by Emer Valdez, SIECUS Intern
Three years after Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law requiring school districts in the state to teach age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention education, similar legislation passed in nine more states and has been introduced in 19 others. Featured in the April 1, 2014 edition of Education Week, the namesake for the “Erin’s Law” is Erin Merryn, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and advocate for sexual abuse training and prevention efforts. Ms. Merryn personally testifies at each state’s hearings, providing emotional statements as the voice and face for legislation that would teach not just elementary school students, but school teachers, administrators, and parents as well.
During 2014 state legislative sessions, several states are considering following the trend. For example, Governor Gary R. Herbert from Utah is considering signing a similar bill into law, which would require school districts to provide child sexual abuse prevention training to staff. Legislation introduced in Alaska also moved quickly after a unanimous vote from the Education Committee, following testimony from advocates and educators.
It is estimated that around one in five girls and one in twenty boys are sexually abused as children. These rates, however, are difficult to confirm since so many incidents go unreported. Even so, data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that nearly 17% of the child abuse and maltreatment reports in 2012—the most recent year with data available—were made by education personnel.
For more information on Erin’s Law and the work being done across the country, please visit www.erinslaw.org.
 Blad, Evie, “New State Laws Require More Sex Abuse Training in Schools” Education Week. April 1, 2014, accessed April 6, 2014, http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/02/27erinslaw_ep.h33.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1.
 Blad, Evie, “New State Laws Require More Sex Abuse Training in Schools” Education Week.
 Richard Mauer, “Alaska’s House Committee advances ‘Erin’s Law’ to counter child sexual abuse” Anchorage Daily News. March 28, 2014. Accessed April 6th, 2014 http://www.adn.com/2014/03/28/3398313/house-committee-advances-erins.html?sp=/99/188/.
 Evie Blad, “New State Laws Require More Sex Abuse Training in Schools” Education Week.