New York State wants to raise the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases. The current statute of limitations gives survivors until the age of 23 to file a civil lawsuit.

The bill known as the Child Victims Act would raise New York’s civil and criminal limitations for child sex abuse survivors, giving a period of time to allow survivors to file claims against abusers.

Last Thursday, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and a panel of experts on child abuse held a discussion at John Jay College to inform the public of the current legislation reform.

Many victims of abuse are not comfortable coming forward until significantly after the abuse has occurred. According to Prevent Child Abuse New York, between 60 and 80 percent of victims do not disclose incidents of abuse until adulthood.

Thea Skalicky, survivor and advocate, believes the bill will allow more victims to feel comfortable enough to come forward.

“I think some of them will at least think about it, and if there is someone there that can advocate for those who are still on the fence, to say it’s OK, it will definitely help them,” Skalicky said.

The panel stressed the importance of noticing changes in children. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, one in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of child sex abuse. Children between the ages of 7 and 13 are the most vulnerable. The discussion elaborated on the effects of the abuse on victims, effects such as substance abuse and even suicide.

Hoylman encourages constituents to get involved in the campaign in as many ways as possible.

“They need to get activated, they need to reach out to groups like Safe Horizon, they need to write a letter to their senator, visit him and her in Albany. This is a campaign, this a campaign for justice, and campaigns take a lot of elbow grease, and a lot of door knocking, and one-on-one visits with legislators, so like any important legislative piece, this should be something worth fighting for,” Holyman said.

Nancy Yates, a social worker for New York City public schools, suggested that more should be done to help victims early on.

“Training and support, offer to teachers to teach children—they have a right to say no and how to speak up about their bodies. And just finding more material, literature developmental for young kids; it has to start young. It starts at whatever age and it’s a socialization that occurs; so much education has to be done on the topic,” Yates said.

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