Today I made my first report of suspected child abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services. I noticed one of my students had a prominent injury and she was not in school the last few days.
Teachers are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse; i.e., they are required by law to report to the police or child protective services whenever there is a suspicion of abuse. During the few times I’ve sat through our district’s video on how to report child abuse, I’ve heard over and over that teachers are not to investigate suspected child abuse cases themselves. Turns out that this isn’t exactly the case–the agent at the DCFS said that I was supposed to ask the student what, where, when why the injury happened before reporting the case to the DCFS. Because I didn’t do this, the school nurse stepped in to ask the student some questions.
The student reported to the nurse that she injured herself. I hope this is the truth. I have not spoken to the student myself since this morning. I’m not sure whether or how to bring up the subject next time I see the student. My inclination is to apologize for bringing up an unpleasant topic and to convey to her that I am concerned for all of my students and that they should feel welcome to talk to us teachers about anything.
UPDATED: I spoke to the student and she said she understood that I was just looking out for her.