sarah serluco: my blog

Love thy neighbor and eat more veggies

Problem Definition



HB 771 is an amendment to current Georgia law which will extend the statute of limitations on civil prosecution against child sex offenders. Nationally, child sexual abuse impacts 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys before their 18th birthday. Only 1 in 10 actually speak up and it is usually many years later when this statute of limitations has run out. In Georgia, 6,984 incidents of sexual abuse were reported and 4,573 of those incidents were substantiated.(US Department of Health and Human Services) Statute of Limitations (SOL) is the maximum amount of time one has to file charges or bring a civil lawsuit following an injury or other ground for a lawsuit. “It is quite literally the threshold for victims’ access to justice.” (Hamilton 2014) The law in Georgia currently allows for civil action 5 years past a victims 18th birthday. This amendment would allow action against up to 10 years or 28 years old, giving the victim more time to speak out. Relatives are the most common abusers which makes it more difficult for the victims to tell anyone. By exposing the abusers it could ultimately help stop the cycle of abuse. Everyone in the community is effected by this problem. The families of those abused, the family of those accused and the public who pay for support services for victims, are all severely impacted. Many times those who are abused go on to become the abusers. It is even more common for the abuse to occur within the family. A cross sectional study surveyed victims and found over two thirds were abused by a family member or a close family friend. (Schaefer et. Al 2014)

Childhood exposure to abuse and neglect can cause many short and long term medical and psychological problems. Some problems include but are not limited to, alcoholism and drug abuse, smoking, depression, suicide attempts and adolescent pregnancy. (CDC 2010)

Here is a list of the physical and psychological outcomes associated with childhood trauma.


Back pain, bladder disorders, chronic fatigue, chronic pelvic pain, diabetes mellitus, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, headache, heart conditions, neurologic disorders, obesity, respiratory disorders


Depression, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, hostility, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse disorders, suicidal ideation

(Fox & Cornwall 2013)

Those working within law enforcement may see this amendment as a problem within our justice system. As time passes, memory fades, witnesses die and evidence is lost. They may see some unjustly accused or have difficulty in prosecution. This clogs our legal system and costs our tax payers a lot of money. Communities and municipalities may see themselves open to liability by being involved in civil prosecution from ignoring or covering up a crime. Although this is an opinion or concern for just a small number of states, the majority now allow victims of child sex abuse to file claims against their abusers well into adulthood. Delaware and Florida have completely eliminated the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Even dozens of states have special laws that begin the civil statute of limitations only when a victim links an injury or condition to their abuse as a child, even if the recognition of the connection occurs decades later. Several states have also passed special legislation temporarily lifting civil statutes of limitations for victims of decades-old abuse. In California, a 2003 law creating a two-year window for such claims resulted in hundreds of lawsuits against priests, teachers and other alleged abusers dating back to the 1950s and ’60s. “Failure to understand, powerlessness, and a sadly contorted sense of obligation or responsibility—contribute to victims’ incapacity to come forward. Hundreds of studies have documented the psychological barriers to revealing the abuse and have shown that, typically, a survivor needs decades to process and understand the abuse. As a result, many do not tell others about the abuse until their forties, fifties, or even later. This dynamic has mobilized the movement to extend and eliminate SOLs, and to revive them for survivors for whom the SOL has expired.” (Hamilton 2014)

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