Want Greta's blog delivered directly to your e-mail box? Click here to sign up!
On Friday we did an hour on what "appears" to be a growing epidemic: women teachers having sex with students (search). It could very well be that this has been going on forever and that we just did not report on it. It also might not be an epidemic at all. It could be that it is rare but since it has been so highly publicized recently that it appears to be an epidemic. In any event, it is a problem. The criminal justice system has been called in to punish those who violate children. (Incidentally, there are literally millions of teachers who do a great job in this country. We should pay the great ones better!)
Some may think these teachers "crazy" for their conduct, but being "crazy" does not make you legally insane (search). If you are legally insane, you have a defense to your crime and you are treated differently than if you are sane. In order to be legally insane, in most states, you must not appreciate the wrongfulness of your conduct. In other words, you can't know that what you are doing is wrong. If you know it is wrong, but you do it anyway — it is a crime and you have no insanity defense. Chances are that if you are sneaking around doing it, you know you should not be doing it.
To be legally insane, it is not enough to be depressed, or have a bad marriage, or be the victim of abuse, etc. People often think that a personality disorder of some sort is enough to be legally insane. It is not. In most states, you must not know what you are doing is wrong to be legally insane. When someone commits a crime that is unthinkable — hurting children is a good example — some people mistakenly think that the offender is insane because the crime so unthinkable. That's not the way the law works.
Hence, to put it bluntly, if a teacher said something like, "I know this is wrong, but I am doing it anyway," that teacher is not insane. That teacher is a criminal.
We also discussed on Friday a health quiz that was handed out to 8th graders in Maryland. We have streamed video of that segment on our Web page today. Click on the link in the video box above to watch it. The health quiz has caused a controversy in Maryland. I have included some e-mails from viewers from other countries (Spain and Canada.) Be sure to vote on the poll today so we can get some idea of how viewers feel about the topics discussed. Below are some e-mails from people who watched our Friday segment on the quiz and, as always, I just grabbed a bunch:
E-mail No. 1
Greetings from Madrid Spain! This is the first time that I have ever written to any of you folks at FOX News. I have Spanish cable here, so am able to see FOX 24/7. We have no American CNN, which is ok. What prompted me to write to you is the piece you ran the other day.
I am the mother of two teenage kids and am appalled at the opinion of your panel concerning the "sex ed" questionnaire you were talking about on Friday. The first half of the program your panel lamented over the injustice of what these "female sexual predators" had done. The last part of the show your panel said that they thought that it was ok to have those lewd, inappropriate questions posed to our young kids. They found them humorous even. I suppose they were — if you're one of those "out there flappin". If I was a 15 year old (like my son) I would have felt violated. I did not have the chance to read the "test" in its entirety, but the questions you read on TV went over the "orange line" as one of your panelists said.
What is the difference between these two situations? I find the teacher who gave that "test" to his students as much of a predator as the female teachers who had sexual relationships with their students. How convenient it is to pass this off as "Well, it was a good thing because it got kids talking to their parents." How ridiculous is that? There are many ways to encourage parents and kids to discuss this topic without giving kids sexually explicit questions to answer.
As a Christian I believe that it is right and necessary for kids to be taught about sex in the context of love, intimacy and marriage as it was intended and at the appropriate time. I want my children to develop healthy normal attitudes about sex. I never want someone else to impose their values on my family or cram what they think my children should accept as normal down their throats. Whatever happened to teaching our kids about abstinence? How about teaching them what the consequences are of getting pregnant when you are 15 or 16. Are they ready for parenthood? How about the devastating long lasting effects of contracting the AIDS virus or any of the other STD's they are exposing themselves to?
The parents in that school district have every right to be upset. I am with them 100%.
Thank you for listening to me. Sorry I am so long winded.
E-mail No. 2
The last segment of tonight's show was sponsored by Cialis. Was that coincidental?
Seriously, I am appalled at what's going on in the classroom these days — makes me want to quiz my 13-year-old twin grandchildren 'cause school surely has changed since I was a teacher.
Edith (old and glad of it) Greer
ANSWER: I can't see the commercials during the show. And not to dodge the issue in your e-mail, I play no role in selecting commercials for the show. I don't know who does that. Those decisions are made "above my pay grade." How is that for ducking the issue?!
E-mail No. 3
I am writing in response to your segment on the middle school sex test. All your guests supported the test citing that it would increase sexual information and improve dialog. What nonsense. The only way you will ever influence your children's behavior is by what they see you do. If you behave badly, they will behave badly no matter how open your dialog is. If this were not true then we would be living in the most sexually moral generation ever to exist. The average teenager has more sexual knowledge than the average doctor did a century ago and has a better dialog with their parents then most married people had with each other back then. Are your guests really that stupid or do they just think that your audience is?
E-mail No. 4
What in the world do these three questions you read have to do with 'health'? As a parent, I would b calling the school board, the principal and the teacher.
Los Lunas, NM
E-mail No. 5
First, I am 23 with two kids. In school we got a one hour sex ed class one time. I was the only one to answer all questions right. This in an age of AIDS. I would like to say that I was a virgin till I was 19 and we are now married. The questions are not the problem it is the way they were asked. The two questions about Washington and Delaware are in my view right for only a example of laws that are laughable or unneeded. The question about a man penis is biology. It is about time for the world to see they need to be asked. After all you can only ask them if our kids are alive to hear them. I had the information at the right time and I used it. I believe if my children have they will to.
