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Erins Law and Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Laws

Erin's Law and Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Laws about Persons in Positions of Authority or Trust, March 2013

“Erin’s Law” is named for Erin Merryn, who was sexually abused by both a neighbor and a cousin when she was a child. After going public about her abuse, Merryn made it her mission to advocate in favor of ensuring that children have the age-appropriate education to recognize and talk about sexual abuse. Her efforts have led to passage of a version of “Erin’s Law” in several states, including her home state of Illinois.
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE PREVENTION AND
ERIN’S LAW LEGISLATION
2012 California
SCR 73
Adopted, Chaptered
Declares that the Legislature encourages school districts to include age-appropriate instruction related to child sexual abuse in their curriculum in order to help studentss understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate conduct in situations where child sexual abuse could occur and to provide students with resources on how to handle these potentially dangerous situations.
2012 Indiana Senate Bill 267
Enacted, Chaptered
Relates to education concerning child abuse, requires the department of education, in collaboration with organizations that have expertise in child sexual abuse, to identify or develop model education materials, response policies, and reporting procedures on child sexual abuse.
2012 Maine L.D. 1705, Chapter 162
Signed by Governor May 2012
Establishes the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children, which is directed to research issues regarding child sexual abuse in Maine and to adopt policies to address those issues. The policies may include age-appropriate curricula for schoolchildren from prekindergarten to grade 5 and methods to increase teacher, student and parent awareness of the issues regarding child sexual abuse. The task force is also directed to submit a report to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health and human services matters, and the joint standing committee is authorized to submit legislation to the First Regular Session of the 126th Legislature based on that report.
2012 Pennsylvania Senate 449
Chaptered
Amends the Public School Code of 1949, provides for child abuse recognition and reporting training for school entities and independent contractors of school entities and their employees who have direct contact with children. Provides that training shall address recognition of the signs of abuse and sexual misconduct, mandatory reporting requirements, school policies and professional relationships with students.
2012 Vermont Senate Bill 113
Enacted, Chaptered
Proposes to require independent schools to comply with the same training as school districts with respect to the prevention, identification and reporting of child sexual abuse and sexual violence, and to add headmasters of independent schools to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.
2012 West Virginia Senate Bill 161
Enacted, Chaptered
Promotes adult responsibility for protecting and preventing child abuse and neglect, adds youth camp administrator or counselor, employee, coach or volunteer of an entity that provides organized activities for children, or film or print processors to the list of mandatory reporters. Requires any person over a specified age who knows of or observes any sexual abuse or sexual assault shall report the circumstances to law enforcement within a specified time period; provides for an educational program.
2011 Ark. Acts, SB 527, Act 1236
 
Requires a school district to provide training to administrators, teachers, coaches, school counselors, school social workers, school psychologists and school nurses on the signs of child maltreatment and on the resources available to victims of child maltreatment. The law further requires the Child Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Commission to approve the training curriculum.
 
2011 Conn. Acts, HB 5431, P.A. 11-93
 
Sec. 3: Requires the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families to develop an educational training program and refresher training program for accurate and prompt identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect that shall be provided to all new school employees. The Department of Children and Families, in consultation with the Department of Education, shall develop a model mandated reporting policy for use by local and regional boards of education. The policy shall state applicable state law regarding mandated reporting and any relevant information that may help school districts perform mandated reporting.
Sec. 4: Stipulates that all school employees shall be required to complete an educational training program for accurate and prompt identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect and take a refresher training course at least once every three years.
 
2011 Guam Public Law 31-97
 
Creates a task force on prevention of sexual abuse of children. The task force is to include representatives from the courts, the departments of public health and social services, mental health and substance abuse, education, and law enforcement, the attorney general’s office and others. The task force is to gather information about child sexual abuse throughout Guam, make recommendations and create goals for local policy to prevent child sexual abuse, and submit a report on its recommendations to the legislature. The recommendations may include proposals for specific statutory changes and methods to foster cooperation among Government of Guam agencies, community-based organizations, and other public and private organizations. The task force may recommend policies such as providing an age-appropriate curriculum for students in prekindergarten through fifth grade, offering training for school personnel on child sexual abuse, providing educational information for parents or guardians on the warning signs of child abuse and providing any needed assistance or referral, counseling and resources to students affected by sexual abuse and educational and emotional support to child victims of abuse to allow them to be successful in school.
2011 Illinois
Public Act 96-1524
ERIN’S LAW TASK FORCE
On Feb. 14, 2011, Governor Pat Quinn signed Public Act 96-1524. The Act created a task force on the prevention of child sexual abuse within the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The task force was named the Erin’s Law Task Force and had 19 members. Members were required to be qualified by education or experience in the fields of prevention of child abuse and neglect.
P.A. 96-1524 required the Task Force to make recommendations for reducing child sexual abuse in Illinois based on the following activities:
1. Gather information concerning child sexual abuse throughout the State.
2. Receive reports and testimony from individuals, State and local agencies, community-based organizations, and other public and private organizations.
3. Create goals for State policy that would prevent child sexual abuse.
4. Submit a final report with its recommendations to the Officer of the Governor and the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2012.
The Erin’s Law Task Force was granted a six-month extension to complete the final report from the Governor’s Office. The report was due by June 1, 2012, and was timely submitted.
The statute provided as follows:
To adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse of children that may include age-appropriate curriculum from students in pre-k through 5th grade, training of school personnel on child sexual abuse; education information to parents or guardians provided in the school handbook on the warning signs of a child being abused, along with any needed assistance, referral, or resource information; available counseling and resources for students affected by sexual abuse; and emotional and educational support for a child of abuse to continue to be successful in school.
2013 Michigan
Senate Bills 1112-1114
ERIN’S LAW
The bills allow schools to implement a program to educate and provide resources for students, staff and parents about the warning signs of sexual abuse as well as available resources and counseling for children affected. They also create a one-time task force to develop recommendations on how schools can best handle this education.
 
