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Child Rape Deserves the Ultimate Punishment

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Child rape is an unforgivable offense and should be severely punished. It should be a capital crime.

Unfortunately and unwisely, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 struck down a Louisiana law that provided for the death penalty in cases of child rape. Part of the court's rationale was that only a few states had such laws at the time, and they saw no national consensus even though there were several proposed laws in additional states and the movement was growing.

I am calling on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation against this horrific crime without delay. The Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 should be updated to include child rape. Perhaps then the Supreme Court will get a clue about how the American people really feel.

I write as a victim of this crime when I was very young, and I can testify that it is an experience that forever scars its victims. We might think of child rape as an "unspeakable" crime, but the fact is we need to speak up for the sake of our children.

The recent scandal at Penn State once again shows that there are adults among us who prey on the very young. As far as I am concerned, such adults should be punished as severely as the law allows. It is an offense against the most vulnerable among us.

That this latest incident occurred at a center of learning, famed among other things for its stellar athletic programs, shows that no place is immune from episodes of sexual abuse of the young. Where there are youngsters in abundance, as at a college campus or a school yard, there is a strong possibility that there will also be predators lurking about and scheming to abuse them sexually.

The thing about the Penn State case that most shocks me is the absolute failure of some of the college's authorities to deal with a crime on their campus that could not have escaped their notice. Long-famed for winning football teams managed by one of the nation's top coaches, Penn State will now be remembered as the site of dismal failure in protecting children

Parents need to be aware of this problem and should see to it that their youngsters are given appropriate guidance that they must be careful to avoid situations where they might be victimized by adult child abusers, and that they must promptly report any attempt by adults to abuse them sexually.

As I wrote above, as a youngster I was abused by an adult. Because I was very young and not aware that I was a victim and not a willing participant in this crime, I failed to report this abuse to my parents or to the authorities. I fear that today's victims might share this fear and unknowingly allow their abusers to avoid the harsh punishments they deserve to experience. That exposes other youngsters to victimization, so our children need encouragement to speak up as well.

Let it never be forgotten that child abuse, especially by sexual predators, is a widespread crime. Let all parents remain alert to any signs that their youngsters are victims of sex abuse by adults. Your children need you.

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