I was glancing through this New York Times review of Losing My Religion, a book by William Lobdell, a former religion writer for The Los Angeles Times, and came across this astounding paragraph:
Un. Be. Liev. A. Ble. Seriously?
It has become commonplace to stereotype Catholic priests as actual, possible, or potential pedophiles, perverts, and generally creepy guys. But you rarely hear anything about the sexual abuse of children that takes place in public schools, even when a 2007 AP piece reported, "One report mandated by Congress estimated that as many as 4.5 million students, out of roughly 50 million in American schools, are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade. That figure includes verbal harassment that’s sexual in nature." Why, who could ever imagine a public school being a likely haunt for pedophiles and perverts? Stunning. (For example, I attended a small high school—200 students and 18 teachers—and I know that at least three teachers carried on sexually with one or more girls during my time there. I'm not good at math, but that's about 16.66%.)
No, I'd bet my public education and a half-caf latte that the vast majority of parents today would believe the worst about a priest before believing the same about a teacher or coach. This despite increasing evidence that public schools are far, far worse places to be than churches when it comes to sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse. Go figure; of course, it makes sense, because while kids spend some 30 hours a week in schools that often disparage or misrepresent Christianity, they spend an hour or less a week in churches learning anything remotely resembling the "religious awe" described above.
And, of course, a big part of the problem is that for every AP story about abuse in public schools, there are numerous stories ignored, passed over, or treated lightly by the media, which generally worships at the high altar of public education. Strangely enough, Lobdell's former employer, The Los Angeles Times, appears to be on the forefront of this imbalanced situation.