Sex abuse education bill on hold in Utah legislature

Posted at 8:43 PM, Feb 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-14 22:43:41-05

SALT LAKE CITY – A bill that would require preventative child sexual abuse education in Utah schools received mixed reactions from lawmakers Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-District 26, calls for training and education at Utah elementary schools aimed at preventing sexual abuse.

Romero said they hope to give children an understanding of what is right and wrong and let them know when to say “no.”

Deondra Brown is one of The 5 Browns, a Utah classical piano ensemble, and she said she and her siblings suffered abuse at the hands of her father. She spoke in support of the bill.

"I've come to realize that one of the biggest issues aggravating and perpetuating the horrors of abuse is our failure to educate our children on what is normal,” she said. “The bill you are being presented with today will help every elementary school student in Utah have a clear knowledge of what is normal and what is not normal.”

Gayle Ruzika of the Utah Eagle Forum stressed the need for care when it comes to discussing such issues with children.

"But as you look at these little tender, tender children, this information that needs to be shared with them, from a very young age, but in a very appropriate way, not to violate these little children, these little tender little children,” she said.

The House Health and Human Services committee voted Friday to hold the bill, which means the legislation could come up again later. Some lawmakers expressed concern about making such programs mandatory and spoke about the possibility of a provision for schools to opt out.

The State Board of Education voted to express their support of the bill on Thursday.