Acker case shows kids’ caretakers must be on watch

When the Alabaster Police Department announced last week former teacher Daniel Acker Jr. had admitted to sexually abusing at least 21 girls at various Alabaster schools over 25 years, the Shelby County Reporter website and Facebook page exploded with comments, most of them angry and many of them sad.

By most accounts, up until last week Acker was a respected man in the Shelby County community. He was a well-loved retired educator, a former youth minister and a part-time school bus driver for the Shelby County school system.

After his arrest, many expressed shock that Acker was capable of such alleged crimes.

However, his arrest follows a disturbing pattern seen recently across the nation and even the world — well-known, trusted people in authority positions taking advantage of that authority to commit child abuse.

Every person who is responsible for children must take note and learn from this awful situation.

Parents, teach your children what is appropriate touching and what is not. Let your children know they can — and should — tell you about any situation that makes them uncomfortable.

Let them know they can trust you to believe them.

Educators, youth ministers or anyone else who is charged with looking after children, listen to your charges. Pay attention to them. Learn the signs of child abuse and what you should do if you recognize those signs. Also, work hard to make sure you are not in a position where your actions can be misinterpreted.

Acker’s alleged crimes are terrible, and likely changed the course of several young women’s lives. To protect Shelby County’s children, our community must come together, constantly vigilant against predators.

If we work together, we can ensure nothing like this happens again.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.