CHILD ABUSE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
CHILD ABUSE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Did you know ….
- Worldwide, 40 MILLION children are abused every year.
- A child is abused every 36 seconds.
- 7 Children die every day as a result of abuse.
Did you know that of these children …
- 30% will later become the abusers in their adult years.
- 80% will meet the criteria for at least 1 psychological disorder by the age of 21.
- They are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crimes.
- 45% will become alcoholics.
Did you know that despite these facts …
- 90% of child abuse goes unreported.
Changing the laws and sentencing requirements for cases of child abuse is going to be a long, and laborious challenge, and a costly process, but how can we deny the good this will do. Can you honestly look into the eyes of a child who has been tortured and abused and tell them that nothing can be done, simply because changing the way our judicial process currently works would be too much work and cost too much money? Is the innocence of a child’s soul not too high enough of a price to pay to require change? When are we going to start doing what is best for our children, when will protect our children, and when will we hold monsters accountable for the torment they have put an innocent child through? There should be no price too high to pay for the safety of our children. Every day that we wake up, we all make our efforts to improve this world we live in, to make life easier for ourselves and our families, to seek out true happiness and allow our passions to drive our souls, and if we can do all of these things, we can certainly put more effort and hope into changing the way our world protects our children, the way it protects our future. The legacy we leave behind does not have to be one of shame, shame for standing by and allowing things to continue the way they are, the shame of not having a good answer for our children as to why we did not put our focus on making the world a better and safer place for them. It’s not too late to leave a legacy that we can be proud of, one in which we have all joined together in the effort to ensure that those who harm children, in any way, are forced to face justice, a fair and swift justice. It’s time to make our voices heard, to speak for all of the innocent souls that have been ripped from this world at the hands of abusers, it’s time to unite and demand change. Demand change simply because our children deserve it. Is that not enough of a reason for anyone?
We have a lot of work ahead of us yes, however there are things that have changed, creating a positive step forward to holding predators responsible and putting the information out there for parents to understand how we can further help to protect our children.
Zero tolerance is a topic that is becoming more discussed these days. The idea behind zero tolerance laws is to create mandatory sentences for individuals found guilty of child abuse with NO plea bargaining and NO chance of parole. Zero tolerance would forbid persons in a position of authority from exercising discretion or changing punishments to fit circumstances subjectively, requiring them instead to impose pre-determined punishments regardless of individual culpability, extenuating circumstances or past history.
Another positive change that has been implemented is Mandated Reporting. The laws protecting children now require certain professionals to report any suspected or known child abuse, known as mandatory reporters. Mandatory reporters include social workers, teachers, doctors and all other medical professionals, psychiatrists and all mental health professionals, child care providers, medical examiners and coroners, and law enforcement officials to name a few. Having mandatory reports greatly increases the chance of catching child abuse cases and intervening to protect children before any further harm can come to them. It is critical that those who work with children know what the signs of child abuse are and are aware of the appropriate steps to take in reporting child abuse. By imposing laws which require mandatory reporting, society is creating a community of people who are aware of the abuse children face and are confronting the matter head on, rather than turning a blind eye. These laws are encouraging awareness and empowering people to take action and protect our children. If a mandatory reporter fails to report child abuse, they can face felony charges, resulting in a sentence of 30 days to 5 years in prison and fines ranging from $300 to $10,000.
Did you know …
- Serial child sex offenders will commit an average of 281 acts with 150 victims over the course of their life.
- 90% of child rapes are committed by someone the child knows.
Society’s attitude to child sexual abuse is composed of a lot of denial. These crimes are horrific, they are hard to read about, hard to think about, and hard to know that they are happening every day. This is not a topic that is welcomed in the family home, not something that parents want to talk to their children about. Reading the stories, facts and statistics breaks your heart, and can leave you feeling helpless, which in turn to make it easier to block out the reality of the situation, rather than face it head on. I know that personally, there have been numerous times that I have reported on a story regarding child sexual abuse and physical abuse, where at the end all I could do was cry. I cry for what has happened to these children, and then I cry knowing that this is happening in the world I am raising my sons in. However, when I am done crying, I face two options. I can close the book, turn in my pen and stop covering such tragic cases, just simply walk away and never have to hear about a 6 month old baby girl being raped by her father every day, since the day she was born, until her little body could take no more abuse and gave out. I would never come across a story of an 18 month old boy that was raped repeatedly by his mother’s boyfriend, while she watched. I would never know about the baby girl that was beat into a coma by her mother because she was fussing.
