It's unfortunate, but the sexual abuse of children occurs at schools more than parents can imagine. It happens in both public and private schools, at all grade levels, including colleges and universities. Further, many cases of child sexual abuse in schools go unreported. Children may be too afraid or embarrassed to speak out, they don't know how to report it, or they may be too young to understand that the abuse is happening. In some cases, children report sexual abuse and are not believed, or school administrations cover up the incident. Schools may be held liable in civil court in these situations and others.
Faculty and staff at schools are responsible for protecting the children in their care and providing them with a safe environment. The first step to preventing sexual abuse is taking any allegations of harassment, bullying, assault, or other abuse seriously and dealing with it immediately. School staff may be able to protect children when they respond appropriately to incidents they witness or are told about.
School abuse, including sexual abuse, may be committed by teachers, coaches, staff, school volunteers, or other students. It may also occur at afterschool programs and on school busses. Therefore, school administrations must perform thorough background checks on all potential employees and volunteers to prevent sexual predators from becoming employees at schools and having access to students. Doing so allows schools to protect students from reported abusers better.
Another important part of preventing child sexual abuse in schools is ensuring that faculty and staff are appropriately trained to identify signs of abuse in students and how to handle reports of abuse.
Preventing sexual abuse at schools may also be accomplished by training staff and faculty on consent and emphasizing the importance of consent in students' health or sexual education classes. The students also need to be educated about what types of behaviors may be harassment or grooming, so they can recognize when things someone is saying or doing to them are not okay. This must be done in age-appropriate ways but should be started early.
It's also essential that students of all ages have trusted adults at school who are available if they are uncomfortable with how someone is treating them. Students need to know that they have someone who will advocate on their behalf if they feel uncomfortable talking to their parents.
If you believe that your child has been sexually harassed or abused at school, or your child reports that to you, it can be devastating and overwhelming. You may not know where to begin. The first thing to do is attend to your child's physical and emotional needs. Seek medical and professional treatment immediately. It's also important to contact law enforcement so a report is filed and the incident is investigated. Then, you need to consult an experienced child sexual abuse attorney.
Your lawyer will help you uncover what happened and who can be held accountable for the harm your child has suffered. Additionally, a lawyer will help determine the damages you should seek for your child. Anyone who goes through sexual abuse is likely to need medical attention, ongoing therapy or counseling, and other services that may result in significant expenses. The damages your child is entitled to can be sought in civil court, while criminal charges against the perpetrator are handled in criminal court.
No child should have to suffer the traumatic experience of sexual abuse. The emotional and mental distress caused can last far into adulthood, and it's often tough for victims to decide to seek justice. At Ross Feller Casey, we support these victims, standing by them and advocating for them to get the justice they deserve.
Ross Feller Casey attorneys have successfully litigated numerous child sexual abuse and related lawsuits. As a result, we have obtained multimillion-dollar settlements involving sexual abuse cases at schools, preschools, camps, and other places where children are cared for.
One notable case was against Penn State University after football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of sexually abusing young boys. Ross Feller Casey represented the largest number of victims in civil litigation against the university and played a critical role in securing the $60 million global settlement on behalf of the young Sandusky victims.
If your child has been victimized at school, the legal team at Ross Feller Casey can help. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have a proven track record of winning sexual abuse cases against the institutions that allowed them to happen. Contact Ross Feller Casey today to schedule a free case evaluation. We handle all cases on a contingency basis, so there is no cost until we win your case.
Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.