“It is not okay for someone to hurt you.”
Lauren Book is sitting with a kindergarten class at Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School of Arts in Tallahassee.
“Can you think of another kind of unsafe secret?” Book is reading to the class as part of a new curriculum called Safer, Smarter Kids.
“Would you keep a secret if somebody touched you in a way that made you feel uncomfortable or icky, yucky on the inside?”
“Noooo,” the kids replied.
The kids learned the difference between a safe secret and an unsafe secret that should be shared with a grown-up.
Florida is the first state to implement sexual abuse prevention education. The state legislature approved a bill creating the program.
The curriculum is now in all 11,000 of the state’s kindergarten classes. It includes six 30-minute lessons.
Book says the students are taught from a place of fun, not fear.
“People ask me often times would this curriculum have prevented what happened to you,” Book said. “It wouldn’t have that first time. But…I know that the sexual abuse that I endured for six years would not have gone on for as long as it did.”
Her former nanny is serving a 25-year prison sentence for the abuse.
“One in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually assaulted before they’re 18,” Book said. “That’s before they leave this school system.”
Book is motivated by statistics that suggest 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable with education and awareness.
More than three dozen Florida school districts approved a similar curriculum called Speak Up, Be Safe for 1st through 5th grades.