Thursday, September 3, 2015

A new name and a new law claiming to fight child sex abuse, and guess what? THIS one will work!

We could say the names in our sleep—Megan’s Law; the Adam Walsh Act; Polly Klass; Jessica’s Law; Lauren Book; Chelsea’s Law; Laura Ahearn; and so many others.

They all mark milestones for laws and policies and mandates and programs that claim to fight child sexual abuse. More than one has launched the major participant to fame, fortune, or a political stepping-stone. They all claim to be pro-victim—but they aren’t. They are pro-registry. They are pro-public notification. They are pro-lifetime punishment for those who have committed any one of over 200 offenses, from the mildest possible to the most horrific, that triggers sex offender registration.

None of them are supported by evidence or empirical data. None of them focus on victims.

Enter Erin’s Law.

Erin Merryn is not involved in self-promoting activities. She does not appear to seek fame or power. She isn’t running for political office. She has limited her activism and her advocacy, born out of her own childhood abuse, to writing books and to lobbying legislators about the need for research-based sexual molestation prevention programs in public schools.

This is from her website:  
 After Erin introduced the legislation in her home state of Illinois, the bill was named “Erin’s Law” after her by legislators and it has caught on nationwide. “Erin’s Law” requires that all public schools in each state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program which teaches:
  • Students in grades pre-K – 12th grade, age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult
  • School personnel all about child sexual abuse
  • Parents & guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families

 I have scoured the site. I have found zero references to the sex offense registry. As far as I am able to determine, this is a totally victim-focused program. It is an education and prevention program, not a punishment program or a revenge-motivated program.

There are one or two statistics used on the site that I find contrary to research studies, but I can forgive that, and I will attempt to communicate with Erin about those things.

What I find possibly the most significant is that in five years, 26 state legislatures have passed Erin’s Law, and a significant number more are considering it. The states are underwriting the expenses themselves. They are receiving no help from the federal government.

Compare that to the states—is it 17?—who have adopted the Adam Walsh Act in nine years, and many of those only through coercion and federal help and with many reservations and reluctances and with some states poised to repeal it.

People who commit crime should be appropriately punished. Then everything possible should be done to foster rehabilitation and re-connection to a healthy lifestyle and a law-abiding community.

Making a significant difference in the number of children who are sexually abused will only be effected through education and prevention, and of every “law” named after a victim, Erin’s Law is the only one of which I am aware that is putting the total focus in the right place.


  1. Yep! I have no plans to ever oppose Erin's Law if it she gets a sponsor for legislation in Virginia. In fact I will ask that the bill ads to the curriculum not only the age of consent for VA but border states so when there is an age gap or one partner turns 18 and the other is not they understand they will become pubic Sex Offenders and that "sexting" under the age of 18 equals child pornography and they will become public Sex Offenders.

  2. The age of consent should be raised to 21 years of age . As with smokeing, consueming alcohol, and voteing . As President OBama has put into law that the parents of a "CHILD" under the age of " 26 years old " mandated to remain on the parents health insurance plan .
    Another great capture of awareness from Shelly for education for prevention of abuse . But I do wish in the near future they stop useing childrens names for the betterment of local, state, and federal achievements . Apostrophy names for laws and grants = $ not prevention . Amazeing the words "planned parent hood" can be so horrifying for the governments use of fetus body parts .
    If Erins law wether Erin is male or female we will trust Shelomiths insite to help RSOL with education and awareness .

  3. I'm sorry but I don't see this as a black-and-white situation. There are too many shades of Gray.especially when you involve legislative bodies. I am all for the victims of any sexual abuse receiving every type of assistance possible. having said that from the brief blurb that is it within the article about what the law is to contain . I see two problems. Number one, it does not address the type of help a victim will receive (probably the typical turn it over to the therapists who have their own biased ideas about treatment many of whom turn their clients into lifetime victims) the second part that I have a problem of is the reporting aspect of this type of law. It could easily turn overzealous educators into a pack of witch hunters. there is also the aspect When the offender is a family member in many cases for true healing to happen for the victims there is a need for family reunification. something that very rarely happens because of the criminal justice system and the therapy community.

  4. While I support Erin's law in it's CURRENT iteration, unscrupulous politicians would use it as cover to introduce their own riders that may increase the punishments to RSO's in general. For instance, residence, employment, proximity, and tehnological restrictions can be thrown in without debate or even exposure, other than the textual composition of the law, that doesn't get read until the bill is passed.

    Therefore, be very careful of its introduction, and make sure that the author, as much as possible, resist any riders being added. As much as I'd like to think this is possible, I don't think it's probable, and in the end we will sadly see another law trumped up with it's original provisions, but the "devil's in the details" aspect of Erin's law will unleash more draconian measures on registrants.


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