How Common is Sexual Assault in California Public Schools?

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How Common is California Public School Sexual Abuse?

How Common is California Public School Sexual Abuse?

Feb 26, 2024

Sexual abuse in America’s public schools is a common occurrence which tragically impacts countless children every year. In California, the number of school sexual abuse lawsuits has increased substantially in recent years, with area districts such as Redlands Unified, Los Angeles Unified, and Glendale Unified forced to pay multimillion dollar settlements to victims.

How Common is Sexual Assault in California Public Schools?

Recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights shows that there were 14,938 sexual violence incidents in K-12 schools between 2017-2018. When compared to the 9,649 school sexual violence incidents recorded in 2015, that 2017-2018 figure represents a 55% rise. Included among the types of common school sexual abuse reports are rape, attempted rape, and sexual assault. Although the National Education Association (NEA) notes that it is not clear why the number of cases has risen so dramatically, the spike in incidents is often attributed by some experts to increased awareness (the #MeToo Movement was well-known at the end of 2017) and better reporting methods for child survivors.

This blog will provide an in-depth guide to what school sexual abuse entails, how common incidents of school abuse are from a statistical perspective, what types of trauma victims often experience, and how filing a civil lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group’s Los Angeles-area lawyers can help you and your family get justice.

Important Information for Victims of California Public School Sexual Abuse

There is no doubt that child sexual abuse victims are at an increased risk of long-term mental, emotional, and physical disorders. Common effects reported by victims of childhood and school sexual abuse can include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and guilt. Sexual abuse at school and home can be difficult to forget and affect the victim’s lifelong thinking and behavior. Additionally, research indicates that child sexual abuse can have a permanently adverse impact to victims.

But survivors of California school, teacher, or coach sexual abuse can fight back against perpetrators by filing civil claims that seek justice as well as financial compensation for the harm endured.

How Often Does California School Sexual Abuse Happen?

Unfortunately, statistical estimates of school sexual abuse in the United States may actually underestimate the overall problem. In fact, Shiwali Patel of the National Women’s Law Center recently told the Washington Post that “reports of sexual violence in school are probably still being undercounted.

The problem will undoubtedly reemerge as the country slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and more students return to school,” the NEA said in 2021.

However, countless survivors of child sexual abuse are now speaking out about their experiences. The Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services recently reported that at least 9.2% of all children have been sexually abused.

Schools and other educational institutions are supposed to be safe places for children. Unfortunately, teachers and other authority figures in these institutions cannot always be trusted by parents to protect their children from abuse, assaults, bullying, and other traumatic incidents. It is not uncommon for child sex abusers who aren’t punished to move from school-to-school, often enabling them to repeat their abuse and harm even more children.

Sexual abuse can occur anywhere on school grounds. Students abusing other kids is another alarming issue, but teacher-on-student abuse receives more attention. That said, student-on-student sexual assault is estimated to actually be seven times more common than adult-on-child sexual assault.

The research further shows that one in 10 children will be sexually abused by the age of 18 in America. The data also shows that one in seven girls and one in 25 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

Sadly, children may be unaware of what sexual abuse looks like. Additionally, as a child victim, fear of retribution, harm to other family members, etc. can inhibit reporting to proper authorities. As Dordulian Law Group’s founder and president, Sam Dordulian, recently noted in an Instagram post, parents are strongly encouraged to discuss good touching and bad touching with their children. As a former sex crimes prosecutor, Dordulian has obtained life sentences against countless sexual predators, removing them from the streets of the Los Angeles Community.

What are the Signs of School Sexual Abuse in Children?

What are the Signs of School Sexual Abuse in Children?

Parents are often concerned when children display behaviors which are out of the ordinary. Dordulian Law Group’s Los Angeles school sexual abuse attorneys have put together a comprehensive list of warning signs that can help parents identify whether or not their child may have been impacted by this type of crime:

Physical Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Signs of trauma to the genital area, such as unexplained bleeding, bruising, or blood on the sheets, underwear, or other clothing
  • Unexpected or unwanted pregnancy

Behavioral Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse:

  • Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics
  • Changes in personal care, hygiene, or grooming
  • Substance abuse
  • Keeping secrets Not talking as much as usual
  • Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers, especially if this is a new behavior
  • Regressive behaviors or resuming behaviors they had grown out of, such as thumbsucking or bedwetting
  • Overly compliant behavior
  • Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Spending an unusual amount of time alone
  • Trying to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe

Emotional Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse:

  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in mood or personality, such as increased aggression
  • Decrease in confidence or self-image
  • Suicidal ideations or attempts
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness
  • Increase in unexplained health problems such as stomach aches and headaches
  • Loss or decrease in interest in school, activities, and friends
  • Nightmares or fear of being alone at night
  • Self-harming behaviors

When parents suspect that a child is being abused, contacting law enforcement as well as a compassionate legal advocate from Dordulian Law Group can help ensure that justice is obtained from both criminal and civil avenues.

