We all know how much harm can violence and abuse cause to a child. Children that are exposed to violence, abuse or neglect often have problems in their development, experience learning difficulties and perform poorly at school. Enduring such behaviour can also result in depression and low self-esteem. There is no doubt that teachers can play a vital role in violence prevention, considering the relationship between them, their students and the time spent in the classroom. Therefore here are 5 important topics on how teachers can help prevent violence:
1) Educate children about their rights and safety
Educating children about their rights is one of the crucial steps in abuse prevention. Introducing topics of violence and child abuse in a positive and developmentally appropriate way can educate children on how to tackle unpleasant and possibly dangerous situations and to be “safe, strong and free”.
2) Make your classroom a place where children feel safe and wanted
It is vital that we build a good relationship with children so that they feel safe to tell us anything. No matter how big, unpleasant or complicated is their problem. They should feel that they will be listened to and helped, no matter what. Kids that endure violence or abuse are often convinced that nobody is going to believe them or that they could even get in trouble if they report abusive behaviour. That is why it is really important that they know, they can trust us and we will do everything in our power to protect them.
3) Be informed about recognizing abuse
There are four major types of child abuse and neglect: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Learn to recognize signs of abuse yourself and inform your co-workers about them as well. Be sensitive to behavioral changes in children. You can read more about recognizing child abuse here.
Set an example. Speak up when you recognize that a child is being abused and protect them with all means possible. Most states have laws that require teachers and child care providers to report suspected cases of child abuse to child protective services. Inform yourself about the procedure in your country in case someday you will need it.
5) Involve the community
Help educate people in your community about the consequences of violence and abuse and how important it is for us to speak-up, rather than look away.
If you would like to know more about how to adequately address and tackle issues of violence and abuse of children, we recommend our upcoming Erasmusplus course Prevention of Violence and Child Abuse: How can Teachers Help? which will be held in Ljubljana from 19th to 25th of March 2017.
For further reading we recommend: Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2003). The role of educators in preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau. (link)