JUNE - Week 3
||Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.
We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
Experts weigh in on sexual assault on horse
by Veronica Gonzalez
June 19, 2011
SUFFOLK - At the Zawaski home, a cooling breeze breaks the silence between the narrow two-lane road and the white house where Mitch and Karen live. Off to the side, two mares munch on hay and grass in a pen.
The tranquil setting belies what took place here two weeks ago: Someone used an object to sexually assault Sassy, a red 21-year-old Arabian horse. She was the second mare in the Whaleyville community to be sexually assaulted with an object in less than a year, said police, who have not yet made arrests in either case.
In Virginia last year, there were three cases of bestiality out of 28 nationwide reported to Pet-Abuse.com, a national animal protection organization that tracks crimes against animals. In 2009, there were two out of 16 nationally.
While sexual assault against animals is not common, it happens more often than people think, experts said. As with sexual abuse and assault cases involving people, it's often under-reported.
The crime is uncommon enough, though, that sometimes, "animal control and law enforcement don't even know what they're looking at," said Mark Kumpf, who was an animal control investigator in Norfolk for 15 years. Kumpf teaches a class on animal sexual abuse investigations and runs an animal control shelter in Ohio.
Sexual abuse against animals is difficult to detect when there's no apparent physical trauma. Animals also can be easy targets for predators because they can't talk.
Such abuse can be a precursor to violence against people, Kumpf said.
"If they think they can dominate something that large and that strong, a human being is nothing compared to that," he said.
People who perpetrate sexual assaults against animals are similar to those who will abuse children. And, as with rape involving humans, the act is not about sexual gratification - it's about establishing dominance and power, Kumpf said.
"It's not a sexual act," he said. "It's an act of violence."
Kumpf cautioned against people taking these types of crimes lightly. "This is not a bunch of kids out tipping cows in the pasture and thinking it's a country joke."
As with child sexual abuse cases, an abuser can develop a relationship with the victim, said Randall Lockwood, senior vice president for forensic sciences at the ASPCA.
"As with most sex offenders and pedophiles, it's not always the creepy guy lurking around with the trench coat," Lockwood said. "It could be somebody you're dealing with on a regular basis who has access to the animals and knows the area. It usually is somebody who the owners may know or who knows the property, knows the animals."
In the Zawaskis' case, the only clue anything was wrong was when Mitch saw Sassy's tail "flagging," or up, on June 5. He spotted blood on her hind legs.
He called a veterinarian, who confirmed the assault.
"I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach," he said. "It just about knocked me down when I heard that. If I dwell on it, it still brings tears to my eyes."
Sassy just finished taking antibiotics. For now, Karen can't take her riding, but that's OK. She wants to give her all the time she needs to heal.
"She could have lost her very wonderful, kind attitude, and she hasn't," Karen said after setting down a plastic bowl full of grain for Sassy to eat recently. The mare chomped it up within minutes.
A horse not far from the Zawaski property was sexually assaulted in September. In that case, the owner noticed something was wrong when the 16-year-old Tennessee Walker mare had been moved from one pen to another, city spokeswoman Debbie George said. The horse's hind legs looked like they had been tied together.
In 2002, Malinda Scott, owner of Easy Does It Ranch in the Pungo community of Virginia Beach, said her vet told her a rescue mare named Tandy was sexually assaulted with an object.
Scott never reported the incident to police because of how unbelievable it seemed. Back then, she also didn't want to ruin her farm's reputation.
She said she stopped keeping horses overnight in her front pasture. But the thought of the attack still makes her shudder.
"We really couldn't believe it," Scott said. "It was like, 'There has to be another explanation.' Who would go to a field and sexually abuse a mare? Who? That's sick!"
For the Zawaskis, their sense of tranquility has been altered.
"Somebody has come into our yard and done this to one of our animals," Mitch said. "It puts a whole new perspective on security and trust. It does change the way you think."
Spreading message of hope
by Alex Easton
VICKI HAMILTON isn't ready yet for world domination, but she might not have a choice in the matter.
June 17, 2011
The executive director of Heartfelt House, an organisation at Wollongbar that helps adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, is preparing a training program for other groups that want to adopt it.
The Heartfelt House program is virtually unique in having a 100% completion rate of its 18-week course for adults coming to terms with sexual abuse they suffered as children.
The program has been recognised in the Federal Government's National Child Protection Framework, but is only available at Heartfelt House's Wollongbar headquarters – and then only when it has funding available.
The organisation gets by on regular funding from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, occasional government grants and community donations.
Mostly that money is used to fund Heartfelt House's programs. However, Ms Hamilton said the organisation was now only about six months away from developing a training program for the unique course.
The queue is already growing.
There are already several organisations – both government and non-government – within Australia keen to offer Heartfelt House's “Taking the First Steps” program.
There are also two organisations in the US keen to offer it.
Ms Hamilton said the Minneapolis Family and Children's Centre (for women prostitutes) and Sexual Offence Services Minneapolis had both been keen to take on the program since she dropped into the organisations while visiting the city.
However, teaching the program requires “trainers” to spend time at Heartfelt House learning the program and requires the local group to offer follow-up support.
That means, to start with, Ms Ham-ilton is more interested in spreading the program around Australia.
There is one spot left in Heartfelt House's next 18-week program, which starts at the end of this month. Call 6628 8940 for details.
The Dallas Charter Didn't Invent Victims' Services
Something to consider as the U.S. Bishops ponder changes to the 2002 document.
by MARY ACHILLES
June 16, 2011
In Philadelphia, we have two grand jury reports and — in the eyes of the public — two failed attempts to get things right. I have been engaged in victim assistance work for 30 years, and I have never seen as much pain as I have in the last four months. It's emanating from the victims' experience, the added pain of failing to get it right, and Catholics' feeling of confusion and betrayal.
While I cannot address any specific cases, my tenure at the archdiocese has provided some insight into how the Church provides victim assistance and how those services could be improved.
Society is still grappling with the sexual abuse of children. The Church is dealing with an issue that the larger society doesn't do well. The first time I arrived to help with victims' services in 2006, I walked into a place that remains, in essence, a private institution, and that makes it insular. The Church is grappling with a societal struggle without enough expertise and competency in the area of victim assistance.
The Dallas Charter and the Church did not invent victims' assistance. That competency exists in the broader community in established victim-assistance programs and coalitions at the local, state and national levels, and we should have been learning from it.
We made efforts to learn before the Dallas Charter: Victims in the Philadelphia Archdiocese reported allegations to the Office for Clergy. Then we changed that to the victim-assistance coordinator. That created the situation where the victim-assistance coordinator was providing services and facilitating the investigation of the allegation of sexual abuse.
But the problem of combining victims' services and investigations is that you can't do both well. They are different skill sets. Now, the archdiocese's delegate for investigations, a former deputy district attorney, makes sure the allegations have substance and go to the appropriate law-enforcement authorities. His perspective and experience makes that position powerful. A civil attorney is not doing this job.
The charter came along and mandated that people be available to work with victims. But not everyone who met with victims had a background in victims' assistance. To address the problem of limited expertise, the Church needs one foot on the inside and one on the outside. In various dioceses, outsiders now provide training, dioceses contract out for victim services, or, as we are looking to do here in Philadelphia, a hybrid is created. Meanwhile, the strength of diocesan-based victims' services is that we can address the faith issue that many outside agencies cannot easily do.
The competency necessary to address victim assistance and the overall sexual-abuse issue is like a multifaceted diamond, including management of priests, victims' needs, and a systematic response across the board. Every facet must be victim-centered. Otherwise, the victims don't come forward, begin to trust again, and see some hope for change.
The Dallas Charter is a wonderful start and speaks about the need for reaching out to adult survivors of child sexual abuse. But now we need some model standards of service. What does “outreach” mean? What is the purpose of the meeting? How do you provide services and confidentiality? How do you make services accessible to victims? The answers to these questions are easily addressed by reaching out to the secular victim-assistance network. Of course, we are not going to adopt anything contrary to Church teaching, but 98% of the standards are adoptable.
Victim-assistance programs in the Church based upon the charter are less than a decade old. The Church is blazing a new trail internally, but we must take the best existing standards in the secular world and infuse them with our Catholic faith. Victims deserve no less than our complete compassion, dedication and commitment to getting it right.
Editor's note: Mary Achilles advocates a victim-centered response to the clergy-abuse crisis and argues that the Church must learn from experts in the field. The first victim advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Achilles worked from 2006-2008 advising Cardinal Justin Rigali on how best to respond to victims in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She has 30 years of experience working with victims' services at the local, state and national levels. Just prior to the second Philadelphia grand jury report, she was rehired in January 2011 to review and improve the archdiocese's victims' services and develop a communications strategy for the archdiocese.
No room for excuses in child sexual abuse
When an adult is sexual with a child or an adolescent, it is destructive, illegal and never the fault of the child.
by Nancy Williams, Special to The Commercial Appeal
June 17, 2011
When stories of child sexual abuse hit the media and the victim is a teenager, or perhaps even a little younger, faulty underlying assumptions about the victim's responsibility emerge. Many also jump to troubling conclusions when the victim is an adolescent or teenage boy.
Memphis has seen a rash of such stories lately, most recently during testimony in the James Hawkins murder trial. While the alleged offenders may be teachers, coaches, pastors, parents or caregivers, the public sometimes believes the victim is blameworthy as well.
There is a common notion that adolescents can consent to sexual activity with adults. After all, they have started to get interested in sex; many of them are already sexually active with peers. The reality is that every day, the Memphis Child Advocacy Center and its partners serve children and teens through age 17 who have been sexually abused.
Tennessee law states that when an adult has sex with a minor who is at least four years younger it is statutory rape, a felony. If the victim is age 12 or younger, it is rape of a child, also a felony. While the signs and symptoms of sexual trauma may vary among age groups, there is no doubt that all children and teenagers suffer tremendously.
Victimized teens are at risk for a host of devastating effects if they don't receive appropriate support and compassionate professional intervention. Some of these effects include lifelong struggles with depression, suicidal thoughts, addiction or re-victimization. Sixty percent of first teen pregnancies are preceded by an incident of child sexual abuse.
Maybe we feel a little safer when we blame the victim; thinking that a teen had control in an abusive situation may help us believe that our own kids are immune from such a threat. But that false sense of security puts our teens at higher risk. We are better served by training our community's adults first. When the adults of a community understand the definition of sexual abuse, recognize the dangers, report suspicions and talk effectively with their kids about these issues, perpetrators have much less freedom to take advantage of children and teens.
Sex offenders are, among other things, opportunists. They often seek out children and teens who are more vulnerable because they are more easily blamed -- because of their age, their past behavior or their normal developmental urges. They count on the silence supported by the shame and misplaced blame of uninformed, even if well-meaning, adults. Offenders prefer settings (schools, faith-based organizations, after-school volunteer programs, etc.) that don't have specific informed sexual abuse prevention policies. They avoid places where people have been trained to recognize the dangers, know how to talk about them and know how to respond.
As a community, we can support kids by holding adult offenders accountable. No excuses. The idea that there are certain circumstances in which adults who sexually abuse minors were somehow not responsible because they claim to have "lost control" is not acceptable -- and it isn't accurate. It doesn't matter what a teen was wearing, how he was acting, if she had a schoolgirl crush, or whether he was already sexually active.
