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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Erin’s Law Will Be Coming to Virginia for the 2016 General Assembly Session

Update: 

Education reform bill keeps some elements of No Child Left Behind, December 10, 2015

Gillibrand: Feds will help fund Erin's Law programs to prevent child sex abuse, December 9, 2015

House Approves Measures to Support State Action to Prevent and Address Child Sexual Abuse, December 3, 2015


Original Post:

Dear Erin Merryn, 

I just read on your Facebook page you have a VA Senator to sponsor Erin's Law at the upcoming 2016 session. 

I fully support sexual abuse prevention education for the children of Virginia. But I do oppose the naming of legislation after a victim; it creates an emotional and biased environment. 

I have two requests to make for your bill in VA. 

1- In Virginia the Age of Consent is on a sliding scale depending on the specific sex act and sometimes there is an age gap allowance and sometimes there isn't. Virginia teens have no idea that consensual sexual contact with other teens is a criminal act because no one teaches about the age of consent. We have  15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 year olds who were in age appropriate relationships and they never forced, threatened or intimated anyone who have been sentenced to incarceration and then lifetime registration as a Violent Sex Offender. Their lives are over when this occurs, they will never get a college education, they will never have more than just a job, churches turn their back on them, they can't volunteer and finding a spouse to start a family is near-impossible.  Age appropriate relationships should not result in a public label of Sexual Predator, but in Virginia it does. Virginia's landmine of sexual statutes and rules needs to be taught to our teenagers so they can avoid the dire future that our Legislature has created. Could Erin's Law include education on Virginia’s Age of Consent and what age gaps or acts would be criminal, even if consensual? 

2- In Virginia we have had way too many case of Teen-to-Teen Sexting that have lead to criminal charges, threats of incarceration and the possibility of lifetime registration as a Violent Sex Offender because it falls into the Child Pornography production, possession and distribution category. You can read about some of the VA cases here http://goo.gl/VqSrnH . Virginia's teenagers per the chart in the link I've provided starting at 10 years of age, need to be taught that Sexting=Child Pornography with dire consequences. Could Erin's Law include education on Sexting being a criminal offense? 

If we are going to educate Virginia’s children on sexual abuse against them by others we need to include what our laws consider sexual abuse by them even when no force, threat or intimation was involved. 

I do hope these 2 suggestions will become goals for your legislation not just in VA this January but for all 49 States because our teens need someone to teach them about these serious issues. 

Sincerely, 

Mary Davye Devoy 
 
A volunteer advocate for data-driven reform of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry and Laws since October 2008