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Carnes Helps Give LB 143 And "Erin's Law" A Positive Push

Posted: 14 January, 2013

WAYNE - A Nebraska newspaper editor and author is working to make that possible by encouraging lawmakers in the Nebraska Legislature to pass LB143, a version of "Erin's Law" that is a national effort to educate children and teachers on sexual abuse crafted by Erin Merryn, an Illinois woman who is a survivor of sexual assault as a child and is working to have "Erin's Law" passed in all 50 states.

"We teach our kids about everything from saying no to drugs to how to get out of a burning building, but there is very little discussed in the way of what sexual abuse is and what kids should do if it happens to them," said Michael Carnes, editor of The Wayne Herald and author of the book "Call Me A Survivor," which chronicles his life as a survivor of child sexual assault. "It's a crime that goes unreported more often than not, and there are children in this state whose lives are in constant turmoil because of it."

LB143, introduced by Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins, asks school districts in Nebraska to create a policy that is age-appropriate and provides for a better understanding of, awareness of, and response to child sexual abuse. If approved, the Nebraska Department of Education would have until July 1, 2014 to create a model child sexual abuse policy to assist schools in developing policies for their district.

The bill is modeled from some parts of "Erin's Law," which also calls for child sexual abuse prevention education to be taught from Pre-K through grade 5, as well as training for school administrators and educators.
"I understand that the education community in Nebraska is reluctant to have curriculum requirements mandated by the Legislature, and LB143 provides a happy medium to deal with a topic of extreme importance in the lives of our young children," Carnes said.

A 2006 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they turn 18 years of age. Of the estimated 42 million survivors of sexual abuse in America, 3 million of these are children.

"That is enough to fill Memorial Stadium almost 36 times, or more than five years of sellouts in a typical Husker football schedule," Carnes said. "That even one child has to face the horror of being sexually abused in any town, state or nation is too many."

And while the concept of teaching Stranger Danger to our young children is a good one, it barely scratches the surface in helping kids avoid the possibility of becoming one of the more than 3 million victims of sexual assault.
"In cases of child sexual assault, more than 90 percent of the kids who were sexually assaulted were attacked, not by a stranger, but by someone they know," Carnes said. "In my case, it was the older brother of a school classmate. It could be a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a cousin, a neighbor, or even a coach. Many times, those children who are sexually abused experience it from the inside of that circle of personal influence."

LB143 was introduced in the Nebraska Legislature Friday morning, and Carnes is optimistic that it will be passed and signed by Gov. Dave Heinemann sometime in this year's session of the Legislature.

"As a nation, we have been blessed with the work and dedication of Erin Merryn in her efforts to make "Erin's Law" happen across the United States," Carnes said. "I'm thrilled with the opportunity to help her make it happen here in Nebraska, and I thank Sen. Bloomfield for bringing LB143 to the floor of the Legislature to help our state's kids in the fight against child sexual abuse. I would encourage Nebraska residents to contact their state senators and demand passage of LB143 in this year's Legislative session – our kids' safety depends on it."

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