Will remote learning for students lead to increased cases reported of child abuse?
Devon Drew, Writer
Children are very good at hiding things, especially injuries and abuse. With children being confined to remote learning there is less opportunity for teachers and staff to see the abuse happening.
Teachers only have a limited view of the children's home behind them. In lower-income homes where some students do not have wifi or mobile hotspots, then the chances for spotting abuse decreases due to not being able to see the children versus middle and high-class students.
“I think teachers will make more reports because of the unknown,” explains Pletz. “When it comes to children if you think something is not right it is better to make the report and then be wrong then not and wishing you did.” School faculty and staff are mandated to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.
“Under PA CPSL law, school employees are mandated reporters and must call in cases of suspected child abuse. All those identified under PA CPSL law as mandated reporters must call in suspected cases of child abuse,” explains Dr. Kathleen Boland, Ph.D., LCSW, ACSW, a professor of Cedar Crest College’s social work department.
Not everyone knows that there is a difference between caseworkers and social workers. “Under PA law, a person called a social worker is someone who graduated from an accredited social work program, like what we have here at CCC,” Dr. Boland adds. “However, many times a caseworker is called a social worker and they are not trained or have a degree in social work but might have it in another field.
“That is where mistakes can be made if you are not trained in the profession in which you work.. so without the proper educational background, often caseworkers do not see the indicators that may have them look at the case in more detail.” A lot of the time social workers take the blame for children's safety when they are reliant on society to bring cases to their attention.
“Social workers depend on society to help bring cases to their attention such as (teacher, neighbors, anonymous callers) without their support a lot of cases go unfounded,” Pletz adds.
The supply and demand of social workers are not met due to there not being enough of them in the field along with them being overworked and underpaid.
Overall the system is broken and the only way to help each other is to educate and advance in the fields that are needed as long as there are enough people in said field, especially social work. Everyone, not just teachers and other staff at schools has an obligation to ensure the safety of children and they require people to step up and bring attention to those situations.
Dr. Kathleen Boland, Ph.D., LCSW, Nicole Pletz
ACSW, a professor of Cedar Crest Social Work Student
College’s Social Work Department. Cedar Crest College