Child Abuse and Neglect Policy
As educational professionals, we have a moral and legal responsibility to protect the children we teach from child abuse, neglect and abandonment.
Torah values, as enunciated by modern-day Torah leaders, call upon all educators and caregivers of children to be proactive in protecting children from all forms of abuse.
Standards of Ethical Conduct
Torah Academy of Boca Raton
(Adapted from the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession in Florida and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida)
1. Our school values the worth and dignity of every person, the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, acquisition of knowledge, and the nurture of democratic citizenship. Essential to the achievement of these standards are the freedom to learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal opportunity for all.
2. Our primary concern is the student and the development of the student’s potential. Employees will therefore strive for professional growth and will seek to exercise the best professional judgment and integrity.
3. Concern for the student requires that our instructional personnel:
a. Shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning and/or to the student’s mental and/or physical health and/or safety.
b. Shall not unreasonably restrain a student from independent action in pursuit of learning.
c. Shall not unreasonably deny a student access to diverse points of view.
d. Shall not intentionally suppress or distort subject matter relevant to a student’s academic program.
e. Shall not intentionally expose a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement.
f. Shall not intentionally violate or deny a student’s legal rights.
g. Shall not harass or discriminate against any student on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, marital status, handicapping condition, sexual orientation, or social and family background and shall make reasonable effort to assure that each student is protected from harassment or discrimination.
h. Shall not exploit a relationship with a student for personal gain or advantage.
i. Shall keep in confidence personally identifiable information obtained in the course of professional service, unless disclosure serves professional purposes or is required by law.
4. Aware of the importance of maintaining the respect and confidence of colleagues, of students, of parents, and of the community, employees of our school must display the highest degree of ethical conduct. This commitment requires that our employees:
a. Shall maintain honesty in all professional dealings.
b. Shall not on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, marital status, handicapping condition if otherwise qualified, or social and family background deny to a colleague professional benefits or advantages or participation in any professional organization.
c. Shall not interfere with a colleague’s exercise of political or civil rights and responsibilities.
d. Shall not engage in harassment or discriminatory conduct which unreasonably interferes with an individual’s performance of professional or work responsibilities or with the orderly processes of education or which creates a hostile, intimidating, abusive, offensive, or oppressive environment; and, further, shall make reasonable effort to assure that each individual is protected from such harassment or discrimination.
e. Shall not make malicious or intentionally false statements about a colleague.
Training Requirement – All instructional personnel, educational support employees, and administrators are required as a condition of employment to complete training on these standards of ethical conduct.
Reporting Misconduct by Instructional Personnel and Administrators – All employees, educational support employees, and administrators have an obligation to report misconduct by instructional personnel and school administrators, which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student. Examples of misconduct include obscene language, drug and alcohol use, disparaging comments, prejudice or bigotry, sexual innuendo, cheating or testing violations, physical aggression, and accepting or offering favors.
Reports of misconduct of employees should be made to
Rabbi Reuven Feinberg
Reports of misconduct committed by administrators should be made to
Rabbi Chaim Glazer
Legally sufficient allegations of misconduct by Florida certified educators will be reported to the Office of Professional Practices Services. Policies and procedures for reporting misconduct by instructional personnel or school administrators which affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student are posted in the Early Childhood Teacher Work Room.
Web site at torahacademybr.org/abuse
Reporting Child Abuse, Abandonment or Neglect All employees and agents have an affirmative duty to report all actual or suspected cases of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect. Call 1-800-96-ABUSE or report online at: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/abuse/report/.
Signs of Physical Abuse The child may have unexplained bruises, welts, cuts, or other injuries, broken bones; or burns. A child experiencing physical abuse may seem withdrawn or depressed, seem afraid to go home or may run away, shy away from physical contact, be aggressive, or wear inappropriate clothing to hide injuries.
Signs of Sexual Abuse The child may have torn, stained or bloody underwear, trouble walking or sitting, pain or itching in genital area, or a sexually transmitted disease. A child experiencing sexual abuse may have unusual knowledge of sex or act seductively, fear a particular person, seem withdrawn or depressed, gain or lose weight suddenly, shy away from physical contact, or run away from home.
Signs of Neglect The child may have unattended medical needs, little or no supervision at home, poor hygiene, or appear underweight. A child experiencing neglect may be frequently tired or hungry, steal food, or appear overly needy for adult attention.
Patterns of Abuse: Serious abuse usually involves a combination of factors. While a single sign may not be significant, a pattern of physical or behavioral signs is a serious indicator and should be reported.
Liability Protections Any person, official, or institution participating in good faith in any act authorized or required by law, or reporting in good faith any instance of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect to the department or any law enforcement agency, shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise result by reason of such action. (F.S. 39.203)
An employer who discloses information about a former or current employee to a prospective employer of the former or current employee upon request of the prospective employer or of the former or current employee is immune from civil liability for such disclosure or its consequences unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the information disclosed by the former or current employer was knowingly false or violated any civil right of the former or current employee protected under F.S. Chapter 760. (F.S. 768.095)
The State of Florida considers any school teacher or employee as a “Mandated Reporter.” This means that any school teacher who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is being harmed or threatened with harm by the person responsible for the care of the child must report that information to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF). Harm includes child abuse, neglect or abandonment. Failure to report child abuse can result in criminal prosecution. This policy is designed to provide you with guidance in recognizing child abuse and procedures for reporting child abuse.
