Curran legislation strengthening child sexual abuse statutes advances

Two bills sponsored by State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove) that enhance Illinois laws relative to child sexual abuse advanced through Senate Committees this week.

House Bill 3462 provides that every child reported to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or law enforcement believed to be a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse has the right to have the child’s forensic interview conducted by an interviewer from an accredited children’s advocacy center if the service is available in the region.

“In Illinois, we have a Bill of Rights for Children, and this legislation would strengthen the bill of rights to provide parents and guardians with the option to ask that a victimized child be interviewed by someone with expertise in working with children in these delicate cases,” said Sen. Curran. “The idea for this bill was brought forward by Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois, a non-profit that coordinates comprehensive responses to child abuse and ensures children are treated with compassion by the criminal justice system.”

House Bill 3461 makes the provisions of “Erin’s Law” a requirement rather than an option for school districts in Illinois. Erin’s Law, named after sexual abuse survivor and Illinoisan Erin Merryn, was signed into law in 2013 as a permissive policy that encourages schools to adopt an age-appropriate and evidence-informed curriculum that addresses sexual abuse.  Age-appropriate curriculum materials for educators must include a definition of prohibited grooming behaviors and boundary violations, and instructions for how school personnel can report these behaviors.

Both bills received unanimous support in the House of Representatives in April and will be brought to the floor of the Senate for final action in the coming days.

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