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HomeNewsArchivesCHILD ABUSE STATISTICS ARE JUST A START

CHILD ABUSE STATISTICS ARE JUST A START

From the opening of Kidscope Inc. on Oct. 20, 1997, through June 30, 1999, the St. Thomas not-for-profit agency has compiled the following statistics regarding the clientele served:
We have opened 221 new cases — 125 involving physical abuse and 96 of sexual abuse victims; 160 were female and 61 were male; 189 were of African descent, 20 were Hispanic, 11 were of European descent and one was self-described as "other."
When they came to us, most of these clients were between infancy and 18 years of age. We also serve non-offending family members of victims as well as adults who may have been victimized as children many years ago. Often, when young children come to us and we start taking a family history, we learn that other members of the family have been victimized at some time and that often the mothers were sexually molested as children.
Given our population demographics, it is not surprising that the majority of our clients are black females. However, we suspect that there is a much larger number of young male victims of abuse by adult males than the data would suggest. For a variety of reasons, it is a taboo for males to reveal sexual molestation. One significant reason is that the perpetrator may be a community leader, and the child victim feels he will not be believed. Another is that the boy may believe that because he was molested by another male, this means he is homosexual, and he does not want that known.
The data seem to us to suggest that a significant number of molesting cases are never reported, and that when some are, children are not believed and, therefore, the perpetrators are not prosecuted.
These numbers do not represent all of the child abuse or child molestation cases on St. Thomas. Quite the contrary, they are but the tip of the iceberg. Everyone on this island should be horrified at the numbers of our children who are being traumatized in this way. Every person who calls him- or herself a "Christian" should rise up and speak out against this unforgivable crime against these most vulnerable members of our community. Every parent, grandparent, guardian, aunt, uncle, sibling, teacher, minister, friend, colleague, acquaintance and stranger should be incensed and insist that the abuse stop.
We know from experience that perpetrators can be and are prosecuted and convicted. Just days ago, in Territorial Court Presiding Judge Verne Hodge's courtroom, a man was convicted of multiple felony counts of child abuse and unlawful sexual contact. This is a victory for all of us who stand up for children's rights and justice. But it is not enough. It will not be enough until every child abuser and molester learns that their behavior is unacceptable and there will be serious consequences. It will not be enough until we learn to cherish our children, protect them from harm and treat them as the precious resource they are.
Joyce Pruitt is administrative director of Kidscope Inc.

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From the opening of Kidscope Inc. on Oct. 20, 1997, through June 30, 1999, the St. Thomas not-for-profit agency has compiled the following statistics regarding the clientele served:
We have opened 221 new cases -- 125 involving physical abuse and 96 of sexual abuse victims; 160 were female and 61 were male; 189 were of African descent, 20 were Hispanic, 11 were of European descent and one was self-described as "other."
When they came to us, most of these clients were between infancy and 18 years of age. We also serve non-offending family members of victims as well as adults who may have been victimized as children many years ago. Often, when young children come to us and we start taking a family history, we learn that other members of the family have been victimized at some time and that often the mothers were sexually molested as children.
Given our population demographics, it is not surprising that the majority of our clients are black females. However, we suspect that there is a much larger number of young male victims of abuse by adult males than the data would suggest. For a variety of reasons, it is a taboo for males to reveal sexual molestation. One significant reason is that the perpetrator may be a community leader, and the child victim feels he will not be believed. Another is that the boy may believe that because he was molested by another male, this means he is homosexual, and he does not want that known.
The data seem to us to suggest that a significant number of molesting cases are never reported, and that when some are, children are not believed and, therefore, the perpetrators are not prosecuted.
These numbers do not represent all of the child abuse or child molestation cases on St. Thomas. Quite the contrary, they are but the tip of the iceberg. Everyone on this island should be horrified at the numbers of our children who are being traumatized in this way. Every person who calls him- or herself a "Christian" should rise up and speak out against this unforgivable crime against these most vulnerable members of our community. Every parent, grandparent, guardian, aunt, uncle, sibling, teacher, minister, friend, colleague, acquaintance and stranger should be incensed and insist that the abuse stop.
We know from experience that perpetrators can be and are prosecuted and convicted. Just days ago, in Territorial Court Presiding Judge Verne Hodge's courtroom, a man was convicted of multiple felony counts of child abuse and unlawful sexual contact. This is a victory for all of us who stand up for children's rights and justice. But it is not enough. It will not be enough until every child abuser and molester learns that their behavior is unacceptable and there will be serious consequences. It will not be enough until we learn to cherish our children, protect them from harm and treat them as the precious resource they are.
Joyce Pruitt is administrative director of Kidscope Inc.