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CHAMPAIGN – Students will be protected from grooming and other sexual misconduct under a new law signed today, the result of legislation by Senate Higher Education Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

“Children should be able to turn to their teachers when there’s a problem and trust that their teacher is acting in their best interests,” said Bennett. “This legislation is a tremendous step forward in ensuring educators are equipped to protect our children from abuse.”

Bennett’s legislation would make it mandatory for schools to develop a sexual misconduct code of conduct, review employment histories, and teach students about grooming and sexual misconduct in sex education. It would also allow schools to set aside two days of in-service learning for teachers to train on identifying such behavior and publish a resource guide on sexual abuse for parents.

The new law also aims to educate teachers and school staff about grooming and how to identify the warning signs that a teacher may be sexually abusing a student. The plan would require all schools to complete the teacher training annually by Jan. 31, starting next school year.

House Bill 1975 was signed into law Friday and has various effective dates.

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