Mara Powell

Statement from Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

LOUISVILLE, KY – As the Kentucky General Assembly wraps up the final hours of the 2023 legislative session, an arena that would have had a true impact on the protection of children was left on the table. House Bill 288, sponsored by Representative James Tipton, disappointingly did not receive a final vote by the Senate today. The reality is that there will be kids who suffer over the next school year because of this failure to act on such a common sense and urgent piece of legislation.

HB 288 would have strengthened a school’s ability to prevent child abuse and keep kids safe from adults with allegations or substantiations of sexual misconduct. The latest national Child Maltreatment Report indicates that there were 831 substantiated incidents of child sexual abuse in 2021 – a number that we know is likely a deep undercount due to under reporting. Just one incident prevented is one child who can grow up free from the horrors of sexual abuse or misconduct, especially in their classrooms.

The legislation would have, among other things, ensured public and certified nonpublic schools complete initial background checks and obtain reference checks of potential employees from previous employers, require applicants to disclose if they have been the subject of investigation, allegation, disciplinary actions, resignation, or termination regarding sexual misconduct in the past year, and require training for educators on appropriate communications, sexual misconduct, and grooming.

Kotomi Yokokura, a social work intern at Kentucky Youth Advocates, bravely testified in support of this legislation by sharing her story of inappropriate misconduct by a former teacher while she was in high school. She shared, “I hope to see HB 288 pass as I wish for my story of paralyzing fear, shame, and loneliness resulting from abuse by my teacher to be the last in Kentucky.”

Especially as we near April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, there’s a strong call to continue to strengthen the Commonwealth’s efforts to prevent and end child abuse. We commend Representative Tipton for championing HB 288 and are committed to working on this important legislation in the interim.

Stay up-to-date on Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities and other bills that are good for kids on our Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.


About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at