Older women don't do boys a favor by "introducing them to sex." When that happens, it is statutory rape. Teenagers don't "consent" to a "sexual relationship" with adults; they are sexually manipulated, exploited and violated. The legal terms include incest, rape of a child, statutory rape, statutory rape by an authority figure, sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery. When an adult is sexual with a child or an adolescent, it is destructive, it is illegal and it is never the fault of the child.
Our culture has come a long way in terms of sexual abuse prevention. Since the Child Advocacy Center opened its doors in 1992, we have seen enhanced public awareness, increased reporting of suspected abuse and an enormously improved institutional response. National studies show that the incidence of sexual abuse has decreased slightly in recent years.
In May of this year, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton endorsed the Child Advocacy Center's sexual abuse prevention initiative, resulting in a commitment to provide evidence-based sexual abuse prevention training for all Memphis police officers by the end of 2012. Many other institutions, faith-based organizations and agencies are following suit.
Despite our progress, we still have a long journey ahead of us.
I invite you to find out more about how you can get sexual abuse prevention training or assistance in creating effective policy at your school, day care center, after-school program or place of worship. For information, go to MemphisCAC.org. Every child of either gender and all ages who has been sexually traumatized deserves our full support.
Nancy Williams is executive director of the Memphis Child Advocacy Center. Contact her at nwilliams@MemphisCAC.org.
There's No Time Like The Present to Teach Children About Sexual Abuse
When should we talk to our kids about molestation?
Call them what you wish -- pedophiles, sex offenders, or predators. They prey on children. Although we live in a wonderful, safe community in Cranberry Township, the sad truth is that they're here too.
Did you know that the FBI estimates a sex offender lives within every square mile of the United States? Did you know that the FBI also estimates that one in 10 men has molested a child? Or that many molesters are able to abuse dozens of children before they are caught, and that there is only a 3 percent chance of them being apprehended?
After learning this, I became curious about how safe my neighborhood is, so I went to the Megan's Law website.
Not expecting to find a sex offender living near my home, I was aghast when I entered my address.
There are six men listed as sex offenders within a 5-mile radius of my home. Their offenses varied from child molestation to incest. The discovery made my stomach turn.
I kept going over the information again and again. I could not believe there are six men living near me who turned the worlds of innocent people upside down with sick and selfish acts.
Six men who I may see in a grocery store or who may be behind me at the bank.
Now I wonder if it's the appropriate time to talk to my 3-year-old daughter about child molestation.
The FBI website said it's never to early to begin the conversation about pedophiles, but at age 3, is my daughter really capable of comprehending what I'm trying to tell her? Will I scare her from trusting others? Will she understand the difference between a teacher helping her to wipe her bottom after using the potty versus actual abuse?
After more research on the Internet, I was deeply troubled that I didn't find a whole lot of what I would consider “quality” sources of information.
Sure, Oprah and Dr. Phil have their advice about what to do keep our children from falling prey to an abuser, but I wanted my information to come from a trusted professional source.
And no, Dr. Phil is not "it" when it comes to child safety.
After some serious searching -- and I admit some irritation because it was so hard to find what I was looking for -- I found some good tips on how to begin the conversation with our children about abuse.
According to the Center for Behavioral Intervention, a sex-offender treatment facility in Oregon, the best way to protect our children from an abuser is by talking to them. The center recommends the following:
- Talk openly with your children about sexual development, behavior and abuse.
- Use proper or semi-proper names for body parts, and use phrases that tell children that private parts are private and special.
- Urge your children to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone touches or tries to see their private parts; tries to get them to touch or look at another person's private parts,; shows them pictures or tries to take pictures of their private parts; talks to them about sex; walks in on them in the bathroom or does anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Tell your children that some children and adults have touching problems. These people can make secret touching look accidental. Children should still tell you or a trusted adult even if they think the touching might have been an accident.
- Tell your children that touching problems are similar to stealing or lying. People who have these problems need special help so they don't continue to have problems or get into trouble. Don't describe the problem as a sickness.
- Tell your children that some people try to trick kids into keeping the touching a secret. Tell your children, "We don't want those kinds of secrets in our family."
- Give your children examples of things that someone might use to try to get them to keep a secret: candy, money, special privileges, threats, subtle fear of loss, separation or punishment, etc.
- Tell your children that touching another persons's private parts is not OK for children to do, or for adults to do with children. Tell them that you do not want them to do secret touching with other people, but that you will not be mad at them if they do come and tell you it has happened -- even if it has been happening a lot.
- Talk to your children about safety issues at least two or three times a year. Develop a family plan for answering the phone, fire safety, getting lost and secret touching. Play "what if?" games on a regular basis.
- Make sure they have support people they can talk to at home, at school and in their extended family, neighborhood or church. Have them pick out three people and tell you who they are. Put the phone numbers next to your phone and let them know that, if for any reason, they cannot talk to you, that they should call or go see one of those people..
Although this is great advice that I plan on using when I talk to my own daughter, I never did find an actual answer to my original question, which was: “At what age is it appropriate to talk to children about child molestation?”
I guess the answer lies within us as parents. All children are different, and only their parents know the proper time to strike up that conversation.
As I look at my daughter, sitting here so sweetly and blowing bubbles in her milk, I now feel the sooner the better.
I doubt my daughter can grasp the complexities of the subject matter, but I know she understands right and wrong. Now that I've looked at the statistics, there is no way I'll send her out into this world without knowing what to do if someone tries to harm her.
How sad is it that at age 3, my child must be armed with tools to keep her safe. It angers me to no end, but education and open communication about the facts of sexual abuse seem to be the only weapons I have in my arsenal against predators.
I intend on using them.
Vatican announces online tool to combat child abuse
The Roman Catholic Church announced on Saturday a new online resource for combating sexual abuse by clergy.
An e-learning center, scheduled to go live early next year, is designed to help bishops and other church workers establish guidelines to protect children.
To be offered in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian, the online resource will "work with medical institutions and universities to develop a constant response to the problems of sexual abuse," Monsignor Klaus Peter Franzl of the archdiocese of Munich told Reuters.
It will be launched during a symposium and international conference on the sexual abuse of children planned for February at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.
The symposium, entitled "Towards Healing and Renewal," will draw top experts on child sexual abuse by clergy.
"We want people to know that we are serious about this and that we think the Church has to be at the center of a solution," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
NY lawmakers OK expanded child abuse reporting
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers have voted to add directors of children's overnight or summer day camps to the list of those required to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment to the state and to local social services officials.
Sponsors say under current regulations camp directors are required to report incidents at their camps, but they can face civil liability for contacting authorities on behalf of a child concerning abuse or maltreatment elsewhere.
The measure would give them immunity for good-faith reporting of maltreatment.
Mandated reporters, who can face liability for intentionally failing to make a report, include police, doctors, social workers, school officials, psychologists, registered nurses and licensed family therapists.
Boy's private life allowed alleged abuse to continue for years
by Andrew Staub
June 19, 2011
Ten months ago today, a Plymouth police officer and a Luzerne County Children and Youth caseworker entered a home on Gould Street and found garbage and rotten food scattered on the filthy carpet and a foul smell hanging heavy in the air.
They found a child, too. A timid, dirty boy, frightened by people. Thirteen years old, only because the calender said so. He didn't know how to use a fork, so he ate with his hands. He couldn't bathe himself or brush his teeth.
Enrolled in a cyber charter school from 2004 to November, the boy stayed in the squalid home much of his life, hidden from the watchful eyes of teachers, school administrators and children his age. Kept behind the walls of the white two-story home, he was subjected to years of sexual abuse, according to a police affidavit.
The Sunday Times does not identify the victims of alleged sexual abuse.
In January, five months after investigators removed the boy from the home, he described the abuse to his therapist. It began in 2008, when 52-year-old Robert Caravella invited the boy to watch pornography with him, police said. Eventually, Carol Ann Hann forced him to have sex with her as Mr. Caravella watched and gave instructions, according to the affidavit.
Investigators released the first details about the case June 10, when they arrested Ms. Hann and Mr. Caravella. Suddenly, there was no hiding the boy who lived at 210 Gould St.
But the case raises a troubling question. How could a child, who police say lived in a filthy home and was sexually abused, go unnoticed for years?
"It's sad to say these things are not usually done out in the open," said Gary Sworen, a Luzerne County detective working on the case. "They're not usually done out in public where people can see them. It's usually the type of crime that happens inside the home or inside the so-called dark room of the house."
Teachers often help
Law enforcement, Detective Sworen said, often relies on teachers to spot symptoms of abuse. A disheveled or dirty child. Black and blue marks. A withdrawn personality. The law requires Pennsylvania teachers to report maltreatment of a child.
"The school would know or have some inkling that something's going on or going wrong," Detective Sworen said.
Except Mr. Caravella and Ms. Hann didn't send the boy to school - at least not physically. In 2004, the same year the family moved to Plymouth, they enrolled the boy in the Commonwealth Connections Academy, a cyber charter school that serves about 5,000 students in Pennsylvania.
"You get a child who's not out in the open, who will not be seen," Detective Sworen said.
The boy took his online classes at home using a computer the school provided. Teachers conducted lessons via telephone or multimedia. The school expected Mr. Caravella and Ms. Hann to be "learning coaches" - taking attendance and providing a suitable learning environment.
The schooling didn't occur on a regular basis, investigators said. The boy lacked the skills of a normal teen and relied on others to cut his food and to clean him. He often roamed the home naked, according to the affidavit.
Officials from Commonwealth Connections Academy, citing federal privacy laws, declined to comment on the boy's performance at school. The boy withdrew from the school in November. The school did not disclose how many grade levels he completed or say whether any signs of learning struggles or abuse surfaced.
Teachers make contact at least once every two weeks and when students' performances dip, school officials said. The academy also sponsored more than 400 field trips this year and hosted back-to-school picnics. There are routine meetings with teachers, administrators and counselors, the school said.
The school would not comment on whether the boy ever met school officials in person or whether the boy participated in field trips.
On Aug. 19, two girls revealed to police that Mr. Caravella molested them on numerous occasions from 2002 to 2005, according to court documents. The abuse, the girls said, happened at a double-block home on North Chestnut Street in Nanticoke, where Mr. Caravella and Ms. Hann once lived, and later at Mr. Caravella's Plymouth home, police said.
The same day the girls revealed the allegations, a case worker from Luzerne County Children and Youth and a Plymouth police officer found the boy.
It took seven months to charge Mr. Caravella with molesting the girls and 10 months to charge the couple with molesting the boy. Both remain in the county prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.
What happens now?
When investigators found him, they found a child with no morals or value system. He didn't understand the difference between good intimacy and bad intimacy or even what sex was, police said. The boy, upset by the abuse, killed as many as 50 cats, according to the affidavit. He had no friends and little contact with the world.
While Jackie Musto Carroll, Luzerne County's district attorney, said the boy has been placed in foster care, returned to school and is "doing much better," experts say he could have a long road to full recovery.
The boy began therapy through the Children's Service Center in November. Though the center does not speak about specific cases, Cora Zambito, a counselor with the Children's Service Center of Wyoming Valley, and Denise Simone Namowicz, a clinical social worker, outlined the case in general terms.
First, the boy must feel safe. Only then can therapists teach him the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior and ways to cope with abuse. The process could take years, Ms. Zambito said.
Market for sex is blamed in human trafficking
Prostitutes punished but not their customers, speaker says
June 18, 2011
by Alan Johnson, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Ohio has made progress in combating human trafficking but must reduce the demand for sex for sale, a national expert said at a conference here yesterday.
In a word, demand equals "johns."
