State lawmakers coming together for bipartisan bill to prevent child sexual abuse in Connecticut

Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and it’s a topic on the minds of lawmakers this session. State lawmakers came together across the aisle Monday.

There are three separate bills on the table and lawmakers say together these bills will help prevent child sexual abuse.

Rep. Liz Linehan (Cheshire-D) said, “Every hour of every day there is an allegation of child abuse here in the state of Connecticut.”

A pinwheel garden at the capitol building represents children that have been sexually abused in Connecticut. 

A woman named Marissa – whose last name is being withheld – was one of them.

Marissa said, “This occurred often inside the four walls of my local high school by a theatre staff member that served as my mentor.”

She says the abuse started early in high school, robbed her of innocence, and caused PTSD.

“Every classic grooming technique like rides home, text messaging, and one-on-one instruction after school hours went ignored,” she added.

Lawmakers are pushing three separate bills they say would help prevent cases like Marissa’s. One bill would require middle and high school students to be educated on how predators groom children. Another bill would require background checks for instructors working with kids outside of the classroom like in overnight camps. And a third bill would allow districts to survey kids about sexual assault.

Sen. Saud Anwar (South Windsor-D) said, “We will be committed going forward to continue to legislate one step at a time to make sure there’s no loophole for anyone to hurt our children or rob any child in our state of their childhood.”

It’s estimated one in 10 children is sexually abused. Lawmakers are highlighting the issue during April, which marks Sex Assault Awareness Month.

Sarah Egan of Connecticut Child Advocate explained, “Children are most likely to be victimized by people they see every day. People that their parents see every day. People that their grandparents see every day.”

WATCH: Child Abuse Survivor Speaks Out

Hear more from a victim who spoke Monday at the press conference in the video above.

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