Committee for Children Applauds Governor Inslee’s Signing of HB 2597

SEATTLE — Bipartisan legislation promoted by Seattle-based nonprofit Committee for Children (CFC) requiring that school districts include sexual abuse in their plans to help students in emotional distress was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee today. CFC worked with the bill’s prime sponsor, Representative Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines), to write House Bill 2597, and members were on hand in Olympia to applaud the signing.

Schools in Washington already have plans for recognition, initial screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students, including indicators of possible substance abuse, violence, and youth suicide. This new legislation strengthens child and family protections by adding sexual abuse to this clause, filling an obvious gap. 

“Educators are uniquely positioned to notice the signs of abuse, and often are the people to whom children report sexual abuse,” said Joan Cole Duffell, executive director of Committee for Children. “This bill ensures that school districts plan their response to emotional and behavioral distress and are prepared to respond when a student discloses sexual abuse. We all know that the best time to plan for a crisis is before it happens.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, school personnel are the source of over 50 percent of abuse reports made by professionals to authorities.

Currently, only about one-third of educators receive training about child sexual abuse as part of their teacher training coursework or through continuing education.  Additionally, 24 percent of teachers report that they have never received instruction, either oral or written, on their state’s mandated reporting process. 

“We will have a step by step process for teachers—who are mandatory reporters—to follow when they report possible abuse, and for schools to notify parents in the rare instance that an educator may be the perpetrator,” said Representative Tina Orwall.

Details on House Bill 2597 can be found here.

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About CFC

Founded in 1978, Committee for Children is a global nonprofit dedicated to fostering the safety and well-being of children through education and advocacy. CFC is the world’s largest provider of research-based educational programs that promote social-emotional skills and prevent bullying and sexual abuse. The organization’s curricula reach more than 9 million children in 26,000 schools around the world. Learn more at cfchildren.org

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