A major Alaska school district has adopted guidelines for training on recognizing and preventing sexual abuse. KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more on the policy and the campaign behind it.
On Wednesday, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board unanimously adopted the guidelines of “Erin’s Policy.” Alaska Democratic Representative Geran Tarr, one of the policy’s prime supporters, says it’s a local version of an effort called Erin’s Law.
“Erin’s Law is a law that requires all students in public schools K through 12, receive information about personal body safe and child sexual abuse prevention. It also requires that the teachers, administrators, and staff receive additional training in recognizing the signs of abuse and how to deal with those situations appropriately.”
The national campaign is led by Erin Merryn, an Illinois rape survivor, and it has led to passage of the guidelines in 15 states. Tarr introduced this legislation into Alaska as House Bill 233. It was co-sponsored by a majority of Representatives, but stalled in the Finance Committee last spring. Tarr says the policies in the bill would be of great benefit to Alaska.
“Given our high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault, we’re a state that needs to be doing a lot more in preventing assault and preventing abuse, so this is absolutely the right step forward. What I plan to do before the legislative session is send the message out to school district administrators statewide and encourage them to begin the process of adopting the curriculum.”
If reelected, Tarr says she intends to introduce a similar bill in the next legislative session. Information about House Bill 233 can be found at the website of the Alaska State Legislature, while information on Erin’s Law can be found at the personal website of Erin Merryn.