Thursday, November 10, 2011
The "Numb Nuts" At The DOE Adds More Responsibility & Paperwork To Teachers By Now Requiring Them To Report Child Abuse Directly To ACS.
The "numb nuts" at the DOE has added yet more responsibility and paperwork and possibly putting teachers "at risk" by now requiring that teachers report any suspicion of child abuse directly to New York City Administration for Children Services (ACS). While teachers have always been "Mandated Reporters" when it came to suspicion of child abuse, it was the Guidance Counselors who did the interview and determined if ACS should be informed. Remember, Guidance Counselors are trained to talk to the students about potential abuse not teachers. Therefore, it made sense to let the trained personnel to interview the student and make the proper assessment whether to bring in the ACS investigator.
Now the DOE has decided that untrained and unqualified teachers should do the initial oral report, get a call ID number, and file a written report (LDSS 2221-A) within 72 hours of suspected child abuse or neglect. Furthermore, this report includes the name, title, and contact information of every staff person who is believed to have direct knowledge of the allegations in the report. The DOE then threatens teachers by claiming that failure to report suspect child abuse could result in disciplinary action.
While I understand we must protect children from abuse and neglect, many teachers are not qualified to evaluate child abuse. We are not trained in identifying abuse or neglect, except for taking a three hour course, that may have been taken a decade ago. By contrast Guidance Counselors are trained to evaluate abuse and neglect and their offices are set up for privacy, a phone on their desk, and time to talk to children one-on-one. By contrast, when can teachers make time to talk to the child one-on-one? Unlike Guidance Counselors, teachers have no private offices with phones and have classroom duties. Teachers work in rooms with up to 34 students and privacy is not available to many of them. Worse, even if you can find the private area to speak to the student when does the teacher have the time to call ACS and write a written report? At home? during lunch? Maybe during the weekend but you better do it within 72 hours or else!
I can only say that the "numb nuts" at the DOE obviously didn't think this out and have not only increased teacher responsibility and paperwork but puts those very teachers "at risk" for disciplinary action if they fail to detect abuse or neglect because they are not trained in identifying these in children. I hope the union can convince the DOE that this is unsound policy and that the DOE should let the experts, the Guidance Counselors determine whether students are being abused or neglected not teachers. Their job is hard enough without he extra responsibility and paperwork associated with this unfair and unfortunate change in reporting child abuse and neglect.