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April 2021Vol. 22, No. 4What Educators Can Do to Spot Child Maltreatment During the Pandemic

A podcast from Prevent Child Abuse America features a conversation with Dr. Bart Klika that explores how the role educators play in identifying maltreatment has changed during the past year and what opportunities have arisen from it.

As educators have switched to a virtual platform, it is more difficult for them to see the subtle clues that may indicate child abuse or neglect or connect with a child in the same way they did in a classroom. However, virtual learning does allow an opportunity for a new window into a child's life and potentially greater interaction with the family. Teachers have an opportunity to directly interact differently with parents.

Dr. Klika posited that educators can use this as an opportunity to shift from looking for indicators of maltreatment to playing a more supportive role, being open to seeing where families may need support, and hopefully connecting them with concrete resources. By taking a more proactive approach and not waiting until a report needs to be filed, educators can work with parents to create conditions where child abuse and neglect may not occur in the first place.

Dr. Klika discussed the need to interact with and support families early on instead of waiting until child welfare is involved. All families need support, and Dr. Kilka suggests a need for a system of universal access and a shift in norms as we rethink support. By creating a shift in culture where accessing family supports is a norm without stigma—and where concrete supports such as food assistance or high-quality, affordable child care are readily available—an environment can be fostered where child maltreatment may never happen.

The podcast also recognizes the stress and challenges that educators are facing, including secondary trauma and burnout. As trauma-informed systems are built, it is important to recognize that they should also serve those employed within it.

Listen to "Child Abuse Is Harder to Spot During the Pandemic. What Can Educators Do?" to hear more.