In response to the terrible crime committed in Florida resulting in the death of a young girl named Jessica, Texas has made some changes in how to deal with sex offenders. In Do tough sex laws help or hurt? the pros and cons of the new laws are discussed. Although the harsher sentences seem like a solution to the problem, some experts and victims say that it will not have the effect some are hoping for.
The laws are mainly effective against stranger molestation, when a child is harmed by someone they do not know, however 93% of the time this is not the case. Most commonly it is a family member and generally children or spouses do not want to testify against their own family, they just want an end to the abuse not to exchange one family problem for another. Another case the laws do little to change is when the abuse is between children. A child is defined as under 17, and the law allows for a “Romeo and Juliet” case where consensual sex between two over 14 who are within 5 years of age of each other is not considered a crime.
However, the laws do have many good solutions. Sentences for prolonged abuse or super aggravated assault of a child are set at a minimum of 25 years and repeat offenders could get life or even the death penalty. Some say that it is unsure if the death penalty will actually be used or if it is even allowed. It is not clear in the Constitution whether the death penalty can be given to someone who has left their victim alive.
Hopefully the new laws are just the first step in the right direction to making a change. With new laws and more education about it, the society as a whole can take a stand and stop child abuse together.