Friday, March 6, 2015

2015 Indiana House Bill 1379 - Child Abuse Recognition Training

Indiana HB1379 has been introduced by Representative Rieken. This bill is for the purpose of providing training to staff of daycare providers and schools concerning the recognition of the warning signs that a child is being abused.

The first section amends IC 12-17.2-3.5-8.5, which applies to child care providers, by adding that in addition to receiving written materials about recognizing child abuse or neglect that the employer must also provide “training concerning the written material.” It also provides that the division of child services shall prepare written material specifying “warning signs of a child who is being abused.”

The second section amends IC 20-24-6-2 by adding that “An individual who chooses to be employed by a charter school must receive training in the recognition of warning signs of a child who is being abused.”

The third section amends IC 20-31-5-6, which sets forth criteria to be included in a charter school plan and for public schools, by adding that the safe and disciplined learning plan or policy includes “training teachers and other staff members in the recognition of warning signs of a child who is being abused.”

The final section amends IC 20-51-4-1, which provides for the autonomy of nonpublic schools that receive choice scholarship students, by adding to the list of requirements that the school “Provide training for teachers and other staff members in the recognition of warning signs of a child who is being abused.”

While it is easily stated that one must report suspected child abuse or neglect, putting that into practice includes the highly subjective variable of the individual’s interpretation. The quintessence of failure to recognize what is actual abuse is the McMartin Preschool debacle in which parents, police and social workers were incorrect in their consensus that child abuse had taken place. Some of their interpretations of typical childhood behaviours as being reflective of abuse were so absurd that it would be laughable if not for the actual abuse that the children suffered from their parents, police and social workers. Each year I receive training in recognizing signs of abuse and supplement that with my own study. In each of these seminars or conferences there are always teachers or social workers who pose a scenario and ask for guidance on whether to presume it to be abuse. To me some of these are obvious yes or no but the greater point being is that the professionals interacting with children who have experienced the pedagogy of their respective fields do not know. Clearly then the high school student or other less trained individuals need training as do the professionals who already have degrees awarded in subjects related to child well-being.

While there will certainly be some price to pay for this training I feel that this would be one of those expenses that is an investment rather than a cost. Indiana Code 31-33-5 makes it a crime to not report suspected abuse. Rather than risk prosecution for a possibly incorrect subjective assessment people will take the better-safe-than-sorry approach which results in numerous meritless cases being investigated by the Department of Child Services. This diverts resources from actual abuse cases to those which have no rational or factual basis. It also needlessly subjects children and parents to an abuse investigation. This is positive legislation from and Indiana legislator whom I have worked with on prior legislation and is very astute in recognizing and supporting child friendly initiatives.

Click here to see other 2015 Indiana Child Custody and Child Support Payment bills.

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