Archive for the ‘Saving Children’ Category

Between 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are victims of child sexual abuse in the United States every day. The actual number is most likely higher because many victims are coerced or threatened not to tell, so many incidents go unreported. 90% of victims were sexually assaulted by someone they knew well—A step-parent, relative, family friend or caretaker.

Many adult survivors of child sexual abuse struggle with low self-esteem, anxiety attacks, insomnia, depression, and self-destructive behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse. Only a few have been helped with therapy.

But sadly, many victims of child sexual abuse go unnoticed in our school districts because teachers and school administrators are not properly trained on how to spot a victim of child sexual abuse.

Hope For Victims

A curriculum has been developed by Senator Lauren Book of Florida, (M.S. Ed) with a team of educators and psychologists to teach children critical personal safety information in a age appropriate way called, “Safer, Smarter Kids”. Effectiveness testing has showed a 77% gain in children’s knowledge of critical personal safety information after completing the program.

For more information on the “Safer, Smarter Kids” curriculum you can visit: https://safersmarterkids.org/teachers/curriculum/ 

1 in 5 children are abused, molested and raped in their own homes every day! And even when the perpetrators are arrested and charged, most judges only sentence them to probation! Child abuse and neglect can have long lasting effects on people that cost the United States over $124 billion each year.

http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/p0201_child_abuse.html

Millions of abused people are walking around our communities right now struggling with low-self esteem, delinquency, antisocial behavior, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicide. Simply because no one spoke up for them when they were being abused as a child.

So what can we do to prevent this epidemic? Write to your senators and representatives in congress demanding that they introduce bills to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes against children and reform the Sex Offender Registration law so that it protects our children.

Many people believe that the Sex Offender Registry laws protects children from predators. This is a common misperception. The SOR law in many states does not prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or vulnerable persons.

Since last year I have written to the Nebraska governor and 20 senators as well as the president. I mailed seven more letters today. I recently received a response from three Nebraska senators letting me know that they have introduced bills in support of stricter punishment for sex offenders. Unfortunately these bills do nothing to protect victims of child sexual abuse.

I am only one person. Imagine what would happen if more people did the same.

Below is a sample letter that you can copy and paste and add names and addresses to. Feel free to forward this to your friends. I believe that together we CAN prevent child sexual abuse.

 

Your Name

Your Address

Senator’s Name

Senator’s Address

Dear Senator,

I am writing to you because many politicians speak out against human sex trafficking and have proposed all kinds of bills to fight against it. But very few (if any) bills have been introduced to protect children from perpetrators who sexually abuse children in their own homes.

1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are victims of child sexual abuse in the United States. The actual number is most likely higher because many incidents go unreported. 90% of victims were sexually assaulted by someone they knew well—A step-parent, relative, family friend or caretaker. And 69% occurred in the victims’ home. Children’s Advocacy Centers served more than 311,000 children around the country in 2014. Two-thirds of the children served (205,438) disclosed sexual abuse.

The Sex Offender Registration law in most states do not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. This is a common misperception. The SOR law in these states also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate the offender to register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

The police do their job and arrest these criminals, but then the lawyers and judges allow them to plead guilty to a lesser charge and hand down light sentences or probation that allows them to re-offend, placing the public at risk. Many times there is more severe punishment for someone who abuses animals than for someone who abuses children. This should not be!

There should be a federal law in place to hold perpetrators of sexual child abuse accountable and reforms made to the SOR law so that it protects our most vulnerable citizens—our children.

Sincerely,

Your Signature

Your Printed Name

I am a sexually abused child.

I cannot make my own choices.

I cannot speak and be heard.

I cannot vote for change in the court system that is rigged against me.

I cannot control what adults do to my body.

I cannot defend myself against my abuser.

I cannot defend myself against my family when they do not believe me.

I am a sexually abused child. And no one speaks out for me.

1 in 5 children like me are sexually abused in the United States. And 90% of us know who our abuser is—Step-parents, family friends, relatives and babysitters.

I was sexually molested by my step-father when I was only 11 years old. My grandparents let me live with them to protect me from my step-father. I was glad to be away from my step-father, but I missed my mom, my bother and my sister. After two years my step-father was finally brought to trial on charges of felony sexual assault of a minor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to testify and he was allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor sexual assault and was only sentenced to two years probation and required to register as a sex offender. This is not unusual. Approximately 66% of all child sexual abuse charges end in guilty pleas to lesser charges before trial.

Most child molesters are only sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender. Many think the Sex Offender Registry law keeps sex offenders away from places where children play, but in many states the Sex Offender Registry law does not prevent a sex offender from visiting schools, playgrounds, children’s museums or even from living with or socializing with other children. The Sex Offender Registry law can only require that the sex offender register their required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

The police do their job and arrest these criminals, but then the lawyers and judges allow them to plead to a lesser charge and hand down light sentences or probation—which places vulnerable children like me in danger. Many times there is more severe punishment for someone who abuses animals than there is for someone who abuses children. I don’t think this is right!

I was lucky. I had grandparents and family members who protected me and helped me get therapy. But many children aren’t so lucky. Some end up in foster care and are abused even more. And lots of times no one believes them, so they run away and end up worse.

