Managing Sensitive Issues
Teachers build a very special rapport with their students and are a trusted source of information. Students will often turn to a teacher for support if they are struggling with a negative experience. Teachers are expected to take an appropriate course of action depending on the particular circumstances of the situation. Options may be to assist or advise a student to talk to a trusted and non-judgemental guidance counsellor, school health nurse, parent, health care provider or appropriate community agency. See Additional Resources for more information.
Dealing with Student Disclosures
What if a teacher suspects assault/abuse or a student discloses assault/abuse?
A teacher who has reasonable or probable grounds for believing a student has been abused or is in need of protection must report the situation by calling the Alberta Child Abuse Hotline 1‑800‑387‑KIDS. This requirement is set out in the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. This legislation requires teachers to report directly to Child Protective Services and not to parents, counsellors or principals. Contact with parents in these cases should be limited to routine factual inquiries about absences or injuries. Communication with counsellors or school administration is best kept to a general level that does not reveal the identity of the student. No action can be taken against a teacher for reporting suspected cases of child abuse.
What if a student tells you they have been abused or assaulted?
Stay calm and listen carefully to what the student says. Let the student tell you what happened in their own words. Acknowledge and validate the student’s feelings and reassure them that they have the right to tell. Let the student know that you believe them and that you will try to help. Call to report as soon as possible. To report, call the Alberta Child Abuse Hotline 1‑800‑387‑KIDS.
What if a student discloses confidential information or is asking about such issues as pregnancy, STI, sexual orientation or referral to a community agency?
As these are very sensitive health topics, please handle with care. Respect the student’s right to confidentiality. Be sensitive to the situation’s circumstances, including factors such as the student’s age, developmental level and cultural background.
See Additional Resources for more information.