Hero Teacher Calls Police on Predator Abusing Child in First Grade Zoom Class
An 18-year-old high school senior in Chicago was arrested after allegedly sexually abusing a 7-year-old—and it was all livestreamed during a remote learning class.
According to the Chicaco Tribune (warning: sensitive content containing explicit descriptions of sexual abuse), the first grader's teacher called the police after witnessing the attack during a break from their Google classroom e-learning session. The young girl could be seen being abused by a man whose relationship to the victim has not yet been identified. The student had muted herself but had not turned her camera off—leaving the lewd act to be broadcast to the entire class.
Students could be heard asking, “What’s going on, what’s happening?” That's when the teacher ordered the class to log off and called out the student's name. Realizing what had happened, the 18-year-old closed the computer. The teacher quickly called the police, the school principal, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the man has since been charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim under 13 years old.
The sad truth is that child abuse—sexual, physical, emotional, or neglect—occurs more frequently than we realize. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, "one in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult." Of these cases, a whopping 93 percent of victims reported knowing the perpetrator and 34 percent were actually family members.
During the pandemic, reports of child abuse are down—but experts say that's mainly because the abuse isn't as visible. With children at home more, educators—who are the most likely to report abuse to child protective services—are less likely to see it. That's why it's so important for both parents and kids to learn how to prevent abuse—and about consent from an early age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Child abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on its victims," such as depression, drug abuse, and even a shorter life expectancy, which is why prevention is the goal.
How to Help Prevent Child Abuse
"On average, a child abuse report is made every 10 seconds for a total of approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports annually," reports Childhelp, a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Here are some of their guidelines for helping to keep your kids safe.
- Get to know your child's friends and their parents.
- Ask questions and listen to your child. As Helpline notes, "When your child tells you he or she doesn’t want to be with someone, this could be a red flag."
- Be aware of changes in your child's attitude or behavior—and look into it.
- Pay attention when someone shows an increased interest in your child.
- Teach your child to speak up if something is happening.
The Importance of Teaching Consent
According to sexual consent activist and author Amy Hatvany, "it's never too early to start teaching children the proper definition of consent." That's why she previously shared her top consent tips to help avoid sexual assault with Parents:
- "If your children are still very young, encourage them to ask for permission before showing physical affection." And, on the flip side, never force affection—even simple things like giving grandma a hug or letting an aunt kiss them goodbye—on your kids.
- Teach your kids to respect the power of "no."
- Teach your children to trust their instincts. "Explain that sometimes, we feel weird inside when we sense that a person or situation isn't right, even if we can't really say why," Hatvany wrote. "Tell them they should always listen to that inner voice, that as human beings, our brains are wired that way in order to protect us from danger."
- When it comes to older kids, teach them why it's important to listen for the word "yes" when it comes to their sexuality. Use examples from the media, movies, or TV to show them what's right and what's wrong.
How to report child abuse and neglect: If you witness abuse happening in the moment, or you’re worried about a young child who’s unsupervised and unsafe for a length of time, dial 911. If you suspect abuse is occurring, or if a child has confided in you about abuse at home, call Child Protective Services in your area. You can Google your nearest office or find it by dialing 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).