Alaska Safe Children’s Act task force begins work

Four state legislators, including Sen. Anna MacKinnon, left, and Sen. Berta Gardner, sit on the Alaska Safe Children’s Act task force. The 10-member group met in the Anchorage Legislative Information Office on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy by Mike Mason/Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition)
Four state legislators, including Sen. Anna MacKinnon, left, and Sen. Berta Gardner, sit on the Alaska Safe Children’s Act task force. The 10-member group met in the Anchorage Legislative Information Office on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy by Mike Mason/Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition)

The task force created to help implement the Alaska Safe Children’s Act met for the first time in Anchorage on Tuesday.

The act, also known as Erin’s Law and Bree’s Law, requires school districts to provide age-appropriate prevention curricula on sexual assault, teen dating and youth suicide. The task force’s job is to make recommendations to the Department of Education and Early Development on that curricula by June 30.

Anchorage Rep. Charisse Millett is a nonvoting member of the committee. She said the task force should create a menu of options for districts to choose from.

“We’ve got so many different school districts, making sure that it’s applicable to a different school district – one in rural, one in urban, one in a large school, one in a small school setting – so school districts aren’t tasked with the burden of going through and dissecting all that information,” Millett said.

Chair Trevor Storrs is executive director of the Alaska Children’s Trust. He said he hopes the 10-member task force can have honest conversations around topics like human development and understanding one’s body.

“Unless we have those conversations and be willing to have those and be able to listen on both sides, we’re going to potentially just present something to meet the requirements, but not really achieve,” Storrs said.

Eagle River Sen. Anna MacKinnon, another member, wants the curricula to create a strong foundation.

“I hope that we don’t just pull curriculum from places. I hope that we’ll go through the curriculum and have the right people read the curriculum, specifically for language,” she said.

MacKinnon wants to ensure the curricula aren’t offensive, culturally insensitive or victim-blaming.

During the meeting, the task force heard information and costs of various programs, some already taking place in Alaska schools, like The Fourth R, Green Dot and the Great Body Shop.

The task force plans to meet once or twice a month through June. Schools have until 2017 to comply with the Alaska Safe Children’s Act.