As of August 16, all volunteers who work with children in MCPS are required to complete an online training module on Child Abuse and Neglect. In the span of half a day, volunteers will learn several aspects of ethics, bullying, diversity, sexual harassment, and suicide prevention.
According to the updated policy, the course was created in an “ongoing effort to ensure that every staff member is aware of MCPS’ expectations and has the necessary information to create and maintain a positive, safe, and healthy climate and culture…”
The module is split up into the following four parts: Identify Child Abuse and Neglect, Identifying Possible Abusers, MCPS Policies and Regulations, and Keeping Everyone Safe.
In part 1, volunteers are informed of the types and signs of abuse and neglect. Technical definitions for physical and mental injuries, sexual abuse, and neglect are provided as well as where they are located in the MCPS Regulation JHC-RA. The first section concludes with physical and behavioral signs in children from the different kinds of abuse.
Part 2 describes how to identify possible abusers, such as family or community members, employees, contractors, and even volunteers. In the case of sexual or physical assaults by children, the course gives direct links to the MCPS Code of Conduct and Regulation.
Part 3 features prominent members of the MCPS Board of Education like Uma Ahluwalia, the Director of Health and Human Services. They use MCPS policies and regulations to give volunteers directions for assisting abused children. Volunteers are tested after each presentation with interactive questions.
The final part of the course provides proactive steps to keep both volunteers and children safe. Additional volunteer requirements are provided in the MCPS Regulation IRB-RA Volunteers in Schools document.
Volunteers are required to fully go through each step of the course and are tested with several questions before being able to go further. After completing all four parts, volunteers are given a confirmation code, print confirmation, and the chance to revisit any part of the module.
With the implementation of the module, volunteers are able to be properly informed of the rules and regulations regarding child abuse and neglect as well as reporting, recognizing, and preventing them.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Hannah Lee of Montgomery Blair High School