PROOS: Supporting board’s abuse, violence prevention efforts

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The heinous crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault have long-lasting impacts on victims, their families and our entire society.

I strongly support continuing our state efforts to constantly review domestic and sexual violence in Michigan, keep lawmakers informed about the scale of the problem, and offer policy and funding solutions that will help combat these crimes and provide better outcomes for victims.

In December 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder issued Executive Order No. 2012-17, which renamed an existing state board as the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board and added sexual abuse and prevention to its mission.

Public Act 281 of 2018 codifies the executive order and establishes the board in state law. It also requires the board to advise the Legislature and governor on the magnitude and nature of domestic and sexual violence and to recommend solutions to improve the conditions for victims.

The new law builds on my efforts to help prevent the sexual abuse of children in Michigan.

Enacted in 2012, Erin’s Law allows school boards to adopt and implement age-appropriate policies and training addressing child sexual abuse and create a one-time task force to make recommendations on how to best protect children from sexual abuse.

The law was named after Erin Merryn, a sexual abuse survivor from Illinois whose advocacy in her home state led to the passage of a similar law there in 2011.

I sponsored Erin’s Law to help protect every Michigan child from sexual abuse. The goal remains to stop all abuse by educating children about sexual abuse so they can recognize it and be empowered to report it.

As part of achieving that goal, I supported the governor adding sexual abuse and prevention to the mission of the state domestic violence board.

By putting this expanded board into state law, we will ensure that it will continue the important task of constantly reviewing our laws and programs to ensure we are doing everything possible to end sexual abuse and domestic violence.

JOHN PROOS, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.