Today, the Washington State House of Representatives unanimously passed Rep. Gina McCabe’s bill to help establish age-appropriate, sexual abuse prevention curriculum in schools.
Known as Erin’s Law for childhood sexual abuse survivor Erin Merryn, House Bill 1539 would task the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) with establishing a coordinated program to provide age-appropriate information and training pertaining to the prevention of sexual abuse of students. It would also require the OSPI to disseminate existing information and curricula to school districts.
“For some students, school may be their only escape from sexual abuse,” said McCabe, R-Goldendale. “This bill is a critical first step in ensuring our children are equipped with the tools they need to present so they can put an end to the abuse. As this bill is considered in the Senate, I am asking the entire legislative body to help me protect our children who are afraid to speak up.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only 10 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child.
During public testimony on the bill in January, Olivia Holderman, who worked with McCabe on the legislation, testified in favor of the bill.
“I loved my grandpa. We did fun things together. We played games, we had tea parties. My grandfather was also a pedophile,” she said. “He hurt me. He made me do things I would never think about doing, and I was terrified. If Erin’s Law had been there, I could have told.”
Currently, 31 other states have enacted Erin’s Law legislation.
The bill now advances to the Senate for further consideration.