A popular teacher in a Santa Monica, Calif., middle school was arrested on suspicion of molesting at least four female students during school hours.
A popular teacher in a Santa Monica, Calif. middle school was arrested on suspicion of molesting at least four female students during school hours. As parents, it's difficult to wrap your heads around how this possibly happened. We asked safety expert Pattie Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After, Inc., to give us some insight. Here's what she had to say:
"Naturally it's very upsetting to think that someone you've trusted with your kids could do something as disturbing as molesting a child. It shakes us to our very core, leaving us feeling vulnerable and unprotected.
When the accused happens to be a well-respected or popular authority figure, it's very common to see community members react with disbelief and denial. Often you'll hear comments like: "it can't be true, he was such a nice guy, he never tried anything with my child."
Sex offenders are experts at grooming parents and kids into thinking they're the pillar of the community. In fact, it's what they count on us believing. It's how they get away with doing with they do, often for years at a time. So, how can we protect our kids? By paying attention to the clues and cues of those adults who interact with them on a regular basis. Talk to your kids daily, ask questions, and most importantly LISTEN to what they have to say."
Someone who repeatedly tries to arrange one-on-one, alone time with a child.
Someone who lavishes an extraordinary amount of attention or praise on a particular child.
Someone who often gives special gifts or treats to one child for no apparent reason.
Someone who prefers to spend most of their free time with children and seems to have no interest in age-appropriate relationships or friendships with other adults or colleagues.
What to tell your kids:
No one has the right to touch you in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Sometimes people may seem nice at first, and later ask you to do something you don't want to do.
It's okay to say NO, even to an adult who gives you an "uh-oh" feeling.
It's not your fault if someone tries to touch you inappropriately.
Tell a parent or another trusted adult if you feel bad.
If you can't tell your parent, find someone else to help you -- maybe the parent of a close friend. Keep telling until you get help."