The role of teachers in school violence
My story in Sunday's paper looks at the case of Bridget Banks, a Baltimore mother who won a $100,000 judgment against the city school system. The lawsuit Banks filed says her 12-year-old daughter was attacked and sexually assaulted by seven boys in a special education class at Southeast Middle School in November 2002 while a teacher failed to intervene.
Reporting this story, it was chilling to think how quickly a classroom can get out of control, with a child's life forever altered. It also made me wonder, what is a teacher's responsibility if an attack is going on in your classroom? I don't think anyone would argue that doing nothing is the answer. But do you jump in the middle? Call others for help? What if there aren't any other adults around? It's a horrible position to be in, and it's a situation I know many teachers in the city are faced with all the time when fights break out. I'm not saying that sexual assaults are common in city schools (at least, I hope they're not, and the statistics show they're not), but violence is a fact of life in many buildings and classrooms. What is the appropriate response?