You can be a voice for kids like me who cannot speak for themselves:

1. You can write to your senators and people in congress and demand that they make laws that hold convicted sex offenders and the courts accountable for their actions concerning child molesters.

2. You can join an organization that helps prevent sexual child abuse and tell others to join too.

3. You can talk to your children’s school about preventing sexual child abuse.

4. Talk to your kids about sexual child abuse and teach them what to watch out for.

The worst thing you can do is stay quiet about sexual child abuse. If you suspect that a child is in danger, say something.

When most people think of the homeless, they think of the mentally ill, drug addicts or war veterans who somehow lost track of their lives and forgot how to get back to the life they once knew.

But there is a large part that makes up a much darker side of the homeless community: Homeless youth.

Many factors contribute to the overall number of homeless youth each year, but common reasons are family dysfunction, exiting the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, and sexual abuse. Research has shown that 43% of runaway and homeless youth were sexually abused before they left their homes.

These young people often flee abuse at home, but are exposed to further sexual victimization and human trafficking once on the street. One of every three teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. And the average age of entry into prostitution is fourteen.

1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse in the United States. 69% occurred in the victims’ home. 90% were sexually assaulted by someone they knew well. (A step-parent, relative, family friend or caretaker) The actual number is most likely higher because many incidents go unreported. Children’s Advocacy Centers served more than 311,000 children around the country in 2014. Two-thirds of the children served disclosed sexual abuse. (205,438)

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as: sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained  years of age.”

The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires states to develop minimum definitions of abuse or neglect. CAPTA’s definition of sexual abuse includes: “The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or the rape, and in cases of caretaker or interfamilial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.”

Last year, the National Center for the Missing & Exploited Children recorded that of the 11,800 endangered runaways, one in five were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

Girls are likely to become victims between the ages of 12 and 14; boys and transgender youths are likely to become victims between the ages of 11 and 13.

These children often grow up in broken and dysfunctional homes where love and affection are absent.  Instead of protection, many times these children receive brutal treatment. Their self-esteem is beaten to the point of feeling unworthy of any respect or fair treatment. They are insulted, humiliated, threatened, yelled at and isolated. They endure repeated sexual abuse—sometimes from several perpetrators.  All of these factors may lead them to start using drugs as a way to cope.

Less than 4% of all adolescents exchange sex for money, however 28% of youth living on the street and 10% of those in shelters engage in what is often referred to as “survival sex”. (Exchanging sex for money, food, drugs or a place to stay) Most of these children come from horrific living conditions; thus, it is easy for them to fall into the trap of sex slavery. They find themselves vulnerable, desperate, and in need of surviving. They require basic needs like food and shelter; therefore, they give into survival sex.

We need to change our mindset and preconceived ideas about these helpless children  that lead us to make erroneous conclusions. Many of us may have looked the other way and denied ourselves the opportunity to help. It may be that the assumptions made in regards to child sexual abuse and the homeless youth are what is preventing us from aiding and reaching out to them. If we did, perhaps there would not be over one million of our youth living on the streets each year in the United States.

More than the 500,000 attended the 2017 Women’s March in Washington D.C. on January 21st to stand up for women’s rights—including health care reform, abortion rights, equal pay for women and protesting sexual assault and the rape culture.

According the statistics on sexual child abuse, out of the 500,000 who attended the Women’s March in Washington,100,000 of them either knew a child who was sexually abused, or was the perpetrator of sexually abusing a child themselves. And and yet no one spoke out against that!

Silence is one of the most common failure in preventing child abuse. In 2 Samuel 13, upon learning that his sister Tamar had been raped by her brother Amnon, Absalom stated, “Keep silent my sister, he is your brother, do not take this matter to heart.” (v. 20) Tragically, not much has changed in over three thousand years. Too many respond to the epidemic of child abuse with the same dangerous silence.  A silence that is too often preferred over acknowledging the existence of such evil within our midst. A silence that is too often preferred over the hard work required to develop and implement effective child protection policies. A silence that is too often preferred over the cries of hurting children.

I for one, will not be silent. I will continue to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Will you join me? Write to your senators, to those who were elected to represent you in congress, and to the president.

Just like those who marched in Washington, we can make it known that we will be silent no more!

https://www.1800runaway.org/runaway-statistics/third-party-statistics/

https://www.nn4youth.org/wp-content/uploads/IssueBrief_Youth_Homelessness.pdf

https://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics

https://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Education/FactsStatistics?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

https://www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/61124.htm

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/capta2010.pdf

According to a 2012 CDC report, child abuse and neglect cost the United States over $124 billion a year! https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/p0201_child_abuse.html

1 out of 5 children are abused, molested or raped every day—Many in their own homes! The prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine because many times it is not reported. Experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities. And even when it is reported and the perpetrators are charged, most judges only sentence them to probation and require them to register as a sex offender.

