||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.
JULY - Week 2
(Video on site)
Casey Anthony Released From Jail
by CHRISTINA NG, LEEZEL TANGLAO and DEAN SCHABNER
July 17, 2011
Casey Anthony, the Florida mother who was acquitted of charges that she murdered her daughter Caylee, was released just after midnight today from an Orange County jail, according to her attorney and jail officials.
She was escorted out of the jail by two sheriff's deputies armed with semi-automatic rifles and was driven away by her attorney, Jose Baez, without speaking to anyone in the mob of reporters and demonstrators.
"This release had an unusual amount of security so, therefore, in that sense, it would not be a normal release," Orange County Jail spokesman Allen Moore said. "We have made every effort to not provide any special treatment for her. She's been treated like every other inmate."
Her release comes 12 days after she was convicted of four counts of lying to police and a day after she filed an appeal of those convictions.
Anthony, 25, was sentenced to four years for lying to investigators about Caylee's death, but she had already served three years and was credited for good behavior. Aside the jail time Anthony was fined $4,000.
Hundreds of protestors, carrying signs reading "Travesty of Justice," "Justice for Caylee ... Bella Vita" -- a reference to the tattoo Anthony got after Caylee went missing -- and "Don't Be a Part of Blood Money," had gathered outside the jail for much of the day.
People in the crowd lined up on both sides of the highway outside the jail chanted "Caylee, Caylee," and cars driving by honked their horns in response a sign saying "Honk for Caylee."
"Nothing like this has ever happened like this in Orlando, so we're here for the experience," said onlooker Francis Muller.
But along with those angry about Anthony's release, were a few supporters of the young woman.
Jose Baez, Anthony's lead attorney, told ABC News she will not be going to stay with her parents and will not be going to Puerto Rico, which had been widely rumored.
He also said that while security is the main immediate concern because of public outrage at the not guilty verdict, there are no plans for Anthony to alter her appearance with plastic surgery.
According to the sheriff's department, the plans for Anthony's release were that she would be driven by jail guards to a secret location away from the grounds, but after that she would be on her own.
Her attorneys say she has received seven serious death threats, including one email photo with a bullet photoshopped through her head, but the sheriffs department said the threats aren't credible and after her release she is on her own.
"We will not be providing any elaborate security or protection for Casey once she leaves," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.
With only a few hundred dollars in donations from strangers to her inmate account and no family support after her scorched earth defense made her mother look like a liar and painted her father and brother as abusers, where she will go is a mystery.
But security experts advise her to stay under the radar and protected around the clock.
"You have to have someone with you -- we call it shadowing -- 24/7," Clark Pena. "You can't see people the way you used to, you can't go out to clubs the way you used to, you can't -- your life has changed 100 percent."
She will also have to deal with several lawsuits, including one filed by Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez who claims the Florida woman cost her a house and a job and subjected her to death threats when Anthony claimed that a babysitter of the same name stole Caylee.
Caylee Anthony died in June 2008 and wasn't reported missing for 31 days.
Casey Anthony claimed for three years that she was kidnapped by a babysitter. Her decomposed body was found six months later in a swampy area near the Anthony home.
At the beginning of her murder trial, Anthony's lawyer said that Caylee actually drowned in the family pool.
Jurors in the case have said they regretted there wasn't a less serious charge for them to consider besides murder.
Opinion: Now there's Caylee: Laws of good intentions
July 17, 2011
by Jenny Carrol
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW AT SETON HALL UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, FORMER ACADEMIC DIRECTOR OF THE OHIO INNOCENCE PROJECT AND A PUBLIC DEFENDER. HER WORK FOCUSES ON CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE AND THE ROLE OF JURIES.
CAYLEE ANTHONY is dead. A jury acquitted her mother of her murder. And the outrage was immediate.
To observers outside the courtroom, the verdict seemed wrong. The jury seemed to have failed in their duty and, if one is to believe the most sensational media accounts, freed a murderer.
With no ability to change the verdict, the acquittal sparked a movement to change the law.
Last week New Jersey legislators joined others in several states who are pushing to enact what has been dubbed Caylee's Law.
A measure introduced by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr., R-Union, would require a parent to report a missing child within 24 hours.
“Common sense dictates that a parent or guardian who does not to report the disappearance or death of a child in their care should be considered criminally negligent,” Kean said.
Sen. Nicholas J. Sacco, D-North Bergen, has introduced a similarly worded bill.
In some states, measures further require that parents report the death of a child within an hour. A grassroots petition is calling on the federal government to enact a similar law.
The sentiment driving this movement is understandable. A child is dead. Her mother's behavior while she was missing and in the wake of her death was inexplicable, suspicious, callous, heartless or guilt ridden – depending on who you talk to (or listen to).
But the law won't bring the child back. And the passage of a law in the name of the child we mourn may well create unintended harms without protecting future children.
Caylee Anthony is not the first child we, as a nation, have collectively mourned or sought to memorialize or posthumously protect with legislation. One need only to look to the laws passed in the Nineties in the wake of the horrific murders of Megan Kanka of Hamilton Township, N.J., or Polly Klaas of California.
These laws followed the best intentions – they were designed, in theory, to protect future Pollys and Megans.
But these laws, no matter how well-intended, had bad consequences.
Polly Klaas's abduction from her own bedroom and murder by a recidivist offender was every parent's nightmare. In response, California and other states across the nation passed “three strikes” laws – allowing for long — sometimes life — sentences for offenders with two prior felonies. Upon the third conviction, or strike, they were “out.”
The idea was if such a law was in place, Polly would be alive— or future Pollys could be saved from predatory recidivists like the one who took and killed her.
Today, however, California's prisons are filled with the unintended recipients of three-strike sentences. Addicts and petty thieves fill the prisons, while the state's economy reels and the judiciary shuts the state prison system down for overcrowding.
The legacy of Megan's Law, passed following the murder of Megan Kanka, is not much better. Designed to alert parents to the presence of convicted sex offenders in their neighborhood and to prevent such sex offenders from living in proximity to schools and other locations, the law has drained enforcement resources that must now be spent confirming offenders' addresses.
In many communities, sex offenders can no longer find legal residence, so they live illegally or without fixed address, defeating the purpose of Megan's Law all together.
More children's advocates sworn in
by Jason Carmel Davis
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
July 17, 2011
A second set of volunteers was recently sworn in as trained advocates for the best interest of children who have been abused or neglected and are involved in juvenile court proceedings.
The volunteers are part of the Livingston County CASA — Court Appointed Special Advocates — Program. The program involves trained volunteers appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interest of children who have been abused or neglected and are involved in juvenile court proceedings.
The 10 new volunteers were sworn in July 5 by Circuit Judge David Reader, who said the program is a valuable one to the children it serves and the court system. He said the volunteers act as liaisons and provide the courts with valuable information that affects the health and well-being of the children.
The first group of volunteers were sworn in earlier this year.
"Some cases may still end with termination of guardianship or removal from the home, but having all the needed information allows (the courts) to make a more educated decision," Reader said.
Through a national, competitive bid process, Howell Township-based LACASA received a grant from the National CASA to develop, implement and direct a CASA program for Livingston County.
LACASA is Livingston County's nonprofit organization for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
"We're thrilled to accept this honor," LACASA Executive Director Bobette Schrandt said.
"It's a natural fit for LACASA because we work so closely with the court system, have a strong volunteer base, and offer several effective programs and services for children and families dealing with abuse and neglect."
Howell attorney Sara Applegate serves as the supervisor of the Livingston County program — one of 24 in Michigan, she said. She said the program gives children in tough situations an adult in their lives they can trust and who's looking out for their best interests.
CASA began in 1977 in Seattle and has grown to include 950 programs in 46 states.
CASA volunteers are appointed only by judges to represent one child at a time and report directly to the judges after investigating the child's situation. They also monitor the child's case and aide the guardian and attorney representing the child when needed.
CASA volunteers are required to be at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED and pass national background checks.
Volunteers are required to complete a 30-hour preservice training program, 12 hours of inservice training each year and have a minimum commitment to the program of one year.
For more information, call LACASA at (517) 548-1350 or visit www.lacasa1.org
Parenting on pause
by Anuradha Varma
July 17, 2011
The Times of India
A teen who mows down people in his luxury car, an infant whose parent changes her sex...Is it time such parents lost custody? Anuradha Varma reports '; A child who is sexually or physically abused at home, infant girls who are surgically transformed into boys at their parents' behest, a child who has access to a chauffeurdriven car and iPod but is sent to school without a bath or breakfast... Is it time for parents to be held accountable and have their parenting rights questioned?
In the West, social workers from Child Protection Services investigate cases of neglect and abuse and retain custody of children found living in an hostile environment. In India, while the Child Welfare Committee is vested with similar authority, it treads carefully. Says Raj Mangal Prasad, chairperson, CWC, "In India, parents treat children as their property. We have to do a balancing act. There are kids who complain that their parents are not providing them an Internet connection or being late with their school fees. Any child above the age of seven can have his say in the courts."
The Salaam Balak Trust, which looks after runaway children, dealt with 450 runaways last year alone. Says A K Tiwari, "Most were victims of physical abuse. They may have been sexually abused as well. We try and rehabilitate them with their families, but in many cases, we realise they have to stay away."
Explains Ajay Sinha, Policy Advocacy, CRY, "The Juvenile Justice Act has a concept of 'fit institution'. Even a family can be classified as 'not a fit institution' for the child by the concerned CWC. If sex change operations have indeed been conducted on children, the CWC of that area can and should take suo-moto cognisance of the cases. Children have a right to identity, derived from the right to life. But a note of caution here: the alternatives, i.e, the children's homes are in bad shape and are not conducive to children's development and wellbeing."
On foster homes, Pinki Virani, the author of Bitter Chocolate: Child Sexual Abuse in India says, "We don't have a system as yet. And it's not a utopian solution. But we certainly need to start laying the groundwork for foster care since it will be required once the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011 becomes law. It is now in the Rajya Sabha, after deliberation — and what one sincerely hopes will be several corrections — will go to the Lok Sabha. Meanwhile, let us understand that this is about what is best for the broken child.
There might be the other parent (the mother/father) who has not actively colluded or blood relatives who can step in. The child cannot be yanked out, brutally, to a completely strange environment when the system is not in place to really let him, or her, feel safe thereafter." Adds Virani, "Aren't we reading reports of severe physical and sexual abuse in governmentrun child-care homes? And thanks to the watchfulness of the media we also increasingly read — even though attempts are made by those organisations to coverup because it would affect their funding — of paedophiles working in NGOs. So, at all times, as adults whose bounden duty is to protect our vulnerable children, we should watch out for not only the very first 'bad touch' but thereafter for the secondary victimisation which can sometimes prove to be even more damaging to the child's psyche."
Comments Vidya Reddy, Tulir Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, "Parenting happens by default and if there was a test, not many would pass. Often, children of sex workers are taken away from their custody. They are not necessarily bad parents. What about rich children who kill people on the road in their Mercedes? Shouldn't such parents be held responsible too? There are many cases of neglect in affluent society too."
