ELHS to hold child sexual abuse training

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In the wake of the Larry Nassar case, East Lansing schools are looking at training in child sexual abuse. School Board Vice President Erin Graham made the suggestion at the district’s Feb. 12 meeting.

Individuals have written the board emails about personal safety and what to do in such cases. There was an initial idea to hold a panel discussion, however with the high demand for a training, Graham, nor the rest of the board members were opposed.

“You know I don’t want to put it off too long, because I think as horrible as everything is that’s going on, it has provided an opening for us to raise awareness about this issue,” Graham said. “And perhaps for people who would be willing to sacrifice a Saturday with a chunk of time to attend a training to get more information about child sexual abuse.”

Graham contacted the Firecracker Foundation, which offered to facilitate a free training on March 10 for district employees, parents and community members.

“This is geared toward parents, community members and staff members who are working with children in our community,” Graham said. “The idea is that the more adults we have attend, the safer our student population will be.”

Superintendent Dori Leyko said there is a group looking at the personal safety lessons. Leyko said the faculty feels a responsibility and wants to teach students about personal safety. Leyko said she wants all district staff to know what to do  if a student discloses information about sexual abuse.

“We we want to get the students to our social workers because our teachers are not trained in social work, but it is appropriate for them to know, at least, the initial responses on what’s appropriate to say and who to get them to,” Leyko said.

Trustee Nichole Martin, who  works in child welfare, said she is super supportive and  this is a good place to start, but knowledge needs to stay relevant. Martin said the issue is important when talking with any faculty member in the district.

“This is not a topic that can be a one-time talk about, and I think that can be really hard to allow people the opportunity to understand,” Martin said. “But it’s not one we learned it and it’s done — it needs to be talked about. The way child sexual abuse is displayed changes over time, as perpetrators get smarter or try different things and it’s important for people to recognize that it changes and it isn’t static.”

The training will be led by the Firecracker Foundation on Saturday, March 10. Graham was still working on getting the Mental Health Advisory Board to speak at the panel discussion.  It is still being decided on exactly where the training will occur.