How to Manage Abuse & Molestation Risks – Part 1

Above all else a school’s primary responsibility is to keep their children and teens safe at all times.

Unfortunately this is not always the case as during the past few years several high-profile incidents have rocked the industry. Behind these high profile cases are many other incidents just as terrible that haven’t caught the attention of the national press. Behind those are even more incidents that never even get reported.

No matter the details, any act of this kind, in any sector, will have devastating consequences for both the victims and the organizations involved.

This will be a 3 part series including:
Part 1 – The Wake Up Call
Part 2 – Prevention
Part 3 – Responding

PART 1: The Wake Up Call – Chilling Statistics

The education sector is of course one of the more “at-risk” industries facing the following challenges. Here are some statistics that I’m sure will shock you as much as they shocked me:

  • Around 9.5% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct at some point during their school career. (U.S. Department of Education)
  • Someone in the U.S is sexually assaulted every two minutes. 44% of these victims are under the age of 18, and 20% are under the age of 8. (RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
  • Over 200,000 sexual assaults against children are reported to the police in the U.S every year. (Crimes against Children Research Center)
  • A statistical sampling of students nationwide indicated 4.5 million students in grades K-12 have suffered some form of sexual abuse by an educator, and over 3 million had experienced sexual touching or assault. (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation)
  • Almost 4,000 reported incidents of sexual battery and over 800 reported rapes and attempted rapes are occurring in our nation’s public high schools. (U.S Department of Justice)
  • In NY alone, from 2010-2011 there were 85 reports of inappropriate communications between teachers and students involving Facebook as compared to 8 complaints from 2008-2009. This is a whole new area to worry about. (NY Times)
  • Between 1% and 5% of teachers sexually abuse or harass students on college campuses. (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation)

Title IX Implications and Guidance

In addition to the terrible pain and suffering caused to the victims, and the immense amount of reputational damage and liability the intuitions may face, there are also possible Department of Education Title IX implications.

Quick refresher: Title IX is the Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. All public and private schools, elementary through universities, receiving any Federal funds must comply with Title IX.

Lawyers are increasingly litigating these cases and finding new ways to hold schools accountable. As a result the Office for Civil Rights released new guidance last year to assist schools, colleges, and universities in understanding and implementing their responsibilities under Title IX to prevent and correct sexual harassment on their campuses.

This guidance is intended to prevent schools from making mistakes that others have made in recent years. ‘Cough’ Penn State. We have listed a few takeaways below:

  • Schools should take immediate steps to launch an investigation instead of being conditioned on the results of a criminal investigation by police.
  • Schools should not delay their own internal investigations into reported incidents of this type.
  • Take steps to protect the complainant, such as possibly changing the student’s living arrangements and schedule without creating excess burden or stress upon the student and to provide her/him with access to counseling and support services.

Ready to tackle this issue? Make sure to come back for part 2 to find out how to be best prepared. In the mean time  we have included a PDF file of Met Risk’s 5 part safety system, as well as a checklist to see if your institution is prepared.

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