Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse, neglect, and exploitation pose a serious public health problem. Not only do they threaten a child’s immediate safety, but, depending on a number of factors, they can have long-term physical, psychological, or behavioral impacts.
Who? All school employees are listed as mandated reporters in statute, Wis. Stat. § 48.981(2).
How? When learning of a potentially harmful situation, a school employee should:
- engage in critical thinking,
- slow down,
- consider the situation,
- consider the legal definitions of child maltreatment, and
- reflect on biases that may be impacting an inclination to make a report to CPS, or instead to support a family with resources.
Decide. This type of critical thinking will help an employee decide if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child they have seen as part of their work has been abused or neglected or has been threatened with abuse or neglect that they believe will occur.
What? If a report is necessary, staff must know how to report and they must do so immediately, Wis. Stats. §§ 48.981(2)(a), (3)(a)1. Staff then continue to support the student and family, and to help connect them to resources.
What does it mean to be a Mandated Supporter?
A mandated supporter's responsibility toward students and families includes:
- building positive relationships with students and families,
- helping connect them with needed services,
- offering resources and support, and
- collaborating with local child welfare agencies.
Bias and Culture
African American children are almost 2X as likely as white children to be reported by educational personnel for child maltreatment.
Experts recommend that school staff:
- understand and address the impact of individual biases,
- develop culturally responsive practices, and
- engage communities of color when developing policies to address disproportionally and disparities in child welfare systems.
Child Abuse and Neglect Training & Resources
The Department of Public Instruction's Child Abuse and Neglect Training webpage, provides information and resources to help schools comply with laws related to mandatory reporting of child maltreatment, including mandatory training of school district employees.
- Adult Responsibility to Keep Kids Safe
It is important to train adults on their responsibility to keep kids safe, including recognizing and responding to grooming behaviors in other adults, recognizing and responding to children in unsafe situations and relationships, and managing safe physical environments.
- The School's Role in Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect (Department of Public Instruction) - This publication includes a number of frequently asked questions and answers relating to school staff responsibilities of preventing and responding to child maltreatment.
- Reporting Requirements for Situations Involving Sexual Contact or Intercourse and Students: Suggested Procedures for School Employees (Department of Public Instruction) - This document is intended to help school districts, in collaboration with their local child welfare and law enforcement agencies, develop policies and procedures to address situations where a school employee has reasonable cause to suspect that a minor student has been involved in sexual contact or intercourse. State statutes regarding the mandatory reporting of sexual activity with minor students are complex, with different directives that depend on various factors. This summary was developed by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in cooperation with the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
- Information and Resources on Child Abuse and Neglect in Wisconsin - Department of Children and Families (DCF)
- Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board - The Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board is committed to mobilizing research and practices that prevent the occurrence of child maltreatment.
- Awareness to Action (A2A) - Awareness to Action is an initiative focused on preventing child sexual abuse by helping adults and communities take action to protect children through: Awareness, Education, Prevention, Advocacy, and Action.
- Preventing Child Sexual Abuse (Tip Sheet for Parents) - Department of Health and Human Services
- 10 Core Concepts for Child Sexual Assault Prevention - Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA)
- Information and Resources on Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect - Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Training for School Staff on Prevention
Safe Place to Learn - Free online training program.
From the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students, this program includes guidance for administrators, e-learning modules for school staff, a webinar discussion guide, a coordinated response team planning guide, a trauma sensitivity training module, in addition to other resources.Policies and Procedures Training – Prevent Child Abuse at School - Free in-person or virtual training.
To support communities and organizations, Awareness to Action has created a training and technical assistance program for organizations based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guide Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations. Over the course of 6 months, participating organizations will receive in depth training and support to implement prevention strategies to protect the children in their programs. Throughout the training you will hear from experts in the field of child sexual abuse and organizations who have taken steps to enhance their ability to protect children in their programs. See the Awareness to Action website (A2A) for more information, and to connect with the program, please email A2A@chw.org.Stewards of Children Training – Teach Adults to Prevent, Recognize, and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse - Free training.
Through a grant from the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Awareness to Action (A2A) is able to provide Stewards of Children™ trainings at no cost to area school districts. Stewards of Children™ is a 2-hour training focused on teaching adults how to prevent, recognize, and respond to child sexual abuse. See the Awareness to Action (A2A) website for more information, and to connect with the program, please email A2A@chw.org.
- Protective Behaviors Curriculum and Training
Schools in Wisconsin must provide lessons to students to teach knowledge of effective means by which pupils may recognize, avoid, prevent and halt physically or psychologically intrusive or abusive situations which may be harmful to pupils, including child abuse, sexual abuse and child enticement, Wis. Stat. § 118.01(2)(d)(8).
Experts recommend using an evidence-informed curriculum at the elementary level for protective behaviors, including understanding secrets versus surprises, uncomfortable or confusing touch, how to get help, assertiveness, boundaries and limit setting.
- Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Curriculum Review - Awareness to Action (A2A), the Wisconsin Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Project, is an initiative focused on preventing child sexual abuse by helping adults and communities take action to protect children through: awareness, education, prevention, advocacy, and action. The tool was developed utilizing the 9 Principles of Effective Prevention Programs and the 10 Core Concepts to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.
- Some examples include Committee for Children Child Protection Unit, Kids in the Know, Our While Lives, Childhelp, MBF Child Safety Matters, Kidsmartz.
- Protect Yourself Rules - A child abuse and maltreatment prevention and awareness program funded by the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation.
- Oregon School Staff Tip Sheet for delivery of protective behaviors curriculum The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers a wide range of outstanding materials for children, teenagers, and parents to prepare them to navigate a world that can be exploitative to children. Visit www.ncmec.org.
- PCAR SH 1-12 Curriculum. This is the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape Sexual Harassment Prevention in Schools Curriculum for Grades 1-12.
- How My Third-Graders and I Address Consent – Article by Elizabeth Kleinrock, elementary educator, in Teaching Tolerance.
For questions about the content and best practices, contact Julie Incitti, School Social Work Consultant, (608) 266-0963.