Briefly, On Abuse And Who Does And Doesn’t Endure Consequences

Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Related Post Roulette

8 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    In my industry, failure to follow company policy, which in many cases is based upon gov’t policy has severe consequences. In fact, Not only is my function a mandatory reporter of any violations, COMPANY policy dictates that I take corrective action myself to address the wrong, and my failure to do so means that I can suffer the legal and employment penalties as the offender. Example: Some guy copied me on an email where is basically said he had been working on a project and charging his time somewhere else. That’s fraud. Punishment is termination and possible loss of contracts from the gov’t. If I failed to report this to my boss AND take action by going to this guy’s supervisor and telling her that she needed to speak to him 1) about doing what he did and being stupid enough to put in in an email, both him and her could get fired. When folks jobs are on the line + jail time, they tend to not do things like that.

    Something like the above might want to be considered to stem the tide of problems with abusers.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Damon says:

      That seems like a very reasonable start, and we have certainly seen hints of changes like that in mandatory reporting laws, but miraculously, the guys responsible for the worst discoveries in this area always seem to skate on responsibility for the decisions they made at the time. It’s a neat trick.Report

  2. Michael Cain says:

    The worst institutional offenders all seem to have endowments or equivalent big enough that they can just write a check for a $10M judgement and move on (ie, self-insure for liability). When I was a division officer for USA Fencing (manages the sport in the US for both the FIE and the US Olympic Committee) the big motivation for the organization was that one judgement that size and the liability insurance companies all regarded you as untouchable. We certainly didn’t have the financial wherewithal to self-insure.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I don’t know if you meant that as an indictment of the biggest organizations, but it certainly is one. When you feel like you’re immune from consequence, you act as though you’re immune from consequence, whatever damage occurs be damned.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        This is a continuation of the struggle ever since the first days of the Enlightenment, when people started believing that all persons were equal, and there really wasn’t some naturally occurring aristocracy of worth.

        We’ve been saying that for centuries now, but only rarely acting as if we believe it.Report

      • JS in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        While public education is not immune to the problem of sexual abusers, there doesn’t seem to be the wide-spread coverup situation you see in, say, the Boy Scouts.

        Teachers caught sleeping with students get fired and blackballed if the sex was legal, and turned over to the police if it wasn’t. Mind you, they don’t go running to the local news to talk about it — but they do call the cops, and they do get teacher licenses yanked.

        School districts tend to have strict policies preventing teachers from being alone with students behind closed doors (either requiring paired teachers or a very strict open door policy)

        I suspect this stems from a few things: First, every district is independent — if there’s a scandal in one district, it has no real blowback for another (except, of course, admin cracking down on anyone skirting the rules). Second, there’s really no money in public schools — your local ISD does not have deep pockets to pay off victims, and the local school board is, well, local elected officials who have no real incentive to pay to keep someone quiet either.

        Third — teachers are, unlike college coaches, Boy Scout leaders, and a lot of clergy — professionally trained and licensed, and that includes spotting signs of sexual abuse, are generally mandated reporters (staying silent can get them in legal trouble!), and otherwise having overlapping ethical, legal, and professional reasons to speak up instead of staying quiet. (That there is also, at least, a state-wide licensing board that can prevent them from simply moving to another district does also help)Report

        • Sam Wilkinson in reply to JS says:

          I would welcome that all of those changes be extended to enormous organizations but I am leery that there is actually the political will to do so, mostly because of the endless caterwauling that would result if these organizations were legally expected to live up to the values that they claim to hold.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

            Channeling the Dread Pirate Roberts:

            Dealing with abuse claims is just so much paperwork. And once there are mandatory reporters, victims will believe you have to take their reports seriously, and then it will be nothing but work, work, work. A campus administrator can’t be expected to handle all that reporting paperwork and go to the very important luncheons they want to go to.Report