File Photo – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. | Photo: Illinois Information Service

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill into law called Faith’s Law, which aims to protect children against grooming and increase resources for sexual abuse survivors.

Pritzker signed HB 1975, also known as Faith’s Law, into law on Friday.

The legislation expands the definition of grooming in the criminal code, increases resources and protections for sexual abuse survivors and their families, and requires school districts to develop a sexual misconduct code of conduct, review employment history, and increase training for educators.

“Students deserve to be safe in their classrooms, period,” Pritzker said.

“Anything short of that is a call to action, and Faith’s Law is another critical step in creating and preserving safe and welcoming learning environments for all students,” Pritzker said.

The legislation closes a prior loophole and expands protections for students by expanding the definition of grooming.

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Grooming currently includes luring a child through internet-based communication.

The expansion now includes acts performed in-person, through direct communication or a third party, or written communication.

The law requires the Illinois State Board of Education to create a parent resource guide, which would serve as a centralized source of assistance and provide resources available to the parent or guardian of a student who is or may be the victim of sexual abuse.

Schools will be required to notify parents of the guide at the start of each school year and provide copies to parents by request.

Educators will also receive training on the physical and mental health needs of students, student safety, educator ethics, professional conduct, and other topics regarding students’ well-being.

School districts will also be required to develop an employee code of professional conduct policy that addresses grooming and other forms of sexual misconduct.

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“Children should be able to turn to their teachers when there’s a problem and trust that their teacher is acting in their best interests,” said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

“This legislation is a tremendous step forward in ensuring educators are equipped to protect our children from abuse,” Bennett said.