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.
Indiana and sexual abuse: Senate Enrolled Act 295, which updated existing law (IC 20-30-5-5.7), requires public schools, charter schools, and accredited nonpublic schools to use research or evidence-based instruction on child abuse and child sexual abuse for students in grades K–12. Instruction must be completed by December 15 of each school year. See the following Guidance memo from IDOE for additional information.
- 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.
- Q: I was wondering about your internal documentation system for reporting suspected abuse or neglect.
- A: We have CPS folders for every staff member on campus. In that folder is information on how to report, signs of abuse, as well as a log to document reports. On the log there is a place to document student name, date of report, intake persons name/ID, as well as the report number and a place for notes. The report number is the most important part. It is the part that proves a report was made in case anyone ever came back and tried to claim we did not do our due diligence, which has happened here on my campus in the past. Each staff member is supposed to document in their own folder and keep the folder in a private location meant only for them. We also document report numbers made by other reporters if they were made aware of the situation so that they have verification it was reported since they become mandatory reporters as soon as they become knowledgeable of the incident.
- The Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) have been collaborating to better provide support to educators on educational neglect due to an abundance of calls to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. This resource is meant to provide additional insight.
- Q: Has anyone put together something for high school students [for SEA 295]? Perhaps something that can be viewed virtually?
- A: We haven’t created lessons yet, but found these videos and plan to use them in some way. Working on the “research/evidence-based” part, but felt that these will hold students’ attention, and are the best we’ve seen in quite a while. There are several, that can be divided by grade level, probably useful at the middle and high school level.
- A: We are switching to the Ripple Effects program. I know that it goes to 8th grade, but I am not positive past that. We are using it through a grant with a local mental health agency. I’ve enjoyed using it with our SEL expectations, especially with the virtual students. It is all online and the teacher can work through it with the kids or it can be assigned. Here’s a link to their informational website https://rippleeffects.
com/ it looks like they do have a teen component.
- A: We use Safer, Smarter Teens by Lauren’s Kids. It is for grades 6-8.
- Q: Has anyone found any resources that are free?
- I know we are always looking for current, evidenced based curriculum to teach child abuse. I have been looking for new curriculum for years. One of my peers found some this year: playitsafe.org
- Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 295 – Child Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse Curricula – May 15, 2020
- Child abuse prevention materials (Counselor Talk, September 2018):
- I found the following information after many hours of searching on-line this summer. I have been in contact with the organization and have been very impressed by their programming, the research, and their answers to my questions. Our team of counselors have been looking at this program along with our administrators as a possible curriculum to meet our Indiana requirements.https://safersmarterkids.org/teachers/curriculum/https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/05/03/1496316/0/en/School-Based-Education-Hailed-as-Solution-to-Eradicating-Child-Sexual-Abuse.htmlhttps://laurenskids.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SSK-Executive-Report.pdfContact: Ms. Maraleen (Fudge) Brown, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.orgTheir curriculum is presently being utilized in 37 states. They are research-based and evidence-based. Lauren’s Kids Program is also on many accepted state curriculum lists. I have been very impressed with the programming offered for k-12, special needs, and parents. Training is also available for teachers.
- I am looking into the Monique Burrr Foundation for Children and their Body Safety Plus Program…I was told it fit the requirements for “research and evidence-based” instruction. I actually spoke to a woman today about it, and it seems like a really great program. Right now they have lessons for students K-8 with high school lessons coming in 2019. School counselors receive the training online to become a facilitator and then teach the lessons. On top of the body safety and sexual abuse topics, included in the curriculum are topics such as bullying, cyberbullying, digital abuse, and digital citizenship
- All Responses from Counselor Talk
- 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.
- DCS Reporting Procedures1
- Child Abuse and Neglect powerpoint
- 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
- Chaucies Place Brochure
- Child Abuse Education curricula
- Child Welfare Information Gateway (a service of the Children’s Bureau, the Administration for Children and Families, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
- Indiana’s DCS Intake Guidance Tool
- Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect (includes state-by-state laws and regulations)
- Samples of in-house abuse & neglect reporting forms:
- Indiana Child Abuse Prevention and Resources from IDOE (includes a sample school protocol for reporting suspected abuse and neglect and the DCS training video “Don’t Wait! Make the Call)
- Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs for Children, National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Internet Crimes Against Children Indiana Task Force – Sexual Predator Awareness (from the Internet Crimes Against Children Indiana Task Force)
- Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. http://www.pcain.org
org/ – free evidence based lessons for K-12
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