Legislation commonly referred to as “Erin’s Law” was heard in the House Education Committee Monday. House Bill 2183, sponsored by Rep. Gina McCabe, would establish a task force to provide recommendations for implementing an age-appropriate, prevention-oriented child sex-abuse- and awareness program in K-12 schools.
Currently, 26 states have enacted similar legislation, and it is pending in others.
“‘Erin’s Law’ is saving lives in other states and we are hoping to add Washington to the growing list of states that have implemented this law,” said McCabe, R-Goldendale.
“Erin’s Law” is named after Erin Merryn, a child sexual abuse survivor and activist. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, as many as one out of four girls and one out of six boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. Many more cases alleging sexual abuse go unreported.
“Erin turned her life around and was determined to make a difference for other victims of sexual assault. We now have the ability to build from her great work and educate our children about the very real dangers that exist, and the safe outlets available for them to speak up,” said McCabe. “Not only may this prevent children from being abused, but it also lets them know it is alright to go to someone they trust and that this act of violence against them is not their fault.”
McCabe says schools already teach kids about the dangers of drugs, and how to stay safe in fires and natural disasters, and they should implement sexual assault prevention curriculum so children can stay safe in their neighborhoods.
In a key education bill signed by President Barack Obama Dec. 10, Congress included a provision allowing states to use federal grant funding for Erin’s Law programs.
“I am hopeful with the federal education bill, ‘Erin’s Law’ stands a better chance of being adopted in Washington,” said McCabe.
The public hearing was held in the House Education Committee on Feb. 2, and the bill is scheduled for executive session Feb. 4.
PHOTO CAPTION: Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, (left) speaks with Fran Singer (center) and Olivia Holderman (right), a sexual assault survivor, during the public hearing on House Bill 2183 Monday, Feb. 1.
For more information about Rep. McCabe, visit: www.representativeginamccabe.com.