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LAUSD takes new steps to calm sex abuse fears

February 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
With recent reports of sexual misconduct in the classroom, the LAUSD is taking new steps to protect the district's children.

"This year we're up to about 15 different cases at schools already," said LAPD Capt. Andy Smith. "And this is just the first two months of the year."

Under fire, LAUSD is taking new steps to calm fears. New guidelines are in development in tandem with law enforcement to provide alerts as soon as within a day of a teacher's removal from the classroom.

"So that there is not a whispering campaign or they wonder what happened to a teacher, we let them know so they know we are not hiding anything," said the LAUSD's Tom Waldman.

Parents curious about the status of a teacher's credential can find out on the Commission for Credentialing website. Soon, there will more names in on the trouble list. LAUSD is digging deeper into its database.

"I don't know exactly how many names that will yield, but it is a comprehensive review of all the cases over the last 3 years in which teachers were dismissed for misconduct," Waldman said.

It's not just teachers who are being reported. Molesters can be a neighbor or relative. The LAPD and the Sheriff's department conduct ongoing training for youth-focused organizations. When there is complaint, the LAPD has juvenile abuse specialists deployed in every one of its 21 patrol districts for a speedy response.

"They can get to the bottom of a child abuse allegation very quickly," Smith said.

Demand is up. The Department of Children and Family Services reported 14,888 calls to their hotline this month alone. That's an 11 percent increase over the same period last year. Investigators believe that it is more victims coming forward, not an increase in incidents.

"Maybe it's because they feel more comfortable now, they feel they are not alone," Smith said.

And they are not alone, say investigators and child advocates. There are more resources than ever to help educate children and parents on how to identify abuse and report it.