Pennsylvania schools could see an addition to their health class curriculum to address child abuse and exploitation.
A bipartisan state House proposal would allow public school districts to teach children, from kindergarten to eighth grade, about child sexual abuse and how to identify the common behaviors of abusers. School districts could use that, or create their own lesson plans. But, parents would be able to review the abuse awareness curriculum, and even pull their kids out of class if they don’t approve of the material.
State Representative Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon) cited statistics showing one in four girls and one in seven boys are sexually abused before they turn 18.
“Most of those child victims are either unaware of what‘s happening to them, or understand how to speak out, how to recognize or understand how someone they know, trust, and often, love, would do something like that to them,” Gingrich said.
Those same statistics show that more than 90 percent of the abusers are well-known to their victims.
Gingrich says her bill would allow schools districts to incorporate abuse and exploitation awareness into their health classes lessons that are either designed by district, or by the state.
“Using age-appropriate information that will educate children about the risks and how to recognize dangerous situations and the warning signs of grooming and testing the child before actual abuse can take place.”
Gingrich said adding something to the elementary education curriculum that raises awareness about abuse could help the children who are being preyed upon.
“Most children don‘t possess the skills to verbalize what‘s happening to them and they truly fear that no one will understand them or believe them,” Gingrich said. “The best defense that we can provide our children is knowledge.”