State child advocate recommends changes to New London schools following sex abuse allegations

New London

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– The state’s child advocate is recommending changes in New London schools. It comes after several staff members were accused of sex abuse and failure to report.

“Sexual harassment of children is more common and less reported than people realize,” said Sarah Eagan, Child Advocate.

Two New London school staff members were arrested for alleged second degree sex assault. Another was charged with failing to report abuse

Now, a preliminary outside review of the schools polices and practices calls for more training, new policies, and more ways for students to to report.

“It’s hard to have open and common conversations about sexual abuse and the things that lead up to it,” said Eagan.

Related: New court papers detail case against New London school employee

By law, school staff are required to report abuse. But Connecticut’s Child Advocate Sarah Egan says that training alone is not enough.

“Let’s come together and make sure that our child serving agencies and communities have the tools they need to create safe and nurturing environments for kids without exploitation,” said Eagan.

In a preliminary report, Egan calls for the State Department of Education and the legislature to help districts implement effective sex abuse prevention training and policies.

“What can training look like, what are the tools we want teachers to have, how do we educate students and their parents in the best and most powerful ways,” said Eagan.

Related: New London school faculty member receives more sexual assault charges

School Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie says the district is implementing over a dozen new procedures, including expanded staff training and a new app called “say yes” that will allow students to report issues on their own anonymously.

In a written statement, Ritchie said:

“For the past several months, we have worked to review each and every employee file, our procedures and our polices, and we will continue to do so.”

New London Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie

Egan also recommends unique training for students with disabilities, who have a greater risk of being abused according to criminal data.

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