Section 4: Policy Guidance
Connecticut General Statute Sec. 17a-101q requires that each school district have a child sexual abuse and assault response policy and reporting procedure that includes the following:
“A uniform child sexual abuse and assault response policy and reporting procedure that may include, but not be limited to, (a) actions that child victims of sexual abuse and assault may take to obtain assistance, (b) intervention and counseling options for child victims of sexual abuse and assault, (c) access to educational resources to enable child victims of sexual abuse and assault to succeed in school, and (d) uniform procedures for reporting instances of child sexual abuse and assault to school staff members” (Sec. 17a-101q).
Each district is responsible for developing policies that respond to state law and meet the needs of their community. It is recommended that local boards of education and school administrators engage key stakeholders when developing and updating their policies related to sexual abuse and sexual assault. Stakeholders may include district attorneys, school health and mental professionals, health educators, parents and other key representatives as appropriate. There are numerous resources to assist with policy development and technical assistance including the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. In addition, there are resources listed in Section Five of this document that may be helpful in informing policy development.
Effective written policies and procedures must follow mandated reporting laws for suspected child abuse and neglect which can be found in Sections 17a-101 through 17a-103a inclusive of the Connecticut General Statutes. These statutes define roles and responsibilities of staff, teachers, parents and students with regard to procedures for reporting suspected or confirmed sexual assault or abuse. In addition, response procedures maintain confidentiality, and provide support for the victim whether they are a student or adult, support for the perpetrator whether they are a student or adult, and support for both the victim or perpetrator re-entry into the school setting.
Best practice policies also include information regarding training on policies, practices and procedures including but not limited to: DCF mandated reporting, school district policies, Minimal Facts, Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for Teachers and Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility for Administrators. Codes of conduct delineating behavior/social standards and expectations, including strict prohibitions regarding bullying, harassment and sexual violence, should be clear, concise and consistently enforced in the school and classroom environments. Policies and procedures must be accessible to the school community including staff, teachers, students, parents and families. Recommendations to increase accessibility include inserting policies in the faculty and student handbooks and to incorporate policy information into classroom instruction.
In addition, policy language, procedures and practices should align with other requirements and best practices including Title IX; School Climate Plans; Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child; and the Guidelines for the Sexual Health Education Component of Comprehensive Health Education. Districts should also consider strategies to access state and local resources for victims as well as resources to support planning for victim and/or perpetrator re-entry into school.