Rock Center uncovers sexual abuse of foreign exchange students

*Trigger warning*

Last night on Rock Center with Brian Williams, reporter Kate Snow covered the disturbing problem of foreign exchange host parents who sexually abuse the teenagers who come to stay with them.

The story was broken by Anna Schecter, the same woman who recently uncovered sexual assault and abuse cover-ups in the Peace Corps. Schecter discovered that the abuse of exchange students by their hosts is widespread, and has been consistently mishandled; one host father was not fired by the exchange organization he worked with, even when allegations of sexual abuse came to light.

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As Cara Hoffman wrote at her blog yesterday, “we’re used to reading about the connections between poverty, isolation, silence and sex crimes.” But in this case, the US Government is involved, and the stakes are much higher:

…the piece Schecter broke, which is about foreign exchange students who’ve been sexually abused in a program overseen by the State Department, reveals how perpetrators are protected at various institutional levels, while victims are told to keep their mouths shut…

Like Schecter’s earlier piece on how rape of Peace Corps volunteers has been systematically covered up, this story shows us again how American institutions put their reputations and their wallets before the lives of victims.

Part two of the Rock Center report is here, and transcripts are available at the site.

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Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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