Child abuse committed by teachers is a growing problem throughout the country. These pillars of the community are often the last people we would think of in cases of child abuse, but with so many cases coming to light today, it’s difficult to overlook teachers as potential sources of child abuse.
Responsibility of Educational Personnel and Parents
If there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect, educational personnel have an obligation to make a report to the Department of Children and Family Services. Abuse is defined as elevated risk or physical or emotional injury, intentional physical harm (including corporal punishment in some instances), intentionally causing emotional distress, or sexual abuse. Neglect is defined as denying a child the basic necessities that include medical care, food, clothing, and shelter.
Parents or guardians need to be certain they know what is going on with their child and his or her relationship with the teachers. Keep an open mind and do not assume every teacher is a kind and caring person. Keep an open line of communication with your child about their day, and watch out for indications of abuse, which could include the following:
- Anxiety or fear of going to school.
- The child feeling ill before school.
- Extreme anger or acting out.
- Constant complaints about the teacher.
- Reluctance to attend school, especially when the child previously enjoyed school.
There is a great deal of public attention focused on bullying, and there is the need to take it more seriously than at any time in the past. The problem is that most of the focus is on child to child issues, but there are increased reports of verbal and physical bullying by teachers.
Even though there is evidence to support the increase in child-to-child bullying, there is no statistical information on adult-to-child school bullying incidents. This may be due to the fact that bullying by teachers is more complex than other types of bullying to identify, address, and remedy. This makes it difficult for a parent to be able to distinguish whether a teacher is administering discipline or is bullying students in the form of humiliation, intimidation, or even physical harm.
Defining the Problem and Reaching a Solution
Some of the things parents may want to consider include the following:
- Is the teacher picking on a particular student or are there other students involved as well?
- Is there a particular manner in which the teacher administers the abuse?
- What are the characteristics of the abuse?
- Is the abuse physical, emotional, or a combination of both?
Once parents are able to answer the above questions, they need to be sure to document all the information with dates, times, and the exact details of the incident(s). You can try meeting with the principal to possibly identify a resolution, but if you are quite certain that your child is being abused, it’s recommended that you contact the school board immediately. If officials refuse to investigate your claims, the next step is to contact the Department of Education.
One additional thing you as a parent may want to consider is speaking with a child abuse lawyer. Our attorneys have considerable experience with issues of child abuse, and we’re happy to evaluate your claim free of charge at 1-877-403-9378. Even if criminal charges are never brought against the abuser, you may be able to bring a civil claim in order to recover money damages. The more information you have at your disposal, the better your chances are of prevailing against the abusive teacher.