A few days ago we posted a press release from the Park City School District about a teacher that was fired for “inappropriate communications” with a student and had been taken into police custody. Bubba Brown at the Park Record filled in the blanks by telling us that a teacher was charged with: “solicitation to commit sodomy upon a child and solicitation to commit aggravated sexual abuse of a child, both first-degree felonies, as well as second- and third-degree counts of enticing a minor by Internet or text.”
In today’s world, people who commit these acts are often called “Sexual Predators.” However, this tends to obfuscate what’s often really happening. So, we at the ParkRag are going to call these people Child Molesters. The connotation of “Child Molester” is in line with the act. We hope there is a special place in hell (and/or prison) for people who prey upon children.
With that said, the Park City School District needs to put every precaution in place to catch these type of bast*rds, before it requires a child to report the incident AFTER 500 EMAILS HAVE BEEN EXCHANGED. Yes, according to the Park Record, there were 500 emails going back and forth between the teacher and the child. Incredible.
My “day job” is in IT. My company works with the largest banks in the country and those banks have a requirement that we screen EVERY email in our entire company for certain content. Likewise, most banks require that our computer network watches traffic and notifies personnel if certain content passes through our systems. It’s not hard to do these checks and has become commonplace. That’s why I find the fact that that 500 emails passed between student and teacher (on this topic) so incredible. If, as the Park Record reported, this communication happened via school computers, it likely points to gross negligence on the Park City School District’s part and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lawsuit arise from this matter.
Yet, what about the future? How are future children protected? How are these vicious acts stopped before hundreds of emails are exchanged?
A start would be utilizing technology and hiring someone to administer it.
What should our district be doing at a minimum?
- Use email filters that look for certain keywords/concepts and notify district personnel when those keywords are used in an email from any staff or student.
- Track the number of communications between staff and students.
- All local school network traffic should be monitored by systems looking for unusual traffic and content.
I’m not advocating that the school district “spy” on every teacher in Park City. However, I am advocating for ensuring that a computerized filter is put in place that automatically (without human intervention) looks at every email sent, every website a person uses, every Instagram a person sends and notifies proper personnel in questionable cases. Of course, this won’t stop a malicious teacher or staff member who uses gmail and emails a student’s gmail account… however we could also drill into our student’s heads that the only communication with a teacher or faculty should come from a school email address.
It’s not fool proof, but it does add an extra layer of complexity that a child molester has to work through if they are trying endanger our children.
The scary part of this is the statistics. We have heard of 3 incidents in Park City in the last two years in Park City. Yet, statistics show that up to 7% of students will be sexually abused by those working in the school system. In Park City, if we have 4000 students matriculating through our district, that would be 280 students that will be sexually abused. We know of less than 10. Either we are very lucky or we have a problem that hasn’t been discovered yet.
Years ago, a friend of a friend worked at a college in Salt Lake as the college’s security administrator. He was responsible for monitoring the traffic on the school’s network. His job was to filter through the typical content that some may call egregious (like pornography) and watch for those people who may take that a step further into illegal areas. It wasn’t complicated. Yet it was important. He was much like an early warning system that was watching for potential problems. He was able to alert authorities when his systems highlighted an issue. Did it prevent all abuse on campus? No. Did it help? Yes.
If the Park City School District doesn’t have both systems in place and people to monitor them, then this seems like priority number 1. If they do have systems, but nothing is being found, then personnel and/or systems need to be upgraded. This is a huge problem and HAS BEEN A HUGE problem for more than a decade. Our school district needs to do more than host meetings about the issue. Simply educating parents and students is not enough in this case. The school district needs to help solve it. It’s their responsibility.
I am happy to do my civic duty and help in any way possible. If anyone from the school district or parents at home have questions, feel free to email me at . I’m not an expert but I’m wiling to help and can get you answers from technology experts in this field if necessary.