Children not getting the justice they deserve

Luke Strimbold, the former mayor of Burns Lake, was sentenced to two years less a day and two years of probation Wednesday after he pled guilty in May to four counts of sexual assault against four boys under 16 between May 2014 and August 2017.

In stories like this, including the one that's on the Citizen website, there's plenty of talk about the offender and the details of the sentence. Words like pedophile and phrases like sexual predator of children are avoided because it's seen as editorializing but they are the words we should be using and that is the lens through which we should be seeing men like Strimbold. He is not the victim here.

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The victims are a group of boys and their families who will have to live with what he did to them for the rest of their lives, which will likely be significantly longer than his sentence. Sadly, sexually touching a child repeatedly is dismissed as "it could have been worse - it wasn't a violent rape."

What a cynical perspective. It's as if the victim is supposed to somehow feel gratitude that the violation of their body, their childhood wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Any sexual touching by an adult on a child is a violent act because the adult is asserting their physical and social power over that child.

In the vast majority of cases, the adult - and it's almost always a man - knew he was doing something horribly wrong but couldn't help himself, didn't seek professional help to deal with his deviant desires and invented some elaborate internal lies to justify his behaviour.

The sentences for pedophiles and sexual predators are woefully inadequate.

They are not punitive enough. The length of sentences for sex crimes against children should reflect the long-term harm caused to the victims. Jail time should not be the same as the terms handed out for theft. There's a big difference between stealing items that can be replaced (and are likely covered by insurance) and stealing childhood innocence to gratify sexual urges.

The current jail sentences do not protect children from these offenders for long enough and they do not adequately express the legitimate outrage we should all feel when adults, for their own pleasure, sexualize children, the most vulnerable and valuable members of our society.

Child victims of sex crimes deserve to know that when predatory adults harm them in the worst possible way, society will respond, not just to help them recover from their trauma but also to deliver harsh justice on their behalf.

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