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Jonathan Rosenfeld
J.D

June 29, 2023

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Child sexual abuse can happen in any setting, but it is more prevalent in places wherein adults are in a position of power and authority, such as in school.

Unfortunately, child sexual abuse cases are rising, and many parents remain unaware of the risks. 

According to the US Department of Education, around one in ten children experience sexual harassment or misconduct by school employees, most often teachers and coaches.

However, the problem is severely underreported and may be more prevalent than what statistics show.

If a teacher or school employee sexually abused your child, you can seek legal action.

Our Chicago teacher sexual abuse lawyers can help you and your family pursue justice and ensure that at-fault parties are held liable for their actions.

Contact a sexual abuse lawyer at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.

Teacher Sexual Abuse Lawyer

What is School or Teacher Sexual Abuse?

School sexual abuse is criminal sexual conduct involving physical contact between a student and a teacher, coach, or other school employee.

This abuse also includes sexual harassment or unwanted sexual attention from the school’s employees. 

Sexual abuse can take many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Kissing
  • Making sexual comments
  • Exposing one’s self
  • Taking explicit photos or videos 
  • Sending inappropriate texts, videos, or other media
  • Sodomy
  • Rape or attempted rape

Any sexual behavior with an underage student is considered child sexual abuse.

A sexual relationship between a child and an adult is always sexual abuse since minors cannot legally consent to sexual activities with an adult. 

On the other hand, sexual relations between an adult and a minor above the age of consent may be considered sexual misconduct if it occurs between a school employee and a student.

Schools have policies and ethical regulations that ban relationships between teachers and children, even if the student is above the age of consent.

What is Grooming?

Grooming occurs when a perpetrator creates false trust in the child and desensitizes them to sexual behaviors while keeping the “relationship” hidden.

In school, groomers often target vulnerable children, isolate them, fill their needs, and maintain control over the relationship once the child trusts them.

The child will often feel “special” due to the extra attention from an abuser and may not deem the relationship inappropriate despite being aware of social taboos around teacher-student relationships. 

Where Can School Sexual Abuse Happen?

Child abuse can happen in any educational setting, including elementary, middle, high, and college campuses.

It is also a widespread problem in summer camps, religious groups, sports teams, and other settings where adults have spoken authority over children.

However, research shows that child abuse is more common in poorly-funded public schools and boarding schools where children are isolated from their families.

Who Are the Perpetrators?

Unfortunately, an offender can be anyone, including:

  • Teachers and coaches
  • School administrators
  • Other staff members (e.g., custodians, school bus drivers, etc.)

School Sexual Abuse Statistics: Teacher or Coach Sexual Abuse

Several studies reveal the prevalence of sexual abuse of students by teachers and other school staff.

According to a 2004 report by the US Department of Education, approximately one in ten children experience sexual abuse from a staff member before graduating high school. 

The report explains the characteristics of the typical abuser:

  • Male
  • Well-liked
  • Likely has been recognized for their excellent performance at their job
  • Average age is 28

The researchers noted that perpetrators may act differently depending on their “target” age range.

Offenders targeting seventh-grade or younger students are usually considered good educators, using their reputations to abuse children.

On the other hand, predators who go after older high school students may not have reputations as “excellent” as offenders who target younger students.

Sexual abuse and misconduct in this age range are usually less planned and more opportunistic. 

A 2017 case study by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) describes the typical victim of school sexual abuse:

  • Female high school student
  • Low-income background
  • May appear unhappy, bullied, or needy

The Impact on School Sexual Abuse Victims

Sexual abuse can have many physical, emotional, and psychological effects, especially on a child.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), sexual abuse survivors are susceptible to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Panic attacks
  • Eating and sleep disorders
  • Suicide or suicidal ideations
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Pregnancy
  • Flashbacks
  • Persistent fear and paranoia

Child abuse’s physical and behavioral effects may also lead to certain diseases, such as malnutrition from eating disorders and cancer from substance abuse. 

Furthermore, child abuse survivors may suffer secondary impacts on their relationships, school, and future, including but not limited to the following:

  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Self-isolation 
  • Loss of school or work opportunities
  • Low-self esteem
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Revictimization

Child abuse victims may suffer these impacts well into their adult lives.

According to RAINN, adults who were sexually abused as children may keep their experiences a secret and live through the effects for years.

Adult victims are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Regardless of age, school sexual abuse survivors need medical attention, therapy, counseling, and other forms of support to recover. 

Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

It may be difficult for parents to recognize the signs of sexual abuse because victims tend to hide their experiences due to shame or do not realize that an adult is mistreating them.

Nevertheless, here are some common warning signs of school sexual abuse:

  • Sudden changes in behavior, e.g., social withdrawal
  • Poor performance at school
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviors or knowledge
  • Problems with sleeping, eating, and hygiene
  • Regressive behaviors, e.g., thumb-sucking, bed-wetting
  • Bruising, swelling, or bleeding around the genitals
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Seek medical attention if you suspect your child has been a victim of violence. Call the police and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) immediately to report the incident.

It also helps to notify the school so it can take disciplinary actions against the abuser.

If a school employee sexually abused your child, you can file a report to the local police.

Sexual assault and sexual relations between an adult and a minor are always considered child abuse, a criminal offense. 

If your child is over the age of consent and had a sexual relationship with an educator, you could report the offender to school administrators for sexual misconduct.

The perpetrator may face suspension, termination, and other disciplinary actions.

Additionally, you can file a personal injury claim against the following:

  • The Perpetrator: A child abuse offender can be a teacher, coach, teaching assistant, or any other staff member.
  • The School: Employees of the Chicago Public School system are mandatory reporters of child abuse, meaning they must report inappropriate behavior to the police and the DCFS. Failure to report school abuse could mean the school was negligent in preventing sexual abuse of children.
  • Other Staff: School staff members have also mandated reporters of any child abuse. Neglecting to report the sexual abuse of a child could make them liable for criminal charges and civil damages.

Potential Damages

Victims can file personal injury claims against perpetrators, schools, and mandated reporters to seek damages for the following:

  • Medical Care: Costs of hospitalization, medication, therapy, and other medical care expenses.
  • Lost Wages: Salaries, wages, and revenue lost while caring for the child.
  • Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for emotional distress and pain caused by the abuse.
  • Reduced Quality of Life: Financial compensation for quality of life lost due to the abuse, including missed school days and lost educational opportunities.

Seek Help from a Teacher Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today

Schools have a legal duty to protect every child from abuses of authority by educators and other staff members.

Most importantly, teachers are supposed to create a safe environment for their students, not use their position of power to abuse innocent children.

Our school sexual abuse lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, will defend your legal rights and help you seek damages against the offender, your child’s school, and other responsible parties.

Contact our personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

Our sexual abuse lawyers handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. This agreement ensures you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.

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