Abuse by the Numbers

 

A Fox News article piqued my interest this week.  Here was the headline:

At least 181 K-12 educators charged with child sex crimes in first half of 2022

Like many news articles, the numbers were reported but without any meaningful context.  No information about how this compares to other years, the number of educators involved, or even how many K-12 educators there are in the United States.

What struck me about the article was the overlap with a recent report about the Southern Baptist Convention addressing how they have handled sex abuse accusations over the last 20 years. There has been a lot of breathless reporting about the fact that over 400 cases of abuse accusations had been documented by the “Guidepost Report“.

Russell Moore, always eager to ingratiate himself with the cool kids on the left, had this to say from his perch at Christianity Today:

Crisis is too small a word. It is an apocalypse.

At the time the Guidepost report was issued, several things didn’t quite add up for me.  First, much of the reporting came across as an effort to replicate the sexual abuse controversies of the Catholic church but with Baptists being the target du jour. But comparing the Catholics to the Baptists is an apples-to-oranges comparison. The structure and lines of authority – hence accountability – in the Catholic church are nothing like the organization of the Baptist denomination.

But setting that issue aside for now, the other thing that didn’t add up was the number of cases.  When “hundreds” of cases are reported it certainly sounds like a lot – indeed it IS a lot – but spread over roughly 20 years (the period covered by the report) it amounts to 20 accusations per year on average. Is that a lot? Well, characteristically missing from any of the reporting I read was information of any kind regarding the number of Southern Baptists.

So when the Fox News headline popped up this week, I decided to do a little bit of digging.  Here’s what I found:

  1. There are roughly 15,500,000 Southern Baptists in the United States. (I averaged the membership count per year over the time period covered by the Guidepost report.)
  2. There are roughly 3,900,000 K-12 educators in the United States.
  3. Public educators are on a pace to sexually abuse children at around 360 cases per year.  Roughly equivalent to the number of accusations that cropped up among Baptists over 20 years.
  4. All things being equal, 1 in ~38,000 Baptists will be accused of sexual abuse while 1 out of 538 teachers will be charged with abuse. All of the teacher charges will involve children.

What this all means is that, given the data that is readily accessible, a child is at least 72X more likely to be abused by a teacher in a public school than in a Baptist church. And yet, all the heavy breathing in the press the past few months has been about Baptist abusers.

There are many missing pieces to this analysis.  The Guidepost reported number of 400 is a count of accusations while the 181 count for public schools comprises actual criminal charges. One suspects that the number of actual accusations in public schools is larger than the number that eventually results in charges. If so, the numbers would look even worse for the teachers by comparison. But we also don’t know if the 181 count is an anomaly.  I don’t have data in that regard. For my analysis, I merely extrapolated from the six-month number reported by Fox News to cover 20 years. All of this analysis is based only on information that was easy to come by using search engines.

Of course, this in no way is intended to diminish the seriousness of sexual abuse or to suggest that no Baptist has ever done anything wrong.  For the record, I’m not a Baptist and don’t have “a dog in that hunt” as they say.  I’m not incentivized to try to preserve the reputation of the Southern Baptist Convention. My interest here is merely related to observing the way in which our attention is focused by the press, the way assumptions are formed, and how numbers are used to manipulate.

By comparison with the Baptist church, there seems to be a veritable plague of sexual abuse in our public schools. Yet, where the subject of sexual abuse within organizations is concerned, the press has been talking primarily about the Baptists.

Why is that?

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 24 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Keith Lowery: It is an apocalypse.

    Well, yeah, now that it has been revealed, Mister Obvious. (The guy you’re quoting, not you, KL.)

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Keith Lowery: Why is that?

    Because it’s for the chirren!

    • #2
  3. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Because the Church is hated . Government schools are beloved , they do the Lords  governments work. 

    • #3
  4. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Photoshop Roman collars on the 181 perps and the media will be ALL over this horrendous story.

    • #4
  5. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I have a couple of questions.

    First, doesn’t the Southern Baptist report include many sorts of alleged sexual abuse, against adults as well as children?  I think that it does.  If correct, the figures for Southern Baptists, compared to the schools, would look even lower.

    Second, if you’re going to do a comparison, shouldn’t the denominators be comparable.  You use the number of Southern Baptist parishioners, compared to the number of school teachers.  I think that you should either use the total number of people in the schools (students, teachers, and others), or use the number of Southern Baptist employees and volunteers.

    • #5
  6. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I have a couple of questions.

    First, doesn’t the Southern Baptist report include many sorts of alleged sexual abuse, against adults as well as children? I think that it does. If correct, the figures for Southern Baptists, compared to the schools, would look even lower.

