Sexual abuse in schools is one of the most disturbing problems that exist in education–it’s alarming not just because of the unspeakable harm it does to children, but also because it happens in an environment where they should be safe to learn and grow.

For teachers, it’s only natural to want to prevent child sexual abuse. But because the issue is so sensitive, it can be challenging to know what to do. However, if you’re ready to take the first steps toward ending abuse, read this list to learn five ways to help prevent child sexual abuse.

prevent sexual abuse in schools

Understand Your Responsibilities

If you want to prevent sexual abuse in schools, your first step is to know the legal and institutional responsibilities expected of you.

For instance, in many states, teachers are mandated reporters, which means that if they hear about child abuse, including sexual abuse, they must report it to either an institutional supervisor or the police.

The point is that teachers are always bound by certain rules. If you want to help prevent abuse, you should know them by heart.

Advocate for Best Practices Policies

Another way that teachers can help prevent child sexual abuse is to speak up for and engage in best practices for preventing child sexual abuse in schools.

One of the reasons abuse happens is that institutions lack safeguards. However, best practice policies can block these avenues for abuse; they might look like requirements for the number of adults that must be with students at all times, sexual misconduct education for staff, and concrete reporting systems for potential abuse cases.

If your institution already has these practices, your best bet is to use them. If your private or public school doesn’t have them, or if they aren’t being practiced, then you should speak up in staff meetings and contact administrators in the school or the school system. It might even be necessary to report your school to state authorities or speak up to local news outlets.

prevent child sexual abuse

Make Yourself Known as Safe

At a more personal level, you can prevent child sexual abuse in public schools and private schools by serving as a safe resource for your students.

One of the biggest hurdles to stopping sexual abuse is that children often lack the vocabulary for communicating that they’ve been abused. They might be confused about what has happened or scared that they will get in trouble, especially if their abuser has suggested as much to them.

If you want to ensure they can communicate with you if they have been abused, you should be an understanding, empathetic person. Never make them feel they cannot talk with you, even if they fear getting in trouble.

If they do show signs they have been abused, approach them with empathy, care, and openness. It never hurts to familiarize yourself with the best practices for speaking with children about abuse.

Know the Issue

With an issue as charged as child sexual abuse, it’s natural to want to speak out against practices that might cause abuse. But at the same time, you should be careful.

Child sexual abuse can be highly politicized. Recent high-profile debates have demonstrated that politicians are not above using false accusations of abuse or grooming to target their political adversaries, often in a way that demonizes and dehumanizes LGBT people.

sexual abuse in schools

As a result, be discerning about your information and your language. Always read deeply about the issue, because the risk always exists of wading into harmful practices. Doing so can make it even harder to speak with children about abuse, because LGBT children are often, themselves, targeted by dog-whistle terms like “grooming.”

Final thoughts

Although sexual abuse in schools is a challenging topic in more ways than one, teachers have the means to help prevent it. If you’re ready to commit yourself to combat this problem, remember the steps laid out in this article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like