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Beary: Child abuse in the wake of Honey Boo Boo

BY HANNA BEARY | OCTOBER 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is a TLC reality TV show featuring “Toddlers and Tiaras” pageant winner Alana Thomas (Honey Boo Boo) and her family. June Shannon (Mama June) has announced that TLC will no longer air the TV show because of her reported relationship with Mark McDaniel, who was put on the sex-offender list in March after serving 10 years in prison for child molestation.

Shannon said, “I would not ever ever put my kids in danger” on a video that she posted on Facebook. In this video, she also denies the relationship with McDaniel, claiming that she has not seen or spoken to him in 10 years, regardless of the photos of the two.

Though this high-profile case has brought attention to the issue, child molestation and sexual abuse is nothing new to society.  Recorded child sexual abuse dates all the way to the 15th and 16th centuries. According to a physician’s journal, King Louis XIII was a victim of sexual abuse as a child.

Handling child sexual-abuse cases differed in the late 1800s to the 1900s. Boy and girl cases were not treated the same. When it came to convicting the perpetrator, officials first looked at if there was any physical harm or if the victims’ reputations were ruined. From 1896 to 1926, 30 percent of cases were resolved by financial payments.

As the 20th century hit, child molesters were seen as moral monsters. When thought of, the description of dirty old men usually came to mind. As some experts tried to claim that there was no long lasting effect of sexual abuse, it became clear that there was. Long-lasting effects can be more than just physical pain and can include mental distress and other disorders.

Approximately 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. Nearly 70 percent of reported sexual assaults happen to children age 17 and under, though only around a third of child sexual-abuse cases are identified.

These statistics comes from Darkness to Light, a nonprofit organization that was started in 2001 to end childhood sexual abuse. The members believe that they can end child sexual abuse through education and by raising awareness.

Darkness to Light published “The 5 Steps to Help Protect Our Children,” built on a foundation that we can make choices, take risks, and support each other. Following these guidelines cannot only help save a child from emotional scars but can help eliminate the issue all together.

Sexual abuse for children is not something to take lightly. It’s sad that it takes the cancellation of a reality TV series to help raise awareness of the situation, but I respect TLC for its efforts toward protecting children and not allowing McDaniel to be on air. Over time, recorded cases of child sexual abuse has decreased, but it is still not enough. Parents should educate their children on how to react, along with what kind of situations to avoid. Public awareness and education are the key ways to help eliminate this problem; it is up to society to make it happen.


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