The Maine Department of Education (DOE), as directed by Maine law Public Law 2015, Ch. 292 (LD 1180), An Act To Require Education in Public Preschool Programs and Elementary Schools Regarding Child Sexual Abuse, has developed a model policy for schools on child sexual abuse prevention education and response. The law (20-A MRSA §254, sub-§18) states that all school administrative units (SAUs) that operate schools with grades public preschool program through grade 5 shall adopt a written local policy for child sexual abuse prevention education and response that is consistent with the Maine DOE model policy located at www.maine.gov/doe/healthed/laws/ under Safety & Accident Prevention. The policy must include the following:
- Child sexual abuse response and reporting procedures;
- Child sexual abuse awareness training and prevention education for school personnel;
- Age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention education for students;
- School response and reporting procedures for child sexual abuse; and
- Resources a victim of child sexual abuse or nonoffending caregivers of a victim of child sexual abuse may access for services and support.
Pursuant to this statute, school administrative units (SAUs) are required to develop a policy beginning in the 2017-18 school year. However, given the late release of the model policy, SAUs are expected to develop the policy on or before the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
The Maine DOE and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) are available to provide technical assistance in the writing and implementation of this policy that is intended to educate preschool through grade 5 children, as well as school personnel, families and community members in the prevention of and response to child sexual abuse. A web-based resource and trainings to support the implementation of this law are being developed by the MECASA with support from the Maine DOE. The website is expected to be launched this spring.
For more information on the new requirements contact Susan Berry, Maine DOE’s Health Education and Health Promotion Coordinator, at email@example.com.