Among the many forms of child abuse, child sexual abuse is the most difficult to detect. Children rarely disclose that they have been sexually abused. The 2015 Violence against Children Study (VACS) results showed that only 13.7% of those who were sexually abused disclosed to anybody. Majority of the disclosures were made to friends while 10-20% of disclosures were made to mothers. Very few ever reported to authorities. The VACS also showed that teachers and guidance counsellors were the professionals that most abused children disclosed to.
But there is significant evidence that many professionals who are mandated to report abuse often fail to recognize maltreatment or report their suspicions. Research also show that failure to report was highest in day-care centers and schools. A five-year review of cases reported to the Child Protection Unit of the Philippine General Hospital (CPU-PGH) showed that no teacher from a public school has reported a case of child abuse.
Safe Schools for Teens aims to increase disclosures of children and reporting by teachers of potential (or at-risk), suspected, and actual child sexual abuse cases.
The first phase of the study includes training of teachers in the Recognition, Recording, Reporting and Referral (4R’s) of child abuse cases and training of School Child Protection Committees (CPC) in responding to and managing cases of child abuse that will be disclosed in their campuses. The second phase involves the delivery of student modules related to child abuse. These supplementary modules are integrated in the curriculum of Values Education and Health Education.
Safe Schools is currently testing the effectiveness of online training for teachers. If proven effective, the online 4Rs training may be considered for implementation on a nationwide scale.