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Insider seeks tips regarding sexual abuse and misconduct at the hands of high school teachers across the US


  • Insider is digging into sexual abuse and misconduct at high schools in America.
  • If you’d like to share information, please consider reaching out confidentially to reporter Matt Drange.
  • We’re interested in hearing stories of former high school students who say they have experienced abuse at the hands of teachers.

When Insider published a story earlier this year about how my high school journalism teacher had repeatedly groomed female students for sexual relationships, my inbox flooded with people telling me how they could relate to my reporting. The message was clear: many teachers have violated the collective trust we place in them by abusing teenagers across the country. And it appears to be happening far more often than we’d like to think.

Insider is reviewing disciplinary records from school districts across the country to identify instances of grooming and sexual misconduct. We’d also like to hear from you.

If you are aware of a high school teacher who has engaged in sexual relationships with students, either when they were still a student or shortly after graduation, please consider reaching out to me. I’m focused on potential abuse that has happened in the past five years. These are important, painful stories to bring out into the open.

You can reach me in any of the following ways: 

Call/text (use Signal or WhatsApp for secure, encrypted chat): +1(626) 233-1063

Email: [email protected]

Snail mail: 

Attn: Matt Drange

Business Insider

535 Mission Street, 14th Floor

San Francisco, CA 94105

You can also use our SecureDrop for sharing sensitive documents.

 

Many survivors I have already spoken with have never shared their stories of abuse with their own family or closest friends, for fear of being judged or ostracized. Grooming children for sex is all about manipulation by a trusted adult; it’s common to not realize the full extent of what’s happening until years later.

I’m also digging into questions of accountability by school officials. My reporting has shown that the culture of a given campus – what’s permissible behavior, by whom and how – can play a large role in creating an environment where students are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse. 

Several states have so-called “Pass The Trash” laws on the books, designed to prevent teachers who were fired for inappropriate behavior from teaching elsewhere. But the majority of states do not. Exploring the impact of these laws is one of many questions I’ll work to answer. 

In the case of my teacher, Eric Burgess, a settlement agreement he reached with Rosemead High School barred him from ever working at the school again but did nothing to prevent him from teaching elsewhere. School officials agreed that if any prospective employer asked for a reference, they would offer only “content neutral” material, omitting any information about the teenage girls he’d had sex with. 

Secrecy agreements like these are not unusual. They have the effect of keeping child predators in the classroom while keeping stories of their abuse hidden, with lasting effects on communities around the country. Decision makers need access to accurate information to stop this abuse from happening in the first place.

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse or have had thoughts of self harm, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673) or visit its website to receive help. If you are currently witnessing the abuse of minors, consider reporting it to the authorities.

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