Committee for Children Applauds Passage of HB 2597

SEATTLE – Legislation promoted by Committee for Children requiring that school districts factor in sexual abuse when planning to help
students in emotional distress is on its way to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for signature following a unanimous vote of support today in the Senate.

Committee for Children worked with Representative Tina Orwall to write the bill and advocate for its passage. “Educators are uniquely positioned to notice the signs of abuse, and often are the people to whom children report sexual abuse” says 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 shows signs of sexual abuse.  We all know that the best time to plan for a crisis is before it happens.”

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. House Bill 2597 strengthens child and family protections by adding sexual abuse to this clause, filling an obvious gap.

Under this measure, the plans must include parental notification requirements, information about how staff should respond when allegations of sexual contact or abuse are made, and how the district will provide training on the obligation to report physical abuse and sexual misconduct to staff.

“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 Orwall, the prime sponsor of the bill.
Committee for Children (CFC), the global nonprofit dedicated to fostering the safety and well-being of children through education and advocacy, applauds the passage of House Bill 2597.

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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 nine million children in 26,000 schools around the world. Learn more at cfchildren.org

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