How Common Is Child Abuse in Schools?

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  • Written By: Marisa O'Connor
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2015
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Child abuse in schools is all too common. Getting actual statistics of the frequency of child abuse is very difficult because a majority of child abuse cases, even in schools, goes unreported. An average of about 10 percent of children suffer abuse in schools in the United States, but it is important to remember that these figures represent just the tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately there is no real way to get an accurate reporting of how common child abuse in schools is. The only way to tell 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. Owing to the nature of abuse, many children feel an intense sense of shame and fear about the abuse, preventing them from coming forward. Many instances of abuse don't leave any physical marks on the child, such as mental, emotional, and sometimes sexual abuse, making them that much harder to detect.


There have been a few studies that give us a glimpse of the frequency of child abuse in schools. One of these studies was conducted in 2004 and was mandated by the United States Congress. The study reported a tragically high frequency of child abuse, finding that one in ten children suffered some form of sexual abuse from an employee of his or her school. A more recent study reports that more than 2,500 teachers in the United States had their license denied, suspended, or revoked because of sexual misconduct.

As a part of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, the United States 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 employees. Again here, it is very likely that the actual incidents of child abuse in schools are much higher than what is reported.

These statistics of child abuse in schools were overshadowed by the reports of abuse by Catholic priests, but some experts estimate that the frequency of sexual abuse from teachers and school employees is likely more than 100 times that by priests. This shocking figure came from an assessment of data taken from a national study 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 number is comparable to more than 50 years of child abuse reports from priests.


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Post 4

Actual References not vague references to studies would be very helpful.

Moderator's reply: One of the studies referred to in the article is the "National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect" (report to Congress; 2004)

Post 2

I was abused in elementary school. I have been thinking about reporting the man who did it so people know what he did. It wasn't sex abuse but it was abuse. I want some justice and some closure but I'm not sure how to proceed.

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