Why do school staff sometimes fail to report potential victimization cases? A mixed-methods study.

Greco, A.M., Gómez, E.P., Pareda, N., Guilera, G., & González, I.S. (2020).
Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1 – 26.
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The current study found that the most common reasons for lack of reporting child or adolescent abuse by school staff is believing that one must be certain or that only serious violence should be reported.

Expanded Abstract: 

The current study used a mixed method approach (a research methodology that involves collecting, analyzing and integrating), both quantitative (e.g., experiments, surveys producing numerical findings) and qualitative (e.g., focus groups, interviews) research, to analyze. Research suggests that most people who don’t report child or adolescent maltreatment tend not to do so because of misconceptions, like thinking that a child would be automatically removed from home if they were being maltreated (Walsh & Jones, 2016). Some authors have proposed that unseen victims, in other words, those who are actually detected but receive no official action, tend to develop more complex traumas (Smyth et al., 2012) as they need to cope not only with the victimization but with the silence and complicity of society, and maybe their loved ones (Münzer et al., 2016).

The study measured to what extent the number of cases detected matched the number of cases reported to external agencies, and almost three-quarters of the sample (n = 333, 73.5%) reported having at least one suspicion of a potential victimization case during their career. Most of them (80.1%) reported having had between 1 and 10 suspicions, while 7.3% reported having encountered between 11 and 20 cases and 6.8% over 20 potential cases. Approximately 40% (n = 136) of these participants said they reported their suspicions to an external agency outside school. Out of the respondents who said that they knew what had happened to the student following referral (n = 101), the majority considered that the referral had been good for the minor’s well-being (39.0%), only 8.8% considered that it had worsened the situation, 22.1% thought it had made no significant difference and 4.4% did not know or felt unsure about it.

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