#53 Call Before You Dig

http://naturalcomforts.ca/en/programsservices/resources/im_call-before-you-dig.jpg
http://naturalcomforts.ca/en/programsservices/resources/im_call-before-you-dig.jpg

Most people are familiar with the tagline, “Call Before You Dig.” If not, it is an initiative by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) to protect what is under the ground, for example sewer pipes, live electrical wires, gas line, etc. You are supposed to call 811 before digging in your yard to prevent accidents from happening that may be fatal and could’ve been prevented to an extent. I use this tagline to segway into a difficult and heart wrenching topic, child abuse. Teachers hope and pray that they will never have to run into such an awful situation, but all too often signs are noticed and it begins the teacher’s duty to act on it. This is where I connect “Call Before You Dig” to “See Something Say Something.” Yes, the teacher’s main duty is to “teach” but let’s go deeper than that. We are teaching the “whole” child, not just parts. When students step into our classrooms, they are developing not only academically, but also socially and emotionally and as teachers we must meet all three of those categories. As all of us are aware, we may be the only adult that our students may be able to trust in their lives and to look up to as a moral figure. According to Safe Horizon- a non-profit agency for victims of violence, 60% of reports of child abuse come from reporters that are teachers, police, and social services. It is our duty and obligation as mandated reports of abuse via our teaching contracts to make sure that any signs of abuse are further investigated to prevent any injures, whether they be physically or mentally to a child. Safe Horizons also states that 1,593 children died because of abuse or neglect in 2012 and I am sure those numbers haven’t changed much since then. The last thing you want is any child to lose their life, as it is our goal keep them all safe. I once talked to a teacher about a past situation where she had a student tell her that she did not like when her daddy would come into her bed every night. Well right there in that moment she had the gut wrenching feeling that something was not right. After she allowed the student to continue to tell any information voluntarily, she went to the administration. She did not ask questions or interrogate the student, she simply did what she was supposed to do and reported what was told to her by the student to the principal. At teachers it’s important to know where your line of expertise falls. We are not psychologists and social services professionals. We are mandated to report, but then allow professionals to investigate the situation. The teacher and the principal then called in the report, which was then properly followed by an investigation. Now, there are many factors that hinder teachers from reporting something. Some teachers fear that it will come back to hurt them if they report something. As educators, we have to remember that we chose to be leaders in our community and guardians of all children. It is our first priority to protect our students as many teachers do each day, whether it is administering first aid or shielding students in a natural disaster or shooting. Is there a chance that the parents of a child that you report for possible child abuse assumes that you called on them? The answer is yes, but having a set of angry parents is far less troubling than a student slipping through the cracks and being hurt or killed. Remember, always keep your eyes and ears open and if you “See Something Say Something!”