Congresswoman Katherine Clark, a Democrat who represents Framingham, and Congressman Joe Heck, a Republican from Nevada, introduced the Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act, legislation to protect children from sexual abuse July 15.
The proposed legislation funds school programs that provide age-appropriate lessons to primary and secondary school students on how to recognize and safely report sexual abuse.
The Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act provides federal funding to develop, implement or expand these programs for students, teachers, and guardians.
In 2013, there were a total of 60,956 instances of child sexual abuse reported to Child Protective Services agencies in the U.S. However, this number represents only the cases of child sexual abuse reported to and confirmed by child protection authorities. Many cases are never reported to welfare or legal systems.
“When only a small fraction of children who experience sexual abuse tell an adult and get help, then we are failing them,” said Clark, in a statement. “In school, we teach kids what to do in case of fires, tornados, or other emergencies. It’s only common sense that we also teach them strategies to stay safe and to reach out to an adult if they are abused. The Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act helps children learn how to recognize abuse, and empowers teachers and parents to work together to protect our kids.”
“Keeping children in our communities safe from sexual abuse starts with educating people to recognize the signs of abuse,” Rep. Joe Heck said in a press release. “Ensuring that states and local education agencies have the resources they need to educate students, parents, and guardians about how to recognize and report sexual abuse will aid in prevention and response to incidents of child abuse. I’m pleased to join my colleague Congresswoman Katherine Clark in advancing this important bill in the House and urge its swift passage.”