Rep. Tarr Renews Call for Passage of Erin’s Law Legislation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2015
JUNEAU – There are two days left in the first session of the 29th Alaska Legislature and vital legislation called Erin’s Law has yet to make it the either the Senate or House floors.
“I don’t think it’s going to make it,” said Speaker Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) yesterday at a morning news conference.
According to the Child Welfare League of America, Alaska consistently has one of top 5 rates of child abuse in the United States. There are child sexual abuse cases reported in every area of Alaska, including a case of last year in Nikiski where a music teacher was charged with seven counts of sexual abuse of a minor for allegedly maintaining a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student for four months. In February of this year, a school bus monitor that served the Mat-Su Borough School District was arrested on five counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.
“Every week we read horrible stories involving our children from all over Alaska,” said Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage). “The people of Alaska are demanding that Erin’s Law be passed. We don’t want to read another story in the paper. We don’t want to see another child abused.”
Erin’s Law is named after child sex abuse survivor Erin Merryn, who visited the legislature last year. The law has been proven in many other states to prevent child sexual abuse by requiring public school districts to offer prevention curriculum.
“The number of children experiencing sexual abuse in our state is staggering,” wrote Susannah Webster, the owner of Smallpond Childcare in Homer. “It is absolutely heartbreaking and it can be stopped. Our public schools teach children to be non-violent to each other and to respect personal space and property. It is only natural and right that our schools teach personal safety as well. We must give children the language to express their rights and an understanding that if they are living with abuse, they can seek help.”
Erin’s Law is needed to address the disturbingly high number of child sexual abuse cases in Alaska. The Office of Children’s Services is reporting there were 290 allegations of child sexual abuse in March. There have been a total of 1,592 child sexual abuse allegations since the start of the school year.
For more information about Erin’s Law, contact Rep. Geran Tarr at (907) 465-3424.