Pender County leaders learn how to spot, report abuse for upcoming school year

Pender County Leaders learn how to spot and report abuse for upcoming school year
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 6:41 PM EDT
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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Leaders in Pender County received training on how to spot abuse and the proper ways to report it.

Wednesday afternoon, teachers, school nurses and law enforcement gathered at Pender High School to learn better ways to protect children this upcoming school year.

Ben David, district attorney for Pender and New Hanover counties, led the conversation with judge J.H. Corpening II. They both say teachers and other school officials have a responsibility to report any signs of suspected abuse. Signs of abuse can include acting up while at school or any sudden shifts in behavior.

“Unlike most other crimes where there is no duty to act in America where you should call 911, here it’s you must you actually have a duty to report child abuse if you know it or suspect it. But what the message is also, is let the officers take over those criminal investigations,” said David.

David said school leaders should not try to investigate any suspected crimes. He said teachers and other school leaders should leave the investigation to law enforcement.

However, school officials are not the only ones who can help children that are suffering from abuse. David said parents are also obligated to protect children when it comes to their online presence.

“So first of all I’ll say that parents make the best police. They should get online and know what their kids’ lives are looking like online. They shouldn’t be giving phones or computers to their children without knowing those passwords and looking at them from time to time. Having an adult conversation with them, because if they are not someone else is, frequently online. And it’s important for kids to have their childhood, but also make sure that the adult situations they are being exposed to are happening in a safe environment with trusted adults and not just learning about all these subjects from strangers online,” said David.

David said there is a link between children who experience abuse and adults who end up in the court system. The goal is to help educate adults on what they can do to protect children before the abuse impacts every aspect of their life.

“I think the key to all of this effort is to understand that we shouldn’t be asking what’s wrong with the child but what happened to that child? And very frequently when we do that we see that the underlying behavior the acting out in school maybe failing the test might be that sign and symptom of something much deeper,” said David.

He added that children who are victims of abuse are more likely to suffer from mental health issues and other health problems later on in life.