Posts Tagged ‘sex offenders’

“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.

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence every year.

Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children. The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect.

The prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) is difficult to determine because it is often not reported. But experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities.

Now if you think that these type of crimes are reserved only for non-Christians, think again! Studies reveal that domestic violence and child sexual abuse is just as common within the evangelical churches as anywhere else. This means that about 25 % of Christian homes witness abuse of some kind!

Because these numbers are so shocking, you may be wondering if the studies were done by secular researchers hostile to the church. Sadly, they were not.

Denise George, a gifted writer and the wife of theologian Timothy George, has published a new book called What Women Wish Pastors Knew. “Spouse abuse shocks us,” George writes. “We just cannot believe that a church deacon or member goes home after worship . . . and beats his wife.” Tragically, however, George notes, some of these men justify their violence “by citing biblical passages.”

Well, obviously they’re misinterpreting Scripture to justify their actions. In Ephesians 5:22, husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Beating your wife black-and-blue hardly constitutes Christian love! 1 Peter 3:1-7 tells husbands to live with their wives considerately. And the Bible makes it clear that the Church has no business closing its eyes to violent men. In 1 Timothy 3:3, the church is told that when it comes to choosing leaders, they must find men who are “not violent but gentle,” sober, and temperate.

The amount of domestic abuse in Christian homes is horrifying, and the Church ought to be doing something about it! But sometimes pastors, albeit with good intentions, do more harm than good.

George sites a survey in which nearly 6,000 pastors were asked how they would counsel women who came to them for help with domestic violence. 26% said they would counsel them to continue to “submit” to her husband, no matter what. 25% told wives that the abuse was their own fault for failing to submit in the first place. Astonishingly, nearly half of the pastors surveyed said women should be willing to tolerate some level of violence because it is better than divorce! Do they not understand that advice like this often puts women in grave danger—and in some cases, can be a death warrant? Pastors need to acknowledge that domestic abuse in the Church is a problem, and learn how to counsel women wisely.

Equally as tragic is that child sexual abuse continues to destroy the bodies and souls of untold numbers of children around the country. In her book, “Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists, and other Sex Offenders”, clinical psychologist Anna Salter revealed that her own interviews of sexual offenders found them admitting to having perpetrated between 10 and 1250 victims! She also writes that every offender she interviewed had been previously reported by children, and the reports were ignored.

It is critical to note that this abuse is no less prevalent within the faith community. In fact, there are studies that demonstrate that the faith community is even more vulnerable to abuse than secular environments. The Abel and Harlow study revealed that 93% of sex offenders describe themselves as “religious” and that this category of offender may be the most dangerous. Other studies have found that sexual abusers within faith communities have more victims–and younger victims. This disturbing truth is perhaps best illustrated by the words of a convicted child molester who told Dr. Salter: “I considered church people easy to fool…they have a trust that comes from being Christians. They tend to be better folks all around and seem to want to believe in the good that exists in people.”

Approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually abuse as children. This means that a church of 200 members will have at least 41 child sexual abuse survivors, or over 20% of the congregation! Yet, sexual abuse is still too seldom talked about inside our churches. How would your church respond if: 20% of the congregation had cancer; or 20% of the congregation had lost a child; or 20% of the congregation had been fired from employment?
I would predict that any of these issues would become a primary focus of the church’s ministry. Pastors would preach sermons addressing the spiritual issues associated with this trauma and church members would reach out in love and service to those experiencing such deep hurt.
Then why does the Church refuse to respond to child sexual abuse in silence? As part of the body of Christ, we must learn to approach the horror of child sexual abuse no differently.
Perhaps these statistics can help drive our churches to become places of refuge and healing for abuse survivors who are silently suffering in our midst:

• 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.

 

 

Are you in an abusive relationship? Below are warning signs of an abusive personality:

• Jealousy: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; afraid that if you go anywhere by yourself “you might meet someone.”

• Controlling: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about whom you talked to and where you were; controls all the money; insists you ask permission to do anything.

• Isolation: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who support you of causing trouble. Puts down everyone you know- friends are either stupid, or slutty.

• Blames others for problems or mistakes: It’s always someone else’s fault when anything goes wrong.

