Include Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Curriculum in HPCSD Education

Include Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Curriculum in HPCSD Education

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Gae Marie Cannon - A Mourning Mom started this petition to Hyde Park Central School District Board of Education

Current statistics show that 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. It’s time for our school district to take more action to protect our children from sexual abuse by adopting the following new curriculums. 

Young Children:

The HPCSD curriculum covering sexual abuse of small children has for years erroneously and dangerously laid the responsibility of determining good touch from bad touch at the discretion of very young minds typically unable to discern the difference primarily because of the relationship status of the typical abuser for this age group. This formula within the curriculum needs to change to reflect the unequal power balance between abuser and victim, as well as the innocence and unknowing of the child in making these determinations for themselves. Asking children to discern the difference based on comfort level is not just inappropriate, it’s ineffective, and lays the burden on children. 

We propose a safer method, The Gatekeeper Method, being utilized to help young children stay safe from sexual predators. By appointing a single designated family member that the child has the most confidence in and strongest ties to (such as mother, father, grandmother, etc) as a “gatekeeper” the child is able to defer all requests to be touched in “private places” by all other individuals as well as report any “private place” touch occurrence to a single trusted source. The child can say explicitly, “I’m not allowed unless my mom tells me it’s okay”. By appointing a single, trusted designee as a “gatekeeper”, the gatekeeper has the authority and the child learns that NO ONE may touch them in private places without the “okay” of their gatekeeper; not babysitters, coaches, camp counselors, etc... This method removes all responsibility of the child to try to differentiate between good touch and bad touch currently described to children vaguely as “uncomfortable”. 

Older Children:

Our older children NEED health/sex education to cover sexual harassment, sexual consent, AND sexual assault/rape FOR THEIR LIFELONG SAFETY, especially as teens. This education needs to be a FULL curriculum and NOT a brief assembly where children hear stories. They need to know the facts of what constitutes sexual harassment (even the NYS website has a video with a questionnaire that most businesses are compelled to administer), what constitutes sexual consent and when consent is revoked, and they absolutely MUST KNOW what constitutes rape, the 3 main types of rape (stranger, date, and familial), as well as WHAT TO DO if they are raped (try to get away, scratch the offenders face deeply for DNA if you can’t get away, and most definitely go directly to the hospital and file a police report) . The curriculum should include reading assignments, tests/quizzes, explore real life examples/scenarios-with of course discretion concerning graphic material, and possibly an actual volunteer victim speaker within reasonable age proximity to the class (NOT an organization head).

These Sex Safety Education curriculums are absolutely VITAL and necessary for the safety of our children. In speaking with previous graduates, and previously working with HPCSD young children as a Girl Scout Troop Leader teaching them The Gatekeeper Method, HPCSD is FAR too many years behind on embracing these changes and implementing them. 

Further, the Board of Education MUST ensure that ALL accusations of sexual harassment are dealt with appropriately; and that ALL accusations of rape reported to school officials is taken seriously, that the victim is treated with respect and the utmost of care, immediately met by a same-sex school psychologist and escorted by that psychologist to the nearest hospital, and a parent contacted. 

We, as a community, MUST protect our children by giving them the tools they need to keep themselves safe whether they are boys or girls. The statistics speak for themselves, both girls and boys are victimized. It’s time for the HPCSD to step up to the plate with meaningful curriculums that meet their needs. 

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