"This has been an invisible population we don't talk about," said Samir Goswami, who's been working on the human-trafficking issue for 15 years. "Without demand, human trafficking would collapse. It's as simple as that."
But nothing is simple in a criminal-justice system - and a society - that punishes prostitutes, most of whom are women, while generally ignoring the customers, most of whom are men.
"We can't arrest our way out of this. There are way too many johns out there," said Goswami, director of corporate responsibility for LexisNexis. "We have to make it culturally and legally prohibitive."
Goswami was among more than a dozen speakers at the "Unlocking the Chains" conference yesterday at the state Hilltop complex on the West Side. The conference, attended by about 100 people, was sponsored by the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, an anti-human-trafficking group representing 90 organizations and 300 members.
Goswami said that when he worked in Illinois, his organization interviewed 110 johns. They found most were college graduates, the average age was 40, they represented all races, and two-thirds had a regular sex partner.
Arresting male customers is an option, but other ideas include publicizing names and pictures in print or on websites, charging fines of $500 to $1,000 in lieu of criminal penalties, and using electronic monitoring to ensure that men stay out of areas frequented by prostitutes, Goswami said.
Speakers at the conference said Ohio has made significant progress legally, as well as in cooperation among law enforcement, the courts and social-service agencies.
The Rescue and Restore Coalition, led by the Salvation Army, a longtime opponent of the sex trade, was strongly supportive of a state law passed last year that made sex or labor trafficking a stand-alone felony.
Michelle Hannan of the Salvation Army said the coalition helped 109 trafficking victims, 60 of them in the past year. In March, the Salvation Army opened a drop-in center, called the Well, for women who are victims of sex trafficking and exploitation.
State Rep. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, the co-sponsor of last year's trafficking legislation, recently introduced House Bill 262, known as the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act. It would change Ohio law, which now permits minors to be arrested and jailed on prostitution charges. At the same time, state law prohibits consensual sex involving minors.
Fedor said minors should not be charged with doing something they cannot legally consent to do.
"A minor who has been commercially sexually exploited should not be incarcerated but should receive treatment to help the crime victim re-enter society," she said.
Several other states, including Illinois, New York and Washington, have similar laws. It would also bring Ohio into line with federal law, Fedor said.
Prostitution law in judges' hands
Ontario appeal likely to end up at higher court
by ALLISON JONES, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The question of whether Canada's anti-prostitution laws violate the charter by endangering sex workers is now with five judges at Ontario's top court, who will spend the next several months weighing the landmark issue.
The federal and Ontario governments are trying to overturn a lower court ruling in which a judge struck down three laws against prostitution, saying they force people in the sex trade to choose between obeying the law and keeping themselves safe.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario heard arguments all week from lawyers for the governments, the sex-trade workers and seven intervening groups such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Christian Legal Fellowship.
Whatever the Appeal Court decides, it's expected that its ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. One of the judges joked this week that she and her colleagues were just a bump in the road.
But with such a critical issue at stake — the sex-trade workers argue it's a matter of life and death for them — the judges are expected to take several months before releasing a decision.
Alan Young, the lawyer representing the sex workers in this appeal, hopes the Supreme Court sides with the original ruling, so it will fall to Parliament to craft new legislation that is in keeping with the charter.
But he said he is not confident that will happen under the government of Stephen Harper.
The sex-trade workers argue that the laws prevent them from working indoors where it's safer, taking time to talk to a potential client to assess the risk they pose and hiring bodyguards.
A group of former sex-trade workers and human trafficking victims who aren't directly involved in the case were at court Friday as the hearings wrapped up to voice their opposition to the position taken by the sex workers Young represents.
If the laws were taken off the books it would help only a very small percentage of sex-trade workers.
Costa Mesa considering sex offender ban at parks
Costa Mesa is the latest Orange County city drafting a proposal that would ban registered sex offenders from public parks.
The move comes at the request of Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas who has been visiting cities around the county in recent weeks to ask various city councils to adopt ordinances modeled on an O.C. law that bars sex offenders from parks, unless they have special written permission from the Sheriff's Department, the Daily Pilot reported.
The county law prohibits sex offenders from parks, beaches and harbors without the written permission from the Sheriff's Department. Violators face up to six months jail time or a $500 fine.
So far, Westminster and Irvine have adopted such ordinances. Placentia, La Palma, Rancho Santa Margarita and Buena Park are among other cities working on passing similar bans against sex offenders, said Susan Schroeder said, the district attorney's chief of staff.
Van Nuys man charged with child molestation, posing as a police officer
June 16, 2011
A Van Nuys man who allegedly posed as a police officer and told underage girls to place tracking devices in their bras to help him with an investigation was charged Thursday with child molestation and more than a dozen other counts.
Joseph Reyes Rogero, 24, was charged with 18 felony counts that also included lewd acts on a child, kidnapping and impersonating a public officer, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.
He is charged with flashing what looked like a police badge when he approached the girls near Ernest Lawrence Middle School in Chatsworth, authorities said. Five girls, ages 12 to 15, are involved in the case.
Rogero works as a fighter and trainer with the M-1 Global gym in Chatsworth, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
He was being held in lieu of $5.5-million bail. The LAPD said there may be additional victims and asked anyone with information to call Det. John Macchiarella at (818) 832-0980 or Det. Teresa Pikor at (818) 832-0985 .
Vatican Calls Meeting and Plans Database in Effort to Stop Sexual Abuse
by ELISABETTA POVOLEDO
ROME — Bishops and the leaders of religious orders around the world have been invited to a symposium at Rome's Jesuit University in February about how to prevent and respond to abuse of children by clergy members.
Psychologists, theologians and child-abuse specialists are expected to participate in the symposium, providing expertise to bishops, whom the Vatican has given a deadline of next May to come up with guidelines on how to handle accusations of abuse. Plans also call for information to be posted on an Internet learning center and in a database that will involve cooperation with medical schools and universities and will be accessible, in part, to the public.
“The church is taking an important step in the formation of the clergy,” Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, the Vatican's internal prosecutor in charge of handling sexual abuse cases, told reporters on Saturday.
And the multilingual Internet database will amass information “that will continue through time” and reach a wide audience, he said.
The online learning center is also expected to help shape “a consistent response by the Catholic Church that is cross-cultural among the more than 2,700 dioceses throughout the world,” said Msgr. Klaus Peter Franzl of the Archdiocese of Munich.
The conference in Rome, called Toward Healing and Renewal, is part of the Roman Catholic Church's response as it struggles to deal with the disapproval and anger among Catholics (and the wider public) stirred by the revelations of widespread abuse of children and adolescents around the world.
The church's path to redemption has been bumpy, and attempts to right the wrongs have been criticized as lacking, in particular in terms of holding bishops responsible in cases of cover-up.
Last month, in a letter informing them of the request for the guidelines on handling abuse complaints, the Vatican told bishops to make fighting sexual abuse of minors a priority. The Vatican also told the bishops that they should cooperate with the law enforcement authorities.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the symposium and database were signs that the church was resolute in its commitment to tackling child sexual abuse. “We're doing something, and we're doing it seriously,” he said. “It will be difficult, but we're determined.”
Julie Valentine Center never forgets to walk in victims' shoes
Agency helps child, adult victims of abuse
Little pairs of shoes are scattered across desktops and sideboards throughout the Julie Valentine Center. Attached to each pair of shoes is a one-sentence summary of a local child's experience with sexual abuse. Some victims are as young as a year old. The effect is powerful – exactly as intended.
“We can't show the faces and names of the children and families that we serve, so we've found that the best way to do that is through the use of shoes,” said Shauna Galloway, executive director of the Julie Valentine Center.
The center is a 37-year-old institution in the Greenville area, although until February of 2011, it operated as the Greenville Rape Crisis and Child Abuse Center. The name change honors a 1990 case that united the Upstate community, in which a deceased infant was found in a wooded area of the county. She was dubbed Julie Valentine by the police who spent hours working on the case, although her true identity was never discovered.
“That story symbolizes for us the idea of turning something very tragic into something hopeful and healing,” Galloway said.
That's what goes on behind the doors of the Julie Valentine Center every day. The center focuses on child abuse and adult sexual assault victims. For adults, services center on crisis intervention. If a victim of sexual assault visits any of five Greenville area emergency rooms, the Julie Valentine Center is contacted, and a staff member or volunteer advocate makes a visit.
“One of the things that we do at the emergency room is provide every victim with a fresh set of clothing,” Galloway said. “Anytime someone has a rape kit done, their clothing is taken.”
One of the center's volunteers, a woman whose daughter was raped in college, holds an annual party – the Sweats for Survivors party – at which she collects clothing to beef up the center's stock.
“When she went to pick up her daughter at the hospital, she was in a paper gown,” Galloway said. “She decided that she never wanted a mother to have to see that again – that image that was burned in her brain.”
The center also provides support groups for parents, whether they've had prior interactions with the State Department of Social Services or not, encouraging them in their roles of raising a happy, healthy child. There are groups specifically for fathers, and groups geared toward the Hispanic community. Child care is provided for all groups.
With child abuse cases, the center provides collaborative services with local law enforcement and DSS staffs, such as forensic interviews conducted by those specially trained to talk to children, and forensic medical exams conducted by a doctor and nurses from the Greenville Hospital System.
Galloway said the advantage of bringing a child abuse victim to the center for these screenings is that it offers a more comfortable, child-friendly environment than an emergency room or law enforcement center.
“There are real sheets on the bed; there's not the paper,” Galloway said. “They get a T-shirt or nightgown to put on. The doctors let them look at the equipment. The whole idea is, it's hard enough to just walk through the door; let's not make it any harder once you get here.”
In truth, though, Galloway said, that medical exam room is often where they see the spark of healing begin for child abuse victims.
“Nine times out of 10, the doctor won't find anything wrong, and I think that kind of kick-starts that healing process for a lot of children and families, because when they come here and something has happened to their bodies, they may feel that their body is damaged,” Galloway said. “A lot of what we're dealing with is horribly tragic, traumatic stuff. But there's so much healing, and there's so much optimism, and we get to be part of that.”
Bishops Won't Focus on Abuse Policies
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Despite recent cases in which Roman Catholic bishops failed to report or suspend priests accused of child sexual abuse, the bishops head into a meeting in Seattle on Wednesday proposing no significant revisions to the abuse prevention policies they passed in 2002 at the height of the scandal.
The bishops had promised that they would take a hard look at their policies in light of new accusations in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Mo., that have shaken many Catholics, not just in those dioceses, but across the country as well. The incidents have led some Catholics to question whether bishops are complying with their own policies, and whether there is any accountability for bishops who do not.
In the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Robert W. Finn admitted last month that he allowed a priest who had taken pornographic pictures of parish girls to continue celebrating Mass and having access to children.
Bishop Finn also acknowledged he did not read a letter sent to his office a year earlier by a Catholic school principal warning that parents, teachers and staff members suspected that the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, was a child molester. Father Ratigan was arrested on May 19 on child pornography charges.
“There's no accountability and there's no transparent protocol,” said Pat O'Neill, the co-owner of a public relations and marketing firm in Kansas City, who once served as a consultant for the diocese there. “I have never seen the anger as deep and widespread as I have seen and heard and felt it these last three weeks. It's coming from people that I know of as very conservative, very devout, especially younger people.”
In Philadelphia, a grand jury recently found that Cardinal Justin Rigali allowed 37 priests accused of abuse or inappropriate behavior to remain in ministry. The grand jury also indicted the former head of the archdiocesan office for clergy, Msgr. William Lynn, on charges of endangering the welfare of children — the first such indictment of a senior church official.
