The fight for Erin's Law in Kansas

Posted: Updated:
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

One woman's national crusade for sexual abuse prevention has hit a governmental wall here in Kansas.

KAKE-TV set out to figure why "Erin’s Law" has local leaders deadlocked over a decision.

First off what exactly is Erin's Law?

The law requires every year that kids in public schools will be educated about sexual abuse prevention. More than half the states in our nation have passed Erin's Law, but Kansas is not one of them.

Before you meet the modern-day woman that is Erin Merryn you need to first go back and walk in her shoes as a child.

"From the ages of six to eight and a half I was sexually abused by an adult neighbor that lived up the street from me," said Erin Merryn.  

But the abuse didn't end with that encounter.

"This time at age 11 I woke up to an older male cousin sexually abusing me," added Merryn.

Out of fear of telling her parents what took place the young girl took to her diary.

Over Skype Erin told KAKE-TV she dusted off the same diary in 2008 to find a paragraph that would be her mantra moving forward.

"But they didn't warn me about my own family, that don't teach us that in school. And I read this passage and go they don't teach us that in school. Exactly!"

For the next decade Erin fought to get Erin's Law passed. 35 states adopted it, but not Kansas. Why?

Lawmakers have debated the bill every year since 2013, the bill eventually died in the Kansas State Senate in 2018.

Instead of Erin's Law the Kansas Board of Education recently stepped in to create the "School Mental Health Advisory Committee" to address the issue. The committee is still drawing up what kids will learn.

For now, it will have to do. Erin's mission in Kansas according to her is far from over. 

"I’m not going away until this is required in all 50 states. Don't let your state be the last one. I wouldn't want to be number 49 or 50," said Merryn.  

KAKE-TV did reach out to Gov. Jeff Colyer's office, they did not get back to us for comment.

The Wichita Public School District released a statement about Erin’s Law. The said in part, “the curriculum we currently use has age appropriate lessons addressing healthy vs. unhealthy relationships."

The statement not mention anything about sexual abuse prevention education.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

MORE SLIDESHOWS HERE

<'>