As an educator or staff member, you know how vital school experiences are for kids and how it leads to many positive growth opportunities.
The student’s safety is your number one priority – so how can you make sure they are safe within the school’s walls and also convey that message to the children in your care and their caregivers?
Below are some guidelines your school can implement to create a safe environment and help prevent child sexual abuse from happening on your watch:
- Include the prevention of child sexual abuse at the top of your safety and security paradigm.
- Develop and implement a clear child protection policy, including limitations around one-on-one situations, outlining expectations for adults in terms of boundaries and guidelines to follow.
- Communicate your child protection policy to all stakeholders including parents.
- Have a clear pathway for students who self-disclose or share their concerns about classmates with trusted adults. Students need to know that the school will take their concerns seriously and action will be taken.
- Implement a thorough hiring process including a comprehensive application, background and reference checking prior to employment.
- Develop a strong, informed relationship with local law enforcement. Know how issues of consent and actions between young people will be addressed.
- Adopt a comprehensive training and community education program – teachers, students, and families. Training teachers is vitally important in preventing child sexual abuse. More than half of all reported cases of child sexual abuse come from teachers, but the majority of teachers have never been trained or taught in how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to abuse.
- Remind teachers that they may be the only trusted adult in a child’s life, so it’s important to be prepared in case a child opens up to them. It may be helpful for teachers to keep a script or list of on hand in their classroom that they can go to in a moment of crisis.
- Make sure to staff is aware of school policy and minimizing one-on-one situations; these are critical elements of the program for educators
- Teachers are often unclear about their reporting requirements – Resource Sheets are key for clarifying mandated reporting. Mandated reporter requirements are often misunderstood, posing a great opportunity to provide clarity for teachers through discussion and on-hand reference materials.
- Taking the risk to report abuse may be a delicate issue with many educators, particularly in terms of the risk to their relationships with peers. Make sure teachers know that there are no repercussions for reporting, even reporting a suspicion. It’s better to report and be wrong, then keep silent and be right.
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