Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services



Committee Director

Theodore Remley

Committee Member

Danica G. Hays

Committee Member

Dana Burnett


The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of school counselors during or after making suspected child abuse and neglect reports. The survey population for this study consisted of all members of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) who identified themselves as working in elementary, elementary/middle, middle/junior high, middle/secondary, secondary/high school, and K-12 work settings. Email addresses were obtained from the ASCA online member directory during the summer of 2008. A total of 847 surveys were completed and returned. A total of 11,113 ASCA members were sent surveys. Of those sent, 7,021 were returned undeliverable, suggesting that the on-line directory was out of date. A total of 847 of the 4,092 surveys that were successfully delivered were completed and returned for a 21% response rate.

This study investigated the following broad research question: What are the experiences of professional school counselors in reporting suspected child abuse or neglect? School counselor variables including amount of training, years of experience, and credentials were explored in relation to the experiences of school counselors in making suspected child abuse reports. In addition, this study explored school variables including school setting, school level, and socioeconomic level of school.

No studies that examined the experiences of school counselors after reporting cases of suspected child abuse and neglect were found in the literature. Thus, a survey entitled the Child Abuse Post-Reporting Experiences of School Counselors Survey (CARE) was developed to gather this information.

Results showed that professional school counselors are encountering some interpersonal and intrapersonal negative experiences during and after making reports of suspected child abuse. In this study, elementary school counselors reported more negative experiences in making suspected abuse or neglect reports than secondary school counselors. Results revealed that years of school counseling experience and post-master's degree training events significantly predicted the frequency of negative reporting experiences among school counselors. School counselors with more years of experience and with fewer post-master's degree training events had less negative reporting experiences than school counselors with fewer years of experience and more postmaster's degree training events. Additionally, several noteworthy findings emerged from the item analysis for Section I items of the CARE instrument.


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