School principals coping with child sexual abuse in their schools

Dafna Tener, Efrat Lusky-Weisrose*, Daniel Roe, Roni Mor, Laura I. Sigad, Maggi Shaharabani, Yasmin Yahia-Zetawy, Salwa Qwekiss-Halabi, Nili Rozenfeld-Tzafar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Schools serve a central role in prevention, disclosure and intervention in cases of child sexual abuse (CSA). As school principals often face CSA cases in their daily work, they may hold the key to making social change on this front. However, research on principals' experiences of contending with CSA remains limited. Objective: The current study is part of a larger qualitative research project examining various Israeli educators' coping with CSA among their students in diverse cultural contexts. In this study, we specifically focused on principals. The research questions were: (1) What are the unique ways in which school principals cope with cases of CSA during their course of daily work? (2) Do their cultural contexts and cultural affiliations shape their coping, and if so, how? Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 25 principals from multiple cultural groups (secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews, and Arab-Muslims), which were analyzed using a thematic approach. Results: The findings indicated that principals demonstrate three types of coping strategies in response to encounters with CSA in the course of their work: they may act as “navigators” (exclusively responsible); “sharers” (rely on teamwork); or “balancers” (negotiating between cultural and legal demands). Furthermore, two contextual factors affected their construction of coping: ongoing professional experience in cases of CSA and personal experiences, including being a CSA survivor. Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of principals in identifying and leading interventions for CSA cases. It also raises the need for training to combine reflective, experience-based practice alongside evidence-informed practice.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105656
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume129
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • CSA disclosure
  • Child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • Educator coping
  • Principals' experiences

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