By Terri Miller
Originally posted on pennlive.com on September 3rd, 2014
If you are like me, when you load your kids onto the school bus, you assume you are sending your kids somewhere safe, where they will be cared for by adults you can trust.
Unfortunately, too often, this is not the case. Every year, hundreds of teachers across America are arrested for sexual misconduct with children. There have already been more than 275 arrests since January of this year—more than 1 per day of the year.
The stories are heartbreaking:
A teacher's aide who undressed and sexually assaulted a mentally disabled boy in his care
A child whose abuse began at age 10 and only ended when, at age 17, she found herself pregnant with the teacher's child
One teacher after another caught with images of child pornography on their computers—some involving children as young as one year old.
Pennsylvania parents in particular should take note: Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation for reports of teachers committing sexual misconduct with children.
Child predators are anxiously awaiting the start of the new school year. Sadly, they won't be stopped until they abuse another child and are reported. And sometimes, not even then.
Too often, school officials know about the sexual abuse, but choose to cover up the scandal. They allow the child predator to quietly resign and even help that predator land a new teaching job elsewhere. The practice is so common, it has its own moniker—"passing the trash."
I saw it first hand in my children's school district. It took me 13 years—and 60 victims later—to bring the teacher to justice. Since then, I have not stopped fighting to protect children from sexual predators in the classroom.
Luckily, the parents of Pennsylvania have two elected representatives who have been fighting with me.
State Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, has introduced legislation that would enhance background checks for school employees, prohibit schools from "passing the trash."
Williams' bill unanimously passed the Senate. It awaits a vote by the state House.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has introduced similar legislation at the federal level: The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act.
The bill requires states to perform thorough background checks on school employees, forbids schools from passing the trash—including passing the trash across state lines.
Toomey's bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously last year; it only needs a vote of the Senate to be sent to the President's desk and become law.
Senator Williams and Senator Toomey come from different political parties, but they have come together to protect your children. They cannot do it alone. Please help: Contact your elected officials in the State House and U.S. Senate and demand that they pass Senator Williams' and Senator Toomey's bills.
Our children deserve to be safe from sexual assault. Together, we can make it happen.
Terri Miller is president of the Nevada-based S.E.S.A.M.E. (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct, and Exploitation.