It would be so much easier to turn away, to not be aware of the horror that is in this world. Or I can choose to grieve for these children, to allow myself to process that this is reality, that no matter how hard I try to pretend these terrible things don’t happen, I will always know that these monsters are out there. So once I have grieved and processed my emotions, I ask myself what can I do to take steps to ensure that things like this stop happening, and that the terror these children have suffered will not simply slide by without prompting a change. I write the articles and cover the stories, in an attempt to bring awareness of the reality we live in to those that also will no longer accept this as something that just happens. I can raise awareness regarding our current laws, and changes that can be made to these laws to start taking steps to ensuring that these vicious animals that prey on our children will no longer go unnoticed. I can unite together with others who share my desire to make this world safer for our children, and I can take a stand, demanding that things change, that the way we deal with these animals change. I can stand with others to demand justice, TRUE JUSTICE, for the children that have fallen victim to these predators. I am not alone in my desire to see things change, to see the way we deal with such evilness evolve, for beside me stands family, friends, neighbors, and strangers, that all share the same love for our children and the same sense of responsibility to keep them safe. Many voices coming together, united in an effort to no longer allow our children to be victims, cannot be ignored. We will not go unheard. Time and time again throughout the history of mankind, an idea has evolved and spun into a movement that has changed the world we live in for the better. Strangers and friends and family alike united to fight for what was right, and the results are undeniable. Slavery, segregation, religious freedom, marriage equality for all, all of these controversial movements found a voice, and the voice rose until the world could no longer ignore the demands for a better society. Thanks to these voices, I have been given the privileged opportunity to raise my sons in a world that accepts each other’s differences, that welcomes change, and that has empowered people everywhere to stand up for what they believe in, for what is right. As a mother I intend to acknowledge this opportunity and continue the movement to make this world a better and safer place for all the future generations to come. And as a mother, and a member of society, I am asking you all to join me, to stand with me, to no longer turn our heads to the atrocities that are imposed upon some of our children.
I must also take the opportunity to mention the complete polar opposite of society’s denial of crimes against children, and that would be hyper hysteria which can and often does occur when misinformation is released to the public. Cases of child abuse often take on a life of their own, and the more the story is passed around, written about, commented on, the more details are exaggerated, left out, and added in. Here at Lighting Their Way Home we are diligent about putting the correct information out there. Misinformation is just as harmful as no information. Any crime committed against a child is horrific, and needs no exaggeration to make it important that justice is served. We ask people to join the cause of making the world a better and safer place for our children, and a vital part of fighting for that cause is ensuring that we have the right information and with the right information, we are addressing the right issues. Changing the way society deals with child predators is of utmost importance, and that means that we need to be sure that the information we have is correct and in its entirety. Let’s face it, being labelled a sex offender does not always mean that a person is a career criminal preying on innocent children. When a 19 year old boy is charged with statutory rape with his 16 year old girlfriend, it is a far cry from a grown man raping a toddler. When we demand justice for child victims, we need to ensure that we are working with the entire story, both sides. More often than not, both sides are tragic and horrifying, but there are a few that happen which are not as they seem. Fortunately, we as a society are intelligent enough to know the difference, and to address each individual case fairly and properly.
So I ask you this, have enough children been hurt that the time has come to demand change? Are you ready to stand up for the children, the children that have never had anyone stand up for them before? Can you look at your children, your grandchildren, all of the little souls that look for your guidance in their life, and still turn your head to the children that are not fortunate enough to have someone protecting them in this world? Change is coming, be a part of that change, be proud to have stood up for the children all around our world, be the hero for these children as you already are for the children in your life.
