Many people mistakenly believe that schools are a safe place for their children to learn and grow. However, sexual abuse is more common in schools than you think. In some cases, teachers and school staff begin grooming children for sexual abuse as young as pre-k, and the abuse can continue until graduation. Sex abuse can occur in any type of school – public, private, prep schools, schools affiliated with a church, and even day care or preschool centers.
Some estimates put student sexual abuse numbers at more than 80,000 per year. However, many times a child is too scared to tell anyone about their abuse, so many more cases go unreported. Moreover, it is often hard to prove the abuse even happened at all.
As far as school sexual abuse, a report published in 2000 provided evidence that approximately 10% of students will encounter some form of sexual abuse while in school. In real numbers, this means that almost 4.5 million students between kindergarten and grade 12 will be sexually abused by an employee of the school. Another 3 million will experience sexual touching or assault. Children can experience all types of sexual abuse at the hands of educators, but the most frequent allegations are of lewd comments or sexual insults made, forced exposure to pornography, being looked at in the locker room, inappropriate grabbing/fondling/touching, and sexual assault. If you watch the news, you will see high profile cases involve school employees performing sexual acts on children. One pedophile who was recently in the news was accused of fondling second graders, and he bound and blindfolded multiple students in order to force them into sexual activities, which he photographed.
Sexual abuse is not limited to just teachers. Assailants can be school counselors, school psychologists, principals, headmasters, school administrators, bus drivers, coaches, assistants, janitors, and others who are in positions of power and trust. Many children are at school and with teachers more than with their parents, which means there is ample opportunity for the child to form a close, trusting relationship with the adult.
School predators know that they possess this power over the students. They use this power and trust to manipulate the child and develop a close friendship. This causes the child to feel conflicted about the abuse, sometimes believing they must have asked for it, or that it is okay because of who the abuser is. These thoughts, coupled with a sense of loyalty for the abuser, can cause many children to self-blame and never tell anyone that the abuse occurred.
There are many consequences to sexual abuse. Children can become depressed, lash out, partake in inappropriate sexual behaviors, begin abusing drugs or alcohol, develop low self-esteem, self-harm, or have suicidal thoughts. If left untreated, the child may grow up unable to trust others or to form healthy adult relationships. Getting help for a victim of sexual abuse is essential and can include calling a sexual abuse hotline, reaching out to a counselor, or finding a support group.
There are laws in place that try to protect children from sexual predators, but they do not solve the problem. Parents should speak with their children about what is an appropriate relationship between an adult and child, what to do in uncomfortable situations, and what to do if they feel assaulted. Parents should always iterate that sex abuse victims are never at fault. If your child has already been a victim of sexual abuse, take him or her to the hospital and contact the police. Charges can be filed against the perpetrator, which can get them away from your and others’ children.
The attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm are proficient in the complexities of proving sexual abuse cases in the schools. We are here to takeyour call 24 hours day, seven days week.
During your consultation, we will discuss the merits of your case with you and point out the strengths of your case so you are able to make an informed decision about proceeding.
We will also notify you of your rights and answer any questions that you may have. After your case consultation, we will let you know how we can be of assistance with your sexual abuse case and secure the justice that you deserve.