We all fear for our children’s health and well-being when we send them out into the world. For parents of children with special needs, that fear is typically intensified due to the special care and attention that their children require due to their disabilities.

We all want to think that when we send our special needs kids to school that we can trust that their teachers and caretakers will act in their best interests. However, there have been cases of teachers behaving abhorrently to children with special needs. Here’s what to do if you suspect your special needs child is being mistreated at school.

Talk to Your Child

Different special needs children have different abilities when it comes to communication. While some children are nonverbal and communication is not an option, if your child has verbal skills, have a conversation with them about what they’re experiencing. Even a child who has difficulty communicating might be able to give you some insight into what they’re experiencing. They may have been threatened to not tell anyone. See behavioral changes. Talk to a therapist if you suspect foul play and they may be able to get them to open up through play therapy. Reassure your child that if someone tells them to keep a secret, especially if they threaten them, that you will have their back no matter what. Then stick to it.

Start Documenting

If your child has visible indicators of bodily harm or damaged personal property, it’s integral that you document this. You will need it should you decide to file a police report, which will be necessary if you decide to take legal action. The more evidence you have, the more solid a case you’ll have against the school and the abusive teachers in question.

Trust Your Instincts

It’s important that you consult with a personal injury attorney before you communicate to the school administrators that you have a concern. While we’d like to think that all educators are deeply moral people who put children’s needs above all else, the fact of the matter is that many administrators will cover things up or attempt to obfuscate the truth in order to protect the school’s interests.

Chances are that you don’t want to want it to happen. However, dismissing reality is a defense mechanism when we have to face something hard. It is important for your child’s wellbeing and for future children to not be mistreated to make sure that this gets investigated and stopped.

Your attorney will be able to help you decide whether or not you wish to proceed with legal action. If your attorney determines that the incidents described do not rise to the severity level that would constitute abuse, then you can consider talking to the school directly and determining how instructors can better deal with your child so that incidents like this don’t happen again. Otherwise, if real abuse was suffered, a criminal complaint and legal action are absolutely necessary.

No parent wants to think that their special needs child is being abused in a place where they should be safe. Follow this guide if you believe that your special needs child’s rights have been violated by their school.