As an educator you may be the only line of defence against maltreatment that some children have. Understanding your important role in the safety and support of children is imperative. Chrissy Sykes - My Body Is My Body Programme
All children have the right to live in an environment that is free from abuse and neglect. According to the WHO every year over 1 Billion children are maltreated in some form, either sexual, emotional, physical or neglect. Educators play a key role in protecting children from child maltreatment. All children have the right to live in an environment that is free from abuse and neglect. This gives children the ability to develop their physical, emotional, educational, and social needs. As an educator you may be the only line of defence against maltreatment that some children have. Understanding your important role in the safety and support of children is imperative. Please remember that a child may only work up the courage to report their abuse just once. If the reaction form you as their educator is not supportive, it may be the last time they ever tell someone. It is important to take every report of abuse seriously.
As over 90% of sexual abuse is perpetrated by a family member or close friend of the family, the child may not feel comfortable telling someone in their family, or their parents may not believe them. They may find it easier to tell someone they feel safe talking to at school. It is believed that much abuse goes unreported because teachers are unsure as to what to say, what to look for and what to do in the event of a child revealing their abuse. Educators don’t always know what to say and do when a child reports abuse. Two of the top reasons why teachers under-report are 1. The lack of knowledge about the signs and symptoms and 2. Fear of making inaccurate reports—so educator training is essential. *Research indicates that adult training and education is one of the most effective ways to prevent abuse *(Finkelhor, D., & Dziuba-Leatherman, J., 1995). So it is important that all Educators learn the signs of child maltreatment and how and who to report abuse to.
If you would like more information - try our FREE Course Introduction to Child Maltreatment (Click Here) Learn more about our Free Musical Programme available to all Educators in 19 Languages at www.mybodyismybody.com
SOME SIGNS OF ABUSE
Physical abuse is the intentional act of causing injury to a child resulting in harm to the childʼs health, development and survival.
Look for Unusual bruises, welts, burns or fractures There could be bite marks If a child has frequent injuries that are always explained as accidental If an explanation does not match the injury Look for children wearing long sleeves or other concealing clothing to hide injuries especially if the clothing is inappropriate for the weather.
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is abusive sexual behabiour by one person upon another. It is often perpetrated using force or by taking advantage of another. *American Psychological Association. Signs
Sexual behaviour or knowledge that is inappropriate for the childʼs age
Inappropriate sexual touching of other children
Abrupt change in behaviour
Extreme reluctance to be touched in any way
Experiences pain bruising or itching in genital areas
Has a sexually transmitted infection
Recurrent urinary tract infections
Neglect is when a parent or caregiver willingly fails to provide the basicneeds for the wellbeing and the development of a child. This can includeclothing, nutrition, medical care, emotional and physical needs.
Poor hygiene, dirty hair, body odour
Clothing could be inappropriate for the weather
Child could be in need of medical or dental care
Often tired, no energy, lethargic
Begs or steals food
Frequent lateness or absence from school
Student education is another key component to preventing child sexual abuse
The importance of school-based prevention programs *Student education is another key component to preventing child sexual abuse. Research shows that effective abuse prevention efforts include school-based prevention programs—children are less likely to be victimised when caring adults teach them about sexual abuse (Finkelhor, D. & Dziuba-Leatherman, J., 1995). Educators usually spend more time with children than anyone else, which gives them the advantage of being able to build a safe and stable environment for the child. Understanding the behavioural indicators exhibited by children may highlight a child’s problems earlier. Often with an abused child bad behaviour can be a cry for help It also is very important to remember that some indicators, both physical and behavioural, may be indications of something other than abuse. Dealing with child abuse and neglect is, in fact, a community effort. As leaders in your communities, educators are often the ideal position to initiate this type of teamwork.
It is important to educate children on body safety so that they understand what their body boundaries are, and although this will help to empower children and encourage them to talk more openly about any abusive problems, we can not make children responsible for their own protection. They have to know that there are “Safe Adults” that they can confide in, and there needs to be a safe environment for them to flourish. Academic Performance A child’s academic performance may be a clue to the presence of some form of child maltreatment, especially if extreme changes are noticed. Children that may have always been good students with consistent marks may now be disinterested in their studies. Students that refuse to change uniform for Gym Classes or sport may be hiding evidence of bruising or other forms of physical abuse. Studies have shown that abused and neglected children are more likely to demonstrate aggression, hyperactivity, anxiety and depression and low self esteem. maltreated children scored significantly lower in many areas including language, math and reading. Research also shows that children that are physically disabled or developmentally challenged are at a greater risk of being maltreated. If you have a suspicion that their is a problem with a child, but you do not have evidence or the child has not confided in you, it may be useful to keep notes on what you have noticed so that you can watch to see if things progress with the child to a point where intervention is necessary. These notes may help you when you need to make a report. Learn more about our Free Musical Programme available to all Educators in 19 Languages at www.mybodyismybody.com