Former vice president Joe Biden wants teachers to “touch” their students and tell them they love them.

“What happens to your students when, in fact, they do poorly?” Biden asked the crowd at a public education forum for 2020 Democratic candidates hosted by MSNBC on Saturday.

“Most kids don’t say, ‘oh, I’m going to work harder!’ It’s ‘I can’t do it’ … then they use that excuse, ‘well, I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to do it.’

“You’re teachers who touch them, figuratively speaking,” he said, drawing nervous laughs from educators in the audience. “Well, I hope you touch them and tell them how much you love them, too, but my point is when you touch their hearts …”

Biden’s choice of phrasing is interesting in the context of a national epidemic of educators sexually abusing their students, a problem that often starts with seemingly innocent touching and flirting in class.

Roughly one in 10 public school students reported being a target of sexual attention from school employees in a major 2004 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.

Charol Shakeshaft, the Hofstra University researcher who conducted the work, estimated the problem with educators sexually abusing students is undoubtedly far worse than the public realizes.

“Think the Catholic Church has a problem?” she told CBS News in 2006. “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

Over the last 15 years, the cases of educators sexually abusing students have exploded further, aided and abetted by social media and instant messages that provide teachers constant contact with students.

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Virtually every modern case of educator sexual misconduct now involves teachers or other school employees cultivating relationships with students through private messages after school hours. Perpetrators then leverage the bond – often with vows of “I love you” – into sextracurricular activities inside and outside of school.

Every year, thousands of educators across the country are investigated for getting too friendly with students, and while some eventually lose their licenses, many others are simply let go with a letter of recommendation to secure employment elsewhere.

Biden’s call for a more hands-on approach in the classroom is also odd coming from a man who has struggled with his own problems keeping his hands to himself.

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The 77-year-old was besieged early in his campaign with complaints from female colleagues who don’t appreciate his tactile politicking, which involves a lot of shoulder rubs, long hugs, waist holding and hair sniffing.

Several of the female politicians Biden has fondled over the years testified about the experience in the media, but many of the encounters were recorded on video during various swearing-in ceremonies and other events with the former VP.

There’s so many cringeworthy clips that folks online have complied highlight reels of “Creepy Uncle Joe,” while the mockumentary Dummycrats highlighted the VP’s antics for the big screen in 2018.