What can I do if I suspect my student may be at risk of FGM/C?
If you believe there is an immediate risk to your student:
- You should call your local police department or child protective services. However, if you believe that your student is at risk in the future, for example during a trip abroad during a school break, you should reach out to additional supporting personnel at the school, such as a counselor, social worker, or the principal. Counselors or social workers should be able to establish the most appropriate routes for discussing preventive measures with families.
- It is difficult to know who is at risk of FGM/C. In many instances, students who believe they are at risk of undergoing cutting may not know they can come to you for help. While it would be ideal for students to be be educated on FGM/C and its physical and mental health consequences, this may not always be possible. Consider including FGM/C in your health curriculum. In many circumstances, you will only know your student is at risk of FGM/C if they come to you directly asking for help.
- When the school sets up a meeting with parents of students suspected to be at risk of FGM/C, ensure that all those who are present are able to explain in a respectful, culturally sensitive way that FGM/C is illegal in the US and transporting a child abroad to perform FGM/C is also illegal. Tell them, based on your state's laws, the potential consequences of performing FGM/C. We recommend having an administrator and social worker present when meeting with parents. Teachers do not have to join the meeting if they wish to remain anonymous.
Use these questions to help you build trust:
Where were you born? What about your parents?
Did you grow up in the United States?
What ethnic group do you belong to? Do you have a community here?
Do you speak multiple languages? What are they?
What do you speak at home?
Tell me about some of your cultural traditions. How do you celebrate?
What are your spiritual and religious beliefs?
How do you celebrate religious holidays?
These questions were adapted from: National FGM Centre
|Try to understand what beliefs and cultural practices are important to the family. 1||Accuse the parents of committing a crime.|
|Explain to the parents why you are concerned about FGM/C.||Use other family members or other school parents as interpreters.2|
|Provide a professional interpreter, if needed.3||Speak to the parents on your own.|
|Limit the number of people in the room, but do have an administrator and social worker present.||Assume the parents know that FGM/C is illegal.|
|Use a nonjudgmental tone when discussing the health consequences of FGM/C.4||Decide that following up is unnecessary.|
|Emphasize that FGM/C is illegal in the U.S.5|
|Give the parents factsheets on the health consequences of FGM/C and laws banning FGM/C.6|
Please review our infographic resource on what to do if your student is at risk or has undergone FGM/C here.