In both of these dioceses, the bishops never informed their sexual abuse “review boards” about the cases. In his two years in the diocese of Gallup, N.M., Bishop James S. Wall never met with his review board even though the diocese was supposedly conducting a review of abuse cases, a situation first reported by the Gallup Independent newspaper.
The review boards, composed primarily of lay people with expertise in the field of child abuse, were supposed to be among the most significant measures the bishops adopted in 2002, known as the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The chairman of the bishops' committee for child protection, Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane, Wash., said in an interview: “It's not the charter that's the problem. It seems to me to be whether or not the people are using the charter as a reference point appropriately.”
There are few revisions because, Bishop Cupich said: “We consider the charter to have an iconic status. We believe the decisions we made in 2002 were significant. They involved not only a change in practice and policy, but I think culture as well, and so we are going to be reluctant to back off this commitment in any way to make any changes.”
The only significant revisions proposed in the charter are required because of new norms the Vatican issued last year. Those norms made abuse of a mentally ill person, and the acquisition, possession or distribution of child pornography to be crimes under the church's canon law.
At their meeting, the bishops will also vote on their first formal statement denouncing assisted suicide and hear a report on a new church structure for Anglican parishes that want to join the Roman Catholic Church.
The question of what to do about bishops who do not follow the charter is not addressed in the revisions. The charter says only that bishops should apply “fraternal correction” to one another.
The bishops' hands are tied, said Russell Shaw, the author of “Nothing to Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church” (Ignatius Press, 2008).
“A body of bishops as such has no real authority or power to punish or coerce or chastise individual members who don't go along with the majority, even when it's an overwhelming majority,” said Mr. Shaw, a former communications director for the bishops. “That's a question largely in the hands of the Holy See at the present time, and probably can only be addressed in a comprehensive and permanent way by alterations in canon law itself.”
Nicholas Cafardi, the author of “Before Dallas: The U.S. Bishops' Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children” (Paulist Press, 2008), said, “Fraternal correction has always been the elephant in the room.”
“Unless the bishops are willing to call each other out,” said Mr. Cafardi, the former dean of the Duquesne Law School, “we will always have individual bishops who think that they can ignore the requirements of the charter.”
Legal system fails to find justice for child abuse victims
By Janaki Mahadevan Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Abused children are being let down by the legal system, Barnardo's has claimed, after revealing that only 89 convictions were brought for child exploitation in England and Wales in 2009.
The charity said that examination of Ministry of Justice figures had revealed that children were being failed because the small number of convictions did not match the 2,756 known child victims of abuse in 2009.
Research also showed that of the people prosecuted for rape of a child under the age of 13, only 41 per cent were found guilty; similarly, only 37 per cent of those prosecuted for sexual assault of a child under 13 were convicted.
Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "These children are being let down by the system. They are being failed twice; once by the failure to prevent them becoming victims in the first place and again by the failure to punish their abusers and secure justice.
"We need to see drastic changes to make sure the abusers who control such vulnerable children for sex and personal gain are brought to book."
The charity said insufficient evidence and an over-reliance on victims to act as witnesses contributed to the low conviction rates.
The findings from Barnardo's come as four men were this week sentenced for their role in running an international paedophile ring following an operation led by Lincolnshire Police.
A trial of nine men accused of grooming and exploiting seven vulnerable teenagers aged between 13 and 17 in Wellington near Telford has also begun this week, while 12 men arrested as part of a major investigation into the sexual exploitation of girls in Greater Manchester have been released on bail today (15 June).
Barnardo's is set to begin a study that will assess the role of local safeguarding children's boards (LSCBs) in securing prosecutions against perpetrators of child sexual exploitation, which will report in spring 2012.
Last October, research by the University of Bedfordshire found that less than a quarter of LSCBs in England have a strategy to protect children from sexual exploitation.
Child Abuse Cases In Abilene Reach A Three Year High
by Jocelyn Tovar
ABILENE, Texas -- Abilene Police tell KTXS stress from the bad economy and even parents who are too young can be to blame for increased child abuse, but more arrests mean they're doing their job.
Police arrested 22-year-old Jessica Perkins last night for hitting her two-year-old so hard it left bruises. At the same time, 43-year-old Benny Munoz also turned himself into Abilene Police. They arrested him for indecency with a child by exposure.
"Child abuse, physical and sexual, has always been around," said Sergeant Lynn Beard with Abilene Police,"It's unfortunately nothing new."
Sergeant Beard said one of the main reasons we've seen more arrests lately is there's been an increase in the number of reports. "If you can prevent it in the beginning and the child says something," Sergeant Beard said, "That's how you can prevent the child from being a victim."
Programs like the "We Help Ourselves" or W.H.O. program have been teaching big country children since 1987 to come forward if they've been a victim of abuse. "The flip-side of that is it drives child abuse numbers up because you have more reports which is what you want," said Beard.
Three A.P.D. detectives are assigned to solving these cases and they make an arrest about half the time, which is slightly better than the national average.
"We have a fairly good system in place here," said Beard. Beard says these programs are so important that even given the state's 27 billion dollar budget shortfall, that child abuse programs are typically one of the last areas to be cut.
State funded agency provides support, education for child sex abuse victims
June 14, 2011
The news of a Castleton elementary student allegedly sexually assaulting classmates on school grounds sent shock waves through this southern Vermont community, but sex abuse specialists say these families are not alone.
Michelle Fane with the HowardCenter for Children and Families in Burlington says, "It happens a lot more than is out in the community and is public knowledge."
Fane says the center offers programming and support for families coping with sexual abuse.
"It is such a secretive abuse. Most of the time there are not marks like you would see with physical abuse," Fane says the abusers are more likely close friends to their victims, rather than bullies.
"It is more about making them feel special and unique in order to get them in to a vulnerable position to get them to act out sexually," she explained.
The most recent yearly state statistics show there were 2,633 reports of child abuse in Vermont. 322 of those cases involved sexual abuse. Of the 322 sex cases nearly one-third of the abusers are teenage boys, and more than one-third of the victims are teenage girls.
The HowardCenter offers a 22-week program for victims and their families. The classes are composed of kids of the same age who have experienced similar trauma. The center has an active wait list for these services.
Fane explains, "We work with them to learn the skills to manage their feelings that have come up from being sexually abused, and any sexual urges they have from that abuse so they do not go on to repeat the cycle."
And Fane says most kids wont become molesters.
"Most offenders you can look back and find some horrific substantial abuse in their history, but the majority of kids who have been abused do not go on to become offenders," she said.
The center also provides programming for young abusers. There are group, family and individual classes aiming to keep kids from molesting again.
"Kids tend to graduate from the group when they have shown the ability to take responsibility and accept responsibility, empathy and make ammends," Fane said.
For parents wondering if their child is a victim there are some things you can look out for.
Fane listed, "A decrease in keeping up of appearances, a decrease or increase in eating, decrease or increase in sleeping, a general edginess for a kid who is usually even keeled and fairly balanced in their mood might become very cheerful and full of excitement, and have a hard time sitting and being settled and focusing."
Officials say it is essential for the Castleton community, and other communities coping with child abuse cases to avoid the blame game, and to come together in supporting the victims. They say finger pointing the abuser or abusers could cause the kids who came forward to feel guilty.
The Millennium Hotel in St. Louis is partnering with the Covering House to train its employees to spot the signs of human trafficking, also known as sex slavery
by Mike Rush
St. Louis (KSDK) - The Millennium Hotel boasts a revolving restaurant up top with great views of the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium and downtown St. Louis, but the hotel also believes it may have a pretty good view of human trafficking. Hotel management wants to use what it sees to help stop it.
Just Tuesday, the United States Attorney's Office in St. Louis announced guilty plea agreements from a Minneapolis couple. According to the plea document, Maurice Alexander, a pimp, and his partner, Latoshia Norris, took in a 16-year-old runaway in Minneapolis, gave her drugs and alcohol and trained her to work in the sex trade.
"(They) just did a prostitution circuit, if you will, between Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Des Moines, Iowa, Kansas City, and St. Louis," said U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan.
Authorities found the girl living in St. Louis. The couple faces up to 20 years in prison after admitting to transporting the minor for sex.
"We would view it as human trafficking," said Bob Lohman, with the group The Covering House, a non-profit organization working to create awareness about human trafficking and raise funds to build a safe house for victims in St. Louis.
"St. Louis is in the top 30 in the nation and in the top 10 in the central area," Lohman said.
Because the sex trade is often advertised on the internet and takes place in hotels and motels, The Covering House is partnering with the Millennium Hotel. That means front desk employees, door men, valets and others will play an important role.
"We're going to train all of our staff on the awareness of human trafficking, the signs to look for," said Dominic Smart, general manager of The Millennium.
Smart said his hotel is doing it because it's "socially and morally responsible."
He went on to say, "we need to be working together so that we can prevent this tragedy from happening."
"Getting anybody on board, especially with the credibility like the Millennium Hotel, for them to take it seriously is huge and we applaud them very much," Lohman said.
The Millennium Hotel will be signing its pledge to this cause with the group Sisters of Saint Joseph next month. But the training has already begun. Part of that includes spotting red flag like signs of abuse, lots of traffic in and out of rooms and people checking in with no luggage.
REGION: Supervisors create new anti-human trafficking advisory council
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to form a new advisory council to address human trafficking and child prostitution in the region, but details of how the panel will function are still being developed, officials said.
In November, the supervisors held a presentation on what law enforcement officials said is a growing problem in the region: gang involvement in prostitution and the use of underage girls as prostitutes. At the time, the supervisors asked county administrators to come up with a regional approach to address human trafficking and child prostitution.
At its meeting Tuesday morning, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of the San Diego Regional Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Advisory Council and a steering committee to oversee it, but did not provide details about the committee.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who has been leading the effort to call attention to the problem and proposed the creation of the council, said law enforcement in the county has been fighting human trafficking through a federally funded anti-human-trafficking task force. The grant pays officers overtime to conduct anti-prostitution operations.
"There is definitely a need for a regional approach that provides for a full-time focus on this troubling and rapidly growing problem," Jacob said during the meeting.
North County has long been recognized by victims' advocates and law enforcement as a hub for sex trafficking. The county has three law enforcement groups addressing the problem ---- the North County Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, the FBI's Innocence Lost Task Force, and the San Diego Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.
In April, federal agents and police officers broke up a prostitution ring run by Oceanside gang members. Officers led by the FBI arrested 29 people in North County as a result of an 18-month, multiagency investigation
As part of the investigation, 30 minors, many of them runaways, were rescued, authorities said.
The advisory council will be made up of representatives from law enforcement agencies, victim services organizations, schools, and volunteer and community groups, Jacob said. It will report to a law enforcement steering committee.
However, no details were released on how many members the council will have, who would appoint them or who the members of the steering committee would be.
Those details will be worked out by the county, said Sgt. Jason King, who heads the San Diego Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.
"This is just the first step in creating the council," he said.
Jacob said during the meeting that the council would make its recommendations to the county Sheriff's Department and district attorney's office.
"Any recommendations that come out of this advisory council will be provided first and foremost to our sheriff and district attorney for their review and possible implementation," Jacob said.
Since 2007, the county's human trafficking task force has identified nearly 400 sex trafficking and prosecution victims. About 30 percent of those victims are minors, according to the Sheriff's Department. The task force has also identified more than 160 pimps, 44 percent of whom are documented gang members, authorities said.