One of the most important things we can do to keep our children safe, is to ensure that we continue to have age appropriate discussions with them regarding abuse, especially sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is harder to see. Predators often will not leave bruises or broken bones after sexually abusing a child. The abuse is just as much emotional and mental is it is sexual. Most children are too young to talk, or have been threatened and are fearful to talk. They are afraid for the safety of themselves and their family, they have been threatened and intimidated, and they often worry what others will think of them if they do come forward to discuss the abuse. These children are made to feel guilty, shameful and helpless. In 90% of cases of sexual abuse, the child knows the predator, which only magnifies the fear of coming forward to report the abuse. Predators will look for the children who display a lower self-esteem and appear submissive. It is so vitally important as well to teach our children that these ‘bad’ people, look just the same as anyone else. They do not look like monsters and are undistinguishable when placed in a crowd. They are neighbors, family members, friends, people with whom the child has always been encouraged to trust. We need to teach our children that if anyone, regardless of how they know them, ever touches them inappropriately, that person no longer deserves their trust and their respect. We need to explain to our children that no matter what, we will always love them, believe them, and do our best to protect them. We need to make them feel confident in telling us when they are uncomfortable with someone and that they will be listened too. We need to encourage our children to know that by speaking up about abuse, they will be doing the right thing, no matter what anyone else tells them. My sons know that if they come to me with a problem, whether it be bullying, a fight with a friend, or worse, that I will give them 100% of my attention, and that they can trust that I will handle the situation with them. From the moment my sons were born, my ex-husband and I have encouraged them to speak their mind, respectively of course, but to not ever be afraid to tell us things. If they decided they weren’t comfortable sitting on Great Grandpa’s lap, then we assured them they would not be forced to, if they decided that today they didn’t want to hug their aunts or uncles, well then they did not have to, if they decided they didn`t want to give me or their Dad kisses that day, than they did not have to. These may seem small and irrelevant actions, but what allowing our children to determine they were comfortable with when interacting physically with people, is what has given them the understanding and confidence to know that their body is theirs, and theirs alone. It has shown them that they get to decide what happens when it comes to their own body. They understood that they get to call the shots, and by encouraging them to do so, they are now confident little men that have an empowering sense of control over what happens to them.
It is also exceptionally important that we teach our children to be aware of their emotions, to accept their emotions and understand what they mean. As a person who has suffered from severe depression for most of their life, I always maintained that my emotions were mine, no could take them from me, and that they were never wrong. Passing this onto my sons was beyond important to me. I have encouraged my boys to know that when they talk to me, they can always tell me what they are feeling, even if they think I might be upset or hurt about it. I have encouraged them, reassuring them that what is most important to me is that they tell me the truth about how they are feeling, no matter what. I don’t tell them they can’t or shouldn’t feel a certain way, I encourage them to recognize what they are feeling and explore what that means to them as individuals, while also respecting others rights to have their own feelings. My boys know that they won`t always feel the same way about things as those they care about most, but they do know how to appreciate their own and accept others feelings for exactly what they are.
I know how difficult discussing sexual abuse can be. You question why you should be the one to introduce this horror to your babies. You struggle with how to address it appropriately. You attempt to find the thin line between arming your children with the ability to recognize and report sexual abuse, and with terrifying them about going out into the world.
As a mother, I struggled with what to say to my boys, how to say it, and when to say it. It is not a conversation to be taken lightly. Parents need to make sure they are informed with the right information, and have an understanding of how to handle the honesty of the situation especially in relation to your childrens` age and level of understanding. Make sure that you know what you need to say, and that you are ready to answer the many questions your child will ask you. Be prepared to discuss their sexuality and allow them to be comfortable with knowing their sexuality is not something that is taboo. Yes, there are boundaries that need to be respected, but never make a child feel ashamed for who they are sexually. By teaching our children that they have nothing to be ashamed about, we discourage predators from abusing our children, because these predators recognize that children who understand and are comfortable with their sexuality will be the ones more likely to report and stop sexual abuse. The first step I took with my sons, was to define the difference between a secret and a surprise. My ex-husband and I encouraged our children to understand that they should never keep a secret from myself or their father. We talked to them about how if anyone asked them to keep a secret, that they should tell us right away, because no one that loved them and protected them would EVER ask them to keep a secret. My oldest son, who was 4 at the time looked at me confused, and asked why we didn’t tell him what his birthday gifts were then, because that was keeping a secret … I was so delighted that he was able to relate what we were talking to him about in real life situations. This is when we explained that there is a difference between a secret and a surprise. A secret was not a good thing to keep, but a surprise such as a gift, a party or a card etc. were all good surprises to keep. We were able to explain the difference between keeping secrets and keeping surprises, and by defining the difference between the two, we gave our sons the ability to determine when something wasn’t quite right. We empowered them to stand up for themselves and come to us when they felt that something was wrong, when someone asked them to do something we had told them was not OK. So they spoiled a few Christmas gift surprises when my Mom forgot to use the word surprise vs secret, but again, that only encouraged me that how I chose to approach this difficult situation with my children, was done in a way that they could relate to and put into practice.
