Every child here in New Mexico and across the country deserves the chance to have a happy childhood. When an adult the child is supposed to trust steals that opportunity, the child deserves justice. Sexual abuse does much more than physical harm to a child, and the psychological scars created by these events can last a lifetime. Even with the appropriate help, the memories never truly go away and a lost childhood can never be replaced.

When a child comes forward about the abuse, the first order of business is to make sure that child knows he or she is not to blame no matter what the perpetrator may have said. Filing a complaint with the police could then result in charges against the person believed responsible. A conviction could result in jail or prison time along with fines and other reparations.

However, the standard of proof in criminal cases is high — as it should be since a person’s freedom and future are at stake. Sometimes, the criminal courts cannot provide the justice a child and his or her family need. This is where the civil courts could provide some relief. The burden of proof is not as high, so the chances of receiving much needed closure and justice are better.

Even so, like anywhere else, the civil courts here in New Mexico still require a certain amount of evidence and adherence to certain rules and deadlines. Parents of a child who was the victim of sexual abuse should have the freedom to care for their children to help them through this difficult time. It would make sense to work with a compassionate attorney well-versed in this area of law to increase the chances of a successful outcome.