In the wake of the scandal, trial, and subsequent conviction for sexual abuse of Coach Jerry Sandusky, schools are looking for ways to prevent these occurrences at all levels of education. Erin’s law has been enacted in four states, including Illinois, and introduced by the legislature in another eight. The law, named for author and advocate Erin Merryn, requires school districts to create, implement, and teach age appropriate curriculum to educate students about sexual abuse.
Erin believed that sexual abuse education in schools serving pre-k through 5th grade students has proven to be an effective method for preventing children from falling prey to, or remaining quiet about, sexual abuse.
Signed into law by Governor Quinn in 2011, the Illinois law provides, among other things, training for school personnel on the warning signs of sexual abuse, as well as educational information for parents or guardians. It suggests that schools adopt policies for assistance, intervention, resources, and counseling for any child who is a victim of child abuse.
Erin Merryn has made it her mission to take Erin’s law to the U.S. Congress and have it signed into law by the president. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System have reported a decline in child sexual abuse. Policy experts suggest that the decline may be related to more aggressive prosecution and incarceration policies, as well as growing public awareness about the problem.