Child Abuse (also see Abuse)

Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child.


Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. There are many forms of child maltreatment, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation and emotional abuse.  Counselors are often the first line of defense in knowing when there is a safety issue in a home and connecting students to the right resources.


  • Guidance and resources for student education:
  • Federal legislation provides guidance to States by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect.  The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g), as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:
    • “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation”; or
    • “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”



  • (Added 11/29/23, Counselor Talk):
    • Q: What does the new law state regarding informing parents prior to delivering lessons about child abuse prevention and suicide prevention?? Do we need to inform? Do they opt in or opt out?
    • A: IDOE advises that there is not a requirement to notify parents of the child abuse trainings (suicide training is not required for students, just staff).  It IS advised though that schools add it in the student handbook, linking to any curriculum used.  That would give parents an opportunity to review and opt-out if they want.   IDOE is aware and apologizes for the confusion with HEA 1447 as opt in, but for abuse training schools are not asking for any thoughts, beliefs, etc., so opt out is still appropriate.  Also see: House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1447 Legislatively-Required Guidance
  • (Added 9/6/23 Michelle Clarke, IDOE): Do you know what an Ombudsman is? If not, you are not alone! The mission of an Ombudsman is to investigate and attempt to resolve complaints when dealing with specific state agencies. Indiana has multiple Ombudsmen representing different agencies. You can find them here: .I am sharing a 1 pager on the DCS Ombudsman. You will find the information to contact or make a complaint HERE. The Ombudsmen has the authority to resolve complaints regarding DCS and issues of child safety or the adherence to policy. Complaints or concerns can be made by any citizen, including School Counselors, Administration or even parents. The Indiana DCS Ombudsmen office wanted to be sure to spread the word with student services personnel.
  • DCS interviewing a child at school (Counselor Talk, March 2018): 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.
    • Here is a link to policies and procedures for consent to interview. As a former DCS worker, I found that most schools allowed me to interview the child without prior parental consent as long as a school administrator was present in the interview. However, DCS frowns upon this procedure as it can influence the interview. It’s a tricky situation. I guess it could depend on school corporation and their relationship with the local DCS office. Counselortalk, March 2018
    • ​In our district, DCS workers must contact our central office before coming to a school to speak with a student.  I have never received anything signed by the parent.  I always sit with student and DCS worker during meeting.​ Counselortalk, March 2018
    • We, as school counselors have been sitting in with our students for as long as I know.  We have protocol for when DCS comes into our schools.  Are lawyer is 100% behind having someone in the room.  They have initiated a form for consent from the parent to try to keep us out of the room, but most of them don’t bother with it.  We just know we could be subpeoned.  ​Counselortalk, March 2018
    • I believe this document contains the necessary rules about DCS interviewing children.  I think it’s the most recent.
      It also talks about exigent circumstances, which you can find here:
  • Providing age appropriate and research and evidence-based instruction on child abuse and child sexual abuse to students in kindergarten through grade 12:
    • Our police department (Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept.) has been providing this education in our elementary schools for several years. We have a child forensic interviewer/abuse program specialist from the Victim Assistance Unit, Mrs. Medeiros, who visits each of our elementary schools annually for a Body Safety (Good Touch/Bad Touch program).  Amy Wolos, Newby Elementary
    • We utilize Retired Sgt. Terry Hall to present Body Safety Programming to all students in our K-5 building. He also provides a parent preview meeting prior to the presentation. Jennifer Howe, Center Grove.


If you have suggestions, feedback, or resources, please email and let us know.