ST. CHARLES – Despite repeated training about the legal requirement to report suspected child abuse, two recent lapses at schools have led to criminal charges, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said at his November media briefing.
He said misdemeanor charges were filed against a principal and a teacher at two elementary schools in East Aurora School District 131 for failing to report suspected child abuse under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. He said similar school-related investigations of noncompliance are underway in the county.
McMahon said an incident involving noncompliance in West Aurora School District 129 about seven years ago prompted him to work to further increase awareness at schools across the county about the mandated reporting act, which focuses on the safety of children.
“When I continue to see professionals – whether teachers, administrators, principals or superintendents – failing to report the suspected child abuse – physical or sexual – it’s inexcusable,” McMahon said.
“I am encouraging every school board in this county to hold their superintendents accountable to make sure their employees – teachers, coaches, counselors, their janitors, every employee in their school – understand their obligation … to immediately report to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services hotline suspected child abuse,” McMahon said. “It’s not a voluntary law.”
The hotline number is 800-25-ABUSE (252-2873).
He said his office will hear back from a school district or law enforcement that somebody in the school knew about suspected child abuse or assault and talked to a supervisor or principal who said they would take care of it, but did not.
Those actions are mirrored on the national stage by the sexual abuse allegations involving USA Gymnastics, Penn State and the Catholic church, McMahon said.
He said he has spent time and resources to try to educate people about the mandated reporting act in an informal and cooperative way, adding, “For those that continue to ignore that, it’s time for a change in response.”
In other news, McMahon said the fifth session of Crisis Intervention Team training was underway. The program gives law enforcement officers techniques to deescalate encounters with people having mental health episodes so that safety is improved on both sides. To date, more than 100 Kane County police officers have been certified in CIT training.