Kentucky shows beauty of bipartisanship


Cheyene Miller, Managing Editor

Cheyene Miller

In a society deeply divided by partisan politics, it is always a breath of fresh air to see two people from opposite ends of the spectrum unite for the common good. That is exactly what Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear and first lady of Kentucky Glenna Bevin are doing with their campaign against child sexual abuse.

The Democrat, Beshear, and the wife of ultra-conservative Gov. Matt Bevin announced Tuesday a statewide training initiative to prevent child sexual abuse in Kentucky. The initiative promotes about 20 training sessions that help law enforcement officials, social workers, educators and parents keep children safe from the horrors of sexual abuse.

Kentucky is one of the worst states for child abuse in the country. According to data from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Kentucky led the nation in child abuse deaths in 2007 and remained in the top ten through 2014. 

Aside from being a moral abomination, sexual abuse negatively impacts children and those around them for the rest of their lives. Research from the National Center for Victims of Crimes shows that short-term effects of child sexual abuse can include sleeping and eating disorders, behavioral and performance problems at school, unwillingness to participate in school and social activities, and regressive behavior such as thumbsucking and bedwetting.

Long-term effects can include severe anxiety and depression, self-destructive behaviors like alcoholism and drug abuse, insomnia, and victims of child sexual abuse are more likely than nonvictims to be sexually assaulted again as adults.

This might be an issue that has plagued humanity since the beginning of time, but there are tools to effectively combat child sexual abuse — mainly education and community involvement.  

Data from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network suggests that one of a parent’s best guarantees to prevent or stop sexual abuse is to be actively involved in the child’s life. This includes:

—Knowing who is around the child, including babysitters and authority figures.

—Talking to the child and taking an interest in their daily activities.

—Knowing the warning signs, including trouble sitting down and standing up, bruising or marks, negative reactions to physical contact, etc.

—And never assuming anything just because the child knows a person, as about 93 percent of abuse victims report knowing their abuser.

Child sexual abuse might not be as frequently discussed in the media as gun violence or drug abuse, but it is undoubtedly one of the great challenges facing Kentucky. There is much work to do, and seeing a bipartisan attempt from the attorney general and first lady inspires confidence.

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