Attorney Julia Munley to Child Sexual Abuse Victims: “You are Not Alone”
Julia Munley explains the ethical and legal obligation of reporting sexual abuse
In a recent interview, Attorney Julia Munley discusses misconduct and sexual abuse perpetrated by adults in positions of authority against minors. Attorney Munley has long been an advocate for victims and their families. Today, she helps to shed some light on this issue and offers some key pieces of advice for those who are concerned.
WNEP reported that Pennsylvania is ranked second in the country for reported claims of misconduct by teachers. In the last few months alone there have been at least seven stories just in our home region of Northeast PA.
It’s difficult to get hard and fast numbers on just how many of these incidents are occurring because claims do not always result in criminal charges. Moreover, victims don’t always report abuse. In fact, it is estimated that the majority of instances of abuse are not reported. The Children’s Advocacy Center says that 1 out of every 4 girls will be abused, as will 1 out of every 6 boys. While it’s hard to know for certain if these cases are on the rise and to what degree, we seem to be hearing more and more about tales of abuse inflicted by teachers, coaches, clergy, or other trusted community members.
There is a great deal of speculation as to what has caused this increase. It is possible that increased media coverage is a partial explanation, along with an increase in the number of victims who feel comfortable sharing their experiences. But, it is also likely that in our rapidly changing world, the ways in which abusers gain access to victims is changing as well. So, are these cases on the rise, or are we simply hearing about them more? Attorney Munley says, it is two-fold. Factors such as the Internet and social media can easily be exploited by abusers seeking access to minors. But, it is also likely that victims are feeling more comfortable and safe coming forward to expose misconduct, as we strive to raise awareness of this type of abuse.
Another aspect of the issue is that even when cases of exploitation are brought to light, school officials or other authority figures often keep the incidents quiet, perhaps to protect the reputation of the school or to prevent outcry. The perpetrators leave, and move on to another school district or community and continue the same behavior with a different group of children. There is not nearly enough/adequate record of these types of cases, not enough communication among districts, and this must change.
Attorney Munley stresses that those who become aware of abuse are obligated – ethically and legally – to come forward and contact the authorities.
Finally, Attorney Munley extends some advice to victims and parents. First and foremost, she says, “you are not alone.” Sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault. It is important to come forward and seek justice, especially in order to prevent other children from being abused by the same perpetrator. As Attorney Munley explains, the criminal justice system will see that the perpetrator is punished accordingly, and then the civil justice system will seek reparation for the suffering endured by the victim and his/her family.
While these stories of exploitation are disturbing and heartbreaking, it is important that they are brought to light, rather than brushed off or hushed up. Hopefully, bringing attention to these abuse issues is one step toward creating a safer world.
Watch the full interview here.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of sexual abuse by an authority figure, call the authorities as soon as possible, and seek support from groups like the Children’s Advocacy Center or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-444-4435. Then, contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys.
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