Wednesday, March 14, 2012
NO TOUCH! horseplay or felony crime?
There are real issues at stake here. One of the issues with charges of sexual abuse are built in. People committing such heinous acts seek privacy for the crime. If a teacher is accused, chances are they were alone with a student at some point so the charges come down to hearsay. Not being able to disprove the allegations leaves outsiders wondering/ doubting whatever comes of an investigation.
I do not know whether Mr. Ziskin is guilty or not. It appeared to a school worker that he had a hand in some boy's pants while seeing him wrestling with some boys during lunch or break. At this point, seeing physical contact between a teacher and students can set alarms off. I used to play basketball, touch football, and even wrestled some of my students on occasion. And speaking of physical contact, I had a 4th grade teacher who scratched my back while we were watching movies in class. I do remember being creeped out about it. I didn't know what a pedophile was and, frankly, I don't think it describes him. I think he thought I was a cute kid. I didn't like it but I quickly got over it. I am not advocating that teachers do this by any stretch of the imagination. At the same time, I am not happy about the direction things have swung where the bottom line is to play it safe in case someone decides to ruin your life.
It is easy to say "no touching." "Do not be in a room with a student alone." Those are the 2 big ones and they are not hard to follow on a day to day basis. They make it easier for a district to do cya. Nevertheless, it is sad that many kids could use a hug and one has to think twice about something so innocent that demonstrates inter-human affection. Perhaps it's our old Puritan obsession with sex. We can't look at human contact as anything but driven by libido. When I lived in Paraguay, I routinely saw girls walking hand in hand. I got on buses where we were packed like sardines against each other. People's idea of personal space was different. I think I probably inherited my own inclinations from my father and his mother. They are/were friendly midwesterners who lived in a time where there was more trust between strangers. My father can't get to the bathroom at a restaurant without stopping to say "hi" to some kid he sees at a nearby table. Once in awhile, he gets a look of suspicion from someone. How can I not find that to be a sad example of where trust is at in our society?
As for what the school worker who observed Mr Ziskin saw. Is it possible that their perspective was swayed by their own subjective biases? We all have them. Take the test from the link below and see how astute your own powers of observation are.
Mr. Ziskin has served 6 years out of his 15 year sentence. What is significant is that one of the accusers is now saying he was wrong.