Uniqueness of Education Special position of trust Children are left at school in the care of educators and staff – Expectations Teach Positively influence their children’s character and psychology.
Educator Sexual Misconduct However, when an incidence of educator sexual misconduct occurs with a child, both the parents and fellow educators are often blindsided by the event.
What is educator sexual misconduct? “Educator sexual misconduct” Term that describes a continuum of inappropriate behaviors, from sexual talk to intercourse, which an adult in the education system exhibits toward a student or former student under 18 years old. [It includes actions at the level of criminal behavior and child abuse (such as molestation or rape) and other noncriminal, yet inappropriate, conduct (such as back rubs and hand-holding).] Note: Definitions vary by state and by researchers and practitioners.
Sexual Predators Sexual predators are clever and creative in their schemes. Willing to invest significant time and energy grooming and targeting children. Predators that are volunteers or are “unofficial” volunteers, – They know of possible situations in which they can isolate children or they look for such situations.
Examples of Sexual Misconduct Personal space boundary violations, such as a – student older than second grade sitting on a staff member’s lap or – a teacher performing back rubs on a student; Sexual harassment* 1, – Requiring sexual favors in exchange for some other reward or goal (quid pro quo), such as a higher grade, or – Creating a hostile environment with the use of sexual comments, jokes, gestures, pictures or – Other content of a sexual nature unrelated to an approved health curricula, in such a pervasive way as to make a student’s environment unbearable; *including both Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 definitions of “quid pro quo” (i.e. one thing in return for another) and “hostile environment.”
More Examples Encouraging a child to engage in prostitution or other sexual activity; Participating in pornographic photography or video production; and Conducting sexual relationships with a student or former student under the age of 18.
What is known about individuals who commit this type of abuse? There is no clear profile, but there are some shared patterns of behavior. Some are monogamous and believe that they are in love with a student. Others are “opportunistic predators” who go into the field of education solely to have access to children. Still others are “bad judgment” personalities/predators who do not go into education to target children, but end up in relationships that meet their emotional needs.
Part of a Profile It is known that although an offender can be male or female, Most are heterosexual Less than a third of sexual misconduct incidents involve same-sex victims, and Studies of convicted offenders indicate that an offender can be employed in a variety of education job categories (Shakeshaft, 2004 ).
Profile Info A 2004 Education Week study of 1998 information in newspapers and computer databases showed that: The majority (80%) of education sexual offenders were male Age range of 21 – 75 years With an average age of 28 years
Victims 70% female Most students are 14+ years of age 4.5 million students will have encountered some form of sexual misconduct by an education within their K-12 experience.
Strategies for Prevention Know and understand the boundaries of appropriate behavior in order to prevent incidents or allegations of sexual misconduct. Policies should incorporate state and federal laws and create structure and protective oversight for the ways in which staff and volunteers have access to students. – such as criminal record checks, or written codes of conduct, which should include consequences for violations.
Strategies for Prevention Some staff roles with students involve highly personal services; therefore, clear job descriptions, standards, safeguards and policies, such as those governing: appropriate touching, overseeing toileting, chaperoning field trips, providing student transportation and administering health care - should be in place.
Being Prepared Sexual misconduct may take on many forms. A number of educator sexual offenders claim to “fall in love” with a student, while others are serial offenders who coerce the victim to keep the relationship undiscovered. A molester may be at different phases of exploitation with different students. The characteristics of the exploiter also differ: some offenders are crude and emotionally immature, while others are socially skilled and act charming and helpful to gain trust and access to their victims.
Investigation Most sexual relations with students take place in private, so reporting requirements must address the range of behaviors that cause even suspicion of sexual relations or abuse. Since different people see different “parts of the whole picture,” it is important to have a team of persons in each school responsible for putting all “the parts” together to form a complete picture of any sexual misconduct.
Investigation Sexual exploitation can be suspected because of a student report, an observation of sexual behavior or because of inappropriate sexual or nonsexual behaviors (e.g., flirting or being seen together in unsanctioned social situations, respectively).
