ERIC Number: ED374547
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Nov
Law, Trauma, and Sexual Abuse in the Schools: Why Can't Children Protect Themselves?
Legal suits concerning sexual abuse of students in the schools have increased since 1987. This paper examines recent cases involving child abuse in the schools from two perspectives. First, it reviews a line of federal cases that have considered whether school districts have an affirmative constitutional duty to protect children similar to the duty that the state owes prisoners and mental patients who are unable to protect themselves. Most federal courts hold that students are not in state custody and can act on their own behalf. Second, the paper reviews factual allegations in recent cases involving sexual abuse in the schools and concludes that the sexual exploitation of students by school employees often occurs for long periods of time. Next, the paper reviews recent research on child abuse and trauma. Findings indicate that children who are victims of physical or sexual abuse often lack a supportive network of peers and adults. In addition, profound psychological trauma often renders children vulnerable to further abuse and diminishes their ability to get help. These findings suggest that the federal courts are wrong to assume that child abuse victims have the capacity to defend themselves or summon aid. (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Organization on Legal Problems of Education (39th, Philadelphia, PA, November 1993).