Task force created to prevent child sex abuse recommends changes in Missouri laws

Missouri lawmakers announced Thursday new recommendations to state laws which they hope will better prevent and protect children from sexual abuse.

A Missouri Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children prepared a report on its year-long study.  Dr. Jim Anderst is a child abuse pediatrician and a member of the task force.

"In the end preventing sexual abuse of your child is the parents responsibility, so what I like to tell parents; they have to be careful who they leave their child with," Anderst said.

READ | Report from the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children http://bit.ly/YZMiKg

The panel, which included legislators, advocates and school officials, was created under the 2011 state law, Erin's Law.

The law's primary purpose is to protect children from sexual offenders. The task force will submit their recommendations to the General Assembly to hopefully enact changes in Missouri as well.

At the capitol Thursday, task force members discussed the findings and recommendations.

Erin's Law was inspired by the story of Erin Merryn, an Illinois victim of sexual abuse.

After going public about abuse by a family member, Merryn wanted to make sure children have the age-appropriate education to recognize and talk about sexual abuse, especially if it is perpetrated by a relative or a family friend.

Advocacy in her home state of Illinois led to the passage of a similar law in 2010, and other states across the country have followed suit.

Back in June, task force members held a public hearing inside Crown Center in Kansas City to get ideas from the community on ways to help thousands of children in Missouri who are being sexually assaulted.

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