The law needs to look at things in a holistic way. Vidya adds, "In a recent case, the father was accused of incest, but the mother was arrested too as an accomplice. Now, the child may turn hostile in court, knowing her mother is at risk too." What if a rapist father returns home after serving his sentence? "Nobody can do anything if the family takes him back," remarks Vidya. Time for the social agencies to step in?
Irish priests say they will not reveal confession secrets
Say they will oppose new Irish law that seeks to force them
by JAMES O'BRIEN, IrishCentral.com
Irish Catholic priests have said that they will not reveal secrets given in confession even though new legislation by the Irish government will call for it.
The new legislation will be introduced after another child abuse scandal in Cloyne, a Cork diocese came to light. As late as 2008, clerics accused of child abuse were being protected by the diocese the Murphy Inquiry found.
The Irish government has now stated that a zero tolerance law will come into effect. However, the group that represents Ireland's Catholic priests says the secrecy of the confession box must be retained.
This directly contradicts new Irish government legislation which will state that the confessional is not beyond the law.
"The point is, if there is a law in the land, it has to be followed by everybody. There are no exceptions, there are no exemptions," said Irish Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
Father P.J. Madden, spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests, however, insisted that the sacramental seal of confession is "above and beyond all else."
"If I'm breaking the law then somebody has to find a way to address that for me ... but in my own right as a priest what I understand is the seal of confession is above and beyond all else," he said.
"The seal of confession is a very sacred seal for lots of different reasons way beyond this one single issue, however serious this one single issue is," Father Madden insisted.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on July 14 that canon law can not supersede state law.
Minister Fitzgerald said the government was firm on this point.
"This is about the law of the land. It's about child protection. Are we saying ... if a child is at risk of child sexual abuse that should not be reported? We cannot say that. The law of the land is clear and unambiguous," she said.
Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore told the Catholic News Service that the it was "unreal to suggest that the seal of confession has prevented the reporting of the abuse of children."
David Quinn, director of the think-tank the Iona Institute, said the government proposal was "unprecedented."
"This would make us the one and only country in the Western world to have such a law. Even revolutionary France in the days of its worst violence against the church did not pass a law requiring the breaking of the seal of confession," Quinn told the Catholic News Service.
He said the government "is clearly missing something that every other government can see, which is that, at a minimum, such a law is very unlikely to lead to a single conviction and, at a maximum, will be counterproductive and will make society less safe, rather than more safe."
"No child abuser will go to a priest in confession knowing the priest is required to inform the police. But cutting off the avenue of confession to a child abuser makes it less likely that he will talk to someone who can persuade him to take the next step," he stated.
Martin 'anger' over church response to abuse
July 17, 2011
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said he feels anger at the 'non-response' of the church to children who had been abused or put at risk. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said he fells anger at the 'non-response' of the church to children who had been abused or put at risk.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said he felt anger at the response - or non-response - made to children whose lives had been ruptured by abuse, at the fact that children had been put at risk well after agreed guidelines were in place.
He said he was aware of the disappointment that thousands of men and women in the Dublin diocese - who had invested time and trainign to ensure the Church would be a safe place for children - must now feel.
Archbishop Martin said much had been undertaken within the Church to improve safeguarding procedures, and that it was now a much safer place even than in the recent past.
But he acknowledged comments that despite words the Church had not learned the lessons.
He said those in Church and State who had acted wrongly or inadequately should assume accountability, and that securing a safe future for children was a huge challenge which could not be addressed in a patchwork manner.
Letter of apology
A letter of apology to the victims of clerical child abuse will be read out at masses in the Co Cork diocese of Cloyne today.
Archbishop Dermot Clifford said the sexual abuse of children by priests in the diocese deserved utter condemnation.
He apologised for what he called the consistent failure to report allegations of abuse to the Gardaí and the health authorities.
He said the people of Cloyne were entitled to expect that all abuse complaints would be handled according to official Church guidelines and he was truly sorry that this had not happened.
The Murphy Commission report, published earlier this week, revealed that the Vatican backed the Cloyne diocese in ignoring the Irish Church's own guidelines on child protection.
Sentencing Advisory Council to review sentences imposed on child sex offenders
by Paul Lucas
July 17, 2011
BRISBANE -- Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Paul Lucas has asked the independent Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) to review the sentences imposed on offenders convicted of sexual crimes against children.
Mr Lucas said he had asked for the review as he was concerned about the penalties being imposed for child sex offences.
"This review by the SAC is about ensuring the harm experienced by the child victim is reflected in the punishment," he said.
"I'm also keen to ensure the current penalties meet community expectations.
"Child sexual abuse is one of the most sickening and heinous crimes a person can commit as it robs the young victim of their innocence and deprives them of the right to his or her sexuality as an adult.
"Many victims state the pain never goes away.
"It is hard to imagine any sort of offending that could do more damage to a living person than this.
"Child sex abuse is absolutely devastating for the victim and some thing that young person has to live with for the rest of their life.
"My reference to the SAC is about child sex abuse crimes generally, however I'm particularly concerned about situations where an adult has abused a child over a period of time by maintaining an ongoing sexual relationship with them.
Mr Lucas said too often people focused on the 'stranger danger' aspect of the threat of child abuse and this was important.
"But the real facts are clear - the overwhelming majority of offenders are family members or someone known to their victim," he said.
"Vigilance needs to start at home as research shows that where the victim was under nine years of age, in 83% of cases the offender was a family member or someone the victim knows.
Mr Lucas said he had asked the Sentencing Advisory Council to provide a report back to Government by February next year.
The Sentencing Advisory Council is currently consulting with Queenslanders abou t their views on the introduction of standard non-parole periods for serious violent offences and sexual offences.
The independent body has been asked to advise the State Government about how standard non-parole periods should work in Queensland, to which offences they should apply and how long they should be for each offence.
Members of the community and key stakeholders have been asked to provide their input by 22 July to inform the Council's final recommendations to the State Government.
Mr Lucas said the government was keen to ensure that sentences reflect community expectations and the harm and devastation experienced by victims.
"That's why the government set up the Sentencing Advisory Council in the first place, which includes victims of crime representatives and real people within our communities," he said.
AMA - Commentary
CEPEDA: Addressing childhood obesity
by Esther J. Cepeda
CHICAGO — Finally, two experts had the courage to state the obvious: Parents who let their children become obese enough to suffer from serious medical complications are committing child abuse.
In their Journal of the American Medical Association commentary “State Intervention in Life-Threatening Childhood Obesity,” Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, and David S. Ludwig, a doctor for the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children's Hospital in Boston, say that despite the well-established right of parents to raise their children as they choose, the state should step into family life in severe cases of life-threatening childhood obesity, just as it would in any other neglect or abuse situation.
Contrary to the worst-case scenarios that flood the mind when you hear someone suggest that obese children need state intervention, the authors did not propose that all parents with overweight kids should have them taken away.
In fact, in their piece they go to great pains to note that for “most of the approximately 2 million children in the United States with a (body mass index) at or beyond the 99th percentile ... state intervention would clearly not be desirable or practical, and probably not be legally justifiable.”
They advocate for interventions in the form of in-home social supports, parenting training, counseling and financial assistance, all of which should be offered before resorting to putting an ill child in foster care. But they say such a desperate measure is preferable to letting a child languish under the parents' chronic failure to address a disease with possibly life-threatening and irreversible surgical options, such as bariatric surgery, as a last resort.
Indignant reaction to the authors' level-headed remarks illustrates perfectly the sad state America finds itself in: Our children are not merely overweight but increasingly morbidly obese, and they're pounded by an unending stream of junk-food marketing and being raised by parents who, by and large, don't understand the basic tenets of sound nutrition or exercise. Children are fed cheap, low-quality junk food at school and live in a country where, according to some studies, doctors rarely discuss nutrition with adult patients and are sheepish about telling them they are overweight. Their average neighbor is outraged that in the middle of an obesity epidemic the government wants to label fast food and sugary breakfast cereals as being bad for you.
Murtagh and Ludwig's commentary comes a week after the latest round of startling facts about the scope of this epidemic were released by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in their report “F as in Fat.” Nationally, about 16 percent of all children 10 to 17 are not just overweight but obese. Other studies have found that almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers carry excess weight for their length, and slightly more than 20 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are already overweight or obese.
Have we gotten so numb to these astounding numbers that anyone can seriously question whether letting a child balloon to a life-threatening weight is actual child abuse? Why is this controversial at all?
I spoke to Ludwig to give him a chance to respond to the uniform fury his commentary inspired.
“We were not trying to say we should penalize people for their choices — we live in a very unhealthy environment for children where there is a lot of government inaction on this health issue and little regulation on the practices of food industry,” Ludwig said. “This is a hot-button issue at a time where there's a lot of anger at the government and any notion that they could be coming to take away children creates anxiety.
“But the government plays a role in protecting children — that's commonly understood and no one objects to intervening when there is physical abuse and failure to thrive. We're facing just such a situation with obesity. We have never before seen so many children so massively obese facing not just down-the-road risks, but type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and actual heart attack collapse immediately resulting from their weight.”
By any reasonable measure, children who are living in homes where their lives are at very real risk because their disease is not being well-managed need government intervention — whether it's parenting training, family counseling, financial assistance or foster care. To think otherwise is to write off millions of sick children and the parents who can't, don't know how, or won't take care of them.
Parenting: So vital, so tough
As millions of shocked Americans read the verdict “not guilty” plastered all over the media, disbelief and sadness for the death of an innocent little angel filled many hearts. Somewhere inside our human consciences, the thought that perhaps we all bore a little responsibility for the unfortunate tragedy became clear.
Sadder still, the reality that many children suffer abuse and neglect on a daily basis within the privacy of their homes should spark our motivation to take action -- with the final realization that the prevention of child abuse is everyone's business.
There are children suffering every day, not hundreds of miles away, but right in our own community. Statistics show that abuse and neglect often happens in the most unexpected of places. Sometimes right next door to where we safely place our children to bed at night.
Everyone knows a neighbor, a friend or a sibling that has dealt with the frustrations of parenting and the challenges faced by young families today. We all have had moments when due to life's circumstances, stressors or pressures, we had to walk away before we could address our children in a calm and safe manner.
With our current economic crisis, high stress levels and scattered nuclear families, the daily challenges associated with parenting are growing at an alarming rate. So many children are at risk of becoming tomorrow's sad headline story. Only by our community pulling together by promoting parenting education and support can we prevent another child from becoming a sad statistic.
In years past, extended families lived near each other and a new mom or dad had availability to seek advice from a father, a grandmother or an aunt. There was respite, as children spent special time with grandparents or other family members, giving the parent time to rest and decompress.
Today, families are spread out, both geographically and emotionally. The demands that are placed on parents trying to juggle all their “roles” can be exhausting. The increasing number of single parents and the challenge of being “both mom and dad” further add to this bleak picture.
