Educator Sexual Misconduct: a synthesis of Existing Literature

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Policy and Program Studies Service

Educator Sexual Misconduct:

A Synthesis of Existing Literature


U.S. Department of Education

Doc # 2004-09

Office of the Under Secretary

Educator Sexual Misconduct:

A Synthesis of Existing Literature

Prepared for the U.S. Department of Education

Office of the Under Secretary

Policy and Program Studies Service

By Charol Shakeshaft

Hofstra University and Interactive, Inc.

Huntington, N.Y.

This report was prepared for the U.S. Department of Education under Purchase Order ED-02-PO-3281. The views expressed herein are those of the authors. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education is intended or should be inferred.

U.S. Department of Education

Rod Paige


June 2004

This report is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: U.S. Department of Education, Office of the Under Secretary, Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, Washington, D.C., 2004.

1.0 Purpose and Methods of Synthesis 1

1.1 Definitions

1.2 Scope of synthesis search

1.3 Methods of synthesis
2.0 Description of Existing Research, Literature, or Other Verifiable Sources 4

2.1 Categories of discourse

2.2 Systematic studies 2.3 Practice-based accounts with first or third person descriptions

2.4 Newspaper and other media sources

2.5 General child sexual abuse data sets and instruments

2.6 Availability of research

3.0 Prevalence of Educator Sexual Misconduct 16

3.1 Sources and methods

3.2 Prevalence in the United States

3.3 Prevalence in the United Kingdom

4.0 Offender Characteristics 22

4.1 Job of offenders

4.2 Sex of offenders

4.3 Age of offenders

4.4 Same-sex offenders

5.0 Targets of Educator Sexual Misconduct 27

5.1 Sex of targets

5.2 Race/ethnicity of target

5.3 Disability and targets
6.0 Patterns of Educator Sexual Misconduct with Students 31

6.1 Context

6.2 Selection

6.3 Maintaining secrecy and silence

6.4 Geography of abuse
7.0 Allegations and Response 34

7.1 Allegations

7.2 Response to allegations

7.3 Investigative practices

7.4 False accusations
8.0 Extent and Impact of Legal Initiative 37

8.1 Federal laws

8.2 State child sexual abuse laws

8.3 State sexual assault laws

8.4 State educator sexual misconduct laws

8.5 Limitations of state laws

8.6 Tenure and licensure

8.7 Fingerprinting

9.0 Effects of Educator Sexual Misconduct 42

9.1 Effects on abused students: Academic, emotional and


9.2 Effects on other students

10.0 Consequences of Allegations of Educator Sexual Misconduct 44

10.1 Consequences for abusers

10.2 Consequences for targets
11.0 Union and Professional Organization Roles 46

11.1 Actions of teacher unions

11.2 Actions of professional organizations
12.0 Prevention of Educator Sexual Misconduct 47

12.1 Develop district and school level policies

12.2 Hiring practices

12.3 Screen employees

12.4 Assign a case coordinator and centralize information

12.5 Report all allegations to both child protection and law enforcement


12.6 Develop thorough investigative practices

12.7 Educate employees

12.8 Educate students

12.9 Be aware of signs of educator sexual misconduct

12.10 Change state educator certification regulations

12.11 Provide adequate state registry

12.12 Provide adequate federal registry

12.13 Enact and standardize state policies and statutes

12.14 Enact laws giving immunity to public employees who provide


12.15 Expand Title IX

13.0 Summary of Existing Studies and Recommendations for 51

Additional Analysis

Appendix I Newspaper, News Wire, and Broadcast References 53

Appendix II Surveys and Studies on Child Sexual Abuse 81

Bibliography: Educator Sexual Misconduct 89


Table 1. Empirical Studies of Educator Sexual Misconduct 6

Table 2. Summary of Practice-Based, First Person Reports and 9

Third Person Reports

Table 3. Empirical and Practice Studies of Educator Sexual Misconduct 13

Table 4. Studies of Prevalence of Educator Sexual Misconduct in the 16

United States

Table 5. Percent of U.S. Students Who Have Experienced Educator 20

Sexual Misconduct by Method

Table 6. Sources for Descriptions of Offenders 23

Table 7. Percent of Student Targets by Job Title of Offender 24

Table 8. Sex of Offenders 25

Table 9. Same-Sex Misconduct 26

Table 10. U.S. Sources for Descriptions of Targets 27

Table 11. Targets by Sex 28

Table 12. Targets by Race/Ethnicity vs. Sample 28

Table 13. Targets by Race/Ethnicity and Sex vs. Sample 29

Table 14. Sexual Abuse Reports by Disability Status, in Institutional Settings 30

Table 15. Sources for Descriptions of Patterns 31

Table 16. Sources for Allegations and Response 34

Table 17. Suggestions and Recommendations from the Literature for Possible Legislation and Regulation 39

Table 18. Effects of Educator Sexual Misconduct 42

Table 19. Educator Sexual Misconduct: Data Available and Needs 51

For Future Research

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