Since 1983 April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, highlighting an important issue for our country. This is a great time for organizations to review their policies to ensure they’re doing everything they can to protect the children they care for. Abuse and neglect leave scars on children that never go away. Children who are abused are also more likely to abuse their own children, creating a vicious cycle.
This past year, children have been home more than ever, and child abuse reports have been down in most states. Does this mean child abuse isn’t happening? Most experts say no, believing that abuse and neglect may be even more prevalent now, but children aren’t seeing teachers and childcare workers who would normally report this abuse. Employees who work with children are almost always mandated reporters, meaning they legally must report any abuse or neglect they notice. So as our lives slowly go back to normal, and children are returning to in-person school and childcare, staff will play a crucial role in catching and reporting abuse that may have slipped through the cracks over the last year.
So how can organizations support employees who are faced with this daunting but critical task? First, ensure employees are provided plenty of training on how to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect in children. It’s also important for employees to be confident in the procedures for reporting abuse at the organization. Finally, managers and administrators should emphasize that they’ll support employees who notice and report abuse, as this can be an intimidating process. This will enable employees to do what’s necessary to protect the vulnerable children in our society.