Even when well-meaning parents realize that they are “over their heads,” they are often afraid to seek help for fear of the label and stigma that this often brings. So in an ironic twist of fate, within a society where information is available at the click of a mouse and someone can chat with a friend across the globe through social media, many families live in real isolation and desperation.
Fortunately, this trend does not need to exist. There are parenting services within our community, many of them for free, that can help parents navigate the often murky waters of child rearing. Parenting groups are available and can help a parent realize that they are not alone in their frustrations and battles.
Some of these parenting programs come directly to the parent's home, alleviating the cost associated with transportation and rising gas prices. Parenting groups often offer free child care. These parenting classes offer a variety of skills to the parents, such as understanding a child's temperament, setting house rules and boundaries, following through with consequences, and positive ways to discipline.
Research shows that parenting support groups where parents can come together and share parental struggles and triumphs serve as a great medium to help people connect and realize that there is joy to be experienced in parenting, amidst all the apprehensions.
Parents must be shown the importance of self-care and finding a balance in this often topsy-turvy society. Through support and parenting education, a wonderful thing happens: Parents begin to enjoy their children and appreciate them as a blessing and a privilege. Many parents report that their parenting educator served as a model, sometimes the only positive parental model they have had in their lives.
This directly breaks the chain of abuse and dysfunction that is often passed on from generation to generation. Through parenting education, parents can change and improve not only their children's behaviors, but their own!
As a community, we need to act proactively to help those parents who are struggling. We need to facilitate access to the parenting programs we have in our community. Offer a listening ear when a mom looks frazzled at the checkout line. Direct an overwhelmed parent to seek parenting services. Normalize the struggles of parenting without being judgmental or negative.
Let it become a personal challenge to keep the children of our community safe, nurtured and loved. They are our future. Nothing is more precious than that.
Maria Jackman, is the program director of the Family Partnership Center, one of the agencies that serve parents in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties with support and parenting skills. Information: 756-3007, www.family partnership.org
Women religious, hotel work together to raise awareness of trafficking
by Jennifer Brinker
Catholic News Service
July 17, 2011
ST. LOUIS – At 18 years old, Katie Rhoades found herself homeless. On top of that, she was dealing with alcohol addiction and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder from rape and sexual trauma. A friend suggested exotic dancing as a way to make some “quick cash” with the hope it would get her on her feet.
That didn't happen.
Instead, she fell deeper into a hole, surrounded by a life of sex for money, drugs and alcohol. By the time she was 19, she was picked up by a pimp and taken from her home in Oregon to California, where she was groomed as a prostitute.
Now 30 and studying for a master's degree at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Rhoades says she knows all too well the realities of the sex-trafficking industry, which she escaped in 2002. The U.S. Department of Justice notes that approximately 300,000 young girls in the United States are at risk for commercial exploitation each year. The average age of entry for child-trafficking victims is 12 years old.
That's why Rhoades joined nearly 900 Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Louis during the July 9-13 meeting of the community's U.S. federation at the Millennium Hotel to witness as the hotel publicly called for greater awareness of the child sex-trafficking industry.
After months of planning for the federation meeting, the Sisters of St. Joseph and others worked with the Millennium Hotel to sign a “Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.” The code, which was signed at a public ceremony at the hotel July 12, was developed by an international nongovernment organization called End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking Children for Sexual Purposes, or ECPAT.
The six-point code of conduct has been implemented by more than 240 tour operators, hotels, travel agents and others worldwide. Known as “The Code,” it calls participating companies to commit to establish an ethics policy regarding commercial exploitation of children, training personnel, introducing clauses in contracts with suppliers stating repudiation of commercial sexploitation and providing information to travelers and local “key persons” at destinations. The code has received the support of many, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
ECPAT “seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights, free and secure from all forms of sexual exploitation,” said Sister Kathy McCluskey, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph. By signing the code, she said, the hotel “declares itself as a place where the trafficking of persons is not tolerated.” Her statement was met with an overwhelming round of applause by those who attended the signing.
Millennium Hotel general manager Dominic Smart, who signed the document, said the move was a “proactive step” in drawing greater awareness and putting a stop to human sex trafficking. He noted that the St. Louis hotel is serving as a sort of “pilot effort,” with the hope that the hotel chain, which includes 100 properties worldwide and 14 in North America, will implement the code in other cities.
Smart added that several dozen managers in St. Louis already have attended awareness training, which he said included a list of signs to look for that someone visiting the hotel may be a victim of sex trafficking.
Partnering with the Sisters of St. Joseph and the hotel were Nix Conference and Meeting Management, which assisted in planning the sisters' federation meeting; and the Covering House, a new, St. Louis-based nonprofit organization that seeks to assist girls under 18 who are victims of sex trafficking.
During the federation meeting, more than $7,000 was raised for the organization.
Dee Dee Lhamon, founder and president, said her organization is raising money to open two homes for girls in the St. Louis area. One would serve as a temporary “safe house,” with a second serving as a more long-term facility to help young women acclimate themselves back into society. Services will include education, development of life skills, counseling and more.
Groups for survivors of sexual assault
ALAMOSA - Tu Casa is now hosting groups for survivors of sexual assault, date rape, marital rape, and sexual abuse as a child.
These groups are open to the community and area held at the Tu Casa office every Monday starting at 4:30.
For more information call 589-2465.
Program trains adults to recognize signs of child abuse
by Samantha Bryson
July 16, 2011
If the Stewards of Children Program does what it should, then the wall of teddy bears will go untouched, the swings will dangle motionless and the playroom will sit empty.
Although the Child Advocacy Center, located in a 19th Century house on Poplar, designed its facility to make children feel at ease, the kids who pass through its doors are never there by choice; they are the victims of severe sexual or physical abuse that CAC associate director Virginia Stallworth hopes Stewards of Children can prevent.
"This represents a new direction in our prevention work," Stallworth said.
"It was a no-brainer for us, that this was a training session we wanted to bring to Memphis. One of the reasons we were so taken with it is because there is research that shows the training really works."
Stewards of Children focuses on helping adults understand how to prevent the children in the organization's care from winding up in situations where sexual abuse might occur, and how to recognize the signs if sexual abuse is already occurring.
Though the training is currently open to anyone, it is directed primarily at educators, camp counselors, church leaders and others who oversee large groups of children. It emphasizes the need for child protection policies such as banning all "one-adult, one-child" situations.
The education equips adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
One of every four girls and one of every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18, and fewer than one third of them will ever report it, according to research published by Darkness 2 Light, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending child sexual abuse and the creators of Stewards of Children.
The CAC hopes to reach 5 percent of the adult population in Shelby County -- or about 35,000 people -- with the Stewards of Children training within the next five years.
"If we can touch 5 percent of the population, a cultural shift will occur," Stallworth said. "Just like with the seatbelt movement and smoking policies, we want to create a lasting, sustainable change so that it will become second nature for all parents to ask about child protection policies anywhere their kids spend time."
In May, the CAC invited local leaders to a breakfast meeting during which it unveiled its plan and asked for the support of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, as well as Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy and Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald.
The Memphis Police Department promised to put 2,400 officers through the Stewards of Children training.
In the six weeks since CAC began offering the three-hour training session, it has graduated nearly 200 people, including the leadership of Woodland Presbyterian Church, Teach for America educators and the counselors at Shelby Farms Summer Camp.
"It's really changed my perspective on how to observe children's behavior," said Allison Bruff, summer service intern at Shelby Farms. "Sometimes when children act up, it's not because they want to be bad but because something has happened to them. It really fosters a sense of patience."
The session includes video testimonies by survivors of child sexual abuse, exercises that help participants apply what they learned and discussion facilitated by an authorized instructor.
There were 1,901 instances of sexual abuse reported to the Child Advocacy Center in 2010.
"We want to get ahead of this and prevent abuse from occurring in the first place," Stallworth said.
Suspicions of child abuse can be reported to the Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline at (877) 237-0004 .
To sign up for the Stewards of Children course through Memphis Child Advocacy Center, call (901) 888-4363 .
Sexual Abuse of Children
July 15, 2011
Local Talk News Editor
Sexual abuse of a child is when a child is inappropriately exposed or subjected to sexual contact, activity or behavior. It includes any type of sexual contact and can include sexual objects. It is done by an offender. Other forms of sexual abuse include pornography, using a child as a prostitute, exhibition, solicitation or erotic behavior.
It has been reported that sexual abuse takes place more than 80,000 times a year. This is not a reliable number because many cases of sexual abuse are not reported. Many times, the victims are afraid to tell. It may be a long time before they share their story. There are feelings of shame. The offender may play a part in keeping this abuse as a secret. Sometimes, children are provided with candy, toys or other forms of gifts to maintain secrecy.
We often think that sex abuse occurs mostly with strangers. This is not always true. This is common within family members. These include uncles, brothers, sisters, grandfathers, stepfathers and biological fathers. Neighbors and teachers are not excluded from this group.
When families are separated for a long period of time and they rejoin, the siblings do not feel bonded to each other. This contributes to a physical attraction for a family member that has not been part of the household. In my work with sexual abuse, I have found male siblings who engage sexually with their sisters. These have separated for years and finally came to live in the same household. Parents feel at a loss because they do not know how to handle these situations. Parents do not want to lose either child.
Sexual abuse affects victims psychologically. Children after the age of five years feel trapped between the affection they are getting and the understanding that this is a bad thing to engage in. They are confused in this situation. Many times, they begin to act out. They begin to sexualize everything around them. There are cases where the child begins to feel his private parts in public. They also begin to rub themselves on a carpet or on the sofa. Parents have reported that the child is beginning to masturbate.
Children need to receive professional help. This type of activity will not disappear. It is very important to understand this. Talking about it is not enough. Children become very confused when this happens to them. A therapist will help the child understand what happened and why it happened. If this does not take place, children do not understand sexual roles. They do not know what is appropriate and what is not. They grow up confused and grow up having difficulties in adult relationships.
When families come from other countries and sex abuse occurs within the families, there is a fear of reporting it to the police. Families are afraid of deportation if they are not here legally. This is a very difficult decision for them to make. When this is not reported, children come to school with behavior problems. They are then referred to the counselor. If there is suspicion of sexual abuse, the Division of Child and Family Services is called.
They initiate an investigation where the parents must become involved. This is a serious issue for the school and the families. It must be reported so that the appropriate help can be sought for the child. If not, children grow up distrusting adults and sometimes suicide becomes an option.
When a child indicates sexual abuse, it is important to make the child feel secure. This helps the child feel that he/she can talk about what happened and how long it has been occurring. A child can never be blamed. This occurs in some households where the mother holds the child responsible and protects the offender.
It is not fair for an offender to be protected while a child has been abused. There is no excuse for the offender. This type of act destroys the lives of children and leaves deep rooted scars. A professional counselor, therapist and/or psychiatrist can provide help. Parents have a responsibility to protect their children.
