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Sex abuse in New York schools: A decades-long phenomenon

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2021 | Child Victims Act

The landmark passage of New York’s Child Victims Act opened the doors to justice for survivors of childhood sex abuse. Many of those survivors suffered at the hands of familiar culprits – Catholic priests. But many victims suffered abuse in other trusted institutions – the Boy Scouts of America, the state foster care system, and public and private schools, to name a few.

The frightening pattern of abuse

The settings and perpetrators vary, but they follow the same basic pattern: A trusted adult in a position of authority. A vulnerable child who trusts that authority. And a horrific abuse of that authority when the trusted adult turns out to be a predator.

Schools are under the microscope, too

In the last year-and-a-half, numerous survivors have come forward with tragic accounts of abuse at the hands of New York teachers. Seven involve a former math teacher who taught in the Holland School District during the 70s and 80s. One victim reported the abuse to the principal at the time, but no action was ever taken. Several involve allegations of rape by a former teacher at the prestigious Gow School, a college preparatory academy in South Wales. The survivor reported the abuse to school administrators, but they allegedly did nothing. The teacher went on to become a counselor working with at-risk teenagers.

Statewide, the abuse allegations involving public and private school teachers span decades. And that abuse isn’t limited to the past. According to recent reports, sexual misconduct reports in New York City schools have risen more than 50 percent in the last five years. It’s a frightening statistic, reflecting a tragic reality that nobody – least of all, a child – should have to endure.


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