It’s that time of year again – back to school! Back to a daily routine, including morning carpool and extracurricular afterschool activities.
Educators partner with parents to help teach kids the skills they need to succeed and prepare your child for the future. This includes caring for, supervising, and ultimately protecting students in their care. As mandatory reporters, teachers are crucial to protecting kids. In fact, school personnel identify 52% of all identified child sexual abuse cases. This is more than any other profession, including child protective services and the police.
With parent-teacher conferences coming up, this is a great time to ask questions about the rules in the classroom, the school’s child protection policies, and how teachers work to minimize the opportunity for abuse to occur.
Here are a few ideas to help start the conversation:
- Ask them about their professional path. Where did they teach before? Are they new to the profession? This will help you get a sense of their experience caring for kids and additional questions you might want to ask.
- Have they received training in preventing, recognizing, or responding to child sexual abuse, either in their college coursework or a part of their professional development?
- Does the school (or the teacher) have a child protection policy? While the teacher may not have their own policy, the school should. Ask for a copy.
- Does the policy include limiting isolated, one-on-one situations? One-on-one interactions should take place in an open, observable, and interruptible setting.
- Are they aware of their mandatory reporting requirements?
- Can parents tour the facilitates? Are parents welcome to come by and observe? Take a good look at the environment. Do you see places that look secluded? Are there windows in the doors?
- Do older and younger children interact within the school? If so, how? Supervising contact between children and older/bigger youth requires structure and adult supervision. This is something to consider if your child participates in afterschool care activities.
- What are the policies around teacher and student communication outside of school?
A teacher may be one of the trusted adults in a child’s life, so it’s important for them to be prepared in case a child opens up to them. It is also equally important that you, as a parent or caregiver, feel prepared and confident in how your child is protected when not in your care.
We’d love to hear any other ideas you have for making sure your kids are safe at school! Comment below.
You can download the full list of questions to ask youth serving organizations here.
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