At the young impressionable age of just seven a little girl was subjected to acts so heinous that it haunted her until the day her abuser arrived at her family’s front door expressing an interest in her younger sister, who was approximately the same age that she had been when the abuse occurred. Determined to stop the cycle the young girl approached her mother and proceeded to describe the events that had happened several years prior. However, because of the statute of limitations on sexually based crimes, no charges were filed, and a child molestor continued down a path of destruction that no doubt affected multiple young girls.
The abuse haunted the young girl for the rest of her life, but instead of conforming to the standard ‘victim’ status, the girl become an advocate for other victims. She pursued a degree in Criminal Justice, sought out positions that would contribute to recognizing abusers and preventing abuse among children. For those of you that know me well, it won’t come as a huge shock that I am that young girl, but for the majority of you it will come as a complete surprise. However, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, I certainly don’t. I have dealt with the pain over the years and I have been very proud to serve my community in my pursuit to end the abuse.
However, my pride ended when I unfolded todays edition of The Sunday Denver Post and read the headline “Child-porn sentences too severe, judges say”. In the pursuing article I read about three specific felons that were convicted of viewing thousands of pictures and videos and sentenced to multiple years in the Federal Prison System. All three men and their lawyers are pursuing appeals on the fact that their physical disabilities would prevent them from acting on their fantasies. A panel of judges from across the United States have decided to back these appeals and even take it one step further to offer a far less severe sentence by offering all first time offenders that haven’t been convicted of anything but viewing child pornography treatment in exchange for actual prison time. “U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron of Oklahoma City said in her testimony to the U.S. Sentencing Commission “As foul as child pornography is, I am unpersuaded by the suggestion that a direct link has been proven between viewing child porn and molesting children” (Denver Post, News Section 20A, 11/29/09). To me, this statement is made out of pure ignorance and an obvious misunderstanding over how immoral it is to continue to victimize the children being used in those photographs and videos.
As much as I would love to see pedophiles rehabilitated and our children rescued from these acts, the fact remains that despite multiple attempts to find the reason why some members of society become pedophiles we have yet to find the cause. In my opinion, we cannot even attempt to rehabilitate pedophiles until we can understand what made them that way. The only solution at the present moment is to remove them from the general public to prevent anymore children from becoming victims. Treating them like drug and alchohol addicts is NOT the solution. It has been proven that with treatment and support, drug abusers and alcholics can be rehabilitated and proceed with a productive life. Never in the history of mankind has a pedophile been rehabilitated and ‘cured’ of their desires. If we as a society do not recognize that and put a stop to the proposition presented to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, we as parents will be left constantly wondering when the pornograhpy stops being enough, will our child be the next victim?
Despite Judge Cauthron’s apparent and ignorant disbelief in the link between child pornography and child molestation, the link is there and has been proven over and over again. Eventually, viewing the acts of child rape ceases to appease these predators and they are faced with an overwhelming and uncontrollable desire to commit the act on their own.
We live in a world that is being operated over the internet, and for our justice system to not take full advantage of that fact and stop these pedophiles before they act on their desires is the equivalent of an ostrich sticking its head in the ground. Criminals have obviously adapted to this new convenience of the 21st century and as law abiding citizen’s we must do the same if we are to maintain the hope of protecting the futures of our children. Ernie Allen, president and chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children stated “There are too many judges who continue to provide token sentences for what we consider to be serious crimes. … We are not in favor of disproportionate sentencing or disparities, but the problem here is too many judges who simply do not recognize how serious these crimes are.” (Denver Post, New Section 20A, 11/29/09)
As parents it is our responsiblity to speak out against these judges, let them know exactly what is at stake. The argument that these offenders could potentially be productive members of society is a joke. As I stated before, until we have the cause, we cannot possibly contemplate a solution remotely comparable to rehabilitation. Our children on the other hand have a tangible and realistic opportunity to become productive members of society, but only if we protect them while they are still children.