Lauren Book

Florida Channel

Florida lawmakers advanced several bills Tuesday aimed at cracking down on the state’s sexual offenders. They’re part of a bipartisan package of legislation looking to address weaknesses in the Sexually Violent Predator Program.

Sexually violent predators are normally supposed to undergo an evaluation and could be recommended for what’s called civil commitment, where the offender is detained for treatment. But some were avoiding that process and committing new crimes, as in the murder of eight-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, who was killed by a repeat offender.

With summer just around the corner, that’s when many parents send their children to Summer Camp. But, Lauren Book says it’s important that parents arm themselves with information that can keep their kids safe from sexual abuse. Book is a sex abuse survivor, who partnered with the Florida Department of Children and Families to provide tips for parents.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

National Sexual Assault Awareness Month is coming close to an end, and one sexual abuse survivor in Florida is hoping to spread awareness about sexual abuse prevention. Victims Advocate Lauren Book joined Governor Rick Scott, members of the Cabinet, and Florida lawmakers in the last leg of her fourth annual “Walk in My Shoes” Journey.

As National Sexual Assault Awareness Month fast approaches, child abuse sex survivor Lauren Book is partnering with Florida lawmakers and state attorneys in advocating for passage of a bill that would expand Florida’s Victimless Prosecution Law. The bill would extend the age for child abuse victims to have an alternative to having to face their abuser in court.

“Often times, it feels to the victim that you’re the one who’s on trial and that’s why I’m really excited about this bill,” said Lauren Book.

Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

A new state law passed last year now increases the penalties for failure to report any suspected child abuse. And, a child abuse awareness advocate partnered with child welfare officials to make sure Floridians are aware of the signs in their newly-launched “Don’t Miss the Signs” campaign.

Under a previous state law, only caregivers, like parents and legal guardians, were required to report the abuse of a child under their care. But, now, with a new law that passed and went into effect last year, there are tougher penalties in place to make sure all abuse is reported.

Sascha Cordner

The state launched a new initiative Thursday that educates elementary school about sex abuse prevention. The effort is inspired by sexual abuse survivor Lauren Book, who’s also the creator of the new program called “Safer, Smarter Kids.”

In a kindergarten classroom of Tallahassee’s Apalachee Tapestry Magnet School of Arts, Lauren Book read a book called “Do You Have A Secret?” As she was reading, she continually asked the kids questions as part of the “Safer, Smarter Kids” curriculum.

“Do you think it’s okay to keep an unsafe secret if someone asks you too," asked Book.

Hundreds of child advocates are at the Disney Boardwalk Resort for the next few days to talk about how to better serve child abuse victims. They’re participating in the “2012 Krimes Aganst Kids” conference, which encourages child welfare agencies and advocates to look at ways to enhance their practices so they can do a better job protecting children.

One of the conference speakers is Lori Allen, the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center in Panama City.

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