Thursday, October 08, 2009

Unreliable Sexual Assault statistics

Feminists say all men are rapists. Was that attitude behind the exaggeration below?

The University of California at Davis revealed Thursday that for at least three years it reported an inflated number of sexual assaults to the federal government.

An internal investigation and an external review both found that the university totals released for 2005, 2006 and 2007 were substantially greater than the totals that had actually been reported on and around campus. Under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, colleges and universities must file annual statistics with the Department of Education and release them publicly to students and employees.

Davis reported 48 forcible sexual offenses in 2005, 68 in 2006 and 69 in 2007. The actual totals, according to the two reviews, were 21, 23 and 33.

The university places the blame on Jennifer Beeman, former director of its Campus Violence Prevention Program, who retired in June 2009. Beeman was on medical leave during the spring semester and a staffer tallying the 2008 statistics in her place found there had been just 17 forcible sexual offenses reported that year, which either indicated a drastic drop in crime from the year before or an indication of past misreporting. The latter, according to the internal and external reviews, was true.

Robert Loessberg-Zahl, assistant executive vice chancellor, said that because Beeman was “widely recognized as an authority on Clery matters, we didn’t have a second set of eyes look at the numbers reported.” In retrospect, he added, “that was a mistake.… We trusted her too much.”

Beeman, reached at her home in Sacramento, declined comment. Since she is no longer a university employee, Loessberg-Zahl said, the institution can’t take disciplinary action against her. He declined to speculate on her motivations for inflating the statistics.

After its initial announcement Thursday, the university also disclosed Beeman was placed on paid administrative leave in December 2008 while under investigation for improperly charging travel expenses to a federal grant. The university later changed her status to medical leave and she reimbursed Davis $1,372 for the charges. The findings of that probe led the university to initiate a second investigation, which is still ongoing.

S. Daniel Carter, director of Security on Campus, a nonprofit group run by the Clery family, said his group has “never seen anything like this.” Though there have been several incidents over the years of “what amounted to sloppy record keeping, there have been no other cases where you’re talking about 100 percent -- almost 200 percent -- more crimes of a certain kind being reported to the federal government than is actually true.”

Under the Clery Act, the Department of Education can fine institutions for misrepresenting crime statistics, whether underreporting, overreporting or otherwise conveying inaccurate information. West Virginia University is under investigation by the department and facing fines of as much as $27,500 for misrepresentations made in 2001 and 2002, Carter said. He estimated that Davis could face fines totaling $2.96 million.

Loessberg-Zahl said Davis was “absolutely cooperating with the Department of Education” as it investigates what happened there. “We understand there’s the possibility of sanctions, but at this point we haven’t heard from the department on any actions they’ll be taking.”

Going forward, though, the university has learned its lesson, he said. “All crime statistics compiled by staff will be checked by a panel of three experts,” a uniformed campus police officer, a Clery Act specialist from its Office of Student Judicial Affairs and a university counsel. With the new system in place, “we’ll have done what’s necessary to make sure the information we’re sending to the federal government is verified.”

Recent signs of trouble came in February, when the local Fox affiliate reported that there were more sexual assaults at Davis in 2007 than there were at all other University of California campuses combined. At the time, a Davis spokeswoman attributed the numbers to the fact that the institution had a “nationally recognized … model program for its outreach efforts and services for survivors.”

Beeman's misconduct may go back further. A 2001 Sacramento Bee investigation found that though the university had reported no sexual assaults under the Clery Act in 1998, Beeman said, when applying for a $543,000 federal grant, that there had been 700 rapes or attempted rapes there that year. She told the newspaper that she had extrapolated the number from national statistics on sexual assaults of college students but had not meant to include that total in her application.

Loessberg-Zahl said the university will work to re-verify its statistics for all 16 years that Beeman led the Campus Violence Prevention Program if the Department of Education "gives us some indication that we ought to go back and review those years


British teacher convicted of assault for removing unruly student

Another assault on British educational standards

A teacher with an exemplary record is facing the end of his career after being convicted of assault for removing a pupil from class for telling a racist joke. Michael Becker, 62, snapped after repeatedly telling the 15-year-old to stop telling the joke and disturbing other pupils. When the boy refused to leave the room he took hold of his sweatshirt collar with one hand and the waistband of his trousers with the other and hauled him out. He then put him in a storeroom, which had a window in its door, before the pupil let himself out moments later.

Mr Becker was charged after the teenager complained of some redness around his neck and a sore stomach. He was suspended by the county council and pleaded not guilty but was convicted by South East Suffolk magistrates in Ipswich. During the hearing the pupil denied that he repeatedly told the joke and claimed that Mr Becker had dangled him by an ankle. 'He came over, picked me up and opened the classroom door and hung me upside down and then threw me in the cupboard,' he said.

But Mr Becker, of Stutton, near Ipswich, insisted that the pupil had told the joke four times and ignored his order to leave the classroom on November 10 last year. Any suggestion he had dangled him upside down was 'preposterous', he added. 'I acted swiftly to remove the student,' he said. 'I didn't really want to do it but I had to do it so the other students could carry on learning. 'My intention was to lead him towards the door. I just took him by his belt and then my hand went back and took him by the back of his jumper. 'I felt that under the circumstances I had to try to get him out because he was refusing. It was my intention to take him outside for ten minutes.'

