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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 3, 2018 01:24 PM
From: Senator Mike Regan
To: All Senate members
Subject: Child Abuse Awareness Education Program
During the latter part of last session, I circulated a co-sponsorship memo with the intent of introducing companion legislation to House Bill 1844, requiring Pennsylvania’s public schools to administer a child exploitation awareness program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

In working through the drafting process for that legislation, I have made the decision to change the name to be a Child Abuse Awareness Education Program. “Child exploitation” is one form of abuse and is not a commonly used phrase. If we are to educate students, it is important we are using common terminology. Additionally, the already established curriculum available on the Department of Education’s website all use the term “child abuse”.

Act 71 of 2014 provided schools the option of implementing a child exploitation awareness education program. My proposal would make implementation of the program mandatory for all school entities – defined as a school district, charter school, cyber charter school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school.

To ensure schools are not faced with yet another unfunded mandate, my proposal allows schools to meet this requirement by partnering with a local community organization, such as a police department or non-profit, to implement the program at no cost to the school.

A participating community organization would have to be approved by the Children’s Advocacy Center Advisory Committee (CACAC). Many organizations in our communities are already developing and providing these services to schools, and they are ready and willing to serve more in order to protect our students.

Teachers, administrators, and other school staff are mandatory reporters. We teach them how to report suspected abuse, but we are not teaching our students how to report their own abuse to these trusted adults – or even what abuse is, so they can recognize it and do something about it.

We want to protect our kids from harm, so let’s empower them with the tools to protect themselves from abuse. And if we are able to do that, we may just be able to put a stop to abuse and to prevent a student that has been hurt in this way from acting out through violence at school.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.