Cracks in the concrete: The demise of the teacher's role in reporting child abuse and neglect.

Year: 2001

Author: McCallum, Faye

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In traditional terms, teachers have been described as righteous, moral models in society, sometimes described like 'a pillar of society'. This image of a traditional teacher, the church goer, piled high with books and plenty of knowledge was admired by many pockets in society. This presents a picture of a teacher-standing firm, like concrete, wearing many hats that related to the various roles they were required to perform. This concrete image is ever present today as teachers continue to work in various roles, grappling with change and accountability. However, the role of the teacher has changed somewhat from the 1800's encompassing many more duties and responsibilities that require diverse and complex skills like decision-making. One decision, legislated by law in South Australia, is to identify and report suspected child abuse and neglect to child protective services. The literature has, for quite a while, highlighted the under-reporting of child abuse and neglect by certain professionals, including teachers. This paper reports on recent research conducted in all schools in South Australia that investigated the effectiveness of teacher training for mandated notifiers. Inhibiting factors, referred to as 'cracks' in the concrete and enabling factors that influence teacher reporting are discussed.