Hamilton County Elementary School Fails To Inform Parents About Child Sexual Abuse Program For Students

Image Credit: James B. Walker / Facebook

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Parents of Snow Hill Elementary School students in Ooltewah are upset over a child sexual abuse prevention program that took place at the school, stating that they were not given prior notification or an option to not have their children attend.

The program was presented by the Children’s Advocacy Center to comply with Erin’s Law. According to the legislation, Tennessee school districts are required to provide a prevention-based child sexual abuse program. The program must give information about how to recognize child sexual abuse to students, teachers, and parents. 

District Spokesman Steve Doremus claims that parents were notified of the program in advance stating that an email was sent by the school counselor to parents with information about the program presented by the Children’s Advocacy Center.

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In an email to the Times Free Press, Doremus said, “We teach these lessons through a curriculum supported by Children’s Advocacy Center entitled Lauren’s Kids. Parents are notified about the lessons and are able to opt their student out.”

However, some parents say they never received this communication and did not receive anything in their children’s folders for the week. One parent took the information to a former school board member, James Walker. 

Walker posted about the program on social media and gathered nearly 100 comments, many from parents who said they had also not received any prior warning about the program.

The parent who contacted Walker said that his son was made to sit in the cafeteria with other students in his grade to listen to a “visitor” speak to them. They watched a video that went over good and bad touches.

In the Facebook post, Walker suggested that HCDE present the videos and lessons at “an Open House or Community Night at our Schools so that Parents and Students can attend together…”

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Parents argue that schools should have opt-in policies for these types of programs, not opt-out. Hamilton County Board of Education Chairwoman Tiffanie Robinson says that having an opt-in policy would leave many children at a risk of not receiving information because parents would not opt-in.

“If we made this an opt-in scenario, wouldn’t a lot of kids get left in the dust because their parents aren’t looking at anything either way?” Robinson said. “If we’re going to serve the greater good, you can’t make everything an opt-in.”

In contrast, Walker states that he will “always fight for “Opt-in” versus “Opt-out” for parents!”

Walker said he believes that most caregivers teach their children about the dangers of sexual abuse. However, Kristen McCallie, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center, says that Hamilton County has experience a record high number of child sexual abuse cases with 887 instances from July 2021 to June 2022.

“Sexual abuse as a whole is a vastly underreported crime,” McCallie stated. “Just generally, for every one case that’s reported, there’s five that are typically not. And that’s a national statistic.”

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

One thought on “Hamilton County Elementary School Fails To Inform Parents About Child Sexual Abuse Program For Students

  • October 29, 2022 at 9:36 am
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    3rd grade math and reading scores are in the tank. How about focusing on that. Parents should always opt in for any subjects beyond the basic curriculum. Why not offer the program for parents to review, then they can make an informed opt in or out decision. Please stop trying to raise our children.

    Reply

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