E-mail No. 6
So how exactly does the District of Columbia enforce the "missionary position only" law?
Personally, I don't want to see any discussion of penis size, positions, homo- or bisexuality, etc., in the schools. Basic sex education is okay. If the students are interested in more information, let them READ about it, if and when you've taught them how.
E-mail No. 7
These days teachers are doing everything EXCEPT teaching reading, writing, and math. Kids are coming out of school illiterate and uneducated. Its time to make the teachers do what they're supposed to do; educate!
Santa Rosa, CA
E-mail No. 8
We have the same problem here in Canada with sex-health programs for students, 10-14 years. Many parents object. The standards set by Public Health and its affiliates are the lowest common denominator. This is an injustice to the majority of young people. Such programs are devoid of the respect and dignity that human relationships deserve. Desensitizing young people does not produce the desired result, i.e. caring, responsible adults. The detrimental effects outweigh any advantage. Public Health and Education should rethink their method of teaching sex education.
E-mail No. 9
Thank you for going 'on the record' with your report and discussion of the 'Middle School Sex Quiz'. I think your panel is right in that the real issue here is the importance of 'dialogue' between adults and children. I, however, would take it a step further and say that it must be 'responsible dialogue'. If our educators are approaching these vital issues in a 'tongue-in-cheek', 'funny quiz' manner, I think it indicates exactly how we are failing our kids: Messages like 'sex is no big deal' and 'sex is a laughing matter' are precisely the wrong message!
Having to endure stories about teens using baseball bats to end unwanted pregnancies (or 13 year olds throwing their own babies out of windows) should serve as the final wake up call to parents and educators that we need to get the right messages to kids about health and sex education or the consequences will be quite un-funny!
David A. Bacharach
E-mail No. 10
My name is Kathryn. I'm 20 yrs old and I'm from Santa Cruz, CA and when I was in junior high and high school our sex ed course was to inform us about sexually transmitted disease and taught us that abstinence is the way to go. But if we were not going to be abstinent we were taught how to have safe sex — not taught to have sex. I personally find that test way out of line.
E-mail No. 11
Exactly when did it become acceptable to test an adolescent's knowledge about the size of an erected penis, and under what possible guise of education is a test question about sexual positions relevant in a middle school forum? It's becoming obvious that the world is going straight to hell in a hand-basket because we have lost all sense of reason and decency, and I was appalled at the lack of indignation from your "educated" guests (with the exception of only one). Do we really have to drag our children into the mire of an already oversaturated sexually obsessive society by oversaturated sexually obsessive adults who now call themselves educators? How can we possibly condemn sexual abuse in the public schools when it is the teachers who are perpetuating a sexual environment? This kind of "quiz" does nothing more than send our children even more mixed messages and is just another form of sexual abuse. We better snap out of it in a big hurry.
Winter Haven, FL
E-mail No. 12
There is a difference between sex education and promoting sex. Your panel didn't seem to understand that distinction. Also, your panel is rather naive to believe that 13-year-old boys discuss sex with their parents — when they were 7 to 10, maybe, but not at the "know it all age" of 13. Why don't schools stick to teaching reading, writing and arithmetic — then maybe when these kids get out of school they can get a job and afford gas to take a girl to lover's point.
Walla Walla, WA
E-mail No. 13
This is the most ridiculous school quiz I have ever heard of. What is the value of knowing the most common size of an erect penis? Is this really part of the curriculum for that school?
I have to wonder if the teacher of this particular class is a pervert? Is this a way of getting his/her kicks? Most schools in my area of the country are in such financial trouble and are finding that operating levies placed on ballot after ballot have failed time and again. Its really a sad state of affairs and pretty scary for families with small children that are still facing years of school.
My point is, if voters are turning down requests for funds to teach "readin', ritin', and rithmetic" how will they feel about providing money to teach little Dick and Jane how to perform the "mission" sexual position?
E-mail No. 14
1. When I was in school, I would have given my entire allowance every week to score on the teacher.
2. I didn't know any male students who didn't want to.
3. Estrich is 100% wrong when she claims that sex with a teacher will screw a boy up for life. Girls maybe, not boys.
4. The men on your show who say they are shocked by this behavior are either lying or wimps. Ask them if they would have turned in their teacher for this. Not a chance!!
E-mail No. 15
I think the school sex test questions that you were discussing tonight, February 11, are absolutely disgusting! No wonder so many people are home schooling their kids these days. Don't you think some of these discussions open the door for the molestation that the kids are getting from some of their teachers?
I am so shocked at Susan who just said that the teachers should be charged and put away for their molestation (which I agree something should be done), but laughs at her son who asks worse questions than these to his teachers.
I am for some sex education, but this goes way too far over the line.
I agree with Bernie!
E-mail No. 16
What are you people thinking?! As a middle school teacher in California we are trying to address student proficiency in math and language arts per No Child Left Behind. The teaching focus should be on the 3 R's, not on which sexual positions are legal in any given state. Also, being the mother of students ranging from ten to twenty two, I do not send my children to school to find out the average size of male genitalia. I prefer my kids to come away with an education that allows them to become teachers, doctors or lawyers... oh well, maybe not lawyers, they aren't as smart as I thought they were!
Rancho Mirage, CA
Send your thoughts and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch "On the Record" weeknights at 10 p.m. ET