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Child Victims Act: Where do we go from here?

Gary Greenberg
December 19, 2017 07:10 pm

Anxiety is just as much caused by our President and his inability to control his Twitter as it is by other environmental and genetic factors. You just can’t escape politics, the almighty ego club. Social media raised the throne of policy makers to tweet golden promises, but it was clear after this last legislative session in New York that the children were left out in the cold, groveling on their knees once again. The most pitiful aspect about The Child Victims Act never passing the GOP-controlled NY State Senate was that it was never a political issue; boiled down, it was about protecting children from sexual abuse. Sexual abuse that leads to expensive and damaging, potentially life-long mental health conditions.

Financially, a child who endures sexual abuse will spend an average of $210,000 over the course of their lifetime in recovery-related expenses, according to a recent study published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. It’s sad to think that we even have to count these costs, but the truth is that, if our families are stable and healthy, are children will be, too. A child protected from sexual abuse and mental illness equals a robust economy and thriving nation.

It’s up to us as a society to take the time and focus on, secure prevention strategies and encourage a strong childhood growth; if we do that and target reducing the reported more than 45,000 kids in New York who are sexually abused annually, then the staggering financial costs to the state and nation will come down as well.

Although the estimate is 45,000 kids a year in New York, it’s difficult to know exactly how many kids are sexually abused. Why? Because the crime often goes unreported; professionals acknowledge that the prevalence is much higher than what is given to officials. (2) At thirteen, Nikki DuBose was told by her abuser, a family member, that if Nikki tried to call the police, (Nikki) would be killed; Many people assume that children are abused by predators on the streets, but that’s false; a 2003 National Institute of Justice reports that 3 out of 4 young people who were sexually assaulted were done so by someone they were close with. (2)

Gary Greenberg was kidnapped and abused by a total stranger while visting his father who was a patient at a hospital in Cohoes in 1967. Louis Van Wie an employee at the hospital went on to abuse over 300 boys and girls until incarcerated in 1996 by Gary and Kayla Wittmann.

The other 300 victims never have had justice and VanWie given a conditional release under New York’s archaic laws can be released at any moment. VanWie is a poster case for SOL reform in NYS.

Annually, child abuse and neglect influences more than 1 million kids. (1) Every day, that abuse and neglect on our nation’s kids costs us $220 million. (1) That’s a lot of money that we could be saving if we invested in prevention efforts and mental health services. So where do all of those millions go? When a child is abused, their world is ripped apart; gone are the days of innocence. Money is spent in investigating the crime, putting the child in another home or foster care, medical and mental health treatment, and then later on in their life for extra or special education, possibly juvenile and adult crime, chronic health problems, and other costs during the life span.

In 2012 alone, we paid $80 billion to cover the costs of child abuse and neglect, so when a child is mistreated, it definitely affects all of society. (1) Therefore, if we are paying the costs of these heinous crimes, we can surely take the time to invest in preventing them. It’s a win-win.

A study conducted by Anne Lazenbatt for the NSPCC showed that around half of individuals utilizing mental health services disclosed having pasts involving sexual and/or physical abuse. (3) There is also a mound of research denoting evidence that individuals who have encountered child sexual abuse have a greater chance of acquiring depression, serious anxiety, PTSD, addictions and alcoholism, eating disorders, a variety of personality disorders and self-harm tendencies. (3) Gary and Nikki have personally experienced most; having overcome nearly 17 years of severe mental health issues, NSPCC reports that survivors of child sexual abuse often suffer from feelings of responsibility, powerlessness and difficulties with interpersonal relationships. (3)

As depressing as all of this sounds, it doesn’t have to be a final sentence for the survivor. With strengthened prevention efforts, correct and fitting mediation, individuals can receive tremendous assistance to heal from child abuse. (3) And with the opioid crisis on high alert, our government is in a unique position to push the need for mental health services to the forefront. It starts with protecting kids. It starts by passing laws such as the Child Victims Act, Erin’s Law, Brittany’s Law and ending conditional releases for child serial rapists in Gov. Cuomo’s New York State.

Gov.Cuomo has failed to protect NY kids.

The Governor is more interested in attending $50,000 fundraisers with Hollywood moguls than stopping the Child sexual assault on 150 NY kids every day.

Cuomo who often speaks out on every national issue as he prepares a presidential run has stayed dead silent on Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulting children in Alabama. Cuomo is embarrassed and shamed he is Governor of the worst state reforming child sexual assault laws in the country.

Millions and Millions of victims are waiting for Gov.Andrew Cuomo to get the Child Victims Act passed and signed into law. We will remember in 2018 and 2020.

Gary A.Greenberg Survivor, Founder Fighting for Children PAC and ProtectNYKids.

Nikki DuBose Survivor, Model, Actress, Advocate for child sex abuse laws, mental health issues and eating disorders.