As of Wednesday, March 29, 2017
OLYMPIA A Klickitat County lawmaker’s proposal to address childhood sexual abuse will be featured during a hearing tomorrow.
Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, is sponsoring House Bill 1539, which would establish a work group to create age-appropriate sexual-abuse prevention curriculum for children in grades K-12.
The public hearing is 8 a.m. Thursday before the House Education Committee.
“I’m a strong supporter of any prevention work we can do, starting with the little kiddos,” Lower Valley Crisis and Support Services Executive Director Leticia Garcia said.
She said she is glad to see the bill covers education for children as young as kindergarten.
The Sunnyside-based non-profit is eager and willing to provide information to help children protect themselves, she said.
But there are hurdles.
“It’s difficult,” Garcia said. “The funding is limited and getting into the schools can be difficult because of their testing and curriculum requirements.”
In December 2015, then-President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, which allow school districts to use federal education dollars for sexual-abuse education programs.
McCabe’s proposal stems from a nationwide movement for Erin’s Law, which has been approved in 28 states.
The law’s namesake, Erin Merryn, a childhood sexual abuse survivor, will testify tomorrow in favor of the bill
“Merryn has worked throughout the nation to implement measures to study and develop sexual-abuse identification and prevention curriculum,” McCabe said. “Her efforts have led her to appear on CNN, Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show and other media outlets.”
Garcia said her agency’s advice is geared to specific age groups.
“We do prevention workshops,” she said. “We are always promoting personal body safety, finding out who they can turn to if there is something that makes them feel uncomfortable.”
Garcia added, “Their body is their own and no one has the right to ask them to keep something secret.”
Presentations to older children focus on sexual harassment, developing healthy relationships and preventing dating violence.