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The Education Personnel’s Responsibility to Recognize, Report & Prevent Child Abuse

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Essay title: The Education Personnel’s Responsibility to Recognize, Report & Prevent Child Abuse

Child abuse is a problem that cannot go overlooked. In 2002, an average of 12.3 per 1,000 children were victims of child abuse, that’s an astounding estimate of about 896,000 abused and/or neglected children (Dalton 37). The effect of such abuse is devastating. When abuse is happening in the home, children often feel as if they have no one to turn to. More times than not, children confide in their teachers, school counselors, principals or other peers. Still other children confide in no one. The educational system as a whole needs to be prepared to recognize abuse and be willing to report it.

Recognizing an abused child is absolutely crucial to protecting and repairing the child’s physical and emotional self. Some may think of abuse as merely physical beatings, but there is so much more. Abuse has four faces. One of the most obvious is actual physical abuse. Some may see a child with irregular bruising in the shape of fingers, or burns possibly made by cigarettes. Another sign of physical abuse is when the child displays aggressiveness. Behavioral problems and struggling educationally are telling signs of child abuse (Dalton 39).

Another face of child abuse is emotional abuse. This type of abuse causes the child to feel worthless and unloved. These feelings can occur when siblings are treated unequally, or by blaming or belittling a child and rejecting a child. A sign of emotional abuse can be an over demanding child with an aggressive disposition. The child now views the world in a sinister sense. The exact opposite of this is a child that is overly compliant and undemanding. Such behavior indicates a feeling of self irrelevance often caused by emotional abuse. Emotionally maltreated children may even internalize the abuse and develop psychosomatic symptoms and/or speech disorders. A persistent lack of concern by the caretaker for the child’s welfare is emotional abuse (Morris 2).

Neglect is when the caretaker fails to meet the basic physical and psychological needs of the child. Malnutrition, inappropriate clothing for current weather conditions and ignoring the health needs of the child are examples of neglect. Psychological neglect is also a real problem for children. This is when the child’s emotional needs are neglected. Neglect often leaves no visible marks, and is therefore more likely to be overlooked. Over half of reported child maltreatment cases are on account of neglect. The child of a neglectful family may see this as normal treatment and grow up without seeking help or assistance. If you notice a child stealing or hoarding food, if the child misses a lot of school, has poor hygiene or has difficulty staying awake in class, chances are that the child in question is being neglected at home.

According to Crosson-Tower, “sexual abuse is defined as inappropriate adolescent or adult sexual behavior with a child (19). Forcing a child to touch the adult, or to be touched by the adult, is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse also includes the exploitation of a child, exposing the child to pornography, incest, rape and sodomy. Some things for educators to look for when dealing with sexually abused children are children that draw explicit pictures of genitalia or sexual acts. Children that draw odd pictures of children with no hands or mouths may be trying to deal with the conflicts of the abuse. They may also be concerned with the abuse that they find it hard to concentrate on their studies and often fall short in the classroom.

Sexually abused children often do not know how to handle the stresses of the abuse. Some will confide in family, friends, or teachers; still others will keep it bottled up inside. Ways of understanding the abuse may be by sexually abusing a peer or a younger child. They understand that they receive attention through this sexual behavior, and they may even approach adults with a sense of seduction, believing that all adults want this from them. This is called acting out sexually. When adults recognize these actions they should recognize that this may be a way for the child to tell of their own abuse.

Often times the abusers of these children will be someone that they know and are very close to them or their family. The abuser may even be a family member. Depending on the age of the child, they may take their anger out on themselves. Older adolescents may show some sign of self mutilation or intense promiscuity. Although not always indicative of abuse, eating disorders are another sign to look out for, says Crossen-Tower (20).

State law in Illinois mandates “social workers, school personnel, health care workers, mental health professionals, childcare providers, medical examiners or coroners and law enforcement officers” to report child maltreatment (Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect). These are professions that

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