TALLAHASSEE - State and local leaders joined with abuse survivor and advocate Lauren Book Sept. 27 to launch Florida’s new sexual abuse prevention curriculum, Safer, Smarter Kids, in elementary schools throughout the state.
The initiative makes Florida the first in the nation to implement a statewide education effort to prevent childhood sexual abuse.
“We know that there are thousands of children in our state alone who have been victims of sexual abuse,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins. “We are proud to partner with Lauren’s Kids to bring awareness to this heartbreaking reality and help prevent other children from being victimized.”
The curriculum, which has been delivered to every kindergarten class in Florida, was created at the direction of the 2011 Florida Legislature. A new study by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence documents a 77 percent learning gain in critical personal safety information among students who received the education at test sites during the last school year.
To date, five states have adopted mandatory sexual abuse prevention education, but Florida is the first state to implement such a curriculum. Legislation is pending in Pennsylvania as a response to the Penn State sexual abuse scandal.
The New York Yankees organization recently provided a grant to bring Safer, Smarter Kids to schools in the Bronx, expanding the reach of this curriculum beyond Florida.
The curriculum is divided into six, 30-minute micro-lessons designed to fit easily into the classroom schedule. Each lesson includes a video component, classroom exercises and take-home materials to involve parents in this important education initiative. The curriculum satisfies more than 22 Sunshine State Standards and addresses the needs of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students.
It covers topics such as safe vs. unsafe secrets, body boundaries, and identifying adults a child can trust when a situation makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
“This curriculum arms Florida’s children and their families with the tools and language they need to protect themselves from the traps predators set, without being in any way explicit or scary,” said Lauren Book, M.S. Ed, CEO and Founder of Lauren’s Kids. “I am proud that our Legislature and Governor have established Florida as a leader in protecting our children by implementing this curriculum.”
Lauren’s Kids is a non-profit organization that works to prevent abuse and heal survivors. The organization, headquartered in Aventura, Florida, was started by Lauren Book, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who endured abuse at the hands of her nanny for six years. Her organization offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, elementary school prevention curriculum, an annual awareness walk and speaking engagements. For more information, visit laurenskids.org.