Investigation Interagency collaboration at the earliest stage of the investigation minimizes the tainting of the investigation by other parties, as well as trauma to the victim. Further, outside investigations also protect districts from allegations of bias. If law enforcement or child protective services declines to investigate a situation, then administrative investigations can become primary.
Investigation Maintain confidentiality - to respect the employee’s rights and to understand that staff members are innocent until proven guilty. The accused and the victim also should be kept apart. – assigned accused to an office position or place on paid administrative leave in order to promote a clean investigation. It is also helpful for the accused to have an advocate throughout the investigative process, along with retaliation policies in place to protect those who report the suspicious activity. By adhering to well established procedures, the response process can protect all involved as the truth and consequences are sorted out. Systems that promote rapid and effective investigations will facilitate recovery.
Investigation Amid Controversy & Activity Streams Note that staff will want to know why their colleague is on leave If they can talk with them and what they are allowed to say Unless it is already public knowledge, administrators should not give out the reason why Rumors need to be handled through H.R. and the Administration, but shouldn’t be allowed to fester. The school may need to ask colleagues not to contact the person so as to not taint the investigation. Compromises in the investigation could affect the student’s and staff’s trust in the fairness of the investigation.
Recovery Unfounded or Unsubstantiated: then efforts need to be made to support the educator’s return to school. The accuser also needs support at this time. This may include returning to the same or different school. It also will require further evaluation about the reported incident. Although rare, intentional false allegations do happen and are reprehensible. Every district needs to have a comprehensive policy to address false allegations that outline if and when student sanctions are appropriate.
Recovery Substantiated: then appropriate sanctions, whether administrative, criminal or both should be applied. Regardless of the outcome of an investigation, the school community needs to be supported. Staff may wrestle with issues of loyalty to their fellow staff member, Students may cope with feelings of betrayal and Media attention may bring repeated additional trauma to the school community. There may be both criminal and civil trials, and each may drive a cycle of press inquiries and news and difficult-to- handle negative reactions from the community.
Sample School District Behavioral Guidelines Governing Adult-Student Interactions* Green Light Behaviors – These behaviors are appropriate: Providing humor and friendly comments Giving compliments that are not overly personal Talking to, treating and touching all students in a consistent manner Making sure when alone with a student the door to the room is open and ensuring that you are in plain sight Spending a majority of time with all and not with one student or a single group of students Making personal contact only in safe-touch areas, which include the shoulders, upper back, arms, head and hands Educating all students and parents about the possibility of educator sexual misconduct while using approved developmental, cultural and socially appropriate materials
Sample School District Behavioral Guidelines Governing Adult-Student Interactions* Yellow Light Behaviors – These behaviors may be misconstrued and should be stopped if currently practiced: Singling out students for favors Giving overly personal cards, notes, e-mail or yearbook inscriptions Teasing that references gender or contains sexual innuendo Making sexist comments
Sample School District Behavioral Guidelines Governing Adult-Student Interactions* Red Light Behaviors – These are inappropriate unless specifically part of an education or counseling program: Touching students frequently Commenting on students’ bodies in an overtly sexual manner Being alone in a locked room with student Talking about student sexuality Meeting students during out-of-school hours and away from the school grounds Lap sitting for students beyond second grade * Seattle Public Schools (2007). Adult sexual misconduct: Keeping students and staff safe. Guidelines for teachers and school personnel [Brochure]. Seattle, WA: Seattle Public Schools.
Step 1: Risk Identification First and foremost – you need to fully understand the exposure. – You can do this as a committee of the school district such as a Risk Management Committee Conduct an inventory of programs and activities that involve students. Determine what are the typical situations, programs and activities where abuse could occur.
Step 2: Identify All Vulnerabilities Complaints/Situations Ignored – Not following policies/procedures that address complaint handling. Ignoring Reasonable Suspicion – Activities/circumstances that plainly lend to misgivings about the appropriateness of the situation. Letting Background Checks Slip – Not conducting periodic checks.
