Abuse of students by teachers is offensive because of the trauma it causes the young victim not only at the time, but also later in his or her life. And it shatters the trust children have for adults in authority.
We send our kids to school with the secure belief in their safety. We confidently hand the responsibility for their wellbeing to the professional educators, coaches, and other school personnel in charge of them every day.
The safety of your children is a major obligation of the schools in California. But every once in a while something goes wrong.
Teacher Abuse of Children in School
According to a paper published by the U. S. Department of Education, the most accurate estimate for the prevalence of students nationwide who have experienced educator sexual misconduct is 9.6 percent of students.
The educators involved could be exclusively interested in abusing children or they may be the kind of people likely to exploit any sexual situation. Therefore, it is difficult to categorize abusers as an easily identifiable danger. According to the DOE paper on abusive educators, “Many are those most celebrated in their profession.”
The paper also lists the percent of student targets by the job title of the offender.
- Teacher 18%
- Coach 15%
- Substitute Teacher 13%
- Bus Driver 12%
- Teacher’s Aide 11%
- Other School Employee 10%
- Security Guard 10%
- Principal 6%
- Counselor 5%
Various studies showed that most perpetrators are male. Anywhere from 80% to 96% are male employees and from 4% to 20% female employees.
How Does Abuse Happen?
Students are taught to trust teachers in school. Predators select victims based on the compliance of the student and the likelihood of secrecy. They give the student extra attention, accolades and offer support and understanding. This slowly progresses into increasing touch or other sexual behavior.
Studies suggest that sexual abusers in schools use many different strategies to snare students. They are dishonest with them. They try to separate them from others and make them feel a part of their unethical activity.
Abusers take advantage of young, naïve kids by intimidation and threats or by manipulating the child’s affections. In this way they keep the child from telling another adult about the situation.
So it’s important that parents and caregivers pay attention to the signs that their children might be victims of abuse at school.
Warning Signs Your Child May be a Victim of Teacher Abuse
Do you suspect that your child is suffering from abuse at the hands of a teacher or other adult in authority at school? If so, what are the warning signs?
To answer this question, we highly recommend the website of the U. S. Department of Justice Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). The lists below with the signs of abuse 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.
California and Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Child Abuse
California law mandates that school system employees must report suspected abuse. The California Department of Education (CDE) website lists signs of abuse for teachers to be aware of in their students.
We’ve taken these warning signs of sexual abuse in children directly from the CDE website:
- Trouble walking or sitting.
- Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
- Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
- Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
- Has a sexually transmitted disease (STD) especially under the age of fourteen.
- Runs away from home.
Of course, these are the signs that teachers, administrators, and other school employees would look for in students to detect sexual abuse from any adult. But they do apply if a fellow teacher is the abuser. If school employees do not act on these signs, they and/or the school system can be held liable.
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 your child has a problem with abuse by a teacher, give us a call at 949.861.2990 or request a free, no obligation consultation here.