Posts Tagged ‘child sex offenders’

The U.S. is now less than a year away from the most consequential election, and not one of the remaining presidential candidates has prioritized addressing child sexual abuse (CSA) as a platform issue. 

Many of these survivors of CSA are now adult voters and they aren’t just people looking for services. They are constituents looking for a change to the system. They are working people, taxpayers and consumers who push through their trauma every day— despite being erased by a world that tells them they aren’t as important as the economy and climate change. The MeToo movement began to shed light on the behavior of wealthy and powerful predators, but the media and politicians are more focused on sexual harassment in the workplace than on the sexual assaults on children taking place in our homes across the country! 

If it is traumatic for a grown woman to be groped or sexually assaulted by a man, how much more traumatic must it be for a 7, 8 or 9 year old to be sexually assaulted by someone they know and trust?

90% of victims of CSA know their abuser well. Many of them live in the same home with them. And even when a perpetrator is arrested and convicted, most judges only sentence them to probation and require them to register as a sex offender. But 23 states in America place no restrictions on child sex offenders. So many of them return to and continue their daily lives without much consequence or repercussions. 

Studies by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that:

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
  • Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13. 

This kind of early childhood trauma has been documented to cause life-long mental, emotional and physical health problems for victims well into adulthood. 

A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can even become suicidal. 

Adult intervention is key to saving children from this kind of abuse and giving them a chance at a healthier, happier outcome. Mandated reporting laws support this type of intervention by requiring certain adults to tell the authorities about suspected child abuse. But many times the mandated reporter is also the perpetrator! 

President Trump recently made animal cruelty a felony. But there is no federal law that places restrictions on convicted perpetrators of CSA. In fact, there are stricter restrictions on those who abuse animals than for those who abuse children!

With no presidential candidate that seems willing to publicly grapple with this bipartisan issue, we must raise our voices and demand that the men and women who want to represent us in the White House, as well as those in local political offices, speak directly to and respond to this national epidemic. And it is especially important that adult survivors of CSA speak out.

Many politicians often say that children are our future. But what kind of future will we have if millions of our children will be wounded adults who struggle with emotional and mental problems because of childhood trauma? 

Mahatma Gandhi once said “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” If this quote is to be believed, where does that leave us? We deserve a country that values the safety of our children, since our future well being and prosperity depends on it.

Something that is difficult to explain to those who have not lived through abuse as a child is the monumental effort it requires to try to trust anyone or anything in life. They don’t even know what a healthy relationship means. Because they were never given the tools to build trust or to engage in a productive connection outside of the hell they experienced as a young child. I experienced this myself and that disfunction became my normal. As I grew older so-called friends and loved ones began to avoid me and sometimes spread rumors about me. My mistrust grew even more.

I have often heard other survivors express that they feel as if they have a target on their backs. That predators, sexual or otherwise, can sense them from miles away and are able to find and easily exploit their weakness and hurt them over and over again. I would love nothing more than to say this isn’t true, but in my experience it is incredibly accurate. It’s the reason that sex traffickers are so successful at luring young people into the sex trade. 

You see, if you are taught from an early age that your own needs don’t matter and that your sole purpose is to gratify the physical needs of someone else, your sense of security when it comes to anything outside of humiliation makes it challenging to have a healthy relationship. If you were conditioned to feel guilty beyond measure and manipulated to not think about what your individual needs might be outside of your abusers, chances are you are going to attract further abuse. 

Too many times victims of child abuse have experienced re-victimization by those they falsely believed were different only to be exploited again. Not just in physical relationships, but in any way possible. From so-called friendships, to doctors, to therapists and even family members. How do you trust when not given the opportunity to do so without being betrayed and how do you heal when the same patterns of dysfunction repeat itself over and over?

I was fortunate to find hope and healing through Jesus and by studying God’s promises in the Bible. I can tell you for a fact that it is possible for a victim of abuse and disfunction to heal. But it will take time, therapy and support. 

Without it some will walk with their shoulders down staring at the ground because it is easier than making eye contact with anyone that they believe will try to destroy what little of themselves that might be left? While others allow their anger to boil over inside them and take their abuse out on others—We’ve seen these results in many of the school shootings. 