Identify All Vulnerabilities Allowing “Special” Situations – We usually see this with legacy programs or arrangements. – Often involves students in isolated situations with an adult. Not Enforcing Policies or Procedures – Such as with transportation and supervision. Not Enforcing Disciplinary Procedures – Most notably with unequal application of disciplinary procedures.
Identify All Vulnerabilities “Pedestal Syndrome” – Holding proximate staff or alumni above the law or institutional policies. Culture – Do political or financial pressures trump common sense and/or ethical integrity?
Vulnerabilities for Access and Entry Unrestricted Public Access Inadequate security Not limiting access particularly to private, remote areas Poor key/code control Unrestricted access by vendors and/or contractors – Not accompanying contractors and vendors while they are in the school
What Should You Be Looking For? H.R. Dept. – Social events, practices – Stale or antiquated policies – Interim management Finance Dept. – Changes in program funding – Reduction in training – Funding for small projects/programs Risk Management/Admin. – Issues with claim trends – Complaints – Current Background Checks School Security – Prior incidents – Security vulnerabilities – Access and Entry vulnerabilities – Open access by staff to all buildings and facilities is not recommended Special Events – Programs after school – Community outreach events
Assessing Your Programs, Operations & Activities Travel/Transportation – Unregulated? – Allowance of one-on-one transportation? Unregulated Use of Social Media – Allowing unrestricted access of social media between students and staff/teachers/volunteers/interns?
Assessing Your Programs, Operations & Activities Volunteers – Do volunteers have activity restrictions? – Degree of involvement with students? – Supervision of volunteers? – “unofficial” volunteers? “Unofficial” Programs or Activities – What/Where are they? – How can they be controlled, managed?
Assessing Your Programs, Operations & Activities Employees Without Background Checks – Employees hired before present policies or regulations – Employees in categories not required to have background checks Youth Programs at School Daycare Latchkey
Summary It is important to Understand educator sexual misconduct – Who they are? – Who the victims are? Know how your school handles the problem – Complaint system – Investigation – Unfounded or Substantiated claim(s) Have behavioral guidelines established and communicated Know how to assess your school’s exposure Know what should you be looking for in your dept. Assess your Programs, Operations & Activities
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Hazing What is it? “Hazing” means: committing an act against a student, or coercing a student into committing an act that creates a risk of emotional, physical or psychological harm to a person, in order for the student to be initiated into or affiliated with a student organization.
How Prevalent? Report, Initiation Rites in American High Schools: A National Survey, based on a survey of more than 1,500 high school juniors and seniors, was released in 2000.Initiation Rites in American High Schools: A National Survey The results, according to Dr. Norman Pollard, director of counseling and student development at Alfred University and one of report's authors, were "alarming."
Types of Hazing Nearly half the students who responded to the survey reported being the victims of hazing. They were yelled or sworn at and thrown into pools, oceans, creeks, ponds, or toilets. Students were forced to act as personal servants; undress, tell dirty stories or jokes, or embarrass themselves publicly; skip school or refuse to do schoolwork or chores; tattoo, pierce, or shave themselves or one another; eat or drink disgusting things; and go without food, sleep, or cleanliness.
Results 43% of the students (more recent studies show 47%) surveyed reported being subjected to humiliating activities, 23% reported hazing that involved substance abuse, and 30% reported performing illegal or potentially illegal acts. Because more than half the high school students subjected to humiliation were also expected to engage in potentially illegal acts, "humiliation appears to be a clear warning flag that illegal hazing behaviors are involved or may develop," the report states. More than 1.5 million high school students in the United States are subjected to some form of hazing each year.
Sports is a primary means of socialization in athletics. "Suddenly, after years of involvement in youth sports, they are expected to do something dangerous or humiliating in order to be part of a team. For some, to be humiliated is a better alternative than to be isolated and ostracized in sports - Pollard.
Hazing Why should it be prohibited? Hazing negatively impacts the school culture by creating an environment of fear, distrust, intimidation and intolerance.
