Government agencies and educational institutions constantly work together to develop strategies to improve academic achievement, particularly for children who are disadvantaged.
The problem is that in many cases, we are treating a symptom rather than the root issue.
Even the best educational strategies mean nothing to a child traumatized by sexual abuse.
So how does child sexual abuse relate to academic achievement? The answer might surprise you.
Research shows that children who are sexually abused perform at far lower levels than those who haven’t experienced abuse:
- Cognitive ability, academic achievement, and memory are lower among sexually abused children.
- Sexually abused children have higher rates of absenteeism, grade retention, and special education services.
- A 2009 study showed academic difficulties, grade repetition, remedial classes, below average grades, and lower overall cognitive ability to be common among sexually abused 7 to 12-year-old girls.
Education for adults is key to prevention.
Educators who receive training are better equipped to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, two-thirds of teachers do not receive child sexual abuse prevention training as part of their college coursework or professional development.
In fact, nearly a quarter of school personnel have never received any oral or written guidelines on their legally required reporting mandate. Consequently, most teachers report that they do not feel equipped to deal with child sexual abuse issues.
So how can we put into place changes that address this devastating root issue and make a potentially huge impact on academic achievement?
The answer is simple. Teachers need training.
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