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 .
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 .
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.
 Dayton Daily News, “Springboro parents want law change after sex-crimes involving ex-gym teacher” by Lawrence Budd, 6/10/20, https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/crime–law/springboro-parents-want-change-state-law-following-sex-crimes-involving-gym-teacher/SvdOb5V0hIwZl2pJooHpcI/.
 Erin’s Law, http://www.erinslaw.org/ .
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