Objective: There are three general objectives: First, to determine the number of reports of abuse made by teachers, their knowledge of child abuse laws and reporting procedures, and their perceived deterrents in reporting abuse; second, to determine if there were gender or ethnic differences in reporting; and third, to evaluate teachers responses to case vignettes.
Method: A survey of 197 teachers was conducted. They were given a questionnaire that included demographic information, knowledge of child abuse laws and procedures, and two scenarios of legally reportable child abuse.
Results: Seventy-three percent of this sample reported that they had never made a report of child abuse, while those who had made reports made an average of one report. Only 11% of teachers reported that there were instances in which they believed abuse may have occurred, but failed to report. Additionally, these teachers felt that their pre- and post-service training did not adequately prepare them for abuse reporting. The most common reasons cited for not reporting abuse were fear of making an inaccurate report, feeling as though child protective services do not help families, and no apparent physical signs of abuse. There were no gender differences in reporting. The teachers' responses to the case vignettes were not consistent with their previous reports.
Conclusions: In general, most teachers reported having never made a child abuse report. Although only a small percentage of teachers reported failing to report abuse, when presented with legally reportable case vignettes, many failed to report. The majority of teachers report receiving inadequate training in child abuse signs, symptoms, and reporting procedure. There is an obvious need for more education for teachers that addresses their perceived deterrents and aids them in feeling more confident in making reports of child abuse.