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Considerations for Clinical Programs in Adapted Physical Education

By Ersing, Walter F.; Huber, Joseph H. | Palaestra, Fall 1992 | Go to article overview

Considerations for Clinical Programs in Adapted Physical Education


Ersing, Walter F., Huber, Joseph H., Palaestra


Passage of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (PL 93-247) in 1973, resulted in federal legislation that required each state to develop policies and procedures for effective reporting, investigating, and evaluating of alleged child abuse and neglect cases. Effect of this legislation, coupled with concern by society about the problem of abuse and neglect in general, led to heightened enforcement of legal policies and procedures during the 1980s. Hence, reports about child abuse and neglect cases via the media have become pervasive.

Education is not immune from the impact of such federal and state legislation. All 50 states have mandates that educators be included among the list of professionals required to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect (Broadhurst, 1986). This type of legal mandate has implications not only for teacher education within adapted physical education, but also for administration of on-campus clinic or laboratory physical education programs for children with disabilities.

Since each professional preparation program and state have their own unique settings and accompanying circumstances, it is not the intent of this discussion to provide specialists in adapted physical education with a specific approach for dealing with the issue of child abuse and neglect. Rather, it is intended that this article identify dimensions of the issue that should be taken into consideration when conducting a clinic or laboratory program at a college or university.

At least six important dimensions are addressed: (a) legal considerations, (b) institutional policies and procedures, (c) parental involvement, (d) program supervision, (e) preservice/inservice programs, and (f) community relations. It is hoped that discussion of these elements provides direction for clinic or laboratory programs and for preservice/inservice training.

Legal Considerations

To understand and address effectively any piece of legislation dealing with child abuse and neglect, educators must thoroughly familiarize themselves with policies and procedures mandated for their specific states (Rose, 1980). Of particular importance is knowing which state social agency is responsible for enforcing state policies, understanding procedures used by the state agency for processing reports of child abuse, and understanding procedures for investigating reported cases. Although educators have no legal responsibility for investigating and intervening in child abuse cases, they do play important roles in these processes (Broadhurst, 1986).

Being familiar with a state's policies and procedures becomes critical because they help determine what information remains confidential and what is released to the press. Interest of the press is usually attracted when a student clinician in a clinic or laboratory program is charged with sexual or physical abuse, or when parents are suspected of child abuse or neglect.

Of equal importance is dissemination of legal information on state laws dealing with child abuse and neglect, and utilizing appropriate resources within state agencies. Incorporating legal information as part of orientation activities for a clinic or laboratory program, or within preservice/inservice training, can be an effective avenue for dissemination and can serve as a preventive measure.

Institutional Policies and Procedures

To effectively manage cases of child abuse and neglect that may occur on campus, a college or university should develop a written document that clearly states policies and procedures. This document should be applicable to all programs on campus providing direct services to children.

A multidisciplinary approach to developing the document is advised. Representation from the following areas is desirable: academic areas providing direct services to children on or off campus, departments offering curriculum courses in various areas related to children or conducting research on children, and the college or university administration, particularly the legal staff.

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