Child Abuse and the Law: The Educator's Responsibility
The problem. The purpose of this study was to determine what knowledge teachers and other certified school personnel have regarding specific aspects of child abuse and Iowa's Child Abuse Reporting Law. Procedure. A forty-one item questionnaire, which was developed by the researcher, was administered to 128 educators (teachers, administrators, and support service staff) in four west central Iowa school districts and in the area education agency (AEA) serving these districts. The data gathered were analyzed for significance at the .05 level of confidence using one-way ANOVA and t-tests for significance between means. Findings. The data gathered tended to indicate that educators grouped by disciplines did not significantly differ in their knowledge of the specific aspects of child abuse examined and in their knowledge of Iowa's Child Abuse Reporting Law except in one case. The support service staff appeared to be significantly more knowledgeable about the reporting law than did the teacher group. The four school districts surveyed do not currently have written guidelines that educators could follow when they encounter students whom they suspect of having been abused. Conclusions. Most respondents underestimated the incidence of child abuse in the United States and knew that over 50 percent of the children who are abused are also attending school (kindergarten and above). Almost all of the respondents knew that certified educators in Iowa are required to report cases of suspected child abuse. However, they were unsure under what conditions they are required to do so. Recommendations. Three major recommendations were offered. First, educators are in need of additional information regarding characteristics of children who have been abused and of the Child Abuse Reporting Law in Iowa. Second, the boards of education in the districts surveyed should develop written procedures that certified employees would follow when they encounter students suspected of having been abused. Finally, some clarification is needed of what legal responsibilities exist for mandated reporters, e.g., teachers, when the person in charge, e.g., the building principal, fails to forward a report of suspected child abuse to the Department of Social Services.
111 leaves. Advisor: George Lair