Hastert's willful negligence in protecting children from serial predators

Well, this post aged pretty well.

It got an awful lot of hits from DC-based IP addresses in the middle of the night too, back in 2006-2007.  Almost like someone was trying to figure out what the deeper meaning was?

For the past year, I served as a substitute teacher in Aurora, IL. When applying for that position, one of the first forms I was required to fill out was the Child Abuse Mandated Reporter form. Essentially, the form stated that as a classroom teacher, I was legally required to report any suspected abuse of a child, be it emotional, sexual, or physical in nature.

Every K-12 teacher in the state of Illinois is required to fill out this form, acknowledging that they recognize their legal responsibility to report any potential child abuse, should there be what is deemed “reasonable cause to believe that a child known to them in their professional or official capacity may be an abused or neglected child” (end of quote, emphasis added)

In only one year as an educator, I was personally obligated to report several cases of suspected abuse to state authorities.

As a long-time educator, Dennis Hastert would have undoubtedly been familiar with this process. As an educator, Hastert was undoubtedly trained to recognize when abuse was occurring. And as an educator in the state of Illinois, he would have been guilty of committing a Class A Misdemeanor for neglecting to report any such situation. In fact, “willful failure to report suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor (first violation) or a class 4 felony (second or subsequent violation).”

According to the Boston Globe, “Hastert has said he did not see until recent days sexually explicit e-mails between Foley and congressional pages -- only ones that seemed `over-friendly.’ "

However, any knowledge of “inappropriate emails,” as referred to by Rep. Boehner, or even simply knowledge of “over-friendly” interactions provides sufficient reasonable cause to invite professional investigation.

Let’s investigate the term “over-friendly.”Use of the prefix “over-” does not mean the same as “very;” it is used to show that an action is done to too great an extent, or excessively.For example, look at the words overwork, oversleep, and overeat. Do these words imply an acceptable workload? Sleeping and eating normally? No. The use of the term “over-friendly” in and of itself implies that something is abnormal… someone’s being a bit more friendly than they should be.

In recent interviews, such as with the Boston Globe, Dennis Hastert indeed indicated that he did see those emails that he characterized as “over-friendly”… indicating that Hastert himself knew something was off.Even if Hastert did not know how to proceed with an investigation the situation, he undoubtedly knew that he could contact the local Children’s Services department and ask them to handle the investigation.But he didn’t.Why? Because there wasn’t enough evidence?As an educator, you know not to wait.Children’s services will investigate, and if they can’t make a case, it’s over. Easy. It’s always better to look into suspected abuse earlier than face additional consequences later.

It’s abundantly clear that Mr. Hastert chose not to err on the side of caution.

"Would have, should have, could have." Mr. Speaker, It’s clear that you knew how to take action… you definitely “could have.”It’s blatantly obvious that you “should have.”But if you “would have,” you probably wouldn’t be embroiled in the midst of this scandal today.You may have once been a teacher and a coach, but it’s your lackadaisical reluctance to standing up for what’s right when political power is at stake, and your willful negligence towards protecting the children under your care that have gotten you where you are today. 

It's almost like you have something to hide.





References

Applicable definitions for the state of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Granted, the particulars may vary from state to state, but the gist remains the same. Point being, these are the laws Hastert clearly knew how to abide by in the state of Illinois.

The following definitions apply to Sexual Abuse occurs when a person responsible for the child’s welfare commits any of the following acts:

  • sexual penetration includes any contact between the sex organ of one person and the sex organ, mouth, or anus of another person. Typical acts include vaginal, oral and anal sex.
  • sexual exploitation is defined by DCFS as “sexual use of a child for sexual arousal, gratification, advantage, or profit”. This includes such acts as explicit verbal enticements, child pornography, self masturbation in the child’s presence, and forcing a child to watch sex acts.
  • sexual molestation is defined by DCFS as “sexual conduct with a child when such contact, touching, or interaction is used for arousal or gratification of sexual needs or desires”. Examples include fondling a child or having the child touch the perpetrator sexually. (DCFS Procedures 300.Appendix B)

And just to be thorough, sexually transmitted diseases are defined by DCFS as “diseases which were acquired originally as a result of sexual penetration or conduct with an individual who was afflicted.

For ”both physical and sexual abuse, parents and caretakers are charged with the responsibility to take reasonable steps to stop abuse. If they do not, they may be charged with abuse themselves. (ANCRA Sec.3)

In order for Family Services to become involved in suspected cases of child abuse or neglect:

  • the victim must be under the age of 18;
  • the alleged perpetrator (the person alleged to have committed the abuse/neglect)must be a parent, step-parent, paramour of the natural parent, guardian, foster parent, immediate family member (siblings and grandparents), any person living in the home of the child , a person who came to know the child through an official capacity or position of trust (such as a teacher, health care professional, or volunteer in a youth program),or a person who is responsible for the welfare of the child (such as a babysitter, day care facility, or residential facility);
  • there must be a specific incident of abuse or neglect or a specific set of circumstances involving suspected abuse or neglect; and
  • there must be either demonstrated harm or a substantial risk of physical or sexual injury to the child.

During an investigation, the DCFS child protection investigators gather information about the specific allegation(s) of harm to the child.At the end of that process, the worker must determine if the report is “indicated” or “unfounded”. The standard of proof is “credible evidence”, a lower standard than that required for any judicial procedure.The lower standard of proof allows DCFS to serve families and protect children in many situations that could not be proven using the higher law enforcement or judicial standards.DCFS can indicate the case if the investigator finds that there is credible evidence that the perpetrator committed the abuse or neglect.If credible evidence is lacking, the case will be unfounded.


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