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CRIME VICTIMS NEED CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES

Every day more children become innocent victims of senseless, selfish crimes committed by adults or other children.

A Buffalo News article about drive-by shootings on the East Side could have appropriately been published in any major city in the United States. The event is that common. One of the shootings involved a 13-year-old driver of the car from which the shots came. Five victims, including one baby, were shot while at home.

It makes me furious to think that children must live with the threat of victimization on the streets or in their own home. An issue, often worse than the crime itself, is that children suffer further trauma in the courtroom as witnesses. This trauma is especially apparent in crimes of a sexual nature.

Child victims are increasingly afforded protections under the law, including the right to testify on videotape and to ask a judge for a protection order. Victims rights, however, are limited and not guaranteed.

If we spent as much time protecting and rehabilitating crime victims as we do criminals, we might reduce some of the fears and open wounds in our society. It is time to amend the United States Constitution to provide for essential guarantees for victims, child or adult.

ELLEN RASMUSSEN
Kenmore

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