The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Local News

February 16, 2014

From darkness to light

GREENVILLE — One out of every 10 children in the United States are sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18, according to researchers from Darkness to Light.

In 2012 alone, there were more than 400 reported instances of child abuse in Hunt County.

County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Andrew Bench said he wants that to end.

Bench spoke before the Retired Teachers Club inside the Alumni Center at Texas A&M University-Commerce about his partnership with Darkness to Light, a program designed to equip citizens with tools to spot and prevent child abuse.

Bench said a lot of the abuse is toward children less than 10-years-old.

“One of the things I noticed was aggravated sexual assault was from juveniles to another juvenile,” he said. “I have cases where the defendant who is alleged to have had sexual assault, most are against age less than 10.”

According to research, more than 50 percent of sex offenders will repeat the crime after release.

Bench said without conclusive evidence showing that rehabilitation works, and the average sex offender abuses 17 individuals in his or her lifetime, he does not want offenders back on the streets.

“Knowing what I know, I am reluctant to take the rehabilitation approach,” he said. “I’ve seen as many as 400 victims from one offender.”

Victims of sexual offences are more likely to engage in deviant behavior such as violent crimes, theft, alcohol and drug abuse, and becoming a sex offender themselves.

It is for that reason Bench said he encourages people to sign up for training through the Darkness to Light program.

“They have peer review studies showing that for every person trained, 10 children are saved from abuse,” he said, adding that after he went through the program, he is now able to spot suspicious behavior. “The program increases awareness.”

Bench said the program has seen great success in Hunt County.

When he presented the program to Greenville Mayor Steve Reid originally to train people in the parks and recreation department, Bench said Reid wanted more people trained, so Bench worked with the mayor to train 95 percent of the city of Greenville’s employees.

Since Bench is on the board of the Greenville YMCA, any person who works at the YMCA is now trained through the Darkness to Light program.

Another important group of people who are trained are Hunt County teachers.

“The superintendents all jumped on board and said ‘Yes, we’ll all do it,’” he said. “We’re going to train every teacher in Hunt County on the program. Imagine the children who can be saved.”

Bench said he does all this on top of being a judge because he feels it is his duty to protect children.

“It is our duty as adults to raise our awareness to protect the children of our county,” he said. “If we can prevent one child from being victimized, it is worth every penny.”

For more information on how to get involved, visit www.d2l.com.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Unemployment March 2014.jpg Jobless numbers take big dip

    Hundreds of people found jobs locally last month, as Hunt County’s unemployment statistics fell to a six-year low.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GCS flying high

    Greenville Christian School teachers found an entertaining way to learn about physics.

    April 19, 2014

  • Easter Bunny stock photo.jpg Following one busy Easter Bunny

    Easter egg hunts are scheduled in several locations across the area today and Sunday.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Three GISD teams advance to Global Finals

    After winning honors for creativity, teamwork and problem-solving in local, state and regional tournaments, three Greenville ISD teams have earned the right to travel to Destination Imagination’s Global Finals, the largest creative thinking and problem-solving competition in the world, May 21-24 in Knoxville, Tenn.

    April 18, 2014

  • Vaderrobot.jpg Dallas champions, Robowranglers look forward

    Practicing with the best hones skills and keeps members of Greenville High School Robowranglers on point, according to Director of Robotics Adrienne Emerson.
    The Robowranglers are preparing their robot “Vader” for the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis on April 23-26.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Texas drougnt as of 4-17-2014.jpg Wet Easter Sunday possible

    It may be a wet Easter holiday in North Texas, as thunderstorms are again in the forecast for the weekend.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff's Office Wanted fugitive captured in Ellis County

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Band1.jpg Roaring with pride

    The Greenville High School Lion Pride Band performs well under pressure, according to GHS band director Joel Weisburg

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Royce Tawater.jpg Shooting suspect changes mind on guilty pleas

    On second thought, a local man will leave it up to a jury to decide whether he is guilty of multiple charges in connection with two shootings in Greenville last summer.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Easter Eggstravaganza stork photo.jpg A hunting we will go

    There will be lots of brightly colored eggs hidden in the grasses across Hunt County this weekend, and plenty of opportunities for children to find them.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Photos


See more photos and purchase prints here.

Poll

What's your favorite spring high school sport?

Swimming and diving
Wrestling
Basketball
Soccer
Tennis
Golf
Track and Field
Softball
Baseball
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism
Must Read
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Reader's Choice