By Todd Wineburner
Elementary and middle-school students in Illinois will now receive classroom instruction covering sexual assault and sexual abuse. When Governor Pat Quinn signed the measure, it extended a requirement that's been in place for high school students, but now lawmakers feel that the information needs to be shared with younger students as well.
Mark Jontry, Regional Superintendent of Schools for Livingston, Mclean, and DeWitt counties, says it makes sense to offer these materials to younger students. He says the goal is to provide an environment that makes students feel safe and to help them speak out on issues that might be affecting them. On the other side of the issue, however, Jontry says the law presents two distinct challenges--the subject matter is sensitive and lessons will have to be developed to make sure materials are age-appropriate. Education officials will also have to develop and incorporate the materials in their curriculum without additional revenue, as no new money was included in the legislation.