Report reveals ‘a serious child sex abuse problem’ in public schools. Is it the tip of the iceberg?

Sex-related criminal arrests of teachers or aids have occurred at more than a one-a-day pace since Janauary, according to research released by Fox News Digital last week. And three out of every four crimes involved a student.

Most states have been affected, with 135 arrests in 41 states from January 1 to May 13.

And these numbers only include arrests publicized by local media outlets, meaning the true number of arrests may be higher. Charges ranged from child pornography to rape, and the vast majority of perpatrators were male educators. 

The data was gleaned by analyzing local news stories across the nation on a week-by-week basis over the course of this year.

The research also showed 76% of occurrences happened directly to students, meaning the educator capitalized on access to vulnerable youth.

The last major look into the frequency of such crimes by the Department of Education (DOE) happened nearly two decades ago, in 2004.

That DOE report claimed 1 in 10 students experience sexual misconduct by a teacher at some point during their K-12 school experience.

“The public school system has a serious child sex abuse problem,” Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told Fox News Digital. “The last significant federal study on this topic, which was conducted by the Department of Education in 2004, suggested that millions of American schoolchildren are victims of teacher sexual misconduct in each generation of K-12 students – and there hasn’t been any significant research since then.”

The DOE study also took place before the smartphone era, which might suggest the problem has only grown worse. 

The Washington Post sounded the alarm in 2015 about the staggering increase in inappropriate behavior by educators facilitated by social media and text messaging. In its study, the Post showed that over a third of reported cases where a teacher was accused or convicted of an inappropriate relationship with a student involved using social media to start or continue the relationship.

But even that data is outdated at this point, and it is difficult to imagine things improving in light of the multitude of new social apps and platforms available to young people. 

Erika Sanzi, director of outreach for Parents Defending Education, called for a thorough investigation into the issues.

“We need to get much more honest about the problem, study it again and ensure that we have policies and laws in place that protect children,” Sanzi said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “It is currently legal in Massachusetts and Rhode Island for teachers and other adults in positions of authority to have sexual relationships with students once they turn 14. After a 5-year effort, [Rhode Island] finally appears poised to change that this year.”

Rhode Island is currently considering a bill that would make sex between a school employee and a student under 18 a crime. Representatives from the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU have objected to the bill, claiming it unfairly singles out teachers. 

Some policy experts argue parents deserve to know the facts regarding what’s happening in the public school system. 

“Congress should immediately fund a $25 million research program into child sexual abuse in public schools and provide complete transparency for parents,” Rufo said. “The first duty of public schools is to keep kids safe – and, tragically, that’s not happening in far too many cases.”