Survivors of child sexual abuse and advocates spoke out at the Massachusetts State House at the “Survivors Nest” event and legislative briefing, hosted by Senator Joan Lovely on April 11th.
Senator Lovely opened the event, sharing that she is a survivor of child sexual abuse, and highlighted why several bills she introduced this session would help keep children safe from sexual abuse, including S.1038 and S.1039, which would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, and S.314, the SHEILD act, which would require child sexual abuse prevention education and abuse prevention policies in schools and youth serving organizations.
MassKids Director Jetta Bernier spoke next, elaborating on the prevalence of child sexual abuse cases in schools and educator sexual misconduct. She described several other bills that would prevent child sexual abuse, including S.1040/H.434, which would require screening of school employees to prevent educator sexual misconduct and “passing the trash”, and S.106 and S.1036, which would criminalize sexual abuse by adults in positions of authority or trust over minors, and prohibit the age of consent (16 in Massachusetts), from being used as a defense in such cases where grooming is involved.
Survivor Advocate Trish Kendall, who serves on MassKids’ Board of Directors, shared her story next and stressed the need for prevention education. She stated that if her teachers had been trained to spot signs of child sexual abuse, perhaps someone could have intervened and helped her when she was a child. Trish speaks out so that other children will never have to experience what she did.
Donna Jensen, founder of Time to Tell shared her story and explained that Time to Tell brings survivors together and hosts writing and sharing circles. Claire O’Leary, Survivor Advocate and author of the Voices Heard magazine, shared her story. Carla Beatrice, creator of the Survivor Nest, shared her story and explained how the Survivor Nest Project came about. To learn more, visit https://www.survivornest.com/.
If you would like to learn more about the child sexual abuse prevention bills pending in Massachusetts, you can watch our Virtual Advocacy Briefing. here: https://enoughabuse.org/prevent-child-sexual-abuse-massachusetts-advocacy-briefing/