FOX23 INVESTIGATES: Erin's law

FOX23 INVESTIGATES: Erin's law

TULSA, Okla. — Quick Facts:

  • Oklahoma lawmakers passed "Erin's Law" in 2015.
  • It's named after sexual abuse survivor Erin Merryn, who travels the country urging states to pass laws requiring schools to educate students on abuse prevention.
  • Merryn says 1 in 4 young girls will be abused and 90% of cases involve an abuser who is a trusted adult (relative, coach, friend, teacher, or pastor), that's why it's important for kids to get the message while at school, where they spend much of their time.
  • Erin's Law requires Oklahoma public schools to train staff on spotting and reporting abuse, and it requires schools to provide age-appropriate curriculum, decided on by local districts, to students, on what abuse is and how to report it.
  • Erin's Law is federally funded under the Every Student Succeeds Act- that means they can purchase curriculum or outsource with another agency to provide the lesson.
  • Oklahoma State Department of Education requires districts to submit reports showing staff have completed the training required by Erin's Law, but FOX23 learned OKSDE does not require districts to submit data showing schools are teaching kids abuse prevention.
  • Tulsa Public School District partners with the Parent Child Center to present a puppet program that explains no one should touch you in a way that makes you uncomfortable.
  • TPS Director of Student Engagement Stephanie Andrews says the district provides extra staff at each school when that presentation is being held, because every time it happens, a child comes forward to report abuse.
  • TPS tells us last school year health staff submitted 135 abuse reports.
  • FOX23 heard from TPS, Broken Arrow and Owasso about the curriculum they use to teach kids abuse prevention. We never got an answer from Jenks or Union.
  • We reached out to former state representative Lee Denney (R), who sponsored Erin's Law, to find out why the state doesn't collect data to make sure schools teach kids abuse prevention lessons. She told us clearly this needs to be re-examined and strengthened.
  • New York recently passed "Erin's Law". Merryn is working to get 13 remaining states to pass the law.
  • Watch FOX23 Michelle Linn's full investigation on Tuesday on FOX23 News at 5:45.