Mandatory child abuse reporting required of school volunteers

3:34 PM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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DUNWOODY, Ga. -- At just about any time of the day at Dunwoody Elementary School, you'll find parents involved in helping with education needs.

"In the classroom, volunteering reading to the kids, things like that," said Tessa Pickron, mother and volunteer.

Now, under Georgia law, parents and all other volunteers and employees in schools are required to report suspected abuse or neglect of children.

It includes reporting threats, observations, or concerns of self-harm or harm to others to the school counselor or administrator immediately.

"You're a mandated reporter, because you're around children. You could be reading story to a child and that triggers something and they say something. You need to know what to do," said Julie Mann, DeKalb School District Social Worker, to parents at an information meeting on the new laws at Dunwoody Elementary School.

The DeKalb County School System is among the districts holding information sessions to help parents understand their roles under the new law.

At the sessions, parents are encouraged to ask lots of questions so they understand the law and their role.

Parents are told to report any time they suspect child abuse. Some parents welcome the law because it classifies what they should do if they suspect abuse.

"The more people that are aware and watching, the more people that are vigilant, the better we're going to do for our children," said Jennifer Seitz, a parent.

"I've been in the social work field before and there's times that I've had to report things that is hard, but I have a responsibility to this child," said Pickron.

"A lot of times when we make a report to DFACS, it's because we want to get the children and resources. The mother who hit the child in the face with a belt, maybe she's financially strapped. She's a single mom. She's working 12 hours," said Mann.

The law also helps those who might find themselves on the fence or unsure about becoming a whistle-blower.

"They stressed in their confidentially. It feels empowering to me that if I do report, I will be protected," said Jason Seitz, a parent.

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