Prevention is the ideal, but until prevention is 100% effective, then prosecution IS prevention. There can’t be a great divide between the world that tells the child to come forward and the world they encounter when they do. The child is the one left dangling between those two worlds holding up their heart to keep it from crushing them. We have to make sure there is a sure foothold of professionals highly skilled and trained to defend the child’s unique case when the child walks in the door.
We ask children to come forward. We tell them we will believe them. We tell them we will protect them. BUT, we also know most cases do not have physical evidence or a witness. We know most cases are not prosecuted. We know most true findings are overturned if appealed. We ask children to come forward knowing they will leave their handprint, but their abuser will probably not be fingerprinted. We ask children to come forward knowing they will leave with a teddy bear, but their abuser will probably leave with freedom. What does this do to the child? It proves to the child they can’t trust adults, professionals, or the system. It proves to the child their abuser was right – that they aren’t worth believing – that the abuser is more powerful. It doesn’t hold the abuser accountable or keep them from hurting again – it actually VINDICATES a predator. This can and must be changed. If children take the ultimate risk to tell the truth we can’t let them down when they do. We can’t prove their abuser was right. We can’t make the child weaker and a predator invincible. This CAN change but it will take massive action and determination. It will involve a tremendous amount of training and education, and it will involve changing the laws to protect children during this process. It will involve changing the system. It is not simple but it is POSSIBLE.