Texas Might Start Sexual Assault Prevention Lessons in Kindergarten

Students in Texas might start sexual assault prevention training as early as kindergarten, if a House-approved bill passes the Senate.

HB1342 would require such training for students as young as five to combat a growing number of sexual assaults against children. If the bill passes, the Texas Education Agency would need to choose “age-appropriate research-based curriculum” for students from kindergarten to grade 12.

The program would teach younger children using puppets and help them differentiate between appropriate, wanted touches and inappropriate, unwanted touches. The fact that this program would continue throughout their grade school education and adapt to their age and maturity is incredible. This kind of education should take place in every school.

However, the language of the bill emphasizes “anti-victimization,” which actually may not be the best approach.

“I have really mixed feelings about it,” Sarah Becker, a Houston parent with young children, told the Chronicle. “I would argue we should be teaching people not to rape people, not teaching people how to avoid it.”

Currently, the bill doesn’t suggest that this aspect will be required in the program. Becker is right, though. Teaching kids only “don’t get raped” isn’t that effective and could have damaging psychological affects for those who are victimized.

Teaching kids about consent will be a huge component of the program, though, and that’s definitely a good thing.

Some programs like this already exist, and have for a while. When I was in kindergarten, the school counselor started coming to our classes with puppets to teach us about “good” and “bad” touches.

In some ways, I understood her message. It wasn’t okay for anyone to touch us in the “bathing suit” areas, whether they were a stranger or someone we knew. As I child, these puppets taught me that no one should touch me in those places and if they did, I should tell an adult.

But that’s where the lesson ended. After a few years, we never had those conversations again. We never had similar lessons that aged with us. Those sessions with the puppets were clearly meant for children, but as we got older the lessons didn’t evolve and adapt to meet our needs as older kids and then teenagers—they just stopped.

We learned that it was wrong for people to touch children inappropriately, but that message didn’t translate when we became sexual beings and we were all left to navigate this idea of “good” and “bad” touch in an entirely new way without any useful information.

No one ever taught us we could want someone to touch us and not want someone else to, or that one time we could want it but another time we might not, and that was okay. Or that we could say no, or change our minds. Or that a touch doesn’t have to be in a sexual place for it to be bad.

We never got a comprehensive education about consent. That is, hopefully, what this bill will reconcile and what every state should implement.

Probably the most short-sighted aspect of the entire program though was that we were only ever spoken to as potential victims, but never possible perpetrators. We internalized that abuse is something adults do to children but never realized it was something we might do to each other. We learned never to let anyone touch us inappropriately, but we were never taught not to do the touching.

Sure, it might seem scary or just plain ridiculous to tell 5-year-olds not to touch each other’s genitals, but it’s not just adults who are harming kids. It’s other kids, too.

The Associated Press conducted a year-long investigation into student-on-student sexual assault in grades K-12. They found 17,000 official reports of assaults committed by students between 2011 and 2015. And these are just the official reports. The actual number is likely to be much higher.

The reports included unwanted touching, oral sex, rape, sodomy and more and spanned all age groups. Five percent of the cases involved 5 and 6-year-olds.

They also discovered that, despite stories about teacher on child assault being more likely to make the news, children were assaulted by other students seven times more often.

We should absolutely start teaching kids about consent, but we need to be telling them the whole story. We need to be teaching our children about both giving and receiving consent and the intricacies and importance of both, or we’re not actually protecting kids at all.

Photo Credit: Delfi de la Rua

72 comments

Sarah Hill
Sarah Habout a month ago

Much too early. Kids need time to be kids!

SEND
Melania Padilla
Melania P1 months ago

Indeed sad that kids have to know the cruel world humans have created so early :(
But I guess it is better.

SEND
Carl R
Carl R3 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Angela K
Angela K3 months ago

noted

SEND
Philippa P
Philippa P3 months ago

So sad to have to start so young!

SEND
Carl R
Carl R3 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Jerome S
Jerome S3 months ago

thanks

SEND
Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 months ago

thanks for sharing.

SEND
Carl R
Carl R3 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
william Miller
william Miller4 months ago

thanks

SEND