Nurses and accusations of sexual harrassment


I am a LVN in California that works at an elementary school. The school district I work tries to place license nurses at each school. I have been trying to find information on how a nurse can protect themselves from accusations of sexual harrassment. Working in a school I've learned there are special "precautions" to touching students. You can't hug for one. Unfortunately, the nurses are learning this as we go. The district nurse I work under never gave me specific information. As a nurse we do assessments that may require touching, i.e. palpating for swelling if a child bangs their head. One of my colleagues lost her job because the district nurse accused her of inappropriate touching. She had been stroking the arm to comfort an upset student and holding the hair of another while the student was vomiting. I can not find anything in our union's information booklet to address these issues or even explain expectations. I've searched a variety of nursing league websites and board sites to no success. Does anyone know where I can get such information. I'd like to present the information at our next nurses meeting and turn this sad situation into something more positive. :confused:

BabyLady, BSN, RN

2,300 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Post-partum.

To me, if that school is that paranoid about giving a CHILD a hug, a pat on the back, or holding the hair while vomiting, and worries so much about sexual harassment that you are afraid to even touch a student...sounds like someone higher up on the ladder may have had a "history" with such things, then it doesn't sound like a place I would want to work...out of fear of such an accusation.

Seriously...I have never heard of such a thing!

I think the problem is the district nurse.


14 Posts

Thank you for your input. I agree. I am working on getting myself a new position somewhere. It just takes time. I can't be out of my office without a sub so I have to use "pupil free" days to look. I've done all I can do here professionally and after this situation would prefer to not get myself into the same situation while I try and apply my nursing to students. And yes, this is a difficult district nurse. I don't honestly think she sees LVNs as worthy nurses. If we were she would spend some time advocating for us rather than accusing us.

pagandeva2000, LPN

7,984 Posts

Specializes in Community Health, Med-Surg, Home Health.

I would press this district nurse for more specifics and document what she is saying. I also believe that the issues you mentioned are not worthy of sexual harassment. I have a friend who stated that they are not allowed to lift up their shirts without permission, or that the child should be the one to lift the injured area...however, what if the child is too stunned or afraid (not due to sexual harassment) to do so, and the nurse does, in fact, have to see the area in order to assess? Is there a union? Maybe they can also answer your questions. You do have a point, though. I'd rather know now or never. I'll try to remember to ask my friend and then post back her responses. She has been a school nurse for 3 years, now and seems to love it.


263 Posts

This is the problem with society today. Everyone is so paranoid and suspects everyone who comes into contact with children to be some sort of child predator. Part of it is the media and their scare stories that GREATLY overstate the actual instances of these things, and part of it is that people are ready to sue/press charges over every little thing. Policies like the ones you described don't actually do anything to protect children; the only moral of the story for children is to fear and question the motives of everyone you meet just in case they secretly want to molest you. Honestly, stuff like this makes me sick.

BabyLady, BSN, RN

2,300 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Post-partum.

Personally, I think that parents should sign a waiver as part of the normal paperwork, allowing the school nurse to assess a child in the event of an injury and be clear in that waiver that it may include touching the child or asking them to remove a garment (what if a little boy or girl was injured in the genitals?).

If the parents don't want to sign, no big deal, call 911 for an ambulance if little Johnny gets a nose bleed...and let the parents fight it out with their insurance company.

I'm serious!

It defeats the entire purpose of having a school nurse.


1,756 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Memory loss, PDN. Has 23 years experience.

While the motive (protect the child) is good, execution is lacking severely. No plan, no written guidelines, this is not the place to learn as you go. I wonder if the motive really is to protect the child or is it to protect the district from legal problems and bad publicity. You cannot be an effective nurse under these circumstances. As mentioned before, what would you do if a child presented with hematuria. I would present my concerns to the district nurse in writing and request establishment of specific guidelines asap, or I'd get out. Surely there are other school districts that have this in place. I wonder how private schools address this issue.

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