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Allegations of misconduct by B-E band director should concern us all

All of us want to believe that when we send our children to school, they are in the hands of adults who genuinely care about them. We believe that the teachers, coaches and extracurricular activity advisors will treat students fairly and respectfully. However, though the names and places may change from time-to-time, the story line reads the same, “teacher, coach, bus driver, principal,” etc., arrested for allegedly having inappropriate contact with an underage student.

Last week, Michael Miller was arrested for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl. Miller was the band director at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School before he officially resigned at his February 5, 2010 Bamberg bond hearing. By all accounts, Mr. Miller was, and (still is) considered to be a well-liked person.

Depending on whom you talk with, Mr. Miller was a dedicated band director who had earned the respect of his students and band members. While I could certainly tell the readers once again what has already been written in several newspapers and reported on even more television news stations about the Miller charges, I thought it would be more appropriate to discuss the consequences of rumors, allegations and, even more important, the consequences of criminal convictions. Additionally, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity share some of the characteristics of a typical child predator.

Especially when unfounded, negative rumors and allegations can be just as devastating to those involved as confirmed information can be. Though my experiences with Mr. Miller have been very limited, I find Mrs. Miller to be kind, professional and goal oriented. I currently serve as president of the Bamberg- Ehrhardt High School Improvement Council and have heard many encouraging and promising reports about the. While all teachers are expected to exemplify professionalism and demonstrate self-control; at this time, no one knows what Mrs. Miller read on the student’s and /or her husband’s cell phone to behave in such a way that is so uncharacteristic of the school administrator.

Two otherwise young and upcoming Bamberg County professionals may have lost their livelihoods. Both have spent more than four years educating themselves and working even longer to achieve their professional and personal goals. How many marriages would be able to survive this kind of test. Combined with the financial loss that the Millers will endure, a diminished wellbeing and lost of reputation, their lives will be heavily influenced because of the strain of this ordeal for many years to come.

Already, Mr. Miller has been confronted with the long and complex process of judicial progression. The process can be expensive, extensive and mentally and physically exhausting for everyone involved.

Regardless of the outcome, the Bamberg community has been scared by the allegations alone. Is it possible that such a seemingly otherwise upstanding educator, husband and role model could also be a child predator? Of course it’s possible, as was stated earlier, the characters may change, but the storyline is all too familiar.

Many seem to have forgotten about the real victim in all of this - - a fourteen year old girl. If the allegations are true, this 14-year old child believed that she was in love with 37-year old married man. She believed that he needed her affection and consolation. This 14-year old child apparently found solace in believing that she could be more of a benefit to him than his wife. Even more compelling, she believed that this 37-year old man could provide her with something that she was obviously missing and wanted. Only she knows what that is or what she thinks it is. Moreover, the psychological affects and social stigma associated with such allegations will more than likely have an everlasting detrimental affect on the emotional well-being of the student. Adults, especially those in positions of power such as teachers and pastors have a tremendous amount of influence over our young people. Far too often, these persons whom we trust to have a positive influence in the lives of our children, are more then willing to misuse that influence.

No adult should put him or herself in the position to be accused of having any type of inappropriate relationship with a minor. If a relationship between a child and an adult appears to be abnormal or unhealthy, it probably is. As a retired educator and coach, I have been privy to more information than one person should have to endure involving co-workers who were “textbook case” child predators.

“The typical sexual predator is very immature in his or her understanding of intimacy. It is like they really want closeness, but they lack the skills to feel satisfaction and trust. These feelings of frustration erupt into anger many times, and it is in this stage that the individual can become dangerous. Their acts are desperate. They try to find intimacy and caring for themselves, but when they can't find it in appropriate ways, they demand it or find a child who has little resistance. It is common to find parents of sexual predators also weak in skills of affection. Consequently, they cannot train or offer to meet these needs for their child. And then the cycle continues."

Child predators are charismatic and very good at what they do.

According to Protecting Your Children from Sexual Predators, by Dr. Leigh M. Baker, some of the characteristics that can be found in child predators include:

•Often offend where they won’t get caught — when they have misdirected people’s attention
•Often married or in relationships
•Offend when the victim is handy
•Not always strangers, often family members, family friends and neighbors
•Adults find them attractive
•Good manipulators (seduction is an integral part)
•Overly self-indulgent
•Sexualize, objectify women
•Users of various kinds of pornography
•Typically known as rationalizers, intellectualizers, justifiers
•Great helpers — are there to lend a helping hand — prey on people in need, when they can insinuate themselves in your life
•Use stressful and vulnerable situations to get in — they find a need they can fill and they use that to get next to the victim

Common Attributes of Child Molesters:

•Pedophiles are notoriously friendly, nice, kind, engaging and likeable.
•Pedophiles target their victims, often insinuating themselves into that child's life through their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies.
•Pedophiles are professional con artists and are experts at getting children and families to trust them.
•Pedophiles will smile at you, look you right in the eye and make you believe they are trustworthy.

-- from A Profile of the Child Molester

All of us have the responsibility to protect our children from child predators. Children deserve the right to enjoy their adolescent years without being subjected to predatory behavior.

As for the school district and community, this too shall pass, but not this week or next week. This process is going to be lengthy and painful to the Millers, other students and staff and most of all a 14-year old victim was probably seeking something that we all desire---to be loved.

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