GARY | More than 4.5 million students are subject to sexual misconduct by a school employee between kindergarten and 12th grade. That represents 9.6 percent of all school-age children.
When Charles Hobson, professor of management in the School of Business & Economics at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, saw that number, he was compelled to dig deeper.
"The number shocked me, and I thought it was a misprint," he said.
Hobson came across the figure, part of a 2004 document released by the U.S. Department of Education from a study conducted by the American Association of University Women, as he researched for a 10-year revision to his 2002 book, "The Lecherous University." It discusses sexual harassment on college campuses.
"In January of this year, when I was doing that research, I ran into some statistics in K through 12 that were mind-boggling," he said.
Hobson wanted to arm parents with ways to protect their children from sexual predators, so he developed a guide called "Protecting Your Child From K-12 Sexual Predators Masquerading As Teachers/Educators: Action Steps for Parents."
They can be downloaded in English or Spanish at either tinyurl.com/ActionStepsForParents or tinyurl.com/ProtegiendoASuHijo.
Steps include teaching children about inappropriate contact, making frequent visits to the child's school and classroom and lobbying school boards to implement protective measures.
Hobson located research about "passing the trash," which is when a superintendent covers up wrongdoing by getting rid of the employee without involving the police.
"It is evil," he said.
Hobson said superintendents need to be stronger advocates for the safety of their students.
Adam Baker, of the Indiana Department of Education, said there is a federal requirement for sexual harassment training.
"Then at the local level there is voluntary training that some districts make mandatory," he said. "As a department, we not only encourage this training, but we also provide a comprehensive background check on every adult teacher."