Although many people depend on the Sex Offender Registration law to keep children safe, this is a common misperception.The SOR law in many states does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering facilities—such as schools, playgrounds, children’s museums, or refrain from living with or socializing with children.The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

Knowing all of this, why is not more being done to prevent this heinous crime? Because in most cases, it does not personally affect people—Not the police officer who was just doing his job; not the attorneys who agreed to plea deals for the perpetrators; and not the judge who only sentence them to probation; and not many who are reading this right now.

At times it seems that people are more outraged about animal abuse than they are about child abuse! Unfortunately, when a child is sexually abused there is no one on TV pleading with the community to help these children. No commercials that tug at our heart strings, showing images of sad children who have been abused and pleading for us to send in a donation of $19.00 a month to fight child sexual abuse. Sexually abused children don’t have anyone to speak out for them. So we must be the ones who speak out for them—and the thousands of other young girls and boys who are victims of this horrific crime.

People at one time or another have spoken about following “the golden rule”. Many of those people do not even realize that the golden rule comes directly from the Bible: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 )

So what exactly do the Law and the Prophets teach?

“…Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:4)

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

“If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.” (Leviticus 5:1 NIV)

“Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:16 NIV)

“Do not place a stumbling block before the blind.” (Leviticus 19:14) This includes the obligation to warn someone from a danger that we are aware of. If you know of someone who is planning to kill people, you are obligated to warn authorities. If we are aware of a sexual predator, we must do everything possible to protect children from him.

Jesus also said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

It is our obligation as parents, teachers, writers, legislators, or just plain adult citizens to protect innocent children from these criminal predators. Abuse, whether physical, psychological, emotional or sexual, is a violent crime. Sexually abusing a defenseless child is no different than beating them to cause bodily harm. And because of its terrible long-term effects, child sexual abuse could be much worse.

Child sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions and must be addressed and brought to the attention of the public to make everyone aware of the dangers, the long-term consequences and the zero-tolerance policy that needs to be applied to every form of child abuse.

Many reading this may say, “But I’m just one person. What can I do?”

Talk to others

Start by having an honest conversation with friends, neighbors and family members about child sexual abuse. If you are certain that there has never been a child molester or a molested child among your friends or family, you’re probably wrong. In spite of the millions of victims in our families, many people stick to their mistaken belief that child molestation has nothing to do with them. To help prevent child molestation from happening to the children closest to you, begin by telling others the basic facts. The less people know, the more they want to pretend that today’s estimated three million sexually abused children don’t exist. By telling the people closest to you the facts, you can help those same people become strong adult protectors of the children closest to you.

Write to your legislators 

Although most legislators pay little or no attention to laws pertaining to sexual child abuse, if enough people would write to their senators and lawmakers, they would be forced to consider the issue.

If you see something, say something

If you suspect a child is being abused or see a situation in which a child is vulnerable, it is your responsibility to inform authorities—even if you are in front of others, or in a public setting. Many States have a toll-free number to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect. To find out where to call, consult the Information Gateway publication, State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers.

Talk to your children 

Have age appropriate, open conversations about our bodies, sex, and boundaries. Teach them that it is “against the rules” for adults to act in a sexual way with them, and use examples. Be sure to mention that the abuser might be an adult friend, family member, or older youth. If a child seems uncomfortable, or resistant to being with a particular adult, ask why. Starting these type of conversations early gives children a foundation for understanding and developing healthy relationships. It also teaches them that they have the right to say “no.”

If we do nothing to protect vulnerable children from sexual abuse, we are just as responsible as the perpetrators who commit these heinous acts.

For more resources visit:

http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6035035/k.8258/Prevent_Child_Sexual_Abuse.htm#.WH-BSrGZPVo

https://www.childhelp.org

http://justiceforchildren.org

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

Scream! Kick! Run!

That’s what kids are taught to do when confronted with a stranger trying to harm them. But the advice to “scream, kick and run” doesn’t work with a step-parent or Good ol’ Uncle Joe. It is not the responsibility of children to defend themselves against adults. Adults need to step up and be protectors for children.

Ask nearly anyone and they will say that they would speak up if they thought a child was being sexually abused. Almost no one believes they would knowingly allow harmful sexual behavior to continue if they knew for sure that it was going on. And yet, millions of children continue to suffer from sexual abuse in their own homes. Many of them believe, correctly, that someone else knows, or should know, about their situation. But then little or nothing is done to protect them. Some children tell adults what’s going on; seeking protection and help, only to be met with disbelief, denial, blame, or even punishment.

Approximately 90% of children who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child’s family. Step-parents, family friends, relatives and persons in positions of authority over the child are more likely than strangers to commit  sexual assaults against the child. In fact, a child who lives with someone other than their biological parent is 33 times more likely to suffer from child sexual abuse than a child who lives with biological parents.

One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

These numbers may be even higher because many child sexual abuse victims never disclose their abuse to anyone. Less than 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to the police. The average age for first time sexual abuse is 9 years old!

Imagine for a moment that you’re the child who has been sexually abused by someone in the safety of your own home—In your own bedroom! You may feel doubly betrayed by someone’s failure to help. You were in danger, they could have protected you but they chose not to. And to make matters worse, when you speak up to the one person that you trusted to tell, they refuse to believe you or actually blame you! No excuses or rationalizations for their failure would seem acceptable.

