May 14 2012
Essential ‘that warning signs of abuse are identified, reported and acted on’
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) today introduced bipartisan legislation to expand professional development funding in No Child Left Behind to include training for teachers and school personnel on how to recognize signs of sexual abuse in students.
“According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 60 percent of all reports of child abuse and neglect are made by professionals, yet only 16 percent of abuse and neglect is reported by education personnel,” said Senator Feinstein. “Given the amount of time teachers and school personnel spend with children, it is of absolute importance that warning signs of abuse are identified, reported and acted on.”
The Helping Schools Protect Our Children Act of 2012 expands the list of allowable uses for No Child Left Behind (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Title II funding to permit states to use this funding to train teachers, principals and other school personnel on how to recognize child sexual abuse. Under current law, Title II provides grants to states for a variety of purposes related to recruitment, retention and professional development of K-12 teachers and principals.
The majority of states require teachers to report suspicions of child abuse, yet few states provide training.
“What happens behind closed doors in an abusive home can scar a child for a lifetime,” continued Feinstein. “The more we learn to recognize the signs of abuse or neglect, the better we will foster a safe environment for young people to learn and grow.”
According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 695,000 children were victims of maltreatment in 2010. Approximately 9.2 percent, or 63,940 children, were victims of sexual abuse, an increase from 7.6 percent in 2009.
The bill introduced by Senators Feinstein and Hutchison has no cost to the federal government and will not add to the deficit.