The advisory council will focus on prevention strategies, protection of victims, prosecution of pimps, and partnerships with nonprofits to combat the problem, according to a two-page county document outlining the panel's mission.
The council will also explore the best way to address the root causes of human trafficking, standardize law enforcement training and procedures and improve victim services by creating a more coordinated approach to providing assistance, according to the county document.
Representatives of several nonprofits at Tuesday's meeting praised the supervisors' action.
"This council will help us to pool our various strengths and combine our talents so that we can together form a strong, cohesive and comprehensive team to fight this heinous crime and assist the victims to a new life," said Susan Munsey, executive director of Generate Hope, an organization that provides long-term housing and recovery services for victims of sexual exploitation.
Prostitutes, like everyone else, deserve safety
Canadians should have realized that prostitution in Canada could never be the same after British Columbia pig farmer Robert Pickton was convicted of the horrific killing of six prostitutes
June 15, 2011
As details of the shocking case spread across the country, some prostitutes came to believe their only recourse was to fight against a legal system that put them at heightened risk.
In Canada, prostitution itself is legal, but communicating for the purpose of prostitution is illegal, as is conducting business in a brothel and living off the avails of prostitution. Thus many prostitutes are legally constrained to work in frighteningly vulnerable conditions: alone and in a dark corner, away from prying eyes.
One person who was unwilling to ignore the dangers of the sex trade was Justice Susan Himel of the Ontario Superior Court. Last fall, Himel ruled that current prostitution laws can create dangers that violate prostitutes' right to security of the person under the Charter of Rights. The communicating law forces a prostitute to reach an agreement with a client swiftly, without being able to take stock of the person. Prostitutes cannot turn to the safety of a residence, for fear of being charged with running a bawdy house. Nor can they hire a security guard or a driver, since they could be open to charges of living off the avails of prostitution. As Ontario Court of Appeal Justice David Doherty said Monday, Canada's current laws force prostitutes to "take much greater risks than anybody else."
This week, the Ontario Court of Appeal began hearing a joint federal and provincial appeal of the Himel decision, with the federal government arguing that prostitutes knowingly make an economic choice to enter an inherently unsafe line of work. The government has lined up with the antidecriminalization school of thought, which holds that any loosening of the laws on prostitution would open the doors to underage prostitution and increased people trafficking, and could also serve to normalize an economic activity that society has no interest in seeing spread.
On the other side of the debate is the argument that nothing is gained by potentially endangering the lives of prostitutes, many of whom, research suggests, have already suffered abuse. Terri-Jean Bedford, 51, one of three sex workers who are challenging the current prostitution laws, recently spoke publicly about having overcome "a lot of personal adversity . abject poverty, uncaring domineering mother, physical abuse, sexual abuse, the group-home system in Canada." Prostitution might well be the "oldest profession," but the histories of too many of its practitioners suggest that they lacked other options in life.
Countries such as Sweden, Germany, Australia and New Zealand have tried new approaches to prostitution. In Sweden, only customers are prosecuted. Swedish authorities say the number of prostitutes has dropped by half as demand plummets, but critics say that prostitution has simply been driven further underground, with all that implies for prostitutes' safety.
New Zealand's system might hold promise. After prostitution was decriminalized there in 2003, prostitutes were allowed to form small co-operatives, eliminating the need for pimps or madams. They are protected by labour and health codes. A 2010 study found the legislative reform had a positive impact on prostitutes' health and safety.
Prostitution is more than a legal issue. It goes to the heart of what kind of society a country wants to have. By this measure, Canada is not doing well. Robert Pickton bragged of having killed 49 prostitutes before he was finally stopped. A 2006 parliamentary study found that 79 prostitutes were killed between 1994 and 2003. Solutions to the complex issues around prostitution won't be easy to find, but that doesn't excuse Parliament from making an honest effort.
Doubtless many - perhaps most - Canadians find the whole issue of prostitution distasteful, something we'd rather not think about. But nothing anyone does will make it go away altogether, and many of those involved in it are among the most damaged and/or vulnerable in our society. What can and should be done is to air the issues surrounding prostitution, carry out an examination of what has worked and what hasn't in other countries, and concentrate on providing a new legal framework that protects prostitutes' personal safety.
Cypress man arraigned on child-molestation charges
A bicycle motocross coach was to be arraigned on charges he sexually assaulted three boys in his Cypress neighborhood and exchanged thousands of images of child pornography over the Internet.
Mandak Kohn Griffin, 30, faces multiple felony molestation charges, including sodomy on a child younger than 10 and using a minor for the production of obscene material.
Prosecutors planned to ask for a $1-million bail at his court hearing Monday in Westminster.
While investigating a tip that Griffin was exchanging online pornographic images of children, authorities discovered the alleged molestations dating back to 2000, according to a statement from the Orange County district attorney's office.
Prosecutors say Griffin lured the boys, ages 7 to 9, to his home repeatedly with swimming parties and a trip to a monster truck rally.
On multiple occasions, he would single out one boy and get him alone in a room, where he molested the youngster, authorities said.
Griffin gained access to the children by befriending their relatives, prosecutors said. If convicted, Griffin faces a maximum sentence of 85 years to life in state prison.
Australian government sued over abuse claims
A group of former British child migrants has launched a class action suit against the Australian government.
More than 65 people are seeking compensation for the abusive treatment they received at the Fairbridge Farm School in New South Wales.
The British and Australian governments have both previously issued a formal apology to child migrants but not offered any financial compensation.
The UK deported thousands of children, telling many their parents had died.
Hundreds of British children - some as young as four years old - were sent to the Fairbridge Farm School in rural New South Wales between the start of World War II and the mid-1970s.
Before being shipped out to Australia, many of the British children were told they were now orphans, and that a more abundant life awaited them in Australia.
Most were deported without the consent of their parents, and in mothers and fathers were commonly led to believe that their children had been adopted somewhere in Britain.
On arrival in Australia, the policy was to separate brothers and sisters. And many of the young children ended up in what felt like labour camps, where they were physically, psychologically and often sexually abused.
Many claim they suffered physical and sexual abuse, and say they have borne life-long bodily and psychiatric injuries as a result. Now they are seeking legal redress and financial compensation.
In total 130,000 British children were sent from the UK to Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Australia.
Post-war, 7,000 were shipped to Australia and 1,300 to New Zealand, Rhodesia and Canada.
The former pupils in Australia have now joined together in what is believed to be the first class action suit against an Australian government connected with the practice of child migration.
It is aimed at both the state government of New South Wales and the federal government in Canberra.
In 2009 former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to hundreds of thousands of people, which included British migrants, who were abused or neglected in Australian state care as children.
He said he was "sorry that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused, sorry for the physical suffering, the emotional starvation and the cold absence of love, of tenderness, of care."
Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised in 2010 for the UK's role in sending more than 130,000 children to former colonies, including Australia, where many suffered abuse.
He expressed regret for the "misguided" Child Migrant Programme, telling the Commons he was "truly sorry" and announced a £6m fund to reunite families that were torn apart.
Protect your child from sexual abuse
Our expert tells you how to protect your child from sexual abuse and cope with it
ANAND HOLLA, Mumbai Mirror
June 14, 2011
With increasing reports of child abuse, parents and guardians need to take a few elementary precautions and safeguard kids from becoming victims. And if anything unfortunate occurs, it is always better to spot the abuse symptoms at the earliest and put the child at ease.
Clinical psychologist Salma Prabhu says the first step is to explain the difference between good touch and bad touch. She says, "A bad touch isn't restricted to contact with private parts. It refers to anything that the child is not comfortable with; like cheek-pulling or a kiss on the face. The child must be taught to refuse this politely, as many wellmeaning aunties pull their cheeks affectionately. The parents must teach the child to create an alarm and run away from the place. There may be a few false alarms, but those risks have to be taken. If such an incident happens, say in school, then school authorities have to be informed. It is always safe to stick to the golden rule of not letting children talk to strangers."
Defining sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse is not limited to engaging a child in a sexual act or inappropriate physical contact, but it also involves showing a child an adult's genitals or making a child watch a sexual act or pornographic material. From self-loathing depression to dysfunctional sexual intimacy, sexual abuse during childhood can scar an individual for life in many ways. Take precautions when children are around two years old and start going to play school, says Prabhu.
The government's first national study on child abuse in 2007 showed that 53.22 per cent of the children surveyed across India reported one or more forms of sexual abuse. The study also confirmed our worst fear - a pervert relative abusing the child. 50 per cent of the abusers were known to the child or are in a position of trust and responsibility and most children had not reported the matter to anyone, the study found. Prabhu agrees that often a relative gets away with sexual abuse as the child is hesitant to talk about it.
"Lack of communication is the biggest drawback. The most crucial thing is to win a child's trust. So parents must take the effort to communicate in such a reassuring manner that the child feels comfortable to talk about everything; including their boyfriend/girlfriend," Prabhu says. If a child tells her parents about her friend who has a boyfriend and the parents ask her to stop hanging out with her, then that would be breaking the communication, she adds. "It gives the child a reason to work around things without keeping the parents in the loop. Parents must realise that friends, other than the family, are a very integral part of an individual's life."
Prabhu says that parents need to begin educating their children about sex from an early age, so that they can tackle sex pests better. "Educating your child about sex is a gradual, evolving process and considering the child's age and when you think she is ready, you should answer her curious questions. A lot depends on how well you have honed your communication with the child. It is high time parents quit being in denial. If parents feel awkward, they must consult their family doctor to help them discuss it."
Dealing with abuse
If the child falls prey to sexual abuse, then the family should avoid talking about it as that would only hurt the child further. Instead, take the child to a therapist. "The first symptom is that the child turns very quiet. He/ she will refuse to eat and will start losing weight. So, if this child doesn't open up at all to the parents, then the counsellor enters the picture." In such a situation, children should be allowed to cry their heart out, Prabhu says.
After building a rapport with the child, therapists then use psychological tools like:
Play therapy helps children cope with emotional stress or trauma, by allowing them to alter the world on a smaller platform - through their toys. When children play in a certain manner with certain toys, they play out their feelings so that they can deal with them.
When a therapist absorbs what the child feels, the child begins to free its repressed thoughts.
Projective techniques such as the Rorschach or the human figure drawings help detect child sexual abuse. In a Rorschach ink blot test, a child is asked what the ten ink blots on white backgrounds 'look like' and why. Human figures help children express complicated feelings that may be hard to express. For instance, a sexually abused child will focus on genitalia in his or her drawings unlike a normal child.
The Children's Apperception Test is a projective test for measuring the personality traits and attitudes of children (aged 3-10), other than assessing psycho-sexual conflicts during a child's growing up. Flashing a series of pictures, the child is asked to describe the situations and weave stories around the people or animals in the pictures.
Four Ways To Help Protect Your Preschooler From Sexual Abuse
Being a parent can be downright scary. With a 24-hour news cycle and the media's love of the scare tactic ("To Catch a Predator," anyone?), we are constantly bombarded with messages of fear and helplessness when it comes to the safety of our kids.
When I present to parents and community members about preventing and identifying child sexual abuse (CSA), the number one question I receive is: “What can I do RIGHT NOW to help keep my young child safe?”
Fortunately, there are tools every parent can use to help preschoolers empower themselves and become less likely targets for predators. While no method is full-proof, every child can benefit from the simple strategies below.
1) Teach preschoolers the correct names of their body parts.
