New Training for Educators on Reporting Child Abuse - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

New Training for Educators on Reporting Child Abuse

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Extensive new training is underway in the Erie School District and districts across Pennsylvania on how to recognize and report any type of child abuse. Lawmakers voted in the more extensive requirements after the Jerry Sandusky abuse case.  

Three hours of training every five years are now mandated by the PA Department of Education.  The training is required for anyone who works in a school, from substitute teachers, to coaching staff and even janitors.

About two thousand Erie School District employees and another 500 outside contractors will take the course.  The training began at East High School on Tuesday for top administrators, principals and counselors. It will continue through the start of school next week with teachers, athletic staff and outside organizations that come into the schools.

The district's legal counsel and experts from the local Crime Victim Center are leading the training.  It's to help school workers spot signs of abuse and feel more confident in how to report it.   Experts are pleased by the state's new expectations. Amy Blackman, Director of Prevention Education for the Crime Victim Center said, "All of these children who may not have had somebody say anything or someone who saw something happening but wasn't really sure what to do about it, now we know that they're trained and they have the ability and they can make that report.  And we know that mandated reporters really do make the most reports of actually indicated abuse."

Educators who have taken the training say it is giving them more confidence in how to spot and report abuse.  "The most important thing is our students," said Bea Habursky, Executive Director of Human Resources for the Erie School District.  "We take that very seriously and so far in both trainings it has been very serious. People want to know what to do in cases where there's abuse or students will be abused so we are following protocol."  

Trainers say the district has revised some of its policies to make sure it's a very clear and direct line for staff making a report of suspected abuse.  Edison Principal Kevin Harper said the training is pertinent, because at his school, they see cases of abuse as many as 10 or 20 times in a school year and it helps to know how and when to report.  "It does give us a lot of freedom and the confidence to do it the right way." Harper said his biggest take away from the training is knowing that even if a suspected report isn't proven, to keep reporting, because it may build a case and prevent abuse.

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