IDC Announces Passage of Erin Merryn’s Law
Important Anti-Abuse Legislation Sponsored by Assembly-member Jeff Dinowitz in the Assembly. The Independent Democratic Conference was joined today by Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, (D-Bronx), and nationally recognized anti-abuse advocate and survivor Erin Merryn to hail the passage of important legislation to stamp out child sexual abuse in New York.
The legislation, “Erin Merryn's Law,” (S.6182 Klein/ A.8993 Dinowitz), would require schools to make a change to their existing curriculum for child abduction to include age appropriate information on child sex abuse prevention. This alteration would give critically important information to victims – many of whom do not know there is a way out of their horrific situation.
“We want children to know there are adults who will help them and we want these dangerous sexual predators to know that they can no longer use fear and ignorance to mask their repugnant actions,” Senator Klein said. “My colleagues and I are proud to join Erin in her mission make sure that no other child has to go through what she has endured.”
As a child, Merryn was abused by both a neighbor and a family member. She says she stayed silent due to a combination of threats from her abusers, and the lack of knowledge about available help.
“My innocence was stolen, my trust was taken, but I have reclaimed my voice from the men that threatened and silenced me as I was raped and molested as a child,” Merryn said. “I wish someone was educating me on to tell instead of being brainwashed into silence by my abusers. My mission is to empower children in every state to speak up and tell if they are every being groomed or abused by a sexual predator so they do not stay silent the way I did. Through age appropriate curriculum on sexual abuse prevention we can empower children to speak up and tell. Right now they only hear one message and that comes from their abuser threatening them into silence. There are currently 42 million people in America that are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Three million of those are children. That could fill 42 national football stadiums. Join with me in supporting Erin's Law to protect and educate children. Help save the children who are waiting on us to give them a voice as they continue to stay silent.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18. More than 90 percent of sexual abuse victims know their abuser. Half (50 percent) of them are members of the household and 38 percent are acquaintances of the victim, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Merryn broke her silence with the publication of a book, “Stolen Innocence,” when she was a senior in high school. Now 27, Merryn has become a nationally recognized anti-abuse advocate, who has spoken in Washington and has been featured on “Oprah,” “Good Morning America,” and other news programs. She is fighting to get “Erin Merryn's law” passed in all 50 states.
This measure has already been make law in Indiana, Missouri and Merryn's home state of Illinois. The bill has passed both houses of the Legislature in Maine and is currently under consideration by that state's governor.
“This legislation will help ensure that more children receive practical and age-appropriate instruction that which they can incorporate into their daily lives,” Assemblyman Dinowitz said. “Child abuse and sexual exploitation are scourges on our society, and we must do everything we can to combat their heinous crimes. This legislation is but one step in our efforts to keep our children safe.”
“Erin’s story is very compelling, and her experience demonstrates the need for additional education and instruction for children so that they can recognize what is appropriate and what isn’t, and to hopefully prevent abuse from happening in the first place,” said Senator David J. Valesky, (D-Oneida).
The costs to alter existing programs will be minimal.
According to California-based Community Health Improvement Partners, for every dollar spent of prevention programs, there is a $2 to $20 savings in reduced demand for benefits and social programs.
In New York, the immediate ripple effects caused by child sexual abuse is estimated to cost more than $211 million, and a long term impact that is 10 times as large, according to calculations supplied by Darkness to Light, a South Carolina-based organization dedicated to ending child sexual abuse.
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF CHILD ABUSE BY NY REGIONS
NY State Region
Immediate Economic Impact
Long Term Economic Impact
Western New York
Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagra
Suffolk and Nassau
New York City
Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Richmond
(Staten Island), New York (Manhattan), Queens
Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins
Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Hamilton, Essex, Clinton, Franklin
Central New York
Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego
Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, Ontario, Monroe, Wayne, Seneca, Yates
Mid Hudson Valley
Sullivan, Ulster, Orange, Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Rockland
Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego, Schoharie, Fulton, Montgomery,
Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Schenectady, Columbia, Rensselaer, Greene, Albany
New York State