teacher arrests have been reported in North Carolina so far this month:
A Charlotte high school teacher was charged with two counts of indecent liberties and two counts of sexual activity with a student.
An Alamance middle school vice principal was charged with having sex with a student.
A Fayetteville teacher was arrested for felony sex offense with a former student and felony crimes against nature.
North Carolina school districts are not required to run background checks on new hires. Teachers with prior accusations of child sex crimes have slipped through the cracks and into the classroom. A Charlotte elementary school hired Makalani Jones, a music teacher who fled to North Carolina after a student in Texas accused him of sexual assault. US Marshalls extradited Jones back to Texas in May.
According to EFA's reporting of predator teachers this year, most teachers arrested for sex abuse do not have criminal records. And they don't just stroll into town, find a school, and teach. Many of them have been in the classroom for five years or more.
It’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing: they blend in with the other teachers and appear normal until their true colors are revealed. Then it's too late.
To prevent child sex crimes at school, what should parents and school administrators know?
Personal security expert Stuart Harris with Tier 1 Protection & Investigative Services in Charlotte says predators often look for children who are vulnerable and may not have strong family or social support systems. Children who deal with issues such as lack of parental supervision, poverty, mental health, or substance abuse issues are especially at risk.
Harris pointed out that predators want unrestricted access to children. What better place than in a classroom for seven hours a day?
One of the most effective ways to isolate a child is on school field trips where a victim can easily get separated from others.
"Safety is always in numbers," says Harris. It’s like the sheep and wolf analogy – the predator is the wolf and the students are the sheep, and the larger the flock the better protected they are from the wolf.
Where are children most alone? Online.
"It is well documented that the internet and social media increase the risk of children being targeted online," says Harris. "Predators use social media platforms, chat rooms, or online gaming platforms to groom and exploit children for sexual purposes or engage in harmful activities."
Parents should be on the lookout for teachers who ask to communicate, for any reason, on social media. If a teacher sends a friend request to a student on social media, that should be a red flag. This is because there is potential for the teacher to cross boundaries and create an inappropriate relationship with the student. Teachers should have contact with students solely through the school's communication channels.
The most effective way to protect children's safety is to be aware of the potential risks and be proactive about preventing being exploited by predators.