Is There A Profile For School Sex Offenders?

Charges filed against a middle school teacher for sexually assaulting five students include sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust; sexual exploitation of children; unlawful sexual contact; and internet luring of a child.

The alleged sexual abuse occurred between January 2013 and August 2017. In addition to teaching eighth-grade students, the alleged perpetrator also worked with an after-school program for students.

The teacher has been placed on administrative leave by the school district. He also taught in two other school districts and worked at a detention center. Noelle Phillips, "Prairie Middle School teacher faces 31 criminal charges in connection with child sexual abuse," (Aug. 28, 2017).

Commentary and Checklist

For every 1,000 children, 9.4 children were reported sexually abused in 2014. Not all incidents of sexual abuse are reported, however. Estimates are that between nine and 32 percent of American women, and between five and 10 percent of American men, experienced some form of sexual abuse as children.

There is no common profile for a sex offender. A perpetrator can be male or female; young or old; married or single; any race; straight or gay; have a strong relationship with his/her family or have a weak relationship with his/her family; have a criminal record or none; and known sex offenders have different levels of education.

In this case, the teacher had proximity to children, as well as trust and respect, which he used to his advantage. Many sex offenders, in fact, seek jobs that enable them to get close to children (e.g., babysitter, health care professional, coach, teacher, school staff, etc.).

There is no one profile for sex offenders other than to commit the crime, the perpetrators must get students away from other safe adults.

With this in mind, how can schools help to better protect students?

  • Be observant and vigilant of all adults around children, including administrators, staff, employees, volunteers, visitors and vendors.
  • Watch for behaviors that indicate an adult is focusing upon and seeking to be alone with a student, such as volunteering to care for a student outside of school.
  • Be suspicious of workplace participants who want to secluded with a child.
  • Watch for signs a student may be being abused like changes in school performance; loss of confidence; being distracted; or having angry outbursts.
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