September 18, 2013
The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W. Va., on school-related sex abuse as a troubling problem:
There are about 3.3 million public school teachers in the United States, and the vast majority are dedicated educators who do what they do for all the right reasons.
But the steady stream of local and national sexual abuse cases involving teachers or school employees shows that school systems need to be on the alert for the few who are taking advantage of their positions of trust.
Just this summer in West Virginia, police arrested a 36-year-old former Wirt County teacher and coach on charges he sexually abused a 16-year-old student in a relationship that began at school. A few weeks earlier, an East Fairmont High School driver’s education teacher was charged with sexually abusing a 17-year-old female student on several occasions.
Last week, state troopers arrested a 59-year-old former Hurricane High teacher’s aide on charges of having sex with two students and a former student, one with mental disabilities. The allegations stretch back to the mid-1990s and also involve providing alcohol and marijuana to the victims.
There has not been much comprehensive research about school-related sexual abuse.
A congressional report done in 2004 estimated that as many as 4.5 million students, out of the 50 million then in American schools, endure some sort of sexual misconduct by an employee of a school between kindergarten and 12th grade. The report also outlined a number of recommendations, ranging from better screening of new hires to more thorough investigation techniques.
A decade later, it is time to take a fresh look at what is being done and what more needs to be done.
Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette on water:
Rugged, rural West Virginia has thousands of families who live off the beaten path, far up remote hollows or atop picturesque ridges. It’s a charming life, close to nature, surrounded by deer and whippoorwills - but obtaining utilities can be a headache.
Currently, 39 families on the left branch of Trace Fork Road in Putnam County suffer from undrinkable, iron-tainted, gas-saturated, orange-colored, well water. Some blame the contamination on blasting by gas drillers two decades ago.
Residents must haul large tanks of clean water to their homes. Putnam reporter Lydia Nuzum told how one man created a half-mile pipeline to a spring on his brother’s farm to obtain a meager supply. Proper water lines were extended to the right branch of Trace Fork 13 years ago, but repeated appeals to county leaders have failed to help the left branch.
Putnam manager Brian Donat says “federal grants are drying up,” so the county can’t pay for such people-helping work. …
Conservatives in Washington don’t hesitate to pour giant amounts of taxpayer money into warmaking — such as the $1 trillion wasted on the unnecessary Iraq war — or into federal aid to billionaires. But they turn stingy when little folks need help. That’s shameful.
West Virginia’s members of Congress should follow the example of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd and demand more U.S. funding for work that improves life in the Mountain State. The cost of water line extensions is trivial, compared to other government outlays. About one minute of Pentagon spending probably would bring water to a thousand West Virginia families.
Safe drinking water is a fundamental necessity for life. Former Kanawha-Charleston Health Director Page Seekford once called it the chief hallmark of civilization. West Virginia is marred by this glaring lack in some regions. Leaders should get busy fixing the problem.