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Anyone that suspects a child is neglected or abused should be mandated to report the abuse to an official, no exemptions, and no exclusions. Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline if available at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). This number is used to report abuse, or get help from abuse (Help Guide, 2011). A suspected child abuse case is reported every 10 seconds this totals to more than 3 million cases yearly involving more than 6 million children (Child Help, 2011). Imagine how many child abuse cases go unreported! If children are not protected from abuses this may make the victims lash out later in life and be abusers themselves. Bill SB1313 will excuse people that volunteer their time from mandated reporting. An example of a volunteer that would not be required to report abuse under this law would be a Sunday school teacher. If the Sunday school teacher is aware of child abuse within the church, then the teacher would be exempt from mandated reporting (World Net Daily, 2004). If most child abuse cases go un-reported imagine if this law passed! The number of child abuse cases and deaths resulting from abuse would drastically increase.
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Currently there are wide variations of penalties and convictions for child abusers. These penalties and convictions are based on different state laws, depending on the age of the victim, and severity of the crime. In fact, some penalties may even be a simple misdemeanor with no jail time (Find Law, 2011). A slap on the wrist may be just enough to infuriate the abuser to the point of wanting revenge. This gives the abuser the opportunity to abuse the victim even further possibly killing their victim. When a pedophile is released from jail, while on probation they are ordered to not live within 2,000 ft. of any public property where there are children present. Once the pedophile fulfills the probation period they are no longer under any living restrictions, they only have to report their current home address to the sex offender registry. Surprisingly, certain states want to lift these living restrictions for pedophiles. The reason the states want this restriction lifted is so they can keep the pedophiles in town, where they can be monitored more closely (Koch, 2007). It seems silly to want to keep pedophiles in town in more populated areas, instead of out in the country. This is like waving candy in front of a child! It sounds like officials just want to make their jobs easier by decreasing the travel time to visit these predators in the country. There is a bill that protects child abusers of hate crimes, this bill is called the “Pedophile Protection Act”. For example, if a mother smacked the man that abused her child she could be convicted of a felony hate crime, and the abuser may get off with as little as a misdemeanor conviction for the child abuse (Luning, 2009). Therefore, there needs to be a straight across the board felony conviction for any person that abuses a child. Everyone involved and knowing of a child abuse crime should also be stiffly convicted. Sending a strong message to potential abusers that child abuse will not be tolerated will decrease the number of child abuse cases, child abuse deaths, and decrease the money being spent on these cases. Also, penalties and convictions need to be delivered to authorities that fail to do their jobs. As in the Jaycee Dugard story; if the authorities served and protected their community like they swore under oath to do, and performed any one of the 60 home inspections properly, Jaycee Dugard would never had to endure the tragic life she had to face for 18 years (Sawyer, 2011). When a person takes on the responsibility of becoming a public official authority there should be no room for errors or laziness. It is the duty of the authorities to properly follow through with the orders of the justice system.
If there were more programs created that taught ways to recognize the signs of an abused child and how to prevent abuse, this could possibly decrease the number of child abuse cases in the United States. Over 100 billion dollars are spent yearly on child abuse and neglect cases (Child Help, 2011). Not to mention the money being spent to convict and imprison the abusers. Only a portion of this money would help support programs that would teach recognition and prevention of child abuse. Thirty percent of children that are victims of abuse continue the vicious cycle as abusive adults. Moreover, approximately 30% of women and 15% of men in prison were victims of some type of child abuse (Child Help, 2011). These statistics prove how important it is to recognize early signs of child abuse. For this reason, the sooner the signs of abused children are recognized and treatment begins the internal and external scares will begin to heal, and the victims will be able to break the cycle of possibly becoming abusers themselves. In addition scares resulting from physical abuse are most visible, but the scares from mental, physical, and sexual abuse can have severe internal scaring as well (Help Guide, 2011). This is why it is important to create programs that would teach people to recognize the specific signs of an abused child. Also these programs could teach people how to manage their emotions in order to prevent child abuse. Even an extra 10-15 min. could be added to birthing classes or parenting classes for new parents to teach them how to cope with the stress of a new baby, and how to take time out when needed. Knowledge is a tool that gives people strength to do things they may not ordinarily do. Community programs can be created amongst neighbors, such as a safe house for children to go if they are in the neighborhood and need somewhere safe to go fast. The houses that are appointed to be safe houses would display a hand symbol in the window, so a child would know that they can trust the people in those houses to protect them. Maybe even a crime watch program amongst neighbors would help to detect any perpetrators in the neighborhood before they strike. Trust amongst strangers can be hard especially when dealing with children. When communities come together it teaches who can be trusted and who cannot. People that were abused themselves would make great volunteers to teach abuse class’s; because, they have first-hand experience and knowledge. Furthermore, teaching child abuse classes could be great therapy for an abused person as well. Also parenting programs in school can help teach teens the responsibilities and stress of having families young.
In conclusion, children will continue to die if action is not taken to prevent child abuse. The children that survive abuse without treatment will grow up to be damaged adults. If these damaged adults turn to drugs, crime, or become abusers this will creat more crimes in America. Children are the most valuable resource for the future of America. This proves the importance for everyone to pitch in and raise these very fragile children to the best of their abilities, so they can grow up to be striving, happy, healthy adults. This is why it is imperative for mandatory reporting, stiffer penalties, and programs to help recognize and prevent child abuse. After all it does take a village to raise a child. Communities uniting as one will build trust amongst themselves, and a stronger and more secure foundation for their children. If programs are created by volunteers and communities additional funding would not be necessary.
Child Help (2011). National Child Abuse Statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics/
Find Law, A Thomas Reuters Business (2011). Child Abuse Penalties and Sentencing. Retrieved from: http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/child-abuse-penalties-sentencing.html
Help Guide (2011). Child Abuse and neglect: Recognizing and Preventing Child Abuse. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/child_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm
Koch (2007). Retrieved from: Sex-Offenders Registry Laws Get a Second Look. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-02-25-sex-offender-laws-cover_x.htm
Luning (2009). Dobson’s claim hate-crime laws should protect pedophiles a ‘Pants on Fire’ Lie. Retrieved from: http://coloradoindependent.com/29175/dobsons-claim-hate-crime-laws-would-protect-pedophiles-a-pants-on-fire-lie
Odessa American, TX (2011, July 20). EDITORIAL: Spankers beware of abuse. Odessa American (TX). Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Sawyer, D. (2011). Jaycee Dugard: ABC News Exclusive. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/US/jaycee_dugard/jaycee-dugard-describes-giving-birth-phillip-garridos-backyard/story?id=14021938
World Net Daily (2004). “Pedophile Protection Act”. Retrieved from: http://www.infowars.com/print/misc/pedophile_protection.htm