State Laws Mandating or Allowing Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Education in Schools
To date twenty-seven (27) states and D.C. have passed legislation mandating instruction within schools on child sexual abuse awareness and prevention. Eight (8) states have passed legislation allowing or recommending this kind of instruction, though school districts in these states may not actually be implementing the training due to lack of follow up by state agencies or lack of school resources at the community or district level. Fifteen (15) states have no laws in place as of November 16, 2021. Of these, some states’ previous attempts to introduce or pass the legislation have failed; in a few states, no bills have ever been introduced to address the issue.
If your state is not among those which have passed or introduced CSA prevention education legislation, you can click here to download a model piece of legislation to share with your state legislators.
Legislation on child sexual abuse prevention education reflects enormous variability in approach, from whether instruction is required or merely encouraged, to who is required to receive the instruction, i.e. all school personnel, only certain school personnel, all students K-12, or students in limited grades only, to who is to provide the instruction.
Only fourteen (14) states require the education of both school employees and students; seven (7) require the education for students only; and seven (7) require it for students and only a limited group of employees.
Of the eight (8) states that only encourage the training, five (5) encourage it for both employees and students, two (2) encourage it only for students, and one (1) state does not specify who should receive the education.
Seventeen (17) states mention the need to also educate parents; eleven (11) states, however, provide an “opt out” parents can use to exclude their child from participating in any education on the topic. Four (4) states, including Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and West Virginia require or encourage teachers seeking licensure to be provided with education about child sexual abuse prevention; this is an encouraging trend.
While most state laws include “child sexual abuse prevention” as the focus, a few states refer only to the general terms “child abuse and neglect,” “child maltreatment” or to the term “sexual exploitation.”
Some states’ laws were enacted in honor of child victims, e.g. Brooke Bennett in Vermont, Jeremy Bell in Pennsylvania, or reference adult survivors/advocates such as “Jenna’s Law” in Texas, “Jolene’s Law” in South Dakota, “Erin’s Law” in Illinois, “Tara’s Law” in Montana, “Bree’s Law” in Alaska.
One state’s provisions regarding child sexual abuse are embedded in a law whose prime purpose is to prevent youth suicide, another in a law that addresses human trafficking. The most significant point of variability among the laws or bills, however, is which group or groups are targeted to receive the education.
This map and the accompanying details provide the most accurate and up-to-date information available about the approaches states have taken to strengthen the capacity of their schools to prevent, recognize, and report child sexual abuse. See the legend below to learn what each color means. Select a state to learn details of their law and who is targeted for instruction.
Two quick notes on terminology – “non-teaching staff” is used here as a catch-all term to refer to the myriad of adults who work in schools in roles besides “teacher”. This can include school administrators, coaches, medical professionals, guidance counselors, student support staff (psychologists, speech pathologists, interpreters, etc.), IT professionals, instructional aides, para-professionals, security personnel, library, maintenance, transportation, cafeteria staff, non-teaching religious staff, etc. as well as interns/volunteers. There is also significant variation by state in terms of which type of schools are included in the mandate. To learn if your child’s charter school, vocational technical school, private school, residential school, Headstart program, or other educational program is included, reach out to your school or state department of education.
Prevention Education Map
◼︎ No Laws: No legislation introduced
◼︎ No Current Laws: No current law, however legislation had either previously been introduced and not passed, or has been introduced and is currently pending
◼︎ Laws Encouraging: Law passed encouraging CSA prevention education in schools
◼︎ Laws Mandating: Law passed mandating CSA prevention education in schools
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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