It is also important for parents to understand that as their children grow older, they will need to maintain an open forum of discussion regarding sexual abuse that will change and mature as our children grow older. It is an ongoing conversation that continues well into adulthood, and by encouraging our children to freely discuss their physical and sexual boundaries, we will also in turn be giving our children the knowledge of how to discuss these matters with their own children when they are born. As hard as it may seem, recognizing the reality of the decisions our children will face as they grow older is our first and only line of defense in giving them the confidence to maintain control of their bodies. When I entered into junior high, I was forced to sit down and have the dreaded sex talk with my Mom. I was so embarrassed to hear my mother use the words penis and vagina …. hell, I still am! I was prepared for the diagrams of the reproductive anatomy of boys and girls, and oh was I surprised. My Mom had already explained to me where babies come from years before, and this conversation turned out to be one that encouraged openness and understanding about embracing my own sexuality. Imagine my surprise when my Mom tells me, “I know you won`t wait for marriage to have sex, so instead promise yourself that it will be with someone special, something that you will not later regret.” She wrapped up the conversation with the simple statement, “if you do want to have sex, please come to me, we will put you on birth control, and never tell your Dad”, LOL. As an adult I am so very grateful for the way my Mom always approached these sensitive matters with complete honesty and reality. Because of how she talked to my sisters and I, we were proud of who we are, and we were empowered to say no and understand that that doesn`t make us a prude (or whatever kids call it these days), but instead makes us confident and allows us to stand up for ourselves. I know this conversation came years and years after our initial sex talk, and after the `stranger danger` classes we attended in the first few grades of elementary school, but it remains a fundamental example of the honesty I was determined to, and now am, raising my children with. I owe that to my Mom, for always being honest, for answering the embarrassing questions, and making it feel less embarrassing to ask those questions as time went by. She has given my sisters and I the gift of believing in ourselves, and never being ashamed of being honest about our sexuality or if we feel someone is being inappropriate. This is a gift I am handing down to my sons, and a gift I hope they will hand down to their sons.
Folks, these conversations with your children will be hard, embarrassing and you will fight the urge to avoid the topic, but as you begin discussing these things with your children, you will see how in time it gets easier, and how proud you will become of the confidence your child his in the ability to maintain their bodies as their own, and more importantly, their ability to say no if someone is inappropriate and the confidence they will have to come to you and openly and honestly discuss any behaviour which makes them uncomfortable. You will be arming your children with the right tools to help them live in this world, knowing that they have the right to be safe and secure. You will be giving them a gift that will stand the test of time, and by doing so, will encourage future generations to continue the open forum of discussion regarding sexual abuse.
Did you know …
- 41 – 71% of all exhibitionist child sex offenders will reoffend
- 13 – 40% of all child molesters preferring boys will reoffend.
- 10 – 29% of all child molesters preferring girls will reoffend.
- 7 – 35% of all child rapists will reoffend.
- 4 – 10% of all child incest rapists will reoffend.
