How Does Sexual Abuse Happen in Public Schools?

Sexual abuse happens frequently in K-12 schools across the country. Students, administrators, and teachers can all be parts of the abuse. Administrators have even covered up sexual abuse in the past. How does this happen? Keep reading to learn more about how abuse occurs and what can be done to prevent it.

School Abuse vs. Sexual Misconduct

School abuse is when a person in a position of power abuses a student sexually. For more information, contact The Gomez Law Firm. Sometimes, a teacher abuses, sometimes a coach, and sometimes it is another school faculty member. Sometimes, the abuser can even be another student. Adults misuse their authority and prey on more vulnerable students. When an adult abuses a child under the age of 18, it is considered an act of child sexual abuse. Usually, sexual offenses against a minor will have greater consequences when they are reported to the police. 

Sexual misconduct sexual behavior that is unwanted. In sexual harassment, verbal, visual, or physical advances are made against a victim. Similarly, sexual assault is when conduct or behavior of a sexual nature is performed without willing agreement by a victim. This can range from touching to rape. Sexual abuse usually refers to sexual activity with someone who does not or is not able to give consent. Victims are often minors, elderly people, or people with disabilities.  

Sexual Abuse by Teachers

While school sexual abuse cases seem to have less media attention than Catholic Church sexual abuse cases, they still happen frequently. Approximately one in ten students will be sexually abused sometime in their K-12 schooling experience. School administrators have made this even worse by covering up incidents and not reporting them to authorities.

Sexual Abuse by Other Students

Not only do teachers abuse students, but some students sexually abuse other students as well. Some studies suggest that there are seven times more cases committed by other students than by teachers. Interestingly, there is minimal information on school abuse. This is mostly because it is underreported and there aren’t always accurate or consistent records.

Differences in Schools

Sexual abuse in public schools is common. Because not all states require districts to track sex abuse, school officials and teachers do not report abuse to local authorities. Some parents and students have even had to file law suits on their own.

Religious school students experience sexual abuse, too. Many of the priests who have been accused of abuse in the Catholic Church scandal were teachers in Catholic schools. They abused students in the schools as well as in the church. Historically speaking, moving students from public schools to private schools has not prevented them from being sexually abused.

Even students on college campuses fall prey to sexual abuse. Various news articles and court documents have identified times when young adults have been sexually abused by professors, administrators, or coaches.

Reporting Abuse

Sexual abuse can be reported to anyone in a school, and they have the responsibility to report to their school administrator. Another way to report abuse is to file a Title IX complaint. This will result in the school investigating the misconduct. This kind of investigation is separate from a criminal investigation. Finally, abuse can be reported to the local police. 

Sexual abuse is a tragedy happening in our schools. The more we work to understand how and when it happens, the more likely we are to stop it.