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Fear May Prevent Kids From Reporting Abuse

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BEVERLY HILLS (CBS) — With the investigation of a LAUSD teacher ongoing, it’s hard to understand how so many kids could have been victimized for so long, but experts say part of the reason is fear.

“Their power was stripped away from them and they were sadistically hurt,” said child psychologist Doctor Fran Walfish.

School officials say Mark Berndt led students to believe it was a game.

“I don’t think any one of those children thought it was fun,” Dr. Walfish said.

Blindfolded with their mouths taped shut, some children were reportedly spoon fed Berndt’s bodily fluid.

Police believe the abuse happened for years, but as far as we know, not one student out of dozens said one thing about it.

“Children that age are very afraid to tell,” said Dr. Walfish, who added that no matter how the acts were initiated, in those types of situations, children can feel guilty or responsible.

“I suspect that he threatened that he would hurt their families,” she said.

Like in many cases involving lewd acts with children, Dr. Walfish believes the perpetrator more than likely experienced a similar incident as a child.

“Research shows that what was done to us is repeated,” Dr. Walfish said.

She said that it is important that victims acknowledge what happened.

“Encouraging and inviting these children to express their anger and rage at the violator,” she said.

Perhaps the key to prevention is emphasizing the importance of communication, she said.

“You need to tell your child, ‘speak up, don’t be afraid to be the only one to say stop,’” she said.

Experts also advise parents to tell their children to be assertive and trust their gut feeling, whenever they feel something is wrong.

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