Mapping State Legislative Efforts to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
In June 2021, MassKids/Enough Abuse in collaboration with Prevent Child Abuse America released a national report, “A Call to Action for Policymakers and Advocates: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation in the States“. We review five laws aimed at preventing sexual misconduct and abuse through school-based initiatives and provide an overview of each state’s legislative efforts in those areas. We discuss emerging trends and propose a set of recommendations to enhance current state legislative efforts, and to build a national infrastructure to coordinate and support implementation of targeted prevention actions in schools, youth organizations and communities across the states.
As we are committed to updating the field about ongoing progress on this front, we have developed a set of Interactive Maps which provides accurate and regularly updated information about the status of these laws. We hope this resource will help states developing new legislation to benefit from the experiences of other states and that it will encourage states that have not yet addressed the issues to do so more confidently.
Map #1 provides details about the twenty-eight (28) states, as well as D.C., since 2009 that have passed laws mandating schools to educate personnel and/or students about child sexual abuse and ways to prevent it. Information about the eight (8) states that have passed laws merely allowing or encouraging this education is also included. In either case, lack of resources to implement the laws, monitor compliance, and hold schools accountable paint a less robust picture of the impact of these laws than the numbers indicate. Some states have introduced bills in past sessions with no success and so efforts have halted. Only a few states have never introduced legislation on this topic.
Map #2 identifies the sixteen (16) states that have passed legislation creating task forces to explore the issue of child sexual abuse and to recommend future actions to prevent it. Links are provided to each State Task Force’s report, if it is available.
Map #3 includes information about the twelve (12) states, as well as D.C., which have passed legislation and the one (1) state that has introduced legislation to improve the screening of prospective school employees and address the practice popularly referred to as “passing the trash.”
Map #4 identifies the thirty-nine (39) states, as well as D.C., that have passed legislation criminalizing educator sexual misconduct.
We encourage advocates to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any news or updates on state legislative efforts so that we can continue to provide you with the most accurate and timely information available.
State Laws Mandating or Allowing Child Sexual Abuse Education in Schools
There is much variability among the thirty-six (36) states that have passed laws to address education about child sexual abuse in schools. This map identifies which state laws either mandate or merely encourage the education, and whether all school personnel, only licensed personnel, all students K-12, or students in limited grades only are included. Fourteen (14) states have no laws as of July 2023. Links to the state laws can be found after each state description.
State Task Forces to Address Child Sexual Abuse
Seven (17) states have passed legislation mandating the formation of a State Task Force to research the issue and provide recommendations for future action. This map identifies these states and includes links to each State Task Force Report if it is available. It also includes information about five (5) state task forces or prevention partnerships formed without legislation.
Legislation to Address Educator Sexual Misconduct and Abuse
This map tracks progress in the states on addressing the problem of educator sexual misconduct and abuse which a U.S. Department of Education Report has documented affects nearly 10% of students from Kindergarten through 12th Grades. Currently fourteen (14) states have passed laws and one (1) has introduced legislation to better screen prospective school employees and to eliminate the practice of “passing the trash,” i.e. allowing or encouraging the resignation of employees engaged in sexual misconduct in lieu of reporting to state authorities, and aiding and abetting an employee engaged in sexual misconduct to secure a job in another school. Confidentiality Agreements that would have the effect of thwarting a formal investigation are prohibited. Schools in these states are protected from legal liability for sharing information with other schools.
Criminalizing Educator Sexual Misconduct
While Educator Sexual Misconduct is frowned upon, and schools can choose to fire employees who engage in sexual relationships with students, the school employee cannot always be criminally charged if the student is over that state’s age of consent. Over 75% of states have now passed legislation specifically outlawing educator sexual misconduct, or sexual misconduct by a person in a position of authority over a minor, recognizing that even if a student is over the age of consent, the educator is in a position of authority over the student and the student cannot consent to sexual relations with him or her. Thirty-nine (39) states so far have specific laws criminalizing Educator Sexual Misconduct. Eleven (11) states still have no laws criminalizing Educator Sexual Misconduct.
Whether you identify as a victim, survivor, or as someone working through the trauma of sexual abuse, know that you are not alone, you are not to blame for what happened, and support is available to help you on your journey to healing.
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