P.A.X.A. Responds to Sex Abuse at Chicago Public Schools

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Recently the city of Chicago was rocked by a series of articles written by the Chicago Tribune exposing Chicago Public Schools for their failure to protect children, including decades of reports of child sex abuse, mishandling of or failure to report cases, no enforcement of mandated reporting and hiring practices that overlooked background checks. Despite having multiple policies in place that should have prevented these cases, the school district overlooked and ignored them. Now they are launching a new office to handle the fallout.

And while P.A.X.A. applauds Chicago Public Schools for launching a new Office of Student Protection, it’s hard to not be cynical about their motivations.  If CPS cared more about keeping children safe from sexual predators than its own reputation, why did it take a Chicago Tribune investigation to create this new initiative?  

For those who are not familiar with the investigation, the Tribune found that since 2011, the District’s law department found credible evidence of administrative misconduct in 230 out of 430 reports. In the 100 cases that they investigated, the Tribune identified 70 employees that were involved, from teachers to coaches, janitors to bus drivers.  

The Press Release issued by CPS is woefully inadequate in addressing the concerns of Parents Against Child Sex Abuse (P.A.X.A.).

Let’s not let the creation of the Office of Student Protection distract from the fact that hundreds of children were sexually abused at CPS schools, by CPS employees, who broke rules and laws in a lax environment. What good are policies, rules and laws if they aren’t enforced, as evidenced by the Tribune’s articles.

P.A.X.A. Parents want justice for the abused.

Any employee who broke the state’s mandated reporter laws should be prosecuted.  

Any employee who broke the school district’s rules regarding sexual abuse reporting protocol should be fired.  

Those who did not break rules, but acted unethically or in an inappropriate manner should be disciplined and new rules should be put in place to prevent future sexual abuse from occurring.   

The public firing of a couple of principals is not sufficient.  P.A.X.A. wants CPS to clean house: top to bottom.

P.A.X.A. Parents want a voice.  Nowhere in the press release does it mention that parents and parent groups will be involved in this “innovative” 20 member team that will report directly to the CEO of CPS.  Recent history has proven that bureaucratic incompetence can provide an environment where sexual predators roam hallways and hundreds of children are sexually abused. P.A.X.A. believes that only active parent participation can guarantee that the Office of Student Protection is not just another toothless bureaucratic layer.    

P.A.X.A. Parents want to tilt the power balance toward protecting children. 

No more tiptoeing around the subject of child sexual abuse. Administrators, teachers, and CPS employees need to acknowledge that sexual predators need access to children and schools are perfect environments for predators to connect with children. It is therefore, your job, from janitor to superintendent, to protect children from these predators. It takes vigilance. If administrators care more about squashing a potential scandal than protecting children; if teachers and unions care about “protecting one of their own” than protecting children; if coaches and employees look the other way because they want to keep their jobs—then children will continue to be sexually abused at CPS schools.    

Lauren Thorsen