Hazing Typical situations where hazing could occur? Athletics, Clubs Co-Ops Assemblies Associations Productions or Projects Groups, classes, teams, grade level Band, Cheerleading and others
Hazing Why should the prohibition be enforced? Can result in mental health problems, severe injury, suicide or death as a result of physical injury or intake of potentially harmful substances Negative affect on the school and school environment Against school policy Illegal in many states – IL – Class A Misdemeanor/Class 4 Felony
Why Should The Prohibition Be Enforced? Hazing is antithetical to one of the school’s primary goals which is to promote respect, dignity and equality for all students. It is essential to ensure a healthy environment in which students can learn and employees can work productively.
Disciplinary Measures Students: Discipline may range from a reprimand up to and including permanent suspension from school, to be imposed consistent with the student conduct and discipline policy including the athletic code of conduct and applicable law.
Disciplinary Measures Employees: Discipline may range from a warning up to and including termination, to be imposed consistent with all applicable contractual and statutory rights.
Disciplinary Measures Volunteers: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including loss of district business.
Disciplinary Measures Other individuals: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including denial of future access to school property.
Disciplinary Measures False or malicious complaints of hazing may result in corrective or disciplinary action taken against the complainant.
Policy School Board Policy that Should condemn and strictly prohibit all forms of hazing on – school grounds, – school buses and, – at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events including those that take place at locations outside the district.
Application It should apply to all students, employees, consultants or independent contractors, volunteers, vendors, or other third-parties with access to the schools.
Complaint Investigation Victims of hazing, and persons with knowledge of hazing report the incident immediately. The district will promptly investigate all complaints of hazing formal or informal, verbal or written. To the extent possible, all complaints will be treated in a confidential manner. Limited disclosure may be necessary to complete a thorough investigation.
Complaint Investigation Complaints should document the hazing as soon as it occurs and with as much detail as possible including: the nature of the hazing specifically what was said or done, and by whom; dates, times, place it has occurred; name of hazer(s) witnesses to the hazing; and the complaint’s response to the hazing.
Complaint Investigation Provide the complainant with a copy of the Board Policy on Hazing and your administrative regulation.
Investigation The Principal shall conduct a preliminary review when they receive a verbal or written complaint of hazing or if they or other responsible individuals observe hazing. Except in the case of severe or criminal conduct, the Principal should make all reasonable efforts to resolve complaints informally at the school level.
Investigation Steps Interview the complainant Document the conversation. Instruct the complainant to have no contact or communication regarding the complaint with the alleged hazer or others. Ask the complainant specifically what action he/she wants taken in order to resolve the complaint. Ask the complainant to fill out a complaint form and give him/her a copy of this policy and regulation. Refer the complainant as appropriate, to school social workers, school psychologists, crisis team managers, other school staff, or appropriate outside agencies for counseling services.
Investigation Steps Review any written documentation of the hazing prepared by the complainant. If the complainant has not prepared written documentation, instruct the complainant to do so, providing alternative formats for individuals with disabilities and young children, who have difficulty writing and need accommodation. If someone other than the complainant prepares the complaints, the complaint should be reviewed and signed, as appropriate, by the complainant. Determine whether there is any physical or other evidence of the harassment in the complainant’s possession (i.e., notes, recordings, diaries, presents, or objects).
Investigation Steps Interview the alleged hazer regarding the complaint and inform the alleged hazer that if the objectionable conduct has occurred, it must cease immediately. Document the conversation. Provide the alleged hazer an opportunity to respond to the charges in writing.
Investigation Steps Instruct the alleged hazer to have no contact or communication regarding the complaint with the complainant and to not retaliate against the complainant. Warn the alleged hazer that if he/she makes contact with or retaliates against the complainant, he/she will be subject to immediate disciplinary action.
Investigation Steps Interview any witnesses to the complaint. Obtain (where appropriate) a written statement from each witness. Caution each witness to keep the complaint and his/her statement confidential.
Investigation Steps Review all documentation and information relevant to the complaint. Suggest mediation, (where appropriate), as a potential means of resolving the complaint.
