“We need to re-focus where it should be-on the victims. We need to find them; we need to help them; they are our children…When it comes to the safety of our children, there can be no margin for error, no hesitation to act.”- Gov. Tom Corbett, in the wake of the Penn State scandal.
I applaud the strength of these parents who unfortunately have inherited the arduous task of doing what the state should be doing. In New York State as in many other states, the laws protecting victims of child abuse are notoriously weak. It is so good to see the victims beginning to stand up and let perpetrators and law enforcement know that they will not be able to remain silence.
With the increasing awareness of the number of incidents involving students being sexually abused by teachers this is the perfect place to start. Since it is clear sex offenders are trying to gain access to our children by putting themselves in positions where they have great access, let’s make sure they know there will be consequences if they abuse our children.
The following example illustrates this point. There is a case on Long Island where a level one sex offender Jeffrey M. Berke was allowed to "retire" in between the time he was arrested and the time he pleaded guilty. Subsequent to his arrest, no real investigation was done to see if there are other victims. He now collects a nice NYS pension and is living off our tax dollars.
He recently has made some posts defending his position on the following blog: http://www.topix.com/forum/city/baldwin-ny/TV...
I think everyone should come and see the kinds of individuals whom schools are employing and then ultimately trying to cover up their actions. It offers a frightening look at the mind of these sick individuals and a perfect justification why we need to make sure people like them realize their actions will not be tolerated.
Let’s start with a simple common sense ground for which their can be little debate. Given that so many educators are now being caught sexually abusing children, let’s close the loopholes allowing them to live off of tax payer money after they are convicted.
People like Jerry Sandusky and Jeffrey M. Berke give us the perfect opportunity to look at some common sense approaches at protecting our children. A good start would be to answer a few basic questions regarding the laws governing how these incidents are handled:
1) Are we doing enough to protect our children or do we need stronger consequences to predators who take jobs in the school systems to gain exposure to potential victims?
2) How is it legal for a perpetrator of any kind of child abuse, especially someone who used their job to gain exposure to victims, allowed to live off of tax payer money?
3) How is it legal for schools NOT to do a thorough investigation once a predator is found in their employ when some studies show child abusers can have over 100 victims?
4) Why do the media keep publishing stories about these incidents and never address these questions?
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently has pushed for the establishment of an agency that investigates allegations of abuse of individuals with developmental disabilities in New York State. Why not have a similar office that is responsible for investigating once a school teacher is found to have engaged in a sexual offense?
Politicians love to seize the moment and use words as a means to communicate with the public. When it comes to child abuse we do not need anymore words but we do need action. I hope at some point our society gains the strength to protect our children and answer these questions.