Molestation cases rise in summer

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Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Thelma Gilchrist noticed an increase last month in child abuse and molestation cases, and some area criminologists say they think they know why.

"Too often, incidents of sex crimes such as child molestations occur when schools are not in session," said Kim Davies, a 13-year professor and chairwoman of Augusta State University's Psychology, Criminology and Social Work Department. "It happens when young people are not being supervised in the correct fashion."

And even though school is back in session, another factor that experts say can contribute to more child molestations -- a slumping economy -- persists.

"Summertime also provides more chances to molest -- and we simply trust people to watch our kids," Dr. Davies said, adding that tough economic times can cause families to choose less-costly alternatives for child care that might not be as reputable and could put children in harm's way.

For July, Richmond County police saw 15 child abuse and molestation reports, according to the Sheriff's Office's official Web site. In June, the figure was three. For the same time frame a year ago and in 2006, there were 11 such reports.

From January to July this year, the number of child abuse and molestation cases has stayed in line with that of the same seven-month period last year. However, Investigator Gilchrist said the number of such cases reported has increased drastically compared with several years ago.

Investigator Gilchrist said she also is seeing fewer perpetrators admitting to child molestation. She said that likely is because of tougher laws regarding those who are listed on a sex offender registry.

Fluctuations in child molestation cases also are evident in Columbia County, according to sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

For the first seven months of 2008, Columbia County reported 17 cases, six of which occurred in June and July. For all of 2007, 14 child molestation cases were reported. In 2006, the county saw 24 reports, he said.

Lt. David Turno, of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said that so far this year all sex crimes are up. In the first seven months, 34 sex crimes have been reported compared with 26 for the same time frame a year ago. Lt. Michael Frank, of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, said his department has seen no major increases in sex crimes.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.

ONLINE LISTS OF OFFENDERS:


RICHMOND COUNTY: www.augustaga.gov/departments/sheriffs_office/registry_offenders.asp


COLUMBIA COUNTY: www.columbiacountyso.org/Index.aspx?page=2391


AIKEN COUNTY: www.icrimewatch.net/index.php?AgencyID=54291&disc=


GEORGIA: www.state.ga.us/gbi/otherlk.html


NATIONWIDE: www.nsopr.gov


TIPS FOR PARENTS


- Parents should have a good relationship with their child to ensure they will inform the parent if anything inappropriate happens.


- Frequently look at Web sites that list area sex offenders to make sure none have moved into your neighborhood.


- Get to know the people your child interacts with on a regular basis. Ask your child questions about what they do when they're away from home -- especially during overnight stays.


- Talk to your child about the dangers of sexual predators. Assure them that it's OK to say they feel uncomfortable around other people.

Sources: Dr. Kim Davies, chairwoman of Augusta State University Psychology, Criminology and Social Work Department; Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Thelma Gilchrist

Comments (5) Add comment
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WhiskyDick
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WhiskyDick 08/21/08 - 04:33 am
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There's some rocket science

There's some rocket science for ya. Kids are more likely to be molested when kids are present. What a news flash! I'll bet there's a decline in truancy rates in the summer, too, if they checked into it.

christian134
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christian134 08/21/08 - 05:03 am
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If these scum would just be

If these scum would just be hauled off to an area in the middle of the Baja surrounded by 20' barbed and razer wire with nothing but tents to house them for the rest of their natural lives then maybe some of these evil beings would think first before touching a child...

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 08/21/08 - 05:29 am
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Another factor is social

Another factor is social stigma. With the acceptance of out of wedlock pregnancy and homosexuality, the social stigma is gone along with the stigma of reporting molestation. I have no doubt that molestations go up when kids are out of school and I have no doubt more molestations get reported. More molestations taking place? How do you know? Children are without defense in every society. The deciding factor is the caregiver/guardian. The more responsible the participation, the less likely there'll be molestation.

kai@reasontostand.org
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kai@reasontostand.org 08/21/08 - 08:21 am
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What about teaching your kids

What about teaching your kids to have a strong moral foundation, enabling them to know right from wrong and then encourage them to stand up for what is right regardless of where they are at? Seems to me this would actually take care of a multitude of birds with one stone. Then again this would also mean we would have to acknowledge the "bad guys" that are out there which might mean (gasp) actually _judging_ people based on their actions.

mable8
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mable8 08/21/08 - 12:13 pm
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Gee Dr Davies, any decent

Gee Dr Davies, any decent citizen could have told you about the reason for the increase in crimes against children during the summer. As for "teaching your kids to have a strong moral foundation....then encourage them to stand up for what is right regardless of where they are at," kai, more parents than you think do exactly that, but taking a stand can be lethal to a child. Adults are stronger and more powerful and a child doesn't stand a chance if that adult means to commit a harm. It is the ADULT who needs the (re)education regarding "strong moral foundations;" why blame the innocent child? As for judging people for their actions, we do this every day during court sessions, so why the gasp?

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