I've heard this morning from several readers about articles I wrote last week regarding the 11-year-old girl at Perry Hall Middle School who falsely accused a construction worker of sexually assaulting her in the school's restroom.
Most of the emailers expressed anger that a man's reputation was nearly ruined and his livelihood could've been jeopardized by the girl's false assertions, such as this one from a reader in Irvine, Calif. ...
"I think that rape is a serious and terrible crime, and that clearly it does go on. However, it is also clear that unsubstantiated allegations of rape or violence happen very frequently and that these false allegations also victimize innocent people and destroy lives. We need society to move toward a model in which people cannot get away with either of these things."
But the most compelling one (at least by my estimation) is one that comes from a vendor representative who says she has spent many years coordinating efforts between her company and local school systems. In her email, she wrote that she often suggested that school systems issue IDs to contract workers. She wrote, in part:
"There are many people on a school campus. Those that belong, who are employed by the school system, have IDs. Volunteers now go through more of a process and most also have IDs. But those that are contracted by the school system, and actually need to conduct a serious amount of work, for the greatest good, are subject to understandable protocol, numerous questions from a multitude of staff, who are just trying to do their job in protecting children.
"I would get stopped repeatedly, questioning why I was on campus. While making deliveries for children in which I needed to dolly in numerous loads, employees would actually shut the door in attempt to protect the school without any way to indicate I was coming back with more items for their children. I finally made my own sign to post on the propped door indicating its purpose. But I didn't get upset, as I, too, have children and respect everyone's dedication to protect them.
"I have always thought that since everyone is on the same team, and protecting children is of the utmost importance, subjecting vendor personnel to fingerprinting is understandable. These employees should receive a photo ID from the school system indicating they are approved to conduct work on campus. It turns a stranger into a comrade at a glance. And allows everyone to achieve their individual successes to complete the puzzle of best support for everyone's children in academic acceleration."
Here's part of my reply to the angry emailers:
In the end, as I have shared with another reader who called me today, it's unfair to assume the school system and legal authorities aren't taking the girl's false allegations seriously. As I reported, the school system is prohibited from discussing with us what, if any, consequences the girl may face (such as suspension or expulsion). And the state's attorney's office made it clear, as we reported, that they felt confident the girl's family was best suited to handle this situation.
One of the questions I asked of all the parents to whom I spoke was whether they worried that these false allegations would cause them to initially doubt other reports of similar accusations, should this ever happen again. Most of them said it was unfortunate, that one who lies can create this layer of doubt for all others. Again, they came back to the point that it would be better to take this as an opportunity to tighten those controls at the school site to avoid being in this position again.
To read more of the emails and the rest of my reply, click on the link below ...
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