The exploitation of a child or adolescent under the age of seventeen by an adult or another child at least two years older than the victim for the purpose of the offender’s own sexual gratification is defined as child sexual abuse. It is a problem that society is faced with every day. Sexual abuse of children can be physical or non-physical. Non-physical sexual abuse includes exhibitionism, voyeurism, and child pornography. Physical sexual abuse can be non-violent or violent and includes fondling of a child’s genitals, non-violent sexual intercourse, incest, and violent acts, such as rape. The individuals that commit these acts are better known as pedophiles. As defined on the website Myths and Facts about Sex Offenders, (Identify web site in introductory phrase when no author or title available to cite at the end) “Pedophilia is a psychosexual disorder characterized by a sexual desire for and sexual acts with prepubescent children.” This disorder occurs predominantly in males, although it can also occur in women. Studies show that females commit approximately twenty percent of sex offenses against children (Myths). Sexual abuse of children is one of the most heinous crimes committed that can have extreme adverse effects on a child. Unfortunately, too often offenders are convicted of this crime, serve a sentence of a few years and then are released, in many cases repeating the crime on other children.Child abuse laws are not strict enough (Reach Me Inc.) (Thesis Sentence without listed reasons; shorter essays usually list reasons).
How can an individual perform such indecent acts on children? (Transitional Sentence) No one knows for certain what makes a person become a pedophile. (Topic Sentence) Many convicted sex offenders have been asked what they think happened in their lives to make them commit such terrible offenses. Most of them respond that they were raised by decent families and have no idea what could have triggered this aberrant behavior. Some researchers agree that “. . . (Use square brackets when you begin your quote in the middle of the sentence) bad parenting is not the cause of pedophile tendencies” (Gardener 28). Some pedophiles say they wish they could stop and are sorry while others brag about their actions and look forward to repeating their crimes (Gado). Past sexual victimization can increase the likelihood of sexually aggressive behavior. Among adult sex offenders, approximately thirty percent have been sexually abused (Myths). (Subsequent references to web site may be shortened and cited either within the sentence or at the end, as here) Clearly, sexual abuse of children has roots in the past and becomes a vicious circle difficult to break. That is one reason for making laws against this crime more severe. (Concluding statement(s) summing up evidence, main points and referring to the thesis. Do this for every major paragraph)
Regardless of the cause (Transitional Phrase), the beastly nature of this crime and its effects on children argue for stricter laws. (Topic Sentence) When the majority of people think of children, they like to imagine that children are happy, safe, and well provided for. Children trust adults to care for them in a proper and loving manner. According to an article published in Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, if that trust is betrayed, in such a way as sexual abuse, it could result in damaging, lasting effects on the child. Some of the effects in very young children may include isolation, anger, depression, anxiety, and low self esteem (Ray 49). (Page listed because of one-page online article) All of these effects have a high chance of carrying into adulthood. Additional effects in adults can be distant relationships with men and women and suicidal feelings (Pillay and Schoubben). (Page NOT listed because of multi-page online article, so it’s not clear which page information came from) In some cases when individuals are victims of child sexual abuse, they may develop a behavior known as “cutting.” These victims cut themselves due to low self-esteem and inner pain. Cutting is a way of coping with painful feelings or administering self-punishment (“The Unkindest”). In many of cases, if the children endure such an ordeal, they stay silent, possibly because they are frightened, or they simply lose their trust in adults. In this case, they may continue to be abused, which allows the abuser the freedom to abuse others. In cases where the abuse is reported, the child is usually put under serious scrutiny. Sexual abuse cases are often tried in criminal court, where defense counsel tactics include postponements and cross-examination techniques designed to confuse and discredit the child. These cases usually result in a minimal sentence or no conviction (Child Abuse Statistics). These circumstances can lead members of society not to trust the system, which could result in less frequent reporting of child abuse for fear that children may have to endure even more grief and disbelief. Only less than ten percent of cases come to the attention of the authorities. Moreover, only a fraction of those who commit these crimes are convicted (Myths). For example, Atlanta Herald reports that in Atlanta only three percent of accused molesters were convicted in 1999 (Smith A3). Only two percent of allegations by children are false (Reach). Tobias informs the public that the majority of allegations are true and can be verified by expert child psychologists, and the percentage of error is very low (32). If child abuse laws were stricter and the punishment for the criminals was more severe, people might not be afraid of reporting such crimes.
