Sex in Schools Not Just at Penn State

November 28, 2011

Some of the regulars down at Sparky’s Diner took me to task this week for not adding my wooden two-cents to what is easily the sleaziest story to come out of academia this century.

My reasoning that others have jumped in with their own ire and indignation did not mollify the group. So, here is my take that you can take or leave. It may sound a bit disjointed, but I will lead you where you do not want to go. Trust me.

Let me begin by saying I spent several days so angry that I was nearly spitting every time the subject came up. My anger stemmed from two reasons. First, because I worked for nearly twenty years in academia, half that time at the highest levels in the institution, so I know just as sure as anything that if anyone working at Penn State says he or she had not heard the rumors and innuendo of Jerry Sandusky sodomizing little boys, then that person is a liar or so isolated that he or she should immediately look for other employment.

No, I take that back. The person is a liar. And here’s why I say that. University employees thrive on rumor and innuendo, and the more sordid the tale, the better they like it. Why? Because many people working in academia have a whole lot of time on their hands to listen to every nasty story that comes their way. And there are lots of nasty stories in academia.

So, if a minimum-wage janitor or a brown-nosing graduate assistant witnesses a campus bigwig engaged in deviant sexual activity with a child, you can bet the story will have made it through the campus rumor mill before the end of the week.

The second reason this story really ticked me off was that I know what it is like to be a victim of childhood abuse and have no one come to your rescue. Enough said on that for now.

Any victim of sexual assault, regardless of age or gender, hopes it will stop, but also prays that someone sees what is happening and comes to the rescue.

And that brings up the big question for me. I do not understand why any individual entering a locker room and hearing the unmistaken sounds of sexual intercourse, then turning a corner and catching a grown man butt humping a child, did not immediately kill that man with his bare hands or with the nearest object that would do the job. Short of that, I do not understand why that person did not grab the child and run to the nearest phone and call the cops. And, I do not understand how any person with even the slightest grain of humanity would hire a morally handicapped individual who would not come to the rescue of a child.

Oh, you say that is because no one knew what he saw. That’s crap, and you know it.

But here is something you may not know, and the question is: what are going to do about it once I tell you?

A U.S. Department Of Education report from 2004 revealed nearly one out of ten kids in kindergarten through high school are victims of sexual misconduct on the part of their teachers, coaches, or administrators.

But that’s just the kids who are not afraid to speak out, which means the numbers could be higher, much higher.

To put these numbers into perspective, the Houston Independent School District, the largest public school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the country, has more than 202,000 students. If the government’s report is correct, about 20,000 students will be victims of sexual misconduct or abuse from a school employee before they graduate from high school.

Oh, but that would not happen in your town, in your school district, in your kid’s school. Right, because these things always happen somewhere else, and to someone else’s kids.

This might be the time to sit down with your kids for an honest discussion about this prevalent and preventable plague in our schools, because if you had even the slightest anger about how Penn State administrators and alumni looked the other way when they had even the slightest hint of what was happening, then you are just as hypocritical if you do not look into what is going on in your child’s school now that you have been told.

See, I told you that you did not want to read this far.

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Copyright ©2011 John David Powell

John David Powell writes his Lone Star Award-winning columns from Shadey Hill Ranch in Texas. His email address is