Keeping children safe in school
Daily conversations can help
The recent revelations of alleged long-term sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct by Los Angeles Unified School District personnel involving students has shocked the city, state and nation.
But even more devastating, it has shocked parents and made many ask the question: “How can I keep my child safe at school?”
Veteran licensed clinical psychologist Steve Ambrose recommends that parents have a conversation with their child about how it went at school.
“Ask what they did at school with their friends, what they learned? How they get along with their teacher. Do this everyday, maybe over dinner,” says Ambrose, who works for the L.A.-based Children’s Institute Inc. and has worked with abused and neglected children for about 30 years.
“You need to be a good listener,” stresses Ambrose, who added that children who are less assertive or don’t have strong family support tend to more vulnerable to abuse. “If you see your child is expressing apprehension about going to school because of a teacher or another adult, be acutely sensitive to this.”
Ambrose says the apprehension can include disliking the way a teacher or adult looks at them, touches them, or stood next to them. The psychologist advises to look for changes in behavior—a quiet child turns aggressive, an active youth becomes quiet and withdrawn, a youngster has trouble sleeping at night or a child complains about discomfort in the genital area.
These may all be signs that something nefarious is happening.
Ambrose cautions that children use different words than adults would. So if they say a teacher is “yucky” or “gross,” get them to elaborate.
Also keep in mind, says Ambrose, that children very, very rarely lie about something as intrinsically embarrassing as sexual abuse.
If your child begins to react to all the news reports about the alleged abuse, Ambrose says use the time to give a safety lesson. Remind the youngster that no one, even another adult, is allowed to touch them in a way that causes discomfort. Ambrose says parents need to help their child understand they can always come to them, and they won’t get mad. Also remind them that most teachers care about and want the best for them. So they don’t have to fear every male teacher.
LOS ANGELES, calif.—The Los Angeles Unified School District announced today it has settled 58 legal claims alleging sexual abuse of students at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles.
The district described the settlements as a multimillion-dollar deal, but declined to provide an exact figure until the amounts were approved in court.
NBC4 reported that the settlements ranged from about $400,000 to $500,000 for each plaintiff.
A female teacher is now being implicated in the sexual misconduct investigation that surfaced at Miramonte Elementary School last week.
The school made headlines when two male teachers, Mark Berndt and Martin Springer, were arrested; one for allegedly feeding students his semen and the other for fondling students in his second-grade class.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A two-day closure went into effect at Miramonte Elementary School today to enable the Los Angeles Unified School District to replace the entire staff following the arrests of two teachers on allegations of lewd acts and sexual crimes against students.
Former state Sen. Martha Escutia, now a partner at an Irvine law firm, called Tuesday for an independent investigation of what she called disproportionate sexual abuse of Latino students by teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The call came in the wake of claims that LAUSD teacher Robert Pimentel sexually abused children at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School in Wilmington.
An attorney representing the families of nearly a dozen children who were allegedly sexually abused by a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School said today he was pushing for a federal investigation into the alleged activities at the school and throughout the LAUSD.
Attorney Brian Claypool said he sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that the federal government conduct an investigation into the activities at Miramonte and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s handling of the case and other reports of child abuse.