Law requires child sex abuse lesson in schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A sex abuse education law is one of more than one dozen new laws that went into effect Tuesday.

The law requires the Departments of Education and Children’s Services to develop a curriculum aimed at helping students spot and prevent sexual abuse.

“It happens and it happens too much. A lot more than we ever know,” Sandra Harris said.

Harris was relieved to know a law now makes schools teach kids about sexual abuse.

“People don’t watch, they don’t care, they’re not mindful, and it goes on,” Harris said.

The law is named “Erin’s Law, which has already passed in 14 other states.

The program the state will develop will help students detect, intervene, prevent, and recover from child abuse.

“The more that we can educate everyone about child sexual abuse, the better equipped we’re going to be to actually prevent abuse from occurring and to be able to recognize it when it may be occurring,” Virginia Stallworth, executive director of the Memphis Child Advocacy Center, said.

Stallworth’s organization works with abused children everyday. The center’s mission is to train those adults on spotting sexual abuse against children.

The schools are now charged with making it their mission to train the students on child sex abuse.

“Parents really need to be the first persons to teach their children,” Harris said.

Harris believes the lesson starts at home. However, with the law stating more than 90 percent of sex abuse happens with a family member or family acquaintance, Harris is glad the school must step up to the plate.

The curriculum will be geared toward children as young as kindergarten age through the 12th grade.

Schools in Tennessee will be teaching the new classes while continuing to promote abstinence. Sexual education courses were booted from schools about two years ago.

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