Research has shown, along with parents and caregivers, many educators are unaware of the signs, symptoms and prevention of childhood sexual abuse; adding to the rapid and ever rising statistics. This is unacceptable with over 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States affecting 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys.
Today ABC 6 reported the General Assembly has approved Erin’s Law. Rhode Island makes the 18th state to adopt Erin’s Law. This legislation is to establish a school program that provides age appropriate courses in efforts to prevent child abduction, childhood sexual abuse and childhood sexual exploitation.
The law is named after Erin Merryn of Illinois. Merryn was only 6 years old when she was sexually abused by a neighbor and then again at the age of 11 by her cousin lasting for two years. Like most children, Merryn remained silent for years.
“These men may have stolen my innocence, may have taken my trust, but the one thing I’ve reclaimed from both of them is my voice,” she said.
The bill requires students between kindergarten and eighth grade to receive education on sexual abuse and assault awareness to create prevention.
Merryn says “New York has been the most difficult state to get her law passed. It passes in the New York State Senate, then is referred to the Assembly Education Committee, where it eventually dies.”
Merryn never received sexual abuse education in school and she believes if she had it may have made a difference. Merryn’s life journey has inspired her to put a face and voice on childhood sexual abuse. Her mission is to take the stigma and shame off child sexual abuse survivors and give them a voice and a reason to speak out. To educate the public that children are being abused in your own backyards. She is at war against this silent evil that is lurking in the shadows.
“I feel if someone had come into the classroom, the same way the police officer taught us for six weeks how to say no to drugs, it would have given me the courage to speak up and tell somebody,” Merryn explained.
Merryn his well known for her crusade to get Erin’s Law passed. This law is intended to prevent child sexual abuse by educating children in a child friendly manner at school. She has dedicated her life to getting Erin’s Law passed in all 50 states. Merryn has appeared on several national talk shows advocating for sexual abuse survivors, including The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has also written several books on the subject, and united with Michigan non-profit organization Dreamcatchers for Abused Children to create a handbook titled “Silent Screams” on the subject.
In her home state of Illinois, she convinced the legislature to create a special task force to tackle the problem of childhood sexual abuse prevention. Erin’s Law was passed in Illinois in 2013, and since 14 other states have passed the law as well.
Merryn sat down with me on Dreamcatchers Talk Radio. Listen to her interview here: http://tobtr.com/s/2637981.