Protecting principals over children

A story in the Nov. 17 News and Observer, “N.C. shifts school crimes law,” makes me wonder if we have lost our collective minds in North Carolina (read the article at http://avl.mx/prot). Our legislators and governor signed into law the decriminalization of school principals reporting suspected crimes, including sex offenses. It should not only be a crime but a felony crime to not report childhood sexual abuse. How could this bill become law? There was only one (yes one) dissenting vote. It is extremely weak-minded thinking that this “… will encourage principals to report more legitimately serious crimes without having to worry about being prosecuted themselves for not passing along every rumored instance of misbehavior.” What could be a more legitimately serious crime than child sexual abuse? Once again child sexual abuse is being minimized.

Why shouldn’t principals be afraid of prosecution? The fear of prosecution in and of itself is a substantial deterrent. Principals are educators and leaders of schools. When did they become experts in law enforcement? When did they become judge and jury of what should be reported? We already have a system in place that is staffed with experts — they are called the police. They are the trained professionals, not the principals. What kind of convoluted logic is used to give principals “breathing room to find out if it is worth reporting”? Equating the sexual abuse of a child to the stealing of a pencil or ice cream sandwich is a direct insult to all of us who have been sexually abused.

How can Gov. Purdue sign this bill into law watering down the already weak laws protecting our children? This in no way helps any child feel more protected. Big deal you could lose your job if you are principal. So what? SB394 protects principals over the protection of children. It just weakens an already weak system.

This new law should be repealed immediately and be replaced with a law that makes it a felony crime for anyone to not report a suspected sexual abuse. Our children deserve to be put first.

Everyone with children should be writing their legislators and Gov. Perdue to demand that this is law be reversed. If someday, heaven forbid, they have an issue of this nature, the law will already be in place and their child will be safer.

— Charles L. Bailey Jr.
Fuquay Varina, N.C.

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