Training About Duty To Warn


I am in the social services field. I was asked to train staff on the importance of keeping people safe, and their duty to warn about potential abuse/neglect situations, even if the person is a friend. I am aware of my state and the federal laws regarding “duty to warn”. My question is; how can I successfully get across to people that no matter what, they are to report abuse/neglect, even if they are close to the person?

Also, how do I successfully train people to see the difference between reporting potential abuse/neglect and mis-reporting situations that may not be abuse/neglect, but rather using abuse/neglect as a way to punish people they do not like? Are there any websites to use as reference when I am asked to come up with new training ideas? Thank you.


Needing Training Ideas


Dear Needing Training Ideas:

Training that involves ensuring people do the right thing at the right time is usually done best by providing the information about the right way and the right time, then using scenarios to determine if the information was understood and if the participants can show through their handling of the scenarios the right way to do things.

I would suggest the following template for training: 1. A pre-test containing multiple choice questions about policies and procedures, and very short scenarios with multiple choices about responses. The students will pick the correct response for each scenario. Ensure that the scenarios involve the situations that are most important for the training.

Make sure students put their names on the test and give it to an assistant to grade while training is going on. Or, distribute it before training and rely on the honor system. Then grade them yourself before training.

2. Conduct training consisting of short lecture and discussion segments involving policies and procedures. For example, state the policy and ask for examples of how it would be used. Consider creating a one-sheet guideline to supplement the printed policy that I’m sure is already in existence. An additional copy, perhaps on a pastel or other color paper, will catch the eye and the memory.

Use plenty of examples about what TO do and what NOT to do. Include the scenarios from the pre-test as well as new scenarios, but don’t identify the scenarios as “from the test.” Let them learn as they discuss. Ensure that everyone reflects appropriate answers and approaches.

3. Consider this approach: Let the class break into groups and create scenarios for the other participants to develop responses about.

4. Use visual material, quotes, statistics, case histories and fictional examples as needed to support the learning. Encourage participants to discuss their own examples. If you know of some examples ahead of time, ask those involved to discuss it briefly.

5. Make sure there is no question about the expectations for correct behavior and the legal and organizational ramifications for misuse of authority or lack of action. Also ensure that participants see that knowing what to do is not difficult—but deciding to do the right thing sometimes is. Make it seem “doable” to everyone. And make not doing it right, clearly unacceptable.

6. Give a post-test with the same questions and scenarios as the pre-test. Have students swap papers and grade it in class, then return the papers to the owners. Hand out the pre-test and let them see the differences in scores. Ask for a show of hands about who scored better as a result of training. Good reinforcement! 7. Consider having a commitment survey in which participants answer yes or no to positive statements: “I am aware that I must report abuse/neglect situations, no matter who is involved.” “I will not misuse the laws regarding abuse reporting by exaggerating information.” And similar statements to reflect firm commitment to the policies and procedures. This may not work for your situation, but is often helpful.

8. Follow-up to thank participants and perhaps to reinforce the importance of the learning.

If your training is not in a classroom, but rather by written means, similar methods could be used, but they would need to be adapted to allow the employees to respond with their thoughts and ideas–just as if they were in class.

You may find books on instructional design to be helpful to you, since they discuss all of this concept in greater detail. I think the best of those is Rapid Instructional Design by Piskurich.

Best wishes in your training. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know how it works out!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.