Is your child suffering sexual or physical abuse at school? We can help you navigate the complicated Orange County court system.

Physical and Sexual Abuse at School

Schools are a place where hundreds of kids gather every day in what parents expect is a safe, healthy environment. A place where our children can learn and grow. Our teachers, coaches, and other school personnel in authority promise to respect our children’s space and maintain proper relationships. Fellow students are expected to behave and not harm or abuse each other.

But sometimes inappropriate behavior happens. Our children are betrayed by those in authority or are harassed by their fellow students.

So to help you know whether a child is being abused, here are some warning signs. These are from the website of the U. S. Department of Justice Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). This is a site we highly recommend and the lists below are directly from it.

Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent:

  • Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation.
  • Seems distracted or distant at odd times.
  • Has a sudden change in eating habits.
  • Refuses to eat.
  • Loses or drastically increases appetite.
  • Has trouble swallowing.
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity, or withdrawal.
  • Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues.
  • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places.
  • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child.
  • Writes, draws, plays, or dreams of sexual or frightening images.
  • Talks about a new older friend.
  • Suddenly has money, toys, or other gifts without reason.
  • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty, or bad.
  • Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language, and knowledge.


Behavior you may see in a teen:

  • Self-injury such as cutting or burning.
  • Inadequate personal hygiene.
  • Drug and alcohol use.
  • Sexual promiscuity.
  • Running away from home.
  • Depression, anxiety.
  • Suicide attempts.
  • Fear of intimacy or closeness.
  • Compulsive eating or dieting.

Issues We Have Helped Clients with in School Abuse Cases

Teacher and Coach Physical and Sexual Abuse

How prevalent is sexual misconduct in the nation’s schools? And what constitutes sexual abuse by a teacher or coach?

According to Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.), a nationwide survey of 8th – 11th graders found nearly 7%, or 3.5 million students, report physical sexual contact from an adult, usually a teacher or coach, while in school. These children report “…unwanted touching, on breasts, buttocks, and genitals; forced kissing and hugging; oral/genital contact; and vaginal and anal intercourse.”

Additionally, educator misconduct that didn’t include touching but was reported by even more students included sharing of pornography, sexual talk, sexual exhibitionism, or masturbation. Click here for a PDF titled, “Know the warning signs of educator sexual misconduct” by an expert in the field, Charol Shakeshaft.

If you notice the warning signs and believe an adult in your child’s school is behaving inappropriately, let us know. The list of mandated reporters in California school systems who must report suspected abuse is long. Mandated reporters are required to report abuse by law, and if they don’t, they may be found negligent.

In the end, teacher and coach physical and sexual abuse can start and stop with each individual adult working in the school system. You can help schools meet their mission to provide a safe, healthy learning environment by legally pursuing misconduct. And we’ll help you do that. 

Sexual Harassment of Students by Students

California law AB-329 requires students in the 7th through 12th grades to get educated on sexual harassment and assault. They learn that past generations’ gender stereotypes are no longer acceptable in today’s society.

Masculinity is not just an expression of power and dominance any more than femininity is submissive. These attitudes have the potential to foster sexual assaults. Respect for each other regardless of gender is the new way schools are teaching kids to get along. Hopefully, it will lead to a reduction in sexual harassment suffered by too many students.

Surprising and Often Shocking Stats on Social Media Abuse

If your kids are using social media, we highly recommend you take a look at the U. S. Department of Justice website (see NSOPW site above) for valuable information on abuse via technology. For parents, social media is figuratively right under their noses, but often difficult to clearly see or get a handle on.

Some of the facts on the extent of sexual abuse among youth on social media will surprise you. Here’s what we found (we feel that these are so important that we are presenting them to you word for word):

  • Approximately 1 in 7 (13%) youth internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations.
  • 9% of youth internet users had been exposed to distressing sexual material while online.
  • Predators seek youths vulnerable to seduction, including those with histories of sexual or physical abuse, those who post sexually provocative photo/videos online, and those who talk about sex with unknown people online.
  • 1 in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact.
  • In more than one-quarter (27%) of incidents, solicitors asked youths for sexual photographs of themselves.
  • The most common first encounter of a predator with an internet-initiated sex crimes victim took place in an online chat room (76%).
  • In nearly half (47%) of the cases involving internet-initiated sex crimes victims, the predator offered gifts of money during the relationship-building phase.
  • Internet-based predators used less deception to befriend their online victims than experts had thought. Only 5% of the predators told their victims that they were in the same age group as the victims. Most offenders told the victims that they were older males seeking sexual relations.
  • 15% of cell-owning teens (12-17) say they have received sexually suggestive nude/seminude images of someone they know via text.
  • Of respondents to a survey of juvenile victims of internet-initiated sex crimes, the majority met the predator willingly face-to-face and 93% of those encounters had included sexual contact.
  • 72% of teenagers and young adults believe that digital abuse is something that should be addressed by society.
  • 11% of teenagers and young adults say they have shared naked pictures of themselves online or via text messages. Of those, 26% do not think the person whom they sent the naked pictures to shared them with anyone else.
  • 26% of teenagers and young adults say they have participated in sexting (12 different forms of sexting were examined), a 6% decline since 2011.
  • Nearly 40% of young people in a relationship have experienced at least one form of abuse via technology. A large majority (81%) say they rarely or never feel their significant other uses technology to keep tabs on them too often.

Case Barnett Law Can Help

We specialize in Child Injury Law and can help you navigate the often complicated process of reporting physical and sexual abuse at school.

The thing parents must realize is that your child may require ongoing psychological help if he or she has been traumatized by a teacher, coach, or other adult in authority. You deserve just compensation for not only pain and suffering but also these ongoing expenses.

Also, schools should be held to a higher standard, so if your lawsuit gets a predator out of the system, you have done your community a service. If you have questions or think you might have to sue your school district, give us as call.

We are at 949.861.2990 or request a consult here.