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Students lead effort to stop teachers who engage in unlawful sexual behavior

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The “Stop Harassing Underage Teens Act” passed the Florida Senate Wednesday, as reported at TCPalm. The legislation reclassifies penalties for various sexual offenses and applies to teachers, contractors and volunteers at schools.

The legislation, HB 485, is unique in that it was spearheaded by high school students who were "fed up" with light sentences for teachers who have engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with students, as reported at the local ABC affiliate.

Every single day, “there are at least three or four new reports of teachers being arrested or sentenced for having sexual relations with students,” as reported by one of the few journalists tackling this epidemic, Peter Gunn at EAG News. Unfortunately, very few of the stories make it to the mainstream media. "If you count on the mainstream media for most of your information," he wrote, "you might be under the mistaken impression that teacher sexual abuse of students is nothing more than an occasional problem."

A local news source, WJHG, reported that in Florida alone over the last three years, “more than 150 Florida teachers have lost their teaching licenses after being accused of sexual misconduct with a student.” The numbers are undoubtedly low, as it is unlikely that all incidents are reported.

One of the authors of the legislation, Senior Elyse Chinowth was quoted as saying,

“I plan on being a mother one day and I would hate to have to worry about my child being at a school and worried about he or she being preyed up on by teachers who should be our protectors."

A Discovery Channel series, "Bad Teachers," was about to shed some light on the epidemic, but cancelled the program after airing only one episode amidst pressure from teachers unions and the National Education Association, as reported Friday at EDWeek.

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