Could it happen in Iowa?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The inappropriate actions by a U.S. Senator toward teenage pages serving in the nation's capitol have raised questions about the safety and emotional well-being of the approximately 50 pages who serve state legislators in Des Moines.

Fortunately, it appears that reasonable precautions are being taken to protect the pages in Iowa. Most are high school seniors selected for their maturity. During orientation, they are shown videos and lectured on sexual harassment and good behavior.

Pages do not have social contact with legislators outside of the work day except for an annual picnic that is well-chaperoned.

Does all of this prevent the possibility of pages receiving inappropriate attention? No, but short of 24-hour parental supervision, there is no way to absolutely protect young people from the dangers of the outside world.

It is unfortunate that we have to inform youngsters that adults, even adults in positions of authority, cannot automatically be trusted to do the right thing. However, we cannot make that warning so overwhelming that either youngsters or their parents are too terrified of the world to venture out into it.