When a parent calls a body part by a silly pet name (wee wee, pee pee, etc), that body part's importance is minimalized. Using the right name allows children to own their body parts, speak about them properly, and draw appropriate boundaries with other kids and adults without shame. Not only does this help protect against abuse, but it also helps on trips to the doctor, playground accidents, and the all-important sex talk in 10 years.
2) No Secrets
This is simple: Tell your child that secrets are bad and there is nothing so awful that he or she can't tell Mommy and Daddy. CSA is a crime of shame and secrecy. If you take away the power of the secret, suddenly the predator has one less tool of manipulation. Don't forget to differentiate between secrets (which are bad) and surprises (like birthday presents).
3) Looking and touching
The bathtub is a good time to teach this lesson. Tell children that no one is to touch their private body parts and they are to never touch anyone else's. Tell them that no one is to take pictures of them when they have no clothes on. Don't use a tone of fear in the discussion - If you approach this the same way as you approach the rules of crossing the street or sharing toys, your child will not be scared or threatened.
4) Do not force your child to hug or kiss anyone
Children who are forced to hug or kiss adults when they do not want to lose power over their body and personal boundaries. Let your child politely say no. If children learn that their space and body are respected, they are far more likely to understand and appreciate proper boundaries with all adults.
If you give preschoolers the proper strategies to respect themselves and the bodies, you give them tools they can use the rest of their lives. By opening up communication with your child and taking the power away from secrets, parents can become proactive in protecting their childre in an open, honest way that does not rely upon fear or scare tactics.
Remember parents: You are not helpless, and your children are their own best defense.
Elder abuse isn't a new problem, but it's one that needs awareness
While most people today are aware of child abuse, it was not always so. Indeed, the concept is of relatively recent vintage, having been developed in the 1960s. But that development has proven enormously important, as it has allowed us to focus our resources and energy on combating the problem.
Fifty years after child abuse first entered the public consciousness, another phenomenon is just coming to the attention of the public: elder abuse. Although there is relatively little research on the occurrences given the novelty of the concept, the research that does exist suggests elder abuse is widespread and traumatic.
According to HealthLinkBC, about 12 per cent, or 46,000, older adults in British Columbia experience abuse or neglect at some point.
Elder abuse can occur at home or in an assisted living facility, and can include physical, sexual or emotional abuse. While these forms of abuse seem relatively straightforward, they can include actions that many people might not consider.
For example, physical abuse can include inappropriate use of medication or force feeding, emotional abuse can include treating an older adult like a baby or otherwise injuring his or her dignity, and sexual abuse includes any sexual contact with a person who is incapable of consenting.
Furthermore, older adults are particularly vulnerable to less common forms of abuse, such as neglect and abandonment, violations of rights to privacy, community support and information, and financial abuse, which is the most prevalent form of abuse among older adults.
While all vulnerable older adults are at risk of abuse, certain factors can increase the risk significantly.
A substantial number of cases involve abuse by a spouse, which is especially likely if there is a history of domestic violence. The risk of abuse is also elevated if caregivers are experiencing difficulties of their own, such as financial or substance abuse problems.
This suggests that abuse sometimes occurs because caregivers feel frustrated and overwhelmed. The only way to prevent this is to ensure, first, that there is adequate support for informal caregivers, and, second, that they recognize when they need help.
Of course, some abusers have less noble aims, since abuse can be the result of greed or selfishness.
Consequently, everyone ought to be aware of the signs of abuse, from the obvious, such as bruises and broken bones, to the less obvious, such as changes in the older person's mood or behaviour or lab reports of the overor underuse medicines. Fortunately, if abuse is suspected, there are many sources of support.
If an older adult is in immediate danger, people can call 911, while if they're not sure an adult is being abused, they can call 811 and receive information 24 hours a day.
Other useful sources of information include the B.C. Coalition to Eliminate Abuse of Seniors (www.bcceas.ca) and VictimLinkBC (www.victimlinkbc.ca). Elder abuse may be a new concept, but it is not a new phenomenon. As the population ages, more and more people will be at risk, including our loved ones and ourselves.
This is why the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse has declared June 15 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and this is why abuse of the elderly ought to become as much a part of our consciousness as abuse of young.
Taking a Stand against Elder Abuse
by Kathy Greenlee
Assistant Secretary for Aging at the Department of Health and Human Services
June 13, 2011
June 15th, 2011 marks the 6th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This is an important opportunity for Americans and people around the world to recommit ourselves to ending elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Elder abuse, like domestic violence and child abuse, is a public health crisis that crosses all socio-economic lines. Millions of older Americans are abused, neglected, or exploited each year – often by someone they know – and an estimated 84 percent of these incidents are not reported.
Elder abuse and exploitation is an issue that must be addressed. As Americans enjoy longer lives and the senior population continues to grow, abuse will likely grow with it. And, sadly, during hard economic times the prevalence of financial exploitation increases.
One way this administration is committed to fighting elder abuse is through the Elder Justice Act, which was signed into law by President Obama last year. The Elder Justice Act provides the first-ever authorization of Federal resources for adult protective services demonstrations to test the best methods of identifying, responding to, and preventing elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In fact, the President's 2012 Budget proposes $16.5 million in first-time funding for this purpose.
In addition to resources, ending elder abuse is critically dependent on the partnership of government agencies, law enforcement, adult protective services professionals, health and human services providers, faith-based organizations, and business and community leaders. All of these entities play a crucial role in providing education, outreach, and support to the community, bringing offenders to justice for their crimes, and protecting and empowering victims and their loved ones. These many organizations work tirelessly to help prevent elder abuse, and throughout the year there are many observances, such as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, that allow each of us the opportunity to honor older individuals and draw attention to the problem of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I encourage agencies, organizations, and individuals across the world to recognize this underreported issue and raise awareness about the mistreatment of seniors. Let this be a renewal of a life-long commitment to ending elder abuse in the United States, and around the world, as we strive to create communities that safeguard and protect elders.
Click here to learn more about this day and how you can “Join Us in the Fight Against Elder Abuse.”
Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agents Prevent Sexual Predators From Entering U.S.
TUCSON, Ariz. – In four separate incidents over the weekend, Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents arrested illegal aliens who were identified as sexual predators during processing.
On June 10, agents discovered that a 24-year-old Mexican national apprehended near Naco, Ariz. had an active and extraditable warrant for Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse out of Woodstock, Ill. The man was turned over to the Tucson Police Department for extradition.
On June 11, Ajo Station agents arrested two sex offenders in separate incidents. The first subject was identified as a 34-year-old illegal alien from Mexico who was convicted in Fresno, Calif., of Sexual Assault for a Lascivious Act with a Child Under 14. He is being prosecuted for Re-Entry of an Aggravated Felon.
Also on June 11, Ajo agents apprehended a 24-year-old man from Oaxaca, Mexico in possession of a mass data storage device containing images of child pornography. The man was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.
On June 12, Casa Grande agents arrested a 34-year-old Mexican national with a Third Degree Rape conviction in Oregon. The subject is being prosecuted for Re-Entry of an Aggravated Felon.
The criminal histories of all the subjects were exposed after their fingerprints were scanned into the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Agents use IAFIS to access criminal records throughout the United States and it assists by rapidly identifying criminal aliens so they can be brought to an appropriate law enforcement resolution.
Since launching the Southwest Border Initiative in March 2009, the Department of Homeland Security has made significant investments towards establishing a secure and safe border environment and improving the quality of life throughout the communities in the state of Arizona.
The Border Patrol welcomes assistance from the community. Report suspicious activity by calling toll free 1-877-872-7435 . All calls will be answered and will remain anonymous.
N.J. Senate passes bill for stricter rules on tracking child abuse cases
June 13, 2011
by Salvador Rizzo
Statehouse Bureau The Star-Ledger
TRENTON — State workers investigating complaints of child abuse would have to track cases more closely and report more statistics under a bill passed unanimously by a state Senate panel today.
Legislators and child advocates said the bill targets a "very urgent" problem — cases that fall through the cracks. They repeatedly referenced the recent death of Christiana Glenn, an 8-year-old girl in Irvington who died of malnourishment and complications from a broken leg, as something that may have been avoided with closer scrutiny.
The bill adds a third category for state workers classifying abuse reports. Currently the allegations can be filed as "substantiated" or "unfounded," an all-or-nothing approach that legislators said fails to account for cases that fall in gray areas.
Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer), the bill sponsor, said one of the key issues was that an "unfounded" label sometimes doesn't do justice to the nuances of the case — and it requires no follow-up, even when the same family is investigated multiple times.
That has to change, Turner testified, urging a return to a "common-sense, narrow" definition for "unfounded." The term should be reserved for reports with no merit whatsoever, she said.
"If we continue to pretend that our system is improving in an area in which these recorded statistics raise grave doubts, we will remain blind to the real risk to our children," Turner said.
The new category proposed by the bill, "not substantiated," means the investigation did not turn up the high level of evidence required for the state to take action, but it leaves the door open on the case if investigators get further information.
In addition, the Division of Youth and Family Services, which monitors the complaints, would have to track and annually publish the number of "unfounded" cases that later become "substantiated." Investigators looked into Glenn's case four separate times from 2004 to 2008, deciding each time that the child-abuse claims were "unfounded."
"The fact that it was unfounded once and then comes back doesn't appear to raise the standard of investigation," said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
Zalkind said she would support the bill ( S1570 ), but that it needed more work before it goes up for a vote in the full Senate.
"Part of the reason it switched from three categories to two was that the middle ground became a dumping ground for cases where workers couldn't make a decision, and those cases piled up," she said. "I understand the intent, but the question about the quality of the investigation is still critical."
Lauren Kidd, a spokeswoman for DYFS, declined to comment on Turner's proposal because it is still pending legislation.
Lawmakers at the Senate health committee hearing, where the bill passed 10-0, indicated they would keep working on it to address some of Zalkind's concerns. Meanwhile, in the Assembly, Democrats plan to introduce a companion bill on Thursday.
"I think it's a response to a very tragic case," Zalkind said. "I think legislators are very anxious to see what they can do to make sure something like (Glenn's case) doesn't happen again."
Editorial: New treatment fails to cure
June 14, 2011
Tennessee took a small step forward in the way it deals with young people caught up in the sex trade last week. Legislation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam reclassifies kids who would have been prosecuted for prostitution as victims of sexual abuse.
The bill's local sponsors -- Sens. Beverly Marrero, Ophelia Ford and Brian Kelsey and Rep. Curry Todd -- should devote next year's session to helping young people exploited by sex traffickers find a path to a less hazardous future.
As originally drafted, SB0064/HB0035 provided the funds for sub-18-year-olds arrested for prostitution to be placed in the care of the Department of Children's Services.
About $10 million in state and federal funds would have been devoted to rehabilitation efforts. New caseworkers would have been hired to handle about 115 new cases a year.
Fiscal restraints prompted an amendment providing, instead, for the victims to be given the telephone number of the national human trafficking resource center hotline and released to the custody of a parent or legal guardian.
Still, the change in attitude toward underage people involved in prostitution moves Tennessee toward a more humane approach.
A study by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Vanderbilt Center for Community Studies turned up an alarming number of teenagers who had fallen victim to a form of sexual slavery that conventional wisdom assigns to Third World countries. Children have been coerced into prostitution in Tennessee with drugs, intimidation and beatings, the study found.
Pimps who traffic in underage victims and people who patronize them will be dealt with more harshly under the legislation, which mandates longer sentences in cases involving minors and those with mental disabilities and allows police to confiscate cars, homes and other property used in the sex trade.
