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SPRINGFIELD, Missouri – "No Means No" is now part of sex education in Missouri.

I think it's a good idea. Sarah Bargo, president of Too Springfield, does the same.

I met Sarah on Tuesday. I was at a city council meeting to hear the police chief, Paul Williams, unveil new ways for his service to help victims of sexual assault.

Colleague Harrison Keegan spoke about the meeting for Wednesday's paper.

Bargo caught my eye when she said that a law had been passed last year in Missouri requiring public school districts offering sex education – that it's not mandatory to To offer – to include a discussion on "consent, sexual harassment and sexual violence".

In other words, if you choose to teach sex education, your program must include these new topics.

I've made several calls and received news from the Republic, Ozark and Springfield School Districts. They all teach sexual education from the fourth or fifth grade – with an emphasis on puberty.

In high school, the focus is on health courses and the reproductive nature of sex.

I do not know how many school districts already include "consent, sexual harassment and sexual violence".

I have little suspicion, only because these topics were not part of the old model of school district policy proposed by the Missouri School Board Associations, which is not an agency of the Missouri School Board. State and does not have authority over local school boards.

Instead, the association keeps member school boards informed of changes to the law and proposes policies that respond to these changes.

"Consent, sexual harassment and sexual violence" are part of the revised model policy of the association on sex education.

Counselor asks: What can we do?

Chief Williams covered a lot of ground Tuesday and towards the end of the luncheon, councilor Jan Fisk asked: What can be done to stop sexual assault?

My first reaction was: It's such a vast question that I'll be lucky to be home for dinner.

But I thought about it more after talking to Bargo.

"We are very pleased to see that (the discussions on consent) will be mandated by the state," she said.

I think that "consent, sexual harassment and sexual violence" should be part of sex education.

For you to know, sex education in Missouri public schools must be medically and factually accurate and "must show abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred behavioral choice of all sexual activities for non-students." married because it's the only 100% effective method. " prevention of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and emotional trauma related to adolescent sexual activity. "

It is therefore in this context – preferably in sexual abstinence – that sexual consent must now be discussed in sex education in public schools.

"Consent" is defined in the law as "a voluntary agreement on the behavior in question by a competent person and notes that" the expression of a lack of consent by words or by conduct constitutes not a consent ".

In other words, in more direct language, if she says "no", do not take it to say "yes".

Or – if she screams "Let me go!" that does not mean, young man, "get on me!"

It may sound silly. But I think it's a good starting point to get the message home.

The new law also says:

"Lack of verbal or physical resistance does not constitute consent;

"Submission resulting from the use of force, the threat of force or fear does not constitute consent.

"A current or previous relationship, a social or sexual relationship between two parties does not in itself constitute consent.

"The dress style chosen by a person does not constitute consent."

It's something, in my opinion, that should also be taught to two defense lawyers in the city.

The new law – reflected in the School District Policy Model – states that "sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, particularly by a person who has authority over a subordinate. ".

And … "Sexual violence leads or attempts to cause an involuntary sexual act of force, threat of force, coercion or without the consent of the person."

I would expect this part of the curriculum to include a discussion in the sense that a person who has fainted or is heavily intoxicated can not give consent.

We owe these changes to the state Rep. Holly Rehder, Republican of Sikeston.

According to KBIA, Columbia's public radio station, the first version of its bill had been written by students at the University of Missouri.

Columbia Missourian reported on a hearing on the bill in February 2018.

Chelsea Spence, legislative director of Associate Students at the University of Missouri, testified to the support.

Spence said that too many offenders cross the line largely because they do not know where the line is.

"We have writers who are on campus and do not know they are a problem."

According to KBIA, Rehder's bill has never been voted in the House.

The bill was added by Senator Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, to another bill during the Senate debate, where it was passed.

(These are the opinions of News News Leader columnist Steve Pokin, who has spent six and a half years in the newspaper and has covered everything from courts and police to reporting and fitness. You can reach him at 836-1253, spokin @ gannett .com, on Twitter @stevepokinNL or by mail at 651 Boonville Avenue, Springfield, MO 65806. Steve's articles: http://www.news-leader.com/ topic / f471bbef-b023-4ca2-b031-eda137400290 / pokin- around /)