PREVENTION IN SCHOOLS AND LEARNING CENTERS
Teachers and educational staff are with our children during the bulk of the child's day. They get to know our kids, learning their behaviors, their habits, their giggles and their pains. So it's safe to say that those adults who are with kids that much time could be the first to spot abuse in a child.
The educator has a vital role in identifying, reporting, and preventing child abuse and neglect. Education professionals submitted more than one-half (56.5 percent) of the cases referred to and assessed or investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS), with education personnel the most frequent source of reports (16.2 percent). This highlights the important role of educators and indicates that many educators are already involved in responding to this issue, yet more can be done to address maltreatment of kids.
Several studies indicate that many educators are not entirely clear what the indicators of child abuse and neglect are or how to report suspected mistreatment. One study surveyed 2,793 schools to assess staff readiness to report child abuse. Because only 51 percent of those completing the questionnaire had received training on reporting child maltreatment, there is still much work to be done to alert educators to their important role in identifying and reporting abuse and neglect.
There are many reasons why educators are crucial in identifying, treating, and preventing child maltreatment. First, they have close and consistent contact with children. Second, educators have a professional and legally mandated responsibility for reporting suspected maltreatment. While educators facilitate children's learning, children cannot learn effectively if their attention or energy is sapped by the conflicts inherent in being abused. Third, school personnel have a unique opportunity to advocate for children, as well as provide programs and services that can help children and strengthen families. A positive relationship with a supporting adult may enhance the resiliency of children who have been abused, are at-risk for being abused, or live in a home where the family experiences other problems such as substance abuse.
There is a downside to educators with so many kids around them, as well. There are those who take their position of power to harm or sexually abuse kids. Most children look up to and trust their teachers, making them an easy and effortless target for abuse. Unfortunately and sadly, predators can be teachers. But armed with the knowledge of how a child sexual predator lures and grooms kids, other well-meaning teachers and educational staff can spot the abuser and hopefully stop the abuse.
Remember, YOU can make a difference. Education, of even the educators, is key! Schools are an important link in a child's life catapulting him or her into a happy and fulfilled existence or it can represent the worst nightmare ever imagined.
Do you know all the laws and mandates that affect you? Teachers and school staff are all mandated reporters! Every state has different laws regarding mandatory reporting, so stay up on the ever-changing mandates.