More Outrageous Elementary School Abuse

An elementary school secretary, Jennifer Carter, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor child abuse charge stemming from an October incident in which she bound an unruly 6-year-old child’s hands and covered the child’s mouth with masking tape.

The student’s mother has filed a  $500,000 lawsuit against the Denver Public Schools.

My thoughts on this have been adequately expressed in previous posts here, and here.

I will only add this: before the internet, such local incidents of child abuse by teachers and administrators seldom received national exposure. Now they do, and because they do, there is real cause for alarm. Too many individuals of wretched judgment and cruel instincts, who make Miss Hannigan look like Mr. Chips by comparison, are being hired by our school systems, and too many children are being terrorized as a result, It is time to stop canonizing teachers and instead to look more critically at the serious deficiencies in hiring, training, and oversight. Thanks to the fact that student abuse is now hard to hide, parents should be on notice. There is a real problem with discipline in our school, and but this time it isn’t the kids.

6 thoughts on “More Outrageous Elementary School Abuse

  1. Okay. This is it. Create a Federal law that mandates state oversight of each school and school teacher, puts the teachers’ unions in their place, and clean up this abysmal system.

    Is it low salaries that attract sadists and child abusers to the public school system? Is it low salaries that enable IQ-80s to presumably educate our children? Is it self-serving teachers’ unions that refuse to vet prospective teachers adequately? It is clear to me that for every good and dedicated public school teacher there are at least ten who are collecting salaries with no idea of how they should be educating and treating children. States and counties aren’t doing it.

    I don’t want the Feds to do it. I want every one of these cases to be taken to court by the local district attorneys, the perpetrators to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, the school systems to be put on notice that they will be monitored closely, and that every single parent should be allowed access to the local DA when they think something untoward is going on. It will cost money, but how better could this money be spent?

    What frightens me so much is that pre-Internet we had no idea what was going on in our schools. Now we’re getting just a taste… what else is out there? There are television shows that “expose” (no pun intended) child molesters… why can’t a network set out to “expose” this kind of abuse in schools?

    Teachers’ unions be damned. I call upon the district attorney’s office of every jurisdiction to take a long, hard look at their own public school system. If in just three days, abuse of the kind this blog has discovered, shouldn’t the law/legal communities care what might else be happening in their own counties? Isn’t this part of their charge? Why aren’t these examples a wake-up call for every parent, every school board member (or maybe not, they haven’t seemed to care so far), every law enforcement officer, every district attorney, every child protection agency?

    Parents: talk to your kids. Find out what is going on. When you ask your kid how their day was, don’t just relax when they say “Fine.” Explore what they know, what they’ve seen. Ask about their teachers, about what happens in their classes. It is only with information that we can take a stand.

    Luckily, with my son, his main complaint is that his teachers use worse grammar than he does. But after today, I’m going to explore further.

    We pay our taxes for these morons, and sometime sadists, to have our children in their charge for six hours a day. Don’t we deserve to know what’s going on, and to have some control over who is “teaching” them and what goes on there?

    Tea party politics and all that notwithstanding, this is a real call to action. Only parents, as one resounding group, can make change. DO IT !!!!

    • I’m sure teachers are pining for the days of corporal punishment. (I think some Catholic school teachers still use it.)

      I recognize the foul here… I’m just not that “appalled” by it. Perhaps it’s because of the movies I watch. Did anyone ever see the movie “Problem Child” (1990) with John Ritter? That kid needed to be tied up.

      So let’s do an exercise. At what point would you tie up a kid? When they scream bloody murder at the top of their lungs non-stop? When they threaten to run away? When they threaten to hurt themselves? When they threaten to hurt you?

      I’m not saying that this kid deserved it any way. And I’m positive the office secretary was in the wrong. But let’s not be completely appalled here. We empower our teachers to use authoritative control over our kids, even if they are “perfect little angels”. So where is that ethical line of authoritative control?

  2. My apologies Jack. I should have pointed this out to you in October. (I am your guy on the ground in Colorado.)

    Putting aside the obvious ethical issue for a moment, can you talk about the effect of these lawsuits for mistreatment?

    I’ll kind of direct you to where I’m going so you can get to the heart of the matter.

    Let’s take Jennifer Carter for an example. Hypothetically, let’s assume that she has no prior history or indication that lead to this incident. Let’s assume that this incident was a one time event, and moreover, that she was appropriately disciplined – (i.e. termination).

    What is the effect on the school system that already struggles financially, of a mother that sues for $500,000? Our society seems to have set precedent that if you are somehow wronged, it is akin to winning the lottery. In this instance, the child won’t need $500k of therapy. If the school lacks adequate training, wouldn’t it be better for the judgement to force the school to spend $500k on training to proactively correct the problem rather than discipline them financially for taking appropriate reactive action?

    • Yup, you fell down on the job.

      Obviously the civil suit’s damages are waaaay too high, but binding a child’s arms and mouth is a serious breach. I could see a punitive lawsuit to scare the bejesus out of other schools who have hired loose cannons. The same with teachers who sexually molest students.

      I’d like to see damages allocated differently, and believe it or not, some plaintiffs designate the damages to go to fixing the problem.

  3. I was a pretty aberrant student, and I recall at one point taping my own mouth shut (with Scotch tape). I think I volunteered to do it. Maybe she jokingly suggested it and I happily went along with it. I don’t recall specifically. I think it was 3rd grade.

    Obviously, this is completely different.

  4. I’m not excusing any of these teachers, and I would never be a teacher myself because I know my own limits, but I would definitely be tying up and taping mouths shut on some of the kids I see at my kids’ schools. Last week there was a teenage cheerleader on her cell phone calling her mom from the cafeteria during a basketball game — I was horrified at the language and attitude coming from this young woman. If this young “lady” treats her mother this way, how does she treat the teachers and administrators in her school?

    I absolutely would snap.

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