Parents send their children to school with the expectation their teachers will not only provide them with an education, but also protect them from harm. For the most part, that's exactly what happens at schools all across the country, day in and day out.
Unfortunately, not all teachers chose a career in education in order to make a difference in children's lives.
In fact, some use the trust, respect, and air of authority afforded to educators as a cover to commit serious crimes—such as sexual or physical abuse—against their vulnerable young victims.
Though abuse perpetrated by teachers used to be an issue that was routinely swept under the rug, more people are now coming forward to tell their stories and seek justice. If you or your child was abused by a teacher, you may be entitled to compensation. Here's what you should know.
Sexual and Physical Abuse by Teachers
Facing any kind of abuse from a trusted teacher can be devastating for a child. However, experiencing physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher can be particularly traumatic. Sadly, today's headlines are rife with examples of both horrific types of abuse. For example, it's common to open a newspaper or turn on the news to see stories about teachers who “lost their cool” and responded with violence—punching a student, throwing them to the floor, forcibly cutting their hair, etc.
The news is also packed with stories of both male and female teachers molesting young students or seducing older ones—both of which are serious crimes. Sadly, with more students possessing phones and other electronic devices, predatory teachers have easier access to their victims than ever before.
How Abusive Teachers Escape Punishment
Having a physically or sexually abusive predator on the payroll is a black mark for a school, its district, and its administrators. Some authority figures may have professional reputations and ambitions that could be tarnished by such a revelation. Often, it's easier and more convenient for a school to simply fire the offending teacher than it would be to conduct an official investigation or involve law enforcement.
Unfortunately, when physical or sexual abuse complaints against teachers are mismanaged this way, the predatory teacher is often free to move on and get a job at another school in a different district, where they're likely to continue their harmful and illegal behavior. This outrageous abdication of duty is so common it even has a name: “passing the trash.”
Warning Signs That May Indicate Abuse
Violent or sexually-abusive teachers often work discretely to keep the worst of their deeds under wraps. Still, there are a number of signs and symptoms that parents can watch for that may indicate cause for concern, including:
- Grooming behaviors. Prior to abuse, sexual predators often cultivate their victims by showering them with special attention, gifts, and notes/texts; emotionally isolating them from family and peers; and/or becoming important to the child, and then convincing them to keep their relationship secret.
- Sudden changes in your child's attitude or mannerisms. This can include mood swings, self-isolation, refusal to eat, an unusual fear of school or a specific teacher, sleep disturbances, age-inappropriate sexual knowledge, or running away from home.
- Self-destructive behaviors. Teen and adolescent abuse victims may engage in harmful behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, a sudden lack of or hyperfocus on personal hygiene, and attempted suicide.
- Abuse-related injuries. Victims of abuse may have unexplained bruises and other marks on their body, frequent urinary tract infections, STIs or STDs in children too young for sexual activity, and psychological injuries such as anxiety, depression, and other disorders.
How to Help Your Child
School administrations have a duty to protect students from harm, and those that fail to do so may be open to breach of contract- or negligence-related litigation. It takes specialized legal representation to know how to navigate this system effectively.
If you or your child was physically or sexually assaulted by a teacher, the knowledgeable attorneys with DRZ Law can help you understand your rights and explore options for compensation through the civil court system. Our accomplished attorneys represent clients all over the U.S. who were physically or sexually abused by teachers.
Get the help you need for yourself or your family. Place a call to our Kansas City metro office today, or fill the convenient contact form on this page to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation.