As we continue with our legal year-in-review, we can’t help but notice that the horrors surrounding the sexual abuse of children in our country have been front page news for much of 2011. Whether it was a coach at Penn State or trusted religious leaders, this crime has been shown to be far more pervasive than we ever imagined.
Writing for Justia.com, Marci Hamilton suggests some lessons learned in 2011 about children and sexual abuse. Organizations, she finds, will cover up sexual abuse of children, whether the organizations are a church, a university, a child care center, or a family. Frequently, such sexual abuse relies on the community to keep quiet or ignore the conduct. Abuse, it seems, is very prevalent. It is all around us and lurks in places we’d never imagine it could occur. So, we have to learn to listen to victims of sexual abuse when they are old enough to come forward. The fact is, such victims rarely make up their stories. Rather, they skimp on the details, with investigators finding that the abuse is far worse than they’ve been told.
On the legal front, we have to act to eliminate statutes of limitations for child sex abuse. In reality, it takes years for most victims to come forward. These statutes of limitations end up protecting the criminals and harming the victims. It just doesn’t make sense for us, as a society of caring individuals, to put up with that. Finally, even if they can’t fix the economy, politicians have to step up and make child sex abuse a priority. No one is ignorant anymore and ignorance was never an excuse anyway. Our resolution for 2012 should be to protect children better than we did in 2011.