Georgetown ISD has adopted a new curriculum for the 2022-23 school year that includes classes related to the prevention of child abuse, family violence, dating violence and human trafficking.
With a positive recommendation from the School Health Advisory Council and GISD Advisory Services, the approval of the Love146: Not A Number module – an interactive module to prevent child trafficking and exploitation – is a direct result of Senate Act 9, which went into effect in December.
Tuition is taught by certified professionals from the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center and is offered in eighth through twelfth grade health classes. This syllabus is optional and does not affect the student’s required health points.
According to GISD Counseling Services, this new direction will help the district continue to prioritize the mental, emotional and physical health of students, as well as their safety and security.
“These programs will provide students with important information that can help them become more situationally aware of themselves and others,” said Mindy Petty, co-chair of SHAC.
New year, new lessons
David Rainey, director of counseling services at GISD, said the law not only requires parents to be informed of the Love146 directive, but also that they have an opportunity to review the material and have the right to call their student if they so choose removed from any part of the statement.
“These issues are important, not just to the state of Texas, but to our local community,” Rainey said. “I believe our SHAC has carefully considered the curriculum we recommended and approved by the Board.”
GISD’s SHAC is an advisory group composed of individuals representing a variety of segments throughout the community, Rainey said. The group provides input on various aspects of the district’s health and wellness program, including guidance required by SB 9.
WCCAC Community & Engagement Director Tori Algiere said Love146 is tailored to provide youth with information and skills in a way that inspires them to make safe choices.
It is a five-part, 50-minute module designed for students aged 12-18 and taught throughout the year.
“Children will learn to recognize and use healthy support systems that can reduce their vulnerability to Love146,” Algiers said.
Rainey said GISD had offered classes on human sexuality and dating violence in middle and high school for several years, but that district-wide student instruction on human trafficking was not included.
Rainey said SHAC recommended that human sexuality education continue to be offered in the 2022-23 school year and that Love146 be included in health science classes in all eighth grade and high school health classes and in partnership with WCCAC.
Other considerations related to the SHAC-approved violence and human trafficking dating instruction include exploring instruction options beyond health classes, establishing an alternative schedule for health classes, and expanding learning opportunities for staff.
GISD formally partnered with WCCAC in 2020-21 to include certified staff in classroom teaching relationships and body safety instruction.
Additionally, Rainey said the Love146 curriculum has been peer reviewed and is supported by training grants from the Texas Office of the Attorney General.
“While our Attorney General’s Office cannot necessarily say it supports one program or another, SHAC felt safe in knowing that this is a program for which the Attorney General has provided grants for individuals to receive special training,” said Rainey.
Taught by professionals
Having WCCAC experts teach the Love146 curriculum is an extension of an existing partnership.
As of the 2019-20 school year, WCCAC has been teaching the Play it Safe curriculum — a body safety course designed to teach elementary school children how to protect themselves from abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, or neglect.
Since then, the partnership has been renewed every year.
“Recently, SHAC suggested that we continue our partnership, and as this may not be the only time students will want to receive this instruction, they hope we eventually explore a deeper developmental spectrum approach,” Rainey said.
In 2019-20, the Play it Safe curriculum was only available to first, third, and fifth graders. In 2020-21, the delivery of materials was expanded to cover kindergarten through fifth grade. Now, in 2022-23, GISD is considering integrating the class into secondary education.
“We recognize that this is a great curriculum, but we also recognize that every curriculum taught impacts classroom time as well. The idea that the board can at least approve the curriculum helps us as a district make a decision and how we can begin integrating the material into middle and high school,” Rainey said.
WCCAC hosts a Learning Night each semester so parents can ask specific questions and learn more about the course. This year’s meeting takes place at the beginning of the school year.
Algiers said WCCAC’s mission is to provide hope, healing and justice to children and families affected by abuse, violence and exploitation.
“Education is a key component in fulfilling our mission,” Algiers said. “WCCAC has proudly worked with GISD to empower students to recognize potentially dangerous or unsafe situations and identify trusted adults in their lives to access help.”
Algiers also said the organization runs free out-of-school training sessions on topics including how caregivers have conversations with youth about boundaries and how to recognize child abuse and neglect.
“While educating children is critical, we must continue to build trust in adults in our community who are able to recognize and respond to child abuse,” Algiers said.