K-12 Sexual Abuse Prevention Not Mandated, Despite High Risk
Students are required to do fire drills and tornado drills, yet Wyoming does not require public schools to do sexual assault prevention. Young people are more likely to be impacted by sexual violence than they are by any of those dangers. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
The Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council recently met at the Wyoming Department of Health to discuss the need for more sexual violence prevention in the state, and to share information about current efforts to help both kids and adults speak out about sexual abuse.
To increase sexual violence prevention the council is looking at a range of strategies from continuing to grow the network of community-based projects to passing legislation requiring schools to implement a sexual violence prevention curriculum.
Tara Muir, executive director of the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, serves on the council. She said most states have a policy in place called Erin’s Law, which requires schools to implement a sexual abuse prevention curriculum.
“We haven’t officially had it introduced in Wyoming,” said Muir. “We’re one of the few states who has done nothing.”
Bob Vines, the Washakie County Victim/Witness Coordinator, serves on the council as well. At the meeting, he said it was important to broaden involvement in prevention efforts. He especially wants to see more men involved.
“There’s two men in this room right now. And it always surprises me that we are here talking about sexual assault and sexual violence and men are responsible for nearly 90 percent of them and there are two men here,” said Vines. “We need to engage men. We need to engage boys.”
Vines runs a program that trains coaches to address sexual violence prevention with boys and girls who are student athletes. He said he’s seeing more and more districts get on board with the program, but it hasn’t been picked up statewide.