HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – After shocking revelations of sexual abuse and failures to provide protection and support for children in Chicago Public Schools, state Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, passed legislation and created a task force to address issues surrounding sexual abuse in schools. Following the release of the Make Sexual and Severe Physical Abuse Fully Extinct (Make S.A.F.E) Task Force final report, Crespo is planning to introduce legislation to adopt the task force’s recommendations.
“Ensuring a safe learning environment for our youth is critical to their wellbeing, and implementing a comprehensive approach to addressing issues surrounding the sexual abuse of students will help education stakeholders create safer school settings,” said Crespo. “This task force has helped us identify areas where we must address gaps in our laws, strengthen protections and provide better training for teachers and school staff to prevent abuse. It’s now time to put these proposals into action.”
The Make S.A.F.E. Task Force was focused on prevention, response and supports. Through 22 different recommendations, the 2020 final report calls for developing and implementing best practice guidelines, enhanced training for all school personnel, expanded resources and supports for students and increased funding for advocacy groups. One task force proposal would strengthen teacher background checks by creating a statewide tracking and database system that would identify those under pending investigation for child maltreatment in the event they try to transfer to another school district.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four girls and one in 13 boys will experience sexual abuse at some point in their childhood, with 91% of abuse being perpetrated by someone that the child knows. The Make S.A.F.E. Task Force was created in 2019 through legislation led by Crespo along with the Illinois State Board of Education, the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, teachers unions and other organizations in an effort to prevent instances of sexual abuse in schools.
“The recommendations made by the Make S.A.F.E Task Force, if enacted, will save thousands of children from the trauma of sexual and physical abuse for years to come,” said Char Rivette of Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. “I was proud and honored to work with a phenomenal group of advocates for children around the state to put strong recommendations in place that will further protect children in our schools. Thank you Representative Crespo for your leadership in this effort!”
“This task force took on a very important mission to address sexual and physical abuse of children. Even when the pandemic interrupted their work, the two dozen members switched to virtual meetings and continued collaborating to create a toolkit that will help us move quickly and appropriately to support victims, protect students from abuse, and hold perpetrators accountable,” said Dr. Carmen I. Ayala, Illinois State Superintendent of Education. “Sexual abuse is one of the most harmful and heartbreaking tragedies that can happen to a child, yet it is also one of the most under-reported crimes in this country. This task force has put forth best practices that will guard our children and strengthen our communities.”
For more information on the Make S.A.F.E Task Force or to view the 2020 final report, please visit https://www.isbe.net/Pages/MakeSAFE.aspx.
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