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domenica 26 marzo 2017
"Erin's Law" addresses child sexual abuse
Last week, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, presented "Erin's Law" — legislation designed to prevent child sexual abuse in Minnesota.
The bill, SF 1346, would allow school districts to provide child sexual abuse prevention instruction to students and child sexual abuse prevention training to staff.
Erin's Law is named after a childhood sexual assault survivor, Erin Merryn of Illinois. Legislation under the same title is currently in effect in 28 states, and pending in an additional 20 states, including Minnesota.
The bill allows K through 12 schools the option to implement prevention programs with the purpose of preventing sexual abuse and sexual violence.
The legislation also allows families to review the content of the curriculum to determine if they would like their child to participate.
The Echo Press contacted Alexandria School District 206 to find out how it addresses child sexual abuse. Through the school district's health curriculum, students are taught a number of things relating to student safety in a developmentally appropriate manner, ranging from appropriate touch to stranger danger to bus safety and more.
Annually, District 206 teachers receive training about the mandated reporting law. They're also trained on signs of abuse and from an ethical and legal standpoint and will make referrals to the building principal and/or school social worker for further investigation. School personnel do not counsel on matters of child sexual abuse but refer to experts in the field.
Child sexual abuse is more common than most people would believe, with some statistics suggesting that one of four girls and one of six boys are abused by the age of 18, Ingebrigtsen said in a news release.
"Often these situations go unreported, since students and teachers have little knowledge or training to report and prevent abuse," Ingebrigtsen said. "I'm proud to be carrying legislation this session to bring this issue into the light, and I am hopeful that with its passage we can reduce sexual abuse and violence in our state."
Merryn's goal is to get the legislation passed in all 50 states. She shared her personal story on the website, www.erinmerryn.net:
"Growing up in Illinois public schools, every year I was educated with my classmates on tornado drills, fire drills, bus drills, stranger danger, and learned the eight ways to say 'no' to drugs in DARE," Merryn said. "As a child, I never had to take cover because of a real tornado. I never had to stop, drop, and roll or run out of a burning building. I never had to evacuate a school bus due to an emergency, but I had the knowledge to know what to do if any of those situations happened. Where was the drill on how to escape a child molester? Where was the lesson plan on sexual abuse? I never learned about safe and unsafe touches or safe and unsafe secrets. I was not educated on, 'How to tell today or how to get away.' I was never educated on, 'My body belongs to me.' When a grown man I knew lay on top of me at 6 1/2 years old and threatened to tie me to a bed if I did not lay still and be quiet as he raped me or when my teenage cousin locked me behind closed doors and warned me, 'This is our little secret; no one will believe you; this will destroy our family' as he sexually abused me on a bed, I stayed silent and lived in that silence alone. When I was raped and sexually abused as a child, I did not know what to do. I was confused and scared. My body seemed to belong to the men that used and abused me. It was the message I was educated on. ... Children need a voice. As a society we are responsible to give them that voice."
OLYMPIA, Wash. - A victim of child sexual abuse is speaking out in an effort to make all kids safer.
It's called 'Erin's Law', which is a nationwide campaign to get schools to teach age-appropriate 'personal body safety' classes.s
Erin Merrynhas been traveling the states to urge lawmakers to enact her bill (HB 1539). She's not letting the fact that she now has a baby girl slow her down.
Erin testified at the state House Education Committee Thursday, "Good morning, I flew here yesterday from Chicago with my 9-month-old daughter because that's how passionate I am about protecting kids from abuse."
Erin is testifying about what she calls the 'silent epidemic of child abuse.' She says children learn about fire drills, earthquake drills and stranger danger, but she says they need to know about how to stay safe when 9 out of ten abuse cases involve someone the child knows..
Erin, "As a young child 6-8 years old I was abused by my best friend's uncle who lived with her. This man repeatedly abused me and told me 'I know where you live I'll come get you.' So I stayed silent."
It only ended because her family moved away. But she added, "Only to wake up a few years later to a male older cousin abusing me."
Again she stayed silent because she didn't know what to do.
She says Erin's Law would help show kids what to do if they experience sexual abuse, telling them that their body is private, that it's not okay to be touched in certain way, that it's not their fault and they should feel safe to tell a trusted adult.
She says it's working in the 28 states that have passed Erin's Law like a recent case in Alabama, "Two more kids came forward after being abused because of Erin's Law being taught and I'm sharing stories being sent my way from all over the country."
"She is amazing," said the bill's sponsor Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale. McCabe says even though it's late in the session she believes chances for passage are good, "We're just going to stay tenacious and we're going to keep moving forward.")
They tried passing this bill last year but it failed because of the million dollar price tag. Since then a national Erin's Bill has been passed making federal dollars available to states.