Back to school sexual abuse safety tips

Record number of educators continue losing their teaching credential due to sex crime convictions, yet schools are not implementing proactive prevention training.

With the month of August signaling the start of another school year, the San Jose law firm of Cerri, Boskovich & Allard is urging parents and school officials to be aware of teachers who exhibit predatory “red flag” behavior, which almost always precedes the sexual abuse of a student.

“Sexual predators signal their intent to sexually abuse a student by slowly crossing the boundaries established to protect students,” said former San Jose police sergeant and sex crimes detective Mike Leininger. “The reality is that predators are not caught abusing children, but they can be caught breaking rules and crossing boundaries if educators and parents know what to look for.”

School personnel are mandated reporters who have been trained to recognize a student who has been abused; however, that training does not focus on recognizing and preventing sexual abuse by school employees.

A four-year Department of Education study by researcher Charol Shakeshaft estimated that one in ten students is a victim of educator sexual misconduct before the age of 18. “It’s not just teachers who are sexual abusers,” states attorney Robert Allard.  “It’s coaches, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, instructional aides, custodians and principals – anyone who has access to your child during school hours,” attorney Robert Allard said.

Because child molesters don’t wear a big “M” on their chests for identification purposes, it is important to pay attention to the following “red flag” behavioral characteristics which signal sexual abuse:

  • Use of personal email, texting or social media
    • Teachers should be using district issued email only and not personal email to communicate with students
    • Teachers should not be requesting personal phone numbers from students.
    • Teachers should not be communicating with students on social media sites
  • Touching, tickling or hugging
  • Gift-giving
  • Preferential treatment or favoritism
  • Spending one-on-one time with students
  • Covered classroom windows or closed doors
  • Dirty jokes
  • Lap sitting
  • Contact outside of school hours

Educators who suspect a child is being abused are legally required to report their suspicions to law enforcement. They should not investigate a potential crime for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that it interferes with the work of the professionals- the police or Child Protective Services.

Since 2013, 415 California teachers have lost their teaching credential for a sex-related crime. “The time has long come for mandatory prevention training,” Allard said. “Especially since the training materials exist at no-cost.”

For more on the problem of educator sexual misconduct, visit:

About Cerri, Boskovich & Allard

The San Jose law firm of Cerri, Boskovich & Allard is one of the few law firms in the country with a dedicated team representing childhood sexual abuse victims. The law firm has represented, advised, or consulted with hundreds of sexually abused children, adults abused as children, or their loved ones. The firm also works closely with legislators to ensure that the laws protect sexually abused children. Please call 408-289-1417 for a confidential and free consultation with an attorney.

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