Abused and now harassed

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2003
Abused and now harassed
22
Sat, 05-03-2003 - 12:12pm
My daughter was sexually molested by her 8-9 year old cousin when she was 3 years old. After she told an adult, he threatened to kill her. My sister never told me and this behavior took place for a year before I knew. It was not constant because she was rarely there. But, still she was placed in a situation that allowed repeated abuse. When I found out, I acted and have protected her from all contact with this child.

Recently in school an 8 year old boy has been sexually harassing my daughter and others in the classroom. (He has asked for sex and sex in showers, etc.) When I made complaints, the boy cornered her and was very angry with her for telling. (She was angry with me for telling.) I removed her from school. More reports of harassment from this boy are reported everyday. Yet no one will stop it. I have exhausted all avenues with the school/principal/superintendent/school board. They all refuse to remove the boy from the classroom. They say that his counselors say it is best for him to remain in his classroom and the girls need counseling to develop better "coping skills." I have tried to file charges with law enforcement. They refused to take a report because the offender is under the age of 10. There are no quick fixes here. All immediate complaint processes have been exhausted.

My husband says that I should send her back to school and then each time this happens we make more noise. I disagree and we fight about this. He didn't have to hear her explain what her cousin was doing to her as a 4 year old. He was working out of state. He has a luxury I don't have. It will haunt me forever and the guilt for me is strong.

My daughter is visibly angry with this boy in her classroom. She is afraid of him and she is very upset about his behavior.

For a normal child, these incidents may not be that big of a deal. They still are wrong and should not happen, period. But, I realize that this may be more traumatic for my daughter.

I am asking myself the following questions:

This boy is 8 years old, her previous abuser was 8-9 years old. How much of her reaction to this boy is related to the past?

She told someone before and nothing happened. She told me this time and the school didn't stop it. How will this effect her ability to stand up against this behavior in the future if I don't make a strong stand here?

Her abuser had an opportunity to threaten her after she told when she was 3... and now this boy had an opportunity to corner her and made her feel threatened after I told. How will this effect her telling me in the future?

She wants to go back to school and feels that she is being punished. She doesn't want to see this boy and wants him out of the class. She doesn't understand why they won't remove him or correct his behavior.

I feel that the rest of her life could be greatly effected by how I proceed, right now. What message do I send to her, if I allow her to return to this environment and nothing has been corrected?

I want to homeschool her for the rest of the year. My husband disagrees with this. We are looking to move to another school district that enforces a "NO Tolerance" policy.

I think she will get over missing her friends for the last 5 weeks of school. I am hoping it can be explained as, not everyone does the right thing in this world and it isn't fair that you are missing out because of his behavior.

I don't think she will ever get over it if I allow her to once again live through telling and nothing happening and her having to face the offender on a daily basis.

My husband says I am making more out of this than needs to be. That she can just deal with it. But, why does she have to?

How can I make the choice that is best for her when my husband and I disagree so strongly? Am I right or is he?

Please help.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Sat, 05-03-2003 - 12:53pm
First of all, the best thing for your daughter is something you've already done--twice now. You have shown her that you believe her and that you will protect her when she needs protecting. I think that would have saved me from a life of depression, had I had one adult who stood up for *me* that way. Then maybe I would have understood that the abuse wasn't my fault. (I think that victims belieiving that the abuse is their fault is probably the most damaging part of the whole thing.)

I think the principal of that school ought to be fired, and then tarred and feathered. Is it possible to get your daughter put into a different classroom to finish out the year? That seems like it would be a good compromise. If I were you, though, I'd go above the principal's head. I'd record everything--in notes. What was said, by whom, on which date. The boy, the principal's "girls need coping skills" reasoning--all of it. And go right up to the governor of your state if you have to. Girls don't need coping skills. They need safe learning environments. And if the school isn't interested in providing that, then . . . as the Queen of Hearts would say, "Off with their heads!" (LOL, that's one of my favorite expressions when I get extremely frustrated.)

Good luck & let us know how it goes!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2003
Sun, 05-04-2003 - 1:06am
Thank you for your support. I do think that my daughter feels like she is being punished. At this point, I would rather her think that this isn't fair, than be continually in an unsafe place. It is so hard to know what the right thing to do is.

