Erin’s Law is named after childhood sexual assault survivor, author, speaker and activist Erin Merryn, who is the founder and President of Erin’s Law, which is registered with the State of Illinois and the IRS as a 501 (c)(4) non-profit social welfare organization. Erin’s Law requires that all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program which teaches:
- Students in grades preK – 12th grade, age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult
- School personnel all about child sexual abuse
- Parents & guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families
Erin began contacting legislators by letter from her home in Illinois in 2010 about the need to pass laws to require school districts to teach age-appropriate child sexual abuse education to elementary school students, school teachers, administrators and parents.
After she was invited to meet with Illinois State Senator Tim Bivins in April, 2010, and he became the first sponsor of the law, Erin then testified in the Illinois State Senate and House, beginning her many experiences testifying in State legislatures. Illinois became the first state to pass Erin’s Law on Feb. 14, 2011.
27 states have passed Erin's Law as of June 2015, and 19 more states are introducing Erin's Law in 2015-2016.
U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to help protect children from sexual abuse by funding school programs that provide age-appropriate lessons to primary and secondary school students on how to recognize and safely report sexual abuse. Gillibrand, Heller and Feinstein’s Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act provides federal funding for schools to develop and implement or expand these programs for students, parents and guardians. This act provides additional funding to advance Erin's Law.
“Our children need to have an age-appropriate understanding of sexual abuse and know how to safely report to an adult if they have been victimized,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Erin’s Law is helping to fill an important gap in our prevention and awareness work, and the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act will make sure schools have the resources needed to develop or expand these programs and provide parents, guardians and school personnel with the tools to help prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.”
"For five years I have been traveling from one state capital to another trying to pass Erin's law in my mission of all fifty states requiring that personal body safety be taught,” said Erin Merryn, Erin’s Law Founder and President. “The biggest hurdle I face in each state is Erin's law being an unfunded mandate. It is my biggest road block. With this bill passing it will play a significant role in Erin's law getting passed in the next 24 states. This funding will be an answer to my prayers in my biggest battle for Erin's law. Kids’ lives are waiting to be saved and we must educate them. I didn't have a voice but I am going to ensure every child in America has theirs.”
For more information on Erin's Law, visit the following websites:
Erin Merryn - Erin's Law
erinslaw.org - What Is Erin's Law?
Erin's Law Task Force - Executive Summary May 2012
Download the full Erin's Law text as passed in Louisiana here.
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