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More on Sexual Abuse at Deaf Schools

By September 28, 2008

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I just finished reading this eight-page article, "Deaf School Abuse," in the The Advocate, a Louisiana publication. The article raises the following points:

  • Deaf students, especially those with multiple disabilities, are at greater risk for being abused
  • Deaf children who have limited language, may not understand the situation.
  • Some of the abuse comes from peers; other abuse comes from adults working at the school
  • These types of problems are not unique to schools for the deaf - they happen in any institutional setting. The State Superintendent told The Advocate, "I've been told by the experts that we brought in that the amount of activity we have going on is lower than normal as compared to (other) residential deaf education settings."

Coincidentially, this past week saw a report on the arrest of a former teacher at American School for the Deaf. (Reported on by an NBC affiliate and the Hartford Courant, and blogged by deaf people)

Background checks of adults prior to hiring can do only just so much to protect kids. You also have to be concerned about students themselves with other students. Deaf students with limited language can find themselves doing the wrong things with other deaf students.

I understand how vulnerable a deaf child can be in a deaf school or deaf program because this happened to a deaf child I know. That student was molested by a slightly older deaf student. The incident happened out of sight of the adults.

Abuse at deaf schools (and programs) has been discussed on the forum. Add to the thread. No registration required.

September 28, 2008 at 10:50 am
(1) Anno says:

I heard about LSD abused and rapist to deaf students. I am told Oklahoma Deaf School Worker raped 14 deaf students. What a sad story about States of deaf school.

September 28, 2008 at 11:12 am
(2) Dianrez says:

Concerned people have the right to ask their child’s school what the policy is on abuse.

Some schools have written policies that include zero tolerance (immediate suspension or firing for even slight infractions.)

The best schools will also have training for young children on protecting themselves, such as “Good touch-Bad touch” with suggestions how to report abuse if it occurs.

Abuse also occurs in integrated programs; but what worries me is that it is not usually reported as often although disabled children are probably more vulnerable in integrated situations.

September 28, 2008 at 12:15 pm
(3) Jean Boutcher says:

I like Dianrez’s suggestions.

PTA should demand a policy, and, in turn, they should train their children to report to the authorities as well as to notify their parents.

In my time, non-signing houseparents and even some teachers were abusive towards students aged between five and 16.

September 28, 2008 at 1:06 pm
(4) Concerned says:

I know an individual who worked at a deaf school got fired for having a sexual intercourse with a female student in a bathroom during after school program (a staff busted them in action). Three weeks later, he got a job at a different deaf school. How the hell did he get that job? Good enough a few months later he was busted for giving female student his home address and VP nbr. Also, I know a friend who was a victim of sexual abuse by a specific person. Her family reported it to residential school. What did the administrators do? They just demoted this molestor to a positon that minimized contact with students. How stupid!!!

September 28, 2008 at 2:36 pm
(5) RLM says:

The WVSD (WV School for the Deaf) totally banned any kind of physical contacts with students at all the time which I fought pretty hard for this kind of policy during my student leadership.

After graduated from the WVSD in 1984, the school finally enacted the non-physical contacts.

Many houseparents and teachers have been greatly frustrated for not able to discipline students or get any students’ attention.

Sexual abuse of deaf youngsters could be happen everywhere.

More and more deaf alumnus and advocates of deaf children ought to montior the residential schools of the deaf on frequent basis.


I was often physically and verbally abused by some sadistic houseparents, students and teachers to make them feel good and superior.

Guess what? I never subccumb to anyone.



September 29, 2008 at 10:07 am
(6) Candy says:

There is a lot we all can do to help protect kids, we start with our own and teach them good touch and bad touch.

My mom taught me that (she’s deaf btw) and her mom taught her that, and with knowledge, there’s power.

My friends daughter was a victim of sex abuse as a child and when I found out that she never taught her kids “good touch/bad touch”, I knew it would have done a world of good for her kid. She was surprised to learn that my mom talked to me about these things.

So….let’s start with our kids and our friends’ kids and so on, the more we know, the better off we are.

October 7, 2008 at 9:54 pm
(7) PAUL says:

my son was assaulted twice at the louisiana school for the deaf, this was done by two differnt students.

October 9, 2008 at 5:51 pm
(8) anne says:

I went to Tennessee School for the Deaf. In the 90′s there was a big incident where one male staff (a dean of the residential life program) was being a foster father to a teen girl (a student) with his wife at that time, and this man and teen girl got into a sexual relationship. It was consenting but still she was a minor. The only thing that happened was he got fired and banned from campus, but the administration didn’t press charges because they didn’t want to bring negative media attention. Also, in the late 90′s an adult young woman, a college student who worked in the residential life program, entered in a sexual relationship with a teen boy who was a classmate of my brother’s. She got busted and was fired/banned from campus, but no charges were brought again. Just swept under the rug as if nothing happened. Also I know of many many MANY sexual things that went on in the 70′s, and 80′s and 90′s. my residential life classmates would brag about having sex behind the trees, buildings, and when the staff members weren’t paying attention. A lot of my old peers lost their virginity at an average age of 10-12 years ago. Three girls in my senior class were pregnant, out of a class of 15-17 peers. Imagine that.

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