Lawmakers working to pass Erin's Law in Md.

Posted at 6:59 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 19:37:05-05

Erin Merryn knows about a childhood riddled with abuse.

From ages 6 to 8 she was sexually abused by a neighbor and again at 11 from a cousin.

It was a cycle that as a child, she didn't know how to break.

"I knew about stranger danger and the officer taught us every year about stranger danger, but I didn't know anything about speaking up and telling so I kept it a secret in my diary. I wrote about it all the time when the abuse was happening. I even put in there that no one is going to believe me. How do I make it stop?"

In her home state, Erin found a way.

Three years ago, Merryn helped pass Erin's law in Illinois.

The law which bears her name requires schools to teach kids about personal body safety; that if you are being sexually abused, don't keep it a secret.

In just six years, Merryn says she has been able to work with legislatures in 26 states to pass similar bills.

"It's empowering kids because without this education, kids often get only one message and it is from the perpetrator: you keep it a secret, nobody will believe you, and this is your fault. So kids are being abused for years and they are not talking about it," Merryn said.

Montgomery County Delegate Eric Luedtke wants to make Maryland the 27th state to pass Erin's law.
He became interested in the bill after several abuse cases, including one in his district.

Erin's law did make it through the House of Delegates last year but stalled in the senate.

Introducing it again today, Luedtke is confident it can become law in 2016.

"The bill will mandate that schools, both public and private start teaching abuse education. In other words they teach kids in an age appropriate way that if they are being touched inappropriately by an adult, they need to report it," Luedtke said.

It is a simple concept, but one Erin knows is crucial to prevent what happened to her.

"I know kids will speak up and tell with this because it is what would have encouraged me had somebody taught me this."

While Erin's law is already in 26 states, it was an unfunded mandate.

hat changed late last year when President Obama signed the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Act which in part, funds Erin's law where it has been enacted.