This might be the most irresponsible headline writing I've seen in quite a long time. In response to the terribly disturbing and horrible (as if I needed to clarify that I do indeed find it disturbing and horrible) news out of Los Angeles these past few days, Slate ran a story with the headline "How Many Kids Are Sexually Abused by Their Teachers?" With the subhed: "Probably millions."
I was shocked when I read that headline. That can't possibly be true, I thought. Dear God, where did they get those numbers? Oh my gosh, those poor children.
Well, as it turns out, they didn't. Get numbers, I mean. They reference a number of different surveys, none of which are backed up by any solid facts and some of which are methodically unsound. The subhed should have read, "We really aren't sure, but 'millions' probably looks scary to a lot of readers, so let's go with that." Including me, I admit, a villainous public school teacher myself.
Maybe I'm young and innocent, still, but I find it hard to believe that millions of children have been abused by teachers. Not that even one child abused by a teacher isn't terrible, but I'm not sure what scaremongering about sexual-predator-teachers is going to accomplish. For many children (sadly, many of them being the children we here in NYC teach), school is the safest place they have. What good does it do anyone to suggest to normal folks that their local school is crawling with sexual predators, that their child has a 1-in-10 chance of being sexually harassed by a teacher?
Well, I guess it does the corporate teacher bashers some good. There's always that.