LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Every Nebraska state senator will tell you that they want to protect students from sexual abuse.
That's why many of them want to put courses on how to detect, avoid and report abuse into public schools.
The bill, which advanced Monday after hours of debate, would require public school students from kindergarten through 12th grade to take at least four classes per year, teaching them the knowledge and tools to indicate abuse.
Sen. Ray Aguilar said his great-granddaughter went through abuse.
“What those kids have to do in a trial of that nature is unbelievable. No one should have to go through that, so anything we can do as a body to make it easier to recognize those situations, I think we should jump at the chance,” said Aguilar.
It also would require extra training for teachers and for parents to be in the know.
While every senator that spoke believed in the intent of the bill, some like Senator Megan Hunt said the State Board of Education should be the ones making these rules.
“I believe those questions belong in the Board of Education, they belong in the Department of Education, and we in the legislature are not educators. We are not experts in curriculum," said Hunt.
Others in support say the state board has been stagnant on the issue for more than a decade, and that at some point it’s the legislature’s role to ensure the students are safe.
“We have to set the balance between setting standards and finding a good medium and not mandating too much, but also having some unification and unity across the state for our children,” said Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks.
Another concern was that the bill is an unfunded state mandate and while some schools may get grants to pay for the classes, others may not.
“Why are we mandating this and not funding this long-term for the schools if it is so important to us,” said Sen. Carol Blood.
Ultimately the bill was easily advanced, some senators hoping to eventually change the bill to include private schools as well.