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Volume 11, Number 2
March/April 1995

Courts Hold Coworkers Liable for Knowledge of Sex Abuse


It's time for school leaders to confront a culture that too often tolerates adults who exploit children

Educators are often reluctant to confront the fact that some children are abused at school by teachers or other adults. Several recent court decisions underscore the urgent need for teachers and administrators to stop looking the other way.

We do not know the extent of child abuse in schools, but most experts agree that coerced sex between school personnel and students is not rare. Students are reluctant to report such crimes, and officials who discover them often handle matters quietly to avoid publicity. A 1993 survey reported that 21 percent of females and 8 percent of males in grades 8 through 11 had been sexually harassed by a school employee. Other researchers have found that 1 to 3 percent of all children are molested by an adult at school.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.