Teacher Sexual Abuse: Red Flags to Be Aware Of

Teacher sexual abuse is far too common a problem in schools. One of the most important things that can be done to prevent these kinds of issues is for others to remain vigilant and react to any potential warning signs that abuse could happen, has happened, or is ongoing.

Teacher sexual abuse doesn’t often consist of sudden, isolated instances. In most cases, these cases are the result of a pattern of behavior, sometimes referred to as “grooming,” in which an abuser slowly persuades a child to let their guard down.

It’s important that others around the children learn to recognize patterns of grooming. This is especially true of parents, supervisors, and other teachers. The more that these parties remain vigilant and aware, the greater the likelihood that they will be able to put a stop to abuse, prevent future abuse, and bring abusers to justice.

In terms of the red flags to be aware of, it might be useful to think of them in two categories. There are teacher behaviors that could be seen as red flags, and there are student behaviors that could be seen as red flags. It’s important that the right parties remain aware and watch vigilantly for both.

Red Flags in Teacher Behavior

Many of the red flags in teacher behavior will tend to involve developing a closer relationship with the child. The intimacy of the relationship might strike many as inappropriate. In many cases, this may involve favoritism toward specific students, giving them extra attention, and trying to create a deeper connection with them.

A major red flag is boundary violations. The relationship between teacher and student should remain within the bounds of the school. While there are times when some sort of after-school hours communication may have a valid purpose, it is something that should be observed with the highest level of caution.

Another major red flag is attempts to create periods of isolation and being alone with the student. This could be in the classroom, after-school programs, and, in particular, anything off-campus. Isolation could often be paired with encouraging secrecy between the student and teacher, which is also a line that should not be crossed.

There tends to be a gradual process to this inappropriate behavior, beginning with the extra attention, singling-out, and favoritism in the classroom, and then building to more inappropriate conduct. It may move on to gifts or privileges that can be used to manipulate the student.

The earlier in the process that intervention occurs, the better it is for the student. Therefore, it’s critical that any early warning signs, even something as simple as frequent complaints from other students about a teacher’s conduct, should be taken seriously and investigated.

Red Flags in Student Behavior

Just as the teacher’s conduct could involve red flags as things get progressively more inappropriate, red flags in the student’s behavior are likely as well. In particular, red flags tend to be changes in behavior. These changes may be subtle, but that’s why it’s important for parents and others with close relationships to keep a watchful eye on the child and to remain observant.

Changes in mood, in particular, could be indicative of a problem with a teacher. In some cases, this could mean becoming more withdrawn and quieter. In other cases, it could be a more anxious demeanor. Students may have an aversion to a particular teacher or may show signs of distress regarding having to interact with the teacher. If that’s the case, their relationship with the teacher may require closer scrutiny.

Other possible red flag behaviors could include hesitation in wanting to go to school or a sudden drop in academic performance. There are even times when the body can react to the abuse or grooming, and there could be an increase in health problems. It’s also possible that a student may suddenly have gifts and money without explanation, which could have come from a teacher.

Seeking Justice May Help Prevent Future Abuse

Every survivor of childhood sexual abuse has a story to tell. From these stories, we have been able to learn about the many red flags to which paying attention can help address and prevent child sexual abuse. It’s hard to know how many children have been rescued or even spared from becoming victims of abuse through others telling their stories. By identifying the warning signs of teacher sexual abuse, preventative measures can be put in place.

If you have a story to tell, one of the most impactful places to tell that story may be through filing a civil claim against the institutions that should have prevented the abuse. A civil claim could force the institution in question to enact protective measures in order to avoid further legal action. Other institutions hoping to avoid facing similar lawsuits might do the same. Furthermore, you could be compensated for your traumatic experiences.

At the DeMarco Law Firm, we recognize how difficult it can be for those who have survived sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher to tell their stories. That’s why it’s critical to do so with a legal team that can provide compassion and represent you without needing to make your name public. You deserve to tell your story through a lawyer who fiercely advocates for the rights of those who have been impacted by abuse. If you are ready to file a claim or want to learn more about your options, contact us today.