A high-school drama group performed at the Iowa Statehouse Tuesday to call attention to child abuse prevention funding. The “Hope Drama Troupe” is a group of Des Moines area high school students who give shows about child abuse to help kids talk about it. Valley High School senior Carole Peterson says the skits are loosely based on real-life stories. The teen says last year she acted the part of a date-rape victim and afterward an eight-grader came up to tell her she was being raped by her stepfather, and that seeing the show had given her the courage to tell the secret and get help. The teen says she worries lawmakers will cut funding for social workers in the state. She says society can either pay the cost of treating victims of child-abuse now, or later. The Hope Troupe was founded nine years ago by the state’s child-abuse prevention council…and when they perform, social workers are on hand so students can approach them after the show. They perform about 30 shows a year for some four-thousand middle-school and high-school students. Peterson says she’s worried the budget lawmakers are considering at the statehouse will cut social workers and leave victims without a safety net. But the chair of the human services budget committee says while some empty jobs are being left unfilled, lawmakers are hoping to avoid layoffs. Both republican lawmakers and democrat governor Tom Vilsack have proposed budgets that don’t include money for salary increases that are already in state workers’ contracts. That means departments will have to trim spending in other areas to cover the mandated pay raises.
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