Section 16-40-9

Instruction for avoiding child sexual abuse.

(a)(1) The Legislature recognizes that Erin Merryn was raped and molested for six and a half years by a neighbor and a family member. She began a crusade her senior year of high school in 2004 to end the silence and shame around sexual abuse. Erin's Law has been adopted in a number of states to help address the problem of child sexual abuse.

(2) The intent of Erin's Law is to shatter the silence and stigma around child sexual abuse, and to educate children and empower them to recognize and to report abuse.

(3) The Legislature finds that without a specific initiative like Erin's Law, schools generally fail to give young students adequate awareness and a voice in this issue.

(b) The Governor's Task Force on Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children created under subsection (c) shall adopt guidelines for a child sexual abuse prevention instructional program. The guidelines shall:

(1) Educate children in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 in public schools on child sexual abuse prevention through age appropriate curriculum through role plays, discussions, activities, and books.

(2) Give children the knowledge and encouragement to speak up and tell if anyone has ever touched them inappropriately, rather than keep it a secret.

(3) Educate children on safe touch, unsafe touch, safe secrets, and unsafe secrets, and how to get away from an abuser and report an incident immediately.

(c)(1) There is created the Governor's Task Force on Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children.

(2) Members of the task force shall include the following:

a. Eight members appointed by the Governor representing the eight regional school board districts and reflecting the racial, ethnic, gender, and age diversity of the state. The appointees shall be actively involved in the fields of child abuse and neglect prevention and child welfare.

b. One member appointed by the State Superintendent of Education.

c. One member appointed by the Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources.

d. One member appointed by the Executive Director of the Children's Trust Fund.

e. The House Education Policy Committee Chair, or his or her designee.

f. The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee Chair, or his or her designee.

(3) The task force shall make recommendations for decreasing the incidence of sexual abuse of children in this state. In making recommendations, the task force shall do all of the following:

a. Gather information regarding sexual abuse of children throughout the state.

b. Receive related reports and testimony from individuals, state and local agencies, community-based organizations, and other public and private organizations.

c. Create goals for state education policy that would enhance the prevention of sexual abuse of children.

d. Create goals for other areas of state policy that would enhance the prevention of sexual abuse of children.

e. Submit a report with its recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31, 2015.

(4) Recommendations by the task force may include proposals for specific statutory changes and methods to foster cooperation among state agencies and between the state and local governments.

(5) At the call of the Governor, the task force shall convene its first meeting and by majority vote of the members present elect a chair and co-chair. Subsequent meetings shall be at the call of the chair.

(6) Members of the task force shall serve without compensation and shall not receive expense reimbursement.

(d) All K-12 public schools shall establish a child sexual abuse prevention instructional program for students in grades consistent with subsection (b). The content of instruction shall be at the discretion of the local board; provided that, at a minimum, the instruction shall include all of the following:

(1) Techniques to teach children to recognize child sexual abuse, equip them with skills to reduce their vulnerability, and encourage them to report the abuse.

(2) At least four sessions of instruction to reinforce the concepts learned in the program.

(3) Sessions conducted at least annually, building on skills learned in the previous years.

(4) Developmentally appropriate instruction for each grade level.

(5) Involvement of students as active learning participants, including discussions, modeling, and role playing.

(6) The capacity to be delivered by a wide range of personnel and professionals, including teachers, school counselors, and outside agency prevention educators; provided that the personnel and professionals should have a thorough knowledge of child sexual abuse, including how to respond appropriately to child sexual abuse disclosures.

(7) An evaluation component with measurable outcomes.

(8) Instruction that is culturally sensitive and adaptable for use within varying school contexts, including age, race, and special needs.

(9) An evidence-based curriculum, to the extent possible.

(10) A professional training component for administrators, teachers, and other school personnel on talking to students about child sexual abuse prevention, effects of child sexual abuse on children, handling of child sexual abuse disclosures, and mandated reporting.

(11) A component that encourages parental involvement within the child sexual abuse prevention program. This component shall inform parents about child sexual abuse topics, including characteristics of offenders, grooming behaviors, and how to discuss this topic with children.

(Act 2015-456, §§1, 2.)