Erin's Law put into effect in Illinois

By WEEK Producer

January 24, 2013 Updated Jan 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM CDT

CHICAGO -- A new law designed to prevent sexual assault and abuse in school-age children was signed on Thursday.

Governor Pat Quinn says the legislation, known as "Erin's Law" (House Bil 6913) calls for the implementation of an age-appropriate abuse awareness and prevention curriculum for grades pre-K through 12.

“My most important duty as governor is to make sure every child in Illinois is safe and healthy,” Governor Quinn said. “Sexual assault and abuse steals a child’s innocence and can be extremely psychologically and physically damaging. Erin’s Law empowers young victims and teaches children what kind of behavior is and isn’t okay, which will prevent abuse and protect the children of Illinois.”

Erin’s Law was an initiative of Schaumburg, Illinois native Erin Merryn. A victim of sexual assault and abuse as a child, Merryn is an author and activist currently working to get Erin’s Law passed in all 50 states.

"My innocence was killed as a child, my trust was taken and my voice was silenced for many years,” said Merryn. “I have reclaimed my voice and I am determined to make sure every child in America has a voice and won't be silenced by a perpetrator the way I was....I turned pain into a purpose to end the silence and to educate and preserve the innocence of children. Thank you Illinois legislators and Governor Quinn for doing right by the children of Illinois."

Five states have implemented earlier versions of Erin’s Law. Illinois is the first state to take the next step and pass legislation that more comprehensively addresses the need for child sexual assault and abuse education in schools statewide.

The law is effective immediately.

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