When a child goes to school, he or she should feel safe and protected from torment and anxiety. In fact, it is often assumed that they will be left alone and free from any type of ridicule or harassment while under the care of their school and it’s staff. Bullying and peer abuse are no longer viewed or accepted as an inevitability or right of passage. We now know that the effects of sexual harassment, verbal assault, physical abuse and emotional bullying can harm children, driving many students to injure themselves, and sometimes even attempt suicide. The emotional and psychological trauma that can be induced due to bullying, peer abuse and teasing can last many years and follow the child into adulthood.
At The Cifarelli Law Firm, LLP, we work to hold individuals, including students, teachers, administrators, schools and school districts accountable for bullying and mistreatment from which your child should be protected. We represent clients throughout Southern California and across the United States from our offices in Irvine, California.
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"Tom and his team at the Cifarelli Law Firm are upstanding, professional people who have treated my case with the utmost dignity and care. The case has been long and involved, but Tom has worked tirelessly throughout. Whenever I've spoken to him on the phone, he has been kind, honest, understanding of the harm that I experienced, and happy to explain and walk me through things. The people at the Cifarelli office are also clear, prompt, easy to get in touch with, and organized.
Tom's thoughtfulness, as well as his commitment to getting a resolution for my case, has made the unpleasant process of going through a lawsuit much more bearable. He is highly experienced and it shows in his care for his clients and his success with difficult and delicate cases. I obviously would not wish the circumstances that led to my case on anyone else, but I would wholeheartedly recommend the Cifarelli Law Firm to anyone else in my position." - A.E.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sexual abuse occurs when one party uses force, coercion, or other means to sexually violate, exploit, or harm another individual. By and large, children are abused by adults, but abuse can occur at the hands of other children as well. In these instances, the focus must be on getting help for all of the children involved. Sexually violent children are often exhibiting modeled or taught behavior and may not be as culpable as adults.
Physical signs of child sexual abuse include bruising around the genitals or anus, bleeding from “private parts,” unexplained injuries, and sexually transmitted diseases. These are not always immediately noticeable, making it important that you also know the emotional and behavioral signs of child sexual abuse.
Emotional changes may include depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from both familial and social interactions. Behavioral changes often include outbursts, inexplicable mood swings, and the adopting of new habits such as nail-biting or regressive behaviors such as thumb-sucking.
If you suspect your child is being abused, please contact us right away to learn how we may be able to help.
If you suspect abuse, talk to others who may have insight or knowledge of what’s going on, keep a close eye on things, and honestly listen to the child to help determine if abuse is occurring. If you have proof, you have a moral and legal obligation to take action.
Child sexual abuse should always be reported to the authorities. These are criminal actions that demand justice and perpetrators must be stopped as quickly as possible. But this is not where justice ends for victims of abuse.
Victims and their families should get in touch with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer who can help with civil proceedings. Criminal charges may result in prison and other penalties, but compensation for the damages suffered by the victim will require civil action.
The Cifarelli Law Firm has a long history of protecting children and helping families get personal justice. Use the contact form on this page or give us a call to schedule a free, confidential case review to learn more.
According to RAINN, child protective services substantiates or finds evidence of the sexual abuse of a child around six times an hour. Every single day. 82% of these victims are female. One in nine girls will be sexually assaulted or abused before turning 19, with females between the ages of 16 and 19 facing a 4x greater risk for being raped.
Children under the age of 12 are the victims in approximately 34% of all childhood sexual abuse cases. In these and 94% of all child sexual abuses cases, the perpetrator is known by the victim.
The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that children who are sexually abused may develop “low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.” RAINN has found that victims of childhood sexual abuse are 4x more likely to develop PTSD and equally as likely to develop substance dependency. The emotional consequences of this type of abuse often last for a lifetime.
The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect defines child sexual abuse as, “Contacts or interactions between a child and an adult when the child is being used for sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person when the perpetrator or another person is in a position of power or control over the victim.”
Taking things a bit further, the World Health Organization defines child sexual abuse as:
“Child sexual abuse is the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society.
Child sexual abuse is evidenced by this activity between a child and an adult or another child who by age or development is in a relationship of responsibility, trust, or power, the activity being intended to gratify or satisfy the needs of the other person. This may include but is not limited to:
- The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity
- The exploitative use of a child in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices
- The exploitative use of children in pornographic performance and materials”
Confront Peer Abuse | Contact A California School Bullying Victim Attorney
Once upon a time, bullying was restricted to social interactions in person, but now, the prevalence of social media has enabled this destructive behavior to follow your child into your home via the Internet. It can feel inescapable for today’s youth, driving many young people to self-destructive behavior.
See Bullying Prevention Tips
Contact us if your child or a loved one has experienced any form of bullying or peer abuse that your school ignored. This includes:
- Physical abuse such as kicking, hitting, pushing or spitting
- Emotional and psychological abuse like intimidation, rumors or purposeful exclusion
- Sexual abuse and harassment like inappropriate touching, embarrassment, assault or exhibitionism
- Verbal abuse such as name calling, threats or excessive teasing
- Cyberbullying via Internet posts, rumors and threats