Societal role models not exempt from law

“It happened before in the 80s,” my father commented, far from being shocked. Excuse me? I found my head spinning as I tried to wrap my mind around this. Apparently, Mark Foley is not the

“It happened before in the 80s,” my father commented, far from being shocked.

Excuse me? I found my head spinning as I tried to wrap my mind around this.

Apparently, Mark Foley is not the first congressional representative to make sexual advances on underage male pages.

Except this representative, Gerry Studs, actually had sex with a 17-year-old page and made advances on two other pages.

After getting over the shock of this revelation, though not the disgust (which has yet to subside), a thought dawned on me. Perhaps “The Daily Show’s” “Crisis in our Nation’s Pants” segment wasn’t completely off the mark.

Granted, the show completely exaggerated the issue of congressional representatives sexually harassing pages, but maybe there is a larger issue at hand.

Representatives aren’t the only authority figures abusing both their positions of power and children.

In the last decade, we have seen both teachers and Catholic priests accused of worse than these congressmen. When did it become OK to proposition a child?

In 1998, Mary Kay Letourneau shocked the world after she was impregnated by her 13-year-old student. She served seven-and-a-half years in prison, though not before being impregnated again by the same boy one year later.

Letourneau isn’t alone. In the last couple
years, a Florida teacher and Tennessee teacher have been charged with having sex with 13- and 14-year-old students.

The turn of the 21st century will be remembered for something more grisly than the Y2K bug.

More than just Catholics were shaken to the core when hundreds of men and women made waves after coming forward with allegations
of childhood sex abuse by their priests.

It shocked the world, and with good reason. Priests molesting children? It was unthinkable then. Now it has become the punchline of hundreds of jokes.

Today, we have congressmen propositioning
children through instant messaging. It’s bad enough to have pedophiles conversing
with children in chat rooms and exchanging
child porn via the Internet.

But these people are in positions of high respect and power. These actions are inexcusable.

What do parents tell children now? Don’t trust the teacher you see everyday, the priest you see every Sunday, or the person who holds a political office?

But the question still remains: what is responsible for this surge in child abuse? Foley, using alcoholism as an excuse,
checked himself into rehabilitation.

How did more than 300 congressional
representatives, his aides, his family, his friends and every other person he sees on a daily basis not notice that he was an alcoholic?

It leaves you wondering if the child abuse was a product of the alcoholism, or if the alcoholism was just an excuse for child abuse.

What else can he use to take the blame off himself? The usual suspects are out.

Hardly any movie, TV show, video game or song encourages child abuse.

Foley said that he himself was abused as a child in an allegation that the accused, a priest, confirmed. The abused becoming the abuser later in life isn’t unheard of.

But what about Studs, the teachers and the priests? Were they all abused as children? They have yet to say so.

So what has spiked this current epidemic?
No psychiatrist has yet to fully explain the reasons behind sexual abuse.

More frightening than the epidemic itself
is that it might not be as new as it seems. The number of reported sex crimes has increased in recent years, showing that discussion about it has become more acceptable in society.

After all, many of those priests’ victims had been abused decades ago, and were only then coming forward.

Regardless of the reasons behind it or whether it is new or not, this is more than just the actions of one congressional representative, a handful of teachers, or numerous clergymen; we have to look at them together.

We need to realize that this has become an epidemic in our country.

Ashley Helaudais can be reached at

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