NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An advocate for educating children about speaking out against child abuse went before Tennessee lawmakers Tuesday to promote Erin's Law.
Erin Merryn has been all over the country talking to lawmakers about her proposal. The law requires public schools to teach children how to speak out when some is molesting them.
Merryn said she's trying to give children a voice.
"Empowering kids on how to speak up and tell if this is happening to you and not to keep it a secret," she said.
Merryn told lawmakers her own powerful story, which began when she was six-years-old at a friend's sleep over.
"And as that little kid I was excited to be spending the night away with my best friend. Little did I know I would go to bed that night and wake up [to her] uncle that lived in the home sexually abusing me," she said. "I didn't have the language to tell my parents to tell my teacher the next day what this man had done."
She said her family moved away and a few years later she was abused again – by a family member. Merryn came forward after she realized her 11-year-old sister had been abused by that same family member.
Erin's law has been passed in 10 states. Merryn said if the bill passes, Tennessee children will be taught to speak up to adults they trust.
"The teacher, the school social worker, your grandma, different people who play a different role in the child's life on how to speak up and tell somebody and the other thing we get across to kids is if you tell and the abuse doesn't stop you keep telling until it does," she said.
Erin's law passed the House Education Committee. Next, the bill is headed to the floor of the House where it is expected to pass. It will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.