SAN BERNARDINO, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 12, 2014) - It's nearly impossible to escape the stories and reports on educator sexual misconduct that permeates the media on a regular basis. Most people have heard about the abuse scandal at Penn State University, stories of the popular high school coach engaging in improper activities with students, or the female junior high teacher "falling in love" with a 13 year old boy and acting upon her feelings. In all these forms of misconduct and abuse, it brings to the forefront the question of who should report suspected child abuse at school, how to prevent it and the reluctance of individuals (other staff, students or parents) to get involved at all.
Sexual misconduct by school employees and abuse of students is a growing national social, political and safety issue. Due to the leadership of several key individuals, there have been some positive steps towards prevention. Southern California Schools Risk Management is a notable example of a JPA insurance pool that illuminates the importance of prevention by working with its membership school districts to address this problem through education. SCSRM now offers their members specific Making Right Choices (MRC) courses designed to deal with, report and eventually prevent sexual misconduct in schools. These courses also feature personal assistance from a board certified forensic psychologist, available to go to meetings at individual schools/districts to address both opportunities and challenges.
"Dr. Glenn Lipson is the founder and mastermind behind MRC, this amazing training program that we have been privileged to align with," said Karla M. Rhay, Ed.D., Chief Administrative Officer of SCSRM. "Our training is the most robust and interactive available. We are one of the first school pools to offer our member districts this type and caliber of training product. MRC was selected to partner with SCSRM-JPA and its membership districts to develop and implement strategies that build community support and awareness regarding the prevention of employee sexual misconduct and abuse of students," said Dr. Rhay.
Dr. Lipson, Founder and CEO of Making Right Choices, is a forensic psychologist who has spent over two decades either treating or assessing the survivors and perpetrators of sexual misconduct, violence and other forms of abuse. "MRC brings the experience of the dedicated team to our partners in prevention, assisting them by sharing our expertise and decades of experience," added Dr. Lipson. "Our experience indicates that employees report suspicious conduct responsibly and confidentially in situations where they may not have before."
The Penn State scandal is a reminder that as much progress that has been made in identifying and responding to child abuse, there is still more work to be done. According to Frank S. Tom, Director of Risk Prevention Solutions at MRC, "One factor that contributes to this problem is that many school boards, administrations, unions, school-communities, and insurance entities are not addressing this problem at the prevention level, through education." One possible explanation for this lack of action in regards to prevention is the fear by many of these stakeholder groups that if they did take this type of action, the public may judge their schools in a negative light. Mr. Tom added, "Many of these groups and school districts only address employee sexual misconduct and abuse of students by means of intervention, and typically behind closed doors." Without prevention, the issues and problems related to employee sexual misconduct and abuse of students continue to grow. If school administrations face this challenge and implement programs like those offered by SCSRM, the schools will be able to prevent sexual misconduct to the benefit of their students and their families.
About SCSRM: Southern California Schools Risk Management-JPA is one of the state's oldest joint powers authorities where public schools share and manage their risk exposures. The not-for-profit organization provides insurance programs and risk management services for school districts and community college districts. SCS Risk Management combines the use of self-insurance and commercial insurance to cover exposures to school districts. (909) 763-4900, or visit www.scsrm.org