For more information, you can check the following websites:
You may contact me at
Breeze of Hope offers assistance for children who are victims of sexual abuse
July 16, 2011
by John Barna
Gloucester County Times South Jersey Newspapers
CAMDEN — When Brisa De Angulo broke her silence about being sexually abused, she wasn't just speaking for herself. She was speaking for hundreds of Bolivian children suffering through the same nightmare.
“I decided to dedicate my life to preventing others from going through what I went through and to ensure that if they do, they would find a comforting place to go,” says De Angulo, a third-year student at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden.
The Camden resident was 15 years old when she was sexually abused while still living in Bolivia.
“I found no place to seek help or professional support,” she says. “Everywhere I went I was blamed. I went from one place to another, and no one seemed to care or take me seriously.”
To prevent Bolivian children from facing the same barriers, De Angulo founded Centro Una Brisa De Esperanza (CUBE), or the A Breeze of Hope Center. It is the only place in Bolivia that specializes in providing comprehensive assistance for children who are victims of sexual abuse.
At CUBE, the children have free access to social workers, lawyers, therapists, and volunteers who provide support.
“Working with the children in CUBE gives me hope for the future and helps me with my own healing process,” De Angulo says. “It's great to see every day how something that was meant to harm me has in a way been used to help heal so many children. Every time I see that my perseverance has helped change a tear to a smile, I am encouraged to continue.”
De Angulo founded the center seven years ago, at age 17, and last year also established the A Breeze of Hope Foundation with her husband, Parker Palmer, who is also a third-year law student at Rutgers–Camden.
The foundation offers theoretical, technical, and financial support to projects that seek justice for child and adolescent victims of sexual abuse through comprehensive management of sexual abuse cases.
It also serves to promulgate non-violent, free-learning models of education that foster safe environments for learning and strive for healthy childhood development.
This summer, De Angulo and Palmer are hard at work in Bolivia assisting CUBE's lawyers with legal research, drafting memos and other court documents, preparing witnesses, interviewing clients, and assisting in trials.
“It really is an amazing experience to work under the supervision of such courageous and experienced lawyers,” De Angulo says. “The lawyers of CUBE are extremely passionate and devoted to justice for child and adolescent victims of sexual aggression. Their devotion to the cause of justice makes working with them a pleasure and very rewarding.”
According to research De Angulo conducted in 2009, 34 percent of children and adolescents in Bolivia suffer sexual abuse before age 18. Before CUBE was established, only 2 percent of all child sexual abuse cases that reached trial in Bolivia resulted in a conviction. Today, 95 percent of the cases that CUBE has taken to trial have resulted in a conviction.
"Working in CUBE has changed my life. It is beyond rewarding, and one thing I have learned in CUBE is that to confront sexual aggression we must work in community,” Palmer says. “Stepping into the underground world of suffering is daunting, and one can't do it alone. In this work, without community, you can't survive."
In addition to their work with CUBE, De Angulo and Palmer have worked alongside Beth Stephens, a professor of law at Rutgers–Camden, in a clinic called “Human Rights Litigation and Advocacy,” where they drafted briefs and memos and performed extensive legal research on international human rights cases.
The class also drafted a complaint to be filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights challenging the failure to protect the human rights of child victims of sexual abuse.
“It's very rare for a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to be willing to talk about it in public and stand up and tell her story. It makes her extraordinary,” Stephens says. “Brisa and Parker are having a tremendous impact on the children they work with at the clinic and are providing essential services to a community that is overlooked. They are also providing a model that represents the work that has to be done to meet the needs of these children.”
De Angulo and Palmer say their Rutgers–Camden law experience has helped prepare them for efforts of legal and judicial reform.
“The professors at Rutgers–Camden are incredible,” De Angulo says. “But they are more than professors; they are truly admirable individuals who not only help students to become excellent legal practitioners, but also strive to see us become well-rounded, upstanding citizens. We feel very privileged to be part of the Rutgers School of Law–Camden.”
For more information about A Breeze of Hope, visit abreezeofhope.org
Task force takes aim at child pornography (With Videos)
July 16, 2011
by ROSE QUINN
As if the video images of a little brunette girl, probably no older than 2, being sexually abused are not disturbing enough, consider this part of the audio:
“Do you like what daddy is doing to you?”
Of 26 individuals arrested for possession of child pornography by the Delaware County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force this year, investigators found the video on computers belonging to four alleged offenders, including retired high school teacher Richard Kalwaic, 68, of Nether Providence, and emergency medical technician Christian Ford, 28, of Harleysville, Montgomery County.
The video, which runs about two minutes and is being tagged by computer-crime investigators worldwide, was also found on computers confiscated from the homes of Theane Fields, 31, of Upper Darby, and Stelbert Russell, 67, of Springfield.
According to Lt. David C. Peifer, task force supervisor, it can take as few as five minutes to establish enough probable cause to obtain a warrant for possession of child pornography.
“We can't tell you how we do it precisely,” said Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green, who lauded the unit's ability to gain access to those who are part of what he called a guarded group of peer-to-peer “intranet” organizations, and take them out.
Online child sexual abuse offenders, reminded Peifer, come from all walks of life.
“They don't have to be computer savvy at all,” he said of the individuals he, Detective Lisa Carroll and more than 100 affiliate members of the task force have found while conducting online investigations for those possessing or sharing files on the Gnutella network.
The offenders, Peifer said, already know the search terms.
“I think what people fail to understand is that these are real children,” he said. “These are clearly images of children, prepubescent children, some as young as infants.”
Carroll made the most recent arrest Tuesday.
An employee for a medical transport service, it happened to be Daniel F. O'Donnell Jr.'s day off.
According to the affidavit, O'Donnell, 26, of Chester Pike in Ridley Park, told Peifer he had viewed images of children as young as 6.
O'Donnell was charged with 30 counts of possession of child pornography, two counts of dissemination of child pornography, and 32 counts of criminal use of a communication facility. He was remanded to the county prison in lieu of 10 percent of $100,000 bail.
The charges resulted from an investigation that began in January, and continued in April, by Carroll, according to the probable cause affidavit. Both times, Carroll was online, and both times she located a computer sharing one or more files on the Gnutella network.
As a result of further investigation, the host computer was traced to an address on Academy Lane in Upper Darby. When members of the task force arrived with a search warrant June 6, O'Donnell told Peifer he had recently moved and his computer was located at his new residence in Ridley Park.
Though O'Donnell was informed he was not under arrest at that time, the affidavit states he provided a statement. He reportedly told Peifer that he is employed by Keystone Quality Transport, lives with his girlfriend and owns a laptop. He said he used certain words to search the computer and at that time, had about 50 images of child pornography on the computer.
“Everyone always asks, ‘Why don't you just shut it down,'” Carroll said, referring to Gnutella.
Unlike AOL, which is based in Virginia, she and Peifer explained that Gnutella is global.
“Additionally,” said Assistant District Attorney Erica Parham, “it has a legitimate use. There are just people out there who use it for unlawful purposes.”
While they are fewer in number, Peifer assured that investigators are aggressively pursuing actual providers of the images.
Peifer is in his 12th year with the task force, which is one of 61 in the country that is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and a leader in the computer-crime field. This year's allocation is $446,000.
According to Green, the grant money is used to equip and train 181 affiliates from 66 agencies, including the Pennsylvania State Police.
“That gives us coverage across all 67 counties in the commonwealth,” said Green.
It's that unique collaborative effort that Green, Peifer and others, including Chris Pawlowski, deputy director of the Delaware County Office of Probation and Parole, credit for the success of the Delaware County task force.
Of the 61 task forces, Green said, Delaware County is consistently in the top five in statistics for arrests, recruitment, education and training. In addition to handling child-pornography investigations, the unit continues to track online predators, as well as an increasing number of sexting cases.
“The amazing thing is how dedicated all of these law enforcement officers are to these tasks,” Green said.
Peifer noted that county Detectives Mark Bucci and Nat Evans handle all the cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Those tips number between 12,000 and 15,000 a year.
Assisting with investigations through the state police are Trooper Michael Fegley, a technology expert, and Cpl. Rob Erdely, supervisor of the state computer crime unit and backup ICAC commander.
Task force members also work closely with members of the Delaware County Office of Probation and Parole.
Peifer said the unit will remain vigilant.
“No one can fault us for trying to help the children,” he said.
He described children in some of the confiscated photographs and videos.
“Some are crying, some are restrained,” he said.
“I've seen ropes. I've seen belts,” Carroll said.
“Some of the things I see are just sad,” Peifer said. “What bothers me most? It's the look in their eyes.”
Though she is required to look at every image found on an alleged offender's computer, Carroll — who is a mom — does not listen to any of the tapes.
“I don't put the sound on. I can't. I mute it,” she said.
Probe into kids for sale offer on eBay
by Jon Kaila and Hamish Heard
A VICTORIAN woman is being investigated after offering her two young children for sale to the highest bidder on internet auction site eBay.
The woman, in her early 30s, lives near Geelong. She wrote a "lengthy sales pitch" that included photographs of her son and daughter, both aged under 10.
Several people placed bids on the sickening auction, which has alarmed authorities.
Detectives from the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse unit were alerted to the internet page by a horrified member of the public.
The page has been taken down and the woman's children could be taken into permanent care.
Victoria Police has decided not to press charges against the mum, who claims the act was a joke.
However, police sources told the Sunday Herald Sun they were disturbed by the incident and in particular the genuine bidders who tried to obtain the children.
Officers continue to probe the people who bid on the children and the Department of Human Services is continuing its investigation into the family.
"Investigators from Geelong were notified last week that a mother was trying to sell her two children on eBay," a Victoria Police spokeswoman said. "Photos of the children, a boy and a girl both aged under 10 years, were included in the sales pitch."
The page was posted on Wednesday and was active until late morning the next day.
"The mother wrote a lengthy sales pitch that was very interesting reading," a police source said.
"She said the page was created as a joke, but what worries us is the people bidding on the auction. Who knows who these people are. They could be paedophiles or anyone. It's extremely disturbing."
Officers immediately contacted eBay, which took the page down within two hours. Auction site staff then provided detectives with full details of the woman.
She faced charges under section 493 of Failing to Protect Child from Harm, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison.
But officers accepted her plea that it was a joke.
However, they have referred the matter to the DHS, which is still investigating the family.
A spokesman said it was possible the children could be taken into care.
"If there is a serious threat to the children's wellbeing and the situation is so bad that the only safe option is for them to be taken from home, then that is definitely a possibility," he said.
"This action could attract the attention of the wrong sort of people, whether it was a joke or not, and the family need to understand the risks and receive advice around that.
"We will continue to engage with the family and assess if there are any underlying problems.
"We need to get to the bottom of why she did this.
"Is there a mental illness, is the mother not coping or was it simply a joke? I don't recall another case like this."
A spokesman for eBay said the case proved it had a good relationship with Victoria Police and had acted swiftly.
"It demonstrates that anyone posting anything illegal on our site is extremely foolish," he said.
