Child Abuse Education Law Approved by Senate

The Telegraph: The Illinois Senate gave final legislative approval Thursday to legislation requiring local schools to conduct child abuse awareness education for both teachers and students.

The measure, known as Erin’s Law, was co-sponsored by state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon.

“This should be a priority… It’s a measure we all should support; it’s an investment in our young people we need to make,” McCarter told colleagues.

House Bill 6193 requires schools to provide continuing professional development at in-service training programs on sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention. It also requires schools to provide age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

The measure passed the House earlier and now goes to the governor.

“This is an issue my wife, Victoria, and I deal with on an ongoing basis with young women who are in crisis,” McCarter said. “Many times the root of their destructive behavior is in abuse as a child.”

While urging fellow senators to pass the legislation, McCarter also said he’s looking for a follow-up and promised measure in the new spring legislative session that would give schools financial and scheduling flexibility to implement the new mandate.

“This does put another unfunded mandate on our schools,” he said. “In the last 12 years, we (the Legislature) have put forth 106 new mandates on schools. At the same time, we have funded them less than ever so, at the same time that we have given them less we have asked them to do more.”

In February 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation creating the Erin’s Law Task Force. The 19-member task force of school administrators, teachers, counselors, researchers, academic curriculum experts, child protective services, children’s advocacy centers and law enforcement met for nine months. Sen. McCarter was a member of the task force, which crafted the proposal, contained in House Bill 6193.

Erin’s Law was named after a young Illinois woman, Erin Merryn, who was abused as a young child. She turned her horrific experiences into a crusade to promote child sexual abuse awareness and education for children as part of their primary and secondary education experience.