HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Members of a state task force on child sexual abuse are recommending that lawmakers consider implementing new rules that would require more training for teachers.
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The suggestion is one of five listed in a new report released last week by the West Virginia Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children.
The five recommendations are listed as follows:
1) Require training for all public school employees to detect and respond to suspected abuse and neglect.
2) Simplify and clarify current mandatory reporting laws to make them easier to understand and to implement.
3) Strengthen non-criminal sanctions for offenders by requiring background checks for professional educators and adopt extensive screenings when licensing child-service professionals.
4) Collaborate and coordinate to leverage resources and identify strategies for the sustainability of child abuse prevention approaches
5) Strengthen school systems' capacity to provide age-appropriate, comprehensive, evidence-informed child sexual abuse prevention education.
Jayne Landacre, the executive director of the Harrison County Child Advocacy Center, said teachers are often the most reliable mandated reporters.
In fact, according to a national study cited in the task force's report, school personnel "identify and report more child abuse cases classified as causing harm to the child than any other profession or organizational type."
But, in that same report, members point to other national studies that show two-thirds of teachers "do not receive specific training in preventing, recognizing, or responding to child sexual abuse in either their college coursework or as part of their professional development."
In the full story above, Landacre says a lack of training means good-intentioned teachers could miss subtle signs of abuse.