3421 Child Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Prevention

  • Child abuse, neglect and exploitation are violations of children's human rights and an obstacle to their educational development. The board directs that staff will be alert for any evidence of child abuse, neglect or exploitation.

    For purposes of this policy, the term “child” means anyone under the age of 18 and/or any current student of the district, including home-schooled students or any other person classified as a student in the district’s database.

    "Child abuse, neglect or exploitation" means:

    1. Inflicting physical injury on a child by other than accidental means, causing death, disfigurement, skin bruising, impairment of physical or emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function;
    2. Creating a substantial risk of physical harm to a child's bodily functioning;
    3. Attempting, committing, or allowing any sexual offense against a child as defined in the criminal code. This definition also includes any communications with a child for immoral purposes or viewing, possessing, or distributing any sexually explicit images of a child.  It also includes intentionally contacting directly or through the clothing, the genitals, anus or breasts of a child unless the contact is necessary for the child’s hygiene or health care. This also includes a child’s intentional or coerced contact with anyone’s genitals, anus, or breasts;
    4. Committing acts that are cruel or inhumane regardless of observable injury. These acts may include, but are not limited to, instances of extreme discipline demonstrating a disregard of a child's pain or mental suffering;
    5. Assaulting or criminally mistreating a child as defined by the criminal code;
    6. Failing to provide food, shelter, clothing, supervision or health care necessary to a child's health or safety;
    7. Engaging in actions or omissions resulting in a substantial risk to the physical or mental health or development of a child; or
    8. Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the occurrence of the preceding actions.

    Children (including other students), family members, and any other adult can engage in child abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  This may include incidents of student on student misconduct.  Staff should report all incidents of abuse regardless of the age of the person who engages in it. 

    Subject to the definition above, staff should not focus on a person’s mental status to determine if they have committed child abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  The law governing mandated reporting does not allow for exceptions for people with medical conditions that may mitigate the intent for committing child abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

    When feasible, the district will provide community education programs for prospective parents, foster parents and adoptive parents on parenting skills and on the problems of child abuse and methods to avoid child abuse situations. The district will also encourage staff to participate in in-service programs that address the issues surrounding child abuse.

    The superintendent will develop reporting procedures and provide them to all staff on an annual basis. The purpose is to identify and timely report all evidence of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation to the proper authorities. Staff will receive training regarding reporting obligations during their initial orientation and every three years after initial employment.

    All staff are responsible for reporting all suspected cases of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation to the proper authorities and/or the appropriate school administrator. Under state law, staff are free from liability for reporting a reasonable suspicion of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. However, failing to report the incident may result in criminal liability regardless of whether the authorities determine the incident is provable in a subsequent legal proceeding.  

    Staff need not verify a report that a child has been abused, neglected, or exploited. Any conditions or information that may be reasonably related to child abuse, neglect, or exploitation should be reported. Legal authorities have the responsibility for investigating each case and taking appropriate action.

    Cross References:  
    Board Policy 3226         Interviews and Interrogations of Students on School Premises  
    Board Policy 4310         Relations with the Law Enforcement and Child Protective Agencies

    Legal References:    
    RCW 13.34.300         Failure to cause juvenile to attend school as evidence under neglect petition
    RCW 26.44.020         Child abuse – Definitions
    RCW 26.44.030         Reports – Duty and authority to make – Duty of receiving agency – Duty to notify – Case planning and consultation – Penalty for unauthorized exchange of information – Filing dependency petitions – Investigations – Interviews of children – Records – Risk assessment process
    RCW 28A.320.160       Alleged sexual misconduct by school employee – Parental notification – Information on public records act
    RCW 28A.400.317       Physical abuse or sexual misconduct by school employees – Duty to Report – Training
    RCW 28A.620.010        Community education provisions – Purposes
    RCW 28A.620.020        Community education provisions – Restrictions Classes on parenting skills and child abuse encouraged
    RCW 43.43.830             Background checks – Access to children or vulnerable persons
    WAC 388-15-009          What is child abuse or neglect?
    AGO 1987, No. 9          Children – Child Abuse – Reporting by School Officials – Alleged Abuse by Student

    Management Resources:
    Policy & Legal News                        June 2015
    Policy News, April 2010                 Child Abuse Interviews at Schools
    Policy News, February 2007         Physical Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Notice Requirements
    Policy News, June 1999                 23% of districts out-of-compliance on child abuse policies

    ADOPTED: 12/17/1998
    REVISED: 08/26/99; 04/26/07; 07/26/07; 10/25/07; 11/25/08; 05/27/10; 02/27/14; 10/22/15

    Procedure No. 3421P Child Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Prevention

    Each school principal will develop and implement an instructional program that will teach students: 

    1. How to recognize the factors that may cause people to abuse, neglect, or exploit children;
    2. How one may protect oneself from incurring these forms of maltreatment; and
    3. What resources are available to assist an individual who does or may encounter an abusive situation.

    To facilitate such a program, staff development activities may include such topics as:

    1. Child growth and development;
    2. Identification of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation;
    3. Effects of child maltreatment on child growth and development;
    4. Personal safety as it relates to potential child abuse, neglect and exploitation;
    5. Parenting and supervision skills;
    6. Life situations/stressors which may lead to child maltreatment;
    7. Substance abuse.

