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Let There Be Justice for Children

Columban Fr. Shay Cullen

We read and see reports about the terrible number of child sexual assaults and how few perpetrators ever get convicted. That is changing with the appointment of highly trained female judges to the Philippine family courts.

Fr. Shay Cullen
Fr. Shay Cullen

One day in September 2013, Rosie, a child 12 years old but with a mental age of five or six, was grabbed by the live-in partner of her mother, slapped in the face and sexually assaulted. Rosie cried out with the physical pain as her assailant assaulted her. A neighbor heard her cry out and went to the window of the small house and witnessed the act of abuse. The abuser was arrested and Rosie was referred to the Preda home for children and received care and support. She became an empowered young girl and testified strongly and clearly. With that and the testimony of the witnesses the perpetrator was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced to reclusion perpetua, which is at least 20 years imprisonment, and ordered him pay moral damages. That was a big victory for Rosie and for child justice.

The public and lawmakers everywhere have to realize and understand the devastating trauma and life-long consequences of child sexual abuse. Highly impressionable children, usually those neglected and unloved by their parents and wanting attention, gifts, and what they think is "love," are the most vulnerable. They are easily lured over the internet, on Facebook and other social media, into going with the pedophile who then sexually abuses them.

At the Preda Home for abused children, hundreds of victims have been healed over the years, and we know from their cries and screams in the Emotional Expression Therapy room and from listening to their life testimony just how much they suffer by being sexually abused. The memory and experience has marked them for life and is always there.

Another very important part of the healing process is the pursuit and winning of justice for the abused child. There have been many more court cases filed and won by Preda on behalf of abused children and dozens of pedophiles are serving life sentences where they cannot abuse any more children.

Columban Fr. Shay Cullen lives and works in the Philippines.

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