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Home / Table of Contents

Home / Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Scope
  • Keeping Children Safe – The Importance of Prevention
  • The Elements of Prevention
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Safe Physical and Virtual Environments
  • Screening and Hiring Practices
  • Codes of Conduct and Monitoring
  • Building a School/District Reporting Protocol: Recognizing, Responding to, and Reporting Child Abuse
  • Definition of Child Maltreatment
  • The Need for a Protocol
  • Considerations Before Getting Started
  • Creating a Child Protection Team (CPT)
  • Designing a Protocol
    • Training
    • Formation of a child protection team
    • Implementation of the protocol
    • Recognizing child abuse and neglect
    • Guidelines for handling disclosures
  • Problematic Sexual Behavior
    • Normal Sexual Development vs. Sexually Harmful/Abusive Behaviors
  • The Impact of Culture
  • Can I really Believe this Report?
  • Grooming
  • Procedure in Child Abuse and Neglect Situations
  • Bringing in Others
  • Understanding the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Response
  • Anticipating Emergencies
  • Notifying the Family
  • Protecting the Child’s Privacy
  • When the Department of Children and Families (DCF) becomes involved
  • The Investigative Response
  • Anticipating the Impact of Implementation
    • What if DCF does not respond immediately?
    • What if I know that the police (or other mandated reporters) have filed a 51A on the same situation that concerns me? Do I still need to file?
    • What if DCF screens out the report?
    • What if the child knows that DCF has been contacted and DCF has screened out the report?
    • What if the parents remove the child from school?
    • What if the child has made up a story about being abused or neglected?
  • A Word About Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
  • Sustaining A Trauma-Sensitive Environment
  • Self-audit and Sustainment
  • Projections for the Future
  • References and Suggested Reading
  • Appendices
    • A. A History of This Manual
    • B. Acknowledgements
    • C. Safe Kids Thrive Web Addresses (by prevention element and footnote number)
    • D. Physical and Behavioral Signs of Abuse and Neglect
    • E. Massachusetts general laws, chapter 119, section 51A
    • F. Policy Suggestions in Review
    • G. Filing an Effective 51A Report
    • H. 51A Report Form
    • I. What Happens When DCF Receives a 51A Report?
    • J. Sample Code of Conduct and Acknowledgement Form
    • K. Sample Reporting Flow Chart
    • L. Glossary
    • M. Resources for Educators
    • N. Supplemental Guidance to Support EQT-3 Superintendent’s Circular (BPS Response to Child-Child Incidents of Sexual Behavior: Guidance for Informing Caregivers)
    • O.  Endnotes

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela. Madison Park High School, Boston, 23 June 1990

Note: The current edition of this Manual is the 4th in a series published by the Massachusetts Children’s Trust. The Manual’s initial purpose was to serve as a resource for educators and other school personnel on their responsibilities as mandated reporters to recognize, respond to, and report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. Later editions included an additional emphasis on providing guidelines, strategies, and tools for the primary prevention of child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, in school settings. This 4th edition advances both of these intentions and is grounded in the evidence-based and evidence-informed advancements in the field of child protection from the last edition (2016) to the present. Additional detail on the history of this document can be found in Appendix A, and acknowledgements of the agencies and individuals who graciously supported, reviewed, and edited this 4th edition can be found in Appendix B.

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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.