My wife turned to me and smiled after we registered our daughter for kindergarten at Ila Elementary School several weeks ago.
“It seems like a happy place,” she said. And I agreed.
With a 4-year-old daughter and an infant son, we will spend the next decade as Ila parents. Our daughter is excited about the school. And so are we. It’s a good school. We’re pleased that we’re in the Ila district.
But I’m also personally relieved that last week’s horrifying bombshell hit before our children ever stepped in that door. And I feel very sorry for all of the children, teachers and administrators who now must question every interaction they had with Barry Bailey, the Ila PE teacher arrested last week for allegedly possessing and distributing child porn. I feel sorry for those kids and school employees, too, because it is painful to see an institution you take pride in share a headline with such ugliness.
I think of those children at Ila who had Bailey as an instructor. How exactly do you explain why he’s no longer there? I don’t anticipate any birds and the bees talks with our children for some time. And I certainly can’t imagine opening the door to such delicate discussions with a look at the most twisted form of human lust. Inevitably, at least for some kids, there will be a forced loss of innocence that accompanies such news that is really sad, a way of looking at the world with some lost comfort.
For instance, I took some snapshots for the newspaper at the county Easter egg hunt Saturday. I took one child’s picture, but he ran away before I could explain who I was and get his name. By the time, I reached him and his mother, I realized that to him, I was a strange man with a camera. He was obviously spooked. I imagine last week’s news played into that fear, but given the way the world is, I certainly can’t fault the child for feeling that way. His response was appropriate. But I find that pretty sad, too, a recognition of the real ugliness in the world. How do you distinguish the safe from the unsafe? Really, you often can’t.
There is currently no evidence that any local children were involved in the child porn that Bailey allegedly possessed. But any parent has to feel completely freaked out and infuriated at the thought of their kids in close proximity to someone like that, someone looking and talking with their child with that in their head.
Of course, the school system can’t be blamed for this terrible problem, because short of a government-mandated history check on a potential teacher’s hard drive, there’s no way to screen for such behavior. Likewise, background and reference checks are tools to use, but limited in what they can reveal of a person’s real character.
So, it’s good to know that law officers are out there patrolling the Web for this sort of behavior. Those who peddle and possess child porn on the Internet must realize that they have a high probability of getting busted. The fact that people do this anyway speaks to the power of the darkness that drives them. Call it a deep sickness, twisted wiring, or just plain evil. Those who seek such thrills know they may well get busted, yet they still persist.
And anyone with such dirtiness in their mind must recognize that any action on such desires is going to lead to an outpouring of public rage. They can’t plead ignorance. They know the wrath is coming.
While public displays of rage sometimes take nasty tones — with some venturing into a particularly gleeful hate that is another form of human uglinees — what’s really nasty is indifference. For instance, the apologists for the pedophiles in the Catholic Church have repeatedly pushed those priestly criminals out of one church and into another, where they find other victims. When this happens, church leaders appear to value an institution more than the innocence of the children they’re supposed to serve. I just can’t understand this. What if a company, not a church, repeatedly had this problem? It would go out of business. There is no institution that can overlook or hide such terrible sin and still maintain its integrity. And I’m glad that the local case does not bear any relation to such institutional problems. The motto of Madison County schools is “putting our children first.” And I believe that motto is certainly the first consideration for local leaders on such a troubling issue.
Anyway, I look forward to having all of this behind us. The kids, teachers and administrators of Ila Elementary did nothing to deserve such a troubling episode. Over the years, the school has earned numerous accolades for its academic achievements. It is a respected place, a happy place. And we look forward to the years ahead and all the great things about the world that our children will learn at Ila Elementary School.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
Great article : down to earth. Still find it difficult or confused family members who would be in his home (like I am in my families homes and use their computors and pop ups occur or human nature to hit history button ) did not have some sense of what occurring. Did this person date ? If not it is unusual for a 46 yr old male not to date or have a history of dating in their 30s/early 40s or at least I have never known one that is straight or alternative not too. That said good article.