There are just simply, certain things that people do where they will never deserve a second chance. When these people commit horrible offenses against children, they become animals, monsters of mother nature. If a dog mauls a young child, do we put it in its kennel for a few hours then let it run free with our children again?? No, we put that animal down, for once we see that it is capable of hurting our children, we will not take a chance that it will happen again. So why, why?, are we giving these molesters, these rapists, these abusers, these animals, a second chance at destroying our children’s innocence and forever altering their lives? A dog will at times act out of instinct and attack, they don’t premeditate their attacks, and they certainly don’t attack for the pleasure of hurting someone, waiting for the right moment to jump on a child, snarling with teeth bared. They do not befriend a child’s family, feigning kindness and concern, all the while fantasizing about raping and defiling these children. The monsters that do, are the worst of all animals, masquerading as human beings. They are evil and ugly, they plan out their attacks on children, taking the one thing from these innocent souls that we as parents fight to maintain. An animal that can rape and terrorize a child needs to be put down, they don’t need a second chance while we stand back and wait for them to rape and torture another child. When will we begin to protect our children from these fiends? When will we begin to treat these monsters as the animals they have shown themselves to be? When have enough children been abused and raped for society to stand up and demand change, to demand justice for our children that have fallen prey to these animals? I don’t know about anyone else, but I am ready to stand up and demand that change, I am ready to require our judicial system keep these animals away from my children, and I am ready to speak loudly and clearly for all to hear, the time for tolerance for those who commit these atrocious crimes against our children has come to an end.
All of the children in the cases below had a chance at growing up in a safe, loving environment. They all had a chance to keep their innocence intact. They had all of these opportunities, until we let men such as Larry Don McQuay, Bill Malcom and Desmond George Buckby continue to walk the streets after having been convicted of a sex crime against children.
Larry Don McQuay was released from prison after serving 6 years of an 8 year sentence for raping a 6 year old boy. McQuay was taken to a halfway house to prepare for his re-entry into society, where he asked to be castrated to lessen his sexual drive. Victims’ rights groups began fund-raising to meet the request, however they were unable to find a doctor to perform the unusual surgery. It was then that he told the police that he had got away with abusing over 240 children before getting caught for the one little boy, he further went on to state that if released he WILL do it again. He stated, “With all that I have coldheartedly learned while in prison, there is no way that I will ever be caught again. I am doomed to eventually rape, then murder my poor little victims to keep them from telling on me …. Will your children be my next victims?” If a convicted child rapist can say these things so callously and society continues to refuse to make changes in how monsters such as these are dealt with, then this world is certainly ill-fated, and not a world that I am proud to raise my children in. WHY, WHY, are we showing this evil bastard ANY mercy????? Are we really this naïve and stupid, really this ignorant to believe that animals like this can be changed and rehabilitated so they will never rape and murder a child again? When are we going to insist that these people be eradicated before they do any more damage? I understand that many believe two wrongs don’t make a right, and there are people that will fight until their final breath to proclaim that capital punishment is uncivilized and unnecessary. To these people I ask this, does one wrong, and one tolerance for a wrong making a predator better trained in how not to get caught while raping and murdering your children, make the situation better?? When it is your children found face down in a ditch, sodomized and tortured, will you still defend the monster that stole your child’s innocence’s right to live? Will two wrongs still not make a right for you then? Or will you be the first person to stand up and demand that this pedophile face the exact punishment and torture that they inflicted on your child? Will you fight for this monster’s right to live and his right then to potentially do the same thing to another child? Or will you fight for your child, demanding justice and insisting that our judicial system take measures to ensure that this can never happen again? The money we waste on continuing to incarcerate criminals with life sentences is shocking, and could be put to better use helping to feed our children living in poverty, to provide proper health care for our children that cannot currently obtain such care, to provide schools with the supplies needed to properly educate our children.
