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Making a difference

Watch QUT’s Professor Kerryann Walsh explain why reporting suspected child abuse and neglect is so important.
Protecting children is our work. It is anchored in the core values that have led us to become teachers. As a teacher you spend more time daily with children than any other professional and perhaps even their parents. As a trusted, safe adult in children’s lives, you might be the only person who can help stop their maltreatment and suffering. Some concerns may hold you back from reporting. Such as; a lack of evidence, a fear of being sued, a fear of retaliation from families, or a fear that you’ll make things worse for the child. These are all valid concerns.
However, research shows that you are more likely to be comfortable making a report when you can confidently recognise the signs, know your reporting duty, have a well informed action plan and a supportive work environment, and have a more positive attitude towards reporting. A recent example of the way schools can make a difference comes from an Australian primary school. It tells the story of a family who had experienced multiple challenges and were in a prolonged state of crisis, with mental illness, trauma histories, and substance abuse. The school and other services intervened and then wrapped around the family rather than pushing them away. The little girl in that family is now attending school and thriving.
Although it sounds heroic, it’s really hard, delicate and complex work. It requires expertise and courage. Depending on the situation, your report to child protection authorities may help ensure families get access to much-needed support services. In serious cases it may involve a formal investigation into whether a child needs to be removed to a safer place. But this is seldom the first option apart from in the most serious and chronic of cases. It is important to remember that child abuse does not typically resolve itself. It can become more serious over time and the effects will be more serious the longer it continues. It will not typically go away unless someone acts.
You are an extremely important person in children’s lives and what you know and can do is extremely important. Reporting child abuse and neglect can stop the abuse or neglect and begin the provision of help to children and families in your school centre or community. You might be the only person in a child’s life that they can count on. You can make a difference.

School staff are among the most common sources of child abuse and neglect reports. Australian teachers send more notifications to child protection services than any other professional group, apart from police.

Welcome back to the course. This week, we will cover the following topics:

  • Why is it so important to report child abuse and neglect?
  • What influences teachers’ reporting?
  • Do you have a duty to report CAN?
  • How do you know when and what to report?
  • What support is available?
  • How do you teach children to protect themselves?
  • How do you work with statutory child protection agencies and other professionals?

In this video, I will explain why reporting child abuse and neglect is so important and how you can make a difference to children’s lives and learning.

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Child Protection for Teachers

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