Schools are supposed to be safe. Teachers and staff are to support children while they learn and develop. But some teachers and staff take advantage of vulnerable children.
If a teacher, principal, or staff member sexually abuses a student, the school can be liable for the sexual assault or abuse that occurred on school property. If the sexual assault or abuse happened at an off-campus, school-sanctioned event, such as a field trip or school dance, the school can also be liable.
Signs that your child may have been sexually abused
Look for red flags. Perpetrators try to hide their misconduct, which makes it difficult to uncover sexual abuse. Some warning signs that your child has been sexually abused include:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Trauma to the genital area
- Inappropriate sexual behaviour for the child’s age
- Bedwetting (if the child has outgrown this behaviour)
- Being afraid to be alone with certain people (especially if this is new behaviour)
- Avoiding bathing or changing clothes
Emotional warning signs include:
- Excessive knowledge of sexual topics
- Excessive worry
- Fear of being alone at night
Filing a lawsuit against a school
A teacher or school administrator who sexually abused a student might be arrested and charged with a serious crime. A civil lawsuit may also be filed against the school district, if the school failed to provide a safe learning environment for its students by failing to properly vet instructors and staff with background checks, or failing to report the abuse or assault, or failing to enforce its own zero-tolerance policies.
What if sexual abuse was committed by another student?
If a student sexually abused or assaulted another student while at school, the school district may also be liable if it knew of prior similar misconduct and acted carelessly when it discovered the prior misconduct. It’s the school’s responsibility to ensure its students are safe by installing security cameras, proper lighting, and other safety measures in its hallways, classrooms and outdoor areas.
Public, Charter, and Private Schools
Sexual abuse and assault are crimes regardless of whether it happens at a private, charter, or public school. Each school system will have its own set of rules for students and staff to follow. But public schools that take federal funding have strict standards for reporting sexual abuse and assault.
In California, persons who are mandatory reporters, such as teachers and school administrators, must report child abuse to the local child welfare department or law enforcement, if they have knowledge of it. After a report of childhood sexual abuse or assault is made, the police will investigate the incident and determine if any arrests should be carried out.
Identifying signs of sexual abuse in your child is difficult. If your child has been a victim of sexual abuse at school, it’s important to seek help from a law firm that handles sexual abuse cases. Contact Seber Bulger Law in Beverly Hills today.