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Rep. Joyce Maker
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For Immediate Release

Date: 11/30/11

Rep. Maker's proposal on sexual abuse education advances

House Republican Office

November 18, 2011

For more information:

Jay Finegan, 287-1445

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Rep. Maker's proposal on sexual abuse education advances

AUGUSTA - State Rep. Joyce Maker received approval of her proposed legislation that would mandate child sexual abuse education for Maine pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade. Her measure was accepted by the Legislative Council on appeal at a November 17 meeting after being rejected last month.

Rep. Maker (R-Calais) told Council members that one of every seven victims of sexual assault is under the age of 6, according to the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Abuse. "Pupil counts by the Department of Education show that there are 44,573 kids in K-2, and one seventh of them, 6,358, are likely to have experienced some kind of sexual abuse," she said.

Under legislative protocol, bills accepted for the Second Regular Session must involve emergencies or budgetary matters. In making her appeal, Rep. Maker said the number of children involved "most certainly constitutes an emergency." She added, "It cannot be denied that in a day and age where new, high-profile stories of abuse are coming to light almost daily, this is a serious problem facing Maine and America."

The proposal, LR 2353, is "Resolve, To Create the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children." It would establish a task force to study the best-researched, age-appropriate curriculum and require a final report back to the Legislature in January 2013. That report would include the curriculum for schools to use and change the school guidelines from adopting a sexual abuse education policy to mandating it.

Rep. Maker, who serves on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, told Council members that one argument for inaction is the notion that sexual abuse is best handled by the family and does not need to be a public issue. "But what do you do when sexual abuse occurs within the family?" she asked. "Almost 50 percent of juvenile victims reported that their abusers were family members."

A second argument for inaction, she said, is that the budget will not support another task force. "Can we in good conscience allow more children to live unprotected and tortured because we were unwilling to make the necessary sacrifice?" she said. "I feel so strongly about this issue that I have proposed that the members of the task force serve without compensation and shall not be reimbursed for any expenses." ###

Contact:
Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445