Cause and Effect

Child Sexual AbuseSTATUTES OF LIMITATIONS. SOLs date back to the Roman Empire and were designed to limit one’s liability under the law. A statute of limitations is an ARBITRARY DEADLINE set by a legislature designating the maximum amount of time one has to bring a lawsuit from the time of an injury or other ground for a lawsuit.

While SOLs are good for resolving contract and property disputes, they expire so quickly that they deny justice to the victims of child sexual abuse and protect their sexual predators from prosecution.

POLITICS. Many have tried and failed to reform the SOLs for child sex abuse using conventional methods. Their attempts have been predominantly unsuccessful because the current system is heavily entrenched in politics and favors those who bring the greatest influence and resources to bear — such as religious institutions (all denominations), insurance companies, teachers and their unions, as well as civil rights groups.

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Without question these institutions and organizations have had decades, if not centuries, to protect the children in their care from sexual predators within their ranks. Instead they’ve been aggressively opposing all manner of SOL reform. The sad truth is that as long as they can pressure lawmakers into preserving short SOLs, they can continue to protect their assets from financial exposure. The overwhelming evidence is undeniable; no institution will ever choose the welfare of a child over its own best interests. What’s more, in selfishly protecting their assets from civil litigation, they’re guilty of further insulating sexual predators from prosecution.

PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERN. There’s a big gap between the ability of survivors to come forward and the speed with which the States expect them to do so. In reality, it often takes decades for a child sex abuse survivor to come forward to family, friends, a spouse, or the authorities. For those survivors who do come forward, the short SOLs have long since expired allowing the sexual predators to molest other children with impunity.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the typical child sex offender abuses an average of 260 children, while serial sexual predators can have as many as 400 victims over the course of their lifetime. Further, it is estimated that 90% of all child sex abuse is never reported.

When survivors are prevented from publicly identifying their attacker; your neighbor, new significant other, or child’s teacher could be a sexual predator without your knowledge. Keep in mind that States with predator-friendly laws have more sexual predators preying on innocent children.

HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE. The rights and reputation of an adult has always been valued more by the justice system than the rights of a child who cannot vote. Not too long ago children were considered property, much the same as livestock. Today, animals have more rights than children. The victims of child sexual abuse had no choice at the hands of their perpetrators. Until and unless we speak for them, they will continue to have no voice. We have the power to upgrade child sex abuse cases from ordinary property disputes to the same status as murder cases, which have no statute of limitations.