I know I am going to hear all about how wrong my opinion is, but please just stop for one moment, picture your innocent child that you love more than anything in this world, and imagine how you would feel if a child sex offender was released and your child became his next victim. Which side of the fence would you land on then? And which side of the fence would you land on if it was your niece, or nephew, or grandchild, or a classmate of your child? When you come up with your answer, I only hope that it can be an answer you would stand by for any and all children equally, because each child has a mother, a father, a sibling, an aunt, an uncle, grandparents, people that love them, people that want to protect them just as much as you want to protect your child. That is a bond that we can all share, our desire to protect and love our children, and if we can all come together in the fight to make this world a safer place for our children, I have no doubt that we will see great success. I know there is the debate about when the predator is a family member or friend of the victims, and some say this can make the decision to use capital punishment that much more complicated, however if you rape and torture my child, I don’t give a damn who you are. If the predator turned out to be a family member of mine, I can assure you that the moment they put their hands on my child they became nothing but an atrocious monster that I would hook the needle up to myself if given the chance. There is also the opinion out there that child sexual offenders can possibly be ‘treated’ and can live safely in society. My take on that is simple, the moment they raped a child, is the moment I stopped caring what the hell they ‘might’ be able to do. They need to be brought to justice for RAPING A CHILD. FORGET TREATMENT (not that I believe these deplorable people can be treated) – THEY RAPED A CHILD. Why are we planning on releasing them far before we even plan to bring justice for the child that was terrorized, defiled and left with a shattered innocence that will forever change the person that child becomes???? Pedophiles spend their entire life lying and fooling people into believing they are good people that are capable of kindness and remorse, that is how they get close to children. So why are some people so quick to believe that they are model prisoners hoping to obtain parole to live a full and contributing life … can’t they see that this is exactly how they got away with molesting children in the first place? How the HELL can anyone believe the sudden change in personality that these monsters claim to have?? They have spent their entire life hunting innocent children, and we as a society want to suggest that jail (OF ALL THE HEALING PLACES!) changes the very make up of these monsters … who are we kidding?
Bill Malcolm was convicted of raping a 3 year old girl in 1981. When he was released in 1984, he returned and raped the same little girl who was then 6 years old, telling authorities that he wanted revenge on the little girl for identifying him. He was charged again in 1994 with rape and assault on 4 children who he allegedly tied to a bed and forced to perform sex acts. A judge later made a favorable ruling in Malcolm’s case, and he was once again set free. By this time British citizens were angry and ready to take justice in their own hands when their law enforcement would not. On February 18, 2000, after Malcolm had reached a known victim total of 6 children, two men showed up on Malcolm’s door step and shot him in the head. The general consensus was that Malcolm got what he deserved, and these two men deserved a medal. Can’t say I disagree. Malcolm was released repeatedly and every time he was released, he molested and raped more and more children. This man was clearly a loathsome pedophile with no remorse, and the legal system handed him our children on a silver platter to rape.
Desmond George Buckby served 10 years in prison after being convicted on charges for sex offences against children. Upon his release in April of 2007, Buckby was placed on a 10 year supervision order under the Dangerous Prisoners Sexual Offenders Act of 2003, (DPSOA) which included 40 conditions in which he was expected to follow. Some of the conditions included electronic monitoring, a curfew, seeking mental health treatment, limiting his presence near children and barring him from living in a caravan park or any other short-term accommodation. According to court documents, a number of psychiatrists, psychologists and medical professionals stated Buckby would be a “serious danger to the community” if released, especially if released without having a supervision order placed on him. An exact statement made in court, “There has been a pattern of offending behavior on the part of the prisoner which can be seen in his criminal history which shows repeated sexual offending against children. There is … a real risk, therefore that he will commit another serious sexual offence if released and the members of the community, particularly children, need to be protected from that risk.” One doctor actually expressed his concern by stating he believed Buckby should remain in prison until he complied with a Sexual Offenders Treatment Program.
Buckby’s offences date back to more than a decade worth of abusing children. He was arrested in 1995 for child sodomy, his victim was a 10 year old girl, and other offences that occurred in 1993. In December of 1990, Buckby was convicted of indecent dealing with a child under 12 and was sentenced to one year in prison. Now to make it even more heinous and disturbing, court documents noted that two offences were committed while Buckby was on BAIL.