It's now a felony instead of a misdemeanor to buy sex from a minor or mentally disabled person. A phone line to receive anonymous tips on suspected cases of human trafficking is being created.
These are all reasonable changes to the current situation. Unfortunately they arrive during a period of tight fiscal restraint and can't give the victims of sexual slavery the help they need.
Irvine may ban sex offenders from public parks
The Irvine City Council on Tuesday could become the latest Orange County city to consider a citywide ordinance banning sex offenders from going to public parks.
The proposal comes on the heels of the Orange County Board of Supervisors approving an ordinance in April prohibiting registered offenders from county parks. Since then, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and other cities have started researching similar laws at the local level.
Westminster approved such an ordinance in May, making it a misdemeanor for offenders to visit parks there.
Irvine's direction is less clear, according to the council agenda, the Daily Pilot says. City staff made no recommendations but presented the council with three options: introduce an ordinance prohibiting all registered sex offenders from parks, prohibit sex offenders from parks if the crimes were against children, or do nothing and wait to see how it works out with other cities.
Ontario to hear appeals against prostitution ruling
Stage set for landmark case; Judges to decide whether to uphold decision to decriminalize sex-trade industry
by LINDA NGUYEN, Postmedia News
June 13, 2011
Johns openly soliciting prostitutes near school yards, brothels with naked women dancing in the windows and Canada becoming a destination for trafficking young girls - these are some of the doomsday scenarios the federal government cautions may occur if Ontario's highest court agrees this week to uphold an earlier decision to decriminalize the sex-trade industry.
Ottawa and the provincial government will begin arguments before a five-justice panel Monday at the Ontario Court of Appeal on why a lower-court judge erred last year when she struck down three prostitution-related laws as unconstitutional.
In a controversial, 130-page decision which took more than one year to prepare, Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel concluded that the provisions prohibiting operating or working in a brothel, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living off the avails of prostitution contravene a person's right to safety and liberty, and endanger sex workers by forcing them to ply their trade underground.
To the three women who launched this constitutional challenge five years ago, this appeal has little to do with morality or public opinion of selling one's body for money but the obligation the law has to protect all its citizens, regardless of occupation.
"The laws are not working at all," said complainant Valerie Scott, a longtime prostitute and massage parlour worker. "We need occupational health and safety options. We need to be treated like the legitimate business we are."
Scott, who is also the legal adviser for the national Toronto-based group, Sex Professionals of Canada, argues that the governments are using "fear mongering" tactics to scare the public about the realities of the sex trade industry. She contends that if prostitutes were permitted to work openly, they would be able to organize in groups for protection, get away from pimps and not be afraid to report abuses by clients to the police. They also would be able to have more financial security, pay taxes and support themselves without fear of prosecution.
"It also means that the ones who choose to be in the industry, the ones who are currently in it, won't be beaten, raped robbed and murdered," said Scott.
But in a lengthy factum filed three months ago, the government stated its position that sex workers should have no expectations of being safe when they choose to enter into an illegal trade, one that is rife with crime, drugs and violence.
Furthermore, the dangerous conditions surrounding the underground industry are a result of their efforts to evade the law, and should not justify those laws being changed.
This Ontario appeal is being watched closely, because it is one that can set a precedent in jurisdictions across the country.
The decision - anticipated anywhere between six to 12 months from now - also likely will make its way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Currently, there are more than 30 lawyers involved in the case on behalf of two dozen women, civil-liberties and religious-based groups, who have been granted intervener status.
The panel's mandate surrounds to what extent should laws be responsible for making the sex trade dangerous. Anything outside of that realm involves issues that should be argued in the House of Commons rather than in a courtroom, said Young.
"There has to be a causal connection established between state action and the law and the deprivation of security," says York University professor Alan Young.
Effects of child abuse and PTSD on romantic relationships
by Julee Cox
Fort Lauderdale Relationships Examiner
Child abuse. Two words that when said together can send shivers through even the most macho of men. Child abuse knows no bounds: it affects every race, every culture, and every socioeconomic status. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) of the Children's Bureau , approximately one out of every five cases of child abuse reported in Florida during the year 2009 was confirmed (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs). Child abuse affects most aspects of a child's life and can signficantly impact their sense of worth, self-confidence, and self-respect. A recent study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine has found that children exposed to trauma are 30 times more likely to develop learning and behavioral problems than those who not exposed to trauma (www.psychcentral.com).
The study suggests that pediatricians routinely screen children for trauma exposures. If any are found, then the doctors would be asked to diagnose children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rather than Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Although ADHD is more commonly diagnosed and has symptoms similar to PTSD, the treatments are very different. Senior author Victor Carrion, M.D. said: “children can recover from PTSD with the appropriate treatment , which is one of approach and not avoidance . By not asking about trauma, we're utilizing avoidance. We're perpetuating PTSD .” Left untreated, the effects of PTSD perpetuate throughout a child's life and into adulthood. And one of the numerous aspects that PTSD has a significant affect upon is relationships with others.
Research has shown that trauma survivors often experience various difficulties in their intimate relationships , including those with their spouses, family members, and close friends. Issues manifesting in and affecting relationships include trust issues, impulsivity, irritability, and being socially withdrawn. Anger outbursts are quite common and as a result, there is a higher probability of physical and verbal abuse within relationships where a person has been diagnosed with PTSD . Sleep difficulties are typical and not only affect the person with the trauma but can also affect their significant other.
The person with PTSD can also experience a decreased sexual libido as well as a decreased interest in social activities. Often times, due to their fear of being vulnerable and getting hurt again, people with PTSD are guarded, making it difficult to create and sustain emotional intimacy . With anxiety being the underlying feeling of PTSD, there is also a strong correlation between substance abuse and those who are diagnosed with the disorder. Significant others may not only have to contend with the everyday relationship difficulties that PTSD creates, but may also have to grapple with the added stress of an addiction as well.
Today is Abused Women and Children Awareness Day. It is essential that we maintain our efforts in becoming aware of how abuse affects our children, and continue sharing our knowledge with the community. By doing so, we significantly increase the possibility and maybe someday the probability that we will no longer associate those two words together. And then no child will have to endure being neglected, beaten, molested, or verbally assaulted, or have to cope with the aftermath of their abuse as they grow into an adult ever again.
Child abuse Monday, June 13, 2011
Pakistan has become the 144th country in the world to ratify an important international treaty to protect children from sexual exploitation. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child binds countries to ban the sale and trafficking of children, child prostitution and the exploitation of the young through child pornography.
The move has been welcomed by senior UN officials as a step in the right direction for a country where the exploitation of children for sexual purposes is often hidden from view but is sadly rife. While the move is indeed a welcome one, the real challenge for Pakistan, mired in a whole host of complex social, political and economic problems, is to move beyond fine words and to take meaningful action.
It will not be an easy task. The sexual exploitation of children is a stark reality in many parts of Pakistan and is fuelled not only by ugly traditions but by the grim reality of poverty, migration and tumultuous social change that has shattered the stability of the family.
Apart from the strict social taboos that make it easier for close relatives and neighbours to abuse children without fear of being found out, the worsening economic climate has made matters worse. As long as children are compelled to work in order to supplement the meager incomes of their parents, they will be open to exploitation by sexual predators.
Linked to these harsh economic realities, other factors too come into play. The lack of affordable education for all also compels poor parents to pack their children off to madressahs, where they are open to abuse. The presence of large numbers of vulnerable street children and runaways in most larger cities also reflects the growing pressures of poverty. While children in Pakistan have long been exploited by adults and used to further all kinds of political and criminal aims, including recruitment for drug trafficking, terrorism and beggary, their sexual abuse has been less highlighted.
One can only hope that the ratification of the treaty outlawing child sexual abuse will raise awareness and encourage the government and NGOs to act to tackle this menace.
Bay Area team works to help fight child sex abuse in Zambia
by ALISHA WYMAN
June 12, 2011
The waiting room at the clinic in Zambia dedicated to treating sexual abuse victims is a cement room with a plastic table, a few chairs and some fans.
This is where young children wait before they are brought in for an exam and questioning about a sexual assault.
In every step of the evidence-collection process, the clinic's personnel face hurdles, said Lisa Lewis-Javar, a Napa sexual assault nurse examiner.
They don't have rape kits to collect forensic evidence. If they did, they wouldn't have a lab to send it to. Even simple things like a sink and soap are at a premium.
In the court system, convictions are elusive.
A group of Bay Area medical professionals got a glimpse of the process during a trip to Lusaka, Zambia this spring.
The team, including Lewis-Javar, was working to help the clinic improve these children's chances at justice. Other members were Hilary Larkin, a physician assistant and director of the Sexual Assault Response Team at Highland Hospital in Oakland; Dr. Charles Clemons, a Bay Area doctor and forensic examiner; and Shanta Ramdeholl, administrative director of the Juvenile Justice Center in Alameda.
The visit was eye-opening for all parties, Lewis-Javar said.
They chose to visit Zambia because of Clemons, who has adopted several African children and has a home in Zambia. He started working with the One Stop clinic a couple years ago.
His goal is help them become more successful in investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults, Lewis-Javar said. He has led an effort to bring in new equipment, education and training for One Stop clinicians. He is also working to educate prosecutors and judges on child sexual abuse.
In January, Clemons hosted Jonathan Kuanda Mwansa, the clinic's director. Mwansa visited the Bay Area to meet with law and justice professionals working to help child sexual abuse victims.
Mwansa visited Napa's Courage Center, where child victims in Napa are interviewed and examined, Lewis-Javar said. Since then, the Courage Center has become a sister clinic to the One Stop in Lusaka.
Mwansa and others at the clinic in Lusaka recognize the deficiencies in the system and are working to change them, she said, adding that less than 1 percent of sexual abuse cases in Zambia result in a conviction.
“You just have the child's disclosure, and if you don't have anything else, it's hard to go forward with the case, and most of them don't go forward,” Lewis-Javar said.
The team brought the clinic a colposcope, a microscope for examining injuries. It has a camera to document the examination. The team gave two days of classroom training to clinic personnel and held three days of side-by-side examinations.
They also met with several policymakers, representatives from law enforcement and the justice system, and other advocates. The group helped perform 20 examinations during their visit.
One patient was a 12-year-old girl whose father was told by a witch doctor he would get rich if he had sex with his daughter, Lewis-Javar said.
Another young girl was sexually assaulted by a friend of the family who is over 30.
In the United States, they would have collected DNA evidence and sent it to a lab. In Zambia, there is no place to analyze evidence, no place to send it for testing, no place to store it and no process for chain of custody, Lewis-Javar said.
“It was hard for those of us who do examinations to just let that go because there's no mechanism,” she said.
The lines of questioning also differed. U.S. forensic personnel ask detailed questions about what happened to help them know what charges apply, she said. In Zambia, questions were more broad.
Unlike the U.S. justice system, the court system in Zambia lumps all sexual assault crimes under one charge: defilement. That charge carries a sentence of 15 years.
The charge doesn't recognize the scale of possibilities for a sex charge, from simply annoying or molesting a child to rape, she said.
The structure is part of the reason convictions are so rare, Lewis-Javar said. Judges don't dole out such a stiff sentence often.
“Fifteen years in a Zambia prison is a death sentence, really, so you want to make sure you get the right person,” she said.
At the same time, Lewis-Javar was impressed with the nurses' compassion and drive to improve. They brought extra food in their lunches to help feed the children, she said.
