sexual abuse at school

How do parents prevent sexual abuse at school?

There are a variety of steps you can take to protect your child from abuse. The first is to do basic research on the school your child is attending. Have there been previous allegations of abuse? Have background checks been processed on every adult who is employed by or volunteers at the school? Is there a reporting system in place for abuse? Are there abuse prevention programs in place? Are their windows in each classroom? Does the school have surveillance cameras in operation?

When using the public school system, parents often don’t have a choice where their child attends school, or the resources to move their child to a better school. Simply asking these questions may trigger the teachers and administrators at the school to put the necessary safety measures in place. If they don’t, use whatever resources are at your disposal to create change: petitions, meeting attendance, organizing parent groups, etc. Simply by becoming involved and making yourself present at your child’s school may prevent abuse. Predators are more likely to choose victims who have difficult relationships with their parents.

The second step is to educate your child. Abuse usually follows grooming, the process where an abuser selects and prepares the child for abuse.¹ This involves gaining the child’s trust and isolating the child. By educating your child, you can help stop potential abuse before it starts. This involves teaching your child about healthy boundaries. If you’re not sure how to start this conversation with your child, here is a great guide, Keeping Children Safe From Grooming.

The third step is to be aware. Do an internet search of the full legal name of your child’s teacher(s). Previous allegations or arrests will often show up online. If someone takes a special interest in your child at school, or is overly complimentary of that child, have a healthy level of skepticism. Listen for subtle hints your child may leave, including any changes in behavior or physical health or sexual knowledge that isn’t age appropriate. They may also talk about a teacher who gives them hugs or pays special attention. In other cases, they suddenly drop sports or extracurricular activities that they previously liked. Trust your instincts. If something feels “off” or odd about a relationship, investigate further.

By researching your school and its employees, educating your child, and being aware of possible warning signs, you may be able to prevent abuse in your community.

¹Grooming dynamic of CSA. (2014). Retrieved from National Center for Victims of Crime,

Abuse of students by a teacher can occur anywhere: in a classroom, locker room, gym, playground, or office. We’ve encountered cases of abuse that occur in gym locker rooms between a coach and sports participant, in a hidden nook in a music room, on a school trip by a bus driver, after hours in a classroom, at the teacher’s home, and in a utility closet while the rest of the class was outside.

sexual abuse at school

Where does sexual abuse at school occur?

In a recent Pomona County case, a teacher took a 14-year-old to his home to have sex. In Los Angeles, a coach used the locker room as a place to abuse children. In both cases, school officials ignored red flags on multiple occasions, as well as not investigating or reporting properly.

In Kansas, a music teacher abused his students during lessons. In San Jose, a student had to transfer schools after she reported sexual text messages sent by her teacher. The school kept him in his position, and the student continued to be harassed and abused.

There is a pattern that emerges when you look at abuse cases as a whole. The vast majority of cases of sexual abuse by school personnel, roughly 80%, consist of one-on-one encounters, one student with one adult.¹ In addition, 70% of all sexual assaults on children (not just by school personnel) occur in a residence, like the victim’s home or abuser’s home.²

For after school interactions, call your school principal to make sure the administrator knows this is occurring and ask for school guidelines for these types of interactions. If a home visit by a teacher is necessary, make sure the interaction happens in a public area of the home, and you are nearby to make sure everything is safe.

By preventing one-on-one encounters, limiting who has access to your child at home, and preventing your child from being alone in a teacher’s home or bedroom, you may be able to stop potential abuse.


¹Blad, E. (2014). Feds urged to do more to track school sexual abuse. Education Week, 33(20), 7.
²A NIBRS statistical report sexual assault of young children as reported to law enforcement: Victim, incident, and offender characteristics. . Retrieved from

This is part one of a multi-part series focusing on sexual abuse at school. Today’s post answers the question, how often does sexual abuse at school occur?

sexual abuse at school
While we can guess and create a rough estimate of how many children are abused by school personnel, we simply do not know because this data is not collectively tracked.

How often does sexual abuse at school occur?

There are roughly 55 million students enrolled in primary and secondary schools in the United States. In a survey conducted in 2004, 9.6% of the more than 2,000 surveyed students in grades 8-11 reported unwanted sexual attention by an educator.¹

If this amount of abuse is true of the general population, and many researchers believe this to be true, there are 5.5 million students currently attending K-12 who are or have been abused by a teacher or other school representative.

This statistic is especially troubling when you consider that 60% of abuse cases occur before the age of 14 and abuse in elementary school has not been tracked. In addition, a large number of abuse or harassment incidents are not reported to officials.