He told the court the police investigation had left him ' devastated', adding: 'My whole life is based on my family and my teaching. My world was shattered.'

The school's former headmaster, Roland Gooding, told the court that Mr Becker's conduct had always been exemplary. He added: 'Since I have known him I have always found him to be extremely compassionate, caring, dedicated, honest and of the utmost integrity.'

Magistrates accepted that Mr Becker had not held the pupil by an ankle, but said: 'We are satisfied there was a reason [for removing the boy from the classroom] but not that you used reasonable force. 'Use of any force should be used as a last resort - in this case it wasn't.'

Mr Becker, who is married with two children, will be sentenced on October 23. The maximum jail term for common assault is six months.

The case is likely to be referred to the Independent Safeguarding Authority or the General Teaching Council for England, both of which have the power to ban Mr Becker from teaching.

Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, said Mr Becker had overreacted but should not have been found guilty of assault. 'As every teacher knows, pupils regularly go beyond the bounds of normal behaviour and receive little or no punishment,' he said. 'Yet the first time a teacher does something he stands to lose his job.'

Suffolk County Council said: 'As soon as he is sentenced we will initiate our own formal disciplinary measures against him.'


British classrooms have become war zones

A comment on the story immediately above

No evening meal around our kitchen table is complete without one of the children whining about some teacher who has been 'really, really mean to me'. What they're actually saying is a teacher told them off for something they did wrong - and they didn't like it.

Himself shuts up the little darlings sharpish by regaling them with bloodcurdling tales of his maths teacher, Mr X, who, 35 years ago, used to express his frustration by hurling a board rubber in the direction of dozy little Johnny. One day, the rubber was thrown so hard it lodged in the door and stuck there. Like an Apache tomahawk, it gave out a warning of the fate that awaited any boy who failed to behave.

Mr X was frightening. He could also be incredibly kind, and was a brilliant teacher. But he wouldn't be allowed to teach today. Not even at a time when the male maths teacher is becoming extinct faster than the Bengal tiger. A powerful authority figure like him couldn't survive in a school where it's the teacher who gets told off for a discipline problem.

The latest casualty of this Alice In Wonderland farrago is Michael Becker, a 62-year-old teacher whose story is depressingly familiar. After asking a 15-year-old pupil four times to stop telling a racist joke, Mr Becker hauled the lad out of the class and parked him in a storeroom.

The subsequent police investigation almost destroyed the veteran master, who was described as 'compassionate, dedicated and of the utmost integrity'. Clearly, the young joker lied through his teeth. He claimed that Mr Becker dangled him by an ankle. Magistrates rejected that account.

But will the teenager get punished for giving false testimony? Hell, no. It is poor Michael Becker who has been convicted of assault. A long career is in pieces after one moment of refusing to take any more nonsense.

Thank you, East Suffolk magistrates! Now every nightmare child in the country has a green light to abuse or ignore their teachers. If Mr Becker had appeared before a jury of parents, do you think they would have convicted him? I bet they'd have shaken his hand.

Michael Becker is old enough to remember a time before pupils ruled the classroom. I don't think that's a coincidence. Young teachers are too scared to be frightening. So what will happen when the older generation is gone?

It's a deeply alarming prospect and it's coming very soon. In Wales, the numbers of teachers taking early retirement is up 65 per cent in the past five years. Some are so desperate that they leave even before they are entitled to their pension.

Ninety-two per cent of teachers claim to have been verbally abused and 49 per cent have been physically attacked. Of those, 53 per cent have been assaulted with a thrown object.

It's not old Mr X who's hurling that board rubber any more. It's little Johnny.

Last week, I took part in a discussion on Woman's Hour with Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers and with the deputy head of a former sink school. Ms Blower seemed anxious to play down the problems her members face, but she did accept that teaching is the second most stressful job in the country. In an extraordinary admission of defeat, Ms Blower said she didn't think teaching should be seen any longer as a career for life. In other words, like a tour of duty in Afghanistan, teachers can take their life in their hands for a few years in the war zone that is modern state education.

The deputy head, meanwhile, talked about turning round an inner London school. And how had this miracle been achieved? Oh, by insisting pupils wore uniform and sending them home if they didn't. By the formidable headmaster standing at the local station and eyeballing any pupils who dared to be uncivil. By laying down rules and - now here's a radical idea - punishing those who broke them.

This new approach is called 'modern strict'. It sounds suspiciously like 'old strict'. That was a pedagogic approach that worked pretty well in our schools for, ooh, about 430 years, until the educational establishment opted for the view that children, not teachers, know best.

A reader writes to say he has just got the entry form for the BBC's My Story competition. At the top, in big red letters, the form says: 'Remember, judging is based on how great the story is, not on grammar and spelling.'

With that kind of attitude in one of our great institutions, is it any wonder that British students have poorer written English than undergraduates from abroad? A study of work by final-year students showed that foreigners made 18.8 spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors per exam paper compared to a staggering 52.2 from young people who were brought up speaking English.

What a travesty. English is one of this country's glories, as well as one of its few remaining competitive advantages. A language that most of the planet has to learn is the one we get free with our mother's milk.

By failing to insist on decent standards of written English in its competition, the BBC isn't being generous; it's encouraging children to lose the blessing with which they were born.


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