Special seminar today: “Issues of Abuse and Neglect”. An even more difficult subject than I’d anticipated.
I admit to internal conflict over the prospect of becoming a “mandatory reporter” – i.e., as a teacher, under the laws of Washington State, it will be my legal obligation to report any suspected abuse among my students. I do of course feel a deep commitment to the safety of my students. At the same time, it seems likely that any parents who knows about this aspect of my job might treat me with suspicion, just on principle. It’s another one of those necessities that – I suppose wouldn’t be necessary if it weren’t for all the horror stories and grim statistics which have pushed our society to adopt these tactics. I just don’t want to start seeing every parent as a potential abuser; I’m going to have to rely on my co-professionals to keep me honest.
That was one of the better take-aways, actually – all the encouragement to rely on professional support, i.e., other teachers and administrators. When I teach, I want to teach as part of a team; I’ve heard a lot about the way some teachers isolate themselves and make their professional problems personal. For me, I’d rather have a support system which can keep me honest – and help me recognize things I might miss.
This seems even more necessary when one considers the alternating vagaries and seeming contradictions which Washington state law seems littered with regarding this issue. The term “reasonable” appears a lot; whose reason? There is also the culture of the family to consider, and the degree to which the student seems affected; but it’s all relative, and given all I’ve learned, I conjecture that no two instances of abuse have ever been alike.