This gives Alaska children a fighting chance to protect themselves and escape violence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2014
JUNEAU – Today, Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) pre-filed “Erin’s Law” to give Alaska children tools to protect themselves from child abuse. Erin Merryn has earned national attention for her efforts to pass the legislation in all fifty states, including appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show and other national programs.
“It’s important we give Alaskan children appropriate tools to protect themselves from abuse and to escape violence,” said Tarr. “By the time anyone other than the perpetrator and the victim know about the abuse, it’s too late, but if the child has ways to understand the situation and get help, it can make all the difference.”
The bill (HB233) would require school districts to develop age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in grades kindergarten through 12.
“I was convinced to move forward with this proposal after talking with teachers and administrators that said while some education is happening, more needs to be done. When the status quo isn’t improving the situation, we must do more,” said Tarr.
“With 1 and 4 girls and 1 and 6 boys sexually abused before the age of 18 these children are sitting in our classrooms but have not been educated on how to speak up and tell so instead they live in silence and continue to be abused,” said Merryn, an author, activist, and speaker on the issue of preventing child abuse. “From ages 6-8, I was molested and raped by an adult neighbor and from 11-13 years old molested by a family member. The only message I got growing up came from these men to keep it a secret and nobody would believe me. Had someone taught me about safe touch, unsafe touch, safe secrets, and unsafe secrets, I would have known it was safe to tell. Instead I lived in my horror in silence. I am now on a mission to give children across this country the voice I never had as a child. Erin’s Law has been passed in 8 states I hope we can make Alaska the next.”
The bill would direct school districts to create age-appropriate curricula for kindergarten through grade 12. It allows the districts to create the curricula that would be best for the children in their communities. Curricula should include warning signs of sexual abuse, referral and resource information, counseling and educational support, methods for increasing awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse of children, and actions a child may take to prevent and report sexual abuse or sexual assault.