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DA reminds students to report suspected abuse in schools

SAN DIEGO COUNTY – As a new school year begins across the county, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is reminding parents, teachers and students of a DA website where they can report suspected sexual or physical abuse directly to the District Attorney’s Office.

The online reporting system is an additional tool for the public. Once a report is made, members of the DA Student Safety in Schools Systems Task Force will evaluate and investigate the claim. If appropriate, law enforcement will be notified so they can investigate the allegations and families will be connected with trauma-informed resources and support.

“Every student in San Diego County deserves to have a safe and healthy educational environment, free of sexual and physical abuse,” said Stephan. “But when that kind of abuse does happen, it’s critical that students, parents and teachers have a trusted way to report it and that those reports don’t fall through the cracks.”

The DA’s Student Safety in School Systems Task Force:

• Welcomes and receives submissions from any member of the public who is concerned about the safety of students in the school system.

• Referrals can be reported here: https://www.sdcda.org/helping/studentsafety/index.html.

• Assists any member of the public who is navigating multiple agencies and departments when an incident involving a child has occurred in a school setting

• Reduces the public’s confusion by giving them direct access to the District Attorney’s Office so allegations and complaints can be tracked.

• Cross references allegations and complaints with law enforcement, Child Welfare Services, and educational institutions and programs where appropriate.

• Refers members of the public to services that may be available to those experiencing trauma as a result of an incident that has taken place within a school system.

• Offers and provides outreach and training to the public on issues and concerns surrounding possible physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by an adult or minor on a student in an educational setting.

• Criminally prosecutes those who fail to comply with mandated reporting laws where the evidence of such failure is sufficient. Criminally prosecute those who commit physical or sexual abuse if the facts and the law supports it.

Note: This task force does not serve as a substitute for a mandated reporter’s duty to report abuse. Mandated reporters still must follow their duties under the law to report to the proper authorities under the Penal Code.

Rather, recognizing that gaps existed between the multiple agencies and systems that address abuse, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office created the reporting system in 2019.

The District Attorney’s Office also works closely with school districts across the county to remind mandated reporters of their responsibilities.

“Mandated reporters must make a report when there is any reasonable suspicion of abuse, based on facts,” Stephan said. “Mandated reporters typically won’t see the actual sexual abuse, but they often notice “grooming behaviors” that accompany or precede the sexual abuse.”

Submitted by the San Diego County District Attorney’s office.

 

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