Childhood sexual abuse in a school setting is a major problem. Research shows that nearly one in ten kids graduating this year will have been the target of educator sexual misconduct in their school years. It’s not just teachers that are involved in sexual misconduct. It’s also coaches, administrators, employees, and volunteers. In summary, it is anyone who has access to your child during school hours.
Sexual Predators Seek Vulnerable Children to Prey Upon
The reality is that we don’t catch predators abusing children. Instead, we catch them breaking the rules and crossing boundaries. The process is “grooming,” whereby a predator sets out to gain the child’s trust, break down defenses, and convince the child to engage in the desired sex act. Every predator needs trust to molest a child. Knowing the warning signs or red flag behaviors can help stop a predator before they can hurt a child.
Red Flag Sexual Abuse Behaviors
- Touching or tickling
- Preferential treatment
- One-to-one time
- Covered windows / closed doors
- Dirty jokes
- Lap sitting
- Contact outside of school hours
- Use of personal email or texting or social media
The knowledge of red flag behavior is important, but as a parent, knowing what to do is even more important.
It starts with reporting the behavior to your principal and then ensuring that your complaint becomes part of a centralized system that can tell if there is an ongoing pattern of behavior. Proper documentation can be used to spot a pattern of inappropriate conduct. If there is no documentation and everyone is given one free complaint, then no one will ever have a second complaint on record against them.
The Damage is Devastating
The harm caused by sexual abuse is devastating, and it doesn’t go away in time. Experts will tell you that the younger the child – the greater the harm. Typically victims exhibit these behaviors over their lifetime:
The effects of sex abuse go beyond the victim. It impacts their family. It affects us as a society.