September 8, 2007

Helping the World's Sexually Abused Children
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; A12
In his Aug. 24 op-ed, "No More Pedophile Tourists," Michael Gerson brought much-needed attention to the issue of child trafficking and prostitution, but this is only the tip of the iceberg that is global child sexual abuse.
According to the United Nations, more than 200 million children worldwide have suffered sexual abuse. The vast majority of these crimes occur not through prostitution but at the hands of someone the child knows, perhaps at home, in the community or at school.
Even more tragic, this estimate is probably too low: Untold numbers of children do not feel safe reporting such abuse or have their reports fall on deaf ears. Perpetrators often go unpunished, leaving children vulnerable to further violence, despair, disease and even substance abuse.
Since, as Mr. Gerson noted, many governments are ashamed to admit the problems occurring within their borders, these children have scant access to legal recourse, medical attention, counseling or other support.
On Sept. 24, the world will take an important step forward on this issue when the First International Conference on Child Sexual Abuse in Africa is convened in Nairobi. But this is only one step. We need to continue raising awareness and demand that governments worldwide do their part. We need to make sure these children no longer suffer in silence and know that someone is out there fighting for them.
Executive Director
Global Action for Children
Jennifer Delaney
Executive Director
Global Action for Children

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