Passing the Child Victims Act

By the age of 18, one in five children will fall victim to sexual abuse and 90 percent of sexual abuse cases go unreported as many of the victims are traumatized and scared as mentioned by Senator Julie Lassa (Lassa, 2013). Advocates urged the Wisconsin state legislators to reinstate and pass this bill (Assembly Bill 265/Senate Bill 225), which would allow child victims to report their abuser. If opposed, victims will continue to be unable to report after the age of 35. As social work students, the advocates understand the right to self-determination for all individuals.

Criminal & Civil Justice

One of the many benefits to passing the Child Victims Act (CVA) is the idea of victims receiving justice for the wrongful crimes that were committed against them. When conducting research on the CVA, a lot of questions came to mind regarding whether or not the possible justice that would be served would be considered criminal justice or civil justice. Throughout the research process, the collective group has come to recognize the justice would be considered both criminal and civil.  In the criminal justice system, the act of receiving justice begins after the crime is committed and reported to law officials.   While in the civil justice system, it looks at any possible third parties responsible for the crime and does not place blame on the potential perpetrator (Criminal, 2012).  If the CVA does not ever pass in the state of Wisconsin, the victims will never receive justice.

Statute of Limitations

The Child Victims Act is a bill that could change the lives of children all across Wisconsin.  In the states that have applied this policy, it has played a powerful role in allowing victims to get justice.  For instance, in the state of California, a similar law has passed to protect those impacted by sexual and physical abuse by increasing the statute of limitations (SOL). With this change in law, the SOL now favors the victims over the perpetrators.  Within California 1,000 new suits have been filed, which helped 300 perpetrators to be identified (Hamilton, 2016).  With a law like this here in Wisconsin, those impacted by abuse would be able to have time to come forward about the harm done to them.

Protecting Children

Another benefit of the CVA is that it protects women and children who have been abused. Wisconsin’s statute of limitations set a deadline when a child can go to court for being abused. This is a problem that needs to be addressed because it conflicts with the justice that the victim deserves. In most cases, family members and authority figures often commit child sexual abuse. Victims are traumatized by their experiences, which disrupts their everyday lives. As adults, it may take them longer to recover from this traumatic event and by getting the justice they deserve; it can be a good start for them to feel safe again (Hamilton, 2016).  However, with the statute of limitations, the victim may never feel safe knowing that the person that hurt them is still roaming around, freely.

Perpetrator Recidivism

The CVA would restore the purpose to improve the quality of life and provide an opportunity to help the victims and assist in the process of finding the perpetrators. Many of the perpetrators will have multiple victims as Lassa declared that they could have over 80 to 100 victims and will continue to perpetuate well into old age (Lassa, 2013). If the bill is not instated, then the perpetrators would be given the opportunity to continue on with their behavior. According to the Darkness to Light Organization, in 2015, there were 400,000 babies born in the United States that would have fallen victim to child sexual abuse in which many of these children would be abused before the age of eight (Child, 2015).  The Congressional Record, (2002) the average pedophile molests 201 victims during their lifetime (p. 3196) that means 60,300 children were protected and that was just in California alone. About 60,300 innocent lives saved from one bill (Support, n.d). The mission here is to protect the victims, protect the potential victims, and to seek justice.

By passing this bill, abusers will be caught before they abuse more victims. The CVA is meant to prevent and reduce the number of individuals victimized by sexual abuse. If opposed, abusers will continue abusing hundreds of innocent individuals. Understanding these reasons, the advocates support the passing of the Child Victims Act in Wisconsin. Everybody deserves to be able to report his or her abuser!

References

148 Cong. Rec. 3196 (2002).

Criminal and Civil Justice (2012). In The National Center for Victims of Crime.

Child Sexual Abuse Statistics. (2015, June 24). Retrieved April 15, 2016, from

http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.9314267/k.3928/Child_Sexual_Abuse_Statistics.htm

Hamilton, M. A. (2016). SOL Reform. Retrieved April 17, 2016, from http://sol-reform.com/

Lassa, J. (2013, July 3). News. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/lassa/PressReleases/Pages/Legislators-Introduce-Child-Victims-Act-070313.aspx

Support the Child Victim’s Act! (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2016, from

http://www.naswwi.org/support-the-child-victims-act/

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