Imagine that one out of every six adults had had their car stolen. Imagine that for complex psychological and emotional reasons, the average victim of car theft couldn’t report the crime until they were in their 50s. Imagine, then, that the overwhelming majority of car theft victims were essentially locked out of the justice system, unable to bring criminal charges or civil lawsuits against car thieves.
You don’t HAVE to imagine what happens next: Car thieves keep stealing cars. That’s basically what’s happening now with child sexual abuse. It’s rampant. It’s severely underreported. So it keeps happening. Except, of course, that being sexually assaulted as a child is vastly more devastating than having one’s car stolen.
Can you imagine how fast politicians would trip over themselves, racing to introduce legislation to fix the car theft problem if it was this prevalent? Can you imagine how fast other public servants would hasten to change policies and practices to do the same?
Why, then, isn’t there a flood of governmental action to prevent child sex crimes and help the victims of those crimes?
That is, of course, a tough question with many answers. But we’ve all heard the old adage, “If you want something done, do it yourself.” At the risk of seeming flippant, that advice does have some bearing when it comes to children’s safety. We can each of us play a role – however tiny it may seem – in safeguarding kids.
- We likely CAN’T ‘spot’ abusers or potential abusers
- We CAN’T keep youngsters away from every adult.
- We CAN’T magically ‘cure’ someone who’s sexually attracted to kids
- But we CAN help create a climate that makes it easier for those who see, suspect, or suffer abuse to do what’s right: speak up.
- We can ask our family and friends, “Hey, I know this is awkward, but as a kid, did anyone ever touch you in a way that felt uncomfortable?”
- We can thank and praise everyone who discloses information or suspicions about child sexual abuse.
- We can thank and praise every institution and employer that takes a stand against abuse (indeed, not merely in words).
- We can teach kids about ‘safe touch’ and make sure they know the most likely predator is a friend or relative, not a stranger.
- We can harshly criticize anyone who publicly sides with an accused abuser or who criticizes or casts doubt on an accuser.
- We can ask politicians what they are doing, specifically to eliminate the obstacles that prevent victims from speaking up and filing suits, and pursuing prosecution.
Let’s go back to looking at numbers for a second:
One non-profit group estimates that 1 in 10 US kids are abused. Another source estimates that 1 of every 4 girls and 1 of every 6 boys are abused. The CDC says about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the US are sexually abused.
Whichever set of statistics you go with, THIS IS AN EPIDEMIC! It should be addressed as such, with all the attendant alarms, precautions, reforms, legislation, and policy changes to ameliorate it and with all the outrage we can summon. Please do your part!
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization, school, hospital, massage salon, or any other institution sexually abused you, contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or email sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected]. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.