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Gov. Markell signs child sexual abuse legislation

Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill into law Wednesday designed to educate children, parents and teachers about sexual abuse.

The new law requires the state to develop curriculum for all of Delaware’s public schools to educate school employees, parents and child in pre-K through grade 6 about personal body safety and child sexual abuse.

Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Delaware Karen Derasmo said the law will give kids the education to know if they’ve been sexually abused, and the language to talk it.


“It will also give parents and teachers the words and the ability that they need to recognize when abuse is occurring and what to do when they need to deal with that in an appropriate way,” she said. 


It’s named Erin’s Law, after Erin Merryn, a victim of child sexual abuse who is working to pass this type of legislation in all 50 states.


There are three million children in the United States who have survived sexual abuse.


“That’s like 46 football stadiums of children who have been sexually abused," according to representative Valerie Longhurst, who sponsored Delaware's version of Erin’s Law. "Unless we bring it to the forefront and we say that we need to do more education, we need to talk about it. But some people don’t want to talk about it and the only way that you make that change is by talking about it.”


Bill sponsor Senator Margaret Rose Henry said the new law will empower children to go to an adult if they suspect child sexual abuse has occurred.


"It will make sure school districts are doing what they’re supposed to do so that a child who presents himself or herself can get the help that they need,” Henry said.


The new law requires schools to notify parents when their child is taking this curriculum. It applies to all public schools, including charter schools.


Delaware is the 28th state to implement Erin’s Law.