Opinion

Sound Off: It’s a tragedy, not a problem

I just read your article on April being Child Abuse Prevention Month. Thank you for giving it front page space! (Although I think it ought to have topped the historical house.) I also liked your photo of the family viewing the Oak Harbor library display about CADA and child abuse. It is a wonderful shot and the article certainly piqued my interest in seeing the display. I very much appreciate your and CADA’s reminder to us all about the issue at hand and its vast prevalence.

My great hope is that such efforts will in time reduce the number of ruined and/or damaged lives childhood sexual abuse creates. One pedophile is like a stone in the pond — the ripple effect is beyond the imagination. He or she often creates more pedophiles of children they abuse, which can create more and on and on. In addition, the damage done is so severe that only the strongest of victims survive, and the strongest of those avoid the pitfalls of prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, repetition of abuse through choosing mates who abuse them and their children as well, or homelessness, crime and mental institutions; and only the very strongest of all ever really do enough healing to become productive, well-adjusted, functioning and happy individuals.

The pre-disposition for becoming a pedophile and/or abusive adult, once planted through childhood abuse, not unlike substance addictions, can run on and on in families unchecked if there is never any serious intervention, serious therapy and/or serious spirituality to balance the damage.

The advent of childhood sexual abuse burst into an international business during WWII. People of very poor countries hosting thousands of lonely soldiers began “selling” their children to keep the men “company” in order to eat. It grew from there to rings in the U.S. and around the world of “package” vacation deals that include a selection of innocents to prey upon. This is fact, not fancy. I have seen the magazines that cater to pedophiles, which were brought by police to my classroom full of parents when I was a teacher in California. Thankfully, police crackdowns continue to put large dents in this type of business, largely due to the more easily traced Web sites now being used.

Therefore, my one and only complaint, Mr. Larsen, is about your very first sentence: Your reference to stopping the “problem” of child abuse. “Problem” is described, for the most part in the dictionary as something “perplexing or difficult.” I think the words “tragedy,” (“bringing great harm or suffering,” in the dictionary) or “devastation” or “disaster” would have been far more appropriate to describe the horror, the human-created plague of child abuse. Its effects reach millions upon millions and the numbers still continue to go up.

You mentioned the accepted number of one in three girls and one in five boys affected before age 18. Ten years ago that number was one in four girls. Our country shows more incidence of child abuse than any other in the free world. Kudos to Mary Margaret Haugen and others in our State Senate who have recently approved legislation for a 25-year minimum prison sentence for predatory and violent sex offenses against children and vulnerable adults, and increased penalties for voyeurism, possession of child porn and other “precursor crimes.” $2 million has also been added to the budget to assist victims and to provide additional space for incarceration of offenders.

Terry Ann Daugherty lives in Coupeville

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