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Another View -- Joy Barrett: Betraying a long-earned trust

August 13. 2018 11:27PM

EDUCATORS HAVE long been the number one reporters of child abuse and neglect, leading more child victims to help than parents, relatives, neighbors, and friends combined, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report on Children, Youth and Families.

The child victims of abuse we serve everyday at child advocacy centers throughout the Granite State are most often first directed to help by a teacher, administrator, coach, or guidance counselor — an educator.

This makes the child sexual abuse perpetrated by former Bedford and Newfound school district guidance counselor Kristie Torbick — and subsequent calls for lenient sentencing by her colleagues in education — all the more tragic.

Newspapers reported that Torbick’s victim, a high school student, was overcome and left the courtroom after sitting through what must have seemed like endless testimony from the perpetrator’s supporters. All of whom did their best to convince the court that their former colleague deserves leniency.

Imagine being a child victim of abuse, in court at the sentencing hearing of the guidance counselor that abused you and hearing one teacher, guidance counselor, and administrator after another stand before the court to speak on your abuser’s behalf.

I can say without reservation that if the perpetrator had been a man the collective outrage by our communities would be deafening.

Just months ago, we learned from the harrowing testimonies of our Olympic gymnasts that too many child victims of abuse are reporting to adults and being ignored. Child victims, finding the courage to report their abuse to an adult, then being ignored. Child victims of abuse failed by willfully negligent adults.

This is all really very straight forward. There is no such thing as consensual sex between a child and an adult. Sex between a child and an adult is child sexual abuse.

Now, in the wake of Torbick, it is imperative we move forward thoughtfully and deliberately to create the change that will keep our children safe. This change starts with each and every adult in New Hampshire recognizing they are mandated by law to report suspected child neglect and abuse.

Please take the time to know the signs of child abuse and neglect and how to tell authorities when you suspect a child is being victimized by visiting to learn of upcoming training sessions.

We can all be better educated to inform and protect our kids.

Joy Barrett is executive director of the Granite State Children’s Alliance.

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