Now that Erin’s Law has been passed in Illinois, what does this mean for my school?
The passage of Erin’s Law means the following for your school and your school personnel:
– Continuing professional development activities may include participating in or presenting at in-service training programs on sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention. That means that your staff will receive training credit for increasing their knowledge about protecting children from initial and/or continuing sexual abuse.
– Your school’s Comprehensive Health Education Program shall include age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education. Whereas this was previously required only in secondary schools, these programs are now required in grades pre-kindergarten through 12.
How can my school meet this new mandate?
Schools can refer to the Key Components developed by the Erin’s Law Task Force. From those, they can find or develop a program that fits. As another option, schools can partner with an outside agency that provides prevention programs. Many rape crisis centers and children’s advocacy centers (CACs) across the state offer such programs.
What is a CAC?
A children’s advocacy center is a child-focused, facility-based program in which representatives from many disciplines, including law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy, work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases and services for victims.
What is a Rape Crisis Center?
Rape crisis centers in Illinois provide free and confidential services to victims of sexual assault 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year. Each center provides in-person and phone counseling, medical and criminal justice advocacy to victims and prevention education programs. The crisis center services support survivors of sexual assault, sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, acquaintance rape, sexual harassment or any form of sexual violence. The center’s work may begin shortly after a victim is raped or years after an assault. In either case, the crisis center provides services to promote healing and advance justice. The services are available to women, men and children of all ages. The centers also provide support to family members and friends of the victims. The centers’ prevention education programs are available to schools, community organizations or other allied organizations. To contact a rape crisis center, please visit www.icasa.org.
How do I contact a CAC or Rape Crisis Center
What if a CAC or a Rape Crisis Center doesn’t have a prevention program in my school?
Please contact the local CAC or Rape Crisis Center to discuss bringing a relevant prevention education program to your school. The centers can work with your school to provide the programming your students need to receive in order to create the best possible school environment. The center may also train/coordinate school staff to facilitate relevant prevention programming.
Should parents be involved?
A.Yes! Parents are vital partners in the fight against child sexual abuse. Parents can help identify victims and respond to children’s disclosures. Parents can also help to reinforce and clarify concepts that children learn in sexual abuse prevention programs. Additionally, increasing parent-child communication about body safety can potentially decrease the chances of children keeping the abuse a secret (Fieldman & Crespi, 2002). To have the most effect on reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse a comprehensive prevention program involving children, parents and professionals is best.Fieldman, J.P., & Crespi, T.D. (2002) Child sexual abuse prevention programs: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29, 257-265.Kenny, M.C., Thakkar-Kolar, R.R., Ryan, E.E., & Runyon, M.K. (2008). Child sexual abuse: From prevention to self-protection. Child Abuse and Review, 17, 36-54.
What should I do if a child discloses?
If you suspect abuse or neglect you have a social responsibility to report it to the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) hotline. In addition, state law requires that most professionals in education, health care, law enforcement and social work report suspected neglect or abuse.
Do not attempt to do your own investigation. Leave that for the professionals.
As a professional educator, school personnel, or educational advocate, you are a mandated reporter.
For more information about Mandated Reporting or what is required of a Mandated Reporter:
Illinois Department of Child & Family Services Child Protection
Illinois Department of Children & Family Services Acknowledgement of Mandated Reporter Status
Illinois Department of Children & Family Services Reporting Child Abuse: Frequently
Manual for Mandated Reporters
Manual para los Delatores por Ley
Online Mandated Reporter Training
Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse: Training for Mandated Reporters
For more information regarding Mandated Reporting:
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Telling someone about sexual abuse can be very hard to do and especially overwhelming for a child as well as for the person receiving the information. An appropriate response to a child who reports sexual abuse is important to ensure safety, build trust, and begin healing.
Here’s what you can do:
- Put the child’s needs first.
- Remain calm. Don’t overact. How you respond can influence how the child will further disclose or how he or she may feel about them self.
- Listen and let the child talk.
- Do not attempt to do your own investigation. Leave that to the professionals.
- Encourage the child to talk. If you must ask questions, don’t ask leading questions. Ask only open-ended questions in order to help facilitate the conversation so that the child will be encouraged to talk.
- Let them know that they did the right thing by telling.
- Reassure the child that it is not their fault.
- Reassure the child that this does not change the way you feel about them.
- Believe them. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse.
- Do all you can to keep the child safe.
- Report it! Child sexual abuse is a crime.
- Seek professional help through a ChildAdvocacyCenter or counselor.
Share with the child that you need to report the abuse. The child may become alarmed that a report will be made as the abuser may be someone they love and trust or the abuser may have threatened to hurt them or someone in their family and told them to keep the abuse a secret. Help to reassure the child that they will be kept safe.
How to Report Child Sexual Abuse
Call the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873).
Provide the following information if possible:
- Child’s name
- Information about siblings
- Parent or guardian names
- Date of Birth
- Phone number
- Details of the abuse or any explanation provided by the child
Or inform your local law enforcement agency.