Florida Statute 39.01 defines abuse as any willful act or threatened act that results in physical, mental or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause a child’s physical, mental or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Corporal punishment by a parent or legal guardian for disciplinary reasons does not, by itself, constitute child abuse when it does not result in harm to the child. On the other hand, spousal abuse, even if the child is not physically harmed, can cause emotional harm to the child that could warrant a report.
Florida Statute 39.01 defines neglect as depriving the child of necessary food, clothing, shelter, supervision or medical treatment. Neglect also occurs when a child is permitted to live in an environment that causes the child’s physical, mental or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired.
Florida Statute 39.01 defines abandonment as a situation in which the parent and legal guardian of a child makes no provision for the child’s support and makes no effort to communicate with the child. This situation is sufficient to evince a willful rejection of parental obligations.
If you have any belief, concern or thought that you have witnessed, heard or learned about a situation possibly involving abuse, neglect or abandonment, you must do the following:
Contact the following:
RABBI REUVEN FEINBERG, Dean at email@example.com
RABBI CHAIM GLAZER, Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org
The appropriate person will then discuss the situation with you to ensure the appropriate reports, if any, are completed.
While we recommend all employees follow this procedure, nothing in this policy prohibits a faculty or staff employee from reporting suspicion of abuse directly to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Their hotline number is 1-800-96ABUSE or, 1-800-962-2873.
If you report suspicions of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, investigators with DCF may interview you or the student. This interview may take place on school premises. If contacted by DCF for such an interview, you should notify Rabbi Feinberg immediately. This will allow the School to request information regarding the investigation. The School can also request that a member of the school be present during the interviews, but cannot insist. Parental permission is not required before DCF interviews the child. You should consult with Rabbi Feinberg before sharing any information with the parents of the child. Interference with, or refusal to cooperate in any stage of the DCF investigation can result in criminal charges.
All reports of suspected child abuse, neglect or abandonment are strictly confidential. You are not permitted to maintain notes or any separate record of the investigation. Persons who make a report are immune from liability, in the event the report is determined to be false. Moreover, no one who makes a report can be dismissed, disciplined or harassed for making a report of suspected child abuse. There are civil and criminal liabilities for not reporting when a report is warranted.
CONDUCT POLICY AND BEHAVIORAL STANDARDS
Torah Academy of Boca Raton is committed to providing a safe and appropriate environment for all students, staff and employees. Parents entrust their children to our Yeshiva. All students are taught to respect and trust their Rebbe, teacher, administrator and all school personnel (educational, clerical and custodial). The yeshiva strives to establish a safe environment for every child’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
This policy details a broad outline of proper faculty/student, student/student and faculty/faculty interaction and behavior. Because the yeshiva is an exemplar of role modeling in the community, these standards encompass conduct inside and outside the yeshiva during school hours, after-school activities and private interactions with students outside of school.
These guidelines place a special emphasis on unwanted touch and the exerting of any form of verbal, physical or inappropriate psychological influence or control on students. Any violation of these guidelines will not be tolerated. In keeping with its commitment to maintain a safe environment, the yeshiva will conduct a thorough investigation, report such violations when legally mandated to appropriate authorities and take necessary measures to counsel or remove individuals who violate these principles.
Any allegations of abuse, harassment or violation of behavioral standards should be reported promptly. See the “Child Abuse Reporting Policy” included with this document for our school’s procedures.
To achieve these goals, all Torah Academy staff are expected to adhere to the following Conduct Policy and Behavioral Standards:
While the overwhelming majority of interactions between administration, staff and students may fall well within the range of normal healthy relationships, certain behavior should be regarded as incompatible with goals and standards of Torah Academy of Boca Raton and, therefore, are always prohibited:
- Teachers/staff may not be alone with a child/children in an area which potentially cannot be seen or observed by other staff members or adults.
- Teachers/staff may not be locked in a classroom alone with a student.
- Doors equipped with windows to permit external viewing of the classroom must remain unobstructed at all times.
- Physical force may never be used other than to safeguard against immediate physical danger.
- There must never be any unwelcome physical contact, such as patting, squeezing, pushing and physical assault and inappropriate touching.
- Teachers/staff must refrain from denigrating students publicly or privately, or from attempts to control or manipulate students through psychological means.
- Teachers/staff may never forbid students to share any conversations or information with parents or administration, nor instruct students to “keep secrets” from their parents.
- Teachers/staff must refrain from sexual attention towards others in the form of remarks, jokes, or innuendos about a person’s body or clothing, including threats of such behavior.
- Teachers/staff shall not display demeaning, suggestive or pornographic material nor may they be brought onto campus.
- There can be no indirect or explicit invitations to engage in inappropriate or suggestive activities which may or may not include a promise to reward for complying or a threat of reprisal for not complying.
- All Torah Academy employees must review the summary of mandated child abuse reporting laws which has been submitted to you along with this Conduct Policy and Behavioral Standards.