Sexual abuse against a child is unimaginable, yet this tragedy occurs more often than most people realize. One of the most tragic facts surrounding sexual abuse crimes is that those we trust to care for our children are the perpetrators inflicting the abuse. Darkness to Light, a non-profit organization created to help child sexual abuse victims and empower adults to prevent these tragedies, reports more than ninety percent of child sexual assault victims know their abuser. Many of these abusers are community leaders who have won our respect and trust because we didn’t know the ugly truth about them until it was too late.

Community Leaders within the School Systems

The school was a place we all thought our children could go to as a safe haven. Teachers, coaches, and the administration were all thought to be in those positions as their main priority was to keep kids safe as they received an education. Schools are expected to provide a safe learning environment for all students, and parents are supposed to enjoy peace of mind knowing their child is safely within the walls of these institutions.

All school officials, whether teachers, teacher’s aides, administrators, and whoever is employed by the school districts are by law mandated to report any form of child abuse, especially sexual abuse to the authorities. Sadly, this reporting requirement does not always happen, and reports of misconduct are ignored without the proper investigation.

The job requirements to be employed in a school district involves close and constant contact with children. For this reason, all employees who are being considered for a position within a school district are expected to undergo a complete background check to look for any form of illegal criminal activity on their records. School districts are also responsible for investigating any employee behavior that one has reported to be suspicious or possibly harmful to any student.

It is the affirmative responsibility of each school district in this country to supervise every child entrusted to their care. Sadly schools have not always followed these guidelines set up for the protection of our children. Some schools have placed protecting their image over those of protecting our kids as a higher priority. It is an unconscionable and criminal act, but there are cases where sexual abuse was conducted by coaches, teachers, or other district employees that was concealed by the school to protect their community standing.

Betrayal of School Leaders and Employees Involved in Sexual Abuse

As a parent, the knowledge of finding out your child has been sexually abused while you assumed they were safe behind school doors is devastating, and one of the worst betrayals of trust. Employees of a school no matter their employment position is supposed to be trusted and responsible adults committed to caring for children of all ages. Those who are expected to care for your child include:

  • School administrators
  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Maintenance workers
  • Visitors coming into the school
  • Parents coming into the school
  • School nurses
  • Counselors in the school
  • Those who work in the after-school programs
  • Any other school employee

The American Association of University Women reports there are one in ten students between the 8th grade and 11th grade who report being victims of sexual abuse by one of their teachers or other employees within the school.

Teachers hold the highest record of becoming sexual predators to children in their care when compared to other school employees. These teachers are often in a position where they work closely and alone with students. The authority they have over the student puts them in a position of power to prey on their victims. A disturbing fact is that sexual predators will look for these types of professions where they know they will be allowed to meet, groom, and abuse children.

Under the law in California and all other states, school employees are deemed mandated reporters. Being a mandated reporter means any employee who thinks or suspects sexual abuse is occurring, is required, under the law, to report the situation to the authorities. Immunity is granted to anyone making a report even if it turns out to be wrong, so even if there is a rumor about questionable activities, the behavior should be reported.

While all employees of the school are mandated reporters, what is not mandated under the law is for the school district to disclose information to other schools in California when they have placed a teacher or other employee on leave while a claim is being investigated. This non-disclosure act is called ‘passing the trash.’

Another sad fact concerning teachers who are suspected of sexual abuse against a child is a teacher can have their license revoked by the CCTC (California Commission on Teacher Credentialing), but it does not mean they cannot get a new license in another state and resume a teaching career. This fact means that a teacher may lose their license in Colorado for molesting a child, but will be allowed to move to California and apply for a new teaching license.

How to Recognize Signs of Sexual Abuse When Your Child is a Student

It can often be difficult to recognize signs of sexual abuse in children, but there are some to watch for such as bruising around their anus, pelvis, or genitals, they may display difficulty in walking or sitting or experience pain when going to the bathroom. All these are signs of abuse at any age, and behaviors can change depending on the age of the child:

  • Younger children
    • Will show regression in their behavior like acting younger than they are by performing habits such as thumb-sucking or bed wetting
    • Play more aggressively with other children or toys
    • Display a resistance to going to bed or having a bath when you are asking them to remove clothing items
  • Older children
    • Displaying moods such as depression, anxiety or talking about suicide
    • Causing injury or harm to themselves such as cutting
    • Developing self-destructive behaviors like taking drugs or drinking excessively
    • Trying to conceal as much of their body as possible by wearing clothing that is over-sized, or going the other direction and wearing clothing that barely covers their skin
    • Drastic changes in personal hygiene or their daily grooming habits
  • Any age child
    • Sleep disruptions such as developing nightmares
    • Sudden change in eating habits either not eating or eating excessively
    • Moods and behavior shifts
    • Writing, drawing or painting sexually explicit or violent art

