Independent Democratic Conference Pushes for Erin Merryn’s Law with New Federal Funding Backing Program

Every Student Succeeds Act will provide federal funding for student sexual abuse awareness and prevention – removing any barrier to passing Erin Merryn’s law


NEW YORK, NY – State Senators Jeff Klein (D-Bronx-Westchester) and David Valesky (D-Oneida), as well as members of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), joined Erin Merryn in applauding the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law by President Obama earlier this month, which includes federal funding for sexual abuse awareness and prevention programs for students, parents and guardians.


The federal legislation would provide funding to the State for the implementation of Erin Merryn’s Law (S.1947-A), legislation first introduced by members of the IDC in 2012, which would help protect children from sexual abuse by providing for age-appropriate awareness and education programs for students from kindergarten through grade eight. Despite the bill having passed the Senate every year since its introduction, it has yet to pass the Assembly.


Implementing an age-appropriate program for young students would give critically important information to victims – many of whom do not know there is a way out of their horrific situation.

“No child should ever have to suffer these kinds of horrible abuses in silence. Now, with the signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and federal funding for this program, we will be able to light the way for all of New York’s children. With Erin Merryn’s Law, we will ensure that our children are equipped with the information that they need to help another child, or to seek the help they need. I urge my colleagues in the legislature to join the IDC, Erin Merryn, and numerous advocates in fighting to give a voice to every child who may be suffering – with this federal funding, we can make Erin Merryn’s Law a reality in New York,” said Senator Klein.


“State law in New York already requires that we educate our children on abduction – it is high time that we updated it to ensure that we are also educating our children on sexual abuse awareness and prevention. With the Every Student Succeeds Act potentially providing federal funding for this program, New York now has the opportunity to join the 26 other states that have prioritized protecting their children from sexual abuse. I am proud to join Senator Klein, the IDC, and Erin Merryn in calling for the legislature to pass this much-needed legislation,” said Senator Valesky.


As a child, Merryn was abused by both a neighbor and a family member. She stayed silent due to a combination of threats from her abusers, and the lack of knowledge about available help. Now, it is her mission to give a voice to every child who may be suffering.


In 2012, the IDC released a report on the need for Erin Merryn’s law, as well as the economic impact that sexual abuse has on the state. “Erin Merryn’s Law: Breaking the Silence” estimated that in New York, the immediate financial effects caused by child sexual abuse is estimated to cost the State over $211 million, with 10 times as much cost in long term impact. This provision of federal funding can not only cover the expense of program implementation, but also mitigate the immediate and long term financial losses that abuse costs the State.


“With President Obama signing a federal version of Erin’s Law that provides funding across the country for the law, there should be no reason New York should not pass it. A law that is now funded to protect kids from abuse – who would be against that? I hope this speeds up the delay in getting Erin’s Law passed in New York and adding it to the already 26 states that have passed it,” said Erin Merryn, advocate for Erin Merryn’s law.


“The importance of sexual abuse education and awareness for children who may be at risk can not be overstated. Providing the tools needed in order to prevent and avoid abuse is one of the most critical things we can do for our young students. The legislature must work to pass this legislation this year – with federal funding to be made available from the Every Student Succeeds Act, let’s make New York the latest state to ensure that our children are educated on sexual abuse awareness and prevention,” said Senator Diane Savino.


“I applaud President Obama for signing the Every Student Succeeds Act into law, which will strengthen federal funding to educate our nation’s students on sexual abuse awareness and prevention. Our children are our future, and we must protect them for those who want to do them harm. Together with my colleagues in the Senate, we passed Erin Merryn’s Law that would provide mandatory instruction on preventing child sexual abuse in grades kindergarten through eight. I urge the Assembly to pass this vital piece of legislation this session,” said Senator David Carlucci.


“Every Student Succeeds is proof that, when both parties work together and put policy above partisanship, real people stand to benefit. This new federal legislation has given us the ability to fund programs that will make every child in New York fully aware of sexual abuse and of how to prevent it. Victims need to know that they are not alone, that they have options, and that they can be protected when they feel most vulnerable. I urge my colleagues in the Assembly to pass Erin Merryn’s law before any more children are needlessly abused or left alone with their trauma,” said Senator Tony Avella.


“Erin Merryn’s Law recognizes that children themselves need to be not only aware of the dangers that exist in our society but provided with information and support to aid in avoiding abuse, exploitation and abduction. Too many times, we have seen the devastating results that lack of awareness and/or understanding of the dangers and warning signs of abuse, exploitation and abduction have had on our children and families. This legislation will help provide our communities with the tools to combat these terrible crimes,” said Randi Bregman, Executive Director of Vera House, Inc.


“The McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center does a tremendous amount of community education and education in schools focusing on child abuse prevention programming. The impact of education on children is immense, because we want to make sure they know what to do and how to keep themselves safe. We know that in the schools where we provide education, we regularly have one or two children who come forward after learning through our program. The McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center believes strongly in Erin Merryn’s law, because we need to ensure that every single child is getting this education and the tools they need,” said Linda Cleary, Executive Director of the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center.


The bill is currently carried  in the legislature by Senator Klein and Assemblyman Dinowitz.

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