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Our View: Our responsibility to stop abusers

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

It is fortunate that James Walls will remain in prison for years to come.

It is unfortunate he didn’t wind up there sooner.

Last week, a DeKalb County jury found that Walls, formerly of Sycamore, is a pedophile who must remain in a state prison program for sex offenders because he would likely resume his repugnant behavior if freed.

Walls was convicted twice of abusing young girls. After his first conviction in connection with a 1992 incident, Walls continued abusing another victim until he was investigated again in 1998, which led to him being declared a sexually dangerous person, authorities said.

Walls is one of 160 people in the state program, which includes group therapy and professional evaluations. Walls denies he is a pedophile, which is part of the reason he scores low on some evaluations.

The jury made the correct decision in keeping him in the program. If Walls never walks free or returns to our community again, that will be fine. Children need to be protected from sexual predators of his ilk.

It bears noting that people who seek to perpetrate this kind of abuse often take advantage of trusted relationships with children and their parents. In some cases, for a variety of reasons, other family members choose not to report the abuse when a victim tells them about it.

But there is a long list of other people in the community who are designated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as mandatory reporters of child abuse. The list includes doctors, dentists, nurses, social workers, teachers and other school employees, child care workers, and of course police officers.

These and the other mandatory reporters can also help to stop child abuse, either when they are told of it or when physical evidence raises their suspicion.

For others who might be aware of abuse but do not know who to contact, the state’s child abuse hotline is 800-252-2874.

Just as important as keeping known child abusers from returning to our community, is stopping those who are perpetrating these crimes now.

No one should have to suffer or witness child abuse. Whenever it is within our power as individuals or as a society to stop it, we must act.

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