Program to educate school kids about sexual abuse

By Gary Brode |, Anthony Antoine |

Published 08/07 2014 05:48PM

Updated 08/14 2014 10:59AM

Update: 5:10 pm, 8/11/14, Monday
CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- School starts in just a few weeks, but before it does, a sexual advocacy group wants to teach kids and their parents about personal safety. Kerri True-Funk, from RACES, is here to discuss the Body Safety Program.

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Original: 5:48 pm, 8/7/14, Thursday
ILLINOIS -- This year, kids in elementary school will learn signs of inappropriate touching. Governor Quinn signed Erin's Law in 2013. It's named after a girl from Illinois who was sexually assaulted. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine finds out about the new program.

It will teach kids to open up if they feel uncomfortable. Sexual assault is a topic many of us don't discuss, but it's happening. Research shows one in four girls and one in six boys will be victims before the age of 18.

The program is raising awareness. From an early age, kids are taught how to find the nearest exit in case of an emergency. But, where do you go, who do you turn to if you're sexually assaulted?

"The hardest part about sexual abuse is that we don't talk about it with other adults. It's very hush, hush."

Kerri Truefunk is part of a rape advocacy group in Urbana.

"When we're talking about body safety, with the kids, it's more about you have the right to say 'no' if somebody asks you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable."

This fall, Truefunk will be partially responsible for putting that information in the hands of elementary school students in Champaign and Urbana.

"We want them to understand who is a safe adult and who is an unsafe adult. An unsafe situation, know how to respond, then go tell a safe adult."

The Red Cross will join the effort and kids will learn through skits.

"Our skit is an adult talking to a child, making the child uncomfortable, talking about feelings that might make you uncomfortable if you were in that position and then talking about what you can do if you're ever in a situation like that."

But, advocates say it's important for parents to pay attention to their children.

"In sexual abuse instances, 93 percent of the time, the perpetrator is somebody known to the child. Talk to your kids. Make yourself a safe person that you can talk to and be open about the fact that you do not tolerate somebody hurting the kids that are in your life."

Schools already have a similar program called Risk Watch, but this will add another piece to the puzzle. Both school districts approved the material. The kids will be taught this fall.

A meeting will be held for parents at the Champaign Public Library, August 13, at 5:30 pm.

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