Was Your Child Sexually Abused at School?

School is a safe place for children to learn new subjects and make new friends. The teachers, administrators, counselors, and other employees at the school can make a huge difference in the child’s learning experience. Sadly, in some cases, this safe place can be a nightmare for children subjected to sexual abuse. If your child was sexually abused at school, you may be able to hold multiple parties liable.

The attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos, & Lehrman will do everything in their power to get justice for your child. Call us today to schedule a free consultation: 954-524-2820.

How does child sexual abuse happen in schools?

An adult commits sexual abuse any time s/he engages in sexual activity with a minor. Consent is never a defense in child sexual abuse cases; a child cannot consent to sexual activity.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), approximately 93 percent of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser. Abusers can be teachers, authority figures, or other children.

Authority figures may use their influence to manipulate the children into believing that the abuse is normal. They may also threaten the child to get him/her to go along with the behavior or to stop him/her from telling someone what happened.

When the abuser is another child, the victim might be afraid of getting him/her in trouble. This is especially true if the abuser is a friend of the victim.

Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse

The impact of child sexual abuse goes well beyond just the physical injuries. The mental and emotional impact of child sexual abuse stays with the child long after s/he has healed physically. Some common consequences of child sexual abuse are:

  • Long-term depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses
  • Behavioral problems including physical aggression
  • Substance abuse or dependence
  • Difficulty focusing on school
  • Difficulty forming healthy relationships
  • Running away from home

The short-term and long-term effects of child sexual abuse are serious and can change the child’s life forever. If the abuse occurs in a place that is supposed to be safe, like school, the incident can be even more traumatic.

How do I hold the abuser liable?

Child abuse victims and their parents can file suit against the abuser and anyone who allowed the abuse to occur. For example, if the abuser was a teacher, the parents or the child can file against the teacher and the school.

If the abuser was another student, the defendants might include the abuser’s parents and the school itself.

Victims and their parents might be able to hold the school liable for:

  • Failure to thoroughly investigate reports of alleged sexual abuse
  • Failure to implement rules regarding the reporting of sexual abuse
  • Failure to protect children from sexual abuse
  • Failure to run a background check on new employees

If a jury finds the school failed in any of the above, it will likely find it negligent and require it to pay any damages.

How long do I have to file suit?

Even child sexual abuse cases must adhere to a statute of limitations, which varies by state. This means that victims or family members must bring a claim within a certain period of time in order for plaintiffs to potentially recover damages. Our lawyers will identify the appropriate statute of limitations for your case and keep your case on track so you do not miss any deadlines.

What can I do to help my case?

It is not easy to prove any form of child abuse. The person who committed the abuse is unlikely to admit what s/he did and the school may also deny any wrongdoing. Children do not always understand what happened to them and therefore cannot explain it clearly in court. Here are some tips to help your case:

  • Seek immediate medical attention: Take your child to the hospital the minute you find out s/he was the victim of sexual abuse at school. It is important that a doctor treats the child for injuries as soon as possible. The hospital’s initial examination will help protect your child and can reveal critical information that can help build your case against the abusive employee and the school. This medical report is likely the strongest piece of evidence you will have.
  • Get your child to speak openly: Many sexually abused children are scared to talk about what happened to them. However, a child’s statement is an important part of the case. Encourage your child to speak honestly about the incident or incidents of abuse. Your child should identify who the abuser was and what the abuser did.
  • Gather experts and witnesses: Expert and eyewitness testimony is essential to your case. Experts can testify to the physical, psychological and emotional damage a child experiences as a result of sexual abuse. Other school employees, family, friends, and neighbors can attest to the changes they noticed in the child after the incident.

Filing a claim against the school officials responsible for the abuse your child experienced will help your child and your family heal from the trauma that occurred. You do not need to deal with this alone. The sexual abuse attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman have recovered large amounts in damages for survivors of sexual abuse and their families. Let our team be your path to justice.

Call 954-524-2820 for assistance in filing your claim.