In the beginning of my career, I was a teacher-writer, so it is natural that I published a good deal of material that related to education, children and teachers. This piece was published in Teacher Magazine.
Child abuse: shadow on the classroom
… These children, who might be your students, are names in a nightmare. Unfortunately, abuse of children is not a bad dream but a crippling reality. Home is where the hurt is for countless American children, but the ominous shadow of child abuse can appear in your classroom.
It may be easy to bundle together all abusers and label them sick, but this simply isn’t true. Only about one in 10 abuse cases is the grisly work of seriously mentally ill parents or caretakers. The majority of incidents are committed by people who are not so very different from the average American citizen. Their most overpowering need is for help – and not necessarily professional help. Sometimes caring is enough, and a concerned, informed teacher who demonstrates an interest in both the child and the parents may make the difference.
… “Next to parents, a teacher may well be the most important adult in a child’s life,” says Catherine Bond of the American Humane Association. The significance of your role in identifying abuse is reflected in the reporting laws on the books in every state.