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Why are there so many cases of sexual assault in Oklahoma schools?

11:59 AM EDT on September 4, 2019


Maybe I’m still young and dumb, but part of me still wants to believe in the concept of a just world. I’d like to believe that people who pay-it-forward will one day get paid forward themselves. I’d like to believe that the Edmond mom who cut in front of me at the coffee shop loses her $45 bottle of Thieves oil. I’d also like to believe that school administrators who have sexual assault allegations brought against them in 2009 would have their licenses suspended in 2009. But alas, the world ain’t that fair, I guess.


NEWKIRK, Okla. - As investigations into the Peckham Public Schools superintendent push forward, some people in the community say they're surprised, while others have been waiting for years.

Superintendent Gary Young is the center of multiple allegations of sexual abuse that began surfacing this week. Former teachers and former students have brought the allegations to the Oklahoma Department of Education, which suspended his teaching and superintendent certificates Thursday.

A separate KFOR article goes on to detail allegations of Young allegedly propositioning a student, giving poor evaluations to other school personnel who rejected his advances, and inappropriately touching children, all over the last 10 years. There are three things wrong with what happened in Peckam, America. One, that it allegedly happened in the first place. Two, that these reports go back to 2009 and people apparently claimed to have “been waiting for years” for something to happen, yet Young’s license was only suspended as of last month. And finally three, that sexual assault in Oklahoma schools appears to be so common that nobody seems to be surprised about it anymore.

In fact, in the half-assed Googling I did for this article, I found ten examples of news stories about Oklahoma school professionals being accused of sexually assaulting students this year alone. Not kidding, just in 2019. Here’s number one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. There are likely more reports than that, but I think ten accounts since January more than proves my point. Oklahoma schools have a sexual misconduct problem. At least KFOR reports there may be justice in this case:

"From now we will send an order effectuating that suspension to him, Mr. Young, as well as the school board that will not permit him to be around school children or children on school property," said the Department of Education General Counsel Brad Clark.

Clark said the department has been in contact with the Kay County Sheriff's Office for about a month, and that the sheriff's office and DHS have been informed of the allegations.

Everyone hopes that children who are assaulted will find a safe adult to tell and get them help. But the sad fact is our teachers who are being accused of assaulting students are supposed to be those “safe adults” to begin with. It’s time we put the responsibility of keeping kids safe from sexual assault on the adults tasked to take care of them. A 2014 report by the Department of Education found that approximately 10% of public school kids will have been the victim of sexual misconduct by teachers by the time they graduate from high school and many are blaming social media for allowing teachers to facilitate these relationships.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma lawmakers actually tried to set some boundaries for teachers. Non-Doc recently reported on Senate Bill 45, which would have mandated schools outline rules and regulations for school personnel in regards to texting students and interacting with them on social media, as well as consequences for communicating inappropriately with students. But it failed to pass. Until we start holding the "safe adults" in schools responsible for their actions and do something about the rate of misconduct, I'm afraid sexual misconduct by teachers will stop being considered news.

Hayley is a salty broad. Follow her on twitter @squirrellygeek

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