Home / Designing a Protocol / Training


As mentioned above, training is a vital part of implementing a child abuse and neglect reporting plan and is a mandatory annual requirement for educators in the Commonwealth. School personnel should be trained to understand the terms used in child maltreatment allegations, physical and behavioral indicators of child abuse and neglect (Also see Appendix D), applicable law and its implications, reporting procedures, and what happens when a case is reported 96 to DCF (Also see Flowchart on Safe Kids Thrive 97 and Appendix I below).

While all of these pieces of information are vital, the well-informed educator should also recognize their own feelings about abuse and neglect, and understand why parents maltreat their children.

There are two excellent online training resources for mandated reporters 98 – one offered by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office (here), and a new mandated reporter training specific to school personnel (here) – and others – offered by the MA Office of the Child Advocate offered by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. This interactive training allows you to test your knowledge and responses as well as providing important information. There are other good training resources available both locally and nationally. The Children’s Trust and states’ Children’s Advocacy Centers are good sources of information about a variety of prevention programs for faculty and staff as well as for students. The Safe Kids Thrive website has an interactive map 99 that allows you to find resources near you, as well as a listing of state and national resources 100 and their contact information. The website also contains a schedule of upcoming trainings 101 , meetings and conferences on its “Events” page.

Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (PCA Georgia) and Georgia State University have recently published a Technical Assistance Resource Guide (TARG 2024) 102 that evaluates multiple school-based abuse prevention programs. In addition the local DCF office may have information regarding community-based resources.

To reinforce the importance and critical role of training, an effective protocol should include a statement to this effect:

The [designate the responsible party] shall be responsible for ensuring that all school staff are provided with in-service training to familiarize them with [at the minimum] the symptoms of child abuse and neglect, their reporting responsibility and procedures, the school protocol, DCF procedures, and their obligations once the case has been reported. (NOTE: All suggested policy language is compiled in Appendix F)

It will be up to the individual school to determine who will be responsible for arranging staff training, as well as the length and content of that training. Ideally, training should be repeated at regular intervals (DESE regulations require annual training) as staff turnover occurs. Additional training (other than the basics) on areas of interest to all staff is also helpful. For example, teachers might find a workshop on promoting positive self-concepts in students helpful for use in the classroom. Or, instead of in-service training for more advanced topics, staff may be encouraged to take advantage of online training programs offered by child protection organizations, colleges and universities, or other groups. In addition to providing needed updates on information, these outside training opportunities often give Continuing Education Units and/or Professional Development Points. If there is a college or university in your area, educators can benefit from taking classes in topics related to child abuse and neglect. Some schools have arranged to have a particular college course taught at their school, and college/university faculty also can be invited to participate in training organized by schools.

In addition to training, many schools have a library of materials such as books, journal articles and audio-visual aids for use by both educational staff and in the classroom (a partial list of available resources is included in the appendices below entitled “Resources for Educators” (Appendix M) and “References and Suggested Reading”. Teachers should expect to remain relatively current on child maltreatment materials, and those who need to update their knowledge should request formal training through their school.

Some schools also arrange training for parents. Many parents are receptive to training on parenting skills, and there are several ready-made curricula to address this. The Children’s Trust (https://childrenstrustma.org) has a lending library of parenting education curricula that schools can access, as well as training programs called “Keeping Kids Safe” and “One Tough Job”. Such training helps parents to explore alternatives to behavior which could become abusive, and might include training on discipline techniques alternative to spanking. Many parents will appreciate the support such training can provide in their sometimes difficult role as caregiver. In addition, training sessions for parents provide the school with an opportunity to present the steps they are taking to make the school as safe an environment as possible – including an overview of the policies, procedures, codes of conduct, and screening and hiring practices designed to protect their children from harm.

96 https://safekidsthrive.org/prevention-topics/reporting/dcf-what-happens-when-a-report-is-made/

97 https://safekidsthrive.org/the-report/section-specific-appendices/recognizing-responding-to-and-reporting-allegations-and-suspicions/

98 https://51a.middlesexcac.org/ and https://mandatedreportertraining.com/massachusetts/

99 https://safekidsthrive.org/join-the-community/local-resources/

100 https://safekidsthrive.org/join-the-community/other-resources/

101 https://safekidsthrive.org/join-the-community/events/

102 https://abuse.publichealth.gsu.edu/targ/


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