Would you feel more anger toward a non-abusive adult who didn’t speak up or toward the person who actually abused you? You may have expected the worst from the abuser, who was clearly deeply disturbed and had little or no concern for you, but you expected better from someone who was supposed to be caring, loving and worthy of trust. And this anger may last for decades.

There are over 805,000 sex offenders living free in the united states today. Texas and California has the most with over 80,000 followed by Florida with nearly 70,000. You can check your own state HERE.

The crime of silence in the Church

The statistics of child sexual abuse are startling to say the least. But what makes this even more heartbreaking is that these statistics aren’t much different in the Church. The apostle Paul spoke against this type of sin to the Corinthian Church: “I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do.” (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) He went on to rebuke them for not doing anything about it.

Many in the Church today are guilty of the same thing. But what is even more repugnant is when child sexual abuse is discovered within a church member’s home and many decide to hide it within the walls of their church rather than report it to the police. This is not only ludicrous and unbiblical, it is against the law!

In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul teaches that believers are to be subject to the civil authorities. “For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong.” (Romans 13:1-4) Child sexual abuse has been deemed to be criminal by the civil authorities deserving just punishment. Child sexual abuse should be a matter of public alarm. Not only because of the long term psychological problems it causes for the child, but also because of the ripple effect it causes in countless of lives.

While the right to silence is a right we have in order to guard against self-incrimination, a witness of a crime who doesn’t stand up and testify on behalf of the victim of a crime is held as an accomplice in the crime. (Leviticus 5: 1)

Abuse flourishes when adults do not take responsibility for protecting children. Many Christians would rather avoid this difficult topic, and so they do not understand how abusers operate. Abusers almost always go out of their way to appear trustworthy. They are master manipulators. They disarm with a facade of generosity and kindness. With the Bible so readily available to us, we in the Church should be least likely to fall prey to this, but sadly we do.

So what do we do?

First, adults must own up to the problem of child sexual abuse and accept responsibility for protecting children in their care.

Secondly, we must report suspected child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. Child sexual abuse is a crime, and in many states an adult’s failure to report a reasonable suspicion of abuse is also a crime. Serious crimes should not be addressed with church discipline alone, and there are few crimes worse than child rape and molestation.

Sadly, even when perpetrators are arrested and charged with child sexual abuse, many times they are allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and most judges only sentence them to probation and register as a sex offender.

Sadly, the Sex Offender Registration law in many states does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders.This is a common misperception.The SOR law also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from entering schools, playgrounds, children’s museums, daycare centers or refrain from living with or socializing with children or other vulnerable persons.The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. Period!

You can be a voice for victims of child sexual abuse by writing to your senators. Last year I wrote to the Governor of Nebraska and 18 senators, voicing my concern about sexual child abuse and the SOR law. All of them ignored me. So I wrote to two more senators. There are now a few senators that drafted a bill that will do more to protect children from sexual predators. They plan to bring it to the senate floor during the next session. It’s not all that I wanted, but it’s a small step toward it.

I am just one person. Imagine what would happen if hundreds of you wrote the same kind of letters to your senators. Information on how to contact your senator is at: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

We must be willing to openly confront child sexual abuse and give of ourselves so that those impacted by it can experience the healing and transformative power of Jesus.

For decades, adults have put the burden on children to come forward if they are being abused. This status quo has failed. Because abusers spin a web of manipulation and lies around a child, children cannot protect themselves and rarely tell about abuse without another adult’s help. While teaching our kids about their bodies and sexual boundaries are vital, these actions alone cannot keep kids safe. Adults must take that burden off children. The antidote to child sexual abuse is faithful adults working together to create a safe environment for children.

For more information on what you and your church can do to protect children from sexual predators visit: http://byfaithonline.com/key-questions-about-child-sexual-abuse-in-the-church/

 

Update:

I recently received letters from Nebraska senators Sara Howard and Brett Lindstrom who are working to bring bills to the legislature that will provide more protection for child sex abuse victims. Brett Lindstrom has introduced bill LB60 to address custody issues and convicted sex offenders living in the homes of children. It mandates that the non-custodial parent receive written notification when a sex offender is residing with the children or is allowed unsupervised contact with the children. It also clarifies the standard judges must use when declaring their opinions to what is in the best interest of the children and that there is no significant risk to the children in doing so.

Sara Howard has created the Office of Inspector General specifically to provide independent oversight of the child welfare system. The recent report by the Inspector General discovered that at least 36 children in foster care had been sexually abused over the last three years. Sara Howard is on the Health and Human Services committee and will be working with the Inspector General on how to improve the system.

This is not everything I had hoped for, but it’s a good start. Just imagine what would happen if hundreds of people wrote to their senators.

I wrote this song in loving memory of my son, Sean, who was killed by a drunk driver while he was on his way to work. He had planned to attend UNL that fall.

Ta-Tonga-Mon-Thee was Sean’s Native American name given to him by his Maternal Grandfather. He would have been 39 years old today. I often wonder what he would be like today had he lived—Would he have become an evangelist sharing his love for the gospel? Or would he use his love for children to become a strong advocate to protect abused children?  Would he have a wife and given me grandchildren?

