- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Beware the child molester. Pedophiles do not wear name tags.

Remember the news from a few weeks back about an elementary school “aide” filming kids engaging in sex acts with each other and himself engaging in sex acts with them? Well, the remedy has come back to haunt Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Deonte Carraway, 22, pleaded not guilty in March to 13 federal felony charges related to sexual exploitation to produce child pornography. He remains behind bars in an orange jumpsuit, and the investigation continues.

After he was busted, school authorities convened a special task force to determine what had happened regarding this school “aide” and what should occur going forward as preventative measures. The panel’s report, titled “Student Safety Task Force” and released Tuesday, made 61 recommendations.

Unfortunately, most of them sound as if task force members and school authorities are preaching to their respective choirs via bureaucratic alphabet soup and gobbledegook instead of addressing parents who want a simple explanation of what county officials plan to do to ensure that what happened to the children at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Glenarden will never happen again at any school.

The first clue that the report would yield deficits is that it never mentions Deonte Carraway’s name. The second is that the report names another culprit, “training.” By that I mean the report repeatedly says teachers, school bus drivers, volunteers, contractors and others who come in close contact with students are not trained to spot pedophiles and abuse victims.

Another way of putting it is to say the lack of a “trained” eye explains why the adults turned a blind eye again and again and again. There are more than a dozen Carraway victims, and many of the incidents occurred on school property.

To their credit, task force members did make three solid recommendations, and fortunately they led the pack:

1) “Creating a partnership with a multi-disciplinary team representing DSS/CPS, [Department of Social Services/Child Protective Services] PGPD, [Prince George’s Police Department] SAO, [State’s Attorney’s Office] and PGH-SAC [Prince George’s Hospital-Sexual Assault Center] to understand, train, and implement Board of Education policies regarding the specifics of who is required to report, when and how to report, and related discipline and civil penalties for failure to report, where applicable.” Explanation: Do not keep allegations of child abuse to yourself.

2) “Mandating all employees, (administrators, teachers, and staff), volunteers, visitors, vendors, contractors, and anyone who regularly enters any educational facility to personally and directly report any suspected child sexual abuse and/or neglect to the Department of Social Services, the Police Department or the State’s Attorney’s Office, and the school principal in accordance with the policy.” Explanation: Report the allegations.

3) “Providing regular and consistent opportunities for parents and guardians to receive training, so that they recognize the signs of grooming and sexual abuse, know to whom to report, and how to seek assistance for their child if abuse is suspected.”

The Prince George’s task force report also urged counseling for victims and suspected victims of abuse.

The most striking sentence in the entire 50-page report, though, appeared on page 47: “Whether in schools, within families, or in communities, all adults share responsibility for student safety.”

Ding, ding, ding. The all-inclusive phrase “all adults share responsibility for student safety” speaks volumes.

The adults in the schoolhouse failed. The adults who worked alongside the school “aide” on other community projects failed. The adults who constantly saw and recognized the “aide” in the company of children failed. The adults at a Glenarden church failed too.

When it comes to children, parents must always be in protect mode. Adults must be mindful of the fact that pedophiles, regardless of persuasion, don’t walk around with ID tags pinned to their clothing. The smartest of parents trains one eye on her children and the other on the lookout for pedophiles.

Child molesters are always on the lookout.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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