Learning to refer students is the last element of the seamless fit. When issues such as substance abuse and violence are addressed in the curriculum, some students will come to the teacher and self-disclose their personal struggles with the issue or those of their family. They may require expertise that the teacher cannot provide. Therefore, teachers will need to consult with and refer students to school professionals such as the school counselor or social worker. School professionals also need to be aware of the resources available in the community. Some of these include:
  • Mental health agencies,
  • The location of women's shelters
  • Local agencies providing screening and medical assistance for HIV/AIDS
  • Local agencies related to domestic violence, and
  • Local agencies that treat substance abuse

When a student discloses sensitive information, it is an opportunity for the teacher to be encouraging and supportive. Being kind, concerned and open to listening is important. The teacher must also be able to connect the student with the professional help he or she may need. Teachers are mandated reporters at school. That means they are required by law to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of individuals to the local department of social services.

Sometimes a student will want the teacher to keep his or her secret. Yet, the teacher must be honest with the child about the need to seek additional assistance. One way to do this is to let the student know that you are genuinely concerned about the student. This concern makes it impossible for you to withhold information from other professionals who can provide help.

Finally, the teacher needs to be familiar with child-friendly literature that the student can read to help alleviate the sense of shame or fear that typically accompanies sensitive experiences such as family substance abuse or domestic violence.

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