Anchorage – In advance of the start of the 29th Alaska Legislature in January, Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) will pre-file legislation to enact “Erin’s Law” in Alaska. The bill is identical to H.B. 233, which was taken up during the 2nd session of the 28th Alaska Legislature. H.B. 233 had over 20 cosponsors and was supported by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. There is widespread support from parents, teachers, and child abuse survivors to pass the law.
“I am committed to pushing Erin’s Law through passage. Our students need this essential personal body safety information,” said Tarr. “With the momentum from our work last session and broad bipartisan support I am confident this important legislation can pass early next session.”
“Erin’s Law” will give children tools to identify and protect themselves from child abuse. The law is the life’s work of child sexual abuse survivor Erin Merryn. She’s working to get “Erin’s Law” passed in all 50-states. So far “Erin’s Law” has been passed in 19 states.
“I look forward to working with Representative Tarr and others to pass Erin’s Law in Alaska,” said Merryn. “Alaska has some of the highest rates of child sexual abuse and Erin’s Law can help change that. All children need information to keep themselves safe.”
“Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, boys, girls, those from families with means, and those from any town or village in our state,” said child abuse survivor David Holthouse from Anchorage. “It’s time we take this important step forward to empower any Alaskan to speak up about their own experience with abuse.”
David Holthouse recently authored an editorial in support of Erin’s law. The editorial can be found here: It’s Never Too Late to Tell
Passage of “Erin’s Law” would require school districts in Alaska to develop and implement an age-appropriate sexual abuse prevention curricula that educates children about personal body safety. School districts would also be required to provide training for staff and administrators to recognize the signs of abuse.
“The statistics regarding abuse in Alaska are alarming,” said Tarr. “In 2013 there were 2,296 allegations of child sexual abuse in Alaska and it’s believed that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. It’s past time to empower children to speak up and stop this terrible cycle of violence.”
Passage of “Erin’s Law” is supported by many organizations that work with children in Alaska including the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership, NEA-Alaska, and the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. The legislation to implement “Erin’s Law” in Alaska will be pre-filed in advance of the start of the 29th Alaska Legislature on January 20.