E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. To me, E3 spans broadly to include an understanding of all responsibilities and policies necessary to keeping students safe and providing a rich and challenging learning environment so that students have every possible chance to grow and succeed. Part of ensuring that students are safe and healthy includes my ability to identify signs of abuse and understand the policies for reporting abuse or neglect, which is part of my professional responsibility. Figure 1 is a screen shot of page 1 of one of our course readings for EDU 6942, Protecting the Abused & Neglected Child, A Guide for Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect by the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services—Children’s Administration. This passage explains that as a teacher in Washington State, I am required by law to be a “mandated reporter.” Being a “mandated reporter,” means I must report or cause a report to be written for suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to Child Protective Services or a law enforcement agency. Later on page 7, the reading states that I am required to report within 48 hours and also that it is very important to keep a record of my suspicion.
Throughout the reading, I was also reminded of different types of abuse, as well as different situations that may warrant suspicion of abuse. The reading proposed that in general, the following signs may suggest abuse and neglect: sudden change in behavior or school performance, not having received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention, learning problems not attributed to specific physical or psychological causes, watchfulness as though the student is preparing for something bad to happen, excessive compliance, passivity, withdrawal, or an avoidance of going home (p.3). While it is important to be cognizant and vigilant, the presence of one of the mentioned signs does not necessarily prove child abuse. If there are multiple signs present or a sign repeatedly appears, it is particularly important to consider the likelihood of abuse.
It is my responsibility to be familiar with and able to recognize signs of abuse and neglect in order to adhere to my responsibilities as both a teacher and a “mandated reporter.” In order to prioritize the safety of a child by ensuring the proper authorities are notified in a timely manner, it is my responsibility to understand and strictly adhere to not only the state’s policies for reporting, but also, the specific policies my school has in place.
In order for students to have the best chance of developing, learning and growing within the classroom, they must first be safe both inside and outside of school. My classroom must always be a place where students feel safe and comfortable to be themselves. It is important for teachers to really get to know their students, to be invested in their lives and interests; in so doing, teachers have a unique and enhanced opportunity to notice and intervene on the behalf of a student if necessary.
Reference: Washington State DSHS (2012). Protecting the Abused & Neglected Child. http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/publications/22-163.pdf