In December of 2007, Buckby was found in his home with his neighbors 5 children, FIVE, watching a movie, which was clearly in direct violation of the conditions of his release. He was arrested and placed back in prison. A judge then stated in court documents that “no practical supervision order could afford adequate protection to the community against the risk Buckby represents.” Another judge ordered the Buckby remained detained in prison because of his “persistence for molesting young girls” and the danger he imposes to the community. As the years have passed, various judges have maintained the orders keeping Buckby in prison due to his failure to engage in rehabilitation and his exceptionally high risk of reoffending. Court documents stated “psychiatric evidence unequivocally indicates that Buckby presents as a serious danger to the community”. To date, Buckby remains incarcerated and it would seem that the judges in our judicial system have their eyes completely open to the danger this monster imposes on our children. While Buckby is finally being seen for what he truly is, nothing will ever make up for the crimes he repeatedly committed against our children. Especially so, the crimes he committed while out on bail after being charged with raping young girls. Somewhere there was a communication break down and this man was set free only to rape and molest children again and again. How can we ever find justice for these little girls when we are the ones that turned our heads to the danger Buckby presented. We need to change the way child sex offenders are processed in our judicial system. These animals should not have the opportunity to post bail, only to add to their victim count. Our laws need to continue to evolve to better protect our children as we become more informed and knowledgeable about what we can and need to do when dealing with these animals that prey on our children. It is our job, society’s job, to continue to make progress in moving our civilization forward, eliminating those that threaten our most vulnerable assets, our children. We need to set the example which our children can follow as they too become young adults. We need them to understand that as children they were protected and loved, and society fought to maintain the absolute highest level of safety that we could for our babies. A child growing up in a society that no longer accepts these monsters terrorizing our most innocent members, will then to become an advocate, passionate about protecting our children and their rights. We lead by example, and it is our duty to set an example which our children will be proud to become. Enough is enough now. We know better and we have the tools to demand better for our children. There are no excuses anymore, it is time we take action, time we ensure that animals like Buckby will never be a threat to ANY child ANYWHERE ever again.
We need to begin protecting our children from the dangers threatening them in this world. We need to take the knowledge we have and the common sense instilled in us to begin to make a change to help protect our children further. Steps are already being taken and with each step we are coming closer to reaching our goal. The two following laws were passed in direct relation to the two children who were raped and murdered at the hands of convicted child sex offenders. The loss of Megan and Christopher will forever be a tragic moment in time, however with their deaths, everyday citizens, such as yourself and I, have ensured new laws were created, allowing parents the opportunity to be aware of the threat of a child sex offender moving into their neighborhood.
Megan Kanka was only 7 years old when she was raped and murdered by convicted sex offender, Jesse Timmendequas, who had two previous convictions for sexually abusing two young girls, one assault was committed on a 5 year old girl. He was given a suspended sentence providing he attend counseling, which he failed to do, and was placed in prison for 9 months. Once released he again sexually assaulted a little girl, this one being 7 years old. He pled guilty and was imprisoned at the ADTC for 6 years. While imprisoned, Timmendequas reportedly participated little in the treatment program offered and was described as a “whiner” that just slept a lot. One therapist expressed her concern that she believed he would eventually commit another sex crime. Timmendequas lived in a house across the street from Megan’s house, with four other sex offenders. Megan was raped and murdered after her parents left her at home alone to go out for dinner. The Kankas have not yet been charged with negligence for leaving the young girl home alone. Many people, along with officials have stated that Megan’s murder could have been prevented had the community been notified of the sex offenders residing in the area, and if her parents had been responsible enough to hire a sitter, rather than leaving a little girl home alone.
Timmendequas lured Megan into his house by offering to show her a puppy. Once inside, Timmendequas raped Megan, slammed her onto a dresser, suffocated and strangled her with a belt. He then moved her body to his truck, assaulting her a further time before placing Megan’s body in a wooden toy chest and dumping it in nearby Mercer County Park. The next day he confessed to law enforcement and led police to Megan’s body.
Authorities found evidence including bloodstains, hair and fiber samples, along with a bite mark matching Megan’s teeth on Timmendequas’ hand. He was found guilty of kidnapping, four counts of aggravated sexual assault, and two counts of felony murder. Timmendequas was sentenced to death and the sentence was upheld on appeal, however, on December 17, 2007, New Jersey Legislature abolished the state’s death penalty, commuting Timmendequas’ sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
One month after Megan’s murder, Megan’s Law was passed in New Jersey, and the remaining states quickly followed in suit. Megan’s Law is a law requiring law enforcement authorities in the United States to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders. Information regarding the sex offender is disseminated including the offender’s name, picture, address, incarceration date, and nature of the crimes committed. This information can often be found on free public websites, published in newspapers or distributed in pamphlets among various other means. Megan’s Law provides two major information services to the public, sex offender registration and community notification
The law requires those convicted of sex crimes against children to notify local law enforcement of any change of address or employment after released from prison. Sex offenders are then added into a database, allowing the opportunity for those in the community to be notified if a sex offender is moving into their neighborhood. Sex offenders are categorized by four different levels of severity based on the nature of their crimes. Failure to register or update information results in a felony charge. Sex offenders who are convicted of a second sexual assault will be sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole.
