A school district in the state of Florida appears to have blamed four nine-year-old children for being sexually abused by a teacher. Over ten years ago, the students reported that their teacher groped them and forced them to touch him inappropriately over his clothes, but nothing was done about the teacher. When the students' parents found that prior complaints had been made against the teacher, they sued the school district for negligence.
The school district responded by saying that "Plaintiffs were old enough to appreciate the consequences of their own actions and to be held accountable for them." After receiving criticism for their statement, the district defended their statement, saying they had "never taken the position that a child could be implicit in their own child abuse."
The teacher ultimately pleaded guilty to the child abuse charges and surrendered his teaching license, and the school district settled with its plaintiffs for $3.5 million.
While we are glad to see that these plaintiffs received justice, it is unconscionable that the school district could have suggested the students were responsible for their own abuse. Children under the age of consent are simply not old enough to be held responsible for their own abuse. We hope to see this culture of victim-blaming end so that anyone who was abused as a child feels confident in coming forward.