Georgetown ISD has adopted a new curriculum for the 2022-23 school year to include instruction relating to the prevention of child abuse, family violence, dating violence and human trafficking.

With a favorable recommendation from the School Health Advisory Council and GISD Counseling Services, the approval of the Love146: Not A Number—an interactive child trafficking and exploitation prevention—module is a direct result of Senate Bill 9, which took effect in December.

The lessons will be taught by certified professionals from the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center and will be offered in eighth through 12th grade health classes. This curriculum is optional and will not affect the student’s required health credit.

According to GISD Counseling Services, this new instruction will help the district continue prioritizing students’ mental, emotional and physical health as well as their safety and security.

“These programs will provide important information for students that can help them become more situationally aware for themselves and others,” SHAC co-Chair Mindy Petty said.

New year, new lessons

GISD Director of Counselor Services David Rainey said the law not only requires parents be notified of the Love146 instruction, but they also have the chance to review the material and the right to remove their student from any part of the instruction if desired.

“These topics are important, not only to the state of Texas, but to our local community,” Rainey said. “I believe our SHAC gave thoughtful consideration to the curriculum we recommended and that the board approved.”

GISD’s SHAC is an advisory group composed of individuals who represent a variety of segments across the community, Rainey said. The group acts to provide input on various aspects of the district’s health and wellness program, including the instruction required by SB 9.

WCCAC Community & Engagement Director Tori Algiere said Love146 is tailored to provide youth with information and skills in a manner that inspires them to make safe choices.

It is a five-part, 50-minute module designed for students 12-18 years old and will be taught throughout the year.

“Children will learn to identify and utilize healthy support systems that may decrease their vulnerabilities through Love146,” Algiere said.

Rainey said GISD has offered human sexuality and dating violence instruction at the middle and high school level for several years now, but districtwide student instruction on human trafficking was not included.

Rainey said the SHAC recommended the human sexuality class still be offered in the 2022-23 school year and to add Love146 to all eighth grade and high school-level health classes as well as the health science class in partnership with the WCCAC.

Other considerations pertaining to the instruction of dating violence and trafficking approved by the SHAC includes exploring instructional options beyond health classes, determining an alternative plan for health class credits and expanding learning opportunities to staff.

GISD established an official partnership with WCCAC in 2020-21 so certified personnel are in the classroom teaching relationship and body safety lessons.

Additionally, Rainey said the Love146 curriculum was vetted by subject area experts and is supported through grant funding for training by the Texas Office of the Attorney General.

“Even though our attorney general office cannot necessarily say they support one program or another, the SHAC felt assured to know that this is a program that the attorney general has provided grants for people to be specifically trained in,” Rainey said.

Taught by professionals

Having WCCAC professionals teach the Love146 curriculum is an expansion of an existing partnership.

Since the 2019-20 school year, the WCCAC has taught the Play it Safe curriculum—a body safety course designed to teach elementary school children how to be safe from abuse including physical, sexual, emotional or neglect.

Since then, the partnership has been renewed each year.

“Most recently the SHAC suggested that we continue our partnership and since this might not be the only time students want to receive that instruction, they hope we would eventually explore a deeper approach with the developmental spectrum,” Rainey said.

In 2019-20, the Play it Safe curriculum was only available to first, third and fifth graders. In 2020-21 material delivery was expanded to kindergarten through fifth grades. Now, in 2022-23, GISD is considering integrating the class at the secondary level.

“We are aware that this is a great curriculum, but we are also aware that any curriculum taught is also impacting instructional time—so the idea that the board can at least approve the curriculum, it helps us as a district to make a determination and how we can begin integrating the material into the middle and high school levels,” Rainey said.

The WCCAC hosts a learning night every semester to allow parents to ask specific questions and learn about the course. This year’s session will be held toward the beginning of the school year.

Algiere said the mission of the WCCAC is to provide hope, healing and justice for children and families impacted by abuse, violence and exploitation.

“Education is a pivotal component in achieving our mission,” Algiere said. “WCCAC has proudly worked alongside GISD to empower students to recognize potentially dangerous or unsafe situations and identify trusted adults in their life to access help.”

Algiere also said the organization hosts free training outside of school on topics including how caregivers can navigate conversations with youth about boundaries, and how to identify child abuse and neglect.

“While educating children is critical, we also must continue to empower trust in adults around our community with the skill to recognize and respond to child abuse,” Algiere said.