State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Child abuse awareness for PA's K-8 curricula?

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 20, 2012 6:15 PM

Thumbnail image for capital_dome_cropped.jpgThe state hasn’t seen the last of legislative proposals written in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. A bipartisan push is on to bring child abuse awareness into the lesson plans of Pennsylvania schools.

School districts wouldn’t have to teach children how to recognize child abuse and protect themselves from it, but they would have the option, under a state House proposal sponsored by Rep. Gingrich (R-Lebanon).

Adding something to school curricula to raise awareness about abuse, she said, could help the children who are being preyed upon.

“Most children don’t possess the skills to verbalize what’s happening to them and they truly fear that no one will understand them or believe them,” said Gingrich. “The best defense that we can provide our children is knowledge.”

The state Department of Education would create model curricula for kindergarten through eighth grade that would include instruction on “how to recognize dangerous situations and the warning signs of grooming and testing the child before actual abuse can take place,” said Gingrich.

School districts could use the state’s model curriculum, or create their own lesson plans. Parents would be able to review the abuse awareness curriculum, and even pull their kids out of class if they don’t approve of the material.

The bill was introduced last spring and awaits a vote from the state House Education committee. Both the panel’s chairman, Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) and ranking Democrat, Rep. James Roebuck (Philadelphia) said they support the measure.

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Comments: 2

  • edstem09 img 2012-09-21 06:39

    I watched the testimony yesterday on PCN TV. I am sure this proposal is well intended. But exactly when can this instruction happen?

    The state academic standards have been mapped across the K-12 grades for 180 days. It will take 21 years to teach every thing they have mandated so far.

    Any legislator who wants to add another mandated program should be required to also say what will cut from the current mandated programs to accommodate their new lesson(s).

    The bill also calls for annual lessons. What if the kids get the critical messages by 4th grade (10 years old). Why are they mandating using precious class time to persist in the training/educating? We don't reteach addition every year. Once they get it, we move on to subtraction, multiplication and algebra.

    Fealty to local control and classroom based control means there is no monitoring and no enforcement for school or teacher compliance with this and many other well intentioned mandates.

    • claudzilla5 img 2012-09-21 11:08

      Edstem09,
      I agree with your concern about the time this would take from other valuable subjects, and I also wonder if the classroom setting is the best, most effective way to raise awareness of abuse.
      But be careful of the words you use - you mention a mandated program. The second paragraph of the article states that the program would not be required but that schools wuold have the option of adding it to their curricula. This doesn't change concerns, but it's important to keep the discussion focused on what is truly being proposed, not our worst fears.
      Best,
      Claudia

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