The term “abuse” can refer to all types of abuse, including: verbal, emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse. Reporting suspicion of abuse is an important part of a school counselor’s job.
- Whenever we have a suspicion of abuse, it is our job to report. It is not our job to investigate or determine the legitimacy of the report.
- When speaking to a child about abuse allegations, it is important to keep all questions general and open-ended. Leading questions can influence the child’s testimony and may hinder future court proceedings.
- DCS interviewing a child at school: It’s up to the DCS as to whether or not a school employee was allowed to be present during the interview. The DCS may interview the employee separately if they are the ones who made the report. However, a big concern is confidentiality and the child feeling as though they have to say specific things in the presence of certain people when the DCS is involved… It probably depends more so on the local office conducting the investigation.
- We do not have an obligation to inform parents when we make a report. In fact, DCS frequently discourages us from telling the family.
- We have a policy in place that a counselor, or other designee is to sit in when DCS, GAL’s, police officers, and other outside resources come into the school. We have full backing for this policy by our school attorney. Our procedures can be found here.
- Does DCS tell the family who made the report?We actually had the director of our local DCS office come in and explain to staff what is disclosed. The way it was explained to us was that they would not put a name of the original report maker, but might put “school counselor reports”, which in most cases give it away. Also, she let us know that if they call for follow up information and you give them any they could then use your name in documentation, So, if they called me for follow up and I said that the student also told me dad smacked her face, they could then put in the documentation, “Paige Mundy reports additional information of dad smacking child in the face.” All of this goes into one final report that is available to the parents simply by them requesting it. We expressed our concerns with this process; how if could affect our rapport with families, our own safety, etc. She did say she would communicate these concerns. I have changed the way I report. I am very direct and to the point. If I have follow up information, I typically call back and make a new report and let them add it the original. It still isn’t “anonymous” as I am the only person who has my title in the corp, but at least it doesn’t have my name. If I have a true concern for my safety when making a report, I decline to give my title when reporting and may just say “school staff” or even that I would rather not disclose my relationship to the student.My experience is when I say “school reporter” they simply state that on the report. I have called them a few times this year and it has worked out well that the family isn’t made aware of who reported abuse.
- Based on my experience as a former DCS worker and former service provider for DCS the parents know exactly who reported them even before they know the allegations against them. As a service provider there were several times I didn’t know who turned them in and the families would always know. I feel a big part of our attendance issues are because of abuse or addiction and parents keep the kids home, of course the school filed that report. When I would go in for an initial investigation I would read the allegations; parents don’t ask who reported, they usually tell us who did. We are trained to deflect that but sometimes it is hard. At the end of the investigation period of a DCS case (30 days) the decision to substantiate or not is determined and the report (known as the 311) is generated. This report contains all parties and their statements; a recap of the initial report, and demographic information, as well as the outcome of the case. This report is available upon request to any party involved in the case.
- Love Is Respect
- Crisis Counseling Guide
- Child Abuse Resource Center
- Publication on Family Violence Across the Lifespan: Barnett, O. W., Miller-Perrin, C. L., & Perrin, R. D. (2011). Family violence across the lifespan: An introduction. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
- Department of Child Services (DCS)-Indiana policies for report abuse
- Parents Access to DCS Reports
- Reporting Abuse and Neglect-from Indiana DCS
- April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month-resources from the US Department of Health & Human Services
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This post was created by ABCD ContentManager on August 5, 2016.