It isn’t just at your job, but in your homes, during church and at the store that being aware of child sexual abuse and trafficking is important, Matt Fosket told teachers at Hershey Elementary School Tuesday afternoon.
Fosket, one of the therapists at the Child and Family Therapy Institute of Nebraska, has told this to people many times over the course of six years as part of Stewards of Children, a national training program on recognizing and responding to children in need. Fosket said he has given the program to many youth-oriented services and businesses through the years, but also offers it to the general public through North Platte Community College.
Jeff Steinbeck, high school principal, had Fosket give the class to teachers several years ago at Adams Middle School when he was principal at the school. He started at Hershey High School this year.
Steinbeck said teachers told him then it was the best training they had experienced.
Jason Calahan, Hershey elementary principal, said he felt the program empowered teachers to know they’re doing the right thing.
“I hate to say it, but I think this is becoming more prevalent,” Calahan said. He said the number one goal of schools should be to provide a safe place for children.
Steinbeck said district policies encourage teachers to report possible instances of abuse. Teachers can either report their suspicions to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services themselves or with an administrator present.
Fosket said part of the program is talking about when to report suspicions.
“I think one of the keys is trusting your instincts, trusting your gut,” Fosket said.
He said sometimes people feel they need more evidence before reporting, but suspicions are enough to make authorities aware. It’s important to get those reports from teachers or others who may see signs of abuse or be told of abuse, Steinbeck said.