Sunday, March 8, 2009

Waiting for Rainbows: On the Sexual Assault of Children

Birds Fly Over the Rainbow...

Why - Oh Why - Can't I?

Do you ever wonder or worry about the possible risk to you or your loved ones of being a victim of sexual assault? I suspect if you do, you think more of the risk to a college student than to a pre-school student.
And yet, at this moment, the most likely person to be sexually assaulted is a four year old child in his or her own home.
For most of us, it hurts to think about rape and 4 year olds in the same time and place. We'd rather think of just about anything else. But it's time we do think about about it...find something we can do about it. Not doing so hurts them more than they are already being hurt. That's a fact. There are other facts that need to be brought into the open about the sexual assault of children before the day can come when children will be safe in the place they should be their own homes.
Over 67% of all reported sexual assaults are committed against juveniles...children under 18.
One of every 7 reported cases involves a child under 6.
The risk of being the victim of forced sodomy peaks at age 4.
The risk of being sexually assaulted with an object peaks at age 3 & 4.
The risk of forcible fondling, the other high volume sex assault offense along with forcible rape, first peaked at age 4.
Other related statistics contribute to the bigger picture of sexual assaults.
1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
Approximately 73% of rape victims know their assailants.
60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
Reporting has increased by 1/3 since 1993.
60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
Reporting has increased by 1/3 since 1993.
But I admit the following fact is one of the most disturbing to me, because it tells us what we don't want to acknowledge.
Only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.
Sexual Assaults are crimes. They destroy people's lives and yet, apparently, as a culture, we do not consider the crime worth acknowledging...worth punishing...or worth doing much of anything about. We don't protect the children, we don't punish the perpetrators, and we don't do whatever necessary to break the cycle that continues generation after generation. But this message isn't about sending perpetrators to jail... there is no correction or solution to this problem in that option. No, this post isn't about the perpetrators at all. This is about, and for, the children who are victims and the survivors still struggling to escape their silent storms. They deserve to find a rainbow waiting somewhere...a promise for a better tomorrow.
But when?
This isn't new information to me, yet I am as guilty as others about preferring to ignore this crime being committed against children, even as I devote decades to learning about it and other forms of child abuse.
But why?
Do we think it is okayfor children to be sexually assaulted? Do we think if we don't acknowledge this epidemic in our culture it will somehow disappear? Not a week goes by that there isn't a story on the local news about another child being sexually assaulted... last week here, one was a 3 month old baby, and the other a 2 year old toddler girl. Is this area somehow worse than others? Or is this happening in every town across America, on the local news along with the usual lineup of fires and auto accidents and crooked politicians... just another routine bit of news to ignore? Just something that happens in those other families, those other houses, those other lives? None of our business? It is as though there is a flashing red "WARNING! Bystander intervention is actively discouraged" sign everywhere we turn. There is no purpose in pointing fingers and casting blame at systems that fail our children. They are but a reflection of what we as a culture expect of them.
"Ours is a culture that allows sexual assault to flourish," said David Lee, of CALCASA, on a recent broadcast.
Ours is a culture that apparently prefers to "ignore, encourage, deny, condone...and minimize responsibility of people to do anything about it" added John Foubert, of One in Four, on the same show.
Ours as a culture apparently prefers to expect the victims to remain behind closed doors, keeping our shame in their dark places, silently singing of an unlikely escape over a rainbow, while we walk on singing songs of happy little blue birds in the sunshine.
Andrew Vachss relates that "A friend asked me if child abuse was increasing. I said the question he should ask is, "Who cares?" because obviously few do.
But some do...and that's a beginning.
Fortunately more and more have had enough, more and more are speaking out, more and more are determined to create a change.
But who among us wants to tell the children... keep on singing...we'll get there someday...hopefully before you find a way through death or drugs to fly away over that rainbow.
Do you?
An Andrew Vachhs article from 2004, is still worth reading. In it, he asks,
"What are you going to do about child abuse?"
Indeed... what are we going to do about child abuse?
I wonder...
And as I wonder, the young child in the back of my mind remembers. She still sings "why-oh why-can't I," louder, faster and harder, as she did then, hiding in a wood, swinging faster, harder and higher, hoping that going faster, harder, higher while desperately clinging to that knotted rope, somehow, some way, some day, some how she would find the way to fly over the rainbow and escape the sexual abuse of her life.

A Child is Waiting,
Take aware,
Nancy Lee

Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Hotline

A Few Reference Links:


Marj aka Thriver said...

Hey, Child Person! I've seen you around and then thought your blog had gone inactive. Good to see you posting again.

Thanks for adding the run and rally to stop the silence of child sexual abuse to your events at Bloggers Unite. You may also want to consider submitting one of your excellent posts to THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. We have an edition coming up on Friday with a Wednesday deadline. Details are at my blog.

I'm off now to add you to my sidebar links!

Child Person said...

LOL!So nice to be noticed missing!
Let's just say the blog wasn't gone inactive but I seemed to be for a while. The blog is too heavy with "stuff" and needs a major overhaul... but there always seems to be so much else to do. Real children take so much time and energy, and I seem to attract them into my life like a Pied Piper. Thanks for the invite...will act on it tomorrow...

Marj aka Thriver said...

I know what you mean! I've started babysitting a toddler twice a week who had been neglected. She's so precious and adorable. But, man! It takes a lot of energy.

Hey, thanks for allowing us to use this post for the 22nd edition of The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse.

Anonymous said...

Feeling overwhelmed with sadness seeing all the data in this post.Facts look horrifying.Thanks for all your valuable contribution and may god bless your great heart...

jafabrit said...

None of this is new to me but I am so glad you are posting about it and sharing data and links.
all the best