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Arming local teachers, police against PSB

Educators from across three school districts listen to a training on Problematic Sexual Behavior at Southwest Technology Center in Altus, Oklahoma, July 26, 2021. Problematic sexual behavior in children and youth is defined as behavior, initiated by children younger than 18, that involves using sexual or private body parts in a manner that is developmentally inappropriate or potentially harmful to the individual or individuals impacted by the behavior. (Courtesy photo by Judy Mott)

Educators from across three school districts listen to Altus Air Force Base’s family advocacy intervention specialist, Sunnye Cope from the 97th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, on a training about Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB). The instructors timed the training to educate teachers on how to appropriately handle Problematic Sexual Behavior as they begin the new school year. (Courtesy photo by Judy Mott)

Educators from across three school districts listen to a training on Problematic Sexual Behavior at Southwest Technology Center in Altus, Oklahoma, July 26, 2021. Problematic sexual behavior in children and youth is defined as behavior, initiated by children younger than 18, that involves using sexual or private body parts in a manner that is developmentally inappropriate or potentially harmful to the individual or individuals impacted by the behavior. (Courtesy photo by Judy Mott)

Educators from across three school districts listen to a training on Problematic Sexual Behavior at Southwest Technology Center in Altus, Oklahoma, July 26, 2021. Problematic sexual behavior in children and youth is defined as behavior, initiated by children younger than 18, that involves using sexual or private body parts in a manner that is developmentally inappropriate or potentially harmful to the individual or individuals impacted by the behavior. (Courtesy photo by Judy Mott)

Educators listen to the uncommon and common continuum of problematic sexual behavior in children at a training shared by Sunnye Cope, a 97th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron family advocacy intervention specialist at Southwest Technology Center in Altus, Oklahoma on July 26, 2021. Cope’s main focus at Altus Air Force Base is the Family Advocacy Program which also provides support services in domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect cases. (Courtesy photo by Judy Mott)

Educators listen to the uncommon and common continuum of problematic sexual behavior in children at a training shared by Sunnye Cope, a 97th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron family advocacy intervention specialist at Southwest Technology Center in Altus, Oklahoma on July 26, 2021. Cope’s main focus at Altus Air Force Base is the Family Advocacy Program which also provides support services in domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect cases. (Courtesy photo by Judy Mott)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.-- It’s a topic no one wants to talk about, but that doesn’t make the discussion any less necessary. 

It’s PSB, or Problematic Sexual Behavior, and educators face it quite often in their jobs. Problematic sexual behavior in youth is defined as behavior that involves using sexual or private body parts in an inappropriate or harmful way to the individual or individuals impacted by the behavior.

I became more aware of this topic when Sunnye Cope, 97th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron family advocacy intervention specialist, reached out and wanted to team up to provide training and resources to our local schools. I was excited to help.   

As the school liaison officer here on Altus Air Force Base, it’s my job to bring attention and to advocate to the special needs of military students and their families.  Another part of my job is to partner with local school districts in many ways, including professional development.  

Ms. Cope explained to me that family advocacy saw a need for PSB training in Southwestern Oklahoma.

“We all have active shooter drills, and schools across the nation are learning what to do in that realm,” she said. “However, when we have a PSB situation, what’s the protocol?”

On July 26, Ms. Cope and I visited the Southwest Tech Center to speak to 30 administrators and counselors from Altus, Navajo and Blair Public Schools, as well as five Altus Police detectives about PSB. 

The training was based on research and strategies compiled by J. Wilson Kenney’s book, “Problematic Sexual Behavior in Schools.” Many people don’t realize that the National Symposium on Sexual Behavior of Youth is hosted at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. 

“It’s a resource right in our own backyard,” said Cope. “I heard Mr. Kenney present his book last summer, and it was amazing.” 

In the two hour training, Shawn Sager, the elementary principal at Navajo Public Schools, shared how much he appreciated the resources that we shared with him and told us that the workshop provided useful information and strategies when dealing with tough situations, which are often difficult to discuss.

Another trainee in attendance, Altus Police Detective Devin Dickerson, agreed that the training was necessary.

“I am very much aware of problematic sexual behavior and child sexual abuse,” she said. “Unfortunately, many others may not know how prevalent the issue truly is, understand how to recognize the signs or know how to respond. This training broke it down and simplified the process from start to finish.  If you are a school professional, this training is needed!”    

To wrap up the day, Ms. Cope and I were pleased to present each attending school with a copy of Kenney’s book, and we are grateful to have had this opportunity to come together with the schools and start a conversation in the community.  As the school liaison, I am looking forward to assisting many agencies with future partnerships and professional development opportunities.

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