Florida law requires private schools participating in any state scholarship program to adopt policies that establish certain minimum standards of ethical conduct for teachers and administrators. The policy must specifically mention a requirement for employee training on the ethical conduct standards. It must also contain the duty of school staff to report alleged employee or administrator misconduct that affects the health, safety, or welfare of a student and the procedures for reporting alleged employee or administrator misconduct.

Once it is suspected or known that abuse is occurring, a report must be made to the Florida DCF Abuse Hotline within 48 hours. There are four methods of contact; please note that the preferred method of contact is by telephone. If you are unable to get through immediately, stay on the line. If it is an emergency and you cannot wait, call 911. Modes of contact are:

Three basic forms of child maltreatment are recognized: the abuse of a child, the neglect of a child, and the child’s endangering.

  • Abuse represents an action against a child. It is an act of commission and is characterized in three categories:
    • Physical abuse – non-accidental injury of a child.
    • Sexual abuse– any act of a sexual nature upon or with a child. The act may be for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or a third party.
    • Emotional abuse – chronic acts that interfere with the psychological and /or social development of the child.
  • Neglect is a failure to act on behalf of a child. It is an act of omission and is generally characterized in two categories:
    • Physical neglect – failure to meet the requirements basic to a child’s physical development, such as supervision, housing, clothing, medical attention, nutrition, and support.
    • Emotional neglect – failure to provide the support and/or affection necessary to the child’s psychological and social development.
    • An additional category that is especially important to the teacher or school authority is:
    • Educational neglect – failure to ensure a child’s opportunity to learn in a school or home environment.
    • Endangering of a Child – creating a substantial risk to the health or safety by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.
  • If you have reason to believe that a child is being, or has been, abused and/or
  • neglected, you shall immediately make a written report and must verbally report your concern to the Department of Children and Family (DCF) in the county where the child resides.
  • Since it is the DCF worker’s responsibility to investigate suspected abuse and/or neglect, you shall not pressure the child to divulge information regarding specific circumstances or the identity of the perpetrator.
  • Reports of suspected child abuse and/or neglect are confidential. You should be aware that the reporting person is immune from civil or criminal liability for reporting.