The state Assembly is currently attempting to pass a bill that would require all school employees be formally trained in spotting and reporting child abuse.
Assembly Bill 1432, just received a major boost of support as California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, who gave it his stamp of approval.
School employees are one of the professional groups in California required to report any suspected child abuse to the proper authorities. In 2009, California reported over 300,000 cases of child abuse or neglect, indicating that one in every 2,000 children was a victim.
Local school districts would be required to make sure that all employees complete the required review of spotting and reporting child abuse within the first six weeks of the school year.
The state would reimburse the local school districts for any cost associated with this program, extending an already stretched budget, but for a cause that many teachers agree with.
“I think, at the elementary school level especially, this is a huge step in the right direction,” said Quartz Hill High School teacher Marilyn McClung. “By high school, most kids will begin to say something, but teachers need to be advocates for those too young to know any better.”
Until the introduction of AB 1432, those employed by a school were never formally trained in proper ways to recognize child abuse, making them often unable to notice subtle signs.
With the new legislation, employees will be trained by their school districts in not only signs of child abuse, but proper ways to inform authorities and the penalty if they neglect to report any noticed signs of child abuse.
The bill was introduced on Jan. 6, 2014 by Assembly Member Mike Gatto (D – Los Angeles), but has not been a major topic of conversation among parents.
“I wasn’t even aware it was a topic of discussion,” said one mother picking up her children outside Santa Clarita Elementary School. “I guess in Santa Clarita you forget about issues like this because they don’t really show up, but they are out there, and in that case this is an excellent idea.”
Despite the lack of debate among parents in the Santa Clarita Valley, this bill is still something that is gaining support from those in Sacramento, making it a bill many believe will likely to pass in the future.