Saturday, April 7, 2007

Candlelight Vigil April 26, 2007 is all about the victims

Wheatherford , Texas Danie M. Huffman

As the sun sets across Holland Lake Park on a perfect spring evening, shoes will be placed around the lake representing crime victims.

The 12th annual Candlelight Vigil will be held at the lake April 26, with ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Victim’s Rights: Every Victim, Every Time.”

The National statistics on Americans harmed by crime each year is 24 million.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Human Services, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Center on Elder Abuse and the Department of Justice, national statistics are alarming.

The agencies conducted surveys and reported a homicide occurs every 31 minutes, and every 2.7 minutes a person is raped.

Other time lines and numbers include an assault occurring every 7.2 seconds, and new cases of child abuse and neglect are reported every 36 seconds.

One person is killed in an alcohol-related crash every 31 minutes. An elderly person is abused every 2.7 minutes and a hate crime occurs every 55 minutes.

Teri Stout, Parker County victim’s assistance coordinator, said she anticipates the number of victims she comes in contact with to more than double this year compared to what was seen through her office last year.

“It’s skyrocketing,” Stout said. “A lot of it is due to the population growth and it’s just overwhelming.”

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety records, local law enforcement agencies saw an increase of 107 percent of sexual violence crimes and a 30 percent increase of family violence from 2002 to 2005.

Mary Lou Curry, of Freedom House, said often times people focus on the crime rather than the victim.

“Crime is about the victim,” said Catherine A. Tietjen, executive director of Freedom House. “Every victim deserves the right to be heard, cared for and respected.

“Also as a community, we can look at why violence is happening here and work together on stopping crime from happening.”

For more information about Freedom House or the vigil, contact Curry at (817) 341-7391.

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