Collins works with victim-turned-advocate Erin Merryn to pass “Erin’s Law”
Emphasizes education, teacher training as keys to ending sexual abuse of children
SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) secured passage today of a measure designed to prevent child sexual abuse by educating elementary school students and training school personnel to respond to signs and reports of abuse. She partnered with former sexual abuse victim Erin Merryn, an Illinois native and Western Illinois University graduate who has advocated for similar laws in other states and in Congress. Glamour Magazine featured Erin as 2012 Woman of the Year for her efforts to help other children avoid or escape the kind of abuse she suffered as a young child.
“Passing Erin’s Law gives children in Illinois the voice I never had as a child,” Erin Merryn said. “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.”
“Part of making our schools safe places is ensuring students can approach a teacher or staff member and receive accurate information and help when they have been abused,” Sen. Collins said. “We know that 93 percent of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a person the victim already knows, so the ‘stranger danger’ warning children frequently hear is not sufficient protection.”