NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 28, 2005

Incidents of school employees sexually assaulting students in American public schools are not uncommon, says policy analyst Neal McCluskey (Cato Institute).

For example, according to a report from Michigan's auditor general and a Detroit News investigation, the state fails to keep tabs on teachers convicted of sexual assault:

  • In 2004, more than 200 licensed school workers had criminal records and the state did not know about 178 of them.
  • In addition, the state often failed to revoke the certification of teachers found guilty of crimes.

It is also not uncommon for districts to fail to adequately protect students from these school employee predators, says McCluskey. According to Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft, in a 2004 report, as many as one out of every 10 children will suffer school employee sexual misconduct at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade.

So why are incidents of misconduct so prevalent? McCluskey says the first problem with keeping predators out of schools is that many have no records of abuse before they are hired. As a result, and as Shakeshaft noted, screening will not identify the majority of educators who have or will sexually abuse.

McCluskey says the system also breaks down because individuals with criminal backgrounds often are not adequately tracked due to communication breakdowns between school districts and police departments.

And while many reports document the frequency of abuse, there have been no studies on the effectiveness of prevention programs or legislation.

Source: Neal McCluskey, "U.S. Public Schools Failing to Combat Predatory Employees," Heartland Institute, School Reform News, Vol. 9, No. 7, July 1, 2005; Charol Shaeshaft, "Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature," U.S. Department of Education, Doc. # 2004-09, June 2004; and Marisa Schultz, "State fails to stop teacher sex abuse: Poor background checks and lack of communication let crimes go unchecked," Detroit News, April 24, 2005.

For Shakeshaft report:


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