Those are questions that will never be answered. Sean’s death left a hole in my heart that will never be filled until we meet again in our heavenly home prepared for us in our Father’s kingdom.

I miss you Sean, and I think of you often.

 

When criminals are brought before judges for sentencing, judges should weigh factors including the severity of the crime, public safety, losses to the victims and their family and a defendant’s efforts to change.

We have all heard news stories of repeat offenders who often go on to commit even more violent crimes:

http://www.omaha.com/news/crime/fugitive-killed-in-shootout-was-known-gang-member-with-a/article_efc37eb3-a1cd-51d9-a1e4-5bacdacd1fe4.html

http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2016/10/11/palm-springs-cop-killer-suspect-shot-officers-assault-rifle/91895578/

http://www.kmtv.com/news/local-news/timeline-eswin-mejias-arrest-and-eventual-release

Judges Refuse To Protect Children

Cases like this happen all too often. And as disturbing as cases like these are, it has become even more common for judges to hand down probation to those convicted of child sexual abuse. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18! According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well! (Step-parents, siblings, caretakers or relatives) Sadly, only a fraction of those who are arrested and convicted of child sexual abuse are sentenced to jail. Most are only sentenced to probation!  http://www.stopsexoffenders.com/childsafety/articles/childsafetyarticles12.shtml

The silent pandemic

As of October 5, 2016 there have been 3,818 cases of people infected with the Zika virus in the United States. (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html) The CDC and WHO have both listed Zika as either an epidemic or a pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the infectious diseases branch of the National Institutes of Health, told CBS News, “You have multiple countries in South America and in the Caribbean, so by anybody’s definition that would be considered a pandemic.” And yet, at least 300,000 children are sexually abused every year! (http://www.pingchong.org/assets/files/1/files/some-facts-about-child-sexual-abuse.pdf)

So by Dr. Fauci’s own standard, childhood sexual abuse should be listed as a pandemic! And yet, childhood sexual abuse is often not even talked about!  Many depend on the Sex Offender Registry law (SOR) to keep sex offenders away from schools, playgrounds or places where children play. This is a common misperception. In most states the SOR law does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restricting an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain them from living with or socializing with children or other vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. (Usually 72 hours)

I wrote to Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and 18 Nebraska senators voicing my concerns about the SOR law in Nebraska. The only response I received was a letter from Governor Ricketts telling me that he had to wait until the issue was brought up in legislature, and  conversations with senator John McCollister, who in the end, told me that there was nothing he could do. The other 17 senators failed to respond at all.

What Can We Do?

A judge must run for retention in office in the first general election that occurs more than three years after his or her appointment, and every six years thereafter. If there are more votes to retain a judge than to remove him or her, then the judge remains on the bench for an additional six years!

We can send a strong message in November by voting “NO” to retain judges.

voteWhen criminals are brought before judges for sentencing, judges should weigh factors including the severity of the crime, public safety, losses to the victims and their family and a defendant’s efforts to change. But all too often judges hand down light sentences to repeat offenders who often go on to commit even more violent crimes.

Consider the case of Marcus Wheeler-Cop Killer

Marcus Wheeler had a criminal record dating back to 2008 and on May 20, 2015 officer Kerrie Orozco was shot and killed by Wheeler who was being served a warrant by the Omaha police department’s Fugitive Task Force. Officer Orozco left behind a husband and his two children as well as their newborn baby. The woman who was an accomplice in Kerrie Orozco’s murder by purchasing the gun for Wheeler, was sentenced by an Alabama judge to only probation!

Eswin Mejia—Vehicle Homicide

Eswin Mejia was driving with a suspended license and was in the country illegally when he crashed into an SUV, killing 21-year-old Sarah Root. Mejia was street racing and driving drunk before crashing into the back of Sara’s SUV. Police say his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit when he was street racing near 33rd and L streets. The loss has left Sarah Root’s friends and family with profound grief.

To make matters worse, Mejia was scheduled for a preliminary hearing, but never made it to court after the judge set Mejia’s bond at only $50,000! The judge revoked Mejia’s $50,000 bond when he failed to appear after a relative posted a $5,000.00 cash bond.

Cases like this happen all too often. And as disturbing as cases like these are, it has become even more common for judges to hand down probation to those convicted of sexual child abuse. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused in their own homes by family members, step-parents or caregivers!

Judges Refuse To Protect Children

In 2014, state agencies identified an estimated 1,580 children who died as a result of abuse and neglect. That’s between four and five children a day—roughly ¼ of your child’s elementary school class! Sadly, only a fraction of convicted perpetrators of physical or sexual abuse of a child are sentenced to jail. Most of those convicted of child abuse are only sentenced to probation!

What Can We Do?

A judge must run for retention in office in the first general election that occurs more than three years after his or her appointment, and every six years thereafter.  When a judge runs for retention in office, the question presented on the voters’ ballots states: “Shall Judge ___________ be retained in office?” If there are more votes to retain a judge than to remove him or her, then the judge remains on the bench for an additional six years!

