As an advocate for clergy sex abuse victims, mandated reporters and nationwide legislation similar to California's 2003 Sex Abuse Law, the Los Angeles Times published an interesting op-ed piece at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-wilson8-2009jan08,0,1034978.story, by James Q. Wilson, a teacher at Pepperdine University. Mr. Wilson's analysis of fluctuating crime statistics, as they relate to the economy and unemployment, is a valuable tool. These statistics vindicate the hard work and dedication of law enforcement professionals and government agencies. Thank you. However, in my opinion, failing to protect the civil rights of children is crime's most serious smoking gun. Thoughts...
1. Public School Education.
All children are guaranteed a public school education in the United State of America, free of economic and/or political influence. If all children are educated equally, there is hope crime will decline and economic conditions will improve in the future. Yet, each time government budgets get tight, the public school budgets are cut. We must recognize the importance of educating our children so opportunities to make choices, free of joining crime statistics and/or over crowded prisons, are available to all children equally. Note: Children living in families blessed with economic advantage and employment, often attend private and/or religion-affiliated schools, and are unaffected when public school budgets are cut. As explained in Mr. Wilson's op-ed, crime statistics decline when economic advantages are present.
2. The right to be safe from sex abuse and all types of danger.
All children deserve to be safe and need protection. Yet, as evidenced by the clergy sex abuse crisis that erupted in 2002, children were sexually abused by employees of religious institutions for decades, free of accountability in a court of law. Children were abused based on a twisted legal interpretation of freedom of religion privilege, while mandated reporting laws were ignored and political influence obstructed investigations and prosecutions in a court of law. Are there statistics showing how many sex abuse victims continue acts of criminal behavior and/or spend time incarcerated?
3. The right to the fair administration of justice and due process of the law.
California led the nation in legislation that returned civil justice to victims of past sex crimes, via the passage of California's 2003 Sex Abuse Law. Tragically, very few states have followed California, with much needed corrective legislation. Children do not vote; do not contribute to political campaigns and/or religious institutions. Are there statistics showing how denied justice in a court of law leads to acts of criminal behavior and/or incareration?
Solving the country's economic, education and government deficit issues will never be easy. However, compromising the civil rights of children will only lead to disaster. We must learn from past mistakes and never allow history to repeat itself – especially as it relates to all children. Without justice, there will never be peace. Without peace, faith and our country's laws are empty.