Yes, the City of Chicago has a department that investigates every allegation of sexual abuse made against an employee of the city. Since its creation in 2018, it has handled over 1,700 complaints. This year, however, the unit fielded a record-high number of complaints, 470. The complaints ranged from the bizarre to the infuriating and have resulted in 16 cases being filed against school-affiliated employees.
The district cautioned parents about interpreting the data. They claim that Chicago Public Schools do not have a higher rate of sex crimes than other districts. They remain one of the few districts to keep accurate records of sex crimes and report those to the media. According to CPS, paying better attention results in better information, which may result in shocking statistics.
The district reminded parents that even though the volume is higher, in many cases, there would be no investigation regardless of the quality of the allegations.
Understanding the Problem
In one case, a PE teacher sent a sexually explicit photo of his genitals to an 11th-grade student. Bad right? I think we as a society can all agree that is bad. However, fellow staff began making excuses for the teacher. They claimed he sent the photo accidentally and then blamed the student for dressing provocatively. Neither staff member notified the administration. Instead, they tipped off the teacher. The student was forced to post the event on social media, and then another student came forward with a similar allegation. The second student emailed videos of the teacher performing sexual acts. So, it was not until the students had a smoking gun that anyone took notice.
Obviously, this is unacceptable. The teacher eventually faced criminal charges and lost his job. But the students needed to provide evidence of him engaged in sexual intercourse before the staffers would respond to clear evidence of a sexual image that came from a teacher’s phone.
How Chicago Handles Sex Crimes Complaints
Chicago has an agency that is required to investigate every allegation they receive. The agency has no choice in the matter, but not all allegations are the same, either. The problem is that the students with real and valid complaints against teachers struggle to get their voices heard. If that student never posts the issue on social media, then that teacher still sends sexual images to students. Eventually, he does get caught. But how many future victims are created by a failure to follow up on credible allegations?
The effort is an attempt to ensure that no valid allegation is ignored. The effort is an attempt to even the playing field for victims of sex crimes who often are intimidated into silence, even by teachers. In four years of investigating over 1,700 complaints, criminal charges have emerged only 16 times.
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