Friday, April 25, 2008

LITIGATION DRIVES THE INSANE LABELING OF CHILDREN AS SEX OFFENDERS

For Little Children, Grown-Up Labels As Sexual Harassers
By Brigid Schulte Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, April 3, 2008; A01
In his seven years, Randy Castro has been an aspiring soccer player, an accomplished Lego architect and a Royal Ranger at his Pentecostal church. He also, according to his elementary school record, sexually harassed a first-grade classmate.
During recess at his Woodbridge school one day in November, when he was 6, he said, he smacked the classmate's bottom. The girl told the teacher. The teacher took Randy to the principal, who told him such behavior was inappropriate. School officials wrote an incident report calling it "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive," which will remain on his student record permanently.
Then, as Randy sat in the principal's office, they called the police.
"I thought they were going to take me to prison," Randy said recently. "I was scared."
Prince William County school officials would not comment on Randy's case, citing student confidentiality. They said the call to police was the result of a misunderstanding.
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Primarily, they misunderstood their roles as teachers, but when 60% of those in the 'teaching profession' nationwide are administrators, what can you expect? Education has become one big hole in the road, where four teachers dig while six administrators stand to lean against their shovels and watch.
In a nation where everyone can bring a lawsuit and where fast-talking attorneys create an environment of judicial punishment rather than justice, schools and fast-food restaurants have lost their courage. Some would say lost their courage to defend against the indefensible, which is something very different from the undefendable.
If that sounds like nit-picking, perhaps it's time (or long past time) to pick some particularly egregious nits.
  • It's indefensible to brand for life a six-year-old who whacks another kid on the butt at recess. That's one of the things that six-year-olds do and they are not supposed to have the cops called for being six.
  • It's undefendable, say the schools, to go to court and cause a jury to find in favor of kids being kids and no damage done. There is, when six lean on shovels watching four dig, always damage done.
With way too much time on their hands, the metaphoric six who lean have busied themselves with binding the schools like Gulliver. Multiculturalism (another of the fearsome isms) screams that all cultures are the equal of all other cultures, in the face of historic evidence to the contrary. Political correctness laces down a leg, gender-blindness cinches down the educational arms, while every whim of the religious right lashes science to the sand. Any minority special-interest with the funding to hire a lawyer winches the bindings more tightly and we have lost our children's attention, respect and interest as a result. Some bargain. Our primary and secondary schools are among the least effective in the so-called developed world, while our universities are the envy of that same world. It's possible that, unfettered by administrative layers all the way to the federal government, more university professors dig and fewer lean on shovels. It's also possible that paying for an education increases the value in attendance. But that clouds the issue. The fact is that we are paying for primary and secondary education and paying dearly for it. $7,000 to $9,000 per student per year, coming for the most part out of your and my property taxes. We have (or should have) a vested interest in what we get for that money. It's the cost of a new car every other year, entirely paid up and no loan payments to make and we care a good bit about what car we drive, but don't give a damn about Randy Castro being made a criminal--at six. Words and fear, apathy and language, sociologists and radical activists on both sides of every issue got us here. If you want an entirely readable and accurate look at what's happened since you left school (or maybe while you were there), whip over to Amazon.com and pick up Diane Ravitch's book The Language Police. You're not likely to regret it. Meanwhile, lost to the larger argument, how many Randy Castros will be branded by enforcement of new zero-tolerance sexual harassment policies in various school districts across the nation--and the fear of litigation. Zero tolerance? For six-year-olds? Are we serious?