Harold's House officials respond to Duggar controversy involving sexual abuse

Harold's House officials respond to Duggar controversy involving sexual abuse

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - When the news broke out that Josh Duggar improperly touched five underage girls, including some of his sisters, when he was a teenager, the world was shocked. Unfortunately, this situation isn't uncommon.

"When one child is acting out sexually on another child, it is fairly common," said Harold's House Community Education Director Ashley Cook. "90 percent of child molesters are someone that the child knows. Very often those people can be within their own family."

Many people are upset with the Duggars for waiting so long to report these incidents that happened in the early 2000s.

"In the state of Arkansas, where the incident happened, and also here in Texas, if we know or even suspect that a child has suffered some kind of abuse, we're required by law to report it," Cook explained. "It's just not by law; it's the right thing to do."

Others are also upset that the Duggars' parents didn't consider the "improper touching" anything close to rape. Cook points out it's important for people to realize it's still molestation.

"That's the problem in the community is we need to be educated on what sexual abuse is," Cook said. "And the fact that it is one type or another type it's still traumatic."

Cook pointed out that the Duggar incident didn't happen just once, but several times and that when children are repeating this behavior, it's not just a mistake.

"That's someone exhibiting a pattern of sexual molestation that needs serious intervention to help protect him and others," Cook explained.

Cook suggested sending both the victims and the child exhibiting the sexual abuse to a licensed professional, to counsel and correct behaviors of the offender and to treat and heal the victims.

Cook said she hopes families experiencing a similar situation can learn from the Duggars and not wait until it's too late to protect their children.

"Sexual abuse response and treatment and care and protections needs to be a community event," Cook said. "To hide it within a family is very dangerous. You put children at risk."

If you are experiencing a similar situation, you urged to call Harold's House at (936) 634-1999 or CPS at 1-800-252-5400. They can help you and your family in the proper handling of sexual abuse involving minors.

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