As students and staff return to school, child abuse disclosures and reports will likely increase. Click here to read about student concerns and information for teachers and staff.
By Jordan Beach, LSW – May 12, 2020 –
It’s not pleasant to think about, but unfortunately many children are abused or neglected every day, sometimes by their parents or guardians.
In most states teachers are mandated reporters of child abuse or neglect. In some states, including Indiana, every single person is considered a mandated reporter. That means any person who has reason to believe a child is a victim of abuse or neglect must report it to the proper authorities.
With school buildings closed, Youth First wants to remind all adults that if you see something, it’s important to say something. We can all help care for kids.
With school letting out suddenly in March, many things needed to happen quickly to ensure the success of our students. People came together to make sure students had materials necessary to complete work and meal service was coordinated for students who needed it.
One thing that has gotten far less attention, however, is the safety of students now that they don’t have a safe haven in their schools. This brings up a huge concern regarding increased incidents of abuse and neglect going undetected and therefore not being reported to the appropriate authorities.
During the school day students come in contact with teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers and other key school personnel who have been trained to identify warning signs of abuse and neglect. When students are out of school these warning signs can go unseen or be overlooked. Now it is time to call on the community to help us ensure the safety and well-being of our children.
Per the Department of Child Services (DCS) website, in the months of March and April 2019, there were 42,067 child abuse or neglect reports made to DCS in Indiana. Fast forward to 2020, and during those same months only 30,860 reports were made. That is a difference of 11,207 reports. In a perfect world we could imagine there are just far less reports to be made, but the reality is that without the supervision of school personnel, a lot of these incidents are going unnoticed.
As a reminder, Indiana is a mandated reporting state. This means that any adult who knows of or suspects child abuse or neglect is mandated by the state to report this information to DCS. I understand that the thought of making a report can be unnerving. However, these children are waiting on a caring adult to step in and make the call to help them.
Typically, reports are called in by people who support students daily at school; with school buildings closed right now, these same students are waiting for their community to support them. If you suspect abuse or neglect, it is your responsibility to make the call. It is DCS’s responsibility to decide if the child is in fact in danger.
To make a child abuse or neglect report you will need to call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556. You will be connected with a person from the statewide call center. You will give them the information you have and answer a series of questions. You may not know all of the answers to these questions, and that is fine. At the end of the call they will let you know if they are going to screen this call out or pass the information on to the county office in which the child resides.
In an ideal world, DCS calls wouldn’t be necessary. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. Kids are vulnerable. We are asking everyone to work together to ensure the safety of our children. If you see something, please say something. Report it to the proper authorities.
Click here to watch Jordan’s video on this topic.
By Katherine Baker, LCSW, Courier & Press, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 –
Unfortunately, all too often we hear stories in the media about children and teens being neglected. Neglect can take many forms, including lack of housing, food and medical care, failure to teach basic personal care, and withholding love and affection. In neglect situations, the child’s basic needs are not being met by the parent.
For many families there seems to be a “disconnect” between meeting a child’s needs and strengthening the bonds of love, affection, care and support. Parents can neglect their children for multiple reasons – loss of a job causing financial strain, loss of public utilities, depression, parent inattention due to involvement with a love interest, addiction to cell phones, or abuse of alcohol and other substances.
As a school social worker, I see the effects of neglect every day. In this writer’s opinion, emotional neglect may do the most damage.
Neglect can leave a permanent scar on a child’s self-esteem and well-being. Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities and tends to fluctuate depending on what is going on in your life.
Children that are left alone, unsupervised, and don’t have regular one-on-one time with a parent frequently have unmet emotional needs. They are not taught the importance of values, morals, and respect for self and others.
Spending quality time with your children should be a priority. However, many children and teens do not get this much-needed attention from parents. They are alone, unsupervised, and left to their own defenses.
On the other hand, children that have actively involved parents tend to have better self-esteem, make better decisions, are better able to respond to the stress of day-to-day living, and are able to verbalize their needs in a healthy manner. The time you spend with your children in elementary school, middle school and high school will promote healthy and responsible relationships.
A big part of parenting is being the parent and not your child’s friend. In addition to spending quality time with children, parents should make rules and enforce them, give advice, show love, care, and respect, role model positive and encouraging behaviors and discipline when needed. If a parent is absent these skills are lost, as the child must meet his own needs and function as a mini-adult rather than a child.
Some children who are emotionally neglected become angry and sullen. Others become depressed, develop unhealthy dating relationships, demonstrate poor academic performance, and may show little respect for others or themselves. Showing your child you love them even when their behavior is troubling can go a long way toward building a healthy relationship.
If you are a parent, guardian, or caregiver, make time in your busy schedule – or better yet – eliminate some of the commitments you have and start nurturing and loving your children. Put down the cell phone and talk to your kids. Teach your children how to communicate face-to-face versus the push of a button. Give your children the love and attention we all need and make sure their basic needs are met. Their future – and their ability to relate to others in our world – depends on it.