Child on child sexual abuse touches and troubles the lives of thousands of children each year and the state of Florida is launching a new effort to stop it.
Reporter: Tara Herrschaft
New research by the Justice Department shows more than a third of sex crimes against children are committed by other children.
The Florida Department of Children and Families identified more than 8300 children as either alleged perpetrators or victims of child on child abuse from 2008 to 2009.
And officials say it’s critical to respond immediately. “Because many of the children that are abused at some point could later become abusers,” said Alan Abramowitz, the State Director of the Family Safety Office for DCF.
The death of 7 year-old Broward County boy Gabriel Myers has sparked the DCF Secretary to form a task force. Myers was sexually abused by a 12 year-old boy and killed himself back in April. He was also on psychotropic drugs, which officials believe may have been another contributing factor. Now the group is holding hearings around Florida, gathering feedback to prevent future crimes.
“A lot of times we don’t know particularly how to react to it. Either in the law enforcement side, the parental side, or the social worker side. So we’ve got to do a better job of preparing parents and in our case, foster parents with dealing with these issues. We’ve also got to do a better job of making sure the support systems are in place. Because it takes specialized psychological and emotional services to be able to deal with the child who’s been victimized and equally important to deal with a child who’s the victimizer,” said Jim Sewell, the Special Assistant to the DCF Secretary.
The first hearing was a couple weeks ago, and there will be about five more. The Tallahassee meeting is scheduled for March 11th. Organizers are planning on submitting a report of their findings and recommendations to the DCF Secretary and then the legislature.