Malia BrooksA story out of Simi Valley, California, is the kind that makes you wonder if there's anyone you can trust. Malia Brooks, 32, was a teacher at the same school since 2004 with a solid record. She has two young children -- a boy and a girl. She's someone who seemed trustworthy. Then today she was arrested and charged with horrific crimes against a child.
It's heart-sinking news. The official charges are difficult to even read: One count of a lewd act upon a child, one count of oral copulation of a person under 14, and three counts of genital penetration by a foreign object with a person under 14 years of age when the suspect is more than 10 years older than the victim.
According to NBC, there is only one known victim -- a boy who was a student at her school. Officials won't say if he was a student in the sixth grade class she taught or in another grade. His age is also unknown, but given the fact the school only goes up to sixth grade, it's likely someone less than 12 years of age. I feel sick.
How does this happen? Officials say up until February, when authorities were alerted to this inappropriate relationship and she was placed on leave, she was "an exemplary teacher." Her attorney has said that she suffers from a "mental illness," and that the charges likely "precipitated from that illness." But if that's the case, then shouldn't someone have known? Shouldn't someone have prevented her from being in charge of children?
I often feel paranoid because my immediate instinct is to distrust strangers around my children. I wonder if I'm overreacting when I won't let my 9-year-old son go into a public restroom by himself in a place I'm not comfortable. I wonder if I need to relax when I hesitate to let them sleep over at friends' houses. But it's stories like this that make me want to do all that and more.
Because Miles by all accounts is someone I wouldn't have been scared to let my kids go with. She's a teacher. She has kids. Parents loved her. And then this. While I know she's the exception to the rule of mostly loving, nurturing teachers, it doesn't make me worry any less about where that next exception may be lurking. I guess I'm not going to be one of those free range parents anytime soon, as much as I wish I could be.
Do stories like this make you question who you trust?