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Columbia Public Schools hold abuse prevention parent preview night

Columbia Public Schools talked to parents about keeping children from sexual predators and other abusers Tuesday.

CPS held an event for parents to come look at this school year’s abuse prevention curriculum.

Parents of kindergarten through fifth graders could see presentations of what lessons will be taught to their children. Lessons will vary for each grade level so that the lessons are age-appropriate.

CPS educators see child abuse more than you might expect, according to Michelle Baumstark with Columbia Public Schools.

“More often than we would like, honestly,” Baumstark said. “You know it’s not always what people think of when they think of sexual abuse, there are all kinds of abuse situations.”

This year, younger students will learn this like how to say no in an uncomfortable situation and how to distinguish good and bad secrets. Older student will learn about what is considered inappropriate touching and how to tell adults if they are being mistreated.

“It is important for them to understand about trusted adults and not trusted adults, and what’s appropriate behavior and what is not,” Baumstark said. “It’s all about keeping our students safe and in order to do that, we have to help them understand that they can tell someone.”

So far this year, Rainbow House has interviewed more than 300 children about reported abuse in Mid-Missouri, according to Family and Child Advocate Brenda Berger.

Berger believes the education is helping abused children come forward sooner.

“Recently, we have seen children that have disclosed information more quickly to people,” Berger said. “And I think it’s because the education is getting out there to them.”

It is important for parents to talk to their children about it at home as well, Berger said. Ninety-five percent of children are abused by family members or someone close to their family.

“So it’s very important that you find out who your child is spending alone time with,” Berger said. “If your child is hesitant to go with someone, you need to understand that.”

Parents who attended the preview night told ABC 17 seeing the lesson plans help gauge what conversations they should have at home.

“I wanted to come tonight to help with the guidelines because it’s such a fine line between knowing how to tell your children the dangers of the world without terrifying them,” kindergarten parent Jessica Bowles said.

“It’s a conversation we’ve started at home,” parent Justin Taylor said. “She’s only in first grade, so depending on their age, the material can be relevant or kind of irrelevant.”

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