Clymer Holds Hearing on Development of Child Exploitation Awareness Education Program for K-8th Grade
State Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) participated in a press conference to unveil House Bill 2318, which would include child exploitation awareness education in the health curriculum of all Pennsylvania school districts. Pictured, left to right, are Carolyn Dumaresq, deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and Rep. Mauree Gingrich, author of the legislation.
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Education Committee, today held a hearing on legislation which would allow school districts to incorporate child exploitation awareness education into the annual health curriculum.
“It is important that we do what we can to prevent child sexual abuse from happening and if it does that the child understands the importance of telling a responsible adult,” said Clymer. “It is only through open communication and education that we can penetrate the cloud of secrecy that surrounds this heinous crime.”
House Bill 2318, authored by Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon), would mandate the Pennsylvania Department of Education to create an age-appropriate program to be incorporated into the annual health curriculum on child sexual abuse for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Gingrich, in explaining her reason for spearheading this legislation, said, “In this country, one in four girls and one in seven boys are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18, yet many of these child victims are either unaware of what just happened, what to do or are afraid to act.”
Among the testifiers today at the hearing were Erin Merryn, survivor, author and activist; Paula George, M.D., medical director, Children’s Resource Center of Pinnacle Health; Al Chesley, survivor, former NFL player for the Philadelphia Eagles; Cathleen Palm, co-founder, The Protect Our Children Committee; Ed Marsico, Dauphin County district attorney; and Carolyn Dumaresq, deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education, Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Merryn stressed during her testimony, “I wish we could just leave it up to the adults but we can’t because we have adults who do not do the right thing. That is why we need to empower kids with their voice to tell, tell, tell and to continue to tell until it stops. I hope you’ll see the importance in this and help me in making Pennsylvania one of the next states to pass this as I go across this country on a crusade to get all fifty states, because I will not stop.”
To date, four other states have passed similar bills and legislation is pending in eight other states, including Pennsylvania.
Marisco, who has dealt with numerous child sexual abuse cases, said, “As widespread as these crimes may be, we constantly hear of cases of abuse that go on for years before they are reported. The reason for this is clear: when young children are abused they may not understand what is happening to them or that it is wrong. And even if children do recognize the abuse, they may not know where or how to report it. As a result, an entire childhood may be defined by years of repeated abuse and the abuser remains free to hurt the child and possibly target others. This legislation not only identifies this problem – it recognizes the solution.”
“This is an important topic to discuss with children, and the more often they receive the message and the more adults who spread the message, the greater the chance children will speak up and the abuse can stop,” said Clymer. “I look forward to bringing this commonsense legislation before the committee for vote.”
Clymer also participated in a press conference to unveil the bill earlier in the day at the state Capitol.
State Representative Paul Clymer
145th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman