Erin's Law gives kids tools to stop sexual abuse

Posted: Feb. 7, 2013 10:41 am Updated: Feb. 28, 2013 2:15 pm


ILLINOIS is the latest state with a law requiring schools to teach awareness and prevention classes involving sexual abuse and assault.

Giving children the knowledge to keep them safe will save untold suffering for thousands of people in this state.

Erin's Law is named after Erin Merryn, a 27-year-old who wants to see all 50 states require training for students in elementary grades through high school. She first spoke out about sexual abuse when she was 13, after enduring years of abuse.

Erin's Law is meant to spare others from a similar fate by teaching children to recognize and report abuse or assault.

Quincy Public Schools already has a partner in setting up age-appropriate classes. Advocacy Network for Children will put together some of the sessions in time to offer training at the Early Childhood and Family Center in April.

Under the law, parents will be made aware of the curriculum and can opt out if they do not want their children to take the training.

Clairice Hetzler, executive director of the Quincy-based Advocacy Network, said nobody wants to talk about the topic even though there are an estimated 42 million survivors of sexual abuse in the nation. In Quincy, Hetzler said since 1999 the agency has dealt with enough cases to more than fill classrooms in Quincy Junior High School.

Awareness training serves a double purpose. It gives children the tools they need to identify and speak out about unwanted behavior. In turn, that helps break the cycle of sexual abuse and assault, which law enforcement officials say is often handed down from one generation to the next.

A young Erin Merryn was trained on what to do in case of a fire or a tornado at her school. She dreams of the day all U.S. schools train students on how to react when faced with sexual abuse.