I hate to admit it, but I sometimes feel completely unsure how to deal with an abuse survivor in my classroom. If an administrator tells me, “Hey, Michael in your 2nd-period class was physically abused growing up,” how do I use that information? This article helped me a lot. It clearly lists nine ways that I could help, including being predictable and discussing my expectations of their behavior ahead of time.
Whenever I deal with the legal side of being a teacher, I get nervous. What if I don't do things exactly as I should? What laws don't I know? That keeps me searching for online resources, but I often find sites and articles that have just one interesting perspective. Thankfully, this PDF pretty much covers it all. It might be a bit old, but it’s still my go-to for this kind of thing.
I struggle with a student whom I know has suffered abuse. I want to take care of them and treat them well, but I don't want to treat them any differently. That’s when I found this list. It may be from an Australian district, but these 10 tips are short and sweet. More importantly, they helped me work with one student who had been abused for years. I tend to touch students on the shoulder as a form of support, but this list helped me understand why that’s not good for an abuse survivor.
I remember having Stacey in my World History class. She was always shy, easily rattled, and wore long sleeves no matter how hot. I instantly thought we could be a survivor but had no real evidence. Thankfully, she was not. But that spurned me into looking for resources like this one. It clearly lists outward signs of abuse as well as how I could support an abuse survivor in my class.
When I started as a teacher, I signed the mandated reporter form like everyone else. At the end of my first year, I found out I had a student who survived rape the summer before school started. Suddenly, that form became real. Years later, I finally found this PDF from the federal Children’s Bureau of Health & Human Services. It clarified when to make a report, identify disclosure rules, and every state’s guidelines. Finally, it made sense.
Being a mandated reporter can be confusing. What counts as abuse? When do I have “reasonable” suspicion? What should I be looking for? Trainings come and go, but YouTube videos like this one are a great reminder. I especially love the slide showing how to differentiate between normal bruises and ones I should be concerned about. There’s also a great piece on what’s not child abuse. (Of course, your state laws may vary.)