Despite an onslaught of national scrutiny on the mishandling of college rape cases, high schools and middle schools have failed to appropriately report and investigate reports of abuse. As a result, sexual abuse and assault continues to run rampant throughout the lower grades.
“However bad you think that a college campus’ lack of accountability is on these cases,” Colby Bruno, senior legal counsel at Boston’s Victim Rights Law Center, told the Huffington Post, “I think go back 15 years before and that’s what you’re looking at for high schools.”
One of the larger concerns is that schools fail not to prevent sexual abuse from occurring, but fail to react accordingly. After a victim reported an sexual assault in September 2014 at the Thornton Fractional North High School in Chicago, the school kept the accused perpetrator in the same classes as the victim despite school officials knowing about the assault. No restrictions were put on the alleged offender, nor was there any type of information disclosed to the community that a sexual assault had been reported on school grounds.
The school justified such a reaction in court by stating that keeping the alleged assailant and victim in the same class and field trips wasn’t an issue because she was not sexually abused again. However, once the boy in question did threaten to shoot the victim in the head a couple weeks later, he was finally expelled.
In another ongoing case, a high school girl reported to officials that she had been sexually assaulted on school grounds by a fellow student after classes. The school determined that the sexual abuse was consensual and chose to suspend both the girl and her alleged perpetrator.
Such actions are against the law. Anyone who reports that he or she has been sexually assaulted is guaranteed to be protected. California is one of the few states taking strong, proactive steps to ensure sexual abuse at schools does not go unresolved.
California includes educators and other child care providers and supervisors on its list of mandated reporters. Those who do not report abuse face as much as six months in prison and/or up to a $1000 fine. Teachers must report directly to the county’s child welfare department or the police both by phone and with a follow up written account. They are further protected from any negative legal consequences even if no sexual abuse is found.
Source: Huffington Post