Gym Class

Elektrostal Grammar School. Gymnasium No. 6, modeling lesson, Author Dmitry Makeev (CC BY-SA 4.0 International).

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Most of us remember gym class – the awkward uniforms, the pungent locker rooms, the embarrassment of the showers, the sting of chlorine in the pool.

For six year olds, gym class is less about competition than activities which increase balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength.  Gym class is about cartwheels and backward rolls; about jumping rope, and learning to walk a balance beam; about building confidence.

Unfortunately, the students of Springboro, OH gym teacher, John Austin Hopkins were exposed to much more.  Hopkins has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for gross sexual imposition on 27 first grade girls during gym class [1].

Parents dissatisfied with this sentence have petitioned the Ohio legislature for longer sentences in cases involving multiple victims, and mandatory sex abuse prevention training for the state’s youngest.

The latter (known nationally as “Erin’s Law”) would require that public schools teach children personal body safety, i.e. appropriate v. inappropriate touching, and abuse reporting.  Sexual abuse survivor, Erin Merryn – after whom the law is named – has successfully lobbied 37 states for passage [2].

Till now, Springboro City Schools have taken the position that such training should begin at home.  In response to the Hopkins case, however, at least one grammar school in the district has added a program to its curriculum called “Child Safety Matters”.  The program is designed to help young children recognize and respond to abuse, bullying, and cyberbullying.  Parents may opt out, if they prefer.

When six year old children must be taught how to report child abuse and the state must replace the family in teaching them, then we have failed as a society.

Meanwhile, Springboro parents are going forward with a federal lawsuit against Hopkins, the school district, and its administrators.

[1]  Dayton Daily News, “Springboro parents want law change after sex-crimes involving ex-gym teacher” by Lawrence Budd, 6/10/20,–law/springboro-parents-want-change-state-law-following-sex-crimes-involving-gym-teacher/SvdOb5V0hIwZl2pJooHpcI/.

[2]  Erin’s Law, .

Boyd and Stephanie Householder – the owners of Circle of Hope, a Christian reform school for girls in Missouri – have been charged with over 100 counts of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse involving 16 victims.  They deny the charges.
The school has been closed.




Filed under bullying, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Community, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse

11 responses to “Gym Class

  1. This is something which really needs scrutinizing. Growing up in Australia going swimming in the pools meant changing in a cubical and showering with swimwear on. Gym I found uncomfortable even though it was all girls we worn a uniform and normal underpants. In the UK it was very different the class had to strip-off there was no privacy. I refused to do gymnastics at the UK school because of this.

    Then moving onto my son in primary school, he forgot his gym kit one day and never again. The sports teacher told my son he could do the gym work in his underpants. My son told the teacher that his mother would not like this or approve and he refused to join in the gym class that day. Very proud of my son dealing with his teacher at a young age. Of course my son’s response went against him at school and onto higher education. Many young children are not equipped in dealing with adults especially teachers who are in authority. I remember sitting with my son and talking to him about what he should not allow and also to not get in anyone’s car even if he knew them. This he maintained and often refused our neighbour’s offer of a lift home.

    I am shocked at the number of teacher’s and school employees who fail to come up to any kind of standard are being allowed to teach and have access to children. If I had my time to come again I would homeschool.

  2. I agree “When six year old children must be taught how to report child abuse and the state must replace the family in teaching them, then we have failed as a society.” Six years should never have to think about protecting themselves from adults!

  3. Allan Halton

    “…we have failed as a society.” In this and many other ways.

  4. These horrors are too common. Hopkins might not survive the 8 years. From what I hear most inmates hate baby killers and pedophiles.

  5. As we adults well know, children are no match for the unscrupulous acts of adults and are in fact easy prey for these monsters. This tragic story brings to light failure on so many levels. Here in Florida, all schools are mandated to have a compliance officer in order to act as a defense against an armed intruder. One wonders what is next, “perversion officers” who are assigned to keep an eye on the adults our children must interact with at school? Where does this stop?

  6. My bad gym memories are more of the body shaming type where absolute non-athletes withered in the corners – they could be too thin, too heavy or have little tone. While not the depth of what is express here, it is also something we could improve on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.