If a student needs help:
If, during the course of discussion, a member of the class is moved to disclose abuse, teachers may follow some steps recommended by Janeen VanRoo, a clinical consultant with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services:
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The Are You in Danger? section of the No Safe Place web site helps answer questions for individuals who may be at risk. See the Resources section of this site for national organizations that can put you in touch with resources in your area.
- Don't over-react. Show compassion. Remember that at this point, it is impossible to determine whether the information is fact or fiction. Respond in a very matter-of-fact, supportive manner. Whatever the teacher condones or accepts will be the model for the students' response to the problem.
- Acknowledge concern and follow up. Leave the impression with the class that the student will receive help. The teacher should spend time with the student after the class period ends and refer that student to a therapist.
- It is very important that the teacher act as the link between student and therapist. The teacher already knows and has rapport with his or her students. This protects the student's trust and makes them feel safe after the disclosure.
- In addressing the students' fears, the teacher should send the message to the group that violence is a reality, but help is available. Outline what resources are in the community for that specific abuse. Often students are afraid they will get lost amid all the different systems. Be specific. Numbers and agencies are listed in this guide.
- If any students show distress, the teacher should ask, "Would you like to talk with someone now individually?" Notify one or two school counselors that you'll be discussing the issue so they can be available if students need them. The best thing is to get the student help as soon as possible.
- After the student or students have left the room, engage in role playing with the group. Ask them to imagine how this student must feel and have them write it down. This will help them process the emotions and will help to diffuse any possible teasing or insensitive treatment toward the other student after returning to class.
No Safe Place: Violence Against Women is made possible in part by a grant from the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation and the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation. The documentary is a production of public television station KUED in Salt Lake City, Utah.