Hearing on domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking issues affecting Native women
by USA Senator Daniel Kahikina Akaka
July 14, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, held a hearing today examining impact of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking issues on Native women and reviewing the effectiveness of current federal agency efforts to address the problem.
“For Native peoples, women are sacred,” said Chairman Akaka . “They bring life and nurture us. They malama, they care for our peoples, and we must malama them. Many Native peoples mark the important stages of a woman's life with ceremonies and community celebration. And yet, many Native women find themselves in unbearable situations that threaten their security, stability, and even their lives.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of Native women have experienced intimate partner violence – the highest percentage in the U.S. Native women are also more than five times as likely to die from domestic violence-related injuries than women of any other background. Additionally, one out of every three Native women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
“Grant programs for tribal programs are not meeting the needs, and accessing funds from these programs has many barriers,” said Carmen O'Leary, Director of the Native Women's Society of the Great Plains. “This often results in a mindset that sexual assault, although not acceptable in other places, is acceptable in Indian Country.”
Part of the problem comes from the power that abusers wield within the jurisdictional maze.
“Many episodes of violence against Native women include perpetrators who know that they can continue to offend without any consequences due to the unique and confusing jurisdictional rules present in Indian country,” said Sherry Sanchez Tibbets, Executive Director of the American Indian Community Housing Organization . “With a jurisdictional fix that restores tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians for these limited crimes, the offender that goes unpunished under the current system might finally get what he deserves and his victim might finally achieve a sense of peace, knowing that justice was served.”
Professor Sarah Deer, Amnesty International USA's Native American and Alaska Native Advisory Council Member , testified that one of the biggest detriments to protecting Native women from sexual violence is the lack of knowledge about how severe the abuse is across Indian Country. “Crimes of sexual violence are often undocumented and known to be underreported – and due to the nature of trafficking and prostitution, current understanding and analysis of just how widespread and severe the problems are known to be partial at best,” she said.
The entire hearing can be viewed on the committee's website: LINK
Pedophile amassed a million images of child abuse
July 16, 2011
Police have discovered around one million indecent images of children at a man's home.
The photographs are understood to be the largest number ever recovered by the Metropolitan Police in relation to one individual, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.
Robert Barrow (57) of Plaistow, east London, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court yesterday to making indecent images of children.
The photographs included some deemed to be of the most serious nature, categorized as level five. Barrow is believed to have amassed the collection from a range of sources over a period of 15 years, the spokesman said.
Detectives believe he used the pictures for his own gratification as well as sharing them with others.
Barrow was arrested after admitting he had images stored on his PC before officers had even looked at his machine.
DI Noel McHugh said: "Barrow's activities were on an industrial scale.
"This probe demonstrates the commitment of the Met Police to target pedophiles.
"This is not a victimless crime as each indecent image of a child possessed or distributed represents a child abused in order that the image can exist."
Barrow will be sentenced on September 16.
Daum: Jaycee Dugard and the feel-good imperative
The Jaycee Dugard story has been framed as the kind of tale Americans love best: A redemption story.
by Meghan Daum
July 14, 2011
To watch Diane Sawyer's interview Sunday night with Jaycee Dugard was to wonder at times if that was Dugard herself on screen or an actress hired to play the role of the quintessential survivor. Dugard was so serene and lacking in rancor that it was hard to believe she had been kidnapped at age 11 and held prisoner for 18 years, during which she was repeatedly raped and bore two children, the first when she was just 14.
But there she was, saying things like "there is life after something tragic" and joking about how being locked indoors for so many years was her secret to smooth skin.
The interview, tied to Dugard's just-published memoir, scored big in the ratings. As with the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart, Dugard's story has generated pity, anger and prurient fascination. It's a story that's horrifying in pretty much every imaginable way. Dugard was kept in handcuffs, forced to give birth in a backyard shed and so psychologically damaged that she passed up several opportunities to escape over the years. What's more, parole officers checking on her captor, convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido, managed to miss Dugard 60 times.
These revelations, stunning and grotesque as they are, haven't kept the events from being framed as the kind of tale Americans love best: a redemption story. Although we're not being asked to forget what Dugard endured or to forgive law enforcement's unconscionable negligence, it's clear that just about everyone involved in revealing what happened — from Sawyer to People magazine (which, shortly after Dugard was found, reported on her "sense of comfort and optimism") to Dugard herself — is invested in the notion that this ultimately is a feel-good story. As Sawyer listened to Dugard read from the journal she kept during her captivity — "I am so lucky and blessed for all the wonderful things that I do have" — you can almost see your great-aunt typing them into an email and forwarding them to 100 people under the heading "Words to Live By."
It's interesting (and perhaps not entirely coincidental) that the Dugard special aired around the same time as ABC's announcement that Smart, now 23, would be joining the network as a commentator on missing-persons cases and child abductions. It's an appointment that generates a certain queasiness. Doesn't Smart, who was kidnapped at 14 and raped repeatedly over nine months, want to move on with her life? In fairness, she's already established as a victims rights advocate, but as with Dugard, I detect a need on the part of the media to wrap her story up in a bow, to assure the public that she's OK, to reinforce the central narrative of just about everything we see on TV: Change is possible, maybe even easy; that adversity can be overcome; and that, as Dr. Phil likes to say, there are no victims, only volunteers.
The trouble is, that's simply not true. Dugard and Smart seem to have successfully made the transition to survivor, but to turn them into generic symbols of hope or, worse, to saddle them with the job of being publicly loving, forgiving and grateful despite what they endured minimizes their trauma and panders to audiences by creating a false sense of closure.
The redemption narrative (along with its corollary, the recovery narrative) is dependent on closure — especially on TV. We watch the addict, the obese person and the villainous reality show contestant in the sure and certain hope that sobriety, fitness and a trip off the island are right around the corner. Part of the reason the Casey Anthony verdict touched such a nerve was that it didn't conform to the redemption narrative. The survivor was anything but a hero. No lessons were learned.
None of this is to say that Dugard's grace isn't genuine or that Smart won't do just fine as a talking head. When Sawyer introduced Dugard as "a woman who endured the unimaginable and emerged with powerful lessons on love and life," she certainly wasn't wrong. But Dugard undoubtedly emerged with a lot more than that. All's well that ends well is more spin than reality. That's why we'd do well to recognize Dugard's courage not just in the face of the story she's telling but the one she's living.
The Leiby Kletzky killing: Every parent's fear
Children want their independence and parents fear for their safety. It's a constant tussle, one underscored by the kidnapping and killing of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky in New York.
July 15, 2011
Like little Leiby Kletzky, my youngest child pleaded for a little more freedom at the age of 8. She wanted to walk by herself the 500 feet up our quiet street in the back of a canyon to the corner school bus stop. Our neighborhood is about as safe as they get, except for summertime rattlesnakes. But cars go racing down our hill; would she really keep to the side of the road? If a stranger approached her while she was waiting for the bus, would she really scream and run as she'd been coached to?
I shut my eyes tightly — something I've done a lot in 28 years of being a mother — to squeeze out the image of a giant SUV hurtling toward my daughter's wavy red hair, and said yes. But my husband would always wait for a few seconds after she left each morning, then sneak out onto the front walk to watch her go up the hill. Not for him, this early independence thing.
Having survived third grade, the question this summer is how much freedom she should have as a high school freshman to roam downtown in our little city. How about at the beach? Swimming buddies still seem a necessity. And in front of a manned lifeguard tower, please.
Leiby Kletzky was kidnapped and killed this week as he walked home alone — seven blocks — from his day camp in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Of such rare and terrible tragedies are a hundred daily parental worries born. Our immediate reaction is to tighten the apron strings a little more. Each horrible event involving a child is examined for clues, for lessons that might keep our kids a little safer, at the same time that we yearn for them to have the kind of childhood we remember — roaming the neighborhood, cell-less and unsupervised, until dinnertime. (Though that might be somewhat romanticized. I also remember that many evenings, as I entered the front door, my parents claimed to have been on the verge of calling the police to find me.)
There are parents who are so casual about their children's doings that their permissiveness borders on dangerous neglect; then there are parents who worry so frantically about each little move that years later their college-age offspring email their professors about what kind of spiral notebook and ballpoint pen they should buy. But most of us are, like the Kletzkys, somewhere on the continuum in between. Trying to balance their safety and our sanity. Taking their independence one step at a time — or one short block at a time — to build competence without injury. Reminding ourselves that kids don't come with total-security warranties, yet knowing that no matter how careful we are, should something awful happen to them, there won't be another morning in our lives without pain and guilt.
A few summers ago, our eldest child, then 23, drove from Santa Barbara to see her little sister in a dance show. But somewhere in Ventura County, she lost control of her car, which spun off the freeway and rolled a few times. The tiny car was totaled, but she was, amazingly, unhurt except for a small bruise where the seatbelt had locked her in place. But we'd lectured her so many times on driving safely! We'd gradually expanded her driving radius as a teenager until her skills developed! I had nightmares all summer and called her often to hear her living voice at the other end of the line. And I made sure the insurance money went toward a bigger car.
— Karin Klein
Grandparents can be a lifeline for kids caught in upheaval
When a child's parents had a violent breakup, his grandparents stepped up to the plate and rescued him. He's not alone. About 6.7 million children in the U.S. are now living with grandparents.
by Michael Morris
July 15, 2011
My mother married my father, a violent and abusive man, when she was 17 — a week after she graduated from high school. We fled from him when I was 5, showing up at my grandparents' house during a thunderstorm.
The memory of that night comes to me in flashes. I remember feeling scared and confused. We stood in their living room right by the front door, and I didn't realize that I was trembling until my grandmother wrapped her steady arms around me.
In the months that followed, while my mother went to vocational school to learn a trade to support us, my grandparents stepped up to the plate. They provided me with safe shelter, emotional healing and a sense of who I was and where I came from.
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of children living with a grandparent has increased by 64% in the last 10 years to about 6.7 million. The uptick may be largely an outgrowth of the economy, but whatever is behind it, there are likely to be positives. Grandparents can be a lifeline for children in emotional upheaval. I know this from experience.
Even before my mother took her courageous step toward freedom, I knew my grandparents were in my corner. One evening while we were visiting them, my father and I were out at the barn and I did something that set my him off. I don't remember what it was that night, but it could have been anything — knocking over a rake, laughing too loudly. Whatever it was this time caused my father to scream obscenities and kick at me. I cowered on the ground, covering my head, expecting him to beat me.
Then I heard a body being slammed against the side of a horse trailer. When I looked up, my grandfather had my father pinned and was shouting at him that he was never to speak to me that way again.
My grandfather was a working-class man who wore a cowboy hat. He thought horse sense trumped educated guesses. He worked as a school bus driver, a car salesman — and then, in his mid-40s, he started a logging business and ran it successfully until he retired. There were many reasons to admire him, but it was his action out by the barn that night that first made him a hero to me.
My father did not stop viewing my mother and me as his possessions simply because we had left him. He was once caught breaking into the garage of the woman across the street so he could monitor our activity.