Megan was ripped from this world long before her time should have come. The horrors she experienced are tragic, and sadly were preventable. Along with the laws inspired by her death, in an attempt to make this world a safer place for all children, parents are reminded that leaving a 7 year old home alone, is not ok. Our children need us to protect them, which means using common sense when it comes to ensuring they are properly supervised for their age. I have a 7 year old, and I can’t imagine ever leaving him home alone, hell I can’t even imagine my 9 year old home alone. I also know that had the community been aware of Timmendequas’ history, they would have taken further steps to ensure their children were safe. Furthermore, I know that had Timmendequas been held accountable for the previous two sexual assaults on little girls, we should have thrown the key away. It hurts my heart to know that there were people out there that were very aware of the threat this monster posed to young girls, and they not only gave him a second chance, but a third chance, the chance which ended the life of a beautiful little girl.
In Canada, Christopher’s Law is the equivalent to Megan’s Law. The law was passed after the murder and sexual abuse of 11 year old Christopher Stephenson. Christopher was abducted at a shopping mall, sexually abused and then murdered by convicted child sex offender, who was out of prison on federal statutory release, Joseph Fredericks. Christopher’s parents, Jim and Anna Stephenson, have expressed that they at first found it hard to attach their son’s name to a sex offender registry, but have since come to see it as a lasting legacy to Christopher.
Christopher’s Law was first passed in Ontario, becoming Canada’s first sex offender registry. 5 years later, the Canadian federal government created a national sex offender registry, including DNA and finger prints of registered sex offenders. Before the national registry was put into effect, individual provinces had implemented other strategies to monitor and provide information to the public regarding sex offenders. Alberta created a website posting pictures and details of sex offenders. Manitoba followed suit and created their own website. British Columbia put together a team of police officers to monitor offenders who had been released into the public. For 20 days they kept a close watch on 12 high-risk sex offenders to see if they stayed away from children, playgrounds and schools as promised. What they found just goes to further show how these offenders learn in jail how to not get caught. One man used his girlfriend to lure a child to a hotel. Two others were volunteering at a church-run daycare. Out of the 12 offenders authorities were monitoring, 7 were re-arrested on a number of charges not long after being released from prison.
Christopher’s death was horrific, heart wrenching, and devastating. To have a child taken so young at the hands of a monster is never going to be something that can implement a justice equal to the loss. I wish Christopher had not had to suffer, and I wish his family’s pain could be eased. Try as hard as I might, I struggle to accept that this sort of thing can happen to our children. I may struggle with the reality of the situation, but I can also say a part of me is grateful that Christopher is an angel watching out for many children now. His legacy, created by his parents strength and determination to have something encouraging come from their son’s death, is a legacy of our commitment to take what happened to Christopher and began to implement laws and regulations that will save hundreds of children’s lives. When I look at my 3 sons, I can’t help but think of Christopher, and think about how even in his death his soul lives on, and I am honored to have the comfort of knowing that he is smiling wherever he may be, watching over our children now.
The bottom line is this. We live in a world that is not always safe for children. We live in a world that harbors monsters whom cognitively make the decision to hurt children, each and every day. We also live in a world that understands the need to protect our children. Our systems are not perfect, and yes, they do need a major overhaul to begin to reflect the seriousness of crimes against our children. Luckily, we live in a world where if we join together, and demand that change come, demand that we stop allowing our children to be victims, we can achieve the change that is much needed. From the basics of simply talking to our children and giving them the knowledge of how to stay safe, and should it happen, how to report abuse, to changing our laws which will require harsher sentences for those convicted of crimes against children, we are making progress, and continue to do so. The more voices that are advocating for the safety of our children, the more others will stand up and take notice. This fight will forever be an ongoing one as our knowledge increases. There have already been many positive changes in the way we see child abuse offenders, all we need to do is maintain our momentum and ensure that we never stop demanding the best for our children.