Pedophile Principal Is Why I'll Never Be a Free-Range Parent

boys bathroomI would like to be a more laid-back, "free-range" parent. I don't want to look at every stranger and acquaintance, for that matter, and wonder the worst about them. I don't want to feel like my children could be attacked and violated anytime, anywhere, but too often I do. Stories like this one out of Iowa pretty much resign me to the fact that I always will.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa (a town I, incidentally, almost moved to when I was growing up), elementary school principal Robert Burke was sentenced to 30 years in prison for video taping little boys while they were using the bathroom -- in the school he was supposed to be leading. The judge said he had one of the biggest child pornography collections she'd ever heard of, and he was sharing the images over the Internet. She called it "one of the most aggravating circumstances and crimes" that she'd ever seen.

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The rage I feel at this man for violating those little boys in so many ways knows no limits. How someone in that position of power could break such a trust that we as parents put in our educators and school leaders is beyond deplorable. But most of all, it's frightening that someone parents least suspected was doing this right under their noses.

You can tell me all you want that this is an isolated incident, that it makes headlines because it's the exception rather than the rule. I know the barrage of media today makes it seem like these things happen more frequently now, when that may not be the case. But the fact is they still happen.

I realize I can't protect my children from everything and everyone, and I don't feel like I'm that extreme in my efforts to keep them safe. (Of course, I'm sure that we all have our own definitions of what extreme is.) But it's the inner fear, worry, and skepticism I feel toward people that is exhausting; it's infuriating to me that people like this principal keep perpetuating them.

Do stories like these make you worry about your children more?


Image via Kyle Taylor, Do it. Dream It. World Tour/Flickr

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