by Lindsey Ziliak (Pharos-Tribune)
September 9, 2011
Police officers and child protection workers are investigating about 25 reports of sexual abuse made by students at two Logansport schools.
The reports were made after the Body Safety program presented Wednesday at Landis Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools.
Sgt. Terry Hall, a veteran of the Indianapolis Police Department, talked to students to teach them to say "no" to bad touches. Hall discussed in an age-appropriate manner what sort of touching was OK and what was not.
After the programs, students were asked to fill out a questionnaire. Ninety-one kids from the two schools indicated they might have been abused, said juvenile detective Brad Miller with the Logansport Police Department.
Six officers, as well as child protection workers, spoke with those students at the schools.
"A lot of them ended up being horseplay issues that happened on the playground or in the lunch line," Miller said.
Of the reports, about 25 warranted further investigation, Miller said.
Some will be forwarded to police in other counties, he said. Others will be handled by the Department of Child Services.
The remaining investigations are being handled by LPD.
"I do expect arrests to result from this," Miller said.
The program was presented in April at Landis and Columbia elementary schools. At least 10 investigations were started as a result.
Police later arrested two boys on charges of child molesting. Miller said both cases were resolved in juvenile court.
Miller said statistics show the program is having an impact in the schools. Fewer kids from Landis Elementary came forward to report abuse this time, compared to five months ago.
"They're starting to understand what's appropriate and what's not and when to report and when to not," Miller said.
School officials noticed the benefits as well and have already expanded the program. By May, all seven schools in the Logansport Community School Corporation will have seen the program.
Superintendent Michele Starkey said it would now be presented at all of the schools annually.
"We've received a lot of positive feedback from everyone, including staff and parents," she said.
Sometimes it takes an expert to get through to kids, especially with such a sensitive subject, Starkey said. She described Hall as the right person for the job.
"Sometimes they just need to hear it from someone other than a teacher," Starkey said. "He knows the right things to say to help kids understand."