Advocate Wants To Stop Potential Predators

Wednesday, June 17th 2009, 10:22 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

 TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa woman says she can help schools spot potential predators before they do anything illegal.  One child abuse expert says the allegations against Scott Factor are unfortunate, but believes the girls did the right thing.

06/17/2009 Related Story: Dismissed Tulsa Teacher Fights For His Job

It's been a week filled with allegations of abuse in Oklahoma schools.  The day before Hale High School teacher Scott Factor was fired, a Stillwater Junior High police officer was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with his son's 15-year-old ex-girlfriend.

"My initial reaction was good.  Because not enough people tell, and not enough people who molest children are ever caught," said child advocate Sharon Doty.

Sharon Doty has worked as a child advocate for more than 30 years.  When sex scandals rocked the Catholic Church in the 1990s, she helped craft an abuse prevention program that is now used by more than 100 dioceses across the country.  In recent years, she has turned her attention to schools.

"We actually teach adults how to recognize certain risky behaviors that other adults might exhibit, and how to interrupt those behaviors," said child advocate Sharon Doty.

Doty says risky behavior by teachers often includes too much touching, constant requests to be alone with children, and giving gifts to kids. 

She discusses the behavior with audiences she says are usually, at first, skeptical.

"It's a difficult situation.  It's interesting, when I go in, there's a lot of resistance," said child advocate Sharon Doty.

She says that resistance usually fades after she hands out her literature, and delivers her message.  And, Doty says the most important part of it is to never dismiss any accusation made by a child.

"We defer to the adult because we know the adult, because we have a collegial relationship with them. We're actually saying to that child, you really don't matter," said child advocate Sharon Doty.

Doty has recently worked with the Mounds, Mannford and Bristow school districts.  She says she hopes to add Tulsa Public Schools to that list.