“It was heartwarming to see, even though they don't have all the resources we have and all the stuff we have, they make do with what they have,” she said.
The Courage Center now has a memorandum of understanding with the One Stop center in Zambia, Deputy District Attorney Paul Gero said. The Napa clinic agreed to provide technical assistance to the center, including video conferencing, case review, training programs and teleconferencing.
The agreement came out of the meeting with Mwansa, Gero said.
“He's so sincere and eager. And he was really representing a country and trying to raise awareness and make their response more professional,” he said. “How can you not want to help?”
Ignorance is Bliss When It Comes to Child Abuse
June 13, 2011
Child abuse prevention organization, Child Matters, believes a recent survey by Research New Zealand into the causes of child abuse has some very ‘telling' results. But these results may not be what many would expect. Current misperceptions are an excuse for most people to distance themselves from the issue and not see it as their problem.
Child Matters spokesperson, Amanda Meynell, says “The results of this research strongly support something that we have known to be true for a very long time - New Zealanders do not understand the issue of child abuse. Until we can get the public to understand this issue better and recognize that it is not just a “Once were Warriors” issue that most of us can completely distance ourselves from, we are never going to make progress on stopping our children from being hurt and killed”
The research showed that just over half of New Zealanders polled believe the cause of child abuse stemmed from cultural issues, while parental experience and economic factors shared equal status at about a third each. (People were able to nominate multiple factors.)
“Awareness and education is the key to stopping child abuse. But right now the public's perception of the extent of child abuse in NZ and where it is happening, is grossly misinformed.”
“For example, most child deaths are at the hands of men, leading most people to assume that men are the predominant abusers. Yet experience supports the fact that most child abuse is perpetrated by women. However, when men abuse children they usually do more physical damage. “
“Many people point to child abuse as being just a Maori problem. We know that Maori are over-represented in child abuse statistics. Yet we also know that this is not occurring because they are ‘Maori'. Maori are over-represented in child abuse statistics because they are over-represented in many other factors that make their children more vulnerable to abuse – young mums, low education, mental health issues and poverty. Research shows that child abuse is occurring in New Zealand in all ethnic groups and cultures.”
Many of these myths and misperceptions around child abuse are a real barrier to facing and dealing with this problem head on. By blaming small pockets of society for child abuse New Zealanders are effectively living in blissful ignorance of the reality – that child abuse is carried out by all cultures, all socio economic groups and both sexes.
Child abuse is a community problem that needs a community solution. That solution needs to involve creating public awareness, training people who are working with and around children, and instilling in everyone that we all have a responsibility to keep children safe.
Child Matters has spent over 16 years providing community education around child abuse as well as providing specialized training to over 20,000 people working with children to be able to spot the signs of child abuse early and provide help.
Child Matters has a national public campaign for television planned that will help raise awareness of the issue and encourage everyone to take responsibility for dealing with it, but unfortunately it does not have the funding to roll out this important initiative.
Child Matters has also recently launched a resource book called How Can I Tell? an educational resource available to the public to help people know what to look for and know what to do. How Can I Tell? is available for purchase from www.childmatters.org.nz.
About Child Matters:
• Child Matters is the only organization in New Zealand solely focused on child abuse prevention.
• It works to prevent child abuse by 1) speaking up for New Zealand children; and 2) educating adults to identify child abuse and take the appropriate action.
• Child Matters is a catalyst in communities, working to connect organizations and build leaders who are making positive impacts on child abuse prevention.
• Child Matters is an independent charitable trust with a cross sector view and influence around child abuse in New Zealand. It has links to all organizations who work with children and enables them to tackle the issue of child abuse in their local communities.
• Every adult in New Zealand is affected in some way by child abuse and, therefore, Child Matters believes every adult has a role to play in protecting children. Its child abuse prevention educational programmers are a powerful solution.
• Child Matters believes child abuse prevention education must be made compulsory for all key organizations working with children.
• Child Matters works with a range of organizations to educate their staff to identify child abuse and take the appropriate action. It encourages organizations to adopt a child abuse prevention education and staff wellness programmer to demonstrate they take child abuse prevention seriously.
• Child Matters operates nationally.
• For more information, visit: www.childmatters.org.nz
Former prostitute shines light on child sex trade in U.S.
Jones was once one of the thousands of young girls each year who are lured, then trapped within America's hidden illegal sex trade.
June 12, 2011
by Corina Gallardo
When April 22 arrives each spring, Carolyn Jean Jones celebrates her anniversary. The date does not mark her birthday, a marriage, or the birth of her daughter.
Instead, it marks the day she left the grim street corners of Phoenix, leaving the abusive life of prostitution, drug use and despair she had lived since the age of 13.
Jones' parents divorced when she was 5 years old, leaving her feeling “torn in two.” The divorce left her shocked, confused and feeling like she had to act differently around each new family her parents formed. If a problem occurred at one house, she would run to her other parent's house.
“Every time conflicts came or emotions came, or confusion came, I just ran,” she said. At the age of 13 Jones was sexually molested. She felt dirty, ashamed.
“Here I was already not feeling good about myself,” she said. “My body had been violated.” She began self-medicating with alcohol. Eventually, she turned to marijuana to “cover up all the sadness.”
Jones' mother worked long hours, often working two jobs at a time. Her stepfather and brother's frequent violent arguments often led to the drawing of guns. Jones, the middle child, was forced to take on the motherly role in her family, taking care of food and cleaning. Despite her mother's absence, Jones said, “My mom did everything she could, so I didn't have to become the girl I eventually became anyway.”
Her life took another turn at 15, when Jones ran away from all her troubles and traded in her home for the street life of Phoenix. “The streets welcomed me, “ she said. “The men were telling me how pretty I looked. “
She heard the words she wished her father had said. For the first time, she felt special. “One day a man told me if I (would) go up to a motel with him, he would give me $100,” Jones said. She was still 15 years old at the time. She accepted, and when they arrived at the hotel the man explained exactly what he wanted her to do in order to earn that $100. With no place to stay and nowhere to go, Jones traded her body for the man's money, beginning her life as a prostitute.
Jones' plight is not uncommon. An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked for sex each year, according to The United Nations Children's Fund.
Oftentimes, children as young as 5 are brought into the sex industry and forced to perform sexual acts against their will. The average age of a child prostitute is 13 years old, according to the Department of Justice.
About 450,000 children in the United States run away from home each year, one third of whom are lured into sex slavery within 48 hours of leaving home, according to a study by the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thruway Children.
At the age of 16, Jones learned she was pregnant with a child of her emotionally and physically abusive boyfriend.
After losing custody of her child, Jones progressed to using crack cocaine to “numb the pain” while continuing with her use of marijuana and alcohol. She continued to prostitute herself and began selling drugs to support her crack cocaine addiction. She was arrested for selling drugs 11 years later and sentenced to 18 months at a drug rehabilitation center.
“I told (the judge) I didn't have a problem selling drugs. My problem was I used drugs,” Jones said. “If he could help me and send me to rehab, I could get myself together.” After the program, Jones stayed clean for 10 years. She got married and her daughter was returned to her. Jones even purchased a house.
But before long, her life began to unravel.
The marriage had fallen apart and the long hours she worked at local churches began taking their toll. Feeling overwhelmed, she returned to her life on the street. “I became a failure, all over again,” Jones said. Soon after, her sister was killed during a rash of prostitute killings in Garfield, a suburb of Phoenix.
Corey Morris, then 24, was convicted of several murders in the area. Morris lured prostitutes to his home with drugs and alcohol. There, he would kill them, and then dump the bodies in the Garfield area behind his uncle's property. Four of the women who were found dead were Jones' close friends.
Investigating sex trafficking crimes presents a uniquely emotional task for law enforcement. “The biggest campaign is education, and then working aggressively when it is suspected that trafficking has occurred,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Special Agent Rick Crocker.
He recalled a case in Memphis, where a prostitution ring trafficking young Latino females was identified.
A 14-year-old girl was rescued from this ring, after being smuggled into the U.S. “It was a very emotional experience, and there was not a dry eye in the room,” Crocker said.
Jones reached her tipping point at a Phoenix bus stop. The feeling she had nothing left to live for consumed her, she said. “I cried out to God and said, ‘Please get me out of this, I don't want to live like this. Give me a chance to live again, a chance to get my life back… I'll do whatever you say,” Jones said. Her resurgence into life away from the streets may have come when she was bit by a poisonous spider.
Jones was taken to a hospital for treatment. The bite forced her to stay in an extended care rest home for a month to recover.
Once she left, she knew she could not return to the streets again. Instead of going home, she returned to a rehabilitation center for three months before working at a separate center where she eventually became a manager.
She worked in that position for eight years before joining a program in Phoenix called Streetlight. The faith-based nonprofit organization, is funded solely by donations. The organization recently opened a chapter in Tucson. Its 2009 income was $1.13 million, according to tax documents.
The program's focus, along with awareness and prevention, is to bring relief and direct services to girls between ages 11 and 17, who have been prostituted or trafficked. Melody Bosna, a residential director at Streetlight, deals with the direct care and management of the girls, who average around the age of 15. The girls come to Streetlight either through FBI and law enforcement, or on their own.
“I think one of the things that just stands out to me with working with this population is how amazingly resilient these children are,” Bosna said. “People tend to think these girls are simply deviant girls.”
Today, Jones focuses on shining light upon the dark street corners, where young girls continue to sell their bodies.
She speaks at schools, churches or anywhere else she can stop someone to trumpet her cause. And to the young, invisible victims of sex trafficking, her message is simple. “It is not about how they start, but how they finish,” Jones said. “Never give up hope.”
Globe's lawmakers grapple with prostitution
by Sam Pazzano
Lawmakers around the globe have grappled with the world's oldest profession in strikingly-diverse ways.
Yet, no one has come up with prostitution laws which fully address the problems and challenges arising from the sex trade.
Some countries such as most of the United States and Ireland use criminal prohibitions to curb the risks and harm linked to the sex trade.
Canada and the United Kingdom don't criminalize prostitution, but place criminal prohibitions on prostitution-related activities such as owning or managing a brothel, living off the avails and public solicitation.
Germany and the Netherlands have taken the path of decriminalizing prostitution but enacted regulations to govern the trade. Brothels are required to be licensed and subject to strict controls by police and other local agencies.
Sweden leaves prostitutes alone but slaps “johns” or buyers of sexual services with criminal sanctions.
The Swedish and Dutch models have sparked emotional debates throughout Europe and western democracies.
Australia's six states and two territories have employed different measures to deal with the issue.
New South Wales has almost full decriminalization and street prostitution is permitted in parts of the state while South Australia has a full criminal prohibition.
Western Australia has a model where most prostitution-related activities remain illegal, but the industry still works with the informal sanction of the police by the way of an arrangement between police and brothel owners.
In the Netherlands, the government's decision to lift a ban on brothels in 2000 has forced municipalities to take steps to deal with problems. Worries over the trafficking and exploitation of women pushed the city of Amsterdam to unveil a reconstruction plan for its Red Light district, confining brothels to a small area and limiting their number.
Other municipalities have shut down street walking zones or limited the number of street walkers. Some municipalities have made conditions almost impossible to meet.
In December 2008, the Dutch government introduced a bill further regulation — requiring sex workers to register under the licensing system and imposing penalties for purchasing sex from unregistered or unlicensed prostitutes.
Even in countries which treat prostitution most liberally, lawmakers can't stop imposing measures to control the sex trade.