Turns out sleeping on the job is a minor offense compared to the two news stories I came across today about teachers in California.
The “Lollipop Game”
In one case a teacher at Freedom Elementary School in Clovis, California blindfolded his second-grade student while she gave him oral sex. The teacher, Neg Tang, 43-years-old, told the student they were playing the “lollipop game.”
Tang now faces charges of producing child pornography – charges he has plead “not guilty” to despite evidence proving otherwise. In fact, detectives found several images of the blindfolded young girl on his cell phone, as well as, nine videos of her giving him oral sex while blindfolded. Detective also found 75 images of bestiality on his classroom computer and internet search history with the term “adult teen titled pornography.”
Before his arrest Tang had been working at the school since 2007 and had a reputation of being a “wonderful teacher.” News of his arrest has shocked the community and parents of other children attending the school.
In South Los Angeles a veteran third-grade teacher, Mark Berndt, 61, is under investigation for spoon-feeding his semen to students. Over 400 alarming pictures of blindfolded and gagged children were discovered by a CVS photo technician in connection to Berdnt. He has since been charged with 23 counts of committing lewd acts of children.
Berndt blindfolded and, in some cases, gagged students with tape in what he called a “tasting game.” He would then feed his semen to the students either using a spoon or by putting it on a cookie that he would make the children eat.
Like Tang, Berdnt was a well-liked teacher among parents and colleagues. Many parents kept in touch with him after their children grew up and he was often invited to students’ birthday parties.
Dangers of Term “Stranger Danger”
These two cases are extremely disturbing to say the least. Teachers are supposed to be mentors and trusted adults for their students – not perpetrators and sexual abusers.
What’s striking to me too about these cases is the difficulty in educating young children about the dangers of sexual abuse at school. So often children are taught to be aware of “stranger danger,” but it turns out that sometimes the most dangerous people in their lives are the people closest to them.
None of the children in Berndt’s case reported abuse and in Tang’s the young girl did not tell her mother what was going on until she inquired about her whereabouts. Because their teachers aren’t “strangers,” it is likely that children do not think they are dangerous and find it difficult to identify that abuse has occurred. After all, they are supposed to do what their teacher says. We need to teach children that strangers aren’t the only people who can hurt them and that it is vitally important for them to tell someone if they feel uncomfortable or are being forced to do something they don’t want to – even if it comes from someone they know and trust.
The lives of the children abused by Berndt and Tang are forever changed. Suffering that kind of sexual abuse at such a young age by a trusted adult is life changing. I feel so incredibly angered at these teachers for the impact their actions will have on the lives of these children.
I, for one, certainly hope that both Berndt and Tang are punished to the full extent of the law. These two men have no business being educators and these children and communities deserve justice.
Photo credit: Photo by Marlith used under a Creative Commons license.
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