Despite the extensive use of school-based abuse prevention programs, we find that few studies support their efficiency and usefulness in helping children avoid victimization. However, many studies that analyze prevention programs assess changes in the knowledge of the children and not consequent behavior. Moreover, the connection between behavior, knowledge and the ability to reduce or avoid victimization has not been determined.
Evidence from several agency reports and research studies indicate that abused children normally suffer both short and long-term consequences that affect their cognitive abilities and educational attainment, physical and emotional health, social and behavioral development negatively. Some of the deadly consequences that are associated with the victims of abuse; particularly the children who are sexually abused include depression, low self-esteem, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, social withdrawal and self-destructive characteristics (such as self-mutilation, suicide attempts and substance abuse).
Because of the potentially hurtful consequences of child abuse, many interventions schemes have been suggested and researched. The most effective way of decreasing the deadly impacts of abuse has been found to be through prevention whereby early detection helps in starting the healing process. Studies indicate that inclusive, multidimensional programs appear to be the most effective in the prevention of child abuse.
The United States Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect additionally asserts that an inclusive abuse prevention program or strategy should be of a kind that is child-centered and neighborhood-based. The idea that child maltreatment prevention should be child-centered requires that schools play a vital role in identifying and preventing child abuse and neglect (Leventhal 1999).
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The role of schools in child abuse prevention and intervention
It is very important for the Killeen Independent Scholl District to start the program of child abuse prevention because it has been established that most children suffer severely from these inhuman behaviors and schools have been found as the best places for championing the campaigns. The school is one social institution that is outside the family with which almost all children have consistent, constant contact.
Thus, it is principally well-suited for identification of the endangered children, with those who are being sexually maltreated inclusive. Currently, several schools are struggling to become more efficient participants in the prevention and intervention campaign designed to reduce the intricate problem of child abuse.
Factors affecting recognition and reporting by school personnel
Teachers are sympathetic or compassionate toward the children who are abused, but due to fear and lack of knowledge, they may hesitate to report the cases of abuse. Though the law requires the teachers to report any cases they suspect to be involving child abuse, many collages certify teachers without any exposure to child abuse curricula.
In one study, eighty one percent of teachers reported to have not received any preservice information about the issue of abuse and neglect, and sixty six percent stated that they had not received any in-service education in this field.
According to Bridgeland and Duane (1990), lack of sufficient training hinders the ability of teachers to detect or discover all kinds of abuse; however, it might also particularly spoil their ability to recognize cases of sexual abuse, because many victims do not manifest obvious external signs.
In a study that inquired from the teachers concerning their knowledge of different forms of abuse, only four percent of the examined teachers said that they well knew the signs of sexual abuse. Anther seventeen percent said that they would be in a position of recognizing the signs that were evident, while seventy five percent stated that they would not be able to recognize signs at any point.
Nevertheless, even when a case of child abuse is detected or suspected, it isn't always reported to the child protective services. The school principal's reporting philosophy has been found to exert a significant influence on the teacher reporting cases of child abuse. If the principal encourages it, the teachers will be more likely to report; but where the principals are hesitant and unwilling to report, (mostly for reasons that are related to maintenance of good school image and parental relations), teachers tend to report less.
Nonetheless, a teacher's emotional reaction to the case of child abuse can also affect his or her tendency to report. Since most individuals find it difficult to comprehend or understand that anyone would sexually victimize children, there is a propensity to deny that the problem is real.
Some teachers might also be reluctant or hesitate to report any detected or suspected abuse since they are not aware that if they report in good faith, they have immunity from criminal or civil liability. Giving the workers the opportunity to discuss and ask questions regarding the policies and procedures of their schools will facilitate both compliance and understanding.
Potential indicators of child abuse
Several behavioral and emotional difficulties are mainly seen in children who are being sexually abused. For sure, just because a child shows some of these, teachers must not automatically come to the conclusion that the child is being abused sexually. Signs are normally unclear; other stressors in the life of a child can produce same symptoms.
Particular symptoms that may show a sexual abuse include regressive behaviors like enuresis or bed wetting, thump-sucking and nightmares, sleep disturbances, constant, improper sexual play with self, toys or peers, knowledge of the sexual behaviors (normally seen in drawings) that is advanced for the age of the child, excessively compliant behavior, poor peer relationships, acting-out behavior like negligence or hostility (normally seen in children attempting to get help but don't get any); pseudo-mature behavior; difficulties that are school-related including lack of ability to concentrate, poor school performance, unwillingness to change cloths for the gym class or even participation in the physical activities, and arrival at the school very early and staying till late, sexual promiscuity or relationship avoidance and suicide attempts and thoughts.
Sometimes abused children present information in a slow fashion to test the response of an adult in what they share. Thus, it is essential for educators and the other school workers to be given training not only in the detection of possible abuse but also in reacting to accidental and intentional disclosure by children.
Issues that relate to allegations involving school employees
Cases of child abuse, most notably sexual misbehavior involving the school workers and children have been on the increase. When Edward Duane and William Bridgeland in the year 1990 examined principals in the United States and Canada, they established that it is not an allegation of physical abuse that is feared by principals but the charges of child abuse which are the center of concern.
