Asking Questions Prevents Abuse

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- At the Midland Rape Crisis Center and Child Advocacy Center, protecting children is an everyday mission. Andra Chamberlin interviews thousands of children who have been victims of abuse. Chamberlin says regardless of age, guilt, and shame go hand in hand with abuse.

"It may be a teenager, it may appear to be an adult he or she may be very mature looking, but you still have a child emotionally," she said. "Unfortunately, we have so many teenagers who come back and say it was my fault, it was my fault."
Chamberlin says in cases like the one in McCamey, there is a double standard for teenage boys who are victimized by women. Vanessa Zuniga, 34, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of having and improper relationship between educator and student.

"You still have that imbalance of power, someone taking advantage, they feel guilty, there unsure about what it is," she said. "Whoever made that first movement it was up to the adult to say no---this is not appropriate."

Betty Dickerson, Executive Director of the center says, predators usually start grooming teens with text messages or on social networking Website like MySpace.

"In no way is it appropriate for a teacher to make calls or send messages to their students," Dickerson said.

Dickerson advises parents to check cell phone records, and know who their children are talking to online. She says in some cases in the Tall City, parents have found the inappropriate material and stopped the abuse from happening.

"We have some in here that haven't escalated, they're inappropriate without a doubt, but you know they are being groomed," Dickerson said.

In October of 2008, a softball coach resigned for sending inappropriate messages. Deputies say they never charged the woman with a crime, because they can't prove the relationship went beyond the text messages.