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Home / Additional Considerations / The Impact of Culture

Home / Additional Considerations / The Impact of Culture

The Impact of Culture

With the increasing diversity in the population of the United States, and therefore in our schools, comes the need to recognize the impact of culture on the recognition of child maltreatment and the educator’s response to it. Some cultures have values, attitudes and practices that, while accepted in the country of origin, may be considered to be abusive or neglectful in this country. For example, some ethnic groups favor corporal punishment, even to the point of being severe, as a form of discipline. Other groups have practices that leave scars that make it appear that the child has been abused. For example, “cao gío” or coin rubbing used in some Vietnamese families to ward off illness may leave scars that look like welts. If one is teaching in an area where a particular cultural group is prevalent, it is advisable to learn about their customs. However, DCF workers are trained in cultural differences as well and if there is any question on your part that a child is being abused or neglected, a call to the DCF office is warranted.

In addition, some cultural groups are more open about discussing their family issues than others. It is not always easy for us, as those who observe and must report child maltreatment, to discern what are cultural issues from actual abuse or neglect. It may also be difficult to separate our values from our interpretation of what we observe.

Responding to cultural differences suggests the need for educators to have training in cultural sensitivity, but even this may not always suffice in all situations. Having a knowledgeable CPT with whom to discuss suspected maltreatment can be especially helpful in instances where culture is a factor. And having a representative of DCF available to that team helps to support staff in making the appropriate decision about reporting.


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Monitoring Behavior
How-To in 3 Steps

Learn more about Monitoring Behavior at your organization. Download a free copy to keep and share with your team.

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Step 1

Developing the Monitoring Protocol

  • Determine how your Code of Conduct is being adhered to and where additional policy or training may be needed.
  • Include language indicating all staff have the responsibility to observe and report inappropriate or concerning behaviors displayed by staff or by youth. 
  • Consult your child safety team to identify areas of strength and higher risk activities where monitoring would be especially important.
  • Define the people who must be informed when staff, volunteers, or children observe inappropriate or harmful behavior.
  • Outline the steps all staff and volunteers must follow when reporting suspected abuse.

Step 2

Promoting a Culture of Safety

  • Encourage staff to view safety as a priority and mutual responsibility, encourage questions, establish ongoing communication, and provide support to build trust.
  • Provide positive feedback when observing expected and appropriate behaviors. 
  • Ensure leadership is present, models appropriate behavior, supports positive interactions, and intervenes when needed. 
  • Conduct annual surveys and audits to gather information from staff, youth, and parents including questions about boundaries and appropriate behaviors.
  • Equip parents with information about your child sexual abuse prevention plans.

Step 3

Sustaining the Monitoring Protocol

  • Use individual supervision, performance reviews, and staff meetings to talk about the Code of Conduct and provide staff feedback on observed behaviors. 
  • Provide ongoing trainings that reinforce your Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics. 
  • Ensure all concerns are addressed and any harmful behaviors are reported to the Department of Children and Families and law enforcement.
  • Review the results of the staff surveys and internal audits to identify areas for improvement, staff accountability, and transparency. 
  • Assess your protocol and implement changes based on findings.