Child Sexual Abuse: Good News and Bad

“The grim statistics about Yuma County’s children continue.

Local child abuse authority Diane Umphress, executive director of Amberly’s Place, each year tracks the record of crimes of abuse against children, and each year it seems to get worse.

She reports that in 2012 there was a dramatic increase in abuse of children, both physical and sexual. The majority of reported cases involved child sexual abuse, which soared a third higher than the previous year, reaching 421 reported cases. Within those tragic statistics is an even more horrific fact about the victims.

“One of the things we are noticing is a dramatic increase in child sexual abuse in children birth to 4 years old,” Umphress said. An apparent reason is that the abusers believe these young children are less likely to tell about the crime, or if they do that they will be less likely to be believed. It is a diabolical way to hide the abuser’s perversity.

Yuma County is not alone in this trend, although there is no comfort in that fact. Umphress says the same thing is happening across the nation.

It is hard for most of us to contemplate the idea of abusing children due to its evil nature. But we cannot turn our backs to this reality.

Contrary to what many want to believe, the abusers are typically not strangers. In fact, they are often parents or stepparents or another family member. The fact that the abuser is often a person the child loves and trusts makes the crime even worse than it already is.

If there is one glimmer of hope in the new statistics, it is that one reason the numbers may be going up here is that more people are reporting their suspicions of abuse.

In past commentary on this situation we have supported Umphress and others in urging that suspected abuse be reported to the authorities, not just because it is the law in some cases, but so that the child can be protected and so that the abuser can be prevented from committing even more crimes against children.

That is especially true for the youngest victims who are less likely to be able to speak up for themselves.

We are glad to see people are apparently taking heed of this request.”


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4 Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Good News and Bad

  1. KevinF. says:

    Excellent report, Alethea. My feeling with this is that the cause of this rise in the incidence of the abuse of children is precisely because more people are reporting what’s going on. People are now more aware of child abuse generally; there are now established channels to report thru and people know that something can be done about it if they make a report. I think we may be seeing something more like the TRUE incidence of what has always been going on.

    My own experience is a case in point. I grew up in Ireland in the 1960s and 70s when sexual abuse of children, especially by church clergy, was widespread and systemic. The reason this was so was that anyone who reported child abuse (to any authority) was told to shut up and go away or, if a report was accepted, nothing was done.

    So when in the 1990s and later when these issues began to come out and authorities had to take reports seriously, there was a huge spike or jump in reported cases of child abuse. But the reality was that, if anything, the incidence of it was decreasing fast as priests and others realised they couldn’t get away freely with it as they had for decades. They might now be sent to jail where they belonged.

    So I wouldn’t necessarily be worried about a rise in the reported incidence of the abuse of children. It may very well mean that it’s just being properly and accurately reported now. And the actual incidence will most likely go down as a consequence of this reporting as more child rapists and abusers are ‘outed’.

    • Alethea says:

      “But the reality was that, if anything, the incidence of it was decreasing fast as priests and others realised they couldn’t get away freely with it as they had for decades. They might now be sent to jail where they belonged.”

      Hi Kevin,

      This is one of the reasons that I feel women (and sometimes men) who knowingly protect child abusers because of their relationship with them, financial gain,….even because of fear…….. need to be prosecuted and imprisoned for child endangerment, reckless endangerment, child abuse, etc.

      If people realize they will go to prison for failing to turn in a child abuser, then child abuse can be stopped and minimized.

      • Why Not? says:

        Although, I understand today, more than ever, looking back I see all of the signs – that even my extended family members knew what was going on. Perhaps, this will paint a clear picture for some who may visit here that simply “feeling sorry” for children trapped in an abusive home is NOT OKAY.

        In the late 50’s, my two older siblings and I (I was 5 or 6, I think) were removed by a Psychiatrist, a Case Worker and the police from my parents home. We were placed in foster care, an orphanage and, finally, with an aunt and uncle. My parents were both institutionalized (allegedly, for “alcoholism” – that was “the story.”)

        When they were released, although my father’s excellent job was awaiting his return, they were “advised” to leave their children in the care of their relatives – 400 miles from our parents (we were very loved, cared for, valued, safe and happy in our uncle and aunt’s home – they had become our parents – our real family.)

        One night, in the middle of the night, my parents arrived – my mother accusing them of “stealing her children” and demanding our return, right then. No amount of “pleading” from us all would prevent our abusers from taking us – and back to hell on earth we went.

        Years passed before we would see them or other family members – at a family reunion. During the blessing, which included calling out each child’s name – when it came to us, the “sorrow” in the room was quite visible… they “knew” – they all knew the hell we were living in, yet, felt “powerless” to intervene.

        My oldest brother was killed – from family violence in our parent’s home. My middle brother, who unmercifully sexually and physically abused me and other girls and later, almost every woman he got involved with, was in and out of prison, most of his life. I have spent most of my life battling post traumatic stress – compounded.

        My point? Like it or not – abused children are society’s children. Silence, denial, complacency and “pity” – when it comes to the lives of defenseless children – children, who SEE US turn our faces from their pleading eyes, from their defeated body language – or even from their desperate acting out for all of the wrong kind of attention – deserve champions, heroes – Saviors – in their lives. It is impossible for children – like it is for defenseless animals – to save themselves from the abuse of adults – or even from older, stronger abusive children.

        As Maryanne Williamson said: (I paraphrase)

        “With all of the prayers going out for “help” – why doesn’t God answer?

        God has answered. “He” – or whatever we may call “God” – sent US.”

        • little nel says:

          Hi Why Not?

          I just saw this response from you and read it. I can’t tell you how sorry I feel that you had to endure so much abuse from your alcoholic parents, then get rescued by caring people, only to be dragged back into all that abuse by your parents.

          I have heard about this happening to many children in my lifetime, when the abusive parents “get help” for their “condition” and when they can drop out of sight of the Child Welfare Agencies, they go back to the same behavior.

          I saw this in my own family. My aunt who was a mental health physician was powerless to protect us after my father was “treated” for his “condition” at a mental health facility for battering his wife and children.

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