What’s in store for Oklahoma schools?

Often, basic human instinct tells us to reach out and help protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially children. Whether they are family, friends, or loved ones we do our best to keep them safe from harm. There’s a new law being considered in Oklahoma that will impact what part public schools play in keeping kids safe from sexual abuse.

House Bill NO. 1684, a.k.a. Erin’s Law, will require all public schools to establish a sexual abuse prevention program. This law is geared toward providing education for children on personal safety and how to protect themselves. It will teach children to know the difference between “right touch” and “wrong touch” and how to report it. Children will learn to understand safe and unsafe secrets, as well as how to identify safe people. They will be able to easily recognize dangerous situations, refuse these invitations, and summon help.

Although it may sound like it, this is not intended to be a sex education course. Rather, it is considered personal body safety and protection education. Children that participate in these types of prevention programs are said to communicate better with parents and are better able to distinguish between what is appropriate physical contact and what is not.

While some of the resources for this program will be provided, it is putting more work on our schools and our teachers. It is not going to cost the schools any additional money because of some resources that are available. However, it does cost additional time. Finding that time in the year or the workday could be the most difficult part.

Schools will have free access to Bethesda Inc.’s Stop-Go-Tell Prevention Program Train the Trainer online course. Local school boards will have discretion over curriculum. In addition, parents have the option of refusal if they prefer their child not attend these courses. In that case, resources and programs will be available directly to parents.

The bill also contains a requirement for training teachers on how to recognize and report child abuse. Our Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse presentation fills that requirement.

Knowing the information and being educated on the matter is the first step to overcoming any obstacle. In other states, this type of education has been proven to be quite effective. If it helps even one child, to us it will be worth it.

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