Thursday, July 27, 2006

Crackdown on Child Sexual Abuse?

I just read an AP story that President Bush signed the "Adam Walsh Act" today. According to the AP writer, it is a "sweeping crackdown on child sexual abuse" and includes a new national registry of sex offenders, tougher penalties for Internet use for child pornography, and required background checks for adopting and foster care parents.

With the exception of the last, I'm not convinced that the bill is actually going to do much to prevent child sexual abuse. A national online registry of people who have served time for sex offenses may give people the illusion of safety, but it ignores the reality that the vast majority of the time children know their abusers well. It isn't strangers that sexually abuse children; it's their parents, step parents, family friends, baby sitters, coaches, teachers, and clergy. They aren't likely to be listed on any registry. The bill, at least as far as I can discern, includes NO money for primary prevention -- educating parents and children on how to protect themselves.

My heart goes out to any family like the Walsh's that have suffered through a missing child and to any person who has suffered child sexual abuse. I don't begin to think that I understand the horror and pain involved. But, I want to see real programs that help prevent abuse from happening in the first place, including efforts to support not demonize offenders who have successfully completed prision terms and treatment.

For information about my book, "A Time to Heal: Keeping Children Safe and Ministering to Sex Offenders" send us an email at

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent observations by Debra. Bills like this sadly give the impression that the government is doing something when in fact very little difference is being made. And we need more dollars spent: (1) on educational programs to help keep children safe and (2) on better treatment programs for persons convicted of these offenses.