    Reporting Responsibilities

    Staff are expected to report every instance of suspected child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Since protection of children is the paramount concern, staff should discuss any suspected evidence with the principal, nurse, or supervisor regardless of whether the condition is listed among the indicators of abuse, neglect or exploitation. 

    Staff are reminded of their obligation as district employees to report suspected child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Professional staff are reminded of their legal obligation to report these incidents.  Staff are also reminded of their immunity from potential liability for doing so. The following procedures are to be used in reporting instances of suspected child abuse, neglect, or exploitation: 

    1. When there is reasonable cause to believe that a student has suffered abuse, neglect or exploitation, staff or the principal will immediately contact the nearest office of the Child Protective Services (CPS) of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). If the situation is urgent and CPS cannot immediately respond, staff will immediately contact the local law enforcement agency. This contact must be made within forty-eight (48) hours. Staff will also advise the principal or supervisor regarding instances of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation and reports that have been made to CPS or law enforcement. In their absence the report will be made to the nurse or counselor.

      A staff member may contact CPS to determine if a report should be made. Child Protective Services has the responsibility of determining the fact of child abuse, neglect or exploitation. Any doubt about the child's condition will be resolved in favor of making the report.

    2. A written report will be submitted promptly to the agency to which the report was made. The report will include:

      1.  The name, address and age of the child;
      2.  The name and address of the parent or person having custody of the child;
      3.  The nature and extent of the suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation;
      4.  Any evidence of previous abuse or any other information that may relate to the cause or extent of the abuse, neglect or exploitation; and
      5.  The identity, if known, of the person accused of inflicting the abuse.

    3. When the district receives a report that a school employee has committed an act of sexual misconduct, it will notify the parents of the alleged victim within forty-eight (48) hours.

    Abuse Indicators

    Physical abuse indicators:

    1. Bilateral bruises, extensive bruises, bruises of different ages, patterns of bruises caused by a particular instrument (belt buckle, wire, straight edge, coat hanger, etc.) or unreasonable use of force (grabbing, pinching, dragging, and/or other unapproved forms of restraint);
    2. Burn patterns consistent with forced immersion in a hot liquid (a distinct boundary line where the burn stops), burn patterns consistent with a spattering by hot liquids, patterns caused by a particular kind of implement (electric iron, etc.) or instrument (circular cigarette burns, etc.);
    3. Lacerations, welts, abrasions;
    4. Injuries inconsistent with information offered by the child;
    5. Injuries inconsistent with the child's age; or
    6. Injuries that regularly appear after absence or vacation.

    Emotional Abuse Indicators:

    1. Lags in physical development;
    2. Extreme behavior disorder;
    3. Fearfulness of adults or authority figures; or
    4. Revelations of highly inappropriate adult behavior, e.g., being enclosed in a dark closet, forced to drink or eat inedible items.

    Sexual Abuse Indicators:

    Sexual abuse, whether physical injuries are sustained or not, is any act or acts involving intentional sexual contact, conduct, or communication with a child.  Beyond direct evidence of this kind of abuse, indicators may include, but are not limited to:  

    1. A child’s developmentally inappropriate sexual conduct, regardless of the child’s own mental status or development;
    2. Child engaging in “sex talk”, drawings, or attempting to access pornography;
    3. Child’s disclosure of “grooming behaviors” or inappropriate conduct that does not necessarily rise to a specific sexual act;
    4. An adult’s attempt to form a secret or unreasonably special relationship with a child;
    5. Venereal disease in a child of any age;
    6. Evidence of physical trauma or bleeding to the oral, genital or anal areas; or
    7. Pregnancy

    Physical Neglect Indicators:

    1. Lack of basic needs (food, clothing, safety, shelter);

    2. Inadequate supervision;

    3. Lack of essential health care and high incidence of illness;

    4. Poor hygiene on a regular basis;

    5. Inappropriate clothing in inclement weather; or

    6. Abandonment

    Some Behavioral Indicators of Abuse

    1. Wary of adult contact;

    2. Frightened of parents;

    3. Afraid to go home;

    4. Habitually truant or late to school;

    5. Arrives at school early and remains after school later than other students;

    6. Wary of physical contact by adults;

    7. Shows evidence of overall poor care;

    8. Parents or caretakers describe child as “difficult” or “bad”;

    9. Inappropriately dressed for the weather—no coat or shoes in cold weather or long sleeves and high necklines in hot weather (possibly hiding marks of abuse); or

    10. Exhibit behavioral extremes: crying often or never, unusually aggressive or withdrawn and fearful.

    NOTE:  Indicators in and of themselves do not necessarily prove that abuse, neglect, or exploitation has occurred. However, they still may warrant a referral to CPS or law enforcement.  When in doubt, staff should consult with CPS about making a report.

    Child abuse as defined by the statutes can be inflicted “by any person” and may include student-on-student abuse.  These cases also require reporting to CPS or law enforcement. 

    ADOPTED:  09/24/1992
    REVISED: 12/17/98; 8/26/99; 4/26/07; 11/25/08; 5/27/10; 2/27/14; 10/22/15

3000 Policies