A little while ago, I was contacted by a fellow blogger asking to guest post. Allison Gamble is a writer on EducationalPsychology.net, a website dedicated to "the study of the social, ethical, and cognitive development of students as they progress from children to adult learners." Allison asked to write a post about identifying abuse among students, geared toward teachers. I was very enthusiastic about the idea, and Allison has done a great job with this post.
While the article was written for teachers in a classroom setting, I believe the information she's given also applies to church leaders, youth group leaders, day care providers, sports coaches and club leaders as well--anyone in a position to teach or care for children that are not their own.
Please enjoy! And take a peek at EducationalPsychology.net as well!
A Quick Guide to Identifying Abuse Among Students
Classroom teachers are uniquely positioned to help children suffering from abuse at home. It's important to be alert to signs of abuse so students can receive the help they need. While child abuse is a sensitive subject and you may worry about intervening, by reporting suspected abuse cases you help ensure students' safety, and nothing is more important than that. To identify and report cases of abuse, you should be learn about warning signs and what the reporting requirements and procedures are for your area.
Physical signs of abuse may already be familiar to you. Unusual or unexplained injuries, such as bruising or even broken bones, should raise red flags. If a child is frequently ill or injured, this may be cause for concern. This is particularly so if a child has an illness, injury, or ailment and
has not received treatment despite parents' or guardians' knowledge of this condition.
Often abuse is reflected in terms of educational psychology, and can be seen in children's behavior. Sudden changes in behavior or academic performance are classic signs of abuse. If an outgoing student becomes withdrawn, or a particularly bright student is having trouble completing assignments or focusing, these may be signs. Abused children may be withdrawn or passive, or have learning difficulties aside from those related to specific known causes. They also may appear jumpy or on-edge. Abused children may arrive early or stay late at school or say they don't like to go home from school. These kinds of statements indicate a child doesn't consider home safe.
Parental behavior can also indicate abuse. If parents seem to think their children are wholly bad or lack redeeming qualities, this is cause for concern. Abusive parents may be emotionally distant from their children, rarely touching or speaking to them. They may refer to their children in a derogatory manner or say they don't like their child. If parents recommend unnecessarily harsh punishments or show unrealistic behavioral or academic expectations of their children, these can also be warning signs.
There are many kinds of abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional maltreatment. All of the warning signs could indicate one or more of these types of abuse. If you suspect a child is being abused, the best thing you can do is to continue to provide a safe and supportive learning environment and alert authorities.
Every state has an agency charged with overseeing child welfare. If you need to report a potential abuse case, contact your state's agency or the local police. In contacting authorities, you don't need to know the specifics of when or how a child was abused, but it is helpful to have details of when you first noticed signs and why you were concerned. This kind of information can help agents assess how acute the risk to the child's safety could be.
In deciding whether or not to report a suspected case of abuse, keep in mind that you may be legally obligated to report any suspected abuse. Even if not, helping protect the children in your charge should certainly be considered a moral obligation. Taking the time to learn warning signs of child abuse and look over reporting procedures will prepare you to address potential cases among your students. While in an ideal world no students would be abused, the sad reality is that all teachers will likely encounter cases of abuse. Plan ahead, and you can help ensure the safety and well-being of your students.
Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology since high school. She brings
her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet