“5. Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.”
Healthy and safe learning environments are required in order for students feel welcomed and protected at school. A teacher having knowledge of reporting child abuse, youth violence, and neglect will assist in managing a safe space for students. Being observant and alert to student behavior in the classroom and with parents will help schools care and provide for student needs. Having a clear understanding of the reporting process within the school and state is important information for a teacher to have.
The following screenshot from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (2010) depicts the importance of reporting Child Abuse and Neglect.
If abuse is happening in the home it is imperative to report and protect students from further harm. Teachers are observing and monitoring students throughout the day and can be the initiators of getting students the help they need. The article points out that making a report can be beneficial to parents, allowing them to learn, better care for and protect their children.
The educator I observed explained that she has never needed to report child abuse or neglect for the students she was working with. She is a relatively new teacher, being in her 2nd year of teaching. She was aware of the process of reporting at her school through detailed training as a new employee. When it comes time for reporting, the staff member notifies the principal and the school counselor who documents and reports the behavior to Child Protective Services. Teachers can create classrooms of trust by fostering relationships with each student. Understanding where a student comes from, their families, personality traits, and interests will portray care and kindness where students feel appreciated and welcomed as an important member of the class. Having this foundational relationship will allow sensitive information to be shared easier if the time comes.
Reporting child abuse, youth violence, and neglect is a critical skill teachers need to foster and manage a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students. Students need to feel protected in their learning spaces. Schools need to have effective procedures and methods of reporting to provide care for students experiencing abuse. If these procedures are not in place, teachers should advocate to have school wide policies so all faculty can work to create a safe environment and prevent any future harm.
Washington State Department of Social & Health Services. (2010). Protecing the Abused & Neglected Child: A Guide for Recognizing & Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect.