Please review the scenario, by Laura Richardson, that we have listed below to find out how some of our vets handled the situation.
As teachers in online learning, we are faced with teenagers who have a variety of issues that weigh heavily on their performance in our classes. While my goal as their teacher is to get to know them well, so that I can help them overcome their obstacles, there have been several occasions where students have confided details that are very sensitive. There is a delicate balance between respecting a student’s privacy and reporting issues or situations to the local school when the student may need assistance.
Once, a student told me his stepmother was hitting him. Another time, a student confided with me that she had to deal with an abortion decision and the agony she was going through as a result of that decision. There are also times students do not confide in us. I have also experienced one of my online student’s decision to take her own life. There were no clues in that case, but I take comfort in knowing that I had been in close contact with her guidance counselor.
As an online teacher, there are certain steps that must be taken to report a student’s personal issue. State law mandates school officials to notify certain agencies in cases of abuse. As teachers, we also must ask for help for students who need help from other agencies. In the cases of reported abuse and student distress over an unwanted abortion, I felt the required next step was to notify someone at the school level, because the student needed adult and/or authoritative intervention. The student who reported abuse to me was on Spring Break. My first step was to contact my Division Director. I knew the authorities needed to be contacted, and no one was at the school. She gave me the contact information of the Central Office contact. I made the contact with the Central Office staff, who called the school DLA, who in turned called me back. After some checking, it was discovered that the student had also told the school resource officer, who took a report. In the case of the distressed student, I contacted the guidance counselor for the student. The guidance counselor was aware of the situation, but called in the student to talk to her. The guidance counselor then followed up with me. The student has continued to share her feelings with me, and I make sure to always ask how she is doing, before discussing her work in my class.
Virtual teachers face situations including teen pregnancy, abuse, suicide, etc. If confronted with one of these situations, there are several steps you need to take. The best action is always in the best interest of the health and safety of the student. If you have questions on how to act, please seek out your Department Chair or Division Director.