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Sexual Abuse of Children in U.S. Schools: A Case Study of Presentation High School

Ronco, Alexandra

To date, there have been no comprehensive national studies on sexual violence committed by educators against students. Additionally, there is currently no federal office or agency mandated with collecting and examining statistics on allegations of this type of misconduct. In 2017, Kathryn Leehane, an alumna of Presentation High School in San Jose, California, penned an op-ed about her own experience with this misconduct. What followed was an onslaught of stories from other alumni indicating that Kathryn’s experience was not an isolated incident. It was a patterned behavior of the school for abuse to occur and the school to silence victims and support abusers. Moreover, this is a behavior which is not just unique at Presentation, but is prevalent in institutions across the country and the globe.

This paper examines educator sexual abuse as a violation of children’s rights, particularly the rights to protection, safe education, and self-representation through a case study of the scandal at Presentation High School. With this case study and by applying a human rights framework to the issue, the paper explores the prevalence of this misconduct and the characteristics of institutions, such as a private Catholic high school, that permit them to ignore abuse and children’s rights in favor of protecting the institution’s own reputation.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Holland, Tracey M.
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 25, 2020