Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin held the ceremonial signing of a bill that will create a task force on the prevention of sexual abuse of children.
The intitative, which is also known as Erin Merryn’s Law, will make recommendations on decreasing sexual abuse in
explained the bill will get many groups involved. West Virginia
“What the bill does is create a task force, dealing with law enforcement officers, social agencies and so forth, to sit down and come up with the best recommendations.”
In addition to making recommendations, the task force will gather information, create goals, and submit a report to the governor and the legislature. Emily Chittenden-Laird, the Executive Director of the WV Child Advocacy Network, said abuse statistics are staggering.
“Many people are surprised to learn that 1 out of 10 children will be a victim of sexual abuse by their 18th birthday. That’s shocking,” she said.
Chittenden-Laird also said that what makes sexual abuse so underreported among children is that the perpetrator is, more often that not, someone the victim knows and trusts. The governor said the program will hopefully reduce the amount of cases.
“The whole goal behind it is to ensure that sexual abuse of children is stamped out in
,” Tomblin said. “And hopefully
this movement can move across the country.” West Virginia
The task force will include 25 members representing various state agencies, non-profit groups, educational institutions, and law enforcement officials.