Recently, a tragic story made headlines in the Bay Area involving the sexual molestation of four minors by a school custodian. The four victims were living with the custodian, and the molestation had been ongoing for about 15 years. Upon hearing about the allegations, the school fired the custodian and banned him from all school facilities. Authorities are investigating the situation, and it is unclear whether the man molested anyone over the course of his job.
Tragically, sexual predators who prey on children know where to go to find children, and how to work their way into those children’s lives. Students are often “groomed” by predators that volunteer or work at schools, daycare centers, extracurricular activities, or with other youth organizations.
In addition to molestation of school age children, infants, toddlers and young children are sometimes abused in daycare centers or after-school programs. Unfortunately, those young children cannot speak up for themselves, and in many cases the only way the parent can tell their child is being abused is to look for signs of abuse, such as changes in behavior, bruises, and unusual marks.
Many people are unaware of just how rampant sexual and physical abuse are in schools and child care facilities. In a recent year, over 400 school employees were arrested for sexual misconduct with students in the U.S. Many more cases of sexual abuse go unreported. Students are often very reluctant to discuss what has happened out of guilt or shame, fear of reprisals, and anxiety. This is particularly true if the abuse happened at the hands of a person in a position of authority, such as a coach or a teacher.
There are steps parents can take to protect your children from sexual predators at school. First, pay attention to who is spending time around your child. If you get a bad feeling, don’t just brush it off and assume that everyone at the school is safe for your child. Teach your children how to set boundaries, and to let you know if they ever spend time alone with a teacher or a coach.
Victims of sexual abuse can seek justice in both the civil justice system, as well as the criminal justice system. In the criminal justice system, the sexual predator can face prison for sexual abuse. In the civil justice system, the criminal could be held liable for making financial restitution to the victim and paying money for psychological treatment. However, parties other than the preditor can be held liable, including the school system, businesses such as day care centers, camp programs, counselors, and others. Parties which either hid the abuse or failed to stop it from occurring may be found liable, and forced to pay damages to the victim or victims.
When a sexual abuse victim receives compensation, typically the compensation is for medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. That money is intended to make the victim whole again, and can help fund counseling or other treatments that would help the victim recover. In some cases, other terms may also be added to the settlement, such as requiring a school to change its hiring procedures.
If your child has been the victim of abuse in the school system, at a daycare center, or another organization, you should speak with an attorney. Your child has legal rights, and your willingness to stand up can go a long way towards preventing this type of abuse in the future, as well as towards making your child whole again. Call me, Micha Star Liberty, Pinole and Contra Costa County sexual abuse attorney, at 510-645-1000. My team can help. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case.