IN THE NEWS: TEEN’S SEXUAL ABUSE CASE CALLS ATTENTION TO THE PROBLEM
Going into the fourth calendar year, for Indianapolis Public Schools, the lawsuits are far from over, a recent Indianapolis Star article demonstrated. The original claim was filed by an IPS student, accusing a counselor of sexual abuse, naming the counselor herself, plus the IPS Superintendent and the school board of “failing to keep him safe and failing to sufficiently train and supervise staff.” Two school officials who lost their jobs over their handling of the incident are now also suing the district and school board members for wrongful termination.
Why do the personal injury attorneys at Ramey & Hailey Law feel it’s important to call attention to this case?
At our law firm, where we do our part every day to help victims of sexual assault and abuse, we are unfortunately used to hearing stories about “inappropriate relationships” of all kinds, but find it particularly tragic when teachers are involved in relationships with their students.
We know how very, very hard it is for a child victim – or even a teen victim – and for family members to relive the experience by talking about it with law enforcement and even with us. Yet talking about the crime is the only way to identify and convict offenders, prevent future criminal activity, and help victims move towards healing.
It’s interesting that just last year, in 2018, a new law became effective in Indiana. The law requires teachers to teach children in pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade how to protect themselves against sexual abuse. In addition to Reading, (w)Riting, and (a)Rithmetic, students are taught to:
- Recognize (Is it safe? What’s the rule?)
- Report (tell an adult)
- Refuse (say words that mean no)
The new law, Indiana House Bill 1079, in addition to mandating sexual abuse awareness programs for students, closes gaps in the criminal screening process for school employees, requiring that schools perform background checks on both applicants and current school employees.
Why would parents of a child abused by an educator want to file a civil suit of their own, against the school district? To win damages. To receive compensation to help pay for the costs of medical and psychological treatment for their abused child. (Child sexual abuse – including that involving a teen – increases a young person’s long term risk for mental, physical and behavioral health issues.)