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House File 2154 advanced through House Judiciary with unanimous support. The bill implements a child sexual abuse prevention-oriented education program, requiring schools to teach children body safety and how to prevent child abuse.

Rep. Gary Mohr (R-Bettendorf), who sponsored the bill, said 42 million adults were sexually abused as children. He added that estimates indicate 1-in-4 girls are sexually abused before age 18 and 1-in-6 boys are sexually abused before 18. Most of those individuals are abused by people the children trust.

An amendment was passed allowing schools to collaborate with ADAs, community organizations who might provide funding, training or curriculum for age-appropriate, research-based sexual abuse curriculum. There’s also reference to Iowa Code 279.50 which authorizes parents or guardians to request excusing a child from human growth and development instruction in school.

Rep. Wes Breckenridge (D-Newton) said he believes the bill moves Iowa in the right direction.

Mohr had written about the bill in a previous newsletter. It said:

House File 2154 – This bill addresses child sexual abuse and child sexual assault awareness and prevention. First, this bill provides that continuing education activities authorized by the board of educational examiners for purposes of renewing a license, certificate, statement of professional recognition, or authorization may include participating in or presenting at in-service training programs on child sexual abuse and child sexual assault awareness and prevention. Additionally, the bill would require school districts to provide age-appropriate and research-based instruction in child sexual abuse and child sexual assault awareness and prevention as part of its human growth and development instruction in kindergarten through grade 12, and in prekindergarten, if the school district offers a prekindergarten program.

The bill seeks to teach children how to recognize unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances. The bill also seeks to teach children how to effectively reject unwanted sexual advances, and that it is wrong to take advantage of or exploit another person. The bill also seeks to teach students about the dangers of sexual exploitation by means of the internet including specific strategies to help students protect themselves and their personally identifiable information from such exploitation. The bill also requires students receive instruction about counseling, medical, and legal resources available to survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault, including resources for escaping violent relationships. The bill was introduced and referred to the Public Safety Committee on January 28, 2020.

Author: Jacob Hall