• Makes others responsible for his feelings: The abuser says things like, “Why do you always do things that make me angry?”

• Hypersensitivity: Is easily insulted, uses hurt feelings to justify abusive behavior.

• Cruelty to animals and children: Kills or brutally punishes animals. Also may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for unintentional accidents) or may tease them until they cry.

• Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things. Degrades, curses, and calls you ugly names.

• Sudden mood swings: Switches from sweet to violent in minutes.

• Often makes threats: Says things like, “I’ll break your neck,” or “I’ll kill you,” and then dismisses them with, “Don’t take things so literal!”

• Breaking or striking objects during an argument: Slams fist on tables, punches walls, throws objects across a room, pushes, shoves, or physically restrains you from leaving room.

If you are in an abusive relationship with someone, get away! Call someone to help you–A friend, a women’s shelter or the police. It may just save your life and the lives of your children.

Because it rarely stops….

 

 

Resources to help:

https://www.whengeorgiasmiled.org/

http://www.thehotline.org/resources/resources/

Over the past few years, many people have asked whether sex offenders should be able to use social-media sites like Facebook and MySpace. In February a federal judge decided to throw out a Louisiana state law that prohibited sex offenders from joining or even looking at Facebook and other social-networking sites. U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, based in Baton Rouge, said the law was unreasonable and unconstitutional. And this week a federal judge ruled this week in Lincoln, Nebraska that the state can’t enforce a law that protects our children from sex offenders.  So now Nebraska cities and towns can tell a registered sex offender to stay away from schools, parks and other places children gather but the state can’t tell the same convicted offender to stay off of Facebook or online chat rooms.

Sex offenders in other states are now challenging the law that bans their access to social media sites such as Face Book saying it violates their free speech rights. This law was enacted to keep children safe from sex offenders on the Internet because the Internet is the virtual playground where sex offenders are trying to strike and prey on our kids, so we must have the tools to crack down on these monsters that are preying on our kids.

On Friday, September 28, 2012 Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was taken into custody at an undisclosed location by U.S. marshals and brought to court in Los Angeles. Nakoula has been under investigation by probation officials looking into whether he violated the terms of his 2011 release from prison on a bank fraud conviction while making an anti-Muslim film, “Innocence of Muslims.” It portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant. The film was blamed for a torrent of anti-American unrest in Egypt, Libya and dozens of other Muslim countries and the attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Nakoula, under the terms of his release from jail, had been barred from accessing the Internet or using aliases without the permission of a probation officer. “The court has a lack of trust in the defendant at this time,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said in refusing Nakoula’s request for bail at a hearing in U.S. District Court.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton both deplored the film’s message but it was later learned that the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi had little or nothing to do with the film.

Nakoula, who was on a type of probation known in the federal system as supervised release, served time in prison for a 2010 conviction for taking out bank and credit cards under myriad fake identities. He now faces eight charges of probation violation. Probation officials are recommending a two-year prison term for Nakoula, despite a guideline range of four to 10 months. But a federal judge ordered him held in protective custody without bail, saying he is a flight risk and poses “some danger to the community.”

Is it just me, or does it seem that we live in a bizarro world where the whole earth is in the hands of the wicked, and God has blinded the eyes of the judges? (Job 9:24)

Why should a sexual predator be  protected based on a loosely interpreted version of their 1st Amendment right while someone who made a nonsensical anti-Muslim film is arrested and is facing a two-year prison term?

Is this not the time to pray for a true God-breathed revival? “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

Mathew Henry writes in his commentary: Faith is the cause of victory, the means, the instrument, the spiritual armor by which we overcome. In and by faith we cleave to Christ, in contempt of, and in opposition to the world. Faith sanctifies the heart, and purifies it from those sensual lusts by which the world obtains sway and dominion over souls. It has the indwelling Spirit of grace, which is greater than he who dwells in the world. The real Christian overcomes the world by faith; he sees, in and by the life and conduct of the Lord Jesus on earth that this world is to be renounced and overcome. He cannot be satisfied with this world, but looks beyond it, and is still tending, striving, and pressing toward heaven. We must all, after Christ’s example, overcome the world, or it will overcome us to our ruin.

We must realize that God created us and placed us here in order to establish His kingdom. It is up to us not to be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12:21)