Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than six million children are reported as abused or neglected each year. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month so this month is a good time to make sure you’re familiar with your duties in regards to preventing and reporting child abuse.
To help remove barriers that affect students’ readiness to learn, school personnel must be able to recognize when children are being abused and quickly intervene on their behalf.
Child abuse can be more than just bruises and broken bones. Child maltreatment includes physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and exploitation, emotional abuse, threat of harm, and abuse of children with disabilities. While physical abuse may be easier to detect, emotional abuse and neglect leave deep, lasting, invisible scars. Research shows that maltreatment can cause:
- Neurological damage.
- Low self concept.
- School adjustment problems.
- Poor academic outcomes.
While each state has their own laws and regulations as to reporting incidents of child abuse, in nearly all states all school employees are considered mandatory reporters. This means that if any school staff member has reasonable cause to believe a child is being abused, they must report suspected incidents to one or more of the following: local law enforcement, child protection services, and building or district administrators. In order to protect the child, state statutes require school employees to report when they “have reason to suspect,” “have observed,” or “know or have a reasonable cause to believe” that a child is abused or neglected. It’s important for you, as a school staff member, to know which standard your state applies to you so that you can properly protect children from abuse.
The SafeSchools Online Staff Training System offers a Child Abuse: Identification & Intervention course and a Child Abuse: Mandatory Reporting course. We also offer state-specific versions of our Child Abuse: Mandatory Reporting course for Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.