Kentucky’s children will have newly trained allies in the effort to erase child abuse thanks to the Kentucky General Assembly: their teachers. In March 2015, our legislature passed Senate Bill 119 which ensures that educators receive information on the prevention and recognition of all forms of abuse and neglect. Previously, educators were notified that they were required to report child abuse, but many were not given specialized information on how to recognize the subtle early warning signs of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect so that they know when to report. On average, 49 kids per day experience abuse or neglect, and over half of them are of school age. Educators will now have more tools to help intervene on behalf of their students.
We heard that some school districts have been proactively providing their educators with in-depth child abuse prevention and recognition training for many years. And while the legislation requires teachers, school administrators, certified personnel, office staff, instructional assistants, coaches, and extra-curricular sponsors employed by the school district to participate in the trainings no later than January 31, 2017—about half-way through the next school year—some districts have already made this training part of the current school year’s professional development plan.
A Shelby County elementary teacher shared her recent summer learning experience with us:
“One of the components in my district’s summer professional development training tackled identifying child abuse in its various forms. As a teacher with 20 plus years of experience, I have encountered several incidences where child abuse was suspected and have learned the signs first-hand. Although these prior experiences educated me, I have found the training course to be a valuable review. As I mentor new teachers in my school, I see the impact the training has for them. Without prior experience, it is invaluable as it clearly educates and shows signs to look for. For all teachers, regardless of experience, it provides information that empowers them to intervene and support our students with the help they need!”
We applaud Kentucky educators who do a great job of reporting child abuse and neglect in Kentucky. Nationally, educators are one of the most frequent sources of reports of cases of child maltreatment. The earlier adults notice signs of abuse and intervene, the better for the child. School personnel are now becoming even more prepared to intervene with their students when they need them the most.
Of course, preventing child abuse from happening in the first place is just as important as recognizing the signs of abuse. The Kosair Charities® Face It® Movement is committed to ending child abuse and neglect, as well as helping children who have been victims. Face It partners were instrumental in advocating for SB 119, and they will continue abuse recognition and prevention efforts, including a series of videos that school districts can use to train school personnel.
As required by statute, all Kentuckians are mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect, and if we are going to erase child abuse in Kentucky, all of us must act. Learn more about what you can do to end child abuse, and how to recognize and report abuse by visiting faceitabuse.org.