I am a teacher
It can be difficult to figure out why one of your students has suddenly become quiet or very hyperactive. It takes time to find out what it is that is bothering them. In the case of an experience with sexual misconduct, we will share a few tips here.
It is always important to speak with your students about sexual boundaries. In this way, you might be able to prevent certain unpleasant situations. It is important as a teacher to express that this is not a taboo.
Every student has a mentor or coach that might know a little more about the student’s personal situation. Try to initiate a conversation with this person privately, to voice your concerns about the student. This coach can then take further action. If the student approaches you specifically, discuss this with their mentor or coach. Do what is best for your student. It is also possible to contact a professional team (whether linked to the school or not) that will know what to do in specific situations. It is important to realise that you should not try to solve everything by yourself, this is not your expertise as a teacher, and there is a wide range of professionals who can help the student.
It is okay
An experience of sexual misconduct can lead to undesired behavior from the student within the classroom environment. Examples of this can be disrupting the classes, seeking a lot of attention, or closing off completely. Try to accept this behavior (to a certain extent) and make the person feel it is okay. Of course, this is as long as the classes are not extremely disrupted and it does not come at the expense of other students.
It can be extremely difficult but please wait until the end of class if you want to speak with the student privately. Having a private conversation creates a safe atmosphere for the student. Also wait with contacting the parents or caretakers. Maybe they do not know yet what has happened. It is very important to respect the wishes of the student, but do not promise to keep it a secret. If your student is in serious danger, you might not have a choice but to share it with someone else. Make sure to tell your student that you will keep this to yourself in principle and you will try to do everything in your power to help them, but that you might share it if it is deemed necessary for their safety. It is also always important to take into account the regulations of the school you work at.