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Abuse Prevention

I feel tremendous compassion for Roderick Crochiere [“Presumed Guilty,” May/June], and I feel equal compassion for the student who made the accusation and her family. This is a sad situation where one is left not knowing what really did take place. What concerns me most about the article was the sidebar, which discussed “unsubstantiated” claims of sexual abuse. Several points need to be clarified. First, unsubstantiated reports of abuse are not necessarily false. Moreover, research on false allegations is flawed because the systematic gathering of data is in its infancy. Second, false allegations of sexual abuse made in the context of custody and visitation disputes are a concern among professionals. False reports of abuse are made mainly by adults, not children. It should also be noted, however, that reports of sexual abuse surface after a divorce when the familial bond of secrecy in which incest thrives is weakened. Third, abuse-prevention programs usually help school personnel and students become more aware of what a safe touch means. Schools in my area are very careful about what is taught and how material is presented. We find that knowledge rules out fear. Finally, children have the right to say “No!” when they do not want to be touched—even when the touch is appropriate. All adults should be sensitive to the needs and behavior of children.

Claire Charna
Administration for Children, Youth, and Families
Arizona Department of Economic Security Yuma, Ariz.

A Sequel?

Your article on the response of several teachers to the Gulf War [“History In The Making,” March] opens a particularly juicy can of worms. By using the popular news media instead of biased or simplistic textbooks, concerned teachers surely risked having their students raise questions that were “politically incorrect.” With controversies continuing about instruction replete with demons, obscenities, and evolution, who wants to add another: the nature of patriotism. I wish your report had told us what happened when the students succeeded in their efforts to “figure it out.” Any chance of a sequel on this timely approach to social studies?

Kenneth Marantz
Department of Art Education Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio

Beneath The Surface

Jonathan Weisman's recent article [“The Apostles Of Self-Esteem,” May/ June] only scratches the surface of an educational issue that has been misunderstood for two decades. The greatest contribution of the self-esteem movement will be to convince educators that students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. When teachers communicate that the subject being studied is more important than the students themselves, all but the most successful students perceive schooling as irrelevant, unfair, fragmented, rigid, and impersonal. Students need to be invited and motivated to put forth their best effort as learners—to participate fully in the process of quality education. I believe that the next decade will provide proof that proactive self-esteem approaches can empower both teachers and students to make schools inviting and exciting places to work and learn. This is the goal and this will be the impact of the self-esteem movement.

Joyce Bagley-Menges
Middle School Counselor
Rochester, N.Y.

Covering The Issues

I am majoring in special education at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., and I will be student teaching this fall. Reading your magazine has helped me prepare for things I haven't yet experienced in my practicum: teacher salaries, first-year experiences, a false accusation of improperly touching a student. My only regret about teaching so far is that I do not have an African-American role model in the field of education. My teaching inspiration comes from within. With your magazine and my deter-mination, I hope to someday be a role model for a “special child.”

Christine Dickens
Richmond, Va.

As a student graduating with an elementary education degree, I am very concerned about the materials available to me. All the issues of Teacher Magazine I have read have done an excellent job covering all races and both sexes. You are an important resource.

Kipp Allen Stender
St. Cloud, Minn.

Their Heroes

Your short item on a survey asking inner-city children to name their heroes [“Roundup,” May/June] reflects well on today's children, their parents, and our schools. I did a similar survey of 1,250 children in grades 2-5 in Maryland and Tennessee. The question I asked was, “If you could have chosen anyone in the world as a teacher for next year, who would you choose?” The top choices, by far, were their own teachers, followed by a parent.

Bernard Bull
Carson-Newman College Jefferson City, Tenn.

Vol. 03, Issue 01, Pages 2-4

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