It is every parent’s worst nightmare – that their child will be sexually abused when they go to school. Schools should be a safe place for kids to learn and enjoy time with their peers, but we know that the sexual abuse of children invades every corner of society. Many parents never thought they would have to worry about this, but they need to be vigilant. There are certain things that parents should be looking out for when it comes to school sexual abuse.

What different types of abuse can occur in schools?

Understanding that not all school sex abuse looks the same is important. Abuse can happen in various ways in the K-12 setting.

Teacher – Student Abuse

This is the most commonly thought of type of abuse when it comes to the school setting. In many cases, a teacher is the closest adult to a child aside from the child’s parent. A teacher can groom a child over time into a sexual relationship.

Student – Student Abuse

This type of abuse is overlooked in the school setting, but it happens. Sex abuse by a child’s peers or by older students is often considered rape and needs to be taken seriously.

Coach – Student Abuse

Students involved in sports spend hours with their coaches. Just like teachers, a coach can groom a child (often over the course of years), into a sexual relationship.

Other Staff – Student Abuse

There are other staff members in a school who can abuse children. This includes administrators, guidance counselors, school psychologists, maintenance workers, janitors, and more.

What we know about school employee sexual abuse

Victims of school abuse span most demographic characteristics. Those most likely to be sexually abused in the school setting are:

  • Lower income
  • Female
  • High school students

Research shows that sexual abusers tend to target victims who appear needier, are picked on by others, do not have a good home life, or are disabled.

What should parents look out for?

You cannot be with your child at all times, but you can be in tune with how they are acting. You need to keep an open line of communication with your children. From an early age, teach your child about inappropriate sexual behavior and what it looks like. Let them know they can tell you anything without fear of being punished. Be involved in your child’s life. Get to know their teachers and coaches. Talk about these people openly and ask questions.

Learn and be on the lookout for the warning signs of child sexual abuse. This includes:

  • Behavior signs:
    • Changes in hygiene (refusing to bathe or bathing excessively)
    • Signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Suicidal thoughts or self-harm behavior
    • A drop in grades
    • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors
    • Nightmares or bed-wetting
    • Returns to regressive behaviors, including thumb sucking
    • Runs away from home or school
    • Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical contact
  • Physical signs
    • Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in the genital area
    • Bloody, torn, or stained underclothes
    • Difficulty walking or sitting
    • Frequent urinary or yeast infections
    • Pain, itching, or burning in the genital area

If you suspect your child is being sexually abused, contact law enforcement. Speak to an attorney about your best options moving forward. Contact our office to discuss your situation with us over a free, no obligation consultation. We can help you.