LANSING - A law aimed at helping to prevent the sexual abuse of children is on its way to the governor's desk after being passed Friday by the Michigan Legislature.
Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, was one of the sponsors along with Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, and Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor.
"Erin's Law" is named after Erin Merryn, a sexual abuse survivor from Illinois whose advocacy in her home state led to passage of a similar law there in 2011. After going public about abuse by a family member, Merryn made it her mission to try to ensure that children have the age-appropriate education so they can recognize and talk about sexual abuse.
Senate Bills 1112 (PDF), 1113 (PDF) and 1114 (PDF) require school boards to adopt and implement policies addressing child sexual abuse and call for creation of a task force to make recommendations on how best to prevent the problem.
Under the law schools can adopt age-appropriate curriculum, train school staff on child sexual abuse and adopt policies concerning informing parents on the warning signs of abuse. Parents are to be made aware of the curriculum and can "opt out" if they do not want their children involved.
Similar laws have been enacted in Maine, Indiana and Missouri, and legislation has been introduced in several other states, including Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania.