FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2014
JUNEAU – Today, Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) released the following statement in response to CNN’s Change the List report on sexual assault in Alaska.
“CNN just poignantly exposed the horrible situation too many children and families face in Alaska and have faced for far too long. We must do more to combat this problem, and one way is to empower children to report abuse and give adults the tools they need to respond accordingly. Erin’s Law does just that by teaching children and educators age appropriate ways to recognize problematic situations and to find protection. I hope the Legislature will come together to push back against this epidemic of violence in Alaska,” said Tarr.
After 30,000 people requested CNN cover rape and domestic violence, reporter John Sutter traveled to Alaska to tell the story of a woman who discovered that her husband was sexually abusing her adopted daughter. Alaska has three times more reported rapes than the national average, and Sutter also explores what Alaska is doing to reduce those numbers and break the cycle of abuse that is too prevalent in both urban and rural Alaska.
Earlier this session, Tarr introduced “Erin’s Law” to give Alaska children tools to protect themselves from child abuse. The bill (HB233) is named for Erin Merryn, who has earned national attention for her efforts to pass the legislation in all fifty states.
The bill would require school districts to develop age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in grades kindergarten through 12. It allows the districts to create the curricula that would be best for the children in their communities. Curricula should include warning signs of sexual abuse, referral and resource information, counseling and educational support, methods for increasing awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse of children, and actions a child may take to prevent and report sexual abuse or sexual assault.
HB233 has been referred to the House Education and Finance committees.