DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a crime that happens most of the time in secrecy and can happen in your neighborhood without you knowing about it—child sexual abuse.
There’s a push to take a Texas law nationwide.
The Jenna Quinn Law would allow federal funds to be used to train those who work with children to recognize and report child sexual abuse. Places such as the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center train schools and other places who work with children.
“We need to be able to give our teachers the tools and the things that they need in order to ensure that a child’s voice is heard,” said Iris Burch, CEO of the DCAC.
The Texas legislature passed Jenna’s law in 2009—which was the first child sexual abuse prevention law in the nation.
It mandates grades K through 12 training for students and school staff.
This proposed law would allocate $197 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for training nationwide and keep the resources coming for North Texas schools.
“It would provide access to additional resources and funding to be able to help with identifying the warning signs,” said Dr. Tiffany Gilmore, Director of Guidance and Counseling, Garland ISD.
Those warning signs include a sudden change in behavior—or emotion.
“I went from being very social and outgoing to a very withdrawn. I started falling behind in school,” said Jenna Quinn, a survivor of sexual abuse, which whom this bill is named after.
It’s a bill supported and championed by Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn, “When Rep. (Tan) Parker passed this law in the Texas legislature in 2009 we’ve now seen a four-fold increase in the number of reports from schools about child sexual abuse,” said Cornyn.
It’s a law designed to give hope to children who are suffering in silence.
“I hope that survivors of all ages can be encouraged to know that there are people and places and organizations that exist just to help them in their needs and times of trouble,” added Quinn.
The Jenna Quinn law unanimously passed the U.S. Senate and now heads to the U.S. House for final approval before it official becomes law.