Governor Signs Jackson Bill To Include Teaching of Healthy Relationship Skills in Schools

September 26, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to include communication skills and the need to treat each other with kindness and respect as a regular part of the elementary and middle school health curriculum.

Part of a long-standing effort by Jackson to prevent sexual assault, Senate Bill 1435 will stipulate that the next revision of the health framework for kindergarteners through eighth graders in California’s public schools include age and developmentally appropriate information on resolving disagreements, treating each other with respect, and responding to bullying or harassment.

“While this kind of teaching is already included in some of the older grade levels, this bill will ensure it can become a comprehensive part of all of our elementary and middle school grade levels in an age appropriate way,” said Jackson. “The ultimate goal is to build the foundation for positive relationship skills in our youngest students, and help prevent violence, bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault long before it occurs.”

Examples of classroom lessons could include first graders drawing a family portrait and discussing how every family is unique and deserves respect. Second graders may learn about treating all members of their community with kindness. Middle schools might learn strategies to address bullying and how to build respectful relationships with their peers.

SB 1435 is part of Jackson’s efforts to prevent and address sexual assault and harassment.

In 2014, she jointly authored Senate Bill 967 with Senator Kevin de León, California’s landmark ‘yes means yes’ law. It made California the first state in the nation to define affirmative consent and require institutes of higher education to educate students about consent and sexual assault. The bill required increased training for the faculty reviewing complaints so that survivors of assault are not re-victimized by inappropriate questions when they seek justice. The bill also required access to counseling and health service resources when assaults occur.

In 2015, she jointly authored Senate Bill 695, also with Senator Kevin de León, which required public high school health classes to provide students instruction on affirmative consent, sexual harassment, assault, violence, and the importance of developing positive and healthy relationships.

Jackson also authored Senate Bill 186 to allow community college districts to extend their jurisdictions beyond their campus borders and use their existing disciplinary process to discipline, expel or suspend students for off-campus sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

Research shows that, on average, one out of every five high school students, boys and girls, have been the victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threatened with physical violence. One in four teenage girls and one in 10 teenage boys have experienced dating violence.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.