Top row, from left: Kevin Patrick Kirkland, Laura Whitehurst, Mark Berndt, Thomas Joseph Snider. Bottom row, from left: Steven Michael Martinez, Robert Pimentel, Paul Chapel III.

Every day, Terri Miller receives a spate of Google alerts on her iPhone informing her that, somewhere in the U.S., a teacher or other school employee has been accused of sexually abusing one or more students.

“They come in sometimes by the hundreds daily. We’ve been seeing increases yearly since 2014,” said Miller, executive director of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.), a Las Vegas-based nonprofit that works to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment of students by teachers and other school staff.

The extent of the problem in America’s schools is impossible to quantify. No national database tracks instances of sexual abuse of students by employees in K-12 schools. But anecdotal evidence, spilling off the pages of newspapers and online news sites across the country, suggests something close to an epidemic.

Beyond the human toll for children who have been sexually traumatized by school employees in positions of authority, the costs to taxpayers when educators fail to properly intervene are staggering. In Southern California alone, teenage victims of sexual abuse in high-profile cases over the past seven years have been paid $312.7 million to settle their lawsuits against school districts. Among them: