Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Problem is real, needs to be faced, stopped

By the Advocate Editorial Board
July 31, 2013 at 2:31 a.m.

Child sex abuse is a horrific crime. No one likes to think it could happen in their community or even their home, but the truth is this is a problem that is very real. It cannot be ignored or forgotten.

We were glad to hear about 70 people took part in a training hosted by the Victoria County Bar Association to help identify victims and perpetrators of child sex abuse. Like many other horrible crimes, our society has a certain perception about who would perform these kinds of deeds, and those ideas are not always correct. We are glad the Bar Association and these participants are working to look past inaccurate perceptions and pinpoint the truth. If we do not know or cannot face the truth about these crimes, we cannot stop or prevent them.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, a resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them, it is difficult to determine how prevalent child sex abuse is because it often goes unreported. However, the organization has compiled data from several studies to show just how prevalent this problem is in our society. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau says that 9.2 percent of victimized children were sexually assaulted. A study by David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, says children are most vulnerable to this form of abuse between the ages of 7 to 13, and 28 percent of youths ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized at some point during their lives. A 2003 National Institute of Justice report showed that three out of four victims knew their abuser.

Victoria County is no exception when it comes to this form of abuse. According to information from the district attorney's office, during a period from Sept. 1, 2010, to April 30, 2013, 58 dispositions were made involving child sexual abuse in Victoria County. Of those, half resulted in convictions, a little more than a quarter were dismissed and just more than 10 percent were acquitted. The remaining cases resulted in deferred adjudication, revoked probation or other consequences.

The plague of child victimization is already in our community. We encourage residents to follow the example of the Victoria County Bar Association and be on the lookout for signs of sexual abuse, which can manifest in both medical and behavioral ways.

We face a difficult truth in today's world. Abuse is not just a scary story we hear about through the news; it is in our community. We need to take a stand and take whatever action possible to stop the victimization of children.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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