Educators' experiences of coping with cases of child abuse and neglect: Challenges and supports

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Background: Although educational staff are uniquely positioned to identify and intervene in cases of child abuse and neglect (CAN), concerns have been raised as to their capacity to intervene appropriately in such cases. Objective: The current study examines the perspectives of educators on their experience of reporting CAN and on the barriers and facilitators experienced within this process. Methods: To that end, in-depth interviews were conducted with 29 educational staff in Israel (27 Jewish, 2 Arabs), including 17 school teachers and 12 counselors who had experienced coping with cases of CAN within their professional role. Results: The findings showed that educators experienced immense challenges related to the reporting of CAN. At the professional level, deciding whether or not reporting was required or would serve the best interest of the child, was the most pronounced challenge reported. The heavy burden of protecting children as well as the bearing witness to the abuse and neglect of young children had a tremendous emotional impact on interviewees, arousing feelings of helplessness and undermining their sense of trust in the world. Support provided within schools emerged as a very substantial facilitator of reporting that fulfilled various functions, including providing educators with professional guidance, a sense of togetherness in the face of challenge and emotional containment. Conclusions: In order for educators to be able to successfully cope with such sensitive and complex cases they must be receive regular support and supervision that would address their professional as well as their emotional needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106553
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Child abuse and neglect reporting
  • Child maltreatment
  • Education
  • Teachers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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