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Exposing School Employee Sexual Abuse and Misconduct: Shedding Light on a Sensitive Issue

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 128 Issue: 1 Dated: 2019 Pages: 26-45
Date Published
20 pages

This study documented and analyzed the characteristics of school employee sexual misconduct cases reported in the media.


Although the media continue to report incidents of school employee sexual misconduct, few empirical studies focus on this issue. The current study sought to address this gap in the literature, expand knowledge and awareness around the problem, and inform future research and programs. The authors conducted a landscape analysis of 361 published school employee sexual misconduct cases in the United States in 2014, documenting factors such as offender and victim characteristics, type of incident, technology use, location of offense, and resulting disciplinary actions by schools and law enforcement. These analyses showed that offenders were most often male and general education teachers, with approximately a quarter identified as athletic coaches. Offenders' average age was 36 years, and the average age of victims was 15. More than half of incidents took place at school or school-related events. Results also showed that school employee sexual misconduct incidents most often involved physical contact; however, technology (i.e., cell phones, computers, cameras/video recorders, and storage devices) played an important role in three out of four cases. Analyses of the criminal and school-related consequences showed that over half of offenders were placed on administrative leave or resigned immediately following their arrest, and almost all were convicted of their crimes. Additional findings on this topic are also reported in this article. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019