LOS ANGELES — Recent news from Miramonte Elementary School where teacher Mark Berndt is accused of various sex crimes against the children in his classroom has rocked the country yet again. And now there is news of a second teacher in that same school, Martin Springer, is being accused of sex crime with children from his class. This on the heels of the Jerry Sandusky case has many people asking, what is the solution?
The sad fact is that the system let these children and their parents down. While billions of dollars per year are spent tracking former sex offenders, a group who comprise the lowest recidivism rate among all former offenders, no money was spent to protect these innocent victims.
The question is, did the sex offender registry and it myriad of costly laws protect these children? No it did not. Mark Berndt, Jerry Sandusky and Martin Springer are not registered sex offenders.
The parents of all those children were persuaded to look to the registry to protect their children. But the facts show again and again that the registry is a distraction, not a protection. By focusing on the small number listed on the registry they took their focus off the men in the class room, the men in authority that they were supposed to trust.
Could this tragedy have been avoided? Perhaps. If some of the money being spent on the registry was directed back to schools, and cameras were placed in every class room and locker-room so that teachers could be monitored, both for their protection and for that of the children, these tragedies could well have been avoided. The problem is that no one is trying to stop sex offences; they are more concerned with former offenders and continued punishment than they are with stopping sex crimes before they happen.
Another option would be to direct funds from the sex offender registry to schools so that there would be two teachers in every classroom. This would serve a dual purpose. Children would receive a better education and both children and teachers would be safer in the class room.
With the economy the way it is, federal, state and local governments must use their resources wisely. True, being tough on sex offenders does make for a re-electable candidate, but does it protect children? It would seem it does not. In the U.S. 93% of all new sex offenses are committed by people like Mark Berndt, Jerry Sandusky and Martin Springer, people who are not on the registry.
A better approach would be to focus on solving the problems of sexual offending rather than looking backwards and tracking people after the crime is committed and their time is served. Until the public stands up and says “enough is enough” We can expect to see more horrifying crimes being committed against children.
While there will never be a foolproof solution to sex offending, there are far better options than spending billions on a registry that is merely a distraction to parents and a reelection tool for legislators.
It’s time to bring the money home! It’s time to protect children.
by Randy E. SOSEN COO