Sexual Abuse in the School Setting

Educator Sexual Misconduct

Although we do not like to talk about it, not a day goes by without a report in the media of Educator Sexual Misconduct. Educator Sexual misconduct is a school employee sexually abusing a student between grades K-12, (age 5 to 18).  

By his or her senior year, nearly one in 10 students will experience some form of educator sexual misconduct by a school employee (U.S. Department of Education, 2004).

The more understanding SROs, educators, administrators, detectives, and investigators have about how Educator Sexual Misconduct can occur in the school setting, the more likely we can stop the abuse, even before it happens. 

Three Types of Sexual Predators

have a sexual preference for children. This on its own not make them criminals; that occurs when they act on their impulses.  For example, paying for viewing and/or collecting child pornography, or by actively seeking sex with children.

are those who act on their impulses and have a distinct sexual preference for children. They have no interest in having sex with adults—only children, usually pre-pubescent. These offenders are generally male and have a distinct pattern to their predatory behavior, including recruiting victims (grooming) and trapping them in an ongoing pattern of sexual abuse, while ensuring that their victims do not disclose the abuse. 

victimize children based on an opportunity. They enjoy having sex with both adults and children and have sex with children when they can. For example, when they are left alone with a child, when drunk, when angry at the child or mother, and assault the child to hurt one or the other – there’s a long list of reasons. The key word is opportunity. (

Keep in mind that in any work setting—including K-12 schools—individuals from among the above three categories may be present. 

(Source: Shakeshaft, 2003; AAUW, 2001)

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