Child-on-Child Sexual Abuse in K-12 Schools: Why We Need To Do More #MeTooK12

Schools are supposed to be safe environments for children and the community to come together to pursue education and character development. However, there is a very dark secret taking place in K-12 schools today. Child-on-child sexual abuse is a horrific, increasingly prevalent problem in our nation’s primary schools. According to a study done by AP, the sexual violence that occurred in schools was often mischaracterized as bullying, hazing or consensual behavior. It happened anywhere students were left unsupervised: buses, bathrooms, hallways and locker rooms. No type of school was immune, whether it be in an upper-class suburb, an inner-city neighborhood or a blue-collar farm town. The abuses ranged from rape and sodomy to forced oral sex and fondling. According to the study, for every adult-on-child sexual attack reported on school property, there were seven assaults by students. About 5 percent of all sexual attacks reported on school property in a recent two-year period happened to 5 and 6 year olds, according to the AP analysis.

Dark secret in K12 schools: one in seven sexual assaults on kids are by other students. @NCOSE hosting national symposium on child-on-child sexual abuse in October #MeTooK12 Click To Tweet

Several people working within or around the school system spoke out about these abuses going on in our schools.

“Schools are required to keep students safe. It is part of their mission. It is part of their legal responsibility. It isn’t happening. Why don’t we know more about it, and why isn’t it being stopped?”  – Charol Shakeshaft, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University

“No principal wants their school to be the rape school, to be listed in the newspaper as being investigated. Schools try to bury it. It’s the courageous principal that does the right thing.” – Dr. Bill Howe, a former K-12 teacher

“Schools must take the initiative to eliminate sexual harassment and assault, first by acknowledging that these problems exist and then by tackling the problem in curriculum, policy, and the very fabric of school culture and community.” – Cindy Long, a reporter for the National Education Association said,

In reference to several highly contested changes being considered by Betsy DeVos that would alter the way the federal government holds schools accountable for sexual harassment and student assaults, Adele Kimmel, a senior attorney at Public Justice in Washington, D.C. said, “What you see most commonly is that colleges are far ahead of K-12 schools in the development of their sexual-misconduct policies and procedures, their training, and their education of staff and students, making sure that students know who the Title IX coordinator is. My concern is that, with the changes that seem to be coming from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, K-12 schools are going to fall even further behind in terms of Title IX compliance.” The closely watched debate has converged around sexual violence on college campuses, but it could also have huge ramifications for students in K-12 schools, which, advocates say, have long struggled to protect victims from harm.

Monica Beck, an attorney for the Fierberg National Law Group said, “I wish I was seeing a trend where schools are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and better trained in the K-12 setting, but I’m not. I think a lot of people don’t understand the prevalence of sexual assault in this country’s schools.”

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has taken up the issue of child-on-child sexual abuse because few are willing to talk about it. There are almost no resources for schools to deal with this issue. There are almost no resources to assist children with problematic sexual behavior or their families. Our criminal justice system and our medical and mental health treatment systems are not adequately equipped to help with this rising problem.

As a result, NCOSE is bringing this issue out of the shadows and hosting a national symposium in collaboration with the  National Catholic School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America and Protect Young Minds on October 9-10, 2018. All who care about these issues are invited to attend.

To find out more, and to see how you can help, visit our website.

You’re invited to the National Symposium on child-on-child sexual abuse in DC this October hosted by @NCOSE @CUAsocialwork @ProtectYM #MeTooK12 Click To Tweet

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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