According to a government-funded study, approximately 10% of all students will have some experience with sexual wrongdoing perpetrated by school workers by the time they receive their high school diploma. The numbers are both staggering and sobering. Educational institutions are meant to be places of learning, growth, and excitement — not the damage and trauma that follows when employees violate that trust.
The numbers on abuse between students are murkier but remains a severe and sadly widespread issue. What is clear is that the damage done by these crimes can last for years, and the inappropriate actions of others can severely disrupt or even derail a child’s educational progress. As the parent of such a child, seeking justice by holding those responsible accountable for their actions is a natural response.
At HHJ Trial Attorneys, our sexual assault lawyers in San Diego proudly stand up to represent victims of abuse in any arena. By providing families with an option for civil litigation, we hope to give others the opportunity and the means to move forward following such heinous actions. There are many essential aspects to understand when dealing with cases concerning sex abuse in schools.
Recognizing the signs of abuse can be difficult because survivors often experience conflicting emotions. When the abuse occurs in school — a place where children are taught to trust intrinsically — the gravity of the event can make it even harder to process. Not all sexual abuse is violent or forwardly aggressive, either.
When considering authority figures, such as teachers, coaches, and aides, abuse is often coercive and manipulative. That can make it difficult for children to recognize the inappropriate nature of what has taken place. However, none of this diminishes the impact of what occurs nor reduces the severity of the wrongful acts committed. Once you’re aware that something has happened, it’s vital to know the victim’s rights and what your family can do next.
Teachers, school administrators, and others in educational organizations are typically considered “mandatory reporters” under the law. In other words, when they suspect or become aware of abuse, they are legally obligated to report the crime to the law. Failure to do so could constitute negligence, which typically makes the school (or the school district) responsible.
Similarly, schools must carefully vet everyone they hire, often through the use of background checks. A failure to prevent a known offender from working with children could constitute negligence, too.
Abuse that occurs after turning 18 in high school or which takes place in college can still be the subject of a lawsuit. If the individual who experienced the abuse is aged 18 or older, they must be the primary party filing suit, as the law recognizes them as a separate party from one’s parents. In other words, the process is similar, but the primary party changes.
Cases related to sex abuse in our schools are emotionally and legally challenging. For that reason, your family deserves representation it can trust to strive for better outcomes. At HHJ Trial Attorneys, our team of sexual harassment lawyers passionately defends victims and stands up for their rights. With a changing social environment surrounding holding the abuser accountable and many successful litigation cases, we hope to provide your family with the legal resources it needs.
To discuss a case with privacy and discretion, please arrange a consultation with our offices today.