Reports of teachers sexually assaulting students seem to be making their way into the headlines more and more recently. In just the last few months, several stories involving teachers sexually abusing children have impacted our community, including one about a man who formerly coached basketball at Fayetteville’s Pine Forest High School facing statutory sex offense charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy. Per WRAL-TV, in addition to the most recent charges, the ex-basketball coach could be facing as many as 55 additional charges for past incidents involving child sexual abuse dating back to the 1990s.
Reportedly, the former high school basketball coach has also held positions as a substitute teacher, safe schools coordinator at Pine Forest High School and as a boys’ basketball coach in a Christian basketball league. He has also been a foster parent for several children.
Recognizing the Signs an Adult Is “Grooming” a Child Prior to Sexually Assaulting Them
People magazine featured a story about the 15-year-old Tennessee girl that authorities believe was abducted by her 50-year-old teacher. In addition to reporting on that incident, the People article focused on the ways in which teachers gain students’ trust prior to sexually assaulting them, including but not limited to the following:
- Exploiting insecurities – Sexual predators often target a child’s vulnerabilities. They figure out what the child is missing, wants or needs and fills that void. For instance, if one parent is out of the picture, the teacher may try to take that parent’s place in some way to gain the child’s trust and dependence.
- Giving the child extra attention – Parents should worry about any adult who pays more attention to their child than they do. For instance, the 15-year-old Tennessee girl often spent time in between classes in the teacher’s classroom. This reportedly because she had problems with bullies. However, it also allowed to teacher to help her in a way that gained not only her trust, but the trust of others, like her family and other teachers, because it appeared he was just a nice guy helping her out. There is nothing wrong with teachers helping students, but parents must remain aware that sexual predators can use such situations to grow closer to vulnerable children.
- Allowing the child special privileges – Special treatment, such as teachers allowing the student to hangout in their classroom outside of class time, helps the two develop a relationship where the student begins to count on these privileges and depend on the teacher.
Recognizing the signs above is often the last line of defense for parents and other responsible adults to prevent teachers from abducting and/or sexually abusing students. In addition, in some cases, families can fight back against the school district that gave a sexual predator access to their child through a personal injury lawsuit.