The Sex Abuse Treatment Center Supports Sexual Violence Prevention Education in Hawaii Public Schools

01/25/2019

The Hawaii State Legislature will be considering a bill during the 2019 session to establish a program in Hawaii’s public schools for curriculum-based and age-appropriate sexual violence prevention education. The proposed legislation is part of the Legislature’s Keiki Caucus package, and is supported by the Sex Abuse Treatment Center (SATC), a program of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.

Similar legislation – known nationally as “Erin’s Law” after Erin Merryn, an Illinois survivor of child sexual abuse – has been passed in 35 states and is being considered by all 15 remaining states, including Hawaii, according to the National Erin’s Law organization. Such laws have emerged as a national trend in safety and health education.

“This type of program can be extremely impactful for students and their families, ultimately helping to reduce the incidence of sexual violence in our communities,” says Justin Murakami, SATC manager of prevention education and public policy. “Sexual violence prevention education can provide students with the tools and resources to avoid becoming victims, end abuse where and when it happens, and provide guidance on how and when to seek appropriate help and support. It also provides information or training components designed specifically for parents and teachers.”

If passed, this bill will enable the implementation of a consistent, systemwide program for the delivery of curriculum-based sexual violence prevention education. Children who attend public schools in Hawaii will receive this critically important education, and parents will be better informed about topics concerning sexual violence against children. In addition, school teachers and staff will receive training on talking to students about sexual violence prevention, the effects of sexual violence on children, and handling disclosures made by children.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, at least 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys in the United States is a victim of child sexual abuse, with self-reported studies showing that 20 percent of adult females and 5-10 percent of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident.

Hawaii’s sexual assault centers report that annually nearly 50 percent of victims receiving services for sexual assault were younger than age 18 at the time of the assault. Hawaii’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys for 2013, 2015, and 2017 demonstrate that high school-aged public school students report experiencing various forms of sexual violence, in childhood and in their immediate past, at a higher rate than their national peers on both a statewide and county level.

The Sex Abuse Treatment Center, a program of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, is dedicated to supporting sexual assault survivors as they grow and heal, and preventing sexual assault through education and advocacy. It is a statewide program valued for its leadership and expertise in providing treatment services for survivors of sexual assault, preventing sexual violence and effecting change through public policy, awareness and education. Since it was established in 1976, it has helped more than 20,000 survivors through quality, compassionate services.

Media Contact

Kristen Bonilla
kristen.bonilla@hawaiipacifichealth.org
(808) 535-7982

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