First Advisor

Banerjee, Rashida

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A United States Department of Education commissioned study found that 10% of kindergarten–12 grade students are victims of staff-to-student sexual misconduct (Shakeshaft, 2004; U.S. Department of Education, n.da). A primary recommendation from that study was that districts provide staff training specific to the prevention of staff-to-student sexual misconduct. However, despite strong and repeated recommendations that all schools include annual staff training that specifically addresses the issue of staff-to-student sexual misconduct (Caldas & Bensy, 2014; Krohn, 2014; Mainella, 2015; Shakeshaft, 2004; U.S. Department of Education, 2008), a majority of districts nationwide have been slow to include this topic in their district staff training; further, districts are inconsistent in their handling of concerns and/or allegations (Caldas & Bensy, 2014; Mainella, 2015; Shakeshaft, 2013). Research indicates that children with disabilities are victimized at three to four times the rate of their non-disabled peers (Caldas & Bensy, 2014; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016a; Krohn, 2014), and preliminary research suggests their rate of victimization is also higher within the school setting (Caldas & Bensy, 2014). This study explored current training practices in relation to this important recommendation by surveying Title IX coordinators and special education directors (N = 177) in a selected western state to (a) determine the percentage of school districts in a western Unites States state that include a staff training program specific to reducing incidents of staff-to-student sexual misconduct, and to whom staff training is being provided, (b) identify perceived barriers to providing staff training specific to this topic, and (c) explore what, if any, qualities of a staff training program pertaining to prevention of staff-to-student sexual misconduct may be uniquely beneficial to staff serving students in special education. Findings indicate that many districts are not offering training specific to the topic of preventing staff-to-student sexual misconduct; time constraints, lack of knowledge of where to find resources, and financial constraints are perceived barriers to providing training on this topic; but that 50% of participants are interested in staff training with components that are specific to supporting staff who work with students with special needs. A primary implication from this study for future research and practice is to explore the inclusion of staff-to-student sexual misconduct prevention training at the level of professional preparation programs, particularly for those who will be working with students with special needs.


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