Voices of Alaska: Alaska is ready for Erin’s Law

  • By David Holthouse
  • Tuesday, January 20, 2015 7:48pm
  • Opinion

When I was a little boy growing up in Anchorage, I knew just what to do if I caught on fire: “Stop, drop, and roll.” I knew because they taught me in school. Just like they later taught me, “Just say no” to drugs. It was mandatory.

What I didn’t know is what to do after I was raped when I was seven years old. I didn’t know what to do when the rapist threatened to kill me, and my parents, if I told. I didn’t know what rape was. I thought it was a freak occurrence, making me a freak.

And so I didn’t tell. I kept it to myself for 25 years. I suffered in silence. The same as thousands upon thousands of Alaskan victims of childhood sexual abuse are suffering now, no matter what their age. Suffering without the tools they need to cope and expose their abusers.

Abuse can be overwhelming. But, fortunately, the legislature is close to making real progress in giving Alaskan kids tools they need to stand up to this abuse. It’s time to pass “Erin’s Law.”

Erin Merryn made a strong impression when she shared her story with legislators last year in Juneau. Erin was sexually abused by a family member as a child. Now a leader in preventing abuse, she is determined to see all 50 states adopt “Erin’s Law.”

Erin’s Law requires school districts to provide age-appropriate curriculum about personal body safety. It also gives teachers, staff, and administrators the tools they need to respond properly to allegations of child sexual abuse.

Erin’s Law’s catchphrase is “Get Away, Tell Today.”

That message cannot be spread or strengthened enough. To that end, I implore you to contact your state representative. Urge them to pass Erin’s Law this legislative session.

Nineteen states have passed Erin’s Law. Last year, Erin’s Law passed in the Alaska Senate, but failed to pass in the Alaska House of Representatives. With early bi-partisan support, there’s no reason Erin’s Law can not become law early this year.

Because abuse is not a freak occurrence.

One in six boys. One in four girls.

One in six boys and one in four girls in the United States are sexually abused, nine times out of ten by someone they know.

We teach kids what to do if there is a fire, an earthquake, or another emergency. But, we must face the reality that more of these students will be harmed by sexual abuse than by these other threats. Teaching kids about personal body safety is essential to keeping them safe. Let your legislator know that it’s time to pass Erin’s Law.

David Holthouse lives in Anchorage.

More in Opinion

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Break the cycle of failure, debt in 2022

Today, all Americans are coerced, embarrassed or otherwise influenced into one of two old political parties

A sign designates a vote center during the recent municipal election. The center offered a spot for voters to drop off ballots or fill a ballot out in person. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The failure of mail-in voting

The argument that mail-in balloting increases voter participation never impressed me

Charlie Franz.
Point of View: Election integrity is not anti-democratic

The federalization of elections by the Freedom to Vote Act infringes on the constitutional right of states to regulate elections.

Snow blows off Mt. Roberts high above the Thane avalanche chute, where an avalanche blew across the road during a major snowstorm. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
An Alaska winter of discontent

It’s been a hard winter throughout the state.

A Uncruise Adventures cruise ship, with a fleet of kayaks in the water behind it, in the Tongass National Forest. Uncruise, a boutique local cruise ship operator, has been vocal about the importance of the intact Tongass National Forest, or SeaBank, to its business. (Photo by Ben Hamilton/courtesy Salmon State)
Alaska Voices: The dividends paid by Southeast Alaska’s ‘Seabank’ are the state’s untold secrets

Southeast Alaska’s natural capital produces economic outputs from the seafood and visitor products industries worth several billion dollars a year

Opinion: The pulse of fealty

Let’s be honest. Trump’s demands go beyond his one stated condition.

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski speaks on a range of subjects during an interview with the Juneau Empire in May 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Alaska Voices: Permanent fund integrity in peril?

Alaskans need to be kept informed of what the trustees are doing with their money.

A cast member holds up a cue card in Soldotna High School’s production of "Annie" on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Is theater dead?

“It will not be an easy task, performing CPR on this theater, but imagine the joy that you could bring to the students.”

Bjørn Olson (Photo provided)
Point of View: Homer Drawdown moves forward with climate-change solutions

Two years ago, a small group of concerned citizens decided to use this book as a guiding document

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21 in Kenai, Alaska.
Voices of the Peninsula: Fight for democracy

When the Insurrection occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, it was a direct attack on our democratic rule of law.

Former Alaska legislator and gubernatorial candidate Les Gara is seen in this undated photo. (courtesy photo)
Alaska’s great oil giveway

We can do better than giving away billions in oil company subsidies