The safety of your children should never be compromised while they are at school or any other educational institution. Proper security measures should be set in place, and responsible, caring faculty and staff members should be employed. While these are the standards to which we hold our school systems, these standards are not always met. Sometimes, harmful or abusive individuals are hired to care for our children, or negligent and uncaring school employees allow sexual abuse to be committed by one student against another and turn their heads rather than taking steps to stop the abuse and bring the perpetrator to justice.
Sexual abuse may leave lasting physical and emotional scars on child victims. If your child has been a victim of sexual abuse in any form, you may be entitled not only to see the perpetrator tried in a criminal court, but also to compensation in a civil action for the injuries sustained by your child. Contact school sexual abuse lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn more about your legal options.
Signs of Sexual Abuse
Children who have been sexually abused will show very specific signs of the abuse they have endured. As a parent, you can watch for the following indicators that may signify what happens to your child when he or she is under the supervision of the school:
- Responding in a strange manner when addressed or touched
- Exhibiting fear of people or places
- Unusual sexual behavior or awareness
- Abnormal changes in behavior, particularly reversion to more infantile actions
- Interacting sexually with other children
If your child is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, he or she may be a victim of sexual abuse while at school. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most sexual abuse of children is committed by someone the child knows and can go on for months or years without the child ever confiding in a parent that the abuse is occurring.
Legal Liability for School Sexual Abuse
A school or school district may be held liable, under certain circumstances, for the sexual abuse of a child that occurs while the child is in school and that is committed by another student, a teacher, or a non-teacher employee.
If school administrators, for example, knew or had reason to know that the sexual abuse of a school’s student was being committed by a school employee or another student while the victim was at school and the school administrators failed to put a stop to the abuse, the school and school district may be found liable for the victim’s resulting injuries in a civil action for negligence.
A school or school district may also be found liable for the sexual abuse of a student if school administrators or officials had reason to know or suspect that such abuse might occur. If, for example, a teacher or other school employee, or another student, was known to school administrators or officials to have committed acts of sexual abuse in the past, the subsequent sexual abuse by that individual of a student while the student was in school may lead to liability on the part of the school or school district in an action for negligence.
In some states, only private schools and school districts may be found liable for the sexual abuse of students by school employees. State statutory law often grants immunity from such suits to public entities and public employees. This immunity may be partial or complete. In some states in which partial immunity is granted, negligence suits may be brought against public entities and employees, but the amount of damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff in such a suit may be limited to an amount specified by statute.
Indirect or Vicarious Liability
Schools and school districts are not generally found liable for the sexual abuse of a student under the doctrine of respondeat superior, however. Because sexual abuse is not within the scope of a school employee’s scope of employment, courts generally decline to find schools and school districts vicariously liable for acts of sexual abuse committed by their employees, even when those acts are committed during the time and in the place in which the employees’ actual employment duties are to be performed.
Public School’s Violation of Federal Law
Federal courts have held that, pursuant to the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §1983, public school administrators owe a duty to public-school students to protect them from sexual abuse. If, for example, a school principal or other school administrator knew or had reason to know of the sexual abuse of a student by a teacher or other student and failed to take steps to prevent further sexual abuse of the student, the school and its administrator may be held liable for damages suffered by the abused child as a result.
If your child has suffered sexual abuse while at school, then you have the right to take strong legal action against the responsible party. Whether an abusive teacher or an entire negligent school district, Jeffrey Killino can help you bring a strong case against anyone and everyone responsible for putting your child through this inexcusable experience. Contact school sexual abuse lawyer Jeffrey Killino today at 877-875-2927 to speak with him about your rights and options.