Prior to the pandemic, your kids typically spent 8 hours a day with other children and adults. Even now, whether your kids have landed back in classrooms for face to face learning or they’re getting their education remotely, they’re generally not under your strict supervision while sitting in front of their online classes. Their teachers are still somewhat responsible for their supervision. Because teachers play such a huge role in your children’s lives, it only makes sense that they would be categorized as mandatory reporters.
Mandatory reporters are people in positions of trust who are required to contact law enforcement and/or the state welfare department, to report incidents of abuse or neglect of a child. With so many children spending hours online for distance education at the moment, zoom-bombing has emerged as a new threat of abuse to children. Zoom bombing is where individuals break into live stream classes to show nudity and other sexually explicit adult content to your kids. Teachers now find themselves in the rare position of having to protect children from online predators.
Zoom-bombing is a form of sexual harassment
The zoom-bombing phenomenon is happening in online classrooms all over the country. In some incidents the perpetrator may be a complete stranger, while others could be known to the students or staff. Some of the sexually explicit material being shared includes:
- Nude photos being used as profile photos
- Video and images of a sexual nature
- Live video of nude adults
- Sexually explicit drawings
- Harmful comments by someone impersonating a student
In some of these cases the online classroom was shut down, and in others the behavior was reported to local law enforcement. Some children who have screenshots of the images appear to be sharing them among one another on social media, which can also constitute a crime.
How some of these events are occurring is much less complicated than someone with hacker skills gaining access to your child’s online classroom. Social media app TikTok has been pinpointed as potentially compromising your children’s safety, because of users asking high school students for their classroom login information in exchange for the promise of some excitement.
Zoom-bombing behavior can escalate. Once the individual has control over the live stream, he or she may be able to use the camera on your child’s computer to see what he or she looks like. Information about where your child attends school may be possible to obtain, and a stranger on the other end of the keyboard who intends harm could even locate your child online and cultivate a relationship intended to garner his or her trust. We’ve already seen horrific story after story of online predators victimizing your children outside of your home through committing acts of sexual abuse or assault.
What video conferencing behavior must teachers report?
Teachers are required to report anything that endangers the welfare of their students, and there appears to be plenty of that going around through these interruptions of virtual classrooms. Even if another student turns out to be the one who disseminated the inappropriate content, the educator is legally tasked with the duty to report it. After that, what happens could be up to law enforcement and the California Department of Social Services.
Video interruptions from uninvited participants that may be reported include:
- Depictions of actual nudity
- Showing drawings of sexually explicit images
- Audio of adult content
- Any harassing or threatening behavior
If a teacher fails to properly report any of these concerns or incidents, he or she may be held liable for being derelict in his or her responsibilities as a mandatory reporter. The consequences can involve being sued civilly, being charged with a crime, and even losing your job.
Both teachers and children have entered new territory with the incorporation of remote learning environments. Issues that were not present in classrooms now have ways of affecting our kids during hours of the day we believed they’d be most protected when away from us. Teachers are having to act as distant educators and mandatory reporters under unpredictable circumstances, but they still have an obligation to safeguard your children to the best of their abilities.
If you believe your child has experienced sexual abuse or harassment as a result of an online education platform and nothing was done to prevent it, you have legal options. Speak with the Los Angeles child sexual abuse attorneys at Taylor & Ring to learn how you can seek justice and protect your child moving forward. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 310-776-6390, or tell us your story by reaching out to us through our contact form.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.