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National Crime Victims' Rights Week: April 18-24, 2004 banner

Sample Opinion/Editorial Column

“Victims’ Rights: America’s Values”

“But I’ll never be a victim of crime! Crime is something that happens to someone else. Crime is certainly a societal problem, but not one that affects me personally.”

If these statements were only true! The reality is that most people in America will be a victim of or witness to a crime in their lifetime. The threat and impact of terrorism have had a profound affect on Americans’ feelings of safety and security. The reality and threat of being a victim of violence is, indeed, personal.

April 18 to 24 marks the 24th commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. For seven days, victim service providers, justice professionals and others seek to promote greater public awareness about a serious problem that affects our nation and its people 365 days a year. For one week, we share the opportunity to have a serious national dialogue about victims of crime and the impact on us as individuals, communities and a nation as a whole.

The economic impact of crime in America is devastating in itself, resulting in significant damage to victims’ abilities to focus, function and work. The psychological impact may be more difficult to measure but is no less devastating. Many victims never report crime because of trauma and fear. For those who do report crimes, we have much work to do to validate the harm they have endured, their voices and concerns, and their statutory rights as victims. And the physical impact results in people whose lives are irrevocably changed – the robbery victim who is left a paraplegic, the family whose breadwinner is murdered, left to its own devices to survive, the battered woman who hides her bruises in hopes of hiding her chronic suffering, and the child abuse victims who listen closely to the threats of their abusers and never disclose their victimization.

Victims and survivors of crime have simple, basic needs. They need to feel safe in reporting the crimes committed against them. They need consistent implementation of their core rights to information and notification, protection, participation, and restitution. And they need to be assured that they are not responsible for what happened, and that the persons who hurt them will be held accountable and brought to justice.

When we take time to identify and meet the needs of victims and survivors of crime, we commit to our shared values for justice in America:

  • When you value our right to live in peace in our homes, neighborhoods and communities, you value victims’ rights and services.
  • When you value our children and their hopes for a life of opportunity that is free from violence, you value victims’ rights and services.
  • When you value justice for all people who live in America, you value victims’ rights and services.

Provide a two-to-three sentence description of the author’s (or collaborators’) title,
agency, and relevant role at the end of this opinion/editorial column.

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National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Victims' Rights: America's Values April 18–24, 2004
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