Erin Merryn’s words: “Growing up in Illinois public schools every year I was educated with my classmates on tornado drills, fire drills, bus drills, stranger danger, and learned the 8 steps to say ‘NO’ to drugs through D.A.R.E.
As a child I never had to take cover because of a real tornado. I never had to stop, drop, and roll or run out of a burning building. I never had to evacuate a school bus due to an emergency, but I had the knowledge to know what to do if any of those situations happened. Where was the drill on how to escape a child molester? Where was the lesson plan on sexual abuse, safe touches, and safe secrets? It never came. I was not educated on â€œHow to Tell Today or How to Get Away.â€ I was never educated on â€œMy Body Belongs to Me.â€
When a grown man lay on top of me at 6 1/2 years old and threaten to tie me to a bed if I did not lay still and be quiet as he raped me or when my teenage cousin locked me behind closed doorsÂ and warned meÂ “this is our little secret, no one will believe you, this will destroy our family” as he sexually abused meÂ onÂ a bed I stayed silent.Â When I was raped and sexually abused as a child I did not know what to do. My body seemed to belong to the men that used and abused it was the message I learned, because I was getting no other message.”
Erin’s Law passed the Illinois Senate with all yes votes on May 7th, 2010. Erin’s law passed Illinois House with all yes votes November 18th, 2010. Erin’s law was sent to Governor Pat Quinn December 17, 2010
Governor Quinn Signed Erin’s Law Feburary 14, 2011
Illinois Senate Bill 2843
I went on a crusade to get Erin’s law passed in Illinois. I testified to the Senate in May 2010 and all voted for Erin’s law SB2843. November 2010 I testified to House and Erin’s law was passed 110 yes votes. Erin’s law now awaits the Governor of Illinois Signature. It has never received a “no” vote.
Currently in the state of Illinois schools are mandated to do tornado, bus, and fire drills with students a certain amount of times a year. As a child I never had to take cover because of a real tornado, I never had to stop, drop, and roll or run out of a burning building. I never had to evacuate a school bus due to an emergency, but I had the knowledge to know what to do if any of those ever happened.
When I was raped weeks before my 7th birthday and was molested from 11-13 by my older teenage cousin I DID NOT know what to do because I was never educated in school on sexual abuse so I stayed silent under their control and power. I was warned never to go look for the lost puppy when the stranger approached, I was warned never to take candy from a stranger, but it was not strangers that stole my innocence and took my childhood from me. These were monsters I knew. Monsters no one warned me about and 80-90% of the time when a child is sexually abused it is by someone they know and trust.
My crusade now is to save the children of Illinois from the childhood I could not be saved from. It is a silent epidemic because we are not talking about it with children.
We cannot leave it up to the parents. Many parents are the ones who are the abusers, avoid this conversation or are in the mind frame of only warning their kids about stranger danger. It needs to be in the schools.
It is impossible to end this evil of child molesters. So if we cannot stop these monsters from hurting kids what can we do to prevent sexual abuse or get children to speak up instead of being locked in silence and carry it for years or even into adulthood alone? That is why we need Erin’s Law passed in Illinois.
What would Erin’s Law do?
1. The purpose of this law is to inform and protect students from sexual abuse. To mandate school districts implement and educate students on sexual abuse. School boards will adopt age appropriate curriculum on sexual abuse education to students grades pre-k through 5th grade. Education in schools is an effective method for preventing children from falling prey to sexual abuse or stay silent if it does occur.
Language of Erin’s Law SB2843
SB2843 Enrolled LRB096 16940 MJR 32253 b
AN ACT concerning education.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly:
Section 5. The School Code is amended by adding Sections22-65 and 10-23.13 as follows:
(105 ILCS 5/22-65 new) Sec. 22-65. The Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children. The Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children is created within the Department of Children and Family Services. The Task Force shall consist of all of the
(1) One member of the General Assembly and one member of the public, appointed by the President of the Senate.
(2) One member of the General Assembly and one member of the public, appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate.
(3) One member of the General Assembly and one member of the public, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
(4) One member of the General Assembly and one member of the public, appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
(5) The Director of Children and Family Services or his or her designee.
(6) The State Superintendent of Education or his or her designee.
(7) The Director of Public Health or his or her designee.
(8) The Executive Director of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority or his or her designee.
(9) A representative of an agency that leads the collaboration of the investigation, prosecution, and
treatment of child sexual and physical abuse cases, appointed by the Director of Children and Family Services.
(10) A representative of an organization representing law enforcement, appointed by the Director of State Police.
(11) A representative of a statewide professional teachers’ organization, appointed by the head of that organization.
(12) A representative of a different statewide professional teachers’ organization, appointed by the head of that organization.
(13) A representative of an organization involved in the prevention of child abuse in this State, appointed by the Director of Children and Family Services.
(14) A representative of an organization representing school management in this State, appointed by the State
Superintendent of Education.
(15) Erin Merryn, for whom Section 10-23.13 of this Code is named. Members of the Task Force must be individuals who are actively involved in the fields of the prevention of child abuse and neglect and child welfare. The appointment of members must reflect the geographic diversity of the State.
The Task Force shall elect a presiding officer by a
majority vote of the membership of the Task Force. The Task Force shall meet at the call of the presiding officer.
The Task Force shall make recommendations for reducing
child sexual abuse in Illinois. In making those
recommendations, the Task Force shall:
(1) gather information concerning child sexual abuse throughout the State;
(2) receive reports and testimony from individuals, State and local agencies, community-based organizations, and other public and private organizations;
(3) create goals for State policy that would preventchild sexual abuse; and
(4) submit a final report with its recommendations to
the Office of the Governor and the General Assembly by
January 1, 2012.
The recommendations may include proposals for specific statutory changes and methods to foster cooperation among State agencies and between the State and local government.
The Task Force shall consult with employees of the Department of Children and Family Services, the Criminal Justice Information Agency, the Department of State Police, the Illinois State Board of Education, and any other State agency or department as necessary to accomplish the Task Force’s responsibilities under this Section.
The members of the Task Force shall serve without compensation and shall not be reimbursed for their expenses.
The Task Force shall be abolished upon submission of the final report to the Office of the Governor and the General
(105 ILCS 5/10-23.13 new)
Sec. 10-23.13. Policies addressing sexual abuse. To adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse of children that may include age-appropriate curriculum for students in pre-K through 5th grade; training for school personnel on child sexual abuse; educational information to parents or guardians provided in the school handbook on the warning signs of a child being abused, along with any needed assistance, referral, or resource information; available counseling and resources for students affected by sexual abuse; and emotional and
educational support for a child of abuse to continue to be successful in school. Any policy adopted may address without limitation:
(1) methods for increasing teacher, student, and parent awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse of
children, including knowledge of likely warning signs indicating that a child may be a victim of sexual abuse;
(2) actions that a child who is a victim of sexual abuse should take to obtain assistance and intervention; and
(3) available counseling options for students affected by sexual abuse.
This Section may be referred to as Erin’s Law.
Erin is seeking to have this become a Federal Law.