Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

The Child Abuse Matter and the Major Role Played by the Teacher: Issues Raised by a Pilot Focus Group Sample of Primary Teachers

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

The Child Abuse Matter and the Major Role Played by the Teacher: Issues Raised by a Pilot Focus Group Sample of Primary Teachers

Article excerpt


A great deal of attention is now being paid to issues raised by child abuse. Recent reports, enquiries and relevant agencies have all recognized the important role played by teachers in aiding the detection and prevention of child abuse, due to their close everyday contact with children. The result of the ideas presented in the present work was initiated by a Focus group of 12 re-educated teachers at the University of Crete, who met five times in order to review and examine: a) their attitudes concerning possible child abuse incidents within the school settings, and b) the type of teachers' involvement in assessing and intervening with abused children and their families. Finally, the participation of a second group of 6 re-educated elementary teachers in the last meeting provided the opportunity of comparing feelings and attitudes between the 2 groups concerning child protection training programs and made recommendations for ways gaps could be filled in the future. The present work concluded that teachers who do recognize abuse do so intuitively, for there is little or no initial advice during the training of teachers to help them develop such diagnostic skills. Nor is there training to help teachers take things further after the initial diagnosis.

Keywords: child abuse, primary school, teacher's role

1. Introduction

1.1 The Problem

Serious evidence of child abuse and neglect raise major issues for teachers who usually recognize the type of child abuse (physical, sexual, psychological, and neglect) (Leeb, Paulozzi, Melanson, Simon & Arias, 2007) but make little effort to organize interventions and support policies for these children and their families (Webster, Stephen, O' Toole, O' Toole & Lucal, 2005). According to Kenny (2001/2004), a quarter (or 25%) of the reported cases with data on child maltreatment comes from teachers who are more likely to come into contact with abused children in the school settings. According to Kenny (2004) teachers often express anxiety symptoms when they get involved with students who may be abused or were abused by their families meaning that these cases of abused children may be ignored by them in the end. Unfortunately, persons who used to be victims of any kind of physical punishment as a way of discipline are less inclined to report events of child abuse (Cerezo & Pons-Salvador, 2004; Tomlinson, 2004; Panagiotaki, 2010). Given that primary teachers should identify critical signs of child abuse and prevent possible behaviors that might lead to it, the present research emphasizes the need for proper guidance or giving directions to primary teachers in dealing with the particular subject (Kenny, 2001/2004). Furthermore, this article identifies the vital role of schools in promoting intervention programs for preventing child abuse and supporting their families.

1.2 Significance of the Study

Recognizing the importance of teachers involvement with abused and neglected children and their supportive role for these pupils and their families, this article examines teachers values and attitudes towards child abuse issues and the different ways these feelings and behaviours might influence their actions towards abused and abusers in and out of the school boundaries. The significance of this study lies in pointing to the fundamental need of teachers to be prepared much more than gaining skills of referral on child abuse cases as they are expected to develop understanding and insight into the nature of adult/child relations and become efficient in involving parents, the community and other agencies in work on child protection as well. Given that there are cases which the type of abuse is not clear, this leaves teachers in a considerable dilemma: How and in what degree will they need to maintain a relationship with the child and the family after referring a case? The acknowledgement of such difficult personal and professional decisions were also addressed to the particular group of teachers. …

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