Monday, March 19 , 2018, 11:02 pm | Fair 54º


Brown Signs Jackson Bill to Teach Healthy Relationship Skills in Primary, Middle Schools

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill authored by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to include communication skills and the need to treat each other with kindness and respect as a regular part of the elementary and middle school-health curriculum.

Part of a long-standing effort by Jackson to prevent sexual assault, SB 1435 will stipulate that the next revision of the health framework for kindergarteners through eighth-graders in California’s public schools include age and developmentally appropriate information on resolving disagreements, treating each other with respect, and responding to bullying or harassment.

“While this kind of teaching is already included in some of the older grade levels, this bill will ensure it can become a comprehensive part of all of our elementary and middle school-grade levels in an age appropriate way,” said Jackson.

“The ultimate goal is to build the foundation for positive relationship skills in our youngest students, and help prevent violence, bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault long before it occurs,” she said.

Examples of classroom lessons could include first-graders drawing a family portrait and discussing how every family is unique and deserves respect. Second-graders may learn about treating all members of their community with kindness. Middle schools might learn strategies to address bullying and how to build respectful relationships with their peers.

SB 1435 is part of Jackson’s efforts to prevent and address sexual assault and harassment.

In 2014, she jointly authored SB 967 with Sen. Kevin de León — California’s landmark "yes means yes" law. It made California the first state in the nation to define affirmative consent and require institutes of higher education to educate students about consent and sexual assault.

SB 967 required increased training for the faculty reviewing complaints so that survivors of assault are not re-victimized by inappropriate questions when they seek justice. The bill also required access to counseling and health-service resources when assaults occur.

In 2015, Jackson jointly authored SB 695, also with de León, which required public high school health classes to provide students instruction on affirmative consent, sexual harassment, assault, violence, and the importance of developing positive and healthy relationships.

Jackson also authored SB 186 to allow community college districts to extend their jurisdictions beyond their campus borders and use their existing disciplinary process to discipline, expel or suspend students for off-campus sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

Research shows that, on average, one in every five high-school students, boys and girls, have been the victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threatened with physical violence. One in four teenage girls and one in 10 teenage boys have experienced dating violence.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.

Lisa Gardiner for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

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