In just the last few years we have read about some young adolescent who has been tried as an adult after killing family members and/or other students. As tragic as these crimes are, it is even more tragic for society to condemn these dysfunctional adolescents to a lifetime in prisons with hardened criminals, taking no thought of what caused them commit such heinous acts. 

According to a report released by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics on April of 1999, Almost half of the women and one tenth of the men in the nation’s jails and prisons say they were physically or sexually abused before their imprisonment. For prisoners who had spent their childhood in foster care, the rate of abuse was even higher. 44% of the male prisoners and 87% of the female prisoners who had spent their childhood in foster care reported being abused. The study draws a strong link between prior abuse and violent crime. In 2016, the Vera Institute of Justice conducted surveys of jail populations and found that 86 percent of inmates reported being sexually violated before being incarcerated. 

This year the nation watched, transfixed, as more than a hundred women stood before a Michigan courtroom to describe how Larry Nassar altered their lives with his abuse. They were heard and heeded. The judge listened, the media listened, the world listened, and those girls and women were told that their suffering mattered. 

But many more children who are sexually abused in their own homes rarely get their day in court. And even when they do, judges do very little to give justice to the victims. Most judges only sentence their perpetrators to probation and require them to register as a sex offender. Nebraska is one of 22 states that have no restrictions on those convicted of child sexual abuse. And so their abuse, it seems, counts little for the victims—until they act out and commit crimes themselves. In other words, the United States has made a practice of locking up victims. 

When are we going to stop locking up these victims and asking “what’s wrong with them?” and instead begin to ask, “what happened to them?” And, “How can we help?”

“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)

About 40 million children worldwide suffer abuse every year, with more than 1,500 children dying of abuse in the United States annually.

Often the adults who are designed to protect children refuse to take action because they don’t want to get involved or because the perpetrator is a family member and they fear that doing so will split up the family unit.

Even when a perpetrator of sexual child abuse is convicted, they are often only given probation and required to register as a sex offender for no more than 15 years.

Currently, the Nebraska Sex Offender Registration Law (SOR) does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information under statutes 29-4004 and 29-4006 at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

It is left up to the judges discretion to prevent an offender from attending certain events or restricting an offender from entering certain facilities where vulnerable children are present. But more often judges will only restrict an offender from living near a daycare center and refrain from using drugs and alcohol. Some offenders are even allowed to live with their own children who are also at risk of being abused.

The greatest myth about the SOR law

I started a petition at https://www.change.org/p/pete-ricketts-change-nebraska-sex-offender-registration-law  to change the SOR law in Nebraska. Sadly, very few people have signed it.

Many opponents of the SOR law claim that the law unfairly targets those who urinate in public as sex offenders. This is one of the biggest sex offender myths propagated by registry opponents. There are only 13 states that could possibly have convicted people of being a sex offender for urinating in public. However, these states do have laws against exposing one’s genitalia to the view of a minor or another person who may be offended. So If you are peeing into a bush and no one can see your genitalia, there is no crime and no requirement for registration. There is not a single state that requires registration for urinating in public. Even if those convicted of urinating in public were charged as sex offenders, this would only account for less than 0.1% of all offenders.

America’s long history of child abuse

Laws regarding “cruelty” were first created for the humane treatment of animals on February 8, 1866. It was not until many years later that children were granted that same consideration. (http://www.childenrichment.org/education/child-abuse-history)

Child labors laws were enacted in 1906, but did not provide protection from other forms of child abuse. Without laws specific to child maltreatment, severely abused children would fall under the animal welfare laws as a member of the animal kingdom. It was not until the 1968, after the book “The Battered Child” was published (authors Dr. C. Henry Kempe and Ray E. Helfer), did Americans acknowledge that parents and caregivers truly could and did physically harm their children.

Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” (Luke 18:16)

Most of us, when threatened or attacked, will contact law enforcement and report it as a crime. But children often won’t tell you straight out that something has happened to them, because either they’ve been threatened, or they may feel ashamed and they may not feel comfortable talking to you about it. So it’s up to adults to watch for the signs of abuse and act on behalf of the child.

Because no child should have to suffer abuse in silence.