To safeguard us, my grandfather would sometimes patrol the yard with a pistol. My grandmother, meanwhile, protected my sanity. Every afternoon after lunch, I'd rest on the sofa next to her and list all of the people in my life who loved me. It was a daily ritual, this recital of the family members who loved me. If I forgot a name, a great aunt or a second cousin, she would remind me, and each day the list seemed to grow.
For every child in the foster care system, there are at least 20 children being raised by relatives, often by grandparents. This is in many cases the best possible alternative, helping not only to keep the family structure intact but also to save the government money. Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, says, "Conservatively, if even half of the children being raised outside the foster care system in 'grandfamilies' were to enter the system, it would cost taxpayers more than $6.5 billion a year."
The sudden addition of two people to their household can't have been easy for my grandparents. Like the majority of grandparents raising grandchildren, they weren't wealthy. And, as today, there was little in the way of government financial assistance available to them. If a child has been ordered removed from a parent's care, caretaking relatives may qualify for financial help, and in many cases, the relatives' intervention is able to prevent a child having to go into foster care. Shouldn't that be supported too?
Last week, I buried my grandfather. I stood next to his casket and looked down at the marble slab next to it that marked my grandmother's grave. A minister read Bible verses, but it was the voices I remembered from childhood that comforted me. In my mind I heard my grandfather telling me I was just as good as the next person. I heard my grandmother whispering in my ear once again that I would never know just how much she loved me.
My grandfather lived to be 101. Macular degeneration had robbed him of his sight by the end, but not his memories. During my final visit with him, he told me that he dreamed of me. He said that our times as a family filled his sleeping hours.
Just days before that conversation, I had dreamed of him. I was once again standing in my grandparents' living room. He and my grandmother were sitting in their matching recliners. Through the screen door I could make out the lush St. Augustine grass that he meticulously cared for and the blooming azalea bush that wrapped around the pine tree. And when I woke up, I remember feeling a kind of peace I haven't felt in a long time — the kind I had as a boy living under their protection.
Michael Morris is the author of three novels, including "Slow Way Home," the story of a boy caught up in a custody battle between the grandparents who are raising him and his addicted mother. http://www.michaelmorrisbooks.com
Ireland attacks confessional secrecy after Catholic sex abuse scandal
Faith World - Religion, faith and ethics
July 15, 2011
Ireland's prime minister has said Catholic clerics would be prosecuted if they failed to tell the authorities about crimes disclosed during confession, the latest blow to the prestige of the once-dominant Church. A report this week found that the Church concealed from the authorities the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, and that clerics appeared to follow Church law rather than Irish guidelines to protect minors.
“The law of the land should not be stopped by a crozier or a collar,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny told journalists on Thursday, referring to the hooked staff held by Catholic bishops during religious services. Kenny said his government would submit legislation to parliament that could jail clerics for up to five years if they failed to report to authorities information about the abuse of children.
The law will override the confessional privilege in Church law that prevents clerics from sharing information, he said. A series of revelations of rape and beatings by members of religious orders and the priesthood in the past have shattered the dominant role of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Ireland's Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore on Thursday summoned the Pope's representative, the papal nuncio, after the report said that the Vatican had undermined Irish guidelines on reporting sex abuse by referring to them as “study guidelines.”
“We consider it absolutely unacceptable that the Vatican intervened here in a way which had the effect of undermining the efforts to deal adequately with the issue of child sexual abuse,” Gilmore said. “We want a response from the Vatican.”
The report on the diocese of Cloyne in county Cork lists how the diocese failed to report all sexual abuse complaints to the police and did not report any complaints to the health authorities between 1996 and 2008. The bishop formerly responsible for the diocese, John Magee, who had previously served as private secretary to three popes, falsely told the authorities that he was reporting all abuse allegations to the police, the report said.
Child protection moves are overdue but must be backed with support on ground
Will the Government's plans to strengthen child protection laws be robust enough to ensure young people are not failed again by authorities?
They sound impressive. Ministers are responding to the fallout of the Cloyne report through three initiatives, some of which are new and some of which have been in the pipeline for a long time.
Tough new laws to force the disclosure of information on child sexual abuse are among the most eye-catching of its plans.
Under this legislation, the non-disclosure of information about serious offences against a child will be made a criminal offence, with a penalty of up to five years in prison.
This will apply regardless of the internal rules of an organisation, such as in patient-doctor confidentiality. The sole exception will be where a victim requests that information is not disclosed.
In addition, the child protection code – Children First – will finally be placed on a statutory footing. This move means all organisations will have to follow the State's rules on how child protection concerns should be handled.
Child protection groups have welcomed the measures, which they say will lead to a significant cultural shift in how we respond to child abuse.
But there is growing concern about whether the State's overstretched social services will be able to cope with an expected rise in reports of suspected abuse.
A report by the Office of the Minister for Children in 2008, for example, concluded mandatory reporting “could divert scarce child protection resources, causing an extensive administrative burden”.
In addition, the previous minister for children argued against mandatory reporting on the basis other jurisdictions were moving away from such a system because it was unwieldy and inefficient.
Already, child protection services in several parts of the State are operating in “crisis management” mode, according to social workers, and are able to respond quickly to only the most urgent cases.
Additional resources or major reform of social services will be vital if the sense of crisis is not to escalate even further. Whether this kind of funding is available is another matter.
Other plans by the Government to allow for the sharing of “soft information” have long been sought by children's rights groups. Soft information is material that is not strong enough to allow a conviction to be made, but that indicates a concern over the suitability of a person to have access to children.
Numerous reports have recommended such changes as being crucial in child protection.
The absence of legal protection for sharing this kind of information has meant that soft information has not always been shared between authorities.
Until recently, governments had argued the biggest obstacle to the use of soft information was the Constitution's guarantee of the right of a citizen to his or her good name.
However, the new Government is preparing the heads of a Bill for a “national vetting bureau” that will allow vetting of applicants for employees working with children. More importantly, it will allow for the collection and exchange of both “hard” and “soft” information for vetting purposes.
It is likely, say legal experts, that the system could operate without violating the Constitution if it is strictly controlled and allowed a person against whom allegations are made to challenge them if they feel they are not accurate or relevant.
National challenge to create an 'app' against sexual assault
by Nancy Zielinski
Grand Rapids Sexual Health Examiner
Grand Rapids individuals as well as people across the country with creative and technological skills in software development are being challenged by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Health and Human Services, HHS, to develop an innovative software application that provides young adults with tools to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence.
With the “Apps Against Abuse” challenge, launched today by Vice President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, developers will be charged with creating an easy-to-use application that provides a targeted way for women to designate trusted friends, allies, or emergency contacts and a means for checking-in with these individuals in real-time, particularly in at-risk situations. The winning application will also provide quick access to resources and information on sexual assault and teen dating violence, as well as where to go for help.
According to Secretary Sebelius, “Everyone has a role to play in the prevention of violence and abuse. This application can be another way to encourage young women and men to take an active role in the prevention of dating violence and sexual assault.”
Registration is free. The application submission period is July 13, 2011 to October 17, 2011. Winners will be announced October 31, 2011. Additional information and submission guidelines are available here.
Young women aged 16 – 24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, while one in five will be a victim of sexual assault during college.
Sexual assault is forcing or coercing an individual to engage in any non-consensual sexual contact or sexual penetration. In Michigan, the law regarding sexual assault is called the Criminal Sexual Conduct Act. It is gender neutral and includes marital, stranger, date, acquaintance and child sexual assault.
Michigan Sexual Assault: For information on where to get help in Michigan
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Missouri governor signs bill changing school sex abuse laws
by CHRIS BLANK
The Associated Press
Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Thursday that requires schools to share information about teachers who have sexually abused students and restricting online communication among teachers and students.
Part of the legislation is aimed at preventing school districts from unknowingly hiring someone with a history of substantiated sex abuse allegations.
School districts that have employed a staff member with a substantiated allegation involving sexual misconduct will need to disclose that if contacted for a reference by another district. If they don't disclose that information and the staff member later abuses someone else, the original school district could be sued.
Lawsuits will be barred against school employees who are allowed to provide information about former staff members and who follow their district's policies. Staff members who report allegations of sexual abuse by another will not be able to lose their jobs if they have acted in good faith.
The legislation won broad support in the Legislature and was backed by teacher organizations and school administrators.
"We think it represents a step forward in keeping kids as safe as possible at school," said Brent Ghan, a spokesman for the Missouri School Boards' Association.
Officials from the Missouri State Teachers Association and the Missouri National Education Association, which both supported the legislation, said it balances protections for students and rights for staff members.
Lawmakers have considered legislation for the past several years after The Associated Press in 2007 found that 87 licensed Missouri teachers lost their credentials between 2001 and 2005 because of sexual misconduct involving students. The AP discovered that some teachers found to have engaged in sexual misconduct with students were able to get teaching jobs elsewhere in Missouri because the district that fired them did not pass the information to the new employers.
Sponsoring Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, says the measure creates important safeguards that will help to protect students from sexual misconduct by school employees.
Another piece of the legislation requires school districts to develop policies by 2012 for communication between teachers and students that includes text messages, social networking websites and other electronic devices. Those polices are to restrict teachers from interacting with students on websites or in ways that are not also accessible to others, including school administers and parents.
That portion of the legislation has prompted concern from some.
Ghan said it could be difficult to police and might pose potential legal problems. The Missouri State Teachers Association plans to continue reviewing the electronic communication portion and could suggest to lawmakers some possible changes.
One person voicing objections is Randy Turner, a middle-school English teacher in Joplin. Turner said the websites can be a useful tool for teachers and that using them can help educators teach students about how to use social networking sites responsibly.
In addition, Tuner said teachers used social networking websites to confirm their students were OK after a deadly tornado struck the southwestern Missouri city in May. He said the restrictions in the legislation would have made that same process far more difficult.
"There is nobody that gets penalized by this except people who would never even consider crossing the line," Turner said.
The legislation signed into law Thursday also requires annual background checks for teachers, bars registered sex offenders from serving on school boards and creates a new task force of lawmakers and state child welfare officials to focus on sexual abuse of children that and complete a study by 2013.
Report: U.S. child abuse death undercounted
July 14, 2011
LINCOLN, Neb. – The difference in how Nebraska and Iowa report child abuse deaths illustrates one of the key problems with national tallies of such tragedies as pointed out in a new national report.
Iowa reports to the federal government only the deaths of children who have had some contact with its child welfare system.
By contrast, Nebraska reports those deaths, plus others that come to light through media reports, law enforcement authorities and other sources.
As a result, Iowa and Nebraska both reported 10 child abuse deaths in 2009, even though Iowa has significantly more children.
A Government Accountability Office report to Congress, released Tuesday, concluded that the flawed methods used to tally and analyze child maltreatment deaths mean the latest annual estimate of 1,770 such fatalities is likely too low.
Better data, says the GAO, would aid in developing strategies that could save many children's lives in the future.
“Every child death is tragic, and we want to identify those and learn from those,” said Todd Reckling, Nebraska's children and family services director.
