Wednesday, October 10, 2012

MS - Sex abuse education bill to be introduced

Original Article

This is something all states should be doing instead of passing unconstitutional feel good laws that do nothing to prevent or deter sexual crimes.


By JB Clark

TUPELO - A law aimed at educating Mississippi's children on identifying and reporting sexual abuse will be introduced into the Mississippi House and Senate during the 2013 legislative session.

The law, Erin's Law, was inspired and spearheaded by Erin Merryn, who has used her own story to help bring up a conversation about sexual abuse in America.

Merryn spoke at Tupelo's Families and Communities Together Conference at First Baptist Church in Tupelo on Tuesday morning, encouraging the audience to push elected officials to pass the law and to talk to children about safe and unsafe touching.

Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, and Rep. Tom Miles, D-Forest, will introduce the bill in their respective chambers in the following session.

The model legislation passed in Illinois requires a task force to gather information concerning child sexual abuse in the state, take reports and testimony, create goals for policy that would prevent child sexual abuse and then submit a final report to the Legislature.

The program in schools would focus on increasing teacher, student and parent awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse, talk about actions a child who is a victim can take to get assistance and intervention and point out available counseling options for students affected by sexual abuse.

Merryn said the focus is on age-appropriate education and many organizations already receive federal grants to teach about sexual abuse in schools.

The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence says one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday and the Crimes Against Children Research Center Shows 93 percent of those cases are abuse from someone they know and trust. "Only seven percent of the time is it stranger danger," Merryn said.

Merryn spoke about being sexually abused as a child by an authority figure and a family member and not knowing how to tell anyone due to shame and fear of being in trouble. She has used her experiences and books about them as a platform for change.

"We learn tornado drills, bus drills, fire drills, stranger danger, Mr. McGruff, bully intervention, Internet safety - I have my D.A.R.E. graduation card - but what's missing?" Merryn asked Tuesday morning. "I never had to duck and cover or run out of a burning building but I didn't have the words to explain what happened to me. I didn't have a tell, tell, tell drill."

She tells her story in the books "Stolen Innocence" and "Living for Today."


loneranger said...

If done correctly and not confusing the children with having to decide what is a good touch or bad. This is a great idea. However think about why they don't tell. If they do the person that touched them will go to jail. So given it's a family member do they want that? they don't know about the registry but soon will find out as it rips their family a part. This makes it where other members will not want them to tell. So if they tell they don't get into trouble but what else happens I'm not saying for them not to. I'm saying the law makes it devastating for the entire family. So what could change so they can tell and not ruin the family? First of all most children when they get to be old enough to understand these things also see other students with parents or brothers on the registry. They may not know all about it but they know who the kids are as the other parents won't let them play with them. Or the gossip goes around the school about someones Dad. So they don't want that either. So get them to tell? Not as easy as it sounds. So lets look at something else. Lets say this works. They line up to tell their story. How many more can the jails hold? Given 90 percent don't report. Lets take 30 percent that would. Ok great now what? This goes deep but the way the laws are set up the numbers of reported crimes will remain the same. Until we make it where the offender and he used to be called Dad or uncle or brother. Can get help and not be destroyed nothing will change. The sex offender laws have hurt reporting. they have hurt everyone as it's not something anyone wants in their family. However without help it will stay in the family and continue generation after generation as it has. Given the tough on sex offender laws and track them for life stance. There are to many compelling reasons not to tell then to. Also giving much ammunition to the offender to get them not to tell. yes this sounds twisted to some i'm sure. but time to close this loophole. Going to jail works to remove the offender and we can continue this as long as we can afford it. Mental help and healing are an option as well. The way the laws are this can't happen. To much is at stake for any family in this situation so few want to go down this road. The family secret and secrets to come generation after generation.

Steve A. Mizera said...

This legislation begins the process of dealing with child molestation: Education before the crime, not punishment after the harm is done.
If all jurisdictions took the approach that Mississippi is taking, the punitive, useless National Sex Offender Registration laws can be abolished and the money wasted there could be used to pay for the kind of education Mississippi is trying to legislate.

In addition, all persons who deal with the education, recreation or supervision of children in should be immediately suspect of being child molesters until they have a certificate showing they attended similar education.

Background checks only have merit in detecting those who have already committed crimes against kids. This would mean tossing out the antiquated belief that we are all innocent until proven guilty. It is better that all those who interact with children in an official capacity - scouts, pastors, teachers, police and other professionals be required to prove their innocence as they embark on the duty of guiding children.

As a Registered Sex Offender, I commend this former victim for speaking out, for reaching out. She is on the right track. I too wrote my unbelievable autobiography Pedophilia: A Cause and A Cure. As both a victim and a perpetrator, society would also benefit from what I wrote.

Steve A. Mizera