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What Erin's Law Is and Is Not



Hey everyone, welcome to Catch the Message. We want to thank you for being here today. Um, we want to talk today about something that, uh, we do get a lot of questions. First of all, if you're joining us for the first time, we, um, have a curriculum that we take to schools that helps kids stay safe from unsafe touch. It's more than that, but that's the simple version of it, and it is our goal to help kids, um, I guess create the courage within themselves that to come forward and talk about basically anything that's hurting them. Um, I always say don't leave it locked up inside. Have the courage to go talk to somebody. So, um, one of the questions we get is, uh, what Aaron's law is. And, uh, we've been defining that for many years now within all our presentations, but there's been some, I guess a lot of questions about what it is and little, little confusion. 


And so we wanna kind of talk today very briefly about what it is and what it isn't. And so, um, if you don't know what Erin's law is, it's a law that was passed in Illinois in 2013. A young woman by the name of Erin, uh, Marin, uh, had this law passed because she was, uh, a, a victim and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. And she was a social worker. Uh, she grew up to be a social worker and noticed one day that they have all these drills that keeps kids safe. And, um, I can attest to those. We had fire drills and tornado drills when we were kids. Um, but no one ever talked about keeping kids safe from unsafe touch. And so she started going to work on getting a law passed that requires this education. So, so what is Erin's law? 


Erin's law is a, i I call it an opportunity to help kids learn about the dangers of, uh, for the older kids, we call it abuse because that's what it is, sexual abuse for younger kids, we call it unsafe touch. So it's really raising their awareness about learning. Uh, the whole idea of what a safe touch is and an unsafe touch is, that's a very basic, uh, concept of what Erin's law is. And Deanna's here, she's, uh, she works with with me, um, all the time on helping kids understand all this. And Deanna's gonna talk quickly about what Erin's law isn't. 




Absolutely. So, uh, I've been working in the field of sexual abuse prevention education. I'm about to enter my 10th year. And, you know, when I first joined the, the field and really kicked off my career, uh, you know, we really focused on Erin's law and the 10 key components of the law. Things that have to be present in order, in order for the law to be effective and, and really implemented with true fidelity. So, you know, one of them is it has to be presented developmentally appropriately. Um, it has to teach children to distinguish the difference between safe and unsafe touch. You could Google it on and on and on, and each state in the 37 states that it's passed have their own key components. But they're all very, very similar because Aaron helped sit on the, you know, the panels that created it. Erin's law is not sex education. 


Erin's law is not about teaching kids, um, about the different sexualities, about gender expression, gender identities, sexual orientation, none of that. Now, um, just a side note. Um, I I always say in my family, there is no conversation too big, too small, too taboo. I'm willing to have any conversation within my own home, you know, um, I would never dare to teach outside of my scope in a classroom, in a presentation, whatever we teach in a parent night, whatever we show the parents, the guardians, staff members, district officials is what the children hear. And it always aligns with Erin's law. And so what we've seen this year, um, you know, we love when parents and guardians and staff members show up, but what we've been met with is, uh, is, is at times, not all the time, but at times, almost a form of aggression, of demanding. 


Why are you teaching my kids sex and sexuality? And I'm very clear we don't do that. I don't do that with children that are not my own, that is not within the scope of our presentations. So to be very, very clear, Erin's law is a law that mandates that public schools provide comprehensive prevention education from pre-K through 12th grade, unsafe, unsafe, unwanted touch, or a, as Victor said, as they get older sexual abuse. And so, what, what is Erin's law not Erin's law is not fulfilling any sort of, uh, agenda unless we're talking about the agenda of keeping kids safe. And, you know, there we keep it very, very simple with them. We just wanna give them the facts on how to keep their bodies safe. And, and Victor and I both, you know, we're always happy to have conversations with parents and guardians about other topics, but when we're talking to the kids, it's strictly how to keep their bodies safe. 




Yeah, and I'll take it a next step. And this, this is something Deanne and I talk about all the time, that this our curriculum, which is something I created called Be Seen and Heard, which fulfills the Erin's law mandate. It's really helping kids to talk about anything that is, we call an unsafe secret. So again, when we're talking to kids, if they connect to the topic of safe touch, unsafe touch, or sexual abuse, that they have the courage to go talk. However, there are kids, a lot of kids that keep unsafe secrets that are not about sexual abuse, but it could be about bullying or something that's going on at home that they're scared about, or whatever the case is. I want to help kids have a voice no matter what it is. And, and adding one more thing, when parents say, well, are you teaching our kids about sex ed? 


Again, this topic, sexual abuse, has nothing to do with sex. It's all about power and control. That's it. And we really, really, we drive home that fact. Again, it's age appropriate. So again, we just wanted to clear that up. Um, if you are an educator or a parent, feel free to share this with your schools and we'll be happy to have a conversation and, uh, take it to the next step and come to your school in some format to teach your kids about this very difficult topic. Again, thank you. Catch the message. We will see you next time. Thanks everybody.