Many terrible cases of sexually abused children have been discovered - and the perpetrators prosecuted - in our area during recent years. Yet if statistics gathered by advocates for children are accurate, what we know about is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Child advocacy centers throughout West Virginia have launched a campaign to persuade more children to come forth and report being abused. Only if they do - or if others, perhaps the victims' friends do -can the children be helped to recover from sexual abuse. And, of course, only if law enforcement agencies are made aware can the adult predators be apprehended, quite likely preventing them from victimizing other children.
The "One With Courage" campaign, being launched this month, also seeks to educate adults about child sexual abuse, in the hope more of them can recognize the signs of such crimes and help stop them.
Often, it is adults - including the unsung heroes of many such situations, school teachers - who do notice something wrong with children and report it to the authorities.
If you would like to obtain more information - and we hope you will -check this website: www.wvcan.org.
Why should adults be active in watching for the signs of child abuse? Because about one in four girls and one in six boys in our state are likely to be sexually abused before they reach 18 years of age. Only a small fraction of victims report abuse. That needs to end.