Child Sexual Abuse in Schools
Whether child sexual abuse occurs in schools between fellow students or instigated by teachers, the effects can be equally as devastating for the victims.
It is also often an extremely unnerving experience for any child to speak about. Many simply stay silent.
It’s often up to parents, other teachers, or friends to recognize the signs and raise concerns.
Unfortunately, it occurs far more frequently in U.S. schools than most people realize. The laws are changing, though, making it more difficult for perpetrators to escape liability for their crimes.
At Andreozzi + Foote, we are committed to helping all victims of child sexual abuse in schools, whatever the circumstances.
Sexual abuse in schools by teachers and peers
Inappropriate sexual behavior should not be tolerated anywhere but when it happens to children in a school, it is particularly unsavory.
Children are meant to feel safe and protected in educational establishments – from pre-schools to public and private schools, as well as colleges and universities. Teachers in these establishments are in positions of authority and parents have entrusted their children to their duty of care.
For their position of power to be abused is something that should not go unpunished.
Unfortunately, not only has it gone unpunished in the past. Known child abusers have simply moved to other establishments and repeated their criminal behavior.
School sexual abuse includes everything from the most serious instances of child rape to charges of groping or slapping. It can happen to girls or boys.
Student-on-student abuse is alarmingly common, even though teacher-student cases get more headlines. In fact, according to one analysis of federal crime data, for every adult-on-child sexual assault, there are seven such assaults by students and around one in 20 of these are on victims as young as five or six years old.
Unfortunately, many crimes go unreported or treated as bullying so the numbers are likely to be far greater than those reported.
Abuse can happen within school toilets, in playgrounds, in classrooms, as well as on school transportation or while students are on field trips.
This is a tough subject for many to confront but the more people who understand the signs of sexual abuse, the more perpetrators will be brought to justice.
Signs of child abuse
Many of the most common signs that a child is being sexually abused may also have other explanations. This can make it challenging to uncover.
For instance, the child may be suffering from other problems at home, like parental abuse or being bullied.
It is, therefore, important to confront these issues with the aid of professional assistance, if necessary.
Depending on the age of the child, typical signs of school sexual abuse may include:
- An uncharacteristic and sudden decline in academic performance
- Reluctance to come to school or attend specific classes
- Self-destructive or aggressive behavior
- Depression and anxiety
- Signs of withdrawal and exhibiting fear
- Changes in eating habits
- Disciplinary issues
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Creating sexually explicit or violent artwork
- Suicidal thoughts
School sexual abuse by teachers: What is “passing the trash”?
While reporting sexual abuse by teachers is mandatory in most states, it may not be mandatory for the school to share the information that emerges from an investigation into child sexual abuse with other schools.
This effectively means that one school that has dismissed a teacher due to suspected abuse does not have to inform other schools of this.
The same teacher may be able to walk into a job with another school in the same state (or another state) – a situation known as “passing the trash”.
For the school in question, quietly moving a teacher on may be preferable to facing liability issues and the wrath of parents, as well as a damaged reputation, locally. It is often seen as beneficial to sweep the problem under the rug.
Children are further placed in danger of abuse by serial abusers and predators by the appeal system.
If a teacher is accused of sexually assaulting a student and is reported to the CCTC to revoke their teaching license, he or she can appeal the decision – a process that can be very lengthy.
Another problem is that if a teacher has his or her license revoked in one state, it does not automatically mean that a license will not be issued in another state. Again, the “trash” is passed from one state to another without any resolution of the problem.
In 2016, the USA Today reported on “fundamental defects in the teacher screening systems used to ensure the safety of children in the nation’s more than 13,000 school districts” and that “States fail to report the names of thousands of disciplined teachers to a privately run database that is the nation’s only centralized system for tracking teacher discipline”.
A system of cover-ups, incomplete teacher background checks, and poor guidance from the U.S. Department of Education have contributed to the problem of school sexual abuse.
What to do when sexual abuse in schools occurs
The laws vary across the U.S. for dealing with child sexual abuse but, wherever you are located, there are legal steps that you can take to seek justice in the event of abuse in school.
If your child has been mistreated by school leadership, teachers, other school employees or other students, it is important to get legal advice from the professionals at Andreozzi + Foote.
We will start with a free case evaluation that will help you answer questions such as:
- What legal steps can I take if my daughter reported that a teacher sexually assaulted her?
- What can I do if I reported the abuse to the school but no action has been taken?
- Should I address the issue of abuse with the teacher directly or with the school?
- What do I do if the school denies any wrongdoing?
- How do I handle an accusation against my child’s coach?
- What steps can I take if my child has been sexually abused by other students?
Our sexual abuse attorneys have extensive experience bringing cases against private and public schools, school districts, bus companies, colleges, and universities throughout the country. We hold educational institutions that enable sexual abuse and assault accountable through civil litigation.
If you or a loved one are a victim of school sexual abuse, call us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at 877-214-3238, or contact us online.
- Private School Sexual Abuse.
Children are sadly vulnerable to sexual abuse in private schools. We have experience handling cases brought against private schools for their failure to protect children from sexual abuse by teachers, coaches, staff, volunteers, and other students.
- Public School Sexual Abuse.
Children are vulnerable to sexual abuse in our public schools. Public school sexual abuse cases are often legally difficult to prove, but we have experience handling cases brought against public schools for their failure to protect children from sexual abuse by teachers, coaches, staff, volunteers, and other students.
- School Bus/Transportation Sexual Abuse.
Children are often poorly supervised on the bus to and from school, field trips, or other school activities. Because of this reality, children are vulnerable to sexual abuse on school buses and other school transportation. This could include sexual abuse by a school or bus company employee, or by another student. Often, school bus sexual abuse is captured on video camera, which is only preserved for a short time, so it is imperative that you act quickly. We have experience handling cases brought against bus companies that transport students and fail to protect them from sexual abuse.
Sexual Abuse in College and University
Our firm is best known for representing more than a dozen of Jerry Sandusky’s victims in claims against Penn State. As the Sandusky/Penn State scandal proved, children are vulnerable to sexual abuse at universities and colleges by coaches, professors, staff, and other students.
Our lawyers have extensive experience handling cases brought against colleges and universities. We have the resources to take on any college or university, even America’s largest educational institutions, like Penn State.
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We have provided guidance and discrete legal counsel to clients nationwide in many major metropolitan areas & states, including:
Verdicts and Settlements
Verdict of $88,000,000
Settlement of $12-Million
Settlement of $10-Million
NEGLIGENT SECURITY HOMICIDE
Verdict of $1.75-Million
Verdict of $1.53-Million
Settlement of $1.4-Million
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When you and your child are victims of a horrid crime it’s hard to understand why things are the way they are. Information and answers are what you want, but unfortunately the system doesn’t offer that. Nathaniel has fielded and patiently listened to a broken mother wanting nothing more than for someone to help her understand why she has no answers, and through these phone calls Nathaniel has been very informative, honest and upfront. I would recommend Nathaniel and this firm to anyone who is seeking answers, help and professionalism in a firm when going through such difficult times.
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