States Policy Exchange

States Policy Exchange: Passing Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Laws in Every State

The States Policy Exchange is a bi-monthly online information-sharing and peer support platform for child advocates and legislators seeking to advocate for child sexual abuse prevention policies and laws in their states. It was launched by Enough Abuse as a follow up to a 3-Part Webinar Series for Policymakers and Advocates held in November 2021 and co-sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse America and the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.

That series provided over 80 advocates from 25 states an opportunity to learn more about  A Call to Action for Policymakers and Advocates: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation in the States, a 112-page report released nationally in June 2021 by Enough Abuse in collaboration with Prevent Child Abuse America.

During those webinars, participants expressed an interest in meeting regularly to discuss strategies to introduce and/or amend legislation to address:

  • the requiring of child sexual abuse prevention training for all school employees and students;
  • comprehensive strategies to strengthen the screening of prospective school employees; and
  • the U.S. Department of Education’s prohibition of the “passing the trash” practice, i.e. the aiding and abetting of a school to help an employee engaged in sexual misconduct secure a position in another school.

Number of States With CSA Prevention Laws 2002-2021

Graph 1, A Call to Action for Policymakers and Advocates: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation in the States, MassKids and Prevent Child Abuse America 2021

Over 100 advocates participated in one or more of three bi-monthly meetings of the State Policy Exchange held in the spring and summer of 2022, including Prevent Child Abuse America and its Chapters in WY, UT, NC, AL, TX, NY, NV, IA, KY, IL, CO, RI, VT, ND and MA; several members of the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (endorsers of the Call to Action); Children’s Advocacy Centers in three states; the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA), and Domestic Violence Coalition members in seven states.

Among the state policymakers that have participated include: the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office,  the Nevada Department of Education, the Department of Health in New Mexico, the Department of Health in North Dakota, and State Legislators from Illinois and Indiana. 

Discussions have been lively and feedback from participants indicate that the information exchange and peer support are valuable. 

View past States Policy Exchange meeting notes and recordings:

3/15/22 Notes:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/13hsz93438txy6Ni6byiB3S7Fp1FLUCQ6/edit?usp=sharing&rtpof=true&sd=true

First State Policy Exchange meeting, 3/15/22 

5/17/22 Notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fVY1q-HABm0hZskR4HgnwqldoQ4578jD/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=106252457533124434375&rtpof=true&sd=true 

7/19/22 Notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WNbaAdEw4VnCbpzI9JQCX4orCyI_psV-/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=106252457533124434375&rtpof=true&sd=true

Third States Policy Exchange meeting, 7/19/22

9/20/22: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1o0H5nxtETB4aBNFknvrzitoa6QTSSgda/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=106252457533124434375&rtpof=true&sd=true

Fourth SPE Meeting 9/20/22

11/29/22 Notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MamsxdXIRC_ayNpW-DyYu6Dejugtme6VP0MiEiI-LFo/edit?usp=sharing

3/7/23 Notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1smG4xBwon7GyvjPt-tScF-W4kW3Hv8aQ/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=106252457533124434375&rtpof=true&sd=true

3/7/23 SPE meeting recording

5/9/23 Notes: https://enoughabuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/5.9.23-States-Policy-Exchange-Meeting-Notes.docx

5/9/23 SPE meeting recording

9/19/23 Notes: https://enoughabuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/9.19.23-States-Policy-Exchange-Meeting-Notes.docx

9/19/23 meeting recording. Unfortunately this recording cut out due to an internet outage; see notes for more information.

11/14/23 meeting, Preventing Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation notes: https://enoughabuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/11.14.23-States-Policy-Exchange-Notes-Online-CSA.docx

Preventing Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, 11/14/23 SPE Meeting

Congress is currently considering what the federal response should be to the alarming increase in incidents of online child sexual exploitation. While Congress deliberates on these policies, states are already moving to address how current statutes on child sexual abuse material (CSAM) should be updated to include prohibition of compute-generated sexual visual depictions of children, including photo edited, morphed, collaged or AI-generated,  and how to limit the spread of CSAM online.

At the November meeting, the States Policy Exchange hosted National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) policy experts, Susan Kennedy, Director of Community Engagement, Daton Lynch, State Policy Council, and Daniel Spino, Legislative Affairs Manager, to update the Exchange about the issue of online child sexual abuse, the work NCMEC is doing to address it, and state legislation recently passed or introduced to address these issues, e.g. TX, UT, CA, etc. They also provided updates on key federal bills being considered, including the Stop CSAM Act, the SHIELD Act, and the Earn It Act/Child Online Safety Modernization Act (COSMA).

February 27th, 2024 meeting, “An Epidemic of Sexual Abuse in Schools”

Notes: https://enoughabuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/2.27.24-State-Policy-Exchange-Meeting-Notes-1.pdf

This tenth meeting of the States Policy Exchange featured Business Insider Senior Correspondent, Matt Drange, who shared the results of his 18-month investigation of child sexual abuse in U.S. public schools. His article: “An epidemic of sexual abuse in schools,” published on December 21, 2023 details shoddy investigations, quiet resignations, and a culture of secrecy that is protecting predators, not students.
Matt gathered data from the largest 10 school districts in each of the 50 states, including the number of teachers charged with sexual abuse, schools’ responses to these incidents, and how or if they are implementing the U.S. DOE’s requirement that schools not engage in the practice referred to as “passing the trash,” i.e. the aiding and abetting of a school employee engaged in sexual misconduct with a student to secure a position in another school.

Matt Drange is Senior Correspondent based at the Business Insider’s San Francisco bureau. He has received dozens of journalism awards and most recently was honored with the First Amendment Coalition’s Free Speech & Open Government Award. In 2019, Matt was named the best young business journalist in the country by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. Matt’s work has been published by ProPublica, The Guardian, Salon.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, Pacific Standard and elsewhere. He holds a master’s degree from the Columbia Journalism School and teaches journalism at his alma mater, Cal Poly Humboldt.

Next meeting: May, TBD

If you or your colleagues are interested in joining the State Policy Exchange, simply email info@masskids.org to join our email list.