Stacy Sutphen - Raising Awareness: Learn About ERIN’S LAW (WIDK)
(WIDK By Staff Writer STACY SUTPHEN) — The day I became a mom I never imagined I could feel so much love for another person - it was so surreal.
As I looked down at my precious daughter, this tiny 5 pound 14 ounce bundle of joy, my purpose from that day forward would be to love, care and protect her by all means necessary. I watched over her while she slept—-who thought sleeping with one eye open was remotely possible, and I would gently touch her stomach to make sure she was still breathing, because nothing scared me more than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (S.I.D.S). As the weeks went by and hand sanitizer began to surface in every room for family and friends who came to visit, I finally felt comfortable taking a moment to myself during the day while she rested in her mosses basket next to me on the couch.
I reentered the Facebook world and began to read articles about vicious crimes against children posted by good friend Jennifer Badamo, who is a dedicated child advocate. And quickly a greater fear than S.I.D.S came over me. Protecting my child wasn’t just about making sure she received her vaccinations and attended her baby well care visits on schedule, it was also about protecting her from child predators/abusers. Not only do you have to keep an eye out for “strangers”, but child predators/abusers could also be a relative, a close friend, a nanny, babysitter and even your friendly neighborhood Spiderman (yes I know Spiderman is a fictional character, but I think you get the idea.)
When one becomes a parent for the first time, we receive advice on how to sleep and potty train your children from our friends, family, doctors and books. Aside from Oprah, how come no one ever offers advice on how to protect our children from child predators? Isn’t that just as important as teaching your children how to use the potty? In addition to Breastfeeding and Lamaze classes, shouldn’t hospitals make “How to Spot a Child Predator” class available to expecting parents? Do you realize that a majority of crimes against children are indeed preventable? And by becoming a proactive society and raising awareness we can possibly save millions of children’s lives? For a majority of people the subject of child abuse is very taboo. And for some, who suffered from abuse and have yet to seek help or admit this to anyone, I can understand why. But for the rest of us, openly discussing this topic will raise awareness and provide useful information that will help us protect children, and teach all children how to protect themselves.
Child advocate Erin Merryn (Author of Stolen Innocence and Living for Today) made it her mission in life to save as many children as she possibly can from the childhood she could not be saved from. Which is why she created the historical “Erin’s Law.” The intent of Erin’s Law is to mandate school districts to implement and educate students on sexual abuse, for the sole purpose of informing and protecting students from abuse. The school boards would of course have to adopt age appropriate curriculum on sexual abuse education to student’s grades pre-k through the 5th grade. Erin believes, as many of us do, that education in schools is an effective method for preventing children falling prey to abuse or keeping silent if it does occur. To date: Erin’s Law has been signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn on February 14, 2011 and Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri on July 14th 2011. To learn more about Erin Merryn, Erin’s law and how to get this law passed in your state please visit www.ErinMerryn.net.
If passed in all the states, Erin’s Laws would be our first step to becoming a “Proactive” society instead of a reactive one. While Erin’s Law won’t rid the world of Child Predators/Abusers, it will enable many to feel comfortable speaking up, so no child has to live in fear and in silence for the rest of their lives. Remember, it’s more than okay to talk about child abuse with your children, friends, family and neighbors because raising awareness is the key to preventing crimes against children. Choose to be aware! As I mentioned above, a majority of crimes against children are preventable!
Parents, Baby sitters, Care Givers, Nanny’s and Guardians… please accompany young children when using public bathrooms (Please see child raped in Library bathroom. One of many stories) Please put down your smart phone and watch over them while they play at the park, swim in a community pool, play in front of their home or in the yard (Please see Breeann Rodriguez). Never let them walk to and from school alone or even go to the store (Please see Leiby Kletzky). A young child should be supervised at all times, because a child that is left alone could fall prey to a predator and never be seen again. And for parents with older children, I strongly suggest self-defense classes when children are of age to take them and reiterating the “No Talking To Strangers” rule, especially on social network sites. In fact parents it would be wise to only allow your children to use social network sites if you have access to their id and password. (See FBI Article regarding Predators and Social Network Sites)
Stacy Asencio-Sutphen is co-founder of Stop Abusing Your Children, an organization committed to raising child abuse awareness in communities by holding rallies, organizing fundraisers, launching a national “Stop Abusing Your Children!” campaign and producing public service announcements. Its mission is to encourage people to stand up against child abuse by reporting child abuse and saving a child’s life. Founded by Jeff Sutphen (host of Nickelodeon’s hit game show “BrainSurge” and ABC’s “101 Ways To Leave A Game Show”) and his wife Stacy Sutphen (Actress and Staff Writer for Wish I Didn’t Know).