Sex abuse education bill on hold in Utah legislature

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SALT LAKE CITY – A bill that would require preventative child sexual abuse education in Utah schools received mixed reactions from lawmakers Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-District 26, calls for training and education at Utah elementary schools aimed at preventing sexual abuse.

Romero said they hope to give children an understanding of what is right and wrong and let them know when to say “no.”

Deondra Brown is one of The 5 Browns, a Utah classical piano ensemble, and she said she and her siblings suffered abuse at the hands of her father. She spoke in support of the bill.

"I've come to realize that one of the biggest issues aggravating and perpetuating the horrors of abuse is our failure to educate our children on what is normal,” she said. “The bill you are being presented with today will help every elementary school student in Utah have a clear knowledge of what is normal and what is not normal.”

Gayle Ruzika of the Utah Eagle Forum stressed the need for care when it comes to discussing such issues with children.

"But as you look at these little tender, tender children, this information that needs to be shared with them, from a very young age, but in a very appropriate way, not to violate these little children, these little tender little children,” she said.

The House Health and Human Services committee voted Friday to hold the bill, which means the legislation could come up again later. Some lawmakers expressed concern about making such programs mandatory and spoke about the possibility of a provision for schools to opt out.

The State Board of Education voted to express their support of the bill on Thursday.

1 Comment

  • Lisa

    Programs like this can inspire children to have the courage to try to speak out. I was inspired by an educational program, but it didn’t work out so well, possibly for lack of any type of follow-up education. When I was in 4th grade, there was a play that all the classes went to about Big Bear and Little Bear, and Big Bear was committing “bad touches” against Little Bear. The play taught the kids and supposedly the adults/teachers the signs, so I, being very bright, decided I’d purposely display the signs in hopes that my teacher would ask me questions since I’d been through at least 1 year of sexual abuse at that point. I tried and tried and yet no questions. I didn’t even get in trouble! I suddenly started acting out in class, and even threw a chair at a classmate, and no questions. Finally I gave up, and didn’t try to talk to an adult again until I was a junior in high school, and again, that went badly. I feel so bad for the little girl I was that just could not seem to be seen or heard at the times I found the courage to try.

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