The only mention of abuse prevention during the presentation was in regard to volunteer parents being required to complete a CORI check (which is a background check here in MA for criminal offenses). As many of you know - most sexual offenders have clean records, so passing a CORI check, or any background check is not a sufficient means for keeping children safe from sexual abuse.
My questions were:
Question 1. Does the school have written policies & procedures on bullying and are they posted online for parents to review.
So, my homework as a parent, is to review them and see how comprehensive they are.
Question 2. Does the school train staff on abuse prevention and to identify signs/symptoms of abuse in children.
Answer: They 'talk' about it during annual meetings, but they could be doing a better job.
Now, our superintendent is working within the town to bring the Enough Abuse Campaign to our community, so I know he is already on board to improve this aspect of child safety. However, I appreciated his honesty.
And really - if any parent goes to their child's school and talks with their principal pr superintendent on the issues of child abuse prevention - they would probably get a similar answer. It's not that schools necessarily don't care about protecting children from sexual abuse, it's that there are so many things being mandated and required, and it comes down to this - squeaky wheel gets the oil. Until an issue arises or enough people demand that something be done about something - it's probably going to remain at status quo - however badly it may need improvement.
Question 3. Would the school be open to distributing abuse prevention materials to parents?
Answer: As long as the superintendents office reviews and approves them, they would have them distributed for the children to take home to their parents.
From here on out, I have some of my work already done because for the past two years I've been working to bring the training from Enough Abuse to my community - which involves forming a coalition of community leaders to address the various situations where children need protection. I, myself, am slated to be part of their training at the end of this month and be an official trainer for my community, which I'm very excited about. And, from this point forward we will hopefully be working with the school system to train teachers and staff and work to strengthen their policies and procedures for abuse prevention.
So please, if you don't know your school system's policies and procedures for reducing risk of abuse and ensuring proper reporting - ASK. Just ask.
Don't trust that their doing their job - ask. Start the conversation, and get them thinking about it - and more importantly, aware that there are parents that care and know it's important.
I was probably the only parent sitting in that auditorium wondering about abuse prevention protocol - but all it takes sometimes is one parent.
For more on abuse prevention protocol for schools visit our online resources section and suggested reading materials there are books, pamphlets, and websites with plenty of information on how schools can and must do a better job to protect children.
If you're interested in distributing abuse prevention materials for parents at your school, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our materials here.
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