    Second, if you’re going to do a comparison, shouldn’t the denominators be comparable. You use the number of Southern Baptist parishioners, compared to the number of school teachers. I think that you should either use the total number of people in the schools (students, teachers, and others), or use the number of Southern Baptist employees and volunteers.

    @arizonapatriot

    This is fair.  A couple of thoughts though.  The count of 181 charges among educators includes only the charges against educators – not charges against both students and educators.  At least, that’s how the article reports it.  The number of instances may be much larger if, say, all instances of harassment and abuse were included for the entire student body.

    Conversely, the Southern Baptist numbers involved all reports to the SBC and it isn’t clear that those reports were limited only to church staff/pastors.  As I understood it (I could be wrong) it was comprised of reports to the SBC without regard to who in the church did the abusing.  So my understanding (again, I could be wrong) is that the 400 SBC number reflects the reports of the member population, while the 181-in-6-months number in the public schools reflects only the teachers themselves.  That’s why I crunched the numbers the way I did. 

    My larger point, though, is that if there was a real interest in gaining insight from these events, nothing like the current innumerate reporting would be done.  The reporting we have is either not for the purpose of illuminating the facts, or the reporters are just kind of dumb. I don’t at all discount the latter possibility. Because…

    “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity” – Hanlon’s Razor

    • #6
  7. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Keith Lowery:

    Russell Moore, always eager to ingratiate himself with the cool kids on the left, had this to say from his perch at Christianity Today:

    Crisis is too small a word. It is an apocalypse.

    That guy.

    Loved the irony of how he spent the entire four years of Trump’s term getting deeply political and screaming that Christians shouldn’t be supporting Trump and all good Christians would vote against him in 2020.

    And then immediately after Joe’s fake win, he started saying “You know, Christians just shouldn’t be involved in politics at all.”

    In this hypocrisy, he certainly wasn’t alone.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    There was also a Federalist podcast where a reporter had done a deep investigation and essentially trashed the Guidepost “investigation.” I highly recommend listening to it: https://ricochet.com/podcast/federalist-radio-hour/the-media-is-getting-the-southern-baptist-story-totally-wrong/ 

    • #8
  9. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    It should come as no surprise that sexual abusers are attracted to professions that give them access to children, and in the case of adult sexual abuse it is no different. They groom and prey on the vulnerable.

    Sexual abusers are no respecter of religious or secular boundaries. Self-gratification is their motivator. Unfortunately like many other crimes today it is not the abuse that matters it is who the abuser is that matters when it comes to prosecution.

    I’m dismayed by the movement to sexualize children in the school system. Make no mistake it is not much more than grooming children and will be seen as such by predators. There is also a movement to remove school resource police officers from schools. Part of that movement is designed to hide the problem with some teachers and staff that prey on students. 

    • #9
  10. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    There is also a movement to remove school resource police officers from schools. Part of that movement is designed to hide the problem with some teachers and staff that prey on students. 

    I hadn’t made that connection before, but you’re likely correct.

     

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    It should come as no surprise that sexual abusers are attracted to professions that give them access to children, and in the case of adult sexual abuse it is no different. They groom and prey on the vulnerable.

    What was Jeffery Epstein’s first job?

    Oh, yeah:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Epstein#Teaching

    • #11
  12. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    There was a 2004 study (yes, it’s old, but the dynamics have not likely changed significantly) prepared for the U.S. Department of Education which concluded that, in the words of the researcher Shakeshaft, “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” This was at a time when any casual consumer of the news would have gotten the impression that sexual abuse of minors was somehow a uniquely Catholic problem, when in fact rates of abuse by priests were about the same as for Protestant clergy, and both were below the rates in public schools. One of my fellow faculty members, at a Catholic school I taught at, had taught in public schools. He said that it was very difficult to fire teachers, and so he had seen teachers who had been accused of abuse simply moved to  different school districts, much as some craven bishops moved priests around.

    • #12
  13. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    Ditto all above. During the height of the assault on the priests by the godless left, I too saw a study and two things were proven, schools were a bigger problem and homosexual priests were the biggest offenders among the priests. When lefties tried to use the hype, the headlines about the priests to trash my Christianity, I posted points from the study and they went crickets. The academia perverts are self-identifying on tic toc now. Brazen.

    • #13
  14. DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Red Herring (View Comment):
    The academia perverts are self-identifying on tic toc now. Brazen.

    Yeah, that’s what’s so weird about it.

    “No, we’re not groomers!”

    (::  4,563,341 Tiktok videos of them grooming children.  ::)

    Big Tech is now silencing people who use the word “groomer.”

