The “Stop Harassing Underage Teens Act” passed the Florida Senate Wednesday, as reported at TCPalm. The legislation reclassifies penalties for sex offenses committed by “a person over the age of 18 employed by, volunteering at, or under contract with a school.”
The unique thing about HB 485 is that it was written by students.
Four students from Armwood High School wrote the law after being “fed up” with teachers getting light sentences for engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with students.
“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,” said one of the authors of the legislation, Senior Elyse Chinowth.
As reported at Liberty Unyielding, it is not an overstatement to say that teachers engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct with their students is an epidemic in America. Steve Gunn, editor-in-chief of EAG News has been one of the few journalists tackling the unreported abuse. In February, he wrote that every day “there are at least three or four new reports of teachers being arrested or sentenced for having sexual relations with students.”
According to local news source WJHG,
“In the last three years alone, more than 150 Florida teachers have lost their teaching licenses after being accused of sexual misconduct with a student.”
It is very likely that this number is low, as oftentimes teachers are not held accountable for their criminal conduct, such as in the case of Jennifer Fichter, who was forced to resign due to an inappropriate relationship with an eighth grader. However, Fichter did not lose her teaching license and was hired by the Central Florida Aerospace Academy, where she had a sexual relationship with at least two of her students. During a call with the mother of one of her victims, Fichter “admitted she became pregnant with the teen’s child and had an abortion,” as reported at the Tampa Tribune last month.
Watch a local news report discussing the legislation: