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The Role of Educators in Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse and Neglect
Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children's Bureau., Caliber Associates. Crosson-Tower, Cynthia.|
|Year Published: 2003|
Purpose and Overview
This chapter provides a very brief overview of child abuse and neglect and the role of educators in preventing and responding to maltreated children. The reader is referred to the first manual in this series, A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice, for an indepth description of the various types of child abuse and neglect.
Parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit, and society presumes that parents will act in their children's best interest. When parents do not protect their children from harm or meet their basic needs—as with cases of child abuse and neglect—society has a responsibility to intervene to protect the health and welfare of these children. Any intervention into family life on behalf of children must be guided by Federal and State laws, sound professional standards for practice, and strong philosophical underpinnings.
The key principles guiding child protection are largely based on Federal statutes, primarily delineated in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). CAPTA, in its original inception, was signed into law in 1974 (P.L. 93-247) and is reauthorized by Congress every 5 years. CAPTA was reauthorized on June 25, 2003, as part of the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-36). ASFA was signed into law in 1997 (P.L. 105-89) and built upon earlier laws and reforms to promote the safety and well-being of maltreated children. These laws and other guiding legislation are referenced throughout this publication and are specifically discussed in "Federal Legislation and Programs" in Chapter 8 of A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice. ASFA promotes three national goals for child protection:
- Safety. All children have the right to live in an environment free from abuse and neglect. The safety of children is the paramount concern that must guide child protection efforts.
- Permanency. Children need a family and a permanent place to call home. A sense of continuity and connectedness is central to a child's healthy development.
- Child and family well-being. Children deserve nurturing families and environments in which their physical, emotional, educational, and social needs are met. Child protection practices must take into account each child's needs and should promote the healthy development of family relationships.
In addition, ASFA underscores the importance of the accountability of service delivery systems in achieving positive outcomes for children related to each of these goals.
Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics
To help illustrate the importance of preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect, it may be useful to examine the scope of its occurrence. The following findings describe reported child victimization rates by major types of maltreatment as stated in the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) for 2001:
- Neglect. More than one-half of all reported victims (59.2 percent) suffered neglect (including medical neglect), an estimated rate of 7 per 1,000 children.
- Physical abuse. Approximately one-fifth of all known victims (18.6 percent) were physically abused, an estimated rate of 2 per 1,000 children.
- Sexual abuse. Of all reported child maltreatment cases, almost one-tenth (9.6 percent) had been sexually abused, an estimated rate of 1 per 1,000 children.
- Psychological maltreatment. Less than one-tenth (6.8 percent) were identified as victims of psychological maltreatment, or less than 1 per 1,000 children.1
(Note: Some children are reported as victims of more than one type of maltreatment.)
The Role of Educators
Children and adolescents spend a large portion of their time in school, which gives educators more access to students than most other professionals. For the purpose of this manual, the term "educator" is meant to encompass not only the classroom teacher, but also other school personnel involved in serving the child. This manual is designed to examine the roles that teachers, school counselors, school social workers, school nurses, special education professionals, administrators, and other school personnel have in helping maltreated children.
The Role of Educators in Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse and Neglect is intended to expand the information provided in A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice by addressing issues unique to education professionals. Specifically, this manual will address the following topics:
- Identifying reasons why educators are concerned;
- Recognizing child abuse and neglect;
- Reporting child abuse and neglect;
- Providing support after the report—what schools can offer;
- Preventing child abuse and neglect.
Appendices providing sample instruments and other information also are included.
Using this manual, the educator can contribute to the increased well-being of children in a variety of ways. Certainly, the first area of defense against the problem of child maltreatment is one of awareness. Each individual who is involved with children has the obligation of knowing the basics of how to protect children from harm. The protection of children is not only an individual issue, but a community concern as well. Educators are an integral part of the community and, as such, can lead and be involved in community efforts to combat child maltreatment.
This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway.