Jennings and Shimkus? To tell or not to tell…

Two unrelated items that got me thinking.

1. Rep. John Shimkus, chair of the House Committee that oversees the Page Program has taken lots of heat over his handling of suspicious communications between Mark Foley and underage boys. The Springfield (IL) Journal-Register wrote today: “Shimkus has faced criticism from both parties for not telling the other two page board members last year when the parents of a former page complained that Foley had asked their son to send him a picture of himself. Members of both parties also have said that Shimkus and others who knew about the e-mail should have conducted a more thorough investigation.”

2. Kevin Jennings and GLSEN want to be a part of a proposed White House conference on bullying. Fair enough. I disagree with GLSEN most of the time about this issue. For instance, GLSEN recently criticized a research-based bullying program being used now by the state of VA because sexual orientation was not specifically named in the curriculum. On the contrary, the Olweus program is a fine program that most often gets good results and will make most schools safer.

Seeing Kevin Jennings quoted in the context of current events made me think about how he handled a Shimkus-like issue many years ago when he was a teacher in private school. A young man, Brewster, disclosed to Mr. Jennings that he was engaged in sexual relations with an adult male. Mr. Jennings revealed this to no one at the time. A detailed summary of the Brewster stories is here.

Back to current events, Mr. Shimkus is now being widely criticized for not disclosing the Foley incident, even though, apparently the young man did not want the events disclosed.

Should Mr. Jennings have handled Brewster, the 15-16 year old boarding school charge, differently or was his Shimkus-like approach correct?