“Erin’s Law” which focuses on preventing child sexual abuse met final Senate approval this week. Senate Bill 2421 encourages schools across the state to provide age-appropriate instruction to students on personal body safety and how to report sexual abuse, including occurrences that could potentially happen in the home. The bill is named after Erin Merryn, an Illinois native who was sexually abused as a child. Merryn now fully dedicates her time to getting the law passed in all fifty states.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported that in 2012 there were 3,508 child sexual abuse cases reported across the state. The U.S. Department of Justice, however, indicates child sexual abuse is underreported in about 60% of cases, meaning the actual number of abuse cases in Tennessee is most likely higher than reported.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their perpetrator, with 34% of the offenders being family members. The Bureau reports that 59% of offenders were acquainted with the victim and only 7% were strangers.
Currently, 10 states have passed Erin’s law, and 17 additional states are introducing it this year. The bill is pending final consideration in the House of Representatives on March 27.