The GAO report, the subject of a House Human Resources subcommittee hearing Tuesday, says state agencies and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should broaden the scope of data collection, improve coordination and seek uniform definitions of abuse and maltreatment.
The main source of nationwide data on child maltreatment deaths is the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, which issues an annual report based on information submitted voluntarily by the states.
The latest report, for the 2009 fiscal year, estimated that 1,770 children had died from abuse or neglect, up from 1,450 in 2005.
The GAO notes that many state officials believe that increase stems at least in part from new procedures and better reporting, rather than a surge in the abuse of children.
Essex County executive says Newark nonprofit child abuse center will stay open despite state funding cut
TRENTON — Wynona's House will go on, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said today — even if the county has to find the money the nonprofit child abuse investigative and treatment center lost under the new state budget.
DiVincenzo also said that based on numerous conversations he's had with administration officials while Gov. Chris Christie has been away on vacation, he is hopeful the governor will help save the Newark facility.
But there has been no definitive talk about how much money, if any, the state would be willing to restore, DiVincenzo said. Christie's budget, signed into law on June 30, eliminated $573,000 or 75 percent of the program's state funding, leaving them with $191,000. The substantial loss would force the program to close, top officials at Wynona's House have said.
Since 1999, Wynona's House has brought law enforcement, medical, child welfare and mental health professionals under one roof to aid child victims of sexual and serious physical abuse.
"They are committed to work with us, to make sure there is no interruption of services,'' the county executive said. "I take them at their word. Every commitment this administration has made to us in Essex county has been kept.''
Whatever Christie decides, DiVincenzo said, the program will survive. "Whatever it takes - if it takes additional dollars on the county side, I am willing to make that commitment.''
"Every urban center should have a facility like this. it's really a model program for the entire state,'' he added.
Christie's spokesman, Michael Drewniak, declined to discuss where negotiations stood at this time or whether the state intended to restore any funds. "At this stage, we are working with the county executive to be sure there is no interruption in services.''
The cut to the program's budget, sparked outrage from child welfare professionals and Democratic lawmakers, who scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday to discuss all of the governor's last-minute budget cuts that will affect children.
Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), one of the most outspoken critics of the blow to Wynona's House, said he hopes the program will be able to go on as it has for more than a decade. "They have been able to use every dollar efficiently and effectively. I just hope this is all true, there are no strings attached, and they will be able to operate as they have been.''
Nancy Ericka Smith, who chairs the nonprofit's board, expressed gratitude to the county executive. "Thank you Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, who has supported Wynona's House from day one — when it was still a dream, from all of the children and families who are served at Wynona's House.''
Unique therapy reduces risk of child abuse
A Griffith Health Institute trial involving 150 Queensland mothers and their children shows that a specially-adapted early intervention program significantly reduces risk factors associated with child abuse.
The coercive, stressful family environment which leads to incidents of child abuse in the home is being overcome through Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), a hi-tech interactive therapy program.
A unique part of the therapy involves mother and child in practice sessions where mum is offered guidance by a PCIT therapist using a bug-in-the-ear device.
The therapist observes real-time interaction between the mother and child from behind a two-way mirror.
The new study, carried out by Dr Rae Thomas and Professor Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck from Griffith Health Institute's Behavioural Basis of Health program, surveyed families known to child protection services and identified as vulnerable to child abuse.
It found increased parent sensitivity, better behaved children and lower child abuse potential among families who received the therapy.
Half of the participants received PCIT while the second half (control group) was placed on a 12-week waiting list and were contacted weekly to discuss concerns.
This group was offered PCIT at the end of the 12-week period.
"With the first group there were significant reductions in the potential for child abuse to occur and this ultimately resulted in fewer notifications to child protection services compared with the families on the waiting list," Dr Thomas said.
Previous research has shown coercive parenting, a lack of positive parent-child interactions and low levels of parental warmth to be key risk factors for child abuse.
This pattern of interaction leads increasingly to a demise in positive child behaviour, greater stress, and excessive disciplining of the child that can escalate to abuse.
PCIT reduces the factors associated with coercive family relationships by coaching the parents to have a more positive and sensitive interaction with their children.
"Parents reported distinct improvements in areas like stress and depression, and their interactions with the child improved," Dr Thomas said.
"They also felt their new approach to parenting had a direct effect in improving their child's behaviour and even how their child reacted in challenging situations.
"Many described themselves as feeling more competent as parents."
The study is the first evaluation in Australia to test PCIT with families where there is known or suspected maltreatment.
Further research is required to identify the essential component of PCIT that produces the positive change .
However, Dr Thomas believes this evidence-based intervention could be a treatment of choice for practitioners working with parents at high risk of child abuse.
Murkowski “Shines A Light” on Native Sex Trafficking
Indian Affairs Committee Hearing Also Touches on Abuse, Youth Suicide Rates
July 14, 2011
(SitNews) Washington, D.C. – United States Senator Lisa Murkowski today seized the opportunity of a U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing to call attention to the “staggering” and “unacceptable” epidemic of domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking among Alaska Natives and American Indians nationwide – and to get answers from federal officials about efforts underway to address the problems.
“The statistics on violence and assault are staggering, and whether it's one in three or one in four, any act of violence is unacceptable,” Murkowski said, opening the hearing. “I meet with far too many Alaskans who tell me things may be worse – there is so much whispered and silenced into the shadows, which damages not just the victims, but also their families.”
Senator Murkowski's first question was to the Department of Justice, asking an Associate Attorney General, “Young women are being hunted. You've got predators waiting outside homeless teen shelters, going to events like the Alaska Federation of Natives conference. What is the Department of Justice doing to target these sex traffickers?”
Associate Attorney General Tom Perelli told the Senator that the problem was “a scourge” and that the Department of Justice wants to improve training, give local authorities more flexibility with federal grants and provide safe places in urban areas, as well as rural Alaska.
Senator Murkowski followed up by asking whether the Department of Justice would be assisted by having clarification to Mann Act violations, where it is a crime to transport people across state lines for illegal activities such as prostitution.
Moments later, Senator Murkowski asked Dr. Rose Weahkee of Indian Health Services if she could confirm a link between household violence and Alaska's rates of youth suicide. Weakhee informed her that all research suggests that children in houses with domestic violence, sexual assault, family violence and similar risk factors are connected to youth suicide.
On the Web:
A high-quality downloadable MP4 file of the hearing is available by clicking here.
Source of News:
Office of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Human Trafficking In The Central Valley
by Rich Rodriguez
Human trafficking is nothing new. It's just Fresno Police and allied agencies are taking a more active role to combat the problem. The most noticeable human trafficking is the sex trade involving prostitutes.
Prostitutes have been walking the streets of Fresno for decades. But where they strut is subject to change. Sgt. Curtis Chastain says many girls aren't from here. "The girls are recruited from everywhere under the sun. They're recruited from out of the country and within the country. Locally they're recruited out of places such as foster homes. Runaways are a big number."
Sadly many of these working girls strike up a relationship with a pimp. When things go south, they wind up on the street.
Jody Ketchside is the project manager for Central Valley Against Human Trafficking. "There's a definite sense of fear. They're terrified to leave. They're beaten and ultimately controlled."
Fresno Police are working with a Central Valley coalition to curb human trafficking. Last year they got a half a million dollar state grant to attack this growing problem. Sgt. Chastain says hookers are treated like cattle sporting tattoos like a brand on a cow. "It's common for pimps to encourage and talk the girls into getting tattoos either with their names or a nickname or a moniker of the pimp."
Sgt. Chastain is a sixteen year veteran working vice. In the last three months he says Fresno Police have investigated 120 cases that could be associated with human trafficking. What can the average citizen do to help? Jody Ketchside says speak up. "Follow your gut. There are instincts that we're all gifted with. When something doesn't seem quite right ask questions."
There are two Human Trafficking Hotlines to report incidents anonymously. The local hotline is (559) 621-5950. The national hotline is 1-888-373-7888.
A facility aiding abused children, Wynona's House loses state aid
July 14, 2011
by NIA H. GILL
The Montclair Times
In Essex County there is an extraordinary house, and that house is called Wynona's House. And every day at Wynona's House, sexually and physically abused children come to be cared for.
If you open the door to Wynona's House and look inside, you will find children and their families struggling to cope and understand why they were, or their child was, abused. What you would witness is a family — regardless of wealth, education, or zip code — at their most vulnerable.
If you were to look further into Wynona's House and walk through its hallways, you would understand what makes this house unique. Unlike any other child advocacy center in the state, you would see a team that works full-time out of the house — comprised of law enforcement, social workers, medical professionals and psychologists.
In 2010 this team served 658 victims of child sexual and physical abuse, most of who were between infancy and 11 years old. In the first six months of 2011, Wynona's House served 323 children, 62 percent of which were below the age of 11, and 72 percent of the abuse cases the team saw were sexual in nature.
This co-located approach is recognized nationally as the best practice for how to organize a child advocacy center. And is precisely how one would expect New Jersey to care for its children that were sexually or physically abused. Wynona's House's mission is to "create a community where children are safe, families are strong and victims become children again."
By coordinating all the services in one house, Wynona's House is not only successful in aiding the child victims and their families, it also saves the state over $1,000 per case.
Instead of supporting this necessary and money-saving program, Gov. Chris Christie unilaterally decided to force Wynona's House to close its doors by cutting $537,000 from his own proposed budget. This funding represents approximately 45 percent of the house's budget, which has been included in every budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor since Fiscal Year 2009.
While it is perplexing that the governor would cut this money from his own budget, especially when there is a $600 million surplus, what is most disturbing is that while the governor can use his red pen to veto the funding for abused children, he can provide no explanation for the cut and no alternative assistance for the child victims.
At times like this, we are reminded why it is so important that the Legislature is a co-equal branch of government. Unfortunately, on Monday, the Republicans in the Legislature voted along party lines, 24-16, to allow the governor to close Wynona's House.
While we do not know where the sexually and physically abused children will go in Essex County or how exactly they will be cared for, we do know that the Republicans in the Legislature abdicated their responsibility to protect our state's children and allowed the governor to cross a dangerous line unchecked.
Even though Monday's vote was a setback, I urge you to contact those legislators that did not support Wynona's House, and hopefully we can restore the funding to the extraordinary house in our county.
A Montclair resident, Nia H. Gill is state senator representing the 34th District.
Braun: Victims of child abuse overlooked in Christie budget cuts
July 14, 2011
by Bob Braun
NEWARK — Child sex abuse. Human behavior doesn't get uglier. So, when people inside government and out cooperate to ease victims' pain and effectively go after the creeps who hurt kids, their efforts should be applauded and supported.
But that doesn't happen in New Jersey. In New Jersey, more than $500,000 that went to keeping a place like Wynona's House running was eliminated by Gov. Chris Christie's veto pen. The Republicans in the Senate wouldn't help Democrats override. The governor's spokesman said the services offered by the center could continue through different means.
