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Considerations Before Getting Started

As you consider designing a protocol to meet your school’s needs, it is important to assess exactly what those needs and necessary resources are. Here are a few suggestions:

What staff do we have to do what?

It is often good to have someone in the key role of reporter – the person to whom children and staff come to talk about the suspected abusive or neglectful situation. In this day of cutbacks, not all schools have the same support staff. For example, while some protocols have stipulated that allegations of maltreatment should be reported to the school nurse, who would also then examine the child, other schools do not have a full-time nurse. If the nurse does have a pivotal role, what happens on the days they are not at your school? The best plan is to list or diagram the support personnel and administrators to identify their respective roles and availability. You might also want to consider these factors:

  • How do the children see this individual? For example, although the assistant principal may be in a good position to be contacted when teachers suspect abuse, this person may be seen by the students as someone who is in charge of discipline, or someone to whom they are sent when they are in trouble. Consequently, this individual might not be one best suited to deal with children who are being abused or neglected. Or, is the guidance counselor someone who just does scheduling – not someone to whom children might come? It might be best, although this can get tricky, to consider the receptivity of the individual to be designated as the key person rather than just considering their job description. Another approach is to handle this administratively and have the principal do all the reporting to DCF (i.e., the “Designated Reporter” as allowed by the 51A law), while another person is identified as the one who talks to the children and teachers.
  • Who, in the school, has the training to become involved in reporting? It is certainly advisable for the people in key roles to be knowledgeable of DCF procedures. One person may wish to develop a knowledge of what will happen when allegations are reported, and a rapport with the local DCF office, so that reporting and intervention can go much more smoothly. It is vital that this person have confidence in the system. The system does work when accessed properly. If those reporting have little confidence in DCF’s ability to help, the child may not be best served.


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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.