Each time it seems as though we have finally reached peak insanity in our society’s war on children, something like this happens.
According to the Providence Journal, teachers unions of Rhode Island and the ACLU have expressed their ardent opposition to a bill that would outlaw sexual relations between students and school employees.
What could possibly worse? The fact that the bill would protect children under the age of 18, yet teachers are still opposing it.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Alex Marszalkowski, D-Cumberland, says that any school employee — including bus drivers, vendors and school volunteers with supervisory authority — would be guilty of third-degree sexual assault if they have sex with a student between the ages of 14 and 18. (Under existing law, a person is guilty of first-degree child molestation sexual assault if he or she engages in sex with a person younger than 14.)
Erika Sanzi, an education advocate and blogger, said she asked her state representative to submit the bill after a previous bill was described as being too broad. That legislation would have made it a crime for anyone with custodial responsibility to have sex with someone between the ages of 14 and 18.
Marszalkowski decided to narrow the language after Sanzi described to him that, in several states, it is legal for a teacher to have sex with a student once that individual turns 16.
“What we’re asking is that we protect students from all people who work with them in school,” Sanzi said in her testimony to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month. Under current Rhode Island law, the only deterrent for predatory school employees is the likelihood that they may be fired, but Sanzi argued that “that means they can jump to anywhere else in the country and get another job preying on kids.”
James Parisi, a lobbyist for the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, strongly disagreed.
Parisi said his union opposes the bill because it would only criminalize conduct by teachers and other school employees, not the countless other occupations which give predators the opportunity to work with children between the ages of 14 and 18.
“You should include all the adults who have employment or other types of authority over 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds,” Parisi wrote. “For example, why is a legislator having sexual relations with a page not included in the bill? What about store managers, athletic coaches, clergy and volunteers in community organizations?”
In its testimony, the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote that “singling out teachers, school bus drivers, etc., in this way is arbitrary and capricious.”
So, let’s get this straight. We shouldn’t pass a bill to increase the deterrent and punishment for school employees who seek to abuse children simply because it doesn’t apply to other professionals?
“I welcome any criticism,” Marszalkowski said of the bill’s potential flaws. “If there is a way to amend it so it’s more broadly defined but passes constitutional muster, I’m willing to do it.”
Of course, rather than propose a solution that would protect even more kids, the unions and the ACLU minimized the abuse of children as “Romeo and Juliet” scenarios and doubled down on their stance that this bill is not needed.
Rather than fix any cracks in the bill’s armor, let’s throw it out altogether and allow predators to hop from school to school. Got it.
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