There is so much more to my story, it would fill pages. I feel as if the entire state has let my daughter down. We did everything we were supposed to do. We spoke with the teacher several times, the principal, and the superintendent. We contacted law enforcement and were told they would not even take a report. The offender is under the age of 10 years old. I thought the 14th amendment provided for "equal protection under the law." I don't remember the clause.. but only if you are 10 years old. The superintendent tells me she can guarantee that my daughter is safe, she just needs "coping skills." Why are we teaching our daughters to "cope" with unacceptable behavior? Doesn't this just teach them that they have no power in this type of situation?

I have documented everything. My next step is to file complaints with the OCR (Office of Civil Rights). They will conduct an investigation, but I have no idea how detailed that will be. I am considering moving into another school district for next year and homeschooling her for the remainder of this year.

I have become very educated on Title IX and civil rights. The laws the principal violated are many. When a parent complained of the boys behavior and stated that there was a witness (my daughter), the principal said the following. "What do you expect from a child like that (my daughter). Didn't you see what she wore to the Halloween carnival? She showed up in two coconuts and a thong. She is knowledgeable in these areas." My daughter was dress as a cat in a full body leotard. She can't discuss my daughter period, even to make a true statement. But, she slandered an 8 year old victim of sexual harassment. She made sexually harassing comments about a student. She failed to protect the children in the classroom. She had knowledge of this behavior, prior to my child's incidents and has had subsequent complaints.

No one in the chain of command, will do anything. The superintendent will retire this year. She does not deny that these incidents happened or that the boy was wrong. However, she blames me for reporting it. She labels me a troublemaker and warned another victim's mother that if I sue, I will have to pay their attorney's fees. Because "who would a judge believe... the principal, or someone like you." Phone calls have been made to members of the community disparaging my character now. I was not the first parent to complain. I am not the last parent to complain. She claims to be investigating the matter, yet she doesn't call the main witnesses themselves. She has expressed that if I report this to the papers, they will turn it around and I will be the guilty looking party. More victimization of my child. This school district seems to have a policy of "Blame the Victims." If that doesn't work, "Blame the victim's parents." Protect the offender and his destructive behavior teach the victims "coping skills." Sweep everything under the rug.

The problems at the Air force Academy didn't start in college. People need to wake up and realize that this starts early. Look at the Elementary Schools. It is in your own backyard.

Have we digressed so much in this society??

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Sun, 05-04-2003 - 3:14am
You are so right!!! I could not agree more. I am sickened by the Air Force Academy scandal, and what I'm most sickened by is that it's not being dealt with in public. Good luck in your fight, and please let us know how it goes. I'm always looking for ways to help make political kinds of changes in regard to this issue.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Sun, 05-04-2003 - 2:49pm
You are doing the right thing by pushing this - it's disgusting and disgraceful that the proper people won't act. I do think you should talk with the other parents of the kids in this class. If you all go to the newspapers together, no one person can just be slandered and ignored.

I'm really sorry to hear that this is happening to your daughter. It is shame that her own father doesn't have the good sense and plain compassion to help her make a stand against this kind of harrassment.

Mary

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Sun, 05-04-2003 - 4:36pm
I don't know if it's a matter of a lack of compassion or good sense. Of course, I don't know notjustanymom's dh--but I would guess that another part of this might be denial or lack of understanding about how damaging this kind of abuse and harrassment can be. I think it's possible to have a different viewpoint without malice or a lack of compassion coming into play. I would guess that he feels as if wanting a "normal" educational experience (i.e. being in her own classroom) for his daughter feels compassionate to him. I can certainly understand the anger you feel on this child's behalf, though. I feel it, too. It's infuriating.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-05-2003
Mon, 05-05-2003 - 1:30am
Sorry, but I lurk here from time to time and felt compelled to respond to your dilema. First I think you are doing the right thing and should continue. Remember, All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good people to do nothing. I agree with the other poster that said you should band together with the other parents as a group. It is easy to dismiss one parent, or even one at a time, but not a group. There is strength in numbers and most importantly, credability. The news may (or may not) take the word of a school principle over a parent, but it is harder to dismiss a group of parents who have the same complaint. Next, don't stop with the school superintendent. The first rule of complaining about anything is when the person you are dealing with, will not or can not help you, go to their boss, and so on and so forth. A tenured school principle who can not be fired and a disinterested retiring school superintendant may see no reason to care about your problem, but an elected official who cares about their next election win, will. You have a congressman at the state and federal level who can put a little presssure on these people if they feel they need to. School budgets are decided by elected officials so believe me the schools care about keeping them happy.