Furthermore, the extent of the problem suggests that criminals are not deterred from committing these horrific acts of violence against children. (Topic Sentence) Since child sexual abuse is largely a hidden crime, it is difficult to estimate the exact number of people who are sexually abused at some time during their childhood. According to The National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, child abuse fatalities have increased from 1.3 per 100,000 children to 1.94 children in seven years (Child Abuse Laws). One out of seven sexual assault victims who reported incidents was under the age of six years old, and forty percent of offenders who victimized children under age six were juveniles under the age of eighteen (Sexual Assault Among Young Victims). One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused; in forty percent of sexual abuse cases, the abuser is the parent, in forty-five percent the abuser is a friend or acquaintance, and in fifteen percent the abuser is a stranger (National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse). Along with these statistics, individual cases of child abuse demonstrate the current law’s lack of deterrent effect on child abusers. (Note how the thesis is continually addressed throughout the paper.) For example, in 1995 in Texas, a suspect was due to be released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for the rape of a six-year-old boy. He told the police that he got away with abusing over 240 children before getting caught, and if released, would do it again (Gado). Six years in prison had obviously had no effect on this pedophile. In 1981, a man named Bill Malcolm was convicted of raping a three-year-old girl, sent to prison for three years, only to be released and rape the same girl again. He claimed he wanted revenge on the girl for identifying him to the authorities. He then served more time in prison, was again released, and then in 1994 wascharged with the rape and assault of four children. Unbelievably,a judge later allowed Malcolm to be set free. Malcolm was murdered by two men from the community on February 18, 2000 (Gado). Too many stories like these have similar tragic details. According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Center, in 1987, eighty seven percent of convicted child abusers were given probation and remained in their communities (Scott). If society could provide stricter laws protecting children against sexual abuse, there might be a decrease in the current number of over sixteen million sexually abused children in the United States (National). At least, the criminals would not be free to go back into the community and assault innocent children again.
One of the largest problems today is the issue of repeat offenders. (Topic Sentence) If laws did not allow convicted sex offenders out of jail and back into society, then these people would not be able to repeat their crimes. Recidivism rates for crime are highest among sex offenders. In fact, sixty percent of convicted sex offenders are released on parole or probation (Prevent Child Abuse America). A pedophile averages 150 victims over a lifetime (Quarterman). I once had a personal experience in regards to this issue. I was a waitress at a diner and knew a man named Bill. He seemed to be a decent man. He came into the diner every day for approximately a year, but I then did not see him for about a week. I asked my boss about Bill, and he told me that Bill was in jail awaiting trial for child abuse. I was shocked, and later I read the entire story in the newspaper. Bill had been convicted of molesting his stepson, age six, about three years prior, and had been convicted and served four months in the local county jail. Before that, he had been accused of exposing himself to a young boy on a path near a school, but no charges were filed. Then finally his last assault was on another little boy, age nine. He forced the child to perform indecent acts on him and then allowed the boy to leave. The last I heard Bill was in the local jail yet again awaiting trial. If Bill were not released from jail the first time, he would not have been able to continue abusing children. (Note: Some instructors accept personal experience examples in a research paper; others don’t.) Situations such as this set an example that may lead sex offenders to believe that even if they are caught, they will be given a second chance. When they do not fear spending the rest of their lives in prison, they conclude that it is probably not a huge risk to satisfy their demented needs. Weak laws that favor the criminals also may be deterring parents from allowing their children to pursue a conviction of an alleged suspect for fear that the trauma the children go through will be for nothing, and they just might become more hurt in the process.
When dealing with the problems of sexual abuse and the laws that pertain to it, society needs to understand the importance of keeping these pedophiles in prison and out of society. (Main point of conclusion) In addition, society needs to discover different ways to put an end, or at least to decrease, this disturbing problem. People, such as U.S. Representative Sue Myrick, understand the need to take action to strengthen the laws related to child abuse. She has co-sponsored the “No Second Chances for Rapists, Murderers, and Child Molester Act.” This act would direct U.S. Sentencing Commission to amend federal sentencing guidelines to ensure that convicted child molesters shall be sentenced to life imprisonment (Myrick Sponsors No Second Chances Act). The U.S. spends an incredible amount of money because of child abuse in the United States. The annual total direct costs of child abuse are $24,384,347,302, and the indirect cost is $69,692,535,227, for a total of $94,076,882,529 (Sexual Assault Among Young Victims). If the society could keep these criminals behind bars, it could not only be saving children but saving money as well. Funds such as these could then be used towards creating prevention groups and programs. Other solutions that different groups are working to develop include a nationwide computer network listing of all convicted child molesters, laws that require convicted molesters to register where they live (Scholle), a medical network of doctors trained in diagnosing child sexual abuse, a national sexual abuse awareness week for the purpose of educating parents and children, and programs to train judges, police departments, and district attorneys on how to deal with sexual abuse cases, in hopes of more prosecutions (Luten 128). Before law enforcement officials allow convicted child sex offenders a second chance, they should first take into serious consideration the statistics and costs. Then they should think about the chances of the molesters hurting other children if they spend the rest of their lives in prison: no chance.
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