The School Counselor and Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention
(Adopted 1981; revised 1985, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2015)
It is the school counselor’s legal, ethical and moral responsibility to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to the proper authorities. School counselors work to identify the behavioral, academic and social/emotional impact of abuse and neglect on students and ensure the necessary supports for students are in place.
The RationaleThe National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) (2014) indicated a significant rise in reported child abuse and neglect incidents in recent years. This increase presents a public issue that must be addressed through advocacy for child protection. A child who is a victim of abuse and neglect may experience consequences including, but not limited to: immediate physical and/or emotional harm, the inability to build healthy relationships, increased likelihood of being abused by another perpetrator or becoming an abuser and lowered self-worth.
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (2013) has defined maltreatment as: “A particular form of child maltreatment determined by investigation to be substantiated or indicated under state law.” Types include:
- physical abuse
- neglect or deprivation of necessities
- medical neglect
- sexual abuse
- psychological or emotional maltreatment
- and other forms included in state law
The School Counselor's RoleSchool counselors are among those mandated by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1974, Public Law 93-247 to report suspected abuse and neglect to proper authorities and are critical in early detection and recognition of abuse. It is imperative that school counselors gain essential knowledge of policies and referral procedures by staying current on reporting requirements and state laws. Laws and definitions pertaining to child abuse and neglect vary among states; therefore, school counselors should commit themselves to become familiar with and abide by Child Protective Services (CPS) laws in their respective state (see a summary of state laws pertaining to child abuse and neglect at https://www. schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/legal-ethical).
In addition to mandated reporting, school counselors:
- Understand child abuse and neglect and its impact on children’s social/emotional, physical and mental well being
- Provide interventions that promote resiliency, healthy interpersonal and communication skills and self-worth
- Make referrals to outside agencies for child or family support when appropriate
- Engage families in the school community
- Identify barriers and limitations that affect healthy family functioning and may lead to child abuse or neglect
- Identify instances of child abuse and neglect and respond on both individual and systemic levels
SummarySchool counselors are a key link in the child abuse prevention network. It is their responsibility to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect to the proper authorities. School counselors must be able to guide and assist abused and neglected students by providing appropriate services. School counselors are committed to providing high-quality services to children who are victims of abuse and neglect with research-based intervention techniques.
ReferencesAmerican School Counselor Association. (2015). State-by-State Statutes. Retrieved from: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/legal-ethical
National Child Abuse and Neglect Training and Publications Project. (2014). The Child Abuse Prevention Act: 40 years of safeguarding America’s children. Washington DC:
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2013). Child maltreatment report. Retrieved from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/index.htm#can
American School Counselor Association. (2016). Ethical standards for school counselors. Alexandria, VA: Author.
Barrett, K. M., Lester, S. V., & Durham, J. C. (2011). Child maltreatment and the advocacy role of professional school counselors. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 3(2), 86-103.
“Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect.” Child Welfare Information Gateway. N.p., n.d.Web. 01Apr 2015.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Available from http://www.acf.hhs. gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/reporting-systems/ncands