Investigation Steps In addition to mediation, use appropriate informal methods to resolve the complaint, including but not limited to: – discussion with the accused, informing him or her of the district’s policies and indicating that the behavior must stop; – suggesting counseling and/or sensitivity training; – conducting training for the department or school in which the behavior occurred, calling attention to the consequences of engaging in such behavior; – requesting a letter of apology to the complainant; – writing letter of counseling; – Referral or consideration of disciplinary action; and/or – Separating the parties.
Investigation Steps Parent/Student/Employee Involvement and Notification – Parents of student complainants shall be notified within one school day of allegations that are serious or involve repeated conduct. – The parents of students who file serious complaints are encouraged to participate at each stage of both informal and formal investigation and resolution procedures.
Investigation Steps Parent/Student/Employee Involvement and Notification If either the complainant or the accused is a disabled student receiving special education services under the IEP or section 504/Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations, – the committee on special education will be consulted to determine the degree to which the student’s disability either caused or is affected by the discrimination or policy violation. – In addition, due process procedures required for persons with disabilities under state and federal law shall be followed.
Investigation Steps Parent/Student/Employee Involvement and Notification – The Principal shall submit a copy of all investigation and interview documentation to the Superintendent or his/her designee. – At the conclusion of the investigation the principal or designee shall report back to both the complainant and the accused, notifying them in writing, and also in person as appropriate regarding the outcome of the investigation and the action taken to resolve the complaint. – The investigator shall instruct the complainant to report immediately if the objectionable behavior occurs again or if the alleged hazer retaliates against him/her.
Investigation Steps Parent/Student/Employee Involvement and Notification – The investigator shall notify the complainant that if he/she desires further investigation and action, he/she may request a district level investigation by contacting the Superintendent of Schools or other district level representative. – The investigator shall also notify the complainant of his/her right to contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Right and/or a private attorney. – Employees may also contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of your state division of human rights.
Investigation Steps If a complaint received by the Principal contains evidence or allegations of serious or extreme hazing or acts, which shock the conscience of a reasonable person, the complaint shall be referred promptly to the Superintendent or other district level representative. In addition, where the Principal has a reasonable suspicion that the alleged hazing involves criminal activity, he/she should immediately notify the Superintendent, who shall then contact appropriate child protection and law enforcement authorities. Where criminal activity or other serious hazing is alleged or suspected by a district employee, the accused employee shall be suspended pending the hazing of the investigation, consistent with all contractual or statutory requirements.
District Investigation If a district investigation results in a determination that hazing did occur, prompt corrective action will be taken to end the hazing. Where appropriate, district investigators may suggest mediation as a means of exploring options of corrective action and informally resolving the complaint.
Retaliation Prohibited All complainants and those who participate in the investigation of a complaint of hazing, have the right to be free from retaliation of any kind. The complainant will be notified of the outcome of the investigation.
Training Training programs shall be presented to students and employees to raise awareness of the issues surrounding hazing, and to implement preventive measures to help reduce incidents of hazing.
Parental Notification of Policy Parents should be informed of this policy and the district’s efforts to provide training to students and staff.
Communication of Policy Post in a prominent place in each district facility and on school buses Publish in student registration materials, student, parent and employee handbooks, and other appropriate school publications. Discuss at orientation and other appropriate times
Communication in Schools Principals in each school and program directors shall be responsible for: informing students and staff on a yearly basis of the terms of this policy, including the procedures established for investigation and resolution of complaints, general issues surrounding hazing the rights and responsibilities of students and employees, and the impact of hazing on the complainant.
Summary You should know: What Hazing is Where does it occur The types of hazing Impact on students and the learning environment Recommended disciplinary measures Importance of establishing a policy prohibiting hazing and retaliation How to handle complaints and subsequent investigation When and what to include in training and communications for all stakeholders
THE END Contact: Stephen J. Cerro, Sr. Risk Control Specialist, WRM – WRIGHT SPECIALTY INSURANCE email@example.com 1.920.979.9760
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