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National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 25 through May 1

by DeAnn Johnson

Can you hear me? I’m down here. I know I’m little for 6 years old and sometimes I don’t speak very loud. But maybe you can help us. You see, my mom is hurt. I tried to help. I’m sure my daddy didn’t mean it this time, either. He always says he is sorry. It was probably my fault, anyway. I was playing too loud. My mom tells me not to worry, but I do. Do you think that maybe you could help us?

Domestic violence – unfortunately, all too familiar for too many children. Every day in America, children are victimized. They are beaten, sexually abused, murdered and neglected by strangers, friends and family members. Emotional neglect and abuse often victimize children not targeted for physical acts of violence.

Events can be witnessed in many ways, not just by sight. Children may hear their mothers’ screams and crying, the abuser’s threats, sounds of fists, glass breaking, cursing and degrading language. Children also witness the consequences of the abuse after it has occurred – their mother’s bruises and torn clothing, holes in the walls, broken furniture and their mothers’ tears.

There are five categories of child abuse and neglect: physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and exploitation. In some cases, all five forms of abuse occur. Abuse of children knows no bias. It is found in rich families as well as poor. It knows no race, culture or religious boundaries. It is found in all cities, communities and rural environments. Family members, community leaders, acquaintances and strangers commit child abuse. And unfortunately, it does not discriminate against its victim’s gender or age. It is an insidious crime that affects the entire nation, but most importantly, it destroys the lives of these children.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 25 through May 1. During this week and throughout the year, remember that victims in our community have rights and resources available to them. Isn’t it about time someone read these children their rights?

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment is that victims are, indeed, silent no more. Their voices offer us a vision for a nation where justice applies to young and old, and every culture in the rainbow, in communities large and small, rural and urban. They offer us understanding of victims’ needs and appreciation for what victims endure. They offer us hope.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of crime, you should know that you have rights, you can get help, you can work for a positive change. Maybe you can help some of those small voices that are not very loud.

For more information, please contact the Family Support Council at 782-8692.

DeAnn Johnson is a domestic violence/sexual assault caseworker at the Family Support Council.