Last Monday I went to Springfield and met with members of the task force of Erin’s law. The task force has until January 1st to submit its final report to Governor Quinn on the recommendations of what will be used throughout the state of Illinois for children.
As I arrived last Monday I sat at a conference table with a team of people throughout the state who have been appointed to Erin’s law task force on making the recommendations of this law. I could not have been happier with the people I am working with on the task force. In the 1 hour and 40 minutes the task force met we got through so much material and established the key components of Erin’s law and how we would move forward.
At one point as discussion was going on I thought to myself this is incredible I had a vision at the end of my second book Living For Today saying I want to see legislation passed to educate and empower child on sexual abuse educating them to not stay silent but instead tell someone if anyone tries to abuse them or does abuse them. Sexual predators have this process of grooming children. Using psychological manipulation to keep a child silent. Once a sexual predator gets their foot in the door by gaining a child’s trust there is often no turning back. Once the sexual abuse begins the threats often follow to keep a child silent. Right now at this very moment society fails to speak up and educate about this. Very few are doing it. What I want to ask every adult is “Why not empower and educate children?” Those that are against this law raise every red flag in my eyes. The only people that should be against educating children to protect themselves by speaking up is the sex offenders themselves who want to keep children silent.
This issue is a NO-BRAINER! A straightforward decision that all children should be educated and should have been educated decades before a 25 year old decided to go after this law after being raped and molested as a child by people I knew and was related to. And to anyone that wants to argue what it will cost well then you are just SICK. To put a dollar amount on protecting a child’s innocent bodies and minds is a messed up way of thinking. It is far more important to put billions into protecting our young and future generations then some of the stupid ways we spend tax dollars in this state of Illinois and this country.
The people of Erin’s law task force is made up with myself along with Illinois Children Advocacy Center, Illinois Association School Administrator, YWCA, IFVCC, Senate and House Rep., Illinois State Police, Prevent Child Abuse President, Dixon Chief of Police, and DCFS.
I went over and passed around great resources for teachers and parents to use that we will put in our resources. Here are just a few to name that I brought to the table.
The Right Touch was published days after I broke my silence at 13.
The task force went over goals for this law, difference between programs with outside educators coming in and in house staff teaching children the curriculum, training teachers/educating parents was a huge discussion, reaching the private schools, curriculum for special education students, costs, and not choosing just one curriculum but giving schools options.
I personally feel in house staff is the best way to go in teaching children. Having someone come in that they just see once a year teaching kids compared to the message coming from the teacher they see every day or the school social worker/psychologist makes a huge difference. Kids have a trusting relationship with teachers and other staff in school and if something were to happen say 4 months after that years lesson the child knows where the school social worker/psychologist office is located. However there are excellent programs out there that have staff that come from the outside that do an excellent job of not only educating the kids on safe and unsafe touch, safe and unsafe secrets, but also pointing out important people to tell if someone touches them and uses role plays to make sure the students have the understanding of it down. I witnessed this observing the CAP program in Medinah, Illinois to 3rd and 5th grade classes this past winter taught by the local YWCA of Dupage county. CAP is one of the programs of the 4 I recommended to the task force for the state. CAP is based out of New Jersey with 26 years of reserch. The three other programs I brought to the attention of the task force was Talk About Touching based out of Washington that has 25+ years of research, Safe @ Last out of Tennessee, KidSafe out of Florida.
The task force is now looking at the curriculum and the research it has to back it up and meet the requirements. The task force established the most important goals to accomplish with Erin’s Law. Not selecting just one curriculum, getting it approved by the Illinois State Board of Education, curriculum that works for rural communities, public and private schools, religious schools, curriculum that is translated for bilingual students, online trainings for teachers/home schools. Using institute days for training opportunities to all staff, schools sticking to the same curriculum once they select one and not changing it up every year. Giving an outline of each program, its benefits,and allowing school districts to shop around on what they want for their students. Giving them the choice after all we will have done the research and selected what we feel is best for the students. Making it as simple as possible for teachers/parents on how to talk about this in a way of “Show me How” approach. We are also looking to find a University to do a study on Erin’s law once it is implemented. We closed on discussion of my vision of this being a national law and talking about me being selected to speak at the United States Department of Education Conference Aug. 10th. There was a few jokes thrown out there during the meeting. House Representative Jerry Mitchell looked at me and said “Teacher is that my assignment?” Someone else joked that they would not be surprised if I brought President Obama to our next meeting and that we would make him give an introduction of himself. 🙂
Well there you have it. Important work going on to protect and educate the children of Illinois with lots of decisions to be made with one ultimate goal: “children being empowered to use their voice”
Currently Erin’s Law has been passed in Illinois and Missouri. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed it 4 months to the day it was signed by Illinois Governor Quinn on July 14th. I look forward to the day I can tell you the 50th state has just signed Erin’s law. That day will come. Don’t believe me….just wait!
My travels take me next to
Washington DC United States Department of Education Conference
Oregon/Washington 9 days. YWCA Vancouver Washington
Huntsville Alabama National Children Advocacy Center
Corpus Christi Texas CAC event
Austin, Texas CASA Conference
Syracuse New York State Conference