LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – (6/26/19) The arrest of child predators like we’ve seen in ‘Operation Broken Heart’‘ is sometimes just the beginning of the long healing process for victims.
Online child predators are very active during the summer months because of the ample amount of free time children have.
The local non-profit agency, ‘Hearts of Hope‘ works hand in hand with law enforcement to conduct forensic interviews with children.
Where they are just a piece of the long road to recovery for victims.
“I don’t care what a child did, they are in no way, shape, or form to blame for what happened,“ said Stacy Williams, a child therapist for ‘Hearts of Hope.’
The agency responds daily to those affected by the trauma of sexual violence.
“Lots of time the trauma (involving children sexually abused) will include flashbacks, nightmares, difficulty separating from a parent. All sorts of things that really impact their daily functioning,“ said Williams.
In 2018, ‘Hearts of Hope’ assisted local law enforcement agencies with conducting forensic interviews on more than 500 children.
“A big part of the therapy process is trust, and recognizing there is safe grown-ups and who they trust in their everyday world again,“ said Williams.
“At any given time there’s 750,000 predators online, that are looking and searching for someone that will respond to them in some way,“ said State Police Trooper Thomas Gossen, with Troop I.
State Police have a Special Victims Unit which aims to seek justice for victims of crimes involving the exploitation of children and more. Here are some tips for parents:
“It’s important to have that conversation with your children, be open with them, monitor what they’re doing. A lot of people don’t want to infringe on their child’s privacy. The problem is if you’re not doing it, the predator will,“ said Trooper Gossen.
“It’s really starting off, with really helping teach your kids boundaries and making sure you keep talking to them about it, so that you make it a non-threatening thing for a child to say something for a parent,“said Williams.
As more child predators are arrested and taken off the street, Williams believes there’s a greater sense of awareness for the community on the disturbing and horrifying issue.
“We need to shout it from the rooftop that this is happening (sexual abuse) and that’s the only way it can be stopped,“ said Williams.
If you suspect a child is being harmed, of course report it to law enforcement immediately.
‘Hearts of Hope’ also has a 24-hour emergency crisis line, that number is 337-233-7273.
There’s a number of offenders who were arrested as part of ‘Operation Broken Heart’ from Acadiana:
– 5 are from Lafayette Parish
– 1 is from Iberia Parish
– 2 are from Acadia Parish
– 1 is from Vermilion Parish
– 1 is from St. Mary Parish
– 1 is from Evangline Parish
Here’s the full list of offenders that were arrested as part of ‘Operation Broken Heart’: