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Task Force Focuses on Teaching Sexual Abuse Prevention to Elementary Children

LONOKE, Ark. -- Safety matters when it comes to your children, no matter how old they are.
LONOKE, Ark. -- Safety matters when it comes to your children, no matter how old they are.

That's why a task force in Arkansas is working on a way to teach elementary students about sexual abuse and how to protect themselves.

According to the Arkansas Valley Resource Center, 15 percent of sex abuse victims are under 12 years old.

That's why state leaders and advocates felt it important to begin awareness programs already in elementary school.

For Sissy Fletcher, a mother with two boys, safety is priority number one.

"Yes, these things happen to 5 year olds and these things happen to 11 year olds and we can't bury our head in the sand," says Fletcher. "It's going on."

So, the state legislature passed a bill to form a task force with one goal in mind, preventing child sex abuse.

Stacy Thompson, with Childrens Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, along with other task force members are working to bring sexual abuse education inside the classrooms of kindergarten through fifth grade.

Sharon Rudder, with the Wade Knox Advocacy Center, is vital in the planning process.

She's already using a program called Speak up be Safe at Lonoke County Schools.

Rudder uses things like a mascot and dolls to show kids how to protect their bodies and when to say no.

"So they have to be taught how to say no to anybody wanting to touch their body parts covered by a bathing suit," says Rudder.

Rudder would like to see this same or a similar program taught in schools across the state.

That way parents like Fletcher can get some extra help in keeping their children safe.

By October, the task force members will present their ideas to the governor.

From there, it will be decided when the programs will begin in classrooms across the state.

(courtesy KARK)

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