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December 22, 2017 10:07 PM

Recent Sexual Abuse Cases Highlight Importance Of School Resource Officers, Counselors

In two recent cases of alleged child sexual abuse, two victims found help at their schools. Earlier this month, an 11-year-old told her school counselor a man sexually assaulted her. In a separate incident, police arrested a man who is accused of having sexual contact with a child. In that case, the school resource officer played a role in finding out what had happened. A Sioux Falls SRO says it highlights why he and his colleagues are there to help students. 

When most people think of School Resource Officer Ryan Valland's job, they may have the wrong idea. 

"People may think police officers are here to put handcuffs on kids and haul them off to jail. That's not it," Valland said. 

More than a decade and counting, students continue to turn to Valland for anything they may need. 

"There's kids that'll just come up and ask for a little bit of my time and my time is there for those kids," Valland said. 

There are some more serious matters Valland may have to respond to. The Memorial Middle School SRO says students have reported abuse to him in the past. Though he's not connected to the cases we mentioned earlier, he hopes they show other students they can turn to him, or other school leaders.  

"In my opinion, it helps any victim of any crime or any assault or any issue. If they're having a bad day, it's encouraging they know they have people to go to," Valland said. 

In addition to local cases, Officer Valland says the national Me Too movement is positively impacting students.

"It's definitely giving kids the power. It gives them that little push they can go talk to somebody when something's happening," Valland said. 

In the future, Valland hopes these cases help students know he's not there to put them in jail; because the school resource officer may help them get out of bad situations. 

"I hope it has a lasting impact, has a positive impact to give people the power to stand up against stuff that's happening to them," Valland said. 

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