AT AIDE’S SCHOOL, QUESTIONS, SHOCK
Maria R. Commins, a 39 year old Greenport Elementary School teacher's aide, was arrested for raping and serving alcohol to a 15 year old boy in a Riverhead hotel room. The boy is a friend of Commins' son, and both the woman and the victim told police they were in love. Police said the pair also had sexual contact on at least one previous occasion in Commins' Ford Taurus. In the close-knit Greenport School District, where one building houses students from kindergarten through 12th grade, even first-graders have asked their teachers about what happened to Commins, an assistant in the cafeteria during lunch hour, and a sought-after aide who shifted between three first-grade classes. Experts said there are signs that parents and administrators can look out for, things like spending time together outside of an academic setting; giving age-inappropriate gifts; and any radical change in behavior, like falling grades and reclusiveness.
WATCH OUT FOR THE SIGNS:
Many instances of childhood sexual abuse are never reported; often, months and even years can pass between the time an adult and a child first meet and when the rape takes place. Here are some things parents can look out for:
- Adult spends time with the child in a non-academic setting.
- Adult stays after school with the child, when other student aren't around.
- Adult buys the student gifts.
- Adult e-mails and text-messages the child.
- Adult involved in transporting them outside of school.
- Child no longer hangs out with peers his or her own age.
- Any radical change in behavior, such as dropping grades and shying away from a particular person, environment of gender.
Sources: Robert Shoop, Dr. Mic Hunter and Mike Lew