Law requires child sex abuse lesson in schools

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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.


  • Pam

    I agree we need to prevent abuse as a nation, but talking to little kids, is stealing what innocence they have. It is not the schools place to do this. If anything, they could put a lesson plan in place for high school, to better educate them on the real life side to prevent that (person) from having an opportunity to harm their children. That can prevent the cycle. Let’s not be monsters to little kids. I will not allow this for my children. They can make whatever unconstitutional law they want, I’ll not follow it.

    • Susan Maree Jeavons

      Pam, I respect your views. But a large percentage of the abuse occurs before children even enter school. So it seems to me that it needs to be started as soon as possible. I am a survivor. I told my mom, but she did nothing to protect me. The abuse went on for over 10 years. I left home at 17 to escape the abuse. So I say to parents, know who is with your child. Even if it’s their father, step-father, uncle, grandfather, the mom’s boyfriend, an older brother, sister, babysitter. ANYONE! Coaches, teachers, preachers, etc. I think you see what Imean. Parents are the 1st ones who need to talk to their children. But they are also the 1st ones who should be protecting them!

      • KarenJewel (@KarenJewel)

        Susan, I agree with you. If the school has addressed the subject, I would have been alerted to tell my Mom. She did not know. And, I didn’t want to ruin the only good relationship I had by telling her and upsetting her, because I didn’t believe she could do anything about it. I was very, very young. It did start before I started school and it was my Dad.
        My concern, though, would be how the school would choose to address it. I would start with letting children know that they own their bodies, and they have a right to say how it is touched. That if someone is even just touching their hair, and they are uncomfortable they have the right to say, “please don’t do that”. That wouldn’t have helped in my case, but in a vast amount cases, the abuse begins with apparently innocuous touching. Obviously, it would need to be pointed out that sometimes there are necessary touches that we don’t like. Vaccinations for one thing. Doctors’ examinations, etc.
        If I was a parent in this area, I would ask to see the full curriculum. That is something we should do as much as possible in our schools anyway.

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