National Laws Dealing with Sex Offenders

December 2006

Watching the news and reading the paper have been so upsetting to me that for a long time I avoided it. It is easier to ignore the unpleasant things and focus on the things that effect us directly. One day you wake up and realize that everything effects us in big or small ways directly or indirectly. Yesterday’s paper had an article titled ‘Man found guilty of child molestation again’. It upset me because in my opinion one conviction should keep a person off the streets.

The problem in this case is that the court of appeals ordered a new trial arguing that the convicted (not accused) should have been able to cross-examine the victim. I don’t know the law but there is something about questioning a child about a traumatic event that has already been well-documented that really bothers me. It is hard enough for victims to come forward, some confide in a friend as a young adult, and many never do. So when you have a conviction it is so important to make it stick.

I know of people who want to spare their children from suffering through a trial. I understand but if nothing is done then the victim remains a victim and the abuser is able to continue making more victims. In some cases for many years before somebody is brave enough to step up. It seems like there should be a system in place to investigate these matters and prosecute without undue stress on the victims. I understand needing to avoid false accusations but there has to be a better way. We have to make it easier for victims to come forward. In the case of young children, sometimes they don’t know what is being done to them is wrong.

Each of us knows someone who is a victim of sexual abuse, the statistics are unreal. The abusers are parents, step-parents, siblings, extended family, teachers, religious leaders, and complete strangers. The victims are all around us. Some go on to live successful lives and others remain victims. Some victims become abusers and some rally to protect the helpless. One small step in healing would be to make sure that once convicted the abuser serves time. If we can make it easier to talk, and easier to convict, then justice can be served.