As the legislative session draws to a close this week, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed legislation regarding the state’s schools and employees who have records of physical or sexual abuse. As we have discussed previously in this space, most sex abuse cases, especially against children, involve someone known to the child, not a stranger, and the perpetrator is often someone with some position of authority or trust with the child.
The new legislation is supposed to make it more difficult for public schools in the state to hire teachers and other staff who would have direct contact with students to hire individuals who have a record of sexual misconduct. The proposed law would also apply to charter and Magnate schools within Connecticut. If the bill becomes law, school districts will be responsible for setting up a screening process for prospective applicants for such positions in an attempt to weed out those with dubious histories. The applicants would be required to provide contact information for former employers and authorize prospective employers to communicate about the subject with former supervisors.
Interestingly, one report also suggests the bill would also stop districts from hiring employees who had previously been fired or reassigned for failing to report child abuse. The proposed law, a combination of three different original bills, passed the state House by a vote of 139-1, and now is on the Senate calendar for action by that chamber. To become law, the same version of the bill would need to be passed by the Senate and signed by the governor.
While it may be the job of the government to attempt to protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable, from people who might use their positions of public trust for abusive purposes, no system will weed out every abuser. Unfortunately, once abuse has occurred the remedies are criminal prosecution to isolate the offender from further victims, and possibly civil legal action for damages against parties that either were involved in the sexual abuse or had a duty to stop it and failed to do so.
Source: ctpost.com, “House approves school sex abuse bill,” Ken Dixon, May 2, 2016