It is not always easy to detect signs that your child is or has been sexually abused at school. Children act out or show signs of depression or wanting to be left alone for various reasons, which could be evidence of abuse, and should alert you that there is a problem, especially if you know that this is very unusual behavior for your child.
Getting your child to admit or reveal that someone at school is abusing them can be difficult. Slowly drawing them out and comforting them while asking what happened at school might calm them and get your child to open up.
Signs of Possible Abuse
There are physical and emotional signs to look for that can lead you to suspect that abuse is taking place:
- Not wanting to go to school or appearing frightened or especially withdrawn around certain teachers, coaches or other school officials
- Recurring injuries such as bruises, cuts or other marks
- Displaying extreme patterns of behavior such as crying, aggressive behavior, anger or being unusually passive
- Stopping communication with you and others
- Complaining constantly of stomach pain or headaches
- Trouble sleeping or nightmares
- Loss of appetite
- Complaints of itching or pain in the genital or anal area; urinary infections
What to Do If You Do Suspect Abuse
Should you suspect possible abuse, immediately have your child cease contact with the person whom you suspect is doing it. Take your child to the pediatrician and have him or her examined. Your physician is obligated to report such signs to authorities or to a child protective services agency if suspected abuse has occurred. If you suspect a teacher or coach or anyone else at your child’s school, report your concerns to the school administrator and take your child out of that particular classroom or away from that individual.
Child abuse is a serious crime and you should report your concerns to the police or the child protective services agency in your community. The school administrators must also report the suspected abuse to law enforcement or child protective services. If you need more information, there are hotlines you can call and someone will discuss the matter with you.
Should You Contact an Attorney?
Sexual abuse cases brought against schools and school districts are not uncommon. In some cases, the school administrators may have covered up previous allegations by others or tried to handle the matter internally while retaining the suspected abuser as a teacher or coach or merely dismissing them and allowing them to go elsewhere, thus exposing other children, including your child, to that person’s unlawful and destructive behavior. Their failure to report the abuse or the allegations is a criminal offense in most states.
If your allegations are against a public school, you may have only 6 months to report or file a notice of claim against that public entity under your state’s tort claim act. If you are aware or suspect abuse, contact Andrew Ritholz today to make sure your child is safe and to discuss your legal options.