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Educators gather to discuss Erin’s Law

Educators from throughout the public school system in Chilton County were on hand during a conference at LeCroy Career Technical Center on Feb. 16 to discuss the statewide implementation of Erin’s Law beginning this year.

Erin’s Law legislation was passed in Alabama in June 2015 and must be implemented this year.

The law is named after Erin Merryn, who is a childhood sexual assault survivor and a leading activist.

It requires public schools in the state to implement a prevention-oriented program with the primary goal of teaching age-appropriate techniques for students to recognize child sexual abuse.

“Other counties are scrambling to find a program, but we feel like we’re pretty much ahead of the game,” said Angie Barnett, a teacher at Thorsby School and proponent of the program.

Thorsby was the first school in the county to adopt Erin’s Law and have been taking part in the training for the past decade.

Since the start, Barnett has been pushing to get the program accepted throughout the county. She has contacted school board members and been to meetings to present the idea.

According to Barnett, there had always been interest, but the funding was an issue.

“It’s nothing new that we’re going into, and it’s something that has been proven effective,” Barnett said. “It’s almost as if we’ve been a pilot school for the program and have test driven it for the past 10 years. All the components have just come together at the right time.”

Everybody that attended was an educator that will be part of a lead group that will perform training for other teachers at their schools. They received their presenter’s guide, as well as the curriculum and educational objectives.

A parent orientation will be held prior to the implementation of the program, in which parents will have the opportunity to ask questions and gain information about the curriculum.

Discussion is still taking place to decide whether a countywide orientation will be held or let each school handle their own orientations.

“We want to make sure that they [parents] understand what it is, and what it is not,” Barnett said.

The plan is for every kindergarten to fifth grade student in the county will receive the training this year, while sixth through 12th grade students will be included next year.

“We want to empower the kids and not make them afraid,” Barnett said. “You can’t look at someone and tell, it’s based on their actions