Erin’s Law

Published on June 17th, 2019

Memorandum of Support

A.2577-B Dinowitz / S.4070-B Biaggi
In Relation to Erin’s Law

The above-referenced legislation, known as Erin’s Law, would require the instruction of curriculum on the prevention of child sexual exploitation and abuse in grades kindergarten through eight. The New York State Catholic Conference strongly supports this legislation.

Sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a societal scourge. Victim-survivors face a lifetime of negative consequences, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, difficulty maintaining relationships and employment, and more. In recent decades, our nation has come to a greater understanding of the impacts of such trauma on young lives, and we have also come to recognize that abuse is much more likely to occur at the hands of a trusted adult – family member, friend, teacher, coach, clergy member – than a stranger.

This legislation amends the Education Law by adding a new section to 803-b to provide courses of study that gives children in grades K-8, as well as parents and school staff, the tools they need to better recognize and report grooming and other inappropriate behavior before it becomes full-fledged abuse.

Since the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church exploded in 2001, Catholic dioceses across the country have instituted Safe Environment programs that include as an essential component similar age-appropriate instruction of children in our schools and faith formation programs, and training for all staff and volunteers who have access to children in any Church ministry. These programs have proven to be effective, and we support the goals of Erin’s Law to require such instruction in all of our state’s schools, whether public, religious or independent.

When even one child suffers abuse, it is too many. We must not wait in enacting this common-sense legislation, which is already law in some 35 other states. We urge its passage before the legislature adjourns.