STONY BROOK CHILD ADVOCATE A ‘WOMAN OF DISTINCTION’
At a ceremony at the state office building in Hauppauge last week, Laura Ahearn, the founder and executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, was named one of the New York State Senate Women of Distinction. She is one of 72 women in New York to be honored in the three-year-old program run by the state government's upper house. Senator James Lack (R-East Northport) had nominated her for the award and she was chosen as a winner by a panel of staffers from several state senators' offices. The Stony Brook based not-for-profit organization began in 1998 and has lobbied for certain changes in Megan's Law, which requires community notification when a convicted sex offender moves into the area. The organization provides information on the law and preventing sexual abuse through workshops, meetings and its Web site. Ms. Ahearn said, It is an honor to be recognized for my work with Megan's Law and childhood sex abuse prevention along with other women who have made significant changes that benefit our society. Ms. Ahearn is a Suffolk County native and a certified social worker with a master's degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook. She said she first became involved in the problems of abused children when working with adults in group therapy sessions. Many of those she counseled had been abused as children, she said. Ms. Ahearn also said, although she is pleased with the organization's progress in the last two years, she felt there was more to be done in educating the public on the subject of abused children. We have to help people understand about the perception of this type of crime. We have to help find ways to work for justice for the victims, she said.