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What do I do if my child is sexually abused in school?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Sexual Abuse |

School should be a child’s haven, a secure environment where they can grow and learn. Unfortunately, there are instances where abuse can take place on school grounds. As a parent, it can be heartbreaking for you to learn that your child is being sexually abused in school.  

Sexual abuse is a sensitive and very difficult topic. Your child may be embarrassed or scared to talk to you about it, but when they do come to you, consider the following suggestions for how to respond to this devastating situation.

Stay calm and reassure the child 

When a child discloses abuse, you must remain calm and provide a safe environment for them to vent their emotions. Most perpetrators are teachers and coaches, so children may be afraid or unwilling to admit their experiences. They may also be scared that you or others will judge them or not believe them. Tell them how brave they are for speaking up and that you believe what they are saying.

Listen actively and validate their feelings 

Active listening is essential when your child reveals their story of abuse. Encourage them to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences without interruptions and validate their emotions; knowing there are no judgments promotes trust between you and your child.

What legal steps can you take to keep your child safe? 

Reporting abuse as soon as possible is both a legal and moral requirement, especially if this is happening in your child’s school, where other children can be at risk. You may contact authorities such as the school principal, a counselor, a legal professional, or the police to ensure that all required procedures are followed to investigate and address the matter. 

Of course, your child’s welfare and safety come first. You may also seek out specialists with experience in how to deal with child abuse survivors to ensure they receive the emotional and psychological support they need.  

Sexual abuse in children can have a lasting impact on them even as they grow up, and so can your response. Believing them, listening to them and taking appropriate action to stop abuse and the perpetrator will be crucial in helping them as they recover.