A school district’s commitment to re-examining child abuse reporting policies works in the best interest of children.
By October 16, 2015, all staff of one public school district in Maryland will be trained on procedures and policies related to child abuse reporting. Here’s a link to the full news story on the district in question: New school child-abuse-reporting policy up for adoption in Washington County
Previously the district’s schools only trained instructional staff and administrative staff. According to the school district, non-instructional and non-administrative staff had reported child abuse and/or neglect concerns in the past, but they had never received any formal training on the topic. That’s about to change in a big way.
Now all staff, including employees like custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, etc., will receive training on child abuse/neglect reporting. This brings up the important question of who is (or is not) considered to be a “mandated reporter.”
In most states, a mandated reporter is legally required to ensure a report is made when child abuse is witnessed or suspected. However, the definition of who’s considered to be a mandated reporter clearly differs in different parts of the world. The Maryland-based school district is bringing some interesting questions to light, such as:
- Even if one is a mandated reporter, did they receive the necessary training to determine what is child abuse and neglect?
- Just because one is not deemed a mandated reporter, shouldn’t they feel morally compelled to make a report of observed abuse or suspected abuse?
Too many children today show very clear and evident signs of being maltreated and abused – these signs do not have to be physical evidence of abuse, as they may be behaviors or other cries for help.
Children who reside in areas that people assume aren’t touched by violence or poverty are often overlooked as possible abuse victims. Child abuse and neglect touches all neighborhoods and all schools.
We need to become more educated about child abuse and open our eyes and our hearts and speak on behalf of children who need a voice.