We can send a strong message to these lenient judges by voting “NO” to retain judges.

unknownThousands of children throughout America suffer physical abuse and neglect each day. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused in their own homes by family members, step-parents or caregivers. (That is according to reported incidences, so the actual number could be even higher) Many of these victims can suffer from psychological, emotional, and physical effects that carry over well into adulthood—including anxiety Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism or drug abuse. But there are some, with the help of caring friends and family and professional counseling, who can not only survive childhood abuse, but overcome it and thrive. This is a story of one such person. I’ll call her Shelby. (Her real name was changed to protect her privacy)

Shelby’s Story

When I was about 5 years old I lived in New Mexico with my mom and her boyfriend. That’s when I first remember him physically abusing my mother. He was often cruel to animals too. I had a black kitten that I loved very much. My mom’s boyfriend didn’t like the kitten because it kept scratching him, but not me or my mom. So one day when me and my mom went to the store, he killed it by throwing it into the washing machine. After he killed it, he threw it over the fence in our back yard. I was traumatized after we found out, but my Mom told me not to tell anyone.

When I was in kindergarten a friend of mine and his mom came to visit at our house. My mom, her boyfriend and my friend’s mom were all drinking together. While me and my friend (who was a boy) were in my room, without warning, he suddenly pulled down his pants. (As little boys sometimes do) I thought he was just weird, but when the boy’s mom saw what he did, she told my mom and her boyfriend. Then, as if I did something wrong, my mom’s boyfriend grabbed me by my ankles and swung me around the room and threw me into a wall! To my shock and amazement my mom just sat there and watched it happen and did nothing to stop him!

When I was 6 years old we moved to Colorado. My mom’s boyfriend was still abusing her—Even when she was pregnant! I was often subjected to watch as my mother got punched and slapped in the face. Fortunately, my mom was still able to gave birth to two healthy twins—A boy and a girl. But because I didn’t want them to get hurt, I took it upon myself to take care of the twins. So I was the one feeding them, watching over them them and making sure that they were safe.

Things got worse after my mom and her boyfriend got married and he became my step-father. When I was 8 years old he made me smoke a cigarette with him and drink beer. Another time he sat me down and told me “his version” of the birds and the bees. It included looking down my pants and telling me that when I was by myself I should finger myself!

One time when my mom just got home from work, my step-father jumped on top of her and started choking her until her face turned purple before he finally let her go. It was one of the scariest experience of my life at that time. I had no idea that things would get much worse.

Later that same year when I was in my nightgown, my mom was working and my new step-father was drunk. He pushed me down on a pull-out bed and wouldn’t let me get up. He then got on top of me and tried raping me! He held down my wrists and was trying to make me believe that it was a game. I can still remember the smell of alcohol on him. When I began to scream and I tell him to get off, he suddenly stopped, but he was laughing about it like he was only kidding. This was the first time he had done something like this. Because of my step-father’s violent temper, I was afraid of what he might do if I told my mom, so I never said anything.

As time went on, my step-father’s alcohol and drug abuse continued to get worse. One time me and my mom left to run some errands and do some grocery shopping. But because we took longer than my step-father expected us to, we came back to discover that he had trashed the whole house in a drunken rage.

When I was 9 years old we moved back to New Mexico. My step-father’s abuse continued to get worse and worse. When my brother was only three years old, my step-father grabbed him by the shirt and slammed him against the arm of the couch just because he accidentally spilled some pop on him while he was sleeping.

Another time he tried coming after me. So I ran into a bedroom and jumped around on the bed so he wouldn’t hit me. My mom saw what he was trying to do, and pushed him away from me. He then turned his anger towards my mom started abusing her again. My siblings became frightened and started crying, so I locked us inside of the bedroom so my step-father wouldn’t harm my brother and sister. I tried to calm them down by singing to them.

Later that year my mom became pregnant again with my youngest sister. But that did not stop my step-father’s abuse. One night he punched my mom twice in the face and knocked her out. She didn’t wake up all night. I stayed up most of the night waiting for her to wake up. I finally went to sleep that night wondering if she was dead. But the next morning she was fine and acted as if nothing happened.

Only 6 months after moving from Colorado to New Mexico we moved again. This time to Washington State to live with my grandma (My mom’s mother) and her two sons. We lived there for about 1 year. It wasn’t any easier there because my step-father was always causing problems with my uncles and other people in the household. My grandma does not allow anyone to drink in the house, but he did anyway.

One time when my grandma and uncles were gone, my step-father and my mom got into another fight. At first they were just arguing and yelling about something. Then it escalated into pushing and shoving. Before it got worse, my mom dialed the police but when my step-father tried to grab the phone from my mom, his arm went through the window and cut his arm. He was able to end the call, but of course the police came anyway. Because my step-father was bleeding and my mom didn’t have any marks on her, the police arrested her for domestic violence. Me and my siblings were all crying but my step-father just yelled at us to stop crying and told us that my mom would be back soon. But it wasn’t until three days later that my mom came back home.

During the summer that we lived in Washington things got worse. My step-father wasn’t contributing much to the household because what little money he had went to pay for beer and marijuana. The problems he caused between my uncles and my grandma got worse, so we moved again.

