Reporting Abuse, Neglect,and Exploitation of Children
OBJECTIVESAfter successfully completing this course, you will beable to:• Define child abuse.• Recognize the signs of child abuse.• Know how to respond to a report of child abuse.• Understand how to protect yourself from child abuse allegations.• Define professional judgment and understand how to use professional judgment when working with children.
What is child abuse?As an employee of Walton County SchoolDistrict—and as a responsible citizen—you need to know that child abuse cannotbe tolerated in any form.Child abuse, according to most statestatutes, is defined as:• Intentional infliction of a physical or mental injury upon a child.• Any intentional act that could be expected to result in a physical or mental injury to a child.• Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could be expected to result in a physical or mental injury to a child.
What Are Your Responsibilities?As an employee in an educationalinstitution, you are required by law toreport child abuse.Walton County Protocol requires that youreport suspected child abuse to theschool counselor or schooladministrator.Teachers, school officials or other schoolpersonnel who know or have reasonablecause to suspect that a child is abused,abandoned or neglected, have aresponsibility to report the suspectedabuse for the protection of children.Report child abuse. It is thelaw!(O.C.G.A. 19-7-5)
STUDY EXERCISEYOU ARE REQUIRED TO REPORT ALL OF THEFOLLOWING:SUSPECTED ABUSENEGLECTABANDONMENTTRUE OR FALSE?
Report the Abuse Right Away!As an employee of Walton CountySchool District, if you know or suspectthat a child has been abused and youintentionally fail to report it promptly,you can be arrested and charged witha criminal count of "Neglect of a Child."The penalties of such acharge range frommisdemeanor to felony.
Protect the Child If you witness or hear reports from a student, student’s sibling, a parent, or a reliable source, you must act. Child abuse includes: Threat of abandonment Severe demeaning comments Beating Withholding food or essential medical care Lewd or sexual acts between adults and children Exploitation of a child, or Child pornography viewingReport the abuse to your school counselor, or if you cannot locate theschool counselor then report to your school administrator. If youwitness or hear anything that you feel is abuse, you are required toreport it.
When a Child Victim TellsAccording to the Children’s AdvocacyCenter, when a child victim tells about anabusive episode, you should:• Support the child and immediately report the incident.• NOTE: The reporter’s identity is kept confidential by investigation agencies.• Reassure the child that he or she has done nothing wrong and it is his or her right to tell someone.• Explain to the child that you are required to do whatever you can to ensure his or her safety.
What Else Should You Do? Express belief that the child is telling the truth. Use discretion when talking with the child to respect his or her privacy. Respond to the child in understanding terms. Allow the child to speak in his or her own words.
What NOT to Do• Do not elicit detailed information from the child after initial disclosure. This could contaminate the case. Attaining information is the responsibility of the investigators. Please refer to your handout for permissible general questions.• Do not call the child’s parents. Until the initial investigation is complete, you cannot know if the parents are involved. Even if the parents are not the abusers, they may have had knowledge of the abuse and did not intervene.• Do not make promises. Refrain from telling the child things like, "If you say this or do that, I promise this will or won’t happen to you."• Do not allow your emotions to affect the child.• Do not call the abuser a "bad person." The abuser may be a relative or close friend of the family.
STUDY EXERCISEFROM THE LIST BELOW PLEASE SELECT FOUR (4) THINGSYOU SHOULD DO IF A CHILD VICTIM TELLS YOU HE ORSHE IS BEING ABUSED.• Immediately report the incident to your school counselor or school administrator.• Notify the parents.• Reassure the child that he or she has done nothing wrong.• Elicit as much information as possible from the student.• Allow the child to speak in his or her own words.• Express belief that the child is telling the truth.
Rules of ThumbNever Minimize the Seriousness of Child AbuseIt is important that you remember to never minimizethe seriousness of child abuse. The child’shappiness and future are at stake.You may be the only individual willing to protectthe child, thereby saving him or her from alifetime of physical and emotional harm.
Rules of ThumbNever Cover Up Your SuspicionsSometimes you may be unsure orfeel that your suspicions areunfounded, and, if so, that youractions might actually be harmful tothe alleged perpetrator. Neverattempt to excuse or cover up yoursuspicions of child abuse.Report all cases of suspectedchild abuse.
Rules of ThumbReport All Suspected Child AbuseImmediately report all suspected childabuse to the school counselor oradministrator.You may fear that reporting child abuseplaces you in an uncompromising situation.From our formative years, we are taught tomind our own business, but when it comesto child abuse, the child’s safety is andalways will be our business. The need toreport the abuse far outweighs our naturaltendency to avoid "telling" on someone.You have a responsibility to report the
STUDY EXERCISE Which of the following statements is TRUE regarding your responsibility to report suspected child abuse? A You should only report child abuse when a student admits he or she is being abused. B Minimizing the seriousness of the abuse will help the child heal more quickly. C If you are unsure, you should not report your suspicions. D You have a responsibility to report ALL suspected abuse.
