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October 29, 2020
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Announces Website to Help Districts Develop Sexual Abuse Prevention Education

Resources Support Districts and Schools in Meeting Erin’s Law Requirements

Curriculum resources are now available to assist schools and educators implement Erin’s law, which requires public schools to teach child sexual abuse and exploitation prevention in Kindergarten through eighth grade, Interim Commissioner Betty A. Rosa announced today. The State Education Department today launched an Erin’s law website with materials to help educate students on awareness, skills, self-confidence and support to prevent child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse. 

“It’s imperative that teachers and parents are able to talk to children about this important and difficult topic - what sexual abuse is and how to prevent and stop it,” Board of Regents Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown said. “The Board of Regents and I believe that protecting the safety of our students is paramount and these resources can help schools adopt and create strong programs to prevent child sexual abuse.” 

“Protecting children is part of our responsibility as educators and education is critical for prevention efforts and a driving force for change,” Interim Commissioner Rosa said. “These curriculum resources provide schools with caring, grade-appropriate materials to help empower children by letting them know it’s safe to speak up to someone they can trust. We are grateful to our partners in the legislature, Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, who advocated for this law and for our students.”

New York’s Erin’s Law addresses the need to prevent sexual abuse of students in grades K-8, which requires defining and addressing the wide range of behaviors and experiences related to sexual violence, such as child sexual abuse, sexual assault, and child sexual exploitation. Resources available on NYSED’s Erin’s Law website include grade-banded curricular benchmarks that will assist in guiding instruction and lesson development. Educators will also find a suite of available curricular resources appropriate for various grade levels.

“Thank you to NYSED for all of its work preparing resources for the implementation of Erin’s Law,” Senator Shelley B. Mayer, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, said. “I was proud to fight for passage of this critically important bill, which requires age-appropriate instruction to prevent and recognize child sexual abuse and exploitation. Erin Merryn’s story is an example of a terrible wrong done to a child, which can never be forgotten. Erin Merryn took that awful experience, and through advocacy and legislative change, will improve the lives of countless New York children. The Erin’s Law curriculum will empower students to speak up about what is happening to them and save others. I look forward to continuing our work together with NYSED to protect all of New York's students.” 

“As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have deep gratitude for the New York State Education Department's commitment to administering the requirements of ‘Erin’s Law’,” Senator Alessandra Biaggi said. “New York State is taking a critical step to protect the safety of our children by implementing the necessary education to prevent childhood sexual abuse and trauma. This will empower children to speak up if they feel unsafe by providing students with the tools to report instances of sexual abuse and prevent further harm. I am forever grateful to Erin Merryn for bringing this issue to light – because of her bravery to speak out, New York’s children will be that much safer."

“I am proud to have been the Assembly sponsor of Erin's Law, which is a proactive and preventative approach to combatting childhood sexual abuse and an integral complement to the Child Victims Act,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said. “New York must do everything in its power to protect children, and this new requirement accomplishes just that. I am proud that these changes are finally taking effect, and I thank longtime advocates such as Erin Merryn, Gary Greenberg, and many others who never gave up on this fight for our children and grandchildren. Perseverance pays off, and I am grateful to Dr. Betty Rosa and the New York State Education Department for implementing this new initiative and ensuring that school communities have access to this vital information to combat childhood sexual abuse.”

NYSED recommends that educators bolster any existing curriculum offered on this topic in accordance with the existing New York State standards for Health education to fully comply with the intent of Erin’s Law. While curriculum remains a local decision in New York State, these resources provided can serve as a foundation in curriculum development. NYSED also encourages local school districts to partner with families and communities to make decisions about sexual abuse education that are developmentally appropriate and consistent with community values. 

The Department will propose emergency changes to regulations which the Board of Regents will discuss and vote on at the December 2020 meeting. A public comment period on the proposed changes will follow. 

NYSED’s Erin’s Law website and resources were developed in partnership with the Department of Health, the NYSED Office of Student Support Services, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), and the Monroe 2 BOCES.