1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the United States will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old. There are more than 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse in the United States. 3 million of these survivors are still children. These children could fill 46 national football stadiums.
90% of the time, children know their abuser.
Children who experience child sexual abuse experience a multitude of negative effects:
- Poor academic performance
- Dropping out of high school
- Self mutilation
- Persistent post traumatic stress disorder
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- A “markedly” increased risk for abuse in subsequent relationships
- Difficulty in forming meaningful and trusting relationships
- Cognitive deficits
- Disassociative symptoms
EARLY IDENTIFICATION OF VICTIMS and STRONG MATERNAL SUPPORT
can significantly reduce the likelihood of those negative effects.
Erin Merryn was sexually abused twice in her childhood: once at the age of 6 by her best friend’s uncle for over two years, until her family moved into a new home.
She was sexually abused again at the age of 11 for two years, by her own cousin.
She is a survivor and activist who campaigned to have a law passed to teach children “personal body safety”.
Key Components of Erin’s Law
- All public schools should implement a child abuse prevention program (a “personal body safety” program) with students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through grade 5.
- The Task Force recommends the following core components from which each school or district can craft an effective and comprehensive child abuse prevention program:
1) Teach children to recognize abuse, equip them with skills to reduce their vulnerability, and encourage them to report the abuse
2) Programs should include more than 1 session, ideally, at least 4, with visual aids and reinforcing concepts displayed throughout the school
3) Programs should be conducted annually and should be developmentally appropriate
4) Programs should involve children as active learning participants and to be the most effective, should include discussion, modeling, and role playing
5) Programs should have the capacity to be delivered by a wide range of personnel, and personnel should have a thorough knowledge of child sexual abuse, including how to respond appropriately to disclosures
6) Programs should include an evaluation component with measurable outcomes
7) Programs should be culturally sensitive and adaptable for use within varying school contexts (age, race, special needs, etc.)
8) Evidence-based curriculum should be sought out
9) Programs must include a professional training component for administrators, teachers, and other school personnel on talking to students about personal body safety, effects of sexual abuse on children, handling disclosures, and mandated reporting
10) Recognizing that parents play a key role in protecting children from abuse, programs must include a component to encourage parental involvement within the prevention program. This component should inform parents about child sexual abuse topics including but not limited to: characteristics of offenders, grooming behaviors, and how to discuss this topic with their children