Hellen Keller was once asked, “Is there anything worse than being blind?” She replied, “Yes, the most pathetic person in the world, is someone with sight, but no vision.”
Hellen Keller said this decades ago. And sadly it’s where I believe my country, the United States of America, is at this very moment in time. We have, as a nation, all the abilities and resources known to mankind, and yet all too often we allow our most precious resource and the most vulnerable, to be continually dismissed, neglected, abused and laid to rest without a second thought…our children.
We have the ability to “see”, but have no effective “vision” for protecting our children. Not a single day passes as we read about yet another child being sexually abused. I know because I’m posting these stories on our website. I actually have to limit and keep it to a minimum for fear that people would stop reading. That, and the toll it takes on my psyche.
So why is it that with all of the abilities and resources we have, we fail as a society to protect them? I had a close friend of mine, Patrick Tomlinson, point out something to me I had not considered. He said the following, “In some ways I think the American Dream is a problem – there is an idealization by many Americans of how ‘great’ the country is – this then makes it challenging to raise some of the not so great realities into public focus. Maybe we should talk less about being great, the land of the free, etc., and more about tackling some of the serious issues that plague children’s/people’s lives?”
And then he brought up another point that really struck a chord with me because it’s an issue I had to deal with. He said, “In the writing you’re doing about the problem of religious groups covering up sexual abuse, how much cover up and denial goes on in the USA – it’s huge. If you are a pedophile you may be protected by the law, but not a drug user who might be blotting out the pain of abuse. While some perpetrators remain free, people who have committed drug related offenses often connected to their trauma, end up in prison.” It was as if he hit me over the head. My own abuser walks free to this day and sexually abused many others after me, meanwhile I became addicted to narcotics to cover the pain and ended up incarcerated for possession. But I’ve already shared that story with you and it’s not the focus of today. The point is how we let offenders go, frequently.
Just last week I posted a story about a pastor of a Baptist church in Iowa who confessed and was convicted of raping four teen boys. He was sentenced to 17 years…only to have a judge overturn the sentence to NO JAIL TIME. This is a perfect example of what Patrick was speaking. We are so consumed with consumption and the belief in this “great” nation but we are failing when it comes to protecting our children. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my county and I DO believe it’s one of the best in the world. But if we don’t change our attitudes and treatment of children, we won’t have the bright future we always hoped to have. I know it’s a cliché to say, the children are our future, but it’s the truth. And if we don’t start defending them from these sexual predators and a judicial system that gives protection to the offenders, these same children will remember when they are older and in charge and will say “to hell with you” when it comes our time to be the ones in need. And frankly, the way we are behaving now, we will deserve it.
The issue is straightforward, as is the answer. Right now, the statute of limitation laws on sex crimes against children are so pathetic, they allow pedophiles/sexual predators to commit hundreds of offenses without fear of prosecution. We MUST make it a nationwide law, and quit trying to go state by state. Make it so there are NO statute of limitations on sex crimes against children. While this won’t help past crimes, it will begin to change the outcome of the future and will let victims know they can finally come forward when a crime has been perpetrated against them. Or if we must go state by state, then please help us do something about it. Demand of every congressman in the nation, if they don’t pass the law now, next election you will put someone in office who will. And hold them to it. Don’t say, well my congressman is good and he/she is trying…horse hockey! Hold their feet to the fire, make them get it done, or boot them out of office.
The law in the USA is in marked contrast to that in other countries. For instance in the UK there is no protection of sexual offenders who committed crimes, however long ago. This has been evident with the recent scandals regarding TV celebrities, many of them family entertainers and household names, some even knighted. One such person, who is now over 80 years old is sentenced to prison. The issue should not be how long ago did the crime(s) take place but whether the person is guilty or not. Of course, it takes a degree of bravery as a nation to have laws like this, no doubt in the UK difficulty and embarrassment have also been caused to the establishment who worked with some of these pedophiles. And then there are the potential law suits against institutions such as the BBC. So it could be argued that the powers that be would have a vested interest in limiting the occurrence of these situations – the current statute of limitations works against the victims of childhood sexual abuse who cannot always talk about the crimes perpetrated against them, until many years later. And unfortunately it does protect pedophiles/sexual predators who remain free to commit further crimes.
Today in the USA, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the age of 18. That’s ridiculous for this nation, and we as humans to allow this to happen. And we do allow it to happen by not doing enough to prevent it. The responsibility for this cannot be expected to lie solely with Government Policy, Social Work and Child Protection agencies – it is a responsibility for us as citizens, communities and society. Also of our institutions, schools, churches, synagogues, etc., some of whom are protecting these predators and we’re allowing them to do that too. They pay hush-money or deny or cover-up. And because, as Patrick pointed out, we don’t want to think our great nation has that “bad” of a problem, the reality is too painful, so we are tempted to collude and deny.
I’ll quote my friend again, “After all these years, we have the ‘greatest nation on earth’ and some of the most trusted people in society prey on and abuse children and as you have said, worse than that they can be protected by the system and sometimes those in power – this has been evident in religious institutions that have actively attempted to cover up child abuse.
Ask yourself this one question, why? Why do we continue to allow these crimes to happen? One answer is very simple, we don’t think it will happen to our kids. It’s only when someone dies at an intersection do lawmakers put up a traffic light. The same attitude is with childhood sexual abuse (CSA). The only ones you hear saying anything are those who have been abused. Unfortunately, although our numbers are staggeringly high, it’s just too difficult for most to come forward. And because generally the squeaky wheel gets the grease, victims of CSA go without justice because they are afraid to come forward. So it’s up to the rest of our civilized society. We need this great nation to finally step up, live up to its great name and be the voice for the voiceless, lend strength to those without the might and be courageous for those living in fear and shame of the awful crimes perpetrated against them. Please help. We cannot do this on our own. We need you as a nation to quit looking the other way, and be the nation our forefathers intended…one that protects its children.
If the saying is true, “the meaning of life is to give life meaning”, then what does it say about us as a nation of we fail to give our children’s life meaning, or worse, allow theirs to be stolen from them by sexual predators as we sat by and did nothing?
Act now…be the reason our children’s lives have meaning.
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