What are the roles of administrators, psychologists, counselors, and social workers?

Professional office worker at a laptop computer.

If you are a school administrator, psychologist, social worker, or counselor in a school system, it may come to you that a student is at risk for or has undergone FGM/C. As of the most recent 2019 amendment to the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), all states in the United States (U.S.) recognize individuals that are required to report suspected child abuse. Please refer to your state's statute here for detail: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/state/

Most states include school personnel, social workers, counselors, and mental health professionals as mandatory reports; therefore, it is helpful to be prepared for how you may handle instances related to FGM/C.

Depending on whether a student is at risk or has already undergone FGM/C, please work with your school administrators to determine the best plan for investigating and when it is necessary to involve Child Protective Services (CPS).


School administrators play an important role in supporting other school personnel and students if there is a suspected case of child abuse of any form. As it relates to FGM/C, it is important that administrators are aware of the complexities of this type of situation and are aware of their state policies related to mandatory reporting. 

States have varied policies and schools have varied resources available so it is challenging to create a standard guide for all administrators to follow; however, here are some points to consider as you create your schools plan for any potential cases or risk for students with FGM/C:

  • Are all relevant administrators aware of FGM/C and the risk for girls and women in the U.S.? If not - consider providing informational resources to administrators or bringing in an expert for training. 
  • Does the school have a designated counselor or psychologist? Are they informed about FGM/C and how to support a student through this sensitive issue? If not - consider the psychological and physical toll FGM/C can have on a student, regardless of whether it is a risk for the practice or a suspected case. What other school personnel could be designated to play a supportive role in this area? 
  • Does the school or district have access to a social worker that could support a reported risk or case of FGM/C? If not - consider if the school could make a connection with a local social work agency who could serve as a resource. 
  • Review this FGM/C prevention resource for schools (established by the Council of the Great City Schools) and develop a support plan with your administrative team and other relevant teams as necessary (such as psychologists, counselors, or social workers): https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/sites/default/files/fgm-c-prevention-school-resource-final.pdf
Psychologists and Counselors

As noted in the page 'What are the physical and mental health effects of FGM/C?', studies have found that girls and women who have undergone FGM/C are more likely to experience psychological traumas.
We have gathered recommendations that can aid in the process of working with girls impacted by FGM/C:

Social Workers
  • Given that FGM/C is considered a form of child abuse, social workers can prepare to protect a child similarly while also considering the unique elements of FGM/C.
  • When a case is brought to a social worker, the next steps will depend on whether it’s related to risk of FGM/C or assessing whether it has already occurred. When preparing for a referred case, consider the following (general points gathered from the National FGM Centre in the United Kingdom):
  • Has the family has already been involved in social services and in what capacity?4
  • Be prepared for any potential culture differences, whether there may be a need for an interpreter, and approach with cultural sensitivity/awareness.4
  • ​​​​​​​Depending on whether the referral is for risk of FGM/C or a suspected case, consider which additional parties need to be involved. For example, does a medical examination need to occur? 4
  • Be prepared to discuss and educate the girl/family about FGM/C.4 Because this practice is engrained in many cultures around the world and can be seen as a norm, you may have to inform the girl/family about the harms and legal aspect of FGM/C in the United States.
  • Consider what a safety or support plan may look for a girl who may be at risk for FGM/C. Be prepared with resources to provide the girl/family as necessary.4


Please consider the mandatory reporting requirements in your state and any other state-specific requirements related to social work, child abuse, and FGM/C. 

Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Page last updated: May 11, 2023