safety

A Crime Alleged, A Community in Shock

A second grade teacher in our town has just been arrested for allegedly possessing and producing child pornography, among other charges. The evidence, as described in the press, is incredibly upsetting and appears to be quite damning.

We know this man. He went to elementary school, to Schechter no less, with my husband. They grew up together. I met him recently at a school reunion, and he was so kind, so funny, and so thoughtful that I even considered setting him up with one of my best friends.

Needless to say, we are in shock. Our community is in shock. I have no idea how to make sense of this. I am heartbroken for his family, his friends, and his students, but mostly I am devastated for the children he allegedly assaulted.

There are so many questions that remain unanswered; perhaps we will learn more with time, but to be honest, I’m not sure I want to know. Nonetheless, I can’t stop watching the news and reading the papers. I suppose I’m hoping to find an answer, or at least a clue, something that will explain why this happened, and how we all missed it.

That’s the scariest part of all of it. We all missed it. He was a nice Jewish boy from a good town, with a good education and a good job. He taught in the public schools for over a decade, and was cleared by several criminal record checks. Friends who knew him for years had no idea.

I hate that I have been reminded that there is no “kosher” stamp I can rely on, no list of qualities, experiences, or characteristics I can use to determine who is safe and who isn’t.

Who can we, as parents, really trust?

I have no idea. To be honest, I’m terrified. My need to protect my daughters has become overwhelming, and I dread the day when I will have to send them out into a world beyond our beloved home daycare. I try to remind myself that as much as I want to keep them close and safe forever, it’s just not possible. Even if it were, it wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

And so we mourn. We mourn the loss of the man we thought we knew and the loss of the sense of safety we thought we had in this community. And our lives have been diminished just a bit.

Carla NaumburgCarla Naumburg, PhD, is a clinical social worker and writer. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post,The Huffington Post, Parents.com, PsychCentral.com, The Jewish Daily Forward, and Psychology Today. Her first book, Parenting in the Present Moment, was published by Parallax Press in October of 2014. She is currently writing a book on teaching mindfulness to children, which will be published by New Harbinger in late 2015. Carla grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Bay Area of California, and she currently lives outside of Boston with her husband and two young daughters. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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