Are Schools Responsible for Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 mandates that schools have specific responsibilities regarding both handling incidents of sexual abuse and preventing/protecting students. Title IX holds schools liable for failing to:

  • Act quickly if there are any sexual assault allegations
  • Act immediately to stop sexual harassment and violence (and prevent it from happening in the future)
  • Have an established sexual abuse policy
  • Have Title IX Coordinators in place to ensure compliance
  • Allow students the opportunity to easily share their complaints about sexual abuse

Moreover, even if the student or parent doesn’t want to take further action after an incident of sexual abuse, including launching a criminal inquiry, the school must still act immediately.

Who Can be Sued in a California Public School Sex Abuse Lawsuit?

When school sexual abuse happens, the liable party, parties, or entity can vary. In fact, many school sexual abuse lawsuits filed by Dordulian Law Group’s California lawyers include multiple defendants within the same claim.

Some examples of defendants who may be hit with school sexual abuse lawsuits include:

  • Teachers
  • Administrators
  • Principals
  • Superintendents
  • Coaches
  • Counselors
  • Volunteers
  • Students
  • Schools
  • School districts

In essence, anyone who failed to take action to prevent or report school sexual abuse may be named as a defendant in your case. The school, the school district, and the school staff all have a duty to not only protect your child, but also report and act swiftly if an instance of sexual abuse is suspected.

When you contact Dordulian Law Group (DLG) for a free and confidential school sexual abuse lawyer consultation, we will provide all available legal options pertaining to your child’s case and also outline the potential defendants who could be held liable for the crimes.

How Long Do You Have to File a California Public School Sex Abuse Claim?

For school sexual abuse cases involving minors under the age of 18, the statute of limitations (deadline) for filing a civil lawsuit depends on when the crime occurred. For crimes occurring after January 1, 2024, there is no deadline for filing your California public school sexual abuse lawsuit. California passed legislation in 2023 eliminating the statute of limitations for all child sex crimes occurring after 2024.

If your child’s school sexual abuse occurred before 2024, they have until age 40 to file a claim for financial compensation (or three years from the date of discovering an injury from the abuse such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD).

If you have questions about whether or not your child’s claim is within the statute of limitations, contact our dedicated and proven California public school sex abuse lawyers today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM. We’re available 24/7 to answer any questions you have and guide you throughout the legal process until you and your family get the justice you deserve.

How Your Family Can Get Justice for California Public School Sexual Abuse

DLG’s attorneys are ready to help you if you believe your child is a victim of school sexual abuse. Our team of child sex crimes attorneys will fight on your behalf for maximum financial damages. Child sexual abuse cases are serious and deserve to be handled with professionalism, discretion, and fearless advocacy.

DLG believes sexual abuse survivors and is dedicated to supporting them and their families throughout the legal process. A civil lawsuit seeking maximum compensation against your child’s abuser can be the most effective way to secure justice.

DLG will pursue all damages applicable to your child’s when you file a civil claim for sexual abuse:

  • Psychological trauma
  • Emotional harm
  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Medical bills
  • Counseling or therapy expenses
  • Reduced ability to earn a living
  • Punitive damages (California does not cap these specific damages)

Additionally, it’s important to understand that civil claims for sexual abuse are completely separate from any criminal charges brought against the perpetrator of your child. Civil claims are brought on behalf of a child by his/her family and filed with attorneys like the Dordulian Law Group school sexual abuse team. Criminal charges, in contrast, are filed by the District Attorney’s Office. Even if the District Attorney does not pursue criminal charges against your child’s abuser, you may still file a school sex abuse civil claim with Dordulian Law Group.

At DLG, we treat every victim of school sexual abuse and their families with respect, discretion, and professionalism. We understand how difficult it can be to report school sexual abuse. That’s why we are here to listen to survivors, to believe them, and to support their families as they pursue justice through civil suits.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

We have a proven track record of success and our unparalleled experience is why so many parents and survivors of child sexual abuse choose DLG to handle their lawsuits. We’re dedicated to fighting tirelessly to obtain justice and maximize financial compensation for you.

Contact us today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM to schedule your free attorney consultation.

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