Legislation Proposes Statewide Sexual Abuse Prevention Education

Feb 22, 2018

Credit graphic elements from erinslaw.org with modifications by Tennessee Watson

Survivors of child sexual abuse and advocates testified before the Senate Education Committee Wednesday. They urged lawmakers to support the implementation of Erin’s Law in Wyoming. The legislation first passed in Illinois following the advocacy of survivor Erin Merryn, and has now passed in a total of 31 states.

 

Wyoming’s version of the law authorizes school districts to provide age-appropriate child sexual abuse education prevention and to build the capacity to respond to reports of abuse. Wyoming does not currently address this on a statewide level.

 

Rock Springs Senator Liisa Anselmi-Dalton said there’s nothing that guarantees kids are educated about child sexual abuse, and the goal of this bill is to make sure kids know where to go for help.  

 

“This is particularly relevant because 90 percent of the time it’s by someone they know and trust.” Anselmi-Dalton added that, “1 in 4 girls are abused in this way by the time they are 18. And 1 in 6 boys are abused in this way.”

 

The actions of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and the voices of survivors who recently testified at his trial have furthered awareness about the prevalence of child sexual abuse and a need for more resources to teach personal body safety.  

 

While Wyoming’s version of Erin’s Law does not mandate districts to offer child sexual abuse education, as it does in other states, Tara Muir from the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault said the bill starts an important statewide conversation.

 

“We’re fine with it being permissive for now, and get things started and get the conversation started and then we can look at mandating it as it starts to go well.”

 

The Education Committee supported the bill and sent it to the full Senate.