HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (IRN) — A new law is on the books that requires Illinois schools to educate students on sexual assault and abuse, and what to do if it happens to them.

The governor signed the measure into law at a ceremony in Hoffman Estates.

State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) says the lessons required under this law will teach children what sexual assault is, and that they should speak up if it happens. “This bill will hopefully prevent young children from having to sit in silence, hopefully prevent them from being abused in the first place, but in the tragic event that they are, they will be able to have a voice and come forward,” he said.

Erin Merryn of Schaumburg, a sexual abuse victim as a child who quit her job to be a full-time advocate for the law, says it should not be expensive for schools to comply. “Schools just don’t need to hire someone to come in outside the school. You’ve got the staff right there that you already pay that are capable of teaching this with the proper training,” she said.

Under previous law, only secondary schools had to provide these lessons. Now all schools must, in an age-appropriate fashion.

The law was sponsored by State Rep. Jerry L. Mitchell (R-Sterling), who is no longer in office, and State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago).

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