Child sex abuse is any sexual act between an adult and child. This includes fondling, penetration, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, group sex, oral sex, or forced observation of sexual acts. Sexual abuse happens to many children, affecting boys and girls of all ages, religions and races.
Important points to consider in this discussion:
- More than 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
- By the age of 18, one of every four girls and one of every seven boys may have experienced sexual abuse.
- Child sex abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
- In Florida, the perpetrator of child sexual abuse is known as a sex offender or sexual predator.
- There are thousands of registered sex offenders and predators in Florida, and of course, many more who have never been caught and not registered.
Child sexual abuse scars children victims and their families for a lifetime. As the child grows, he or she may not develop strong relationships with adults or other kids as needed for a healthy social life. Recalling the physical abuse and mental trauma may infect every facet of the child’s social and educational development. The parents are also likely to undergo significant psychological effects or knowing their baby was hurt so bad by people the parents trusted.
Child Sexual Abuse At the Hands of People We Trust
While some sexual offenders and predators are random criminals who abduct and exploit children, far more often the predator is someone the child’s family knows. Children cannot tell by the way these people look, dress, or act that they are offenders. Most of the time, the offender is not a stranger, but instead someone whom the child knows and trusts. The offender could be church staff, youth pastor, sports coach, teacher, babysitter, school volunteer, or someone else in a position of authority.
Florida has very strict child protection laws, which are perhaps the toughest of any State in the U.S. Violators of child sex abuse statutes face significant prison time, lifetime registration as sexual offenders or predators, and lifetime monitoring by law enforcement.
The criminals who commit these horrific acts on kids, however, typically do not have any financial resources to compensate the victim and the child victim’s family for the lifetime trauma resulting from the child sexual abuse. Instead, the family may need to turn to the civil justice to secure full justice for their child.
Remember, the church, school, daycare, sports association, or other institution or facility which placed the child in harm’s way, may be held civilly liable for damages resulting from the child sexual abuse. These are difficult topics to discuss and consider for anyone, but the fact is that medical care, mental health care, therapy, and counseling cost a lot of money. The financial resources required are very significant, and most victims families simply do not have the income required to pay for the care and counseling they need.
Child Sexual Abuse Which Occurs an Church, School, Day Care, After-School Activities
As part of our daily lives, we as parents have to entrust care for our children at least some of the time to others. When we take our kids to day care or school during the week, the teachers, volunteers, and caregivers have custody and supervision of our children until the we return. When we drop off our children at church Sunday School or church youth group, we expect our children to have picked up a part of the values who make us as a family who we are. When we allow our children to participate in after-school activities, we rightfully believe that the coaches or instructors are there to teach skills and teamwork.
We expect adults who look after our children, such as churches, schools, daycare centers, after school activity associations and businesses, to take basic precautions to protect our children left in their care. This includes the following:
- background checks of employees, staff, and volunteers
- education and training of employees, staff, volunteers to understand signs of child sexual abuse
- intervention of these caregivers if they suspect inappropriate behavior by any adults
- reporting any suspicions to parents
- reporting any witnesses event to law enforcement immediately
Parents entrust their kids with these adults. It is a part of daily life. When this trust is violated by an organization’s employee, staff member, or volunteer, because the church, school, day care, or business failed to take basic precautions, then that institution may be held liable for money damages. Too often, these entities facilitate or enable the sex offender without consequence.
There is no excuse for any of these institutions permitting a wolf to guard the lambs, and should be held accountable.
Injury Lawyer in Southwest Florida Seeks Damages for Child Sex Abuse Victims and Their Families
Money damages to compensate the victim will not solve the deep physical pain and suffering, psychological damage, and needed healing. Rather, compensation can provide some level of financial security and access to the best therapy, counseling, and medical care. Financial compensation may also provide a small amount of peace of mind for the parents, knowing that their child’s financial future is secure.
If your child has been the victim of sexual abuse at church, school, day care, or an after school activity, then take the first step in a free, no-obligation, consultation to discuss your legal options. Serving Southwest Florida families in Lee County, Collier County, Charlotte County, Sarasota County, and beyond, Fort Myers injury lawyer and trial attorney David Harris is dedicated to children and families, and will seek to help you with care, compassion, and confidence.