Erin’s Law is named after childhood sexual assault survivor turned child advocate and activist Erin Merryn who is the founder and President of Erin’s Law. It requires that all public schools implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse programs to students PreK -12th grade. (Posted By Jamie Somerville, Community Contributor)
GURNEE ILLINOIS (August 2013) The past few years have seen an insurgence in reports of child sexual abuse scandals and, as a result, we seem to finally be waking up to the fact that while well intentioned, the “stranger danger” scenarios that we so often employ with the children in our lives to try and keep them safe simply aren’t enough. With 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys being sexually abused before the age of 18 ; with a child being sexually abused every 6 minutes ; with 90% of these crimes being committed by someone the child knows and trusts – we cannot afford to avoid the tough, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations needed to help ensure the children we care about live lives free of sexual assault and abuse. Here, Erin’s Law can help.
Erin’s Law is named after childhood sexual assault survivor turned child advocate and activist Erin Merryn, who is the founder and President of Erin’s Law. It requires that all public schools implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse programs which teach:
1. Students in grades preK – 12th grade, age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and to tell a trusted adult
2. School personnel about child sexual abuse and how to respond accordingly
3. Parents and guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families
Wendy Ivy, ZCenter’s Director of Community Education insists that Erin Merryn’s story is exactly why this law and sexual assault prevention reduction is important: “She said she likely would have told someone sooner had she had the information and it’s our responsibility to figure out how to disseminate that information.” Indeed, Merryn writes that:
“Passing Erin’s Law gives children in Illinois the voice I never had as a child … We will finally begin educating children to speak up and tell if someone ever abuses or tries to abuse them. That’s a lesson that could have saved me years of molestation and rape.”
Now more than ever, Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee, IL wants to effect change through educating children and the community about sexual violence. With Erin’s Law going into effect for the 2013-2014 school year, they look forward to the opportunity to reach more children, educators and parents than ever. To that end, ZCenter will be holding an Erin’s Law Conference on Wednesday, October 23rd at the College of Lake County in Grayslake which will provide an overview of the law and give faculty and staff members in community schools the tools they need to provide this critical prevention education to Lake County youth.
Ivy states that ZCenter staff are “experts in the field and this conference gives us the chance to train other people to have that same level of comfort and expertise in talking to kids about sexual assault and abuse so that they’re empowered to work in the curriculum in ways that make sense for their schools.” The conference will be open to all Illinois K-12 faculty and staff and will include the training and tools necessary for participants to implement ZCenter’s Prevention & Education programs, including:
Child Sexual Assault Prevention Program (CAPP): Children will learn skills that they can use to reduce their vulnerability to assault and abduction.
Teen Assault Prevention Program Training (TAPP): Building upon many of the foundations of CAAP, TAPP provides age-appropriate curricula for Middle and High School Students that teach skills to identity and prevent bullying behavior and sexual violence. TAPP expands students’ understanding of violence and objectification through interactive discussions.
Participants will leave with a toolkit of materials, including information for parents to use when talking to their own children. Additionally, various myths and facts will be identified and discussed, including:
Myth: Children are most likely to be sexually abused by a stranger.
Fact: Four out of five cases of child sexual abuse occur by someone known to the child. Statistically, 80% to 85% of the child sexual abuse in the United States is perpetrated by a familiar individual to the victim. The perpetrator is often related to the child. Less than 20% of abusers are strangers.
Myth: Sex abuse only happens in poor, uneducated socioeconomic groups.
Fact: Sexual abuse cuts across all boundaries – socioeconomic status, race, geographic area, gender, and educational level – equally.
Myth: A discussion of sexual abuse will just frighten children.
Fact: It is important for children to receive information about sexual assault for their own protection. Inaccurate or no information is more damaging to children.
Myth: Family sexual abuse is an isolated, one-time incident.
Fact: For most victims, the abuse continues for years. In most cases, the offender will not stop until there is an intervention.
Let’s make this the year we move toward creating a world where our children and youth don’t have to face the horror of sexual violence. Please join us on October 23rd as we move one step closer to that goal. Please contact Wendy Ivy at WIvy@zcenter.org or 847-244-1187 x 124 to register or for more information.
By POSTED BY JAMIE SOMERVILLE and COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTOR
AUG 02, 2013 AT 11:07 AM