Steps to Take if You Suspect a Teacher is Sexually Abusing a Student

If you suspect a student or your child is exhibiting signs that may be caused by sexual activity and you believe a teacher or other member of the school staff is responsible for molesting the child, you need to take steps to protect him or her:

  • The first thing you want to begin with is to talk to the child and find out if your suspicions are true. If the child confirms they are being molested, you must call the authorities immediately.
  • Take the child to your local hospital and explain your suspicions and request they perform a rape kit right away.
  • If there are any signs of bruising, ask the hospital staff to photograph them so that you can give them to the police for evidence.
  • When the police arrive, you should stay with your child as talking to the police can be scary. Judge the child’s reactions as some are more comfortable with a known person beside them, others prefer to tell their story without another adult in the room. Follow the child’s wishes, so they are comfortable and able to tell their story.
  • If the child involved is your child, your first instinct is to approach the teacher in question and deliver your own form of punishment. Do not let your emotions get the best of you during this time. Taking matters into your own hands will make the situation more uncomfortable for your child, and you could face legal consequences, which means you can’t even be with your child during this horrible time. Let the police handle the contact with the abuser.
  • You are going to need legal representation if the sexually abused child is yours. Once you know your child is well and safe, and you’ve contacted the authorities, it is time to call an attorney. Stop Sexual Abuse Law firm has the experience needed to handle these very delicate and disturbing sexually abused child cases.
  • Shut your social media profiles off and do not post any of the events or your child’s pictures. You cannot post your thoughts or opinions on these sites as it will harm your case against the abuser.

Boy and Girl Scout Leaders Responsible for Sexual Abuse

Youth organizations are a valuable community resource in many areas across the country. Parents rely on these groups to provide physical activities for their kids to participate in, some need them as alternative places to go to safely until the parent arrives to pick them up or meet them at home, and these organizations often provide skill-based learning for our kids. What the scary factor is in these organizations, is that sexual predators seek out positions with these groups to prey on our children. Groups must have a safe and secure method of checking backgrounds to prevent these predators from gaining access to kids.

School staff members, teachers, and coaches are not the only ones we assume protect our kids and instead end up sexually abusing them. According to a national news source, the Boy Scouts of America estimates more than 7,700 of its former leaders abused children sexually over the more than seventy years it has been in operation. The data was obtained from a volunteer screening database which lists why Boy Scouts volunteers were taken off and banned from the organization's list of volunteers. The reason listed on the database states why someone is being banned, and it was discovered a number of allegations involved sexual abuse.

The volunteer screening database used by the Boy Scouts of America is supposed to eliminate the chances of any person on the list from becoming a leader, volunteer, or staff member with any Boy Scout organization in the country. It is the policy of the group that any staff member nationwide report any suspicion of sexual abuse against one of the scouts to be reported immediately to law enforcement agencies. The Boy Scouts clearly state that if one is added to their database, they are removed entirely from any scouting program.

It is now a requirement that all BSA staff members report suspected sexual misconduct within the scouting program, and they are going over older files to ensure those put on the database for sexual misconduct has been reported to authorities. Dr. Janet Warren, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, is working with the Boy Scouts of America to evaluate how they handle sexual abuse within the organization. From files dating back to 1944, she and her team discovered 7,819 cases where it was suspected the child was involved in a sexual abuse situation. When they finished reviewing all the files, the numbers jumped to 12,254 victims.

Boy Scouts of America released a statement of apology after Dr. Warren’s findings were published expressing their deepest sympathies to the victims. Administrators with the BSA stated they believe victims, support them, and want to pay for counseling any victim feels is necessary. The BSA went on to say that there is nothing more important to them than the protection and safety of children joining the scouting programs and they are outraged that sick individuals took advantage of their programs to abuse innocent children.

Critics of the BSA state they need to be more open with their database and alert people as to who is on the list that is a potential threat to children’s safety. The BSA has never released any of the names on their database to the public, or to any community alerting them that a specific teacher, coach, or scout leader is a known child molester. If one of these predators places themselves in a position of trust to commit sexual abuse, it is essential they get prosecuted, and the victims get the assistance they deserve and need. Stop Sexual Abuse Law firm dedicates themselves to prosecuting these sexual predators.

Sexual Abuse Committed by Officers of the Law 

We have discovered the staff inside our schools are not always the safest for our children, and then the Boy and Girl Scout organizations are not always the most reliable either, so we shouldn’t be surprised to learn a large number of police officers are also guilty of committing sexual abuse. In one study, it was discovered the police officials commit misconduct, which involves forms of sex-related crimes and their victims are often under the age of 18.

