Little House On The Prairie star Alison Arngrim became the face of child activism when she single-handedly set out to change something called an “incest exception” in the state of California.
Arngrim shared her story at 42 years old with the entire world when she learned about the loophole and set out to raise awareness. She had been abused by a family member during her childhood, and the loophole in the California law set her blood boiling.
After all, 46 percent of children who are raped are victims of family members.
However, when she began digging into its origins and educating herself on the process of federal change, she found that this “incest exception” wasn’t an exception, but the actual law.
After fighting a slow battle upwards, she garnered the support of the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT), and in 2004, Sen. Jim Batten (R) introduced a corrective bill to eliminate this loophole. In the existing law, family members of the victims could forego jail time and even sexual predator registration if they were related to the victim and agreed to seek court-mandated treatment.
However, they still encountered troubles before the law was eventually passed, because there were actually people in California’s governmental system that wanted to keep this law present.
Among many other things, the Battin Bill expanded the conviction age for incest to 14, eliminated the ability for prosecutors to defer entry of judgement in favor of treatment and a plea of guilty, and greatly diminished a prosecutor’s capacity to downgrade the charge from a sexual crime to a harassment crime.
Today, Arngrim strongly advocates for those who wish to affect political change, and encourages the concept of education. She says to research who your state and federal representatives are, research and understand how laws are changed and created within your state, and to make sure to vote in your local elections:
“Those people are going to be your state representatives eventually… They can become your governor or even your president. Huge decisions are made that affect you more directly at the local level.”
And she’s right.
You can find out more about her journey to success in the video below.
Featured image courtesy of YouTube.