The role of a guidance counselor when sexual abuse is reported within the public school system.

Essay by mbaker220A+, September 2003

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The Role of School Counselor in Sexual Abuse Prevention and Intervention.

The school is the one social institution outside the family with which nearly all children have consistent, ongoing contact. Therefore, it is particularly well-suited for identifying endangered children, including those who are being sexually maltreated. Today, many counselors are striving to become more effective participants in prevention and intervention efforts designed to reduce the complex problem of child abuse.

Counselors, administrators and teachers are empathetic toward abused children, but fear and lack of knowledge may make them hesitant about reporting abuse (Thomas McIntyre 1990). Although counselors are required by law to report suspected child abuse, most colleges allow educators to become certified without exposure to child abuse curricula. In one survey, 81 percent of educators reported receiving no pre-service information about abuse and neglect, and 66 percent said they had not been given any in-service education in this area (McIntyre 1987).

Lack of adequate training hinders teachers' ability to detect all types of abuse, but it may especially impair their ability to recognize sexual abuse, since most victims manifest no obvious external signs. In a study that asked teachers about their knowledge of various forms of abuse, only 4 percent of the polled teachers stated that they were "very aware" of the signs of sexual abuse. Another 17 percent said they would be able to recognize signs that were "very obvious," while 75 percent reported that they would not recognize signs at any point (McIntyre). Even when sexual abuse is suspected, however, it is not always reported to child protective services.

Educating children about how to protect themselves from being sexually abused through school-based prevention programs is viewed by some people as another viable tool that should be used in the fight against child sexual abuse. Although some advocate...