    • #14
  15. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Yes, the vast majority of abuse by priests is actually homosexual predation on young (post-pubescent) men. Many of them in seminary. Still inexcusable, but not the same population of victims as kids in public schools.

    I can’t understand why anyone sends their kids to public schools anymore. Better to be uneducated than subjected what’s going on there.

    • #15
  16. Painter Jean Member
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    Ditto all above. Suing the height of the assault on the priests by the godless left, I too saw a study and two things were proven, schools were a bigger problem and homosexual priests were the biggest offenders among the priests. When lefties tried to use the hype the headlines about the priests to trash my Christianity, I posted points from the study and they went crickets. The academia perverts are self-identifying on tic toc now. Brazen.

    Yeah, and the fact that most of the priest offenders were homosexuals who were abusing post-pubescent boys/young men, and not pre-pubescent children, was ignored. It was a homosexual problem, not a pedophilia problem (to be more precise, much of it was ephebophilia), but the media didn’t want to go there.

    • #16
  17. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I have a couple of questions.

    First, doesn’t the Southern Baptist report include many sorts of alleged sexual abuse, against adults as well as children? I think that it does. If correct, the figures for Southern Baptists, compared to the schools, would look even lower.

    Second, if you’re going to do a comparison, shouldn’t the denominators be comparable. You use the number of Southern Baptist parishioners, compared to the number of school teachers. I think that you should either use the total number of people in the schools (students, teachers, and others), or use the number of Southern Baptist employees and volunteers.

    And also include the respective number of hours children are in the company of teachers vs the Southern Baptist component.

    • #17
  18. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):
    The academia perverts are self-identifying on tic toc now. Brazen.

    Yeah, that’s what’s so weird about it.

    “No, we’re not groomers!”

    (:: 4,563,341 Tiktok videos of them grooming children. ::)

    Big Tech is now silencing people who use the word “groomer.”

    Reddit’s new word is Predditor. I’m looking forward to the new Twitter word.

    • #18
  19. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    DrewInWisconsin, Unapologetic … (View Comment):

    Keith Lowery:

    Russell Moore, always eager to ingratiate himself with the cool kids on the left, had this to say from his perch at Christianity Today:

    Crisis is too small a word. It is an apocalypse.

    That guy.

    Loved the irony of how he spent the entire four years of Trump’s term getting deeply political and screaming that Christians shouldn’t be supporting Trump and all good Christians would vote against him in 2020.

    And then immediately after Joe’s fake win, he started saying “You know, Christians just shouldn’t be involved in politics at all.”

    In this hypocrisy, he certainly wasn’t alone.

    I am always amazed by people who think they are more qualified to tell Christians what to do than a) clergy, and b) Christ. 

    • #19
  20. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Excellent analysis, @keithlowery!  This is the kind of reporting that paid journalists are supposed to do but rarely ever do.

    • #20
  21. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Keith Lowery: Why is that?

    Because it’s for the chirren!

    That’s exactly the way my grandmother (born in Alabama, lived adult life in Tullahoma Tennessee) pronounced that word.  Brings back fond memories. (probably nobody else has any idea what you are referencing!)

    • #21
  22. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

     

    Second, if you’re going to do a comparison, shouldn’t the denominators be comparable. You use the number of Southern Baptist parishioners, compared to the number of school teachers. I think that you should either use the total number of people in the schools (students, teachers, and others), or use the number of Southern Baptist employees and volunteers.

    That was my question, too.  

    • #22
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

     

    Second, if you’re going to do a comparison, shouldn’t the denominators be comparable. You use the number of Southern Baptist parishioners, compared to the number of school teachers. I think that you should either use the total number of people in the schools (students, teachers, and others), or use the number of Southern Baptist employees and volunteers.

    That was my question, too.

    Sure, but the game is ‘no, your people are the perverts!’ and that requires numbers however you can get them. 

    • #23
  24. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    TBA (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

     

    Second, if you’re going to do a comparison, shouldn’t the denominators be comparable. You use the number of Southern Baptist parishioners, compared to the number of school teachers. I think that you should either use the total number of people in the schools (students, teachers, and others), or use the number of Southern Baptist employees and volunteers.

    That was my question, too.

    Sure, but the game is ‘no, your people are the perverts!’ and that requires numbers however you can get them.

    Maybe it is just me, but The Baptist denominations are noted for being pro-life and anti-“A Woman’s Choice.”

    So it then seems like this:  since the Baptist denominations are considered part of the “Christian Right” it could be the sect is being singled out for persecution, as punishment for the years of support they have invested in overturning Roe vs Wade.

    • #24
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.