There was a time a few years ago when the community was in uproar against decades-old sexual abuses of children in the hands of priests and other people in authority in Guam's Catholic church. We saw protesters holding up signs in front of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica nearly every week until people were finally held accountable and among those actions the Vatican found Archbishop Anthony Apuron guilty of sexual crimes against children. The public furor subsided.
We've seen protests against abortion or what the organizers have called the killing of unborn babies.
We have also heard past claims by certain vocal anti-military protesters that local women and girls need to be protected in light of the relocation of Marines to Guam.
What we don't hear much of is a public outcry against the sexual molestation or rape of young children at the hands of family members or other adults who have access to the home. In court case after court case, we've heard of children having been victimized sexually and treated like sexual objects rather than being treasured and loved as the precious, innocent children that they are.
The outcomes of some of the cases have been mixed. There have been times when sexual predators in the home have been given just a few years in prison for molesting a child. What started as rape cases have been reduced to molestation in plea deals – allowing the perpetrator to get away with a lesser crime and a more lenient sentence.
There have been times when convicts were able to return back into the home – after a few years in prison – only to re-victimize the same child or children before the victims are old enough to be on their own. These are the most heinous of crimes, and yet there hasn't been much of a public outcry.
Often, these child victims are left to fend fight their own emotional struggles. Some survive the trauma but others haven't.
Many children suffer in silence. And our silence as a community is saying we are OK that they were treated as sex objects and are suffering at the hands of supposed loved ones.
Families, friends, neighbors, school communities, churches – anyone who has knowledge of any sexual abuse of young children should report what they know to authorities.
We can't stay silent.
Children need to know they don't deserve to be treated that way, that they can confide in trusted adults, and there's a way out.