A Texas lawmaker is trying to implement annual training in schools to prevent child sexual assault.
Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, is sponsoring a bill that would require districts to host age-appropriate and evidence-based training annually so children can learn how to protect themselves against abuse.
The bill also aims to decrease the child pregnancy rate, or the number of pregnant youths age 15 and younger.
"Sexual assault is a crime that plagues our society in astonishing numbers and will continue to do so if the most innocent victims are not educated on how to handle it," Parker said.
Before the age of 18, one in four girls and one in six boys experience some form of sexual abuse, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Sylvia Orozco-Joseph, the We Help Ourselves national director, is in charge of a large education program that already works to spread awareness on these matters.
She said WHO's program adjusts curriculum by the ages of students to teach basic concepts.
"For older students, we use a two- to three-minute videotape and role playing. ... For pre-K through second grade, we use puppets," she said.
Orozco-Joseph said 40 percent of children said the program helped them, and 25 percent said they used the information to help a friend.
The singular concern originated from Meagan Corser, a legislative analyst with Texas Homeschool Coalition. She had concerns that the bill might infringe upon the rights of homeschool parents but supported the bill's overall intent.
Corser asked that parents who homeschooled their children would be notified in advance of the class, lest they object to the content or nature of the training.
Judith McGeary, one of the witnesses who spoke during the public comment period, addressed about her own experience with child abuse in objection to this thought.
She said if her parents had been notified of such a class, they would have objected.
"It is not the right of a parent to deny their child access to something that could save their life ... because I came very close," McGeary said.
Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, who is a former educator, emphasized that it is often parents who commit acts of abuse. Allen said for this reason, parents should not be given the ability to choose if their child receives this training.
The bill was left pending in committee but is likely to pass.
Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas, said he would be happy to address any issues anyone has with the bill.
"Who in the world would actually be opposed to this bill, and why?" Meyer asked.