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.
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.