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Schools are supposed to be safe spaces for children. As a parent or guardian, you cannot be with your child all the time. It is important to be able to rely on teachers, school administrators, and other school staff to keep your children safe. But what happens when schools fail to protect children? What happens if you discover that your child has been sexually abused at their school?
The signs of child sexual abuse are not always immediately apparent. Many cases of sexual abuse go undetected for long periods of time. Parents should look out for any changing behavior their child displays that could be a clue that sexual abuse is it occurring. This can include:
It can be easy to miss the signs that school sexual abuse is occurring because these behavioral changes often mimic what many parents would consider “growing up” behaviors of their child, especially if that child is going through puberty.
Sexual abuse in schools generally does not happen right away, but rather gradually over longer periods of time. It is often a teacher who takes a special interest in a child, a coach who gradually integrates themselves into the child’s life more and more, or a new friend from school who spends time with your child.
Perpetrators of school sexual abuse will work to build the confidence and trust of the child in what is called the “grooming process.” Grooming is all about control – the control of the abuser over the child.
School sexual abuse between an adult and child often happens in the following gradual ways:
We need to understand that school sexual abuse can occur between two children at the school (often an older child perpetrates abuse on a younger child). This type of sexual abuse can mimic the type between an adult and a child. It can also include:
The truth is that approximately 90% of children who are sexually abused know the perpetrator of the abuser. Approximately 34% of the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members, while around 59% are other acquaintances (such as teachers, coaches, or other school employees). Some studies show that as many as 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older and more powerful children.
If your child is a victim of sexual abuse at school, contact a school sexual abuse attorney at our law firm to seek justice and restitution.