As an educator you may be the only line of defense against maltreatment that some children have. Understanding your important role in the safety and support of children is imperative.
Please remember that a child may only work up the courage to report their abuse just once. If the reaction form you as their educator is not supportive, it may be the last time they ever tell someone. It is important to take every report of abuse seriously.
It is believed that much abuse goes unreported because teachers are unsure as to what to say, what to look for and what to do in the event of a child revealing their abuse. Educators don’t always know what to say and do when a child reports abuse. Two of the top reasons why teachers under-report are:
1. The lack of knowledge about the signs and symptoms and
2. Fear of making inaccurate reports—so educator training is essential.
*Research indicates that adult training and education is one of the most effective ways to prevent abuse *(Finkelhor, D., & Dziuba-Leatherman, J., 1995). So it is important that all Educators learn the signs of child maltreatment and how and who to report abuse to.
The importance of school-based prevention programs
*Student education is another key component to preventing child sexual abuse. Research shows that effective abuse prevention efforts include school-based prevention programs—children are less likely to be victimized when caring adults teach them about sexual abuse *(Finkelhor, D. & Dziuba-Leatherman, J., 1995).
Educators usually spend more time with children than anyone else, which gives them the advantage of being able to build a safe and stable environment for the child. Understanding the behavioral indicators exhibited by children may highlight a child’s problems earlier. Often with an abused child bad behavior can be a cry for help It also is very important to remember that some indicators, both physical and behavioral, may be indications of something other than abuse. Dealing with child abuse and neglect is, in fact, a community effort. As leaders in your communities, educators are often the ideal position to initiate this type of teamwork.