Days after an eighth-grade boy reported being sexually assaulted by another student at Pickens County Middle School, CBS Atlanta News has learned children charged with serious sex crimes are being placed back into Georgia classrooms.
"It's definitely a problem," said Jennifer Bivens, president of the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault. "There are confidentiality laws in place to protect juveniles which we understand, but the problem it presents is that victim and other potential victims are put in a situation where there's a perpetrator on their campus."
School administrators are required to be notified when a child charged with a crime returns to school, but a previous CBS Atlanta investigation found that did not always happen.
CBS Atlanta News has not been told whether the aggressor in the Pickens County incident has a history of sexual assaults.
Lt. Kris Stancil, of the Pickens County Sheriff's Office, said the male victim was hospitalized Thursday with serious injuries that he said were caused when a fellow classmate attacked him in the school bathroom.
Investigators reviewed video from school security cameras and interviewed witnesses but have not charged anyone with the crime.
A review of crime data from Metro Atlanta schools revealed few incidents of sex crimes. We found two reports of child molestation but no reports of sexual battery or sodomy in the last three years. Some question the accuracy of the data since it's self-reported by the school districts.
Bivens said her experience leads her to believe that sexual assaults among teenagers and preteens often go unreported.
She said school districts are mandated to provide rape prevention education but said there is little teeth in the law to enforce that.
"When you're talking about the severity of this crime in general, I think that we need to be looking at ways to prevent sexual violence," Bivens said.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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