Child sexual abuse is a serious crime that can have devastating and lifelong consequences for the victim, and it is on the rise in many education settings. Data cited recently by The Washington Post shows that reports of sexual assault at elementary schools and middle and high schools increased more than 50 percent between the years 2015 and 2018, the most recent year for data.
These reports of sexual assault rose from 9,600 in the 2015-2016 school year to nearly 15,000 in the 2017-2018 school year.
No child should have to go to school in an unsafe environment where this kind of abuse is a danger. Therefore, it is important for parents, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, and other adults to know how to spot the signs of child sex abuse so they can, if necessary, intervene.
The CDC recognizes child sexual abuse as a public health problem, classifying it as an “adverse childhood experience (ACE) that “can affect how a person thinks, acts, and feels over a lifetime, resulting in short- and long-term physical and mental/emotional health consequences.” For example, RAINN notes that victims of child sexual abuse are roughly four times more likely to develop symptoms of drug abuse and to experience PTSD or major depressive episodes as adults.
The bottom line is that a child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, and any adult engaging in such behavior with a minor, including teachers, coaches, and other school staff, is committing a crime.
Signs of child sexual abuse may be physical, emotional, behavioral, or a combination of all three. While it is not always easy to spot a case of child sexual abuse, some common signs include:
- Sexually transmitted diseases or infections
- Physical trauma in the genital area
- Not wanting to be left alone with certain people
- Not wanting to change clothing or bathe
- Regressive behaviors such as thumbsucking or bedwetting
- Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
- Decrease in confidence or self-image
- Excessive talk about sexual topics
- Talk about a new adult “friend”
- Mood swings (e.g., increased aggression)
- Self-harming behavior
- Changes in appetite
- Excessive worry or fearfulness
These are only a handful of signs to look for if you suspect a child is the victim of sex abuse. It is highly important to note any sudden changes in behavior from the child and to report suspicious cases and situations.
If you suspect your child has been the victim of sex abuse while at school or in the care of educators, you are not alone. Our Bakersfield personal injury attorneys have experience handling child molestation, sexual assault and sexual abuse cases involving teachers, daycare staff, coaches, and other school workers. We are here to help. Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.