TOPEKA – The Senate last week passed Bill 77, which requires the Department of Children and Family Services to offer counseling services to children who exhibit problem sexual behavior.
This means any child under the age of 18 who has allegedly committed sexual abuse against another child, who is also under the age of 18, would be offered counseling. The bill was created to help children and their families as sexual abuse by children coincides often with the child experiencing their own form of sexual abuse within the household.
The services provided will be voluntary unless the situation is deemed to be dangerous. Proposers of the bill reason that these services are vital to reducing the risk of future sexual abuse by children. The bill will not affect investigations, but rather give help to underage offenders so that they can grow to become responsible caring adults.
After the bill was introduced in the Senate in February, it was referred to the Committee on Judiciary where the bill was amended. The bill now addresses that a child receiving the services could have multiple alleged accounts of abuse and counseling isn't just limited to first-time offenders. Under the bill, the Judiciary Committee deemed the state must provide a referral to a child-advocacy center. This will place the responsibility of therapy on the family but still provide them resources to seek help.
The Committee on the Whole passed the amendment 38-0 and sent it along to the House. In the House the bill was referred to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs where it was passed back. Sen. Molly Baumgardner (R-Louisburg) requested the bill to be reviewed in the Senate chambers March 26 where it was heard and then moved forward.
Samantha Gilstrap is a University of Kansas senior from Charlotte, North Carolina, majoring in journalism.