Child abuse in school is all too common. Getting actual statistics on the incidence of child abuse is very difficult because a majority of child abuse cases, even in school, go unreported. An average of about 10 percent of children suffer in schools in the United States, but it’s important to remember that these numbers represent only the tip of the iceberg.
Unfortunately, there is no real way to get an accurate report on how common child abuse is at school. The only way to find out if a child has been abused is if he or she reports the incident or there is enough physical evidence, such as bruising or broken bones, to arouse suspicion. Due to the nature of abuse, many children feel an intense sense of shame and fear of abuse, and prevent them from coming forward. Many cases of abuse do not leave any physical marks on the child, such as mental, emotional, and sometimes sexual assaults, making them so much more difficult to detect.
There have been a few studies that give us a glimpse of the frequency of child abuse at school. One of these studies was conducted in 2004 and was commissioned by the US Congress. The study reported a tragically high rate of child abuse, finding that one in ten children suffered some form of sexual abuse from an employee in his or her school. A recent study reports that more than 2,500 US teachers had their license denied, suspended or revoked due to sexual offenses.
As part of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, the Department of Education conducted a nationwide study of abuse. The study showed 6 to 10 percent of public school children were sexually abused or harassed by teachers and other school staff. Again, it is very likely that the actual incidents of child abuse in school are much higher than reported.
This statistic of child abuse in schools was overshadowed by reports of abuse by Catholic priests, but some experts estimate that the frequency of sexual abuse by teachers and school staff is probably more than 100 times that of pastors. This shocking figure came from an assessment of data obtained from a national survey conducted by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000. This data showed that about 290,000 students experienced sexual abuse by a school employee between 1991 and 2000. This figure is comparable to more than 50 years of child abuse reports from priests.
- School abuse usually occurs between peer groups.
- Unfortunately, there is no real way to get an accurate report on how common child abuse is at school.
- Many cases of abuse do not leave any physical marks and are therefore difficult to prove.
- It is estimated that at least 10% of children have experienced child abuse while at school.