Something very disturbing is happening in Kane County, Illinois.
Last November, 49-year-old Richard L. Herra from Elburn, was charged with six counts of aggravated sexual abuse for committing a sexual act with a minor less than 17 years of age.
In early April 2018, Chad A. Coe, a former Elgin youth minister, was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing a child in 2013 at a West Dundee church.
These are just two the cases in Kane County part of a sharp increase in “sexualized, aggressive behavior” against children under the age of 6, according to Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon and the Child Advocacy Center. Authorities are now warning parents to be on the lookout for potential signs.
In 2015, the county reported 111 sex abuse victims who were less than 6 years old. The number experienced an alarming spike and reached 125 in 2016 and 185 in 2017.
McMahon and the children’s group are now trying to determine whether the increased number means there have been increased crimes or improved reporting of the problem.
Child Advocacy Center Director Deb Bree also said there has been a rise in the number of juvenile offenders, children ages 10 or older.
“We’re seeing them victimizing even younger victims,” Bree said. “We’re talking about seeing a juvenile offender who’s 15, and who is (sexually abusing) a 5- or 6-year-old.”
Bree said of the 180 juvenile offenders reported since 2015, one-third were under the age of 13. A lot of times, the victim and the offender are siblings.
The reason may be because of children viewing sexually explicit content on social media like YouTube. The extensive use of smart phones makes it difficult for parents to supervise what their children are watching.
Bree advises parents to keep a closer look on their children’s social media activity and to know and control their passwords. Parental control options are also available on social media.
McMahon also believes parents should look for potential danger signs on their children and should steer victims toward counseling so they don’t fall to alcohol or drugs to cope with their issues. Some of the victims with unresolved issues often fall into the criminal justice system if they don’t get help in time, he said.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Pexels