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Teaching Sexual Abuse Prevention to Elementary Children

LONOKE, AR -- Safety matters when it comes to your children, no matter how old they are.
LONOKE, AR -- Safety matters when it comes to your children, no matter how old they are.

That's why a task force is working on a way to teach elementary students about sexual abuse and how to protect themselves.

According to the Arkansas Valley Resource Center, 15% of sex abuse victims are under 12 years old.

That's why state leaders and advocates felt it important to begin awareness programs already in elementary school.

For Sissy Fletcher, a mother with two boys, safety is priority number one.

So she's aware that kids can be sexually abused at a very young age.

She said, "Yes, these things happen to 5-year-olds and these things happen to 11-year-olds and we can't bury our head in the sand. It's going on."

So, the state legislature passed a bill to form a task force with one goal in mind, preventing child sex abuse.

Stacy Thompson with Childrens Advocacy Centers of Arkansas said, "...recognizing the signs of abuse at an early age."

Thompson along with other task force members are working to bring sexual abuse education inside the classrooms of kindergarten through fifth grade.

Sharon Rudder, with the Wade Knox Advocacy Center, is vital in the planning process.

She's already using a program called Speak up be Safe at Lonoke County Schools.

Rudder uses things like a mascot and dolls to show kids how to protect their bodies and when to say no.

She said, "So they have to be taught how to say no to anybody wanting to touch their body parts covered by a bathing suit."

Rudder would like to see this same, or a similar, program taught in schools across the state.

That way parents like Fletcher can get some extra help in keeping their children safe.

By October, the task force members will present their ideas to the governor.

From there, it will be decided when the programs will begin in classrooms across the state.
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