Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reporting Child Abuse

Tulsa, OK

State law requires all teachers and administrators must report any suspected case of child abuse.

The big question: To whom do they report the cases?"

Laura Smolen's son, Ford, hasn't yet left the watchful eyes of mom- for school.

But, she knows that's right around the corner and teachers are soon to be a big part of his life.

"I feel like, nowadays, teachers spend more time with the kids than the parents do," said Smolen.

That means teachers see a lot.

Sometimes, the unthinkable- like signs of an abused child.

"We have to take care of our children," said Denzel Kesterson, with the Tulsa Classroom Teacher's Association. "That's the one thing we need to do."

One way TPS is trying to make sure child abuse is reported- the district's soon to be adopted, newly revised, "reporting child abuse" policy.

"Best not to think about it. If you suspect it, report it," said Kesterson.

He hopes the new changes will clear up any confusion for teachers that, he says, was brought on by the district's old policy.

"The language implied that they didn't have to call DHS, they could just tell their principal and they were done."

But, Kesterson says, that's not the case.

"It is still their responsibility to let DHS know, they aren't supposed to investigate."

For mom's like Smolen, even if it was her own child a teacher had a suspicion about, she says, better safe than sorry.

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