Bill would teach children age-appropriate lessons in sexual abus - - Columbia, South Carolina

Bill would teach children age-appropriate lessons in sexual abuse and assault awareness


A proposed law is in the works that could change how students are taught about sexual abuse and assaults.

According to the Medical University of South Carolina, roughly one in four women and one in seven men have experienced some form of childhood sexual abuse. Lawmakers hope education in the classroom is the answer to reducing the statistics.

Freshman State Rep. Mandy Powers Norell, D-Lancaster, is spearheading a proposal to have sexual abuse prevention programs taught in South Carolina schools. If passed, school districts would provide age-appropriate instruction in sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention. The program would start this fall and include children from pre-kindergarten to senior year.

"A lot of the children being sexually abused in their homes don't realize that what's happening to them is wrong," Norrell said. "For them, it's their version of normal. And this bill would have each grade level develop an age appropriate way to tell safe secrets from unsafe secrets."

So far, the bill has received overwhelming support, but the failure of other health education proposals has left some wondering if educators are overreaching.

 "I do think that people are concerned that school districts are getting too involved in things that families are handling, but on the other side we have to be realistic that not everybody has the same home environment," said Joanie Lawson with the SC Education Association.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the most common place children encounter predators is online. In roughly half of child sexual abuse cases the perpetrator has been part of the family.

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