Erin’s Law has been enacted in 12 states, and is being considered in 25 others, including Connecticut. In a visit to Hartford earlier this year, Erin Merryn, who has traveled the country advocating for this law, said, “sexual abuse of children is a silent epidemic in our world affecting 42 million people. In America, three million of those are children. I was one of those children repeatedly sexually abused and raped for six years starting when I was 6 years old. My innocence was stolen, my trust taken, but I reclaimed my voice and have made it my mission to pass Erin’s Law in every state to ensure that every child in America knows how to speak up and tell if they are sexually abused instead of keeping it a secret the way they are taught by their abusers.”
Following passage of the bill, Connecticut will develop a statewide child sexual abuse and assault awareness program for use by regional and local school boards that meets the following criteria:
- The program must include instructional modules for teachers, age-appropriate educational materials for children in Kindergarten through the 12th grade, and a uniform child sexual abuse and assault response policy and reporting procedure.
- The age-appropriate materials for students may include warning signs a child victim might exhibit and resources to further student, teacher and parental education and outreach.
- The bill allows students to opt out of the awareness program or any part of it if the student’s parent or legal guardian notifies the school board in writing.