Washington State School Directorsí Association Model Policy

Policy No. 3421


Child abuse and neglect are both a violation of children's human rights and an obstacle to their educational development. The board directs that staff shall be alert for any evidence of such abuse or neglect. For purposes of this policy, "child abuse or neglect" shall mean:

A. First or second degree custodial interference;

B. malicious harassment;

C. child molestation;

D. sexual misconduct with a minor;

E. rape of a child;

F. patronizing a juvenile prostitute;

G. child abandonment;

H. promoting pornography;

I. selling or distributing erotic material to a minor;

J. custodial assault;

K. violation of child abuse restraining order;

L. child buying or selling;

M. prostitution;

N. or any of these crimes as they may be renamed in the future by any person under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, and safety is harmed, and that child has been injured, sexually abused, sexually exploited, negligently treated or maltreated. Child abuse can include abuse by another minor and so may be included in incidents of student misconduct.

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 shall also encourage staff to participate in in-service programs that deal with the issues surrounding child abuse.

The superintendent shall develop reporting procedures, including sample indicators of abuse and neglect, and shall disseminate the procedures to all staff. The purpose is to identify and report as soon as possible to the proper authorities all evidence of child abuse or neglect.

Professional staff are legally responsible for reporting all suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, and all staff are required to by the district. Under state law staff are free from liability for reporting instances of abuse or neglect and professional staff are criminally liable for failure to do so.

Staff need not verify that a child has in fact been abused or neglected. Any conditions or information that may reasonably be related to abuse or neglect should be reported. Legal authorities have the responsibility for investigating each case and taking such action as is appropriate under the circumstances.


Cross References:

Board Policy 4411

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



Child abuse--Definitions



Reports--Duty and authority to make--Duty of receiving agency



Central registry of reported cases of child abuse



Community education provisions-- Purposes



Community education provisions-- Restrictions



Background checks--Access to children or vulnerable persons

AGO 1987, No. 9

Children -- Child Abuse -- Reporting by School Officials -- Alleged Abuse by Student

Adoption Date: 101498
School District Name

1 OFCO Note: The WSSDA definition of child abuse or neglect is being revised to make it consistent with state law.


Procedure 3421P

Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention

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

A. how to recognize the factors that may cause people to abuse others;

B. how one may protect oneself from incurring abuse; and,

C. what resources are available to assist an individual who does or may encounter an abuse situation.

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

Reporting Responsibilities

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

Staff are reminded of their obligation as district employees to report suspected child abuse, and professional staff are reminded of their legal obligation to make such reports. 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:

A. When there is reasonable cause to believe that a student has suffered abuse or neglect, staff shall immediately contact the nearest office of the child protective services (CPS) of the department of social and health services (DSHS). If this agency cannot be reached, the report shall be submitted to the police, sheriff, or prosecutor's office. Such contact must be made within forty-eight (48) hours. Staff shall also advise the principal regarding instances of suspected abuse or neglect and reports of suspected abuse that have been made to state authorities or law enforcement. In his/her absence the report shall be made to the nurse or counselor.

A staff member may wish to discuss the circumstances with an employee of CPS for assistance in determining if a report should be made. The Child Protective Service has the responsibility of determining the fact of child abuse or neglect. Any doubt about the child's condition shall be resolved in favor of making the report.

B. A written report shall be submitted promptly to the agency to which the phone report was made. The report shall 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 or neglect;

4. any evidence of previous abuse or any other information that may relate to the cause or extent of the abuse or neglect; and

5. the identity, if known, of the person accused of inflicting the abuse.

Abuse Indicators

Physical abuse indicators:

A. Bilateral bruises, extensive bruises, bruises of different ages, patterns of bruises caused by a particular instrument (belt buckle, wire, straight edge, coat hanger, etc.).

B. 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.).

C. Lacerations, welts, abrasions.

D. Injuries inconsistent with information offered by the child.

E. Injuries inconsistent with the child's age.

F. Injuries that regularly appear after absence or vacation.

Emotional Abuse Indicators:

A. Lags in physical development.

B. Extreme behavior disorder.

C. Fearfulness of adults or authority figures.

D. Revelations of highly inappropriate adult behavior, i.e., 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 sexual molestation or exploitation, including but not limited to incest, rape, carnal knowledge, sodomy or unnatural or perverted sexual practices. Indicators include:

A. Child having difficulty sitting down.

B. Child refusing to change into gym clothes (when he/she has been willing to change clothes in the past).

C. Venereal disease in a child of any age.

D. Evidence of physical trauma or bleeding to the oral, genital or anal areas.

E. Child running away from home and not giving any specific complaint about what is wrong at home.

F. Pregnancy at 11 or 12 with no history of peer socialization.

Neglect Indicators

Physical Neglect Indicators:

A. Lack of basic needs (food, clothing, shelter).

B. Inadequate supervision (unattended).

C. Lack of essential health care and high incidence of illness.

D. Poor hygiene on a regular basis.

E. Inappropriate clothing in inclement weather.

F. Abandonment.

Some Behavioral Indicators of Abuse:

A. Wary of adult contact.

B. Frightened of parents.

C. Afraid to go home.

D. Habitually truant or late to school.

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

F. Wary of physical contact by adults.

G. Shows evidence of overall poor care.

H. Parents describe child as "difficult" or "bad".

I. 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).

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

NOTE: Behavioral indicators in and of themselves do not prove abuse has occurred. Together with other indicators they may warrant a referral.

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, DSHS or law enforcement. Child abuse in this and all other cases requires two elements. First, there must be injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment. Second, there must be harm to the child's health, welfare or safety.

Date: 10/15/98