- Learning Environment – The teacher fosters and manages a safe and inclusive learning environment that takes into account: physical, emotional and intellectual well-being – this entails being responsible for reporting any suspected child abuse, youth violence, and neglect as soon as possible so the children can be protected from further harm. Students should feel secure and comfortable in their classrooms and to ensure their safety, teachers’ need to keep a watchful eye out for any unusual behavior because as mandated reporters we play a critical role in preventing any future harm to children. Figure 1, Responding to the Child, illustrates the “Do” and “Do Not” tips on how to respond to a child who reports being abused or neglected, which is important to know if you’re trying to foster and manage a safe and inclusive learning environment.
This information is important because it gives new teachers practical tips on how to deal with a child reporting abuse or neglect. For instance, the tip on keeping tact and composure present throughout the conversation is essential in helping the child feel secure and calm because the last thing we want is for the child to feel at fault in anyway or form. Reading these tips can prepare teachers on how to effectively speak and act if presented with a child abuse report. My mentor teacher dealt with a child abuse issue which she reported to the school counselor who had an account with CPS who checked in on the student. This incident was also reported to the school principal. This teacher also has experience reporting a neglect issue last year when a child was suspected of being malnourished in regards to a lack of food. With help from the counselor, she was able to talk to the parents to find out that they couldn’t afford food so they helped the family get connected with Food Banks and Pantries. All educators are mandated to report suspected abuse. The protocol and process for reporting suspected child abuse are to inform the school’s principal and counselor because they will be in charge of contacting CPS within a 48-hour time frame. The teacher who reported the suspected abuse will also be required to document the incidence in writing by noting any information that is relevant, such as child’s name, nature of abuse, evidence, and if possible the identity of the perpetrator. Trust in the classroom occurs when teachers create a classroom environment based on inclusion and warmth. Students are more likely to open up to teachers when their classrooms invoke feelings of safety and kindness. Trust is something teachers have to earn so it’s important to create a relationship with your students, a relationship based off of respect and understanding. A comfortable atmosphere will motivate students to be active learners as well as encourage them to voice their opinions in a safe environment. For example, having the class help decorate the room with student posters that reflects their positive attributes will create a sense of belonging in the classroom. Through this comfortable atmosphere students will be able to express their thoughts in a low-anxiety environment through positive teacher-student and student-student interactions.