Justice 4 PA Kids Fights Childhood Sexual Abuse

The Malvern-based foundation combats sexual assault against children while making civil and legal recourse more accessible for victims.

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Thus far, the life cycle of these bills has experienced the same frustrating pattern: After getting stuck in the judiciary committee, they move to the rules committee, where they’re left to linger as the House cycle comes to an end.

Justice 4 PA Kids continues to put pressure on the rules committee to speed up the process that would move the potential legislation to the Senate, and then on to the governor for his signature. Among the problems the organization has encountered: inspiring the level of public interest necessary to make the issue a top priority in Harrisburg.

This past spring, the Chester County District Attorney’s office assisted with a sex-abuse education program at Upper Main Line YMCA for parents and caregivers. It was attended by just 35 people. “It was incredibly disappointing,” Tankle says. “This is something that’s incredibly important. And yet, people don’t think it’s going to happen to their family.”

For Martinez, the key to a better turnout is getting people to truly grasp the fact that, in 90 percent of the cases, the abuser is someone the family knows well. “It’s not someone jumping out from behind a shed or luring [a child] away from the park while the parent isn’t watching. It’s the person you’re familiar with—the one who’s always around your kid,” she says.

For now, Justice 4 PA Kids continues to forge ahead with lobbying efforts and free public programs to increase awareness locally and statewide. As always, the biggest challenge is getting the public to come forward when it involves something so controversial.

“No one wants to talk about it. It’s a hard topic to digest,” says Martinez. “But we’re working hard to be heard.”

To learn more, visit justice4pakids.com.

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