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'Erin's Law' passed in Illinois, brings awareness to sexual abuse

Victims of sexual abuse or assault often suffer extensive levels of pain, humiliation and loneliness. They may feel as though they have no one to talk to about their tragic experience, and may end up trying to simply forget the physical and emotional injuries they have endured. However, efforts are being made right here in Illinois to educate people on this difficult subject so that victims of sexual abuse or assault have access to the help and resources they need.

Most recently, a mandate called Erin's Law was signed into law by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. The measure is named after Erin Merryn, who was a victim of sexual abuse until she was 13 years old. Merryn has been working for three years to see this law passed so that other children do not suffer the same devastation she endured for years.

Before this law was passed in Illinois, only high schools were required to teach students about assault awareness and prevention. However, Erin's Law extends this education to middle and elementary schools, since many victims of sexual assault are young children. The program is unfunded, but it allows each school district to decide if they want to develop their own educational program or purchase existing curriculums to share with students. In either case, students will receive age-appropriate resources and lessons about what to do if they have been a victim of sexual abuse or assault.

One of the most common defenses to claims of sexual abuse is the passage of time. Victims are generally encouraged to speak to someone about the abuse sooner than later so that help can be given and the wrongful sexual conduct can be stopped. This is often easier said than done. However, with increased resources and awareness campaigns to educated young people, many people hope that victims of this behavior will feel comfortable speaking up and reporting it.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Quinn signs sex-abuse education mandate," Sally Ho, Jan. 24, 2013

  • Our Chicago law firm works with victims of sexual misconduct who wish to pursue the restitution and compensation they deserve from the party responsible. For more information on this topic, please visit our page on sexual abuse and assault.

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