School Counselors and Child Abuse

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The objective of this research paper is to determine how well school counselors, who are human service providers and mandated reporters of child abuse, know how to detect abuse and whether or not this skill has an effect on them actually making a report. As mandated reporters, school counselors are not prepared to detect signs of child abuse and their lack of preparedness is a directly correlated with their low levels of reporting. Unfortunately, it is a cold fact that child abuse exists all over the world, but fortunately educators and individuals in human services are beginning to open the eyes of many individuals about the power they have in prevention, intervening and changing the lives of those affected by the horrid effect of child abuse. A group of individuals that can have a superb effect in empowering those affected by abuse are school counselors. Because of their interactions with children and their families, they can be influential in recognizing and reporting child abuse. With the right training and tools they can make a world of difference. There is very little research on school counselors and their abilities in recognizing and reporting child abuse. The research that does exist shows a need in extensive training in recognition child abuse and what to do thereafter. School counselors reported knowledge that they are mandated by law to report suspicion of child abuse, but lacked confidence in their ability to detect and report child abuse. Training is necessary in undergraduate/graduate schooling and as a professional in order for a school counselor to be fully effective as a mandated reporters. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, (NCANDS), which collects and analysis data from child protective services, 3.3 million child abuse reports were made in 2009 of which three fifths of the reports were made by Running Head: SCHOOL COUNSELORS AND CHILD ABUSE 3 mandated reports such as doctors, teachers, daycare providers, counselor, etc. who because of the nature of their job have contact with these children. 3.3 million reports were made in United States in the year 2009 and it is unfortunate to say that perhaps millions more abuses occurred but went on unreported. To report or not to report, that is the question that many individuals ask themselves when in a possession were they might hold vital information. There are times when individuals who have vital information right in front of them but see right thought it because of the lack of knowledge and experience. An often happy and extrovert child might begin to show sudden signs of melancholy and introversion due to being sexually abused by a family member, but a professional who works with the child on a day to day basis, for example, a teacher or a school counselor may not be able to detect these changes in character and as a result make no reports.

The duration of time that children interact with school officials and administrators often times equal and even exceed the amount of time that they spend with family members. At times children and certain school officials form bonds that are fused together by trust and respect and due to the trust that has been formed, often times these officials gain insight about these children’s lives. One school official that needs to build rapport with a child in order to best service that child, is a school counselor. Since rapport is usually built between child and counselor, one would assume that the counselor would be able to detect child abuse right away, but it is evident through my readings that school councilors are in desperate need of guidance themselves. Though they are there to guide others, school counselors lack the confidence and knowledge when it comes to detecting and reporting child abuse cases; weather it be neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or physical abuse...
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