March 7th, 2000 @ Clock Tower Convention Center [sponsored by Swedish American Hospital's Kids Care Conference.] I was fortunate to attend the talk given by John Walsh where he shared the following observations and comments with the audience.
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John Walsh speaks in Rockford, Illinois

According to John Walsh:

America holds the distinction of being the most educated nation in the world; it also holds the distinction of being the most violent.

We've heard reports in the news that the crime rate has dropped in the last few years, while this is true for adult crime [down 8%], teenage crime has risen a whopping 200% in the last two years. In the last 2 1/2 years 96 teens have been murdered.

It is important to note that John Walsh is not against the right to carry guns. He carries a gun. His life has been threatened and numberous attempts have been made on his life. However, he does support better gun laws and stricter guidelines.

The following statistics tell us that something is just not working in America when compared to other countries. It tells us that gun control works in Japan, Canada, and England.

  • Japan 100 murders - 110,000,000 people
  • 800 murders in Canada - people
  • 20,000 murders in America - people

In Japan it is legal to have a gun but in the process of applying, an investigation of the applicant includes talking to co-workers about the sanity and character of the applicant.

In America, 2 employees murdered and 3 assaulted in workplace daily and 5 children a day are wounded or killed by guns. Walsh believes the only persons who should have an AK47s are law enforcement officers. Owning a gun is a privledge. One should have a background check, take a test, and parent's should be held accountable if their children take the guns. Yet, kids may still find access to guns. An 18 year-old bought the guns for the boys who committed the murders at Columbine High School.

Walsh advocates mandatory education in high school to teach about violence. Students should be encouraged to tell the high school liason about a potentially dangerous classmate without feeling as though he has ratted or snitched on someone. When there are issues of safety, telling is critical. Telling is saving lives. We are not talking about alcohol or drugs - just life and death situations.

In Oregon, Kip Kingle shot 22 people, mostly students. Many students knew he was dangerous. They knew he was a walking time bomb. The students should have reported him to the authorities but they said they didn't know who to tell or how to tell.

In West Palm Beach, Florida, teenagers reported on a fellow student who was dangerous. The police found an arsenal of guns, an Internet Bomb Site and a list of students he intended to kill. Walsh considers the students who turned him in as heroes. They saved lives by telling. They did not squeal - they saved lives.

Many of us remember the Joel Steinberg case, where a little girl was abused repeatedly and yet the abuse went unreported. The little girl's teachers sensed something was wrong but didn't report it to authorities out of fear of being reprimanded if the abuse investigation came back unfounded. Current law has made all teachers mandated reporters. They are now protected by law. Teachers cannot be sued or get into trouble if their report is unsubstantiated.

Walsh also believes that pro-active physical and sexual abuse education should be given in all schools starting with kindergarten.

In Florida, a program called Kids n' Company was given to young students and in the first month of its presentation 67 kids came forward to report abuse. Those children received the help and justice they deserved.

In America's prison system, 80% of the prisoners claim they were abused in their childhood. If we can get to them in their childhood before they become juvenile delinquents, perhaps we can prevent future abusers and serial killers.

Walsh is especially angered at gangs and gang activity. He related the story of an LA gang banger who kidnapped two 15-year-olds and shot them in the back of their heads as a gang initiation. The same guy also took another boy, gouged out his eyes and threw him off a cliff. Children who join gangs claim that no one cares for them at home. America must do a better job for our children.

Boys and Girls Clubs teach kids and try to keep them out of gangs. He visited one club that makes 350 dinners every night for the children. He said Boys and Girls Clubs are doing God's work. We should support funding of area clubs to encourage our youth to stay out of gangs. Gang bangers come from horrible homes. As a society, we will deal with gangs, either in prevention or in picking up the pieces.

Drugs are a real problem. Yet, the laws are stiffer for drug possession than those for committing murder. Walsh suggests that we de-criminalize drug possession [for small amounts of drugs] so we can open up the prison beds for the child molesters and murderers.

Someone who commits pre-meditated 1st degree murder serves about 7 years [6 if they murder a child]. Walsh believes the penalty should be double for killing a child.

He asks why do we keep paroling convicts 10 to 15 times before we realize some will not repent?

Most convicts complete only 30% of their sentence. We must make them serve 75-80% of their sentences. He questioned the policy of "time off for good behavior". He asked ...what is good behavior in prison? ...What else are they going to do? Walsh believes we should keep convicts in prison until they can no longer commit the crimes.

Shocking statistics:

  • 12 to 19 year-old girls are the most victimized group
  • 2/3 of sex offenders reported that their vicitms were under the age of 18
  • 64% of rape victims are under 18
  • 32% of rape victims are between the ages of 11-15
  • 6 children are reported abused or neglected every minute
The most abducted victim is an 11 year-old, taken within 1/4 mile of their homes, and stalked by their predators.

Walsh suggested that doctors need to be taught how to recognize victims.

In America's history there have been 27 amendments to the consititution - 4 of them are for criminal's rights. We need to enact a Victim's Right's Amendments. It has been proposed and is in the process of being passed. Please contact your legislator and let them know of your support of this bill.

The Victim's Right's Amendments consists of 4 main ideas:

  1. All victims should be treated with the same dignity and given the same information as the accused criminal.
  2. Notification of victims when rapists or abusers are let out of jail or prison.
  3. No one can profit from their crime. Money should go to victims and their families.
  4. Nationwide - victims will be allowed to make victim impact statements before final sentencing.

Victims' Rights Amendments
Sample letter to send to representatives and senators
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