This time we moved to Nebraska and lived with my other grandpa (my mom’s father) and his wife for about 6 months. My grandparents in Omaha have very strong Christian beliefs and told my parents that they don’t allow alcohol or drugs in their home or smoking inside the house. They are very kind people who did all they could to help us. They even bought new beds and dressers for all of us. They also converted their garage into a bedroom for my mom and step-father.

My grandparents gave us a warm and caring place to stay, cooked and cleaned for us and never asked for rent or grocery money. They even helped my step-father find a job. But while we lived there, my step-father secretly continued drinking and smoking in the basement. He was still abusive to us; he just hid it from my grandparents better. One time during a family reunion celebration my grandparents held in their back yard, my step-father made me put my hands on a pole that was in the basement and beat me with a belt several times. Everyone was outside playing, shouting and laughing, so they couldn’t hear what was going on inside. Finally after he was done, I dropped to the ground crying. I didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid that if I did, my grandparents would make us move.

Soon after that, we moved into a nasty 3 bedroom house that had mold all over. Because of the mold, we were always sick and would get bad coughs. My step-father and my mom smoking inside the house didn’t help either. Our neighbors next door were alcoholics and my mom and step-father would drink with them a lot.

My mom and step-father made the decision to have my step-father’s two older daughters (from a previous marriage in Colorado) move in with us. Although the house was a bit cramped, my brother and sisters and I grew much closer. We didn’t think of ourselves as a step-brother and 5 step-sisters. In our minds we were all family. I think having us all in one place made my step-father even more abusive though. One time when my young sister accidentally scratched the TV, he took her into the bathroom and spanked her with a belt so many times that she had welts on her back and legs. He would also grab the little ones by the wrist so rough that he would leave bruises on them. Many times he would get mad at us kids for reasons unknown to us. Most of us would get scared and run, but when he physically abused my oldest sister, she would fight back like crazy.

Then when I was 11years old, the very worst thing happened to me. One night my step-father was drinking again. I was going to bed and he said, “I’ll be there in a while”. I didn’t know what he meant by that at the time. I woke up suddenly at 3 AM to find my step-father in my bed lying next to me with his hand down the front of my pants! I freaked out and ran into the other room to lay on the couch. I didn’t know what to think. Then about two weeks later I fell asleep in front of the TV and it happened again! I freaked out again and cried and cried. When I finally got the courage to tell my mom, my step-father called me a f**kin’ liar and told me that I made it up. I was shocked and angered when all my mom said was that I should not watch movies next to my step-father anymore. As if it was MY fault!  Even my sisters didn’t believe me. After that I felt all alone.

We stayed in Nebraska about two years before we moved back to New Mexico to live with my step-father’s Grandmother, who pretty much let him do whatever he wanted. I hated it there. I was bullied in the school there and my oldest sister was fighting with my mom and her husband more and more. Sometimes they would even beat on her together.

Later, all of us siblings (except for my baby sister), were sent back to Washington to stay with my grandma and my uncles again. It was supposed to only be for the summer, but we ended up staying there for over a year and going to school there. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting into fights, getting into trouble and doing poorly in school. I was angry all the time, but I didn’t know why.

Then my grandparents in Nebraska wanted me and my older sister to come and visit them for the summer. They said that they would pay for our plane fair to Nebraska and back. My sister had to attend summer school so we made plans for me to go by myself.

But before I had the chance to leave for Nebraska, my mom called my grandma in Washington and told her that they wanted to pick all of us kids up in Colorado at the end of the summer. I began crying and told my grandma that I didn’t want to go back. And that I didn’t want to live with my mom anymore. After pressing me for several minutes on why I didn’t want to live with my mom, I finally told her how my step-father had sexually molested me.

About the same time, my brother was suspended from school for drawing sexual pictures and intimidating other students and inappropriately touching them. It was also discovered that he was accessing pornographic web sites. Because of the nature of my brother’s suspension, the school set up family counseling for us. That’s when I told them what my step-father had done. The school contacted law enforcements and the police began an investigation that covered all the states where we had lived.

I have never seen my grandma so angry. She called my grandparents in Nebraska and told them what had happened. They had already booked me a round trip flight to Nebraska and said that I would never have to live with my step-father again.

That summer was the best summer ever. On Sunday I had a 9 AM flight to Nebraska. Even though I was excited about going to Nebraska, that morning was a pain because I had to get up at 6 AM and rush to pack everything. By the time I was ready it was already 8:15. Finally we were on our way to the airport. By the time we got there it was about 8:40. Then I had to pose for pictures and give everyone a hug before I left.

Miraculously, I made it to my plane on time. My first stop was Salt Lake City, Utah where I had to change planes. I finally arrived in Nebraska at 4 PM. It had been three years since I last saw my grandparents. I gave both of them a big hug when I saw them. After we got my luggage, we went to Applebee’s for dinner. We had a great talk and caught up on things. After that, we went to their house where to my surprise, they already had a bedroom set up for me. Then I checked the house out and hung out for a while and for the first time in a long time, I was able to sleep soundly in my own bed.

