Proposal would bring sex abuse conversation to AZ classrooms

(Source: KOLD News 13)
(Source: KOLD News 13)
Updated: Feb. 6, 2018 at 6:45 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Several Arizona lawmakers have introduced a bill that would bring the topic of child sex abuse to classrooms across the state.

The proposal would require the Department of Child Safety and the Department of Education to come up with a program that schools across the state could use to teach prevention and awareness of child sex abuse.

For teachers, the training would include prevention and identification of abuse along with resources to bring awareness to the issue.

Meanwhile, children would get age-appropriate material about awareness and prevention. They would also learn how to recognize abuse, including boundary violations and unwanted forms of contact.

The program would also promote disclosure and reduce self-blame among children.

Parents who dislike the idea would be able to opt their children out of the program entirely or from certain parts. Critics of the proposal argue the conversation should stay in the home.

The program, named after Erin Merryn, can be referred to as Erin's Law.

The Chicago woman tells Tucson News Now she was abused by a relative starting at the age of six.

She quit her job eight years ago to focus on getting the law passed in every state. Merryn said she has been working with Arizona lawmakers to get it passed.

"I want to empower kids to know this is not your fault. I want parents to understand the importance behind this. I don't want them to have their head in the sand and think this couldn't happen to my kids," she said.

So far, Erin's Law has been passed in more than 30 states. Merryn said she plans to testify before Arizona lawmakers later this month about her experience.

The bill has been introduced in the house and the senate. If passed, the program would begin on or before July 2019.

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