Thank you to the San Jose Northwood PTA Board for allowing Keep Kids Safe to have a conversation about sexual abuse in our schools. There is Q & A at the end of this summary.
One in ten kids graduating this year will have been the target of educator sexual misconduct in their school years. The fact is, sexual abuse in a school setting is a major problem. It’s not just teachers that are responsible for sexual misconduct. It’s also coaches, administrators, bus drivers, and security guards. In summary, it can be anyone who has access to a child during school hours or on school grounds.
Keep in mind; predators go to where the children are. Schools understand this. You should recognize this as well. Listen to your child. Sometimes kids know more than teachers about what is going on. But, because kids don’t understand the significance of what they heard or saw, it is up to you to connect the dots and take action by reporting the behavior.
The warning signs of sexual abuse
If we know what to look for, then we can prevent the abuse of kids. There are easy to recognize “red flags” which precede almost every sexual assault. Here are some examples of behavior that parents should immediately report to the principal:
- Hugging or kissing or other physical contact such as touching or tickling
- Engaging in peer-like behavior – trying to be like one of the kids
- Gifts for no legitimate educational reason
- Preferential treatment or favoritism
- having a special relationship with a student
- special privileges
- seeing kids during non-class time such as lunch or recess
- allowing a child to get away with inappropriate behavior
- One-to-one time
- Covered windows and closed doors
- Dirty jokes
- Contact outside of school hours
- Taking the student on personal outings or inviting to their home without supervision
- Use of personal email or texting or social media
Some of the behavior may be innocent lapses of judgment. But by confronting the rule-breaking early, it helps everyone avoid misunderstandings. If the conduct is indeed innocent, it won’t happen again. Keep in mind that by observing professional boundaries, it will help protect everyone. But by allowing continuous boundary invasion, it will allow a student to get used to the behavior and even believe that it is OK. And that’s what a predator wants.
Taking the first step
Knowledge of red flag behavior is crucial, but as a parent, knowing what to do is even more important. It starts with reporting it to your principal and then ensuring that your complaint becomes part of a centralized system by also reporting it to the School District Human Resources Department. This allows someone to determine if there is a pattern of inappropriate behavior. Then follow up until you get answers. 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.
Questions by parents:
Mandated reporter training for teachers?
Teachers and administrators receive training on their responsibility as a mandated reporter. That means they are provided training to identify and report a child that has already been sexually abused. There is no mandate for teachers and employees to be proactive and learn how to stop sexual predators before they molest that child.
Peer to peer abuse
There are cases of children who sexually abuse other children. This concept can be difficult for parents to imagine or even believe, but it’s vital to know the difference between age appropriate sexual behavior between children and age-inappropriate behavior that can be classified as abuse. Learn more about peer to peer sexual abuse.
What steps can I take if my child is abused physically by a fellow classmate?
It takes courage for kids to share with their parents that they are being bullied. It is painful and humiliating for a child to express that victimization. Thus it is imperative upon the parents to be their child’s champion and take steps to stop the bullying. Start with the school principal but also talk to anyone else at the school who can be of help until you get the problem resolved. That includes going to the school board or even the police if you believe your child is in danger.
Good touch & bad touch
The idea of having a difficult conversation might seem even scarier than finally breaking down the “birds and the bees”. To make it easier, we have gathered eight tips to talk to your children about good touches and bad touches.
Kids love to hug. How to tell them who they can hug and who they can’t.
We often are forcing our kids to hug very distant relatives that to them they don’t even remember. Then we wonder why sexual abuse occurs so frequently by a family member. When kids are taught their whole lives that they should respect people in authority, it becomes very hard for them to say ‘I was touched in an inappropriate way.’ Learn more about teaching kids about consent.
Continue the conversation. Comments? Questions?