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Sexual assault occurs throughout the world and anyone can be a victim. In Canada, students are at risk of being sexually assaulted by teachers, other school employees, or even fellow students. Such sexual assault can have devastating effects on a student’s academic performance and disrupt their mental stability for the rest of their lives.
There are many forms of sexual assault that can happen at school, but one thing remains the same: the victim is not to blame. Victim’s losses can include both pain and suffering and lifelong future earnings losses. In fact, its impact on mental health can be as serious as its physical impact, and may be equally long lasting.
In response, some victims can file lawsuits against their perpetrators for financial compensation. Victims are also able to claim settlement for the damages. For more information about a sexual assault lawsuit, continue reading.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence and covers a wide range of unwanted sexual behaviours that can involve strangers or people you know. In other words, sexual assault is when you are forced, coerced, or tricked into doing sexual things when you don’t want to.
It is a matter of consent that separates sex from sexual assault or a gesture of affection. That is, both people agreeing to what’s happening by choice, and having the freedom and ability to make that choice.
Sexual assault is a serious crime and this unwanted sexual behaviour makes a person feel uncomfortable, threatened, or scared. Sexual assault can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault. Examples of sexual assault forms include the following:
Forced, unwanted sex or sexual acts.
Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape
Child sexual abuse: using power over a child to involve that child in sexual activity.
Sexual assault in schools is unwanted and unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with the right to receive an equal educational opportunity. These sexually assaulting behaviors can interfere with one’s educational opportunities range from words (written and spoken) and gestures to unwanted physical contact.
Moreover, some of the behaviors may also be criminal acts such as assault and rape, attempted or completed and child sexual abuse that is why this is a very serious issue that should be taken seriously by any school.
As mentioned, sexual assault can take many different forms and it can take place in any school. The teacher, for instance, is in a position of power in regard to their students, thus creating a very fertile ground for sexual abuse.
Children regard teachers as authority figures who have a great deal of influence over their lives. In this situation, students feel pressured to obey a teacher’s commands for fear of negative consequences. It is for this reason that more sexual assaults against students are being reported in Canada. As a result, an increase in criminal prosecutions of teachers and student suits for sexual assault has occurred.
What to Do In Case of Sexual Assault at School?
Experiencing a sexual assault may involve a wide range of emotional and psychological responses. It is common for victims of sexual assault to be unsure of what to do following their assault as confusion is very common.
As a victim, it is a human right to be heard, seen, and given justice. In case of a sexual assault at school you have to know the following rights:
Feel safe at school after sexual assault or sexual harassment.
You have to be informed about policies of sexual assault and harassment
Talk to anyone you want about sexual assault that happened to you.
Report the sexual assault to a school official, including a professor, teacher, coach, or faculty member.
Seek legal assistance or file a lawsuit against the assailant.
There are several options available to a student who was assaulted at school. In addition to bringing charges against the perpetrator in criminal or civil court, the survivor also may seek recourse through the university disciplinary process. Listed below are some steps you can take if you or your child has been sexually assaulted at school.
Look at your school’s policies on sexual misconduct and the sexual assault complaint process.
Most schools have a Student Handbook or Code of Conduct. Look through these policies to figure out what options you have. The policy should include information about how to report the misconduct (sexual assault or harassment).
Write everything down
If you are thinking of filing a lawsuit, you should write down what happened as soon as you can so you don’t forget any details. This step may be very difficult, but it is recommended so you can protect yourself during an investigation and in the months that follow the assault.
Save any emails, texts, letters, or messages from the person who assaulted or harassed you, or any messages or emails you sent to someone else about the incident.
Write down what happened to you, including dates and times, where it occurred, what exactly was done and said, and the names of any potential witnesses from during, before, or after the incident. Include as much detail as possible. If you’re comfortable doing so, ask any witnesses to write down what they saw or heard.
Moreover, keep notes of any meetings you have with school officials. Record the time, date, and places of the meetings, who was there, and what was said. Keep copies of all documents, emails, or letters regarding your report, the investigation, you sexual assault complaint, and any other related files, including copies of your responses.
Report the sexual assault or harassment to a school official.
Speak to a trusted teacher, academic adviser, or guidance counselor. But remember that if you tell a teacher, professor, advisor, or counselor about sexual assault or sexual harassment occurring, they’re required by law to report it to a school official.
Seek legal action.
You have the right to report a sexual assault at school and seek legal action. Your school cannot attempt to stop you from asserting any of these legal rights or to force you to do so. If they ignore you or don’t offer you protection when you need it, you can seek legal action against the school.
You can file lawsuits against the assailant for financial compensation. Victim’s losses can include both pain and suffering and lifelong future earnings losses. In fact, its impact on mental health can be as serious as its physical impact, and maybe equally long-lasting.
If you’ve been physically injured or your mental health has been badly affected because of sexual assault, you might be able to claim compensation. Get in touch with your personal injury lawyer at Diamond and Diamond today!
Seek Legal Assistance from Diamond and Diamond’s Personal Injury Lawyers
Taking action against the teacher and school is important to prevent other students from being sexually abused. Such actions force schools and governments to take action to protect children and stop more sexual assaults from occurring.
If you or your child has been sexually assaulted at school, it is your right to sue and hold the offender responsible for the damages you or your child suffered. At Diamond & Diamond, our team of lawyers rely on their reputation in the field and extensive experience in personal injury to provide clients with a dedicated support system over the duration of their case including sexual assault. Contact 1-800-567-HURT today to schedule a free consultation!
“It is very normal for a person who has experienced sexual assault to have trouble remembering things. You will be able to move forward if you write down things as much as you can as soon as possible.”
Sexual Assault at School FAQs
What causes sexual assault in schools?
Often, sexual assault occurs in elementary schools and is alarmingly common in middle schools and high schools. It usually happens between people in authority (such as teachers and school officials) and students. Since teachers and school officials are in a position of power in regard to their students it creates a very fertile ground for sexual assault. Since teachers are authority figures who have a great deal of influence over the lives of their students, students feel pressured to obey their commands out of fear of negative consequences.
Does my school have a responsibility to provide me safe protection after a sexual assault?
Yes. School personnel and officials must provide protection to children at immediate risk of harm or who have recently been assaulted. The school must ensure immediate safety by separating the alleged victim and others involved and ensuring all parties are supervised by a school staff member. Additionally, the school must obtain the necessary reports that can serve as legal documents.
How can I protect my child from sexual assault at school?
Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual assault more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right. To prevent this from happening, you must know who your child is spending time with, including other children and adults. Ask your child about the kids they go to school with, the parents of their friends, and other people they may encounter, such as teammates or coaches. Talk about these people openly and ask questions so that your child can feel comfortable doing the same. You must also be familiar with the warning signs of child sexual abuse, and notice any changes with your child, no matter how small. Whether it’s happening to your child or a child you know, you have the potential to make a big difference in that person’s life by stepping in.
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