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New bill aims to stop prep school sex abuse

Attending prep school is a step towards a brighter future for many students in Massachusetts. While prep school attendance is viewed as a springboard to possible future admission to Ivy League schools, the schools have a dark history of student sexual abuse by faculty members.According to an investigation by the Boston Globe, hundreds of students have suffered from sexual abuse at prep schools in New England since the 1950s. Many of the schools reportedly sweep the issue under the rug when it surfaces, quietly letting go alleged perpetrators of the abuse without reporting them to the authorities. The alleged abusers are then free to continue on to other prep schools in a practice that is called “passing the trash.” In an effort to put an end to the practice and the abuse, Massachusetts Citizens for Children is sponsoring a bill that would mandate better vetting of potential new teachers by prep schools. The bill would require schools to ask if applicants have faced accusations of sexual abuse. Applicants would need to sign permission for the schools to ask their former employers if any investigation into such alleged behavior had ever been directed at them, and their former employees would not face defamation claims for reporting. Opponents of the proposed legislation say that such a requirement would mean applicants would have their due process rights violated.The sexual abuse of students is far too common, and victims may be left emotionally scarred for years if not for life. People who have suffered sexual abuse from a teacher or other authority figure when they were minors may want to meet with attorneys in order to learn about their rights.Source: NPR, “Breaking the cycle of sexual abuse of students by prep school teachers,” Tovia Smith, May 18, 2016.

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