Did you know that most instances of child sexual abuse are committed by a relative or someone else the child knows intimately? Unfortunately, children are also targeted by predators within youth-serving organizations designed to protect and provide activities for them.
If you suspect a child has been abused or is in danger of being abused in Oklahoma, you are required by law to file a report. Contact the Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline at 800-522-3511; if you believe a child is in immediate danger, call local law enforcement or dial 911.
The compassionate Oklahoma lawyers at Carr & Carr Attorneys at Law understand the devastating impacts of sexual abuse, and we are dedicated to helping abuse victims and their families recover the financial security they need to move forward with their lives. To learn how we may be able to help you pursue compensation through a civil justice claim, please call us at 888-238-4282 or contact us online to arrange your free, confidential consultation. Our attorneys represent clients throughout Oklahoma via offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Examples of Youth-Serving Organizations
A number of high-profile legal cases in recent years have demonstrated that children are sometimes targeted for abuse through programs and organizations intended to serve youth. Examples of these types of organizations include:
- After-school programs
- Recreation groups
- Scout organizations
- Youth sports leagues
Among reported instances of child sexual abuse, abuse in youth-serving organizations is relatively rare. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, about 90 percent of reported child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a family member or someone whom the victim and his or her family know well.
But many instances of abuse go unreported because children are often unable or unwilling to communicate sexual abuse. And when abuse occurs in youth-serving organizations, there is often more than one victim. This is why it’s important for parents and guardians to be vigilant of sexual abuse indicators.
Signs of Child Sexual Abuse
Early signs of child sexual abuse are often behavioral or emotional and include:
- Changes in appetite or eating habits
- Fear of being separated from parents or guardians, or being left alone with certain individuals
- Playing with toys in a sexual way
- Recurrence of outgrown behaviors, such as bedwetting or thumbsucking
- Regular nightmares or sleeping problems
- Shifts in personality, such as swings to anxiety or anger
- Social withdrawal
- Use of adult terms or slang for body parts with no obvious source
Children may also exhibit physical indicators, such as unexplained bruising or bleeding around the genital area, or reports of recurring pain while going to the bathroom.
Child Sexual Abuse and the Civil Justice System
The effects of child sexual abuse can last a lifetime. While the criminal justice system allows for the punishment of sexual abuse perpetrators, the civil justice system provides a way for victims to seek financial compensation to help cope with medical expenses, mental health care and other damages.
Civil lawsuits can also be filed in absence of criminal charges. Prosecutors won’t file formal criminal charges unless they believe they have enough evidence to establish abuse “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
A civil action, however, can be pursued against the offender as well as any other parties who may have been negligent in allowing the sexual abuse to occur. This is because the standard of liability differs in criminal and civil cases.
Unlike a criminal case, a civil lawsuit does not have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the plaintiff must establish that it is more likely than not that the accused committed the act in question and is liable for damages.
Damages in Civil Justice Cases
There are generally three types of monetary damages available to plaintiffs in civil justice cases:
- Economic Damages: Quantifiable damages, such as compensation for medical expenses or mental health treatment
- Noneconomic Damages: General damages with no specific monetary cost, such as mental anguish or pain and suffering
- Punitive Damages: Additional monetary damages designed to punish a defendant for especially egregious behavior
The Oklahoma attorneys at Carr & Carr understand the unique challenges faced by sexual abuse victims, and we fight hard for the financial peace of mind victims and their families need for their recovery journey. If you have reason to believe your child is a victim of sexual abuse, please call us today at 888-238-4282 or contact us online.
Your confidential consultation is free, and our lawyers don’t charge unless we successfully resolve your case. Carr & Carr welcomes clients from the greater Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas, and throughout Oklahoma.