Douglas woman initiates petition that she hopes will help protect our children

Crystal Montano has initiated a online petition she is asking people to sign that is in support of Senate Bill 1251 that will help protect our children from sexual abuse.

DOUGLAS — A Douglas woman is doing her part to help protect all children from sexual abuse.

Crystal Montano, a victim herself of sexual abuse and who knows of others who have been been abused as well, is asking people to sign her online petition that is in support of Senate Bill 1251.

Montano has reached out to State Representative Becky Nutt and Senators Kyrsten Sinema, Martha McSally and Victoria Steele hoping to increase awareness to her petition while also encouraging them to help pass the proposed legislation.

SB 1251 is connected to a bill in Illinois known as “Erin’s Law”, and, if passed, states that beginning in the 2020-21 school year, school districts and charter schools throughout the state shall establish education and training on sexual abuse prevention for employees and students in accordance with guidelines and curricula developed by the Department of Education.

Erin’s Law, named after childhood sexual assault survivor, author, speaker and activist Erin Merryn, has already been passed in 37 states. Arizona however is not one of those states

After Erin introduced the legislation in her home state of Illinois, the bill was named “Erin’s Law” after her by legislators and it has since caught on nationwide.

“This is why I’m writing this petition because our education system needs to implement this so we can teach our children how to protect themselves as well as to teach them that they are not alone if they are already victims and get them the help they need,” Montano said. “My ultimate goal is to implement this into our judicial system as well as have an advocacy center here in Douglas. We have a lot of low income families here who don’t have the means to drive to Sierra Vista to get the care they need. Having something locally would benefit so many people.”

According to the Douglas native, a child in the U.S., is sexually abused every six minutes. The Children’s Advocacy Center Foundation also reports that 84% of sexual victimization of children occurs inside a residence.

“An estimated one in four girls and one in every six boys will be assaulted before they turn 18,” Montano said. “Over 90% of victims have reported their perpetrator was either a family member, friend or someone they know.”

Montano believes sexual abuse unfortunately is way under reported, especially in the Douglas area, with only one in every 10 sexually abused children ever telling anyone about it.

According to figures provided to Montano by the Douglas Police Department, in 2016 there were 11 sexual misconduct cases reported and no arrests made. In 2017 there were seven cases reported and no arrests made; In 2018 there were three reports of rape and four sexual misconduct cases reported that resulted in just one arrest. In 2019 one rape and five cases of sexual misconduct were reported and through July 2020, there has been one rape and five cases of sexual misconduct reported with no arrests.

“I believe sexual abuse here, locally, is happening more than these numbers are showing,” Montano said. “I think people are embarrassed to report this is happening and they don’t want to share what’s actually happened, or is happening to them. We have a lot of children here whose homes are not safe.”

Sexual abuse can reportedly have a traumatic impact physically, socially, and psychologically which may include post traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, problems at school and or work, low self-esteem, relationship problems, PTSD, drug abuse, etc.

Anyone wanting additional information on Montano’s petition may contact her on her Facebook page.