Cases of physical abuse involving school employees have raised the issue of whether institutions are liable for the actions of the workers. The legal concept of 'respondent superior' asserts that under some circumstances, the agents hiring and supervising can be responsible for the employee's actions. However, it is unclear how this concept applies to cases where the staff evidently violates stipulated policy by their repressive actions.
School administrators or managers may be unintentionally exposing the staff members to the threat of accusations by asking them to drive one child somewhere or even by allowing an educator with a distant office to work with children separately. Some headteachers in the study of Duane and Bridgeland reported that their staffs are not accepting to be put in what is considered to be compromising positions.
A joint statement that was issued by the National Association of State Boards and Education and the American Association of School Administrators in the year 1987 stresses that when a school worker is convicted of child abuse, particularly stresses that when a school worker is convicted of child abuse, states should propagate information on the conviction of all private and public schools. Nonetheless, the statement also encourages schools to take part in the (NASDTEC) National Association of State Directors of Teachers Education and Certification, Clearing house system for the reporting of suspensions and revocations of teaching certificates among the states.
Effectiveness of prevention programs
Educating or informing children about the best ways of protecting themselves from being abused through the school-based prevention programs is considered by some individuals as another practical tool that should be used in putting up the fight against child abuse (Leventhal, 1999).
While some root for prevention programs for children, others express worries about the conceptual assumptions that underlie some programs and raise concern about the lack of consideration put on program evaluation. Those harboring concern believe that kind of programs that are well-intentioned might have adverse effects on the children that they are intended to help.
In order to protect the children well, parents together with teachers should know what works. Similarly important, they should know how to achieve this end without compromising the emotional well-being of the children. Regrettably, it is difficult to establish with certainty whether the prevention programs are effectual in the reduction of children's susceptibility to abuse. The knowledge and performance of children in virtual scenarios can be determined, although improvement in these areas due to exposure to a prevention program is not necessarily analytical of how the children will respond or react when they find themselves being faced by a real situation.
Since a bigger number of abusers are members of the family from where the child comes, or even other trusted people, not strangers- several powerful psychological factors have a bearing on the real situations that do not play part in simulated scenarios. We should know that it is very difficult for a child to convert knowledge into behaviors when the abuse is done by an important and powerful person in the life of the child.
How schools can collaborate with social service agencies
Child abuse generally and particularly sexual abuse is such complexes issue that there is no sector of community that can deal with it singlehandedly or without help. Cooperation between the child protective service workers and school personnel is very essential, but the duties and influence of both organizations must be well understood before developing a collaborative relationship. The selection of a liaison individual to provide permanence between these two organizations is a better way of increasing mutual understanding.
Leventhal (1999), advocates using a resource person or consultant to be reassuring and supportive to both staff and principals facing a child abuse accusation. Many schools are taking part in the community child protection programs, which may consider as a key to efficient management of child abuse. Teams of community child protection encompass relevant specialists like teachers, social workers, mental health professionals, lawyers, police and doctors working together in the areas of coordination, type of team effort acts as a risk management tool which helps in decreasing the chances of error during the encountering of child abuse, since decision making is shared and the second views are built into the structure or framework of responding.
Though schools have a vital role to play in the fight against child abuse, it should not be forgotten that the problem must be confronted or dealt with on many levels.
Eventually, the biggest challenge might lie in attempting to change social attitudes and conditions tolerating or fostering child abuse.
Moreover, many schools don't implement prevention and awareness programs to educate parents and children about child abuse. Curricular guides and resources are normally too expensive for districts and schools to buy, there might be inadequate personnel available, or the society may lack awareness about the significance of child abuse prevention programs. Furthermore, most prevention programs that are put into implementation are not evaluated independently. One study that evaluated the CSAP programs in the Texas public elementary schools indicated that sixty percent of the total number of schools had implemented a CSAP program.
Child abuse prevention programs have been found to be effective. Evaluations that have been done show that some prevention programs reduce the occurrence or prevalence of child abuse. Results from few comprehensive studies that have been carried out are really promising. For instance, a recent assessment of a nurse-home-visiting program indicated that a high-risk ten mothers who never received services had a rate of abuse that was about five times of those who received the services. Some other studies show that prevention programs can also decrease the cost of long-term problems that are normally associated with abuse; such as chronic health conditions and learning disabilities.
A certain study approximates the cost of lost productivity by the adults who were victims of rigorous abuse injuries while they were still children to be as much as one and a half billion Dollars yearly. Nonetheless, available information shows that national or state funding for the prevention which is essentially provided by the (HHS), Department of Health and Human Services is relatively low, always taking the form of short-term funding for demonstration projects.
Contrary, the central government several billions of dollars yearly to states so that they can be able to provide better care as well as some other necessary assistance for children who have been abused.
Practically, we find that there is no institution or individual at the local or state level that coordinates efforts in order to avoid gaps in service. The United States Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, that is legislatively given the mandate of making policy recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Congress, has recommended state planning and coordination. However, states visited by GAO have not evaluated their prevention requirements and developed inclusive prevention plans.