No one wants to live next door to the town sex offender. Not nobody, not know how. So what happens when it's time for a sex offender to enroll in your kid's school? That's what happened in Yucca Valley, California recently, sending parents into turmoil. The sex offender was technically just a kid himself, and he was legally seeking a chance to go to high school.
And it's not that bizarre a story. It's not a statistic quoted often, but child abuse experts estimate one third of sexual acts committed against children are by another child. Child-on-child sex abuse can be hard to root out -- because sometimes kids are just being curious and experimenting with one another. But in the case of Steven Holt, the 18-year-old who was trying to go back to school in Yucca Valley, it was a clear case of abuse.
Holt was charged and convicted of sexually assaulting minors in Wisconsin, including girls as young as 6 and as old as 15. According to new station KPSP, he was forced to register as a sex offender but a search of sex offender tracking sites won't bring him up because his case as it relates to the registry is currently under review by the California Department of Justice.
But that didn't keep parents from finding out. In fact, the school sent out a letter to families warning them that there was a new sex offender in town. But unlike most letters sent out to parents by school districts around the country warning them to watch out for the predator in their midst, this letter actually said the risk was INSIDE the school. He'd matriculated there, and he was legally allowed to attend. And until the hubbub got so crazy that his parents yanked him out, Holt did attend, right alongside the same sort of kids who he once abused, along with an aide paid to supervise him.
It makes me cringe just thinking about it. Yes, these kids have to go somewhere. If there's a chance of rehabilitation them, it should be done. Without an education there's certainly no way they're going to become productive members of society.
But schools are safe havens for our children. They're places we send them, with the full knowledge that we don't have ultimate control. And so we expect their administrators, their teachers, to care for them like we would. We wouldn't leave them alone in a space with a sex offender -- even one who is their age, even with an "aide." How can a school?
There has to be a better way to do this. If it means society has to pay for a sex offender to be tutored in a private setting rather than attending a classroom, so be it. But sex offenders do not belong in a school building.
What do you think? Is this fair to Steven Holt? What about the other kids in the Yucca Valley School?
Image via shinealight/Flickr