While teachers are trained to notice and report cases of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, among their students, sometimes teachers and other education professionals themselves abuse the very students they are supposed to educate and protect.
Teacher sexual abuse can be hard to fathom, but it happens too often
It is difficult to know exactly how commonly students are the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of their own teachers simply because so many cases go unreported.
It is also sometimes hard to profile teachers as sexual perpetrators since they appear, on the surface, to be people who can be trusted around children.
Perhaps they even passed a background check before being allowed inside a school. Many teachers who wind up abusing kids sexually do so in the midst of some sort of crisis, like a looming divorce or depression.
The average victims also tend to be older children, with nearly 2 out of 3 victims, or 66%, being high school students and another 25% being middle school students, meaning only a handful of victims, fewer than 1 in 10, are younger children.
Of the victims, 60% are female, while 75% of perpetrators are male.
Schools can, and must, take steps to prevent abuse
Public and private schools are both responsible for the behavior of their employees. They may be held legally responsible for illegal behavior their employees engage in off the clock.
Aside from having stringent hiring practices, schools should have a system of rules and boundaries designed to prevent teachers from even approaching unlawful behavior with a student. Of course, the school must strictly enforce these rules if are to be effective. Schools also do well to build culture in which concerned students and faculty are encouraged to speak up about possible abuse and boundary violations.
Unfortunately not every case of teacher abuse is preventable. Where this breach of trust occurs, it’s important to speak with a lawyer experienced in this type of case.