FAQ: Erin’s Law
What is Erin's Law?The Stop Abuse Campaign opposes this bill. Read why below.
Erin Merryn’s Law is a bill mandating that all public school students are taught about child sexual abuse in an age-appropriate way, with a focus on disclosing their abuse to adults. No one interested in preventing child sexual abuse will argue that children should be kept ignorant of the subject, or that schools have no role to play in the prevention of child sexual abuse. However, the issue is complicated, and in a vacuum, without mandating other trainings and reforms, it can actually harm children. Multiple studies show that sexually abused children have worse health outcomes as adults if they disclose to an adult who doesn’t take an appropriate, protective response.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you opposed to this bill?
The bill is based on a good idea, but there are a few major problems with it.
One is that it doesn’t do any good for kids to disclose to adults who don’t believe them or know what to do. A study that came out in December of 2013 in the Clinical Social Work Journal showed that most of the time, disclosing during childhood wasn’t helpful and didn’t result in adults doing things to protect them.
Teaching kids what to do if they’re sexually abused isn’t like teaching them what to do during a fire; you’re telling them to undo some major parts of their psyche. It’s also worrisome that there is no curriculum or best practices spelled out in the bill, so there is no guarantee that kids are going to be taught something that is accurate or has any chance of being helpful.
But shouldn’t someone be talking with children about child sexual abuse?
Lots of people should be talking with children about child sexual abuse, lots of times in lots of different contexts.
Parents should be talking about bodies and boundaries with their kids from day one. Parents should also discuss cases they hear about in the news, through the grapevine, and in the plotlines of TV shows and movies.
Child sexual abuse is a fate that befalls almost a quarter of American kids (22%). To think that talking about it once a year is going to do it justice is a dangerous oversimplification.
But isn’t it still worth doing if it only helps one child?
If it was that simple, yes. But it’s not.
There are laws out there that could save a lot more than one child from sexual abuse if they were passed tomorrow.
The Child Victims Act makes the laws about Statutes Of Limitations reform that are virtually unenforceable right now enforceable, thus limiting predator’s access to prey.
Funding for educating adults about child sexual abuse would go a long way to helping parents prevent it from happening, as well as stop it earlier in its progression. There are lots of good bills and good ideas out there, but they involve political courage, money, or both. And child sexual abuse isn’t historically something that legislators have poured time and energy into. So if they can sign something easy, but-flawed, like Erin’s Law, and convince themselves and their constituents that they’ve done good, they will. Until there’s another high-profile case in their district, which is bound to happen as long as we don’t take serious action about the crime.
On average it takes 21 years for an abused child to disclose.
- How many women did not disclose Child Sexual Abuse as children? 74%
- How many men did not disclose child sexual abuse as children? 78%
- The number of child sexual abuse survivors who didn't think anyone would believe them 23%
- Number of non-offending mothers who offer neutral or negative responses to their child who disclosing sexual abuse 73%