Being a police officer presents numerous opportunities to engage in sexual deviance against citizens they come across. Many officers work alone and are usually free from supervision either from the administrators or fellow officers. In their line of duty, the police often come into contact with vulnerable citizens, criminal suspects, or those considered to be suspicious - these types of people are easily subject to the authority of the police officer.

Most of the sex-related offenses committed by police are in the late-night hours as the public visibility is low and this time of day presents more opportunities to an officer who wants to take advantage of citizens and force them into believing they have to perform acts of sexual deviance to avoid punishment from the law.

Data on sex-related police misconduct of individual officers who perpetrate sexual assaults, rapes, and acts of sexual molestation exist within journalistic accounts and popular literature. The IAPC (International Association of Police Chiefs),  knows there is a magnitude of problems concerning this issue, and they have held roundtable discussions as well as adopted policy recommendations that relate to sex-related misconduct. A problem with these cases is they are ‘hidden offenses’ because they go unreported and therefore hard to document and study.

Police misconduct committed against victims who are being told they’ve broken the law and must perform a sexual act to refrain from being arrested are intimidated and seldom report the incidents. The victims feel humiliated, and they often fear retaliation from the offending officer, so this is another reason many crimes go unreported. These reasons make the data hard to gather appropriately along with the fact that many officers and organizations are reluctant to expose cases of police misconduct, especially those related to sexual assault.

Most of the data related to police misconduct involving sexual acts show there are many forms of misconduct that include sexual contacts initiated by police groupies or other females who are mentally disturbed or lonely. Many officers will accept offers of sexual services for providing favors such as additional protection or preferential treatment of whatever crime they have arrested a person.

Because an offender is part of law enforcement does not give them immunity to breaking laws and suffering the consequences every other citizen is expected to adhere to. These predators are like any other sex-offender and must be reported.

Social Workers and Sexual Abuse

As regulated professionals, social workers are required to maintain professional boundaries at all times when they are in the presence of a client. These professionals are expected to ensure a sense of trust with the public and the people they work with, and any sexual contact is strictly forbidden. Beginning with the Hippocratic Oath they take before beginning practice; social workers have promised to keep away from all intentional wrong-doing or seduction with other men or women.

The term ‘sexual abuse’ when applied to a social worker is any sexual intercourse or form of sexual relations between a social worker and their client. This term also applies to touching a client in any sexual manner or displaying behavior that has a sexual nature when with a client. Social workers are also prohibited from making sexual remarks to their clients, such as commenting on their physicals features like breasts or genitals.

There are boundaries set up that define the expectations and roles of the social worker and their clients. The only relationship that is allowed to exist between social workers and their clients is a professional one, which is centered around the client and the care they need. The only relationship should be one that is therapeutic. One of the most harmful forms of boundary violations a social worker can commit would be the sexual abuse of a client.

Sexual misconduct between clients and their social workers can take a variety of forms. Sometimes it includes explicit sexual behavior such as intercourse, fondling, or oral sex. Sexual misconduct can also involve suggestive, sexual behavior, or using sexual humor and making vulgar remarks about a client’s physical features such as their breasts or genitals.

If a social worker should engage in sexual conduct with a client and disregard the prohibition of their profession, or even try to claim that their situation is an exception to the prohibition due to specific circumstances, their actions are still against the code of ethics one should follow in their profession. It is the social workers, never the clients, who will assume the full responsibility of demonstrating the client has been exploited, coerced, or manipulated, regardless of whether or not the actions were intentional or unintentionally.

Data suggests some social workers or clinicians struggle with their own mental defects, which often take the form of narcissistic, impulse control along with antisocial personality disorders. Other social workers lack competence around professional boundaries, and others are just situational offenders.

The situational offender understands ethical standards surrounding sexual misconduct, yet they violate professional boundaries in spite of what they know. For these social workers, an unexpected breakdown in judgment occurs because of something traumatic that has happened in their personal lives, such as a divorce or possibly something that has gone wrong in their career. Social workers in this group will express remorse for their misconduct and typically stop unethical behavior.

If a social worker has violated someone you know, or you through a sexual act, your first step is to request them to stop immediately. The abuse should then be reported to a person in authority as well as to law enforcement.

Find a Community Leader Sexual Abuse Attorney Near Me

Victims of sexual abuse from a community leader they trusted deserve the best representation available. Compensation is available for all who have been abused by a community leader.  Call Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm at 310-359-9451 and speak to an attorney who will walk with you and help you receive the compensation for damages you deserve.