We've previously detailed WorldNetDaily's weird, highly seclective obsession with female teachers (and only female teachers) who work in public schools (and only those who work at public schools) who get romantically involved with their students.
The obsession flares up again in a Dec. 20 article by Drew Zahn carrying the headline "'Cougars' preying in the classroom: Why are so many female teachers targeting boys for sexual abuse?" The word "cougar" to describe a female teenager preying on students appears nowhere in the article itself, and Zahn really doesn't prove that "female teachers targeting boys for sexual abuse" is the problem the headline suggests.
Like WND managing editor David Kupelian before him, Zahn leans heavily on a 2004 study by Charol Shakeshaft, commissioned by the Department of Education that painted the teacher-student sex problem as worse than the recent Catholic priest sex abuse scandals. As we pointed out when Kupelian cited Shakeshaft's study, her numbers are extrapolated from other previous surveys -- her study is subtitled "A Synthesis of Existing Literature" -- and she does no direct research to support them. And even Kupelian conceded that one criticism of Shakeshaft's work called it "a misuse of the data" and that Shakeshaft herself "acknowledged many factors could alter the analysis."
Further, as a June 2004 Washington Times article noted, the National Education Association criticized Shakeshaft's study for conflating reports of harrassment with reports of actual sexual abuse.
None of these caveats about or criticisms of Shakeshaft's study appear in Zahn's article.
Zahn goes on to write: "If female employees are responsible for 40 percent of those crimes, that means America could be facing an average of more than 11,000 instances of women abusing students in school each year – in other words, more cases in one year than were reported in 50 years of Catholic priest abuse." But raw numbers are irrelevant; what is the percentage of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse versus the percentage of female teachers? Zahn doesn't answer that question.
Zahn also writes that, according to Shakeshaft, "nearly 10 percent of U.S. public school students have been targeted with unwanted sexual attention by school employees, and in those cases, 40 percent of the perpetrators were women." That would mean that 60 percent of the perpretrators are men. Zahn doesn't explain why he's focusing on why "so many female teachers targeting boys for sexual abuse" when so many more male teachers are doing the same thing. If there are more male teachers who are sexual predators than female ones, isn't that the bigger problem?
Zahn concludes by citing Kupelian himself, repeating his previous claims that "the ultimate answer ... is rooted in a society that has lost its spiritual moorings." But as we also pointed out when Kupelian first asserted this, Kupelian seems unable to grasp the idea that one doesn't have to be a fundamentalist Christian like himself to oppose adults having sex with minors. After all, there is a nonreligous basis for laws against sex with minors -- you don't have to be a fundie to agree that a minor cannot consent to sex by virtue of simply being a minor.
Again, we have to ask: Why the creepy obsession? Why only female teachers when the problem with male teachers is larger? And why only at public schools when the problem exists at private religious schools as well (as we've noted)?
Actually, the answer to the latter question is pretty easy: WND's employees, almost to a person, homeschool their children, and that leads to a corresponding hatred of "government schools" (never mind that sexual abuse also occurs to homeschooled children as well).
Which leaves the answer to the former question. There's some clear misogyny going on here, since WND refuses to expose male teachers to the same criticism. But how deep is it? Do Joseph Farah, Kupelian, Zahn, et al, think their wives should be little more than barefoot and pregnant, stuck at home until the last kid is married off?
How about shedding some light on this, guys?
UPDATE: WND has changed the headline to get rid of the "cougar" reference; it now reads, "Why are women teachers so hot for students?"