There are hundreds of boarding schools located across the U.S., including co-ed boarding schools, all-boy or all-girl schools, faith-based boarding schools, and those focused on college prep. Parents who send their children to boarding school have legitimate expectations that staff will do their utmost to ensure the physical and emotional safety of their students. Unfortunately, some of these institutions and teachers have proven themselves unworthy of the trust that’s been placed in their hands.
Teachers Who Sexually Abuse Their Students
Because the vast majority of victims of boarding school sexual abuse are minors, it is difficult to cite the exact number of cases reported over the years. However, an online search reveals dozens of private and boarding schools grappling with allegations of sexual abuse of students. This includes a recent report that implicates a dozen former teachers at an elite East Coast boarding school who are alleged to have sexually abused students over the course of nearly 50 years.
It is precisely because a boarding school is a 24/7 experience that students are at the mercy of the faculty. With no parents, siblings or other family members present to intervene, they may be sitting ducks for those with a malevolent agenda. When a school’s administration refuses to acknowledge, intervene, or end the abuse, they are just as liable as the abuser.
Unfortunately, staff background checks are not necessarily indicative of or 100% effective for identifying a potential abuser. A study undertaken by national risk assessment experts reports that more than 80% of those teachers who sexually abuse their students had no prior criminal records.
What is the Definition of Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse of a minor is a particularly heinous crime. The abuse itself can take on many forms, but it is commonly acknowledged that the definition of sexual abuse falls under two categories — contact and non contact abuse.
What is Contact Abuse?
Contact abuse occurs when the abuser makes physical contact with a child. This includes:
- Sexual touch on any part of a child’s body, whether clothed or unclothed.
- Using a body part or object to penetrate or rape a child.
- Forcing or coercing a child to participate in sexual activities.
- Forcing a child to disrobe or touch someone else.
- Touching, kissing, or demanding/performing oral sex on a child.
What is Non Contact Abuse?
In cases of non contact abuse, the abuser does not physically touch the child. It is, however, just as damaging to the victim and just as much a crime as contact abuse. Non contact abuse can include:
- The abuser exposing or flashing their genitalia at a child.
- Showing a child pornographic images or videos.
- Exposing a child to sexual acts.
- Making a child masturbate.
- Forcing or coercing a child into making, viewing, or sharing images or videos of sexual abuse.
- Forcing or coercing a child into participating in online sexual activities or conversations.
What are the Signs of a Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused?
It’s important for parents and guardians to know what signs a child who is being sexually abused might exhibit. There are emotional, behavioral, and physical signs to look for.
Emotional and Behavioral Signs
Emotional and behavioral signs of sexual abuse include:
- Avoiding being in the company of or appearing to be frightened of certain people they know.
- Using language or expressing sexual behavior that is not age-appropriate and one wouldn’t expect them to know.
- Experiencing nightmares or regressing to bed wetting.
- Use of alcohol or drugs.
- Self-harm such as cutting.
- Noticeable changes in eating habits or developing an eating disorder.
- Mood changes, displays of irritability, anger, or disproportionate rage.
Physical signs of sexual abuse of a minor include:
- Bleeding, discharge, pain, or soreness in the genital or anal area.
- Sexually transmitted infections or diseases.
Contact Pintas & Mullins if You Suspect Sexual Abuse of a Student
If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse as a student at a boarding or private school, you have the right to expect justice and receive compensation from the institutions that allowed this to happen. Pintas & Mullins is one of the nation’s leading law firms fighting sex abuse. Our compassionate team is here to listen and provide a free and confidential assessment of your case.