Unfortunately, while several agencies track a limited amount of data, these types of incidents are not tracked by any one national agency. What data is collected, is not shared between these agencies.²

To get any kind of idea about the prevalence of sex abuse by teachers, you need to research news reports of abuse. These types of searches return millions and millions of articles. Narrow the search to teacher sex abuse cases just in California, and you’ll return more than 1.6 million news articles. The cases happen in Los Angeles, Fresno, Pomona, San Pedro, and everywhere else in California.

Here are a few of those cases that have occurred just in the first few months of 2016: a coach who had sex with a 17-year-old student, a junior high teacher accused of abusing a student in the teacher’s home, a middle school teacher accused of groping several boys, a high school teacher accused of photographing up the skirt of a student.


¹Shakeshaft, C. (2004). Educator sexual misconduct. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. P. 16.
²U.S. Government Accountability Office, (2014). CHILD WELFARE.

foster care parents

San Francisco has long been a pioneer of social change. Just this month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors added to its long history of pushing for a stronger community with its approval of six weeks of fully-paid leave for all new parents. This is the first such city-wide legislation to be passed in the country, and it’s expected for California’s state boards to quickly follow after San Francisco’s lead.

Under this new legislation, all new parents, both birth parents and foster care parents, will be entitled to the benefit as long as they meet the following conditions: Have been employed by a single employer for a minimum of 180 days, work a minimum of eight hours per week within the county or city of San Francisco, spend a minimum of 40 percent of their working hours within the county or city of San Francisco, and have been proven eligible to receive paid family leave from the State of California through the California Paid Family Leave for the express purpose for bonding with a new child or teenager. This new law requires the parent’s employer to meet 100 percent of the his or her normal gross weekly pay following assistance from the California Paid Family Leave law.

California’s Paid Family Leave law was passed in 2002 and was the first state-wide law of its kind. With its passing, all employees who contribute to the State Disability Insurance fund are eligible to receive up to 55 percent of their pay for six weeks after a newborn’s birth, the signing of adoption papers for a child, the placement of a child into foster care, or to take in care for a seriously ill family member.

Current California Government Jerry Brown has been a strong proponent of several similar pro-worker initiatives. On April 11, he signed into law new legislation to increase the amount of paid leave from 55 percent of their pay to either 60 percent or 70 percent (depending upon the employee’s income). This legislation also included provisions to progressively raise the state’s mandated minimum wage to $15 per hour by the year 2022. In tandem with these efforts, the leader of California’s Senate is pushing to provide tax-free retirement savings plans for the more than 7.5 million workers living and working in the state without employer-provided retirement plans.

According to The New York Times, lawmakers in San Francisco and California felt that there’s no other way to push for worker rights initiatives for new birth, adoption, and foster care parents than to introduce such local bill as there is currently no political climate for real change occurring on the federal level.

“Whether it’s paid parental leave, infrastructural investment, minimum wage, paid sick leave or addressing carbon emissions, we know the states have to act,” said Scott Wiener, the supervisor who was the first to introduce the measure.

Photo by:  Giu Vicente

On Friday, April 15, the California Judicial Council approved a new series of safeguards to help stem the abuse of psychotropic medicating throughout the state foster care system.

These new restrictions are expected to be put into the place as soon as July, and will both require doctors to make more convincing cases to begin new prescriptions as well as impel caregivers to give greater detail on how in-care youth react to currently-subscribed psychotropic medications. Most importantly, youth within the foster care will be offered greater opportunity to voice their own opinions about medications prescribed and how they make them feel.

California has long been on the cusp of the over-medicating discussion, being the only state in the nation to require court approval for any and all psychiatric medications written for foster care youth. Yet critics decried the prior-lack of judicial oversight, saying the approval process worked too much like rubber stamping, with psychotropic prescription requests being only partially filled and objections frequently waved away.

With these new rules, doctors will be required to state a full reasoning for any prescriptions made and the results of any relative lab tests with those drugs. The courts will also expect to hear how pharma and non-pharma treatments utilized in the past affected the specific foster care youth involved, and exact specifications for how the prescribed medication is expected to improve the youth’s symptoms.

These sweeping reforms promise to shed new light on one of the foster care system’s biggest issues: Overmedication. Experts estimate nearly one in four children in foster care have been subscribed at least one psychotropic medication–over four times the rate for children nationwide. While the right medication can bring positive change for those in need, the wrongful prescription of certain psychotropic medications can have serious negative consequences, even death.

If you have been injured or abused and are in need of a personal injury lawyer in Torrance or Los Angeles, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.