What Does Sexual Abuse in California’s Schools Look Like?

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What Does Sexual Abuse in California’s Schools Look Like?

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Posted By DAM Firm | January 17 2020 | Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Abuse

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?

Recognizing the signs of sexual abuse

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:

  • Major changes in grooming or bathing habits
  • Suddenly wearing inappropriate clothing (clothing that shows more of your child’s body or clothing designed to hide as much of their body as possible)
  • Excessive amounts online or phone time that is out of the ordinary
  • Withdrawn behavior, secrecy, or isolation
  • Sudden panic or anxiety attacks
  • Destructive behaviors such as drug or alcohol use
  • Suicide attempts

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.

Who are the perpetrators of school sexual abuse?

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.

There are varying ways in which school sexual abuse occurs

School sexual abuse between an adult and child often happens in the following gradual ways:

  • Innocuous texts or emails related to school events or homework
  • Gradually becoming inappropriate texts, emails, or other communication from a school teacher, other school employee
  • Hugging, kissing, or cuddling as a “friend” that can be trusted
  • Physical assault or rape

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:

  • Online attacks through social media
  • Teasing and harassing comments in front of other people
  • Sexual hazing, which is often swept under the rug as being a natural part of school and/or sports
  • Threats of physical or sexual assault
  • Physical assault or rape

How often does this occur?

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.

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