In light of all the news stories surfacing about child sexual abuse, we feel that teachers ought be prepared. Unfortunately, teachers do not have the power to protect their students as well as we would like.
It would be nice if teachers could be provided with more complete training in sexual abuse prevention so they would at least be armed with the knowledge to keep our children safe.
We feel teaching is one of the most impressive and important professions an adult can choose. This is said with the utmost modesty as we are educators as well. However, lately due to high media coverage of teachers abusing students, the teaching profession seems ripe with pedophiles. It sounds like reason enough to home school your child, doesn’t it? Rest assured, the media coverage can’t speak for all teachers. Most instructors are good-hearted people.
Unfortunately, the fact is pedophiles go into specific professions to be in contact with children. This makes teaching, coaching, and youth groups prime places for pedophiles. And until now, sexual abuse prevention training has not been part of the curriculum for an education degree. For teachers just coming into their first job, many don’t know what to signs to be wary of when it comes to child abuse. Even when I received my masters in elementary education, I still wasn’t taught how to look for the signs. It wasn’t until I went on to a masters in counseling psychology, that I learned about child abuse. And I still feel that little education was not enough.
How did I learn the necessary information to protect children from abuse? My co-founder, who is an educator and LCSW, and I researched, studied, and wrote curriculum to train teachers. Then, over seven years, we tweaked and continually updated until we had curriculum that could truly make a difference in protecting children.
It is our belief that anyone working with children must be mandated in a comprehensive sexual abuse prevention training program. This training ought to begin in undergraduate degrees with discussing child abuse, what is looks like, symptoms of children being harmed, what grooming looks like, what to do if you suspect abuse, and so much more. As teachers progress in their education, this training should be incorporated in their degrees.
Through our KidSafe for Kids curriculum we have taught over 30,000 children and provided workshops, seminars, and trainings to thousands of adults. We can’t tell you how many teachers have taught children over the years that they suspected were abused. Those teachers did not know what to do, what to say, or how to report. They also reported that the culture of the school was not one of protecting children but one of staying silent to prevent drama and hysteria.
The best way to protect our children and maintain the teaching as a noble profession, is to educate adults on what to do if they suspect child abuse, and not be afraid to hold those responsible accountable for turning a blind eye to child abusers. The administration should own up instead of passing the trash.*
Adults don’t know unless they are taught, but our goal is to educate and bring sexual abuse prevention training to all adults so they do know. Like Oprah says, “Once you know better, you do better.” That is our hope.
*Pass the Trash – When administration knowingly lets go or fires someone in the school system for inappropriate and/or abusive behavior to a child but does not put on record the “real” reason. The adult will be able to leave the school quietly and go work for another school. We collaborate with S.E.S.A.M.E to bring awareness and advocacy to stop passing the trash and hold administrators accountable when they do. Every child deserves the right to be safe and every adult must do whatever is necessary to make sure our future leaders of the world are protected.