Some children who are removed from bad living situations by the state are placed in foster care, where they are sexually abused. These children are extremely vulnerable and the injuries they sustain can last a lifetime. Agencies responsible for the welfare of these children may be held liable for failing to protect the child because they don’t follow their own rules about contacting the children and checking on their well-being. Abuse occurs when the agencies place children in homes with known sex offenders or persons that are not licensed or have histories of assaultive behavior. The agency might ignore indications of abuse, complaints from the child, or previous complaints from other children placed in the home. The agency might ignore reports from school personnel who recognize something is wrong. In these cases, the agency/state may be held accountable for the injuries to the child. The child can seek compensation for injuries, including emotional trauma, loss of educational opportunity, and future wage loss from the state through a civil lawsuit.
Predators on the playground
Child sexual abuse is most frequently perpetrated by someone the child knows—be it a relative, an older child, a babysitter, a coach, a teacher, a neighbor, or a camp counselor. Many of the situations where sex offenders groom and molest children are organized activities where standards and rules that are designed to prevent children from being harmed are either ignored or don’t exist. Too often the warning signs of abuse are ignored, and complaints by others go unheard. When this happens, the group, club, or entity that is in charge of the activity may be liable for the child’s injuries.
Schools have a special duty to protect students from harm. Teachers, assistants, counselors, bus drivers, and other students are in a position to threaten or groom a child and then subject that child to abuse. Abuse can occur when a student is being transported to school or school events, during non-school hours or at school activities, in isolated areas of school premises, including empty classrooms. It is incumbent upon schools to adhere to policies that mandate reporting abuse to police and CPS, enforcing sexual harassment and bullying policies, and being attentive to concerning behavior, including a teacher who is too familiar with students. School districts can be held responsible for the damages done to a child who is sexually abused in the school environment when policies, procedures, or complaints are ignored.