After several decades of public allegations, child sexual abuse scandals are still difficult to look at and hard to understand. The legal system has yet to confirm how many children were affected by institutionalized sexual abuse traditions. Brave adults continue telling their previously hidden stories of long-term sexual abuse. The public has heard thousands of allegations, excuses, and a few confessions, but they often trigger more questions than answers.
It took years for the public to accept widespread child sexual abuse as a fact of American life. Only occasionally do you hear doubt about the stories and questions as to why abusive acts take so long to surface. To gain perspective on the issue, consider which of the following is a reason why victims often fail to report abuse?
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A group of child psychologists who studied child sex abuse crimes documented the reasons for delayed reports in a National Institute of Health-published report, Child Abuse. The physicians call child sex abuse “… a stark reality worldwide.” When they discuss the reasons why children do not report the incidents, they cite all of the reasons listed above. The reasons why children fail to report sexual abuse are as common and varied as the sexual crimes committed against them. They are often tied to adult expectations. These expectations have always helped abusers hide in plain sight and continue abusing for years.
As illustrated by victims’ statements, the idea of child sex abuse often seemed unimaginable to their parents. Parents expected honorable behavior from the leaders in their children’s lives, so they gave them unrestrained access. When parents did become aware of abuse, they often reported it to administrators and church leaders, who parents still trusted to take appropriate action. However, as we now know, the church often ignored the abused child and addressed the problem by merely moving the abusive clergy member to another parish where they had the opportunity to commit the same crimes in a new location.
Traditionally, abuse revelations play out behind closed doors. As the Catholic Church scandal was so explosive and the child victims were adults, many of the details have become public knowledge. Website volunteers at Bishop-Accountability.Org have spent years collecting and cataloging relevant data. The organization has posted numerous affidavits, letters, and statements that provide the victims’ abuse recollections.
In these first hand accounts, the reasons children failed to report fall within the above categories but often reflect more sinister issues.
Scholars, educators, social workers, and child psychologists have studied the child sex abuse problem. It’s so pervasive, the Center for Disease Control addressed public concerns by issuing a guide entitled Preventing Chile Sex Abuse Within Youth-Serving Organizations. The agency recommends a balance of caring and caution. The World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health called child abuse “a serious global problem.” They further suggest that sexually abused children rarely come forward unless their abuse involves violence.
Both girls and boys have revealed decades-old tales about long-standing abuse affiliated with Catholic Church, schools, organizations, social events, and services. Sexual abuse scandals aren’t exclusive to the Catholic Church. They’ve occurred in youth organizations, family situations, and in both public and private schools. Since the 1980s, scouts have made public allegations against the Boy Scouts of America. Some documented incidents date back to the 1930s.
If an adult abused you as a child, it’s not too late to tell your story. Even if years have passed, California laws allow you to present your case and seek the long-delayed justice you deserve. You can learn more about your legal rights by consulting with a personal injury attorney. A complimentary legal consultation allows you to discuss your case with a knowledgeable advocate. Once you understand your rights, you can determine if you want to pursue your case.
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