Improving Educator Recognition Of Abuse And Neglect In The Virtual Classroom Setting
Jerica Ramos, John Kinnison, *Shannon Castle
Valley Children's Hospital, MADERA, CA
BACKGROUND: During the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to virtual learning, data reflect an increase in intentional injuries found in the hospital setting, and a decrease in referrals to child protective services, even by teachers and school personnel.
METHODS: Online training sessions in methods for identifying child abuse and neglect while teaching children virtually were scheduled with teachers and other school personnel in three local school districts over six months. Areas covered included physical appearance and signs of injury, environment, behavior and affect, student engagement, and supervision. Participants were asked their comfort with identifying signs of abuse over video teaching before and after training. The number of child protective services reports filed prior to training and afterward were self-reported.
RESULTS: 44 surveys were completed. 60% taught preschool or elementary children, 17.5% junior or high school, and the remainder taught a combination or served other roles. In the year prior to training, teachers reported an average of 1.2 cases/person/year (SD 1.8), versus 0.9 cases/person/year (SD 0.86) since training. Prior to training, 15% rated themselves as “not very confident” identifying abuse, but after training this was 0% and those responding “very” or “extremely” confident increased from 58% to 73%.
CONCLUSIONS: Online training of school staff and educators to recognize neglect and abuse in a virtual teaching setting increased confidence in identifying affected children and teens. Reported referrals to child protective authorities in our cohort remained lower than in the non-virtual era, so continued improvement in the ability to recognize this in a web-based classroom is imperative.
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