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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: August 20, 2021 12:00 PM
From: Representative Napoleon J. Nelson
To: All House members
Subject: Informing Educators of Student Trauma: Investigations of Child Abuse and Neglect
To:                   All House Members  
From:               Representative Napoleon Nelson  
Date:               August 20, 2021
Subject:           Informing Educators of Student Trauma: Investigations of Child Abuse and Neglect
In recent years, recognizing the trauma-based needs, an amendment to the law was adopted to provide for trauma -informed approach in our schools. In so doing, we acknowledged and codified the importance of the coordination among students, families, schools, and county-based services and other organizations. However, there remain areas of the law that must catch up to that ambitious goal of collaboration among these agencies.
Thanks to the recent changes to the law, today, many of our educators are trained to provide trauma-informed care, instruction, and support. Sadly, our education systems are frequently prohibited from being informed of trauma from law enforcement and child service organizations.
Many of our most vulnerable children experience contact with law enforcement and Children and Youth Services (CYS), and that contact necessarily impacts their experiences at school. The issues surrounding information sharing among CYS, law enforcement, and schools through a trauma-informed lens is imperative to safeguarding our most vulnerable young people. When adults aren’t able—or perceive they’re not able—to share information that might lead to creative solutions for kids, the debilitating intergenerational cycle of childhood trauma is more likely to persist if such silos of information remain. 
By establishing interagency sharing of abuse information with appropriate education professionals, law enforcement and our CYS agencies, we can potentially decrease the risk of long-term consequences associated with child abuse and neglect. To be sure, the more these individuals and organizations are empowered to work together, while preserving important student privacy interests, the better able each of them will be to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
The statistics are clear, nearly 5,000 Pennsylvania students are sexually, physically and/or emotionally abused or neglected each year. Protecting our children starts with all of us being better educated, followed by action in the form of better policies, system enforcement and improving our existing laws. Please join me in protecting the health and wellbeing of our children and their school environment. We can do more. We need to do more to protect our most vulnerable. Thank you.

Introduced as HB2302