SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Teachers from across Spartanburg County, Greenville, and even Lexington are back in the classroom this week. The training they get now, may make a huge difference in keeping kids safe this fall.
Dozens of teachers are learning how to spot signs of child abuse at USC Upstate’s “Compassionate Schools Summit”.
Suzy Cole, the executive director at the Child Advocacy Center, says this training is crucial, because teachers are sometimes the first line of defense when it comes to keeping students safe. Cole says more teachers now than ever are the first ones to report signs of abuse to police.
“Now kids are hearing from the teachers they trust ‘Hey it’s okay to talk about this stuff.’ So teachers are becoming more and more the prime reporters that we see,” Cole says.
Since Erin’s Law passed in South Carolina, all public schools in the state are required to have programs that educate teachers on child abuse and how to report it.
Dr. Jennifer Parker, the director of the Child Protection Training Center at USC Upstate, says programs like this bring awareness to issues that were once looked over by educators.
“All of the sudden, these fidgety children who are hyper-vigilant and disruptive in class are viewed differently. The teacher understands that their behavior is not just disruptive and oppositional, but perhaps it’s a survival skill from the environment that they’re living in,” says Dr. Parker.
Dr. Parker says they host seminars like this year round, and already have schools that have signed up for more training this year.