Child sexual abuse is a difficult topic. If you find yourself triggered by any of the website’s content, please stop and take the time you need to talk with someone to get support. If you need help now, please contact one of these resources today.
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
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?
Procedure in Child Abuse and Neglect Situations
Bringing in Others
Understanding the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Response
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
A. A History of This Manual
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
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)
“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.