In 2009, an 11-year-old boy was sexually abused during summer camp.
The boy said his camp counselor would perform “shower checks,” where he would touch the children after a shower to determine if they were clean. He would also send them to shower as a form of punishment. As time passed, this escalated to him placing his hand under their towel.
The counselor denied sexually assaulting the children, but later pleaded guilty to injury to a child and admitted to sexual abuse.
State Representative Jim Murphy (R – Houston) has filed HB 4372, which is aimed to protect children from sexual abuse at summer camps. This bill would require camp operators to post information about substantiated cases of abuse on the camp’s website and make a written copy available upon request. Easy access to crucial information like this help ease the mind of parents when sending their children away for the summer.
Rep. Murphy’s bill has passed the House and was placed on the Senate intent calendar to be debated today. Following the debate, the bill will be put for a second and third reading where a Senate vote will then be recorded.
While camps are required to have a license and immediately report any instance of child abuse or believed abuse at camp to the Department of State Health Services, criminal and sex offender background checks and sexual abuse awareness training are not required. ABC13 Eyewitness News even stated how they had difficulty obtaining the total number of abuse cases from the state – 12 cases from 2013 to 2018. Summer camp is an experience for having fun, gaining new skills, and making new friends, but lax regulations and camps not following through on allegations or making the information easily accessible for parents are placing children in harm’s way.
Visit the Texas Legislature Online site for real-time updates on the progress of HB 4372: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=86R&Bill=HB4372