Some of you may have received an e-mail "alert" about a frightful new method of female abduction experienced by a woman as she entered a Target store. The message included a plea to pass the information on to all your female friends and loved ones.
As the story goes, the perpetrator attempted to lure the marked victim into a van by a plea for help from an older woman seated on the passenger side of the vehicle. Fortunately, the younger woman was forewarned of such an abduction scheme by an e-mail from her mother. The police were called and the two perpetrators were apprehended and arrested.
On the surface, this warning seemed to be a thoughtful effort to raise awareness of a shocking and dangerous abduction scheme. The only problem is that the incident turned out to be a hoax. The so-called "alert" was a slight variation of similar e-mails sent out since 2005, citing foiled abductions around the country, each of which proved to be a hoax. The Internet is full of any number of similar hoaxes, whose only purpose seems to be a vicarious thrill the originator may receive in demonstrating their "power" over the Internet.
Unfortunately, such hoaxes only serve to diminish and trivialize an issue like sexual assault, which is serious enough without alarming women with fictionalized accounts of abduction.
The Escalating Problem
It is tragic, but true, that women are so threatened by sexual predators that they must be fully aware of their surroundings at all times. According to US Department of Justice (DOJ) statistics, forcible rapes in 1960 numbered 17,190 and continued to rise each year up until the mid-90s when they peaked at about 109,000. It is important to note that these numbers reflect reported rapes -- the actual number is probably at least double that recorded in police reports.
The National Crime Victimization Survey, which is administered by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, is the primary source of information of crimes not reported to law enforcement authorities. The survey claims that 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006 compared to just 93,000 rapes reported to law enforcement agencies.
The persistent upward trend in rapes since 1960 has mirrored a similar rise in all violent crimes. Several theories have been proposed as to the reasons for this precipitous and continuous rise over several decades:
Increased use of hard drugs.
Tensions roused by festering societal inequalities.
The baby boomer generation and the significant increase in a younger population.
Exposure to lead paint and its potential linkage to violent behavior.
But the experts don’t seem to have noticed that the rise coincided with the sexual liberation movement of the ’60s and ’70s.
At the onset of the movement, proponents of an open sexual society claimed that sex-related crimes would decrease because sexual desires would be liberated from antiquated Christian mores. However, as the statistics reflect, just the opposite occurred.
Predictably, sexual liberation has brought with it an explosion in sexually charged films and television offerings as well as millions of pornographic websites on the Internet. And rape, as well as other forms of sexual exploitation and perversion, have reached endemic proportions. Though we can’t prove causation, the correlation should be noted -- especially as it’s the opposite of what we were told would happen.
The Problem Continues
In the mid-1990s, reported rapes started to decline, and leveled off to about 90,000 in 2009 -- still a huge number. Again, the experts were puzzled by the reduction, which some have attributed to legalized abortion. The theory offered is that abortion reduces the number of “unwanted” children who might be more prone to criminal behavior.
More likely, the decline is due to significant increases in the number of police and stiffer sentencing guidelines, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the prison population.
However, there is little doubt that incidents of rape -- both reported and unreported -- remain exceedingly high. There are several factors that "blur" the raw statistics of sexual assault:
In recent years, high-profile rape cases have rarely been adjudicated in favor of the victim, adding to the reluctance of women to come forward and the large number of unreported assaults.
In September 2000, the abortion drug RU-486 was approved for use in the United States by the FDA, which perhaps contributed to mitigating the likelihood of certain "unintended consequences" as a result of assault.
The increased incidence ofbinge drinking -- particularly among young women in college settings -- and heavy use of alcohol added an element of ambiguity to the nature of the assault. It is estimated that about 1 in 20 college women are sexually assaulted each year.
The "date rape" drug, Flunitrazepam, became available on the American market in the early 1990s, but its overall use in sexual assault cases -- although certainly a matter of serious concern -- has been limited and much less a factor than alcohol.
Still, there are some positive factors that no doubt have played a role in the reduction of the rates of violent crimes: the emergence of Christian ministries like Prison Fellowship, whose purpose is to reduce recidivism through "giving prisoners the opportunity to experience the radically transforming power of Christ"; and the reintroduction of student-led religious groups through the 1984 federal "Equal Access" law, which provides availability to public school facilities for both religious and nonreligious groups.
The Reality of the Situation
Nevertheless, the reality of the situation is that we live in a broken culture -- one that is not only hostile to Christian values, but a culture driven by a hedonistic agenda that is actually working to marginalize our Christian-Judean heritage into irrelevance.
The debris from this purposeful effort is scattered across the cultural landscape in the form of high rates of sexual assault as well as other violent crimes, broken homes, child abuse, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and perverse definitions of sexuality and marriage. Perhaps this is the legacy of a society that rejects it religious heritage. As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 1:28:
Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done (NLT).
Al Dobras is a freelance writer on religious and cultural issues and an electronics engineer. He lives in Springfield, Va.
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