Eliminate time-barring principle
Children are among the most vulnerable members of our society and, as such, they should be afforded as much protection as possible. When adults abuse their innocence, they should be punished, and punished in a heavier way than if the offence had been committed against another adult.
It is always sad when children are abused, in whatever way. Last Wednesday, the Curia’s Safeguarding Commission reported that three cases of sexual abuse committed against minors within the Church had been substantiated, and action had been taken against the perpetrators. It was good to hear that the Church has started to take these situations more seriously than it had done not very long ago.
Of course, it is not only within the Church confines that abuse is committed against children. In the past, episodes of abuse – sexual or otherwise; within families, clubs and communities – of children was something rare, probably because many such incidents were kept hidden away from society, or not even
reported. Very often, the offenders went unpunished, and were free to move on to their next victim.
More recently, reports of abuse have become more common, and our courts of law have had to deal with these situations with more regularity. Sometimes perpetrators were given appropriate punishments, at other times the courts appeared to be rather lenient. But it is positive to note that society as a whole is no longer turning away from these issues.
There is now another step that needs to be taken, and this was highlighted this week by a foundation that was set up following the tragic death of a minor. The Lisa Marie Foundation strongly objected to what it described as a miscarriage of justice after a man found guilty of engaging in sexual acts with a minor escaped serving time in jail because the case was timebarred.
“It is absolutely senseless that just because of the passage of time a person of this sort is not only let off the hook but also allowed to continue to roam free with the possibility of him harming other children,” the foundation said in a statement. The time-barring principle also means that the offender is not put on the sex offenders’ list, and as a result this makes it easier for the offender to be employed in places with easy access to children.
The foundation is absolutely right about this. People who are charged with abusing children should not be granted the possibility of getting away with it just because an established period of time has passed. And everything possible should be done to keep them away from other intended victims.
Children who pass through the trauma of being abused never forget the experience, and the rest of their life, including relationships they try to build, is affected by it.
Our legislators would do well to take the advice of the foundation and act upon it immediately in the best interests of children.
There should not be any political controversy about this.