I wouldn't let the bluff of not going to the newspaper scare you out of giving them the story if that is what you want to do. Bad press is worse on the school then on you. Plus they have to explain their actions on why they have not protected your daughter and the daughters of other parents to a readership that includes many parents. Parents who were not aware of what was going on at school will now be aware. The parents of other daughters will be put on notice that the school will not protect their daughters if the same thing happens to them. Some TV news stations like to get stories like this to investigate. Most schools want to avoid news crews on the property asking a lot questions about the safety policies of the school in these situations.

I am in law enforcement myself and I know of no law that excuses crimes committed by children even as young as eight. They are handled at juvenile courts and are handled differently than adults, but if they brake the law it still counts, and school property is not base. The police sometimes will not take legal action in order to let the school handle it at that level, but if the school is not handling it then they should step in. You should have the right to at least make out a report to have it on record even if they won't take legal action against the child or the parents. It may be that it was because there was only sexual comments and not an actual physical assault that may be making them hestitant to act on a child. Usually an eight year old does not know much better himself, nor do they know much about sex, which makes me suspect of his abuse background. But if the police don't want to act on the sex remarks focus on the threats of violence he has made against her. That issue is a little harder to just ignore, and that may be where you have to turn your focus.

Last, find out about the boys family. There may be a reason why the school is not helping. Maybe they are influential, or perhaps related. It should not make a difference, but it helps to know what you may be up against. Plus, it does not matter a hill of beans what the boys counselor said about your daughter. If he is hired by the boys parents, he is looking out for his interest, not the schools nor your daughters. I'm sorry if this long, and I hope there may be something in here that is useful to you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Mon, 05-05-2003 - 11:34am
Wow! Well said. I think this advice is excellent. And I hope you'll post more often! Thanks.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2003
Tue, 05-06-2003 - 2:37am
Well, I did it. I contacted my senators this weekend. No response yet. Another mother met with the Mayor and seems optimistic.

I was told that there is a rumor that the School District is filing charges against me for keeping my daughter out of school. When I believe that there is no hope, I will file an intent to homeschool her with the district and withdraw her from the system. As long as it is still possible for her to return, I am hesitant.

I just emailed the newspaper and the TV stations. I knew I would not be able to make the phone call without worrying about the fallout.

Here is hoping that we get some help.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Tue, 05-06-2003 - 2:45am
Woo-hoo for you!!! I'm throwing a ticker tape parade here in cyberspace for you! One thing I've noticed during the times I've written to my congressional reps is that I tend to get more serious responses when I write to their DC addresses rather than their local ones. I'm not sure why that is, or if that's just a coincidence, but that's been true for me.

Please let us know how they respond! And good for you for taking action. That has to feel good!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-03-2003
Tue, 05-06-2003 - 10:56am
It feels good and a little scary. I can handle anything if it only effects me. I have found strength I never thought I had. When my daughter told me the awful things that happened to her when she was 4 years old, I maintained a normal stable life for her. My husband was working out of state. I had no family support. It was just me. I fell apart quietly and alone.

The scary part is the fallout for my kids. I worry about my son. He is still in this school. This is his last year in elementary school. He "graduates" in four weeks and he has worked hard for the end of year field trips. I don't want this time ruined for him. I went on a field trip with his class on Friday and it was very hostile towards me from the parent volunteers and the teachers. He is a tough kid and I know he can handle almost anything. He won the Pinewood Derby again for the 3rd time. We are going to the District derby on Saturday. One of the other boys also going, his mom is on the school board. So, you can see the anxiety that I have.

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