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Education on consent required in Illinois

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PEORIA (WEEK) -- A law passed in Illinois in 2019 will require schools to have an age appropriate discussion on the meaning of consent for students in grade six through 12. The Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria said they teach this topic already within Peoria Public Schools.

The law is the first of its kind in the midwest, after lawmakers called it a critical component of sexual abuse prevention.

Some topics required to be covered include how consent can be withdrawn at anytime and consent to one activity does not mean consent to another.

Director of Prevention Education at the Center for Prevention of Abuse, Laura Kowalske, said they educate children about consent as early as preschool.

"We're talking to the littles we're talking really about how do you share your body in a way that feels good to you. So, and that you have the right to decide how you wish to share your body. And so we start the conversation there," said Kowalske.

Although they had been teaching this, Kowalske said it's so important to now have this conversation be required at the state level.

"Statistically, we know that one in four females and one in six males experiences sexual abuse, before the time they turn 18. So that's a staggering statistic," said Kowalske.

As students get older, Kowalske said they shift the conversation to focus on the difference between flirting and sexual assault.

For more information from the Center for Prevention of Abuse, visit their website.

Paige Blanzy

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