After a few days I hung out with a couple of old friends of mine that I’ve known since elementary school. We all had a blast catching up again after three years. It helped me not to think about those years of abuse I had lived through.

Then grandpa surprised me by contacting my biological dad who lived in the same city and arranged for us to meet! I never had the chance to meet my real dad because my mom always kept me from him. Seeing him for the first time gave me butterflies. I was so nervous that I felt like I was going to puke. But I was also really excited at the same time.

When I first saw my dad I gave him a big hug. Then we started talking and getting to know each other. I could tell that he was just as nervous as I was. But I was surprised at how easy he was to talk to. He made me feel so comfortable that it was like we knew each other for years. After our long talk he asked if I wanted to meet everyone in his family at a cook out that was planned. Of course I said yes. So the next day he introduced me to another little brother of mine, his wife, aunts, uncles and more grandparents. We all had a great time, laughing, and having fun. Almost immediately I felt close to my biological dad and my new little brother and stepmom. That was one of the best days of my life.

Unfortunately, things were about to turn really ugly. When my mom found out that I had spoken out about the sexual abuse she called my grandpa and threatened to take me from them by force, have him arrested and make sure that he never saw me again.

For weeks my mom and several of my step-father’s family members would call and harass me and my grandparents, trying to get me to recant my allegations against my step-father. My grandparents finally bought me a new phone and screened phone calls on our home phone.

They also hired an attorney and were able to become my legal guardians. They also got me into professional counseling with a therapist who testified that I suffered from PTSD due to years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and chronic neglect at the hands of my step-father.

When I first came to live with my grandparents in Nebraska I was failing all of my classes in school and I struggled with anger, depression and nightmares. But because of my grandparents love and support and the support of many of my friends, I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor. I am now a senior in high school and I have several offers from some of the best colleges in the country. I now live with my biological dad and my relationship with my mom is slowly getting better. I am looking forward to the future.

Epilogue

In February of 2015, Shelby’s step-father was convicted of sexual assault of a child in Sarpy County, Ne. for sexually molesting his then 11 year old step-daughter. (A third degree Felony) But he was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor sexual assault. The judge sentenced him to only two years probation!

Ten days after Shelby’s step-father was released on probation he was arrested again on suspicion of child abuse—after throwing his 8 year old biological daughter across a room and into a wall. The remaining children were removed from the home and placed in foster care.

Shelby’s step-father never received jail-time for the child abuse against his biological daughter, but was sentenced to 180 days in jail for probation violations after being found with weapons, drug paraphernalia, pornographic material and use of alcohol and K-2 Synthetic Marijuana while on probation. He was released from jail after only serving 3 months and was allowed to move to a small town in Colorado where he was to register as a sex offender at the Sheriff’s Office there within 72 hours. He failed to register for more than two weeks. He is now free to possibly abuse other children.

Unfortunately, cases like this play out far too often.

Jesus said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6) And yet most people are silent about the thousands of children throughout America who suffer from child sexual abuse and neglect each day. This not only has harmful consequences on the physical and emotional development and well-being of children, it can also carry over into their adulthood. Victims may exhibit regressive behaviors, sleep disturbances, eating disorders and may also become more susceptible to drug or alcohol abuse.

A flawed system

Many people believe that the Sex Offender Registry law (SOR) keeps a sex offender away from schools, playgrounds or places where children play. This is a common misperception.The SOR law in many states does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, or restricting an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

Approximately 60% of boys and 80% of girls who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child’s family. Relatives, step-parents, friends, persons in positions of authority over the child, or persons who supervise children are more likely than strangers to commit a sexual assault. And most convicted sex offenders are eventually released to the community under probation or parole supervision.

The police do their job and arrest these criminals, but then the prosecutors and judges allow them to plead to a lesser charge and hand down light sentences or probation that allows them to re-offend, placing the public at risk.

Many times there is more severe punishment for someone who abuses animals than for someone who abuses children. It is time we stand up for the victims of childhood sexual abuse. Because, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to just please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1)

What can we do?

Since this is an election year, this is a great time to write to your senators and legislators in your state and tell them to make sure that victims of sexual abuse receive justice from the courts. We can also send a strong message in November by voting “NO” to retain lenient judges.

There are also many helpful resources online:

https://www.rainn.org/articles/how-can-i-protect-my-child-sexual-assault

http://www.pandys.org/articles/protectyourchild.html

http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6035035/k.8258/Prevent_Child_Sexual_Abuse.htm#.V_ZbaDKZPVo

https://1in6.org/men/get-information/online-readings/others-who-were-involved-or-not/why-do-adults-fail-to-protect-children-from-sexual-abuse-or-exploitation/

If you’ve been sexually abused, you may feel broken and undeserving of love. You might respond to your abuse with anxiety, depression, self-loathing, self-harming actions, eating disorders, or addictions. But Satan doesn’t care how you react to the sexual abuse . . . as long as you don’t turn to Jesus. Because the enemy knows that when we find our identity, security, and dignity in Christ, we can live in victory.

Jesus, doesn’t see a broken person, he sees perfection—a beautiful person on the way to being healed.