Sex trafficking, child abuse curriculum options are being explored in WISD

Chris Roark
Waxahachie Daily Light
School districts across Texas must use a School Health Advisory Council to develop curriculum that addresses the prevention of child abuse, sex trafficking, dating violence and family violence.

As school districts across the state are expected to implement curriculum next year that will focus on the prevention of child sex trafficking, child abuse, family violence and dating violence Waxahachie ISD is exploring what that curriculum will look like.

WISD recently convened its School Health Advisory Council (SHAC), which will be charged with coming up with a curriculum for those subject matters. The committee will then recommend the curriculum to the Board of Trustees.

During a special session of the 87th Texas Legislature last year lawmakers passed Senate Bill 9, which requires districts to use SHACs to recommend curriculum for those topics. WISD has used a similar process for its human sexuality curriculum.  

Previously schools had to provide a dating violence awareness presentations, though there was not a curriculum for it.

The SHAC Committee in WISD will work with the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center to find the appropriate curriculum, which will be presented to seventh- through 12th-graders. Students will be able to opt out of the curriculum. 

Leslie Deen, executive director of the advocacy center, said she has begun exploring curriculum used by other advocacy centers in schools across the state to see how they match with the state requirements, as well as to note pros and cons.  

She said some are broad across multiple topics while others are specific to one type of crime.

Examples include a curriculum from the Monique Burr Foundation, which educates and protects children and teens from bullying, abuse and victimization through various programs. She said that curriculum is used across Texas.

Other curriculum include Not A Number, which focuses on sex trafficking, as well as Play it Safe, which is for younger children.

“Then there’s the part about dating violence that needs to be married into this,” Deen said. “So we might have to determine if we are going to use a combination of one or two curriculum. Is there one or two that meet all of these needs, or do we need to piecemeal these together and decide these are the ones we’re going to use?”

Deen said since a core part of the advocacy center’s mission is outreach the center would play a role in the curriculum creation, providing presenters and determining when the curriculum would be presented to the students.

Deen suggested the SHAC create a subcommittee to explore the various options.

“What does this one offer, what are the things that are built into this curriculum?” Deen said. “Do they meet all the needs of the act, are they philosophically in line with WISD and the parents and educators?”

The SHAC committee plans to meet in February and again in April to discuss the options further before making a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for approval in May.

Deen said the advocacy center is working with SHAC’s in other area districts such as Midlothian and Maypearl to implement similar curriculum.

For more information on SHAC and its upcoming meetings go to wisd.org/apps/pages/SHAC.