The Role of the Educator
It is a fact that we do not know exactly how many cases of child abuse and/or neglect occur in Greece each year, as there is no official system in place for identifying cases and collecting and recording data. According to estimates however, it is believed that there are a few thousand cases each year and that they concern children of all ages. Therefore, child abuse is not only a grievous matter for the children-victims themselves, leading to very adverse consequences for their overall psychological and physical development, but also a major social problem.
Since these children were not fortunate enough to find themselves in a supportive family, society needs to fulfil that role. The person that provides the closest link between the child and the community in which it lives is the child’s teacher. Besides, in many instances teachers are a child’s first contact with someone outside the family environment and certainly someone with whom it comes into contact every day of the week, someone they know well and (it is to be hoped) they trust.
The educator, on his part, has taken on the task of educating children, and this role, as is well known, is not limited to teaching the curriculum, but also encompasses guiding children in how to take care of themselves. Even in countries like Greece, where the institutional duty of educators to identify and report cases of abuse and neglect is a rather grey area, most educators consider it their moral duty to protect children and to prevent situations that may place them in danger. Besides, they realize that not even the most basic level of teaching can be achieved if a child is not well and does not live in a safe environment.