Awareness and Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Grooming Behaviors, and Boundary Violation
Child sexual abuse, grooming behaviors, and boundary violations harm students, their guardians, the District’s environment, its school communities, and the community at large, while diminishing a student’s ability to learn.
Erin’s Law was passed in January 2013 (PA 97-1147 (HB6193) effective 1/24/2013), requiring all public schools to implement an age-appropriate, prevention-oriented child sexual abuse education program for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
Districts must provide training for school personnel on child sexual abuse. District 103 provides training on:
The dynamics of child sexual abuse.
How to handle a disclosure of child sexual abuse.
Questions to ask or not to ask a child who discloses sexual abuse.
The requirements of the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
The law calls for the adoption and implementation of a District policy addressing the sexual abuse of children.
Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse
Warning signs of child sexual abuse include the following.
- Physical signs:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or other genital infections.
- Signs of trauma to the genital area, such as unexplained bleeding, bruising, or blood on the sheets, underwear, or other clothing.
- Unusual weight gain or loss.
- Behavioral signs:
- Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics.
- Keeping secrets.
- Not talking as much as usual.
- Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers.
- Regressive behaviors or resuming behaviors that the child had grown out of, such as thumb sucking or bedwetting.
- Overly compliant behavior.
- Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for a child’s age.
- Spending an unusual amount of time alone.
- Trying to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe.
- Emotional signs:
- Change in eating habits or unhealthy eating patterns, like loss of appetite or excessive eating.
- Signs of depression, such as persistent sadness, lack of energy, changes in sleep or appetite, withdrawing from normal activities, or feeling “down”.
- Change in mood or personality, such as increased aggression.
- Decrease in confidence or self-image.
- Anxiety, excessive worry, or fearfulness.
- Increase in unexplained health problems such as stomach aches and headaches.
- Loss or decrease in interest in school, activities, and friends.
- Nightmares or fear of being alone at night.
- Self-harming behaviors or expressing thoughts of suicide or suicidal behavior.
- Failing grades.
- Drug or alcohol use.
Warning Signs of Grooming Behaviors
School and District employees are expected to maintain professional and appropriate relationships with students based upon students’ ages, grade levels, and developmental levels.
Prohibited grooming is defined as (i) any act, including but not limited to, any verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic communication or physical activity, (ii) by an employee with direct contact with a student, (iii) that is directed toward or with a student to establish a romantic or sexual relationship with the student. Examples of grooming behaviors include, but are not limited to, the following behaviors:
- Sexual or romantic invitations to a student.
- Dating or soliciting a date from a student.
- Engaging in sexualized or romantic dialog with a student.
- Making sexually suggestive comments that are directed toward or with a student.
- Self-disclosure or physical exposure of a sexual, romantic, or erotic nature.
- Sexual, indecent, romantic, or erotic contact with a student.
- Failing to respect boundaries or listening when a student says “no”.
- Engaging in touching that a student or student’s guardians have indicated is unwanted.
- Trying to be a student’s friend rather than filling an adult role in the student’s life.
- Failing to maintain age-appropriate relationships with students.
- Talking with students about personal problems or relationships.
- Spending time alone with a student outside of their role in the student’s life or making up excuses to be alone with a student.
- Expressing unusual interest in a student’s sexual development, such as commenting on sexual characteristics or sexualizing normal behaviors.
- Giving a student gifts without occasion or reason.
- Spending a lot of time with a student.
- Restricting a student’s access to other adults.
Warning Signs of Boundary Violations
School and District employees breach employee-student boundaries when they misuse their position of power over a student in a way that compromises the student’s health, safety, or general welfare. Examples of boundary violations include:
- Favoring a certain student by inviting the student to “hang out” or by granting special privileges.
- Engaging in peer-like behavior with a student.
- Discussing personal issues with a student.
- Meeting with a student off-campus without guardian's knowledge and/or permission.
- Dating, requesting or participating in a private meeting with a student (in person or virtually) outside of a professional role.
- Transporting a student in a school or private vehicle without administrative authorization.
- Giving gifts, money, or treats to an individual student.
- Sending a student on personal errands.
- Intervening in a serious student problem instead of referring the student to an appropriately trained professional.
- Sexual or romantic invitations toward or from a student.
- Taking and using photos/videos of students for non-educational purposes.
- Initiating or extending contact with a student beyond the school day in a one-on-one or non-group setting.
- Inviting a student to an employee’s home.
- Adding a student on personal social networking sites as contacts when unrelated to a legitimate educational purpose.
- Privately messaging a student.
- Maintaining intense eye contact with a student.
- Making comments about a student’s physical attributes, including excessively flattering comments.
- Engaging in sexualized or romantic dialog.
- Making sexually suggestive comments directed toward or with a student.
- Disclosing confidential information.
- Self-disclosure of a sexual, romantic, or erotic nature.
- Full frontal hugs.
- Invading personal space.
If you believe you are a victim of child sexual abuse, grooming behaviors, or boundary violations, or you believe that your child is a victim, you should immediately contact the Building Principal, a school counselor, or another trusted adult employee of the School.
Additional resources include:
- National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673)
- National Sexual Abuse Chatline at online.rainn.org
- Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Hotline at 1.800.25.ABUSE (2873)
- The Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center Office of the State’s Attorney at 847.377.3155
- Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee at 847-244-1187.
Sexual Abuse Response and Prevention Resource Guide
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) maintains a resource guide on sexual abuse response and prevention. The guide contains information on and the location of children’s advocacy centers, organizations that provide medical evaluations and treatment to victims of child sexual abuse, organizations that provide mental health evaluations and services to victims and families of victims of child sexual abuse, and organizations that offer legal assistance to and provide advocacy on behalf of victims of child sexual abuse. This guide can be accessed through the ISBE website at www.isbe.net or you may request a copy of this guide by contacting the school’s office.