What if the Suspect is a Coworker?At some time during your career youmight suspect that a coworker isabusing his or her own child or thechildren in the classroom. This iscertainly a difficult situation, but thesame rule applies.You must report your suspicionsto the school counselor oradministrator.
Professional JudgmentTo prevent allegations of abuse being leveled at you, as an employee of theschool, you must make sure that your behavior is above reproach.Your behavior will, in most cases, be the behavior that either builds a strongrelationship with the community or destroys that relationship.Using professional judgment will help build trust and a sense of communitypride in your school. Ensure that your actions do nothing to destroy the trustplaced in you by parents and others in the community.
Using Professional Judgment Use "professional judgment" when interacting with students. Maintain a professional barrier between you and your students. You are the professional: act like the mature adult, not like one of the children. Keep the classroom door open when talking with students individually. Refer students to the appropriate person for counseling and discussions about personal matters. Do not discuss your husband, wife, girlfriends, or boyfriends with students. Keep these matters to yourself. Use verbal praises and reinforcements.
Using Professional JudgmentProfessional judgment, in the context of interacting withstudents, means conducting yourself in a proper manner.• Attend chaperone-only school-sponsored functions.• When serving as a teacher or chaperone on field trips, understand your responsibilities and the limitations on personal interactions with the students.• When transporting students, coordinate transportation ahead of time with your principal or supervisor. Never transport students in your personal vehicle. Use school buses or mass transportation whenever possible.• When on field trips, use a buddy system. Avoid situations when a lone student is separated from the group. Always have two or more staff members or volunteer chaperones with each group of students.• Avoid leaving students unsupervised at any time.• Treat students with respect.• Know students’ rights. If you do not know their rights, refer to the student handbook, or contact the principal.
Using Professional JudgmentTo keep yourself free from allegations of abuse, as anemployee of the school, you must make sure your behavior isabove reproach. There are always situations and behaviorsthat you must avoid. Always remember to use professionaljudgment and avoid the following "do nots" when interactingwith students.• Do not socialize with students outside of school.• Do not drink alcoholic beverages in front of students.• Do not use corporal punishment. Use a consistent disciplinary behavior plan when dealing with students.• Do not transport students in your personal vehicle.• Do not take students home with you. Never!!• Do not ask students to accompany you to outside school events. This can lead to a misunderstanding of the activity or your actions.
Using Professional Judgment• Do not pick up students from their homes or anywhere else.• Do not make telephone calls or write notes of a personal nature to students.• Do not harass, tease or mistreat students; do respect their differences.• Do not flirt with students.• Do not discuss your personal life or personal matters with students.• Do not discuss your husband, wife, girlfriends or boyfriends with students.
STUDY EXERCISE Which of the following is an example of appropriate behavior when interacting with students? A Picking up a student at his or her home. B Talking to students about your husband or wife. C Keeping the classroom door open when talking with students individually. D Leaving students unsupervised.
Questionable Activities Avoid teacher interactions that are considered questionable:• Avoid any activity that you fear may be misunderstood by a student or by anyone that may witness your actions. If you are not sure if the activity is questionable, it probably is. Discuss the matter with your principal or supervisor before proceeding.• If you witness or are told about a questionable activity that happens on or off campus between a fellow employee and a student, immediately discuss this with your principal or supervisor. This also includes witnessing or hearing about another employee engaging in a questionable activity.• If you witness or are told about a questionable activity that happens on or off campus between adults and students, discuss them with your principal as soon as possible after witnessing or hearing about the incident.
STUDY EXERCISEYOU WITNESS A FELLOW TEACHER DRIVINGA STUDENT TO SCHOOL. YOU SHOULDREPORT THIS ACTIVITY TO YOURSUPERVISOR OR PRINCIPAL.TRUE OR FALSE?
Protecting the ChildWe are glad you have chosen a career in education and know that you are a dedicatededucator or supporter of education because you love children and want to see themsucceed. The greatest reward for an educator is a student discovering the joy of learning,and you are the catalyst in this amazing process.When you listen to an abused child’s call for help, do the right thing andreport it. You can play a crucial role in helping a child escape from anabusive situation. None of us wants to see a child suffer.Child abuse is a problem that most of us are reluctant to discuss. It is adelicate and appalling topic. To protect the children, you need to openlydiscuss it and report the abusive treatment as soon as possible.
For any further questions, please contact theStudent Services Department at the central office.(770) 266-4510 - Gina Meadows, Student Services Director - Eric Rubio, Student Services Coordinator - Pam Reaves, Student Services Coordinator