This year marked a special celebration for regional champions for children who joined together for a new signature event: Children’s Center Honors. Recognizing the work of individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the field of child abuse intervention and prevention, an inspiring program featured nationally renowned activist Erin Merryn.
Erin is the creator and force behind “Erin’s Law”—mandating sexual abuse prevention training in public schools nationwide. As a celebrated speaker, author, and advocate, Erin has visited more than 60 child advocacy centers around the country. She has also appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, and Good Morning America. She was named the 2012 Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year and one of fifteen women changing the world in People Magazine 2014.
After enduring years of sexual abuse starting at the age of six, Erin broke her silence when she was 13-years-old at an organization much like Children’s Center in her own hometown. Sharing her story changed her life. In 2010 Erin began traveling state-to-state testifying to lawmakers, asking them to pass “Erin's Law” legislation requiring all public schools to implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program.
As the keynoter at Children's Center Honors on April 6, 2017, Erin shared her journey of resilience and hope, documented in her recent book, An Unimaginable Act: Overcoming and Preventing Child Abuse Through Erin's Law (2013). She also reinforced our critical efforts on behalf of children and families in Clackamas County.
That afternoon, Erin participated in a roundtable discussion with more than two dozen educators, state legislators, and community partners. Participants focused on bridging the gap between policy adoption and program implementation related to SB 856 (“Erin's Law” in Oregon), which requires all public schools in the state to implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program.
The round table discussion concluded with a recognition of the importance of community partners continuing to talk about sexual abuse prevention. Prevention tools and initiatives need to be more widely shared effectively be shared across organizations and sectors, and educators more fully supported to help them meet Erin’s Law requirements.
As of October 2017, Erin’s Law has passed in 31 states, including Oregon. At Children’s Center Honors, we presented Erin one of three inaugural “Quilt Maker” awards for significant contributions to the field of child abuse intervention and prevention.