Dedra struggled in English class. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't seem to get the grades she wanted. Her English teacher, Ms. Powell, offered to tutor her after school. Dedra saw almost immediate results. Ms. Powell suggested she come twice a week and offered to give her a ride home since it was on her way anyhow. Dedra's parents were delighted. They even invited Ms. Powell to stay for dinner to show her how much they appreciated all she was doing for their daughter.
But then something happened. Ms. Powell started touching Dedra on the hands and arms, and hugging her, and brushing her hand on her hair and neck, and "adjusting her sweater," and kissing her on the cheek. Dedra tried to quit tutoring but her parents refused. Her English grades had never been better. And to them, Ms. Powell was so nice! By the end of the semester Ms. Powell was molesting Dedra twice a week in her classroom and in her car until Dedra ran away from home. When she came home she confessed to her parents but begged them to not tell anyone because she didn't want the other kids to know that she had sex with another female. Her parents respected their daughter's wishes. Ms. Powell is still teaching 7th grade English.
What does this case teach us?
- Females do molest children. One study reported that females committed 40% of molestations that occur in day care centers.
- Abuse usually happens outside the bounds of a structured activity. In this case, Ms. Powell behaved appropriately in class but waited until after school when no one else was around to offend.
- Even teens feel guilty when an adult molests them-they somehow think it's their fault and that they should have been able to stop the perpetrator.
- Dedra's parents didn't know how to respond. Their daughter was hurting and they were trying to spare her any more pain. The majority of known or suspected cases of institutional abuse go unreported to the authorities. And the molesters keep on molesting.
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