Child abuse is a problem that is prevalent in society. School counselors have a legal and ethical duty to report any case of suspected child abuse to the authorities. However, simply transferring child abuse cases to child protection services doesn’t always return the results expected, and children are often stuck in the same abusive situations.
The Importance of Early Intervention
Early intervention and prevention is capital for the well-being and development of a child. In a perfect world, abuse doesn’t happen, but in the cases where it does, early intervention allows professionals to address some of the issues immediately and remove the child from the situation, which minimizes the trauma the child has to suffer.
The Importance of Formation
Every school or college should have a solid prevention plan in place to assist victims of abuse. The first step in implementing a prevention plan is to educate all school personnel on the prevalence of child abuse and implement school safeguarding policies to counteract it. This usually starts with the college counselor or school counselor. Most school counselor courses, such as the Wake Forest University program, have modules specific to dealing with the situation.
School counselors are often the only resource a children can access when dealing with abuse at home. School counselors can facilitate the training of other school personnel since they have a wealth of experience on the subject.
Identifying the Signs
One of the first steps in the formation of a safeguarding team is teaching how to identify early signs of child abuse. However, it is important for them to know that signs and symptoms often related with child abuse are not always caused by abuse, so it’s important not to jump to conclusions.
Once early signs have been detected, it is the job of the school counselor to consult the student and question them about their situation at home. Only by questioning the student will the counselor be able to truly tell if they’re dealing with abuse.
Consistency is important when implementing any program. This is why the rules and regulations concerning suspected cases of abuse should be uniform and clearly stated in writing. Clear protocols should be set in place in case of suspected child abuse and each department should be fully aware of the set of procedures that must be taken in case some of the common signs are noticed.
What about the Parents?
Sadly, school personnel are somewhat limited when it comes to addressing the usual perpetrators: the parents. However schools can work in parallel with other community agencies to provide guidance and assistance to parents dealing with difficulties. School counselors can provide guidance on good parental care and steer parents towards resources that could help them in becoming better parents.
The role of a school counselor goes far beyond simply helping students in their day to day activities and providing moral support. They play an essential role in the prevention and prosecution of child abuse cases. Anyone entering this profession should be aware of that fact and understand fully what will be expected of them once they land this position.