Our View: Child abuse needs our ongoing attention

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Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2012 12:02 pm

This week we have had three articles in The Daily Herald concerning child abuse.

Wednesday we reported that an Enfield man is facing child abuse charges following an investigation after his child was found to have suffered injuries. Det. Sgt. Roy Rooks, of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, said “They were extremely serious injuries.”

In the same issue another article noted that the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office is looking for Robert Earl Smith, 43, of Weldon, for two counts of first degree rape and one count of indecent liberties with a child.

Tuesday we published an article concerning an Enfield man who was sentenced after pleading guilty to having inappropriate sexual contact with a female family member who was 13 years old at the time.

Three articles about child abuse here in the Roanoke Valley within two days.

We may have numerous social problems but none are more maddening or perplexing than the atrocious wrongs that occur when a child is abused. And it doesn’t matter whether the abuse is physical, mental or sexual. Shockingly, incest has become one of the most prevalent forms of abuse.

Abuse of children is a crime that crosses all gender, ethnic, cultural, religious and economic categories. The social and economic impact of these crimes is massive. Child abuse is often the root of many societal problems including low self-esteem, shame, guilt, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, suicide and promiscuity. Some studies report taxpayers spend more than $100 billion each year on costs associated with child abuse.

Sadly, we have allowed child abuse to reach national epidemic proportions. Even after decades of raised awareness about a crime that no one once spoke about, our society too often takes the easiest way out.

We, as a society have to do everything possible to protect children and stop predators. We need to do everything possible to enable abuse victims to come forward, expose predators, and protect kids.

If we can’t listen to the gruesome details of the abuse of children and if it makes us uncomfortable, try to imagine how the child victim feels. How does a child victim deal with reporting and filing a case of abuse? Have you ever heard of a 9 or 10-year old walking into a police station to report they have been abused?

Our legal system has been constructed to favor adults at the expense of children. Records indicate no more than ten percent of victims ever get to court before the statutes of limitations expire.

That could change if we were to eliminate any criminal or civil statutes of limitations for child abuse and open up a longer period of time for victims to come forward.

But first and foremost, we must all be vigilant in seeing and reporting this most detestable of crimes within our churches, schools, nonprofit organizations, and yes, families.

Titus Workman, Publisher

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