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Darkness to Light and the South Carolina Department of Education

In October of 2007, South Carolina Superintendent Dr. Jim Rex along with State Representative Scott Tally, the SC Attorney General and the SC Law Enforcement Division called together a Task Force to address Adult Sexual Misconduct in Schools.  The Task Force had representation from local school districts, the Department of Social Services, higher education institutions, the business community, the SC School Boards Association, parent organizations, advocacy groups, and numerous education organizations.

The Task Force focused their efforts in two areas.  First, refining legislation so that children are protected and perpetrators received stiff penalties.  Second, informing and training adults that work near children of the serious nature of this problem and arming them with skills and knowledge they need to help combat adult sexual misconduct.

In January of 2008, South Carolina became one of the first states to introduce legislation to address Educator Sexual Misconduct. H3715 defines educators as those affiliated with public and private schools – administrators, teachers, substitute teachers, teacher assistants, law enforcement officers, school bus drivers, guidance counselors, or coaches and specifies increased penalties for sexual battery against students.

In February of 2007, the Task Force invited Darkness to Light to present at its meeting.  It was clear to Task Force members that Darkness to Light could help South Carolina in our quest to make schools safer.  State Board of Education member, Cindy Clark joined the voices calling for a statewide effort to train educator on preventing sexual exploitation of children.

In April of 2008, South Carolina State Superintendent, Jim Rex, personally came to Darkness to Light to meet with Pat Patrick, VP of Prevention and Education, and Trey Rust, Director of Marketing.  The level of commitment shown by Dr. and Mrs. Rex to keep kids safe in schools sets the highest standard that we encourage you to immediately seek within your own State. 

In May of 2008, the South Carolina State Department of Education became the first in the nation to commit to a Statewide Adult Sexual Misconduct Prevention Initiative.  Their commitment to implement Stewards of Children will include the training of 86 Facilitators who will be responsible for training 40% of the first 10,000 instructional and instructional related staff – administrators, teachers, guidance counselors and other professional staff. The remaining 60% of will be trained online to ensure the immediate and successful training in each community while also factoring in available resources to reach our initial goal of training 20% of all educational staff between July 2008 and July 2009. 

In May of 2008, the Associated Press published the following article identifying the 10 States who are leading the charge to keep the students and teachers they serve safer.  Please read the article before reading your calls to action -        http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-05-29-1569679470_x.htm    

Also included is the link to the Department of Education’s report on Educator Sexual Misconduct for you to review with your Elected Officials, School Boards, School Administrators and members of your Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalitions, task forces and committees. http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf

We want to hear from you so that Darkness to Light can help support you with a similar Education Stewards Training Initiative in your community and state.

Additional Resources:

South Carolina Department of Education                       
http://ed.sc.gov/    

South Carolina Attorney General
http://www.scattorneygeneral.org/

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division
http://www.sled.sc.gov/ContactHome.aspx?MenuID=ContactInformation

South Carolina Representative Scott F. Talley
http://www.scstatehouse.net/members/bios/1784090695.html

South Carolina School Boards Association
http://www.scsba.org/

South Carolina Department of Social Services
http://www.state.sc.us/dss/

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