2011 Missouri Senate Bill 54
Enacted
ERIN’S LAW
SCS/SB 54 – This act creates the "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act." (Section 160.085)
SECTION 37.710 - This act grants the Office of the Child Advocate the authority to file any findings or reports of the Child Advocate regarding the parent or child with the court and to issue recommendations regarding the disposition of an investigation, which may be provided to the court and the investigating agency. The Office may also mediate between alleged victims of sexual misconduct and school districts.
SECTION 160.261 - If a student reports alleged sexual misconduct by a teacher or other school employee to a school employee who is required to report to the Children's Division, the employee and the school district superintendent must forward the allegation to the Children's Division within 24 hours. Any reports made to the Children's Division must be investigated by the Division in accordance with Division procedures. The school district must not conduct an investigation for purposes of determining whether the allegations should be substantiated. A district may investigate the allegations for purposes of making a decision regarding the accused employee's employment. This act also requires the investigating officers to review the report using a preponderance of evidence standard.
SECTION 160.262 - This act authorizes the Office of the Child Advocate to offer mediation services when requested by both parties when child abuse allegations arise in a school setting. The mediator must not be a mandated reporter of child abuse. No student, parent of a student, school employee, or school district will be required to enter into mediation. If either party does not wish to enter into mediation, mediation will not occur. Procedures for mediation are described in the act.
SECTIONS 160.2100 & 160.2110: This act creates the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children. This act shall be known and may be cited as "Erin's Law."
Task Force members must be individuals who are actively involved in the prevention of child abuse and neglect and child welfare. The President Pro Tem of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives may each appoint one member of the General Assembly to the task force. The following additional members will be on the task force: the director of the Department of Social Services, or his or her designee; the Commissioner of Education, or his or her designee; the director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, or his or her designee; the director of the Office of Prosecution Services, or his or her designee; a representative representing law enforcement, appointed by the Governor; three active teachers employed in Missouri, appointed by the Governor; a representative of an organization involved in forensic investigation relating to child abuse, appointed by the Governor; a school superintendent, appointed by the Governor; a representative of the State Domestic Violence Coalition, appointed by the Governor; a representative from the juvenile and family court, appointed by the Governor; a representative from the Missouri Network of Child Advocacy Centers, appointed by the Governor; and an at-large member appointed by the Governor.
The Task Force must make recommendations for reducing child sexual abuse. The Task Force must submit a final report with its recommendations to the Governor, General Assembly, and State Board of Education by Jan. 1, 2013. The Task Force will end on Jan. 1, 2013.
The Task Force may also adopt a policy addressing sexual abuse of children, including a curriculum.
2009 Tex. Gen. Laws, HB 1041, Chap. 1115
JENNA’S LAW
 
Creates “Jenna’s Law.” Requires each school district to adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse of children and that the policy be included in the district improvement plan under Section 11.252 (District-Level Planning and Decision-Making) and in any informational handbook provided to students and parents.
Requires that a policy required by this section address methods for increasing teacher, student and parent awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse of children, including knowledge of (1) likely warning signs indicating that a child may be a victim of sexual abuse, using resources developed by the Texas Education Agency; (2) actions that a child who is a victim of sexual abuse should take to obtain assistance and intervention; and (3) available counseling options for students affected by sexual abuse.
Sets forth the composition and requirements of a task force established under this section to establish a strategy for reducing child abuse and neglect and improving child welfare.
Requires the task force to establish a strategy for reducing child abuse and neglect and for improving child welfare in the state. Requires the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House of Representatives to appoint the members of the task force by October 1, 2009. Requires the task force, by November 1, 2010, to submit the strategic plan to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House of Representatives. Provides that the task force is abolished on September 1, 2011.
2009 Vt. Acts, SB 13, Act 1
 
Sec. 2–15: Requires the appropriate legislative committees to develop a comprehensive statewide approach to preventing child sexual abuse. Includes a sexual abuse prevention component in all school health curricula and directs the Commissioner of Education to convene a working group to prepare technical assistance materials that support instruction on the sexual abuse prevention component and to provide training on this topic. Requires school boards to ensure that all school employees receive orientation on preventing, identifying and reporting child abuse and that parents and caregivers receive information and education about child sexual abuse. Requires that licensed child care facilities ensure that all employees receive orientation on preventing, identifying and reporting child abuse. Directs appropriate administrative agencies to conduct outreach efforts to raise the awareness of families and communities about child sexual abuse. Formally establishes the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Abuse and its mission.
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