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Anonymous tips fight child abuse | Editorial
Child sexual abuse is the last thing we like to write about. Nevertheless, two important stories on this appalling subject appeared on the front page of Saturday’s Whidbey News-Times.
One was about the trial of Ryan Stephenson, 27, who abused a 21-month-old baby so badly that the judge offered the jurors counseling after they were exposed to the gut-wrenching testimony and photographs. It only took a matter of minutes for the jury to find Stephenson guilty on charges that will likely send him to prison for 35 years.
The second story was about an Oak Harbor Cub Scout Leader, Anthony Polubinski, 30, charged with allegedly molesting a teenage boy beginning when the boy was only 8 or 9 years old. Authorities worry that because of the scouting connection, there may have been other victims, as alleged by the young man who came forward.
In all such cases, one can easily imagine that others knew of or suspected the abuse but never contacted authorities out of fear — fear of the suspect, or fear that their involvement would become public knowledge.
If you suspect a child is being abused, or you are being abused yourself, one of the best places to call is CADA (Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse). This nonprofit has been serving Island County for many years, knows how to protect the innocent, and calls are confidential. To make a report, call 675-2232, toll-free 1-800-215-5669, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Island County Sheriff’s Office provides a tip line that gives citizens an ability to call with confidential information. The number is 679-7319 or email email@example.com.
Whidbey Island Naval Air Station just recently established a way to report suspected criminal activity anonymously, including possible child abuse. “Text & Tip” is a text and web tip hotline so tips can be sent via cell phone or internet. Begin a tip with “NCIS,” add the information and send it to 274637 (TIPS).
Anonymous tip lines should be one of the best ways to fight child abuse if people would only use them more. If you even suspect child abuse is going on, take the time to make the anonymous tip. It might keep us from having to write more stories about these horrifying crimes.