Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, attends Gov. Pat Quinn’s bill signing for a new mandate in child sex-abuse education in Illinois schools, stating “We’re very convinced we just need to make this happen.”

Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2013



After watching Gov. Pat Quinn sign into law a new mandate for child sex-abuse education in Illinois schools, the woman behind that measure will be hitting the road to push the cause nationwide.


On Thursday, Quinn signed “Erin’s Law” at the Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County in Hoffman Estates. That’s where, 14 years ago, a then-13-year-old Erin Merryn first spoke up about sexual abuse she had endured.


Although it’s an unfunded mandate, Merryn, 27, said the law lets school districts decide how to implement it. Districts can choose either to use and pay for existing research-based curriculum, or train teachers on how to educate their students.


Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said “Erin’s Law” is the first unfunded school mandate in two years. Crespo, vice-chair for the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, said unfunded mandates are always a concern and an issue.


“We’re very convinced we just need to make this happen,” Crespo said. “We have other unfunded mandates. Somehow the school districts do manage a way to do those things.”


Lawmakers at the event praised Merryn for having the courage to quit her job as a youth and family counselor in 2010 to take on a national awareness campaign. Merryn’s campaign also focuses on support for child advocacy centers, ending stigma about sex abuse and reminding adults to be aware and to act.


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