“That's incorrect,” says Keri Logosso-Misurell, who runs Wynona's House, a unique center that puts together law enforcement, medical treatment and family therapy all under one child-friendly roof, a place that doesn't close down after 4 p.m. or on weekends when government does. “We can do things other agencies cannot do separately because those services are fractured. In different places.”
Child abuse is not an issue people want to think about. Sure, it can happen to rich people as well as poor, but the poor are especially vulnerable, especially in a bad economy. As usual. The administration casts this cut as just one more contribution to the state's fiscal health, one more way of avoiding taxing the wealthiest. But if you're poor, if you're on the bottom looking up, a place like Wynona's House sure looks good and can make life a whole lot easier. Most things about government, however, are never seen through the eyes of the poor.
“New Jersey may be financially broke, but we're not morally bankrupt,” says Kevin Ryan, the former state commissioner of children and families who now runs Covenant House. “The kids served there are the most seriously sexually and physically abused children in New Jersey. You just can't believe what people have done to these kids.
“It's so horrible, most people can't comprehend it. Wynona's House is the place where they heal, and they truly do,” he says. “I've met these children over the years, both before and after their time there, and there is no question in my mind that Wynona's House makes miracles happen.”
There was a time when helping abused children was a priority. In the past, both Democrats and Republicans supported the Newark center, named after the late state Sen. Wynona Lipman (D-Essex), a champion of children. But this is an era of what economist Jeff Madrick calls “greedism,” when everybody's out for self-interest and government is a hairy monster eating its young. Tax breaks for hedge funds, good; help for abused children, wasteful.
Here's Wynona's House: A center that brings together state children's workers, medical practitioners from Beth Israel Medical Center, Essex County prosecutors and detectives, Newark police and privately paid workers who take in kids and families and try to make them whole — even providing them a summer camp — after a child has been raped or otherwise assaulted.
Abused children don't have to be interviewed a half-dozen times or more. Cops and social workers work together to find out what happened, who did it, and what can be done to repair a life torn apart. Disasters like the wrongful convictions of child workers can be avoided.
“Having all these agencies work together makes the provision of services quicker and more effective,” says Donna Pincavage. She works for Beth Israel and runs the medical end of the center, complete with child-friendly examination rooms that aren't all white walls and steel cabinets. Kids are surrounded by murals of birds and fish and things that don't mean much to anyone but a scared kid. A toy room and a waiting room that looks like a living room.
A nice place — not like a police interrogation room or an emergency room waiting area.
But trying to make pain for children go away is apparently no longer a priority for state government. Some of what's been described here about Wynona's House will be savaged and ridiculed by those who don't believe one reason why we're here is to help each other, especially the weakest and most vulnerable.
“We keep children and families going,” says Logosso-Misurell.
Caylee's Law Won't Stop Child Abuse and Neglect
Until we fix the fundamentals of reporting and prosecution, parents will still get away with killing their children
In a perfect world we wouldn't need a Caylee's Law, but we do. Or at least we did. The law, inspired by an online petition, has been introduced in one form or another in almost 30 states including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It makes it a felony for a parent or guardian to fail to notify police within 24 hours after discovering a child is missing.
Casey Anthony was shown in court documents partying during the 31 days her 2-year-old daughter was missing. When Caylee's remains were found in a forest wrapped in a plastic bag, too much time had gone by to collect DNA evidence. Casey Anthony was found not guilty of all felony counts including abuse.
The new state laws are fueled by the emotions of the case. There are constitutional questions about the law and concerns about misuse; but softened and worded carefully, the law is a good idea and seems inevitable.
But the law is inspired by the emotional false hope of retroactivity. There is a strong belief that Casey Anthony got away with murder, and this law would have given prosecutors and the jury another count to put the mother in prison for years. But what is done is done and the law only underscores the problems with laws enacted after the fact. They are often case-specific and thus ineffective in dealing with a much bigger problem. Mothers, fathers and guardians are cleared or woefully under-sentenced in the death of a child everyday in this country.
In a perfect world an estimated 2,500 children wouldn't die from neglect and child abuse in this country every year, but they do. And it will continue unless we do something about it.
Cindy Christian, a child abuse expert from Philadelphia's Children Hospital, told me, “If you are going to kill anyone, kill your own child because chances are you'll go free.” Those words were haunting. They were meant to be. Christian testifies as an expert witness in child abuse and neglect cases across the area and is frustrated at the inability of the justice system to convict the worst kind of killers—the kind who kill their own child.
One of the biggest problems is the under-reporting of child abuse and neglect until it's too late. Two years ago in Indiana, 13-year-old Christian Choate died after years of child abuse. After his death, police found a note he had written wondering when someone would check in on him and give him food and water. The boy's father and step-mother are charged with murder. But court records show that at least a dozen people knew or suspected child abuse and failed to report it.
A “Christian's Law” requiring that suspected child abuse be reported may be a stronger law-enforcement tool to help prevent the death and maltreatment of children.
It would also help if all suspected abuse and neglect deaths are recorded properly. A recent analysis of child deaths in 15 states by the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child deaths shows that there were twice as many neglected deaths in those states than reported to the federal database. In most states, the only neglect cases that get reported are the ones that were already the focus of a child welfare investigation. Under that criterion, Caylee and Christian would not make the national database.
There are so many problems with the reporting, prosecution and recording of child abuse deaths that there is a real fear the passing of “Caylee's Law” may give the public the false sense that the problem has been solved. When in reality, it would do nothing to prevent the seven children who die every day in this country from abuse and neglect.
If legislators really want to do something positive, they should call Cindy Christian at Children's Hospital and ask her what laws we need to protect children like Caylee Anthony and Christian Choate, before the worst happens.
LARRY MENDTE writes for The Philly Post every Thursday. See his previous columns here. To watch his video commentaries, go to wpix.com.
by MIREYA GARCIA
Child Abuse Numbers Spike In Military Community
Case Load On Track to Surpass 13,000
KRDO NewsChannel 13
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- If you've noticed a big jump in cases of child abuse in El Paso County, you're not alone.
Experts told Target13 Investigates it's a real trend, and many of those cases are coming out of our military community.
Now, El Paso County and local programs are reminding the community that there is help to avoid becoming a statistic.
El Paso County consistently has the highest number of child abuse case in the state of Colorado. Last year the number of cases was 12, 604, but this year the projected number is 13,000.
County officials tell Target 13 Investigates they are seeing a pattern. Many of the little victims have young parents between the ages of 18 and 25.
“We are working with other nonprofit agencies to help educate parents, specifically young parents and those military families, to not hurt their children,” said County Commissioner and Department of Human Services liaison Sallie Clark.
Cases involving military families are up to 9 percent. That's almost double the rise from last year.
Advocacy centers attribute that jump to stressors common in the military community.
“In the military population there was always a problem because of the stressors, and that was when we weren't at war. Now that we are at war, and we've got these soldiers going to Iraq and Afghanistan for the fourth or fifth time, there is a high contribution factor to abuse occurring,” said Sandra Hernandez, the executive director of Centro de La Familia.
Centro de la Familia, or family center, is an advocacy group that specializes in counseling the Hispanic community. The group says the best way to prevent tragedy is to take parenting classes. The ones they offer are free or low cost.
Hernandez said that parenting is not something that comes second nature, and that parenting classes can benefit anyone.
“It's not instinctual, absolutely not. It is something that needs to be learned,” said Hernandez.
So far this year, five El Paso County confirmed deaths have been children, and all of the children were under 3 years old.
Human Trafficking Task Force Keeps Busy
With the help of a $450,000 federal grant the Clearwater Police were able to spur a task force against human trafficking in 2006. It has kept busy since.
by Jared Leone
In July Largo Police charged Joseph Lallier with human trafficking and possession of narcotics after he called police to report a domestic disturbance. Turns out he controlled his female victim by giving her prescription medication in exchange for sexual favors, according to Largo Police. Human trafficking cases like this and those on a larger scale are happening often enough that law enforcement officials designated a task force to end it. With the help of a federal grant the Clearwater Police were able to spur a task force against human trafficking in 2006. It has kept busy since.
The Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking has made 104 arrests for human trafficking which include 37 convictions as of January.
According to the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, this crime involves the commercial use and exploitation of people who are forced into the sex trade or other forms of servitude for the gain of another. It may involve “forced prostitution and pornography, involuntary labor, servitude and debt bondage.”
One issue is that many victims of human trafficking don't know they are being victimized. “If you were robbed at the ATM, you'd give the information to the officer and go back home and have a support mechanism in place,” said Lt. George Koder of the Clearwater Police Department and a task force member. “Most of the victims we come across don't have that. They don't realize they are victims.”
Koder explained that trafficking victims are either brought into the country illegally or they are runaways who might believe the situations they find themselves in are better than what they escaped from.
“The victims aren't going to call 911,” he said. “The teen girls aren't going to call the police. The undocumented immigrants aren't going to call. We need the public to understand what's going on to protect their own kids.”
Clearwater Police started the task force with a $450,000 federal grant October 2006. The mission of the task force is to identify and rescue victims in the Tampa Bay area. If you suspect human trafficking on your street call (727) 562-4917.
|What: Human Trafficking quarterly meeting
When: 1 p.m. Thursday (July 14)
Where: Pathways Community Church, 801 Seminole Bv. Largo 33770
Call: 727-562-4433 or e-mail Carol.McAnally@MyClearwater.com or visit http://www.catfht.org
Human Trafficking In Pinellas County:
|2011: Joseph Lallier, of Largo, was arrested and charged with human trafficking and possession of narcotics after he called police to report a domestic disturbance July 21. Lallier, 63, controlled his victim by giving her prescription medication in exchange for sexual favors, according to Largo Police.
2010: The FBI raided homes in Largo and Clearwater where they find 27 people of Hispanic and Asian descent living in cramped quarters. The victims were being forced to work at a local restaurant. However, no arrests were made.
2009: After a two month investigation, several women are rescued from a human trafficking ring in Treasure Island in May. The women were subject to mental and physical abuse and forced to dance at various nightclubs.
2007: A 15 year old Mexican girl in the Clearwater area is rescued after being impregnated by her trafficker. The trafficker is arrested and prosecuted in another state. The victim is was given a T-Visa, which allows her to stay in this country.
Gov. Jindal signs bills to protect children, elderly
by Carolyn Roy, New Media Content Director
BENTON, LA (KSLA) - Governor Jindal made a stop at the Bossier Parish Courthouse Wednesday to sign five bills into law aimed at protecting children and the elderly.
HB 55 will stop convicted sex offenders from using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Governor Bobby Jindal says, "We are targeting monsters that post advertisements or listings of children for sexual services on the internet. Just earlier this year, a man was arrested for trafficking a 15-year-old girl in a hotel in Baton Rouge. He had placed an advertisement online selling her for sex. We must put an end to this horrific crime. Criminals are using the internet to expand the reach of their crime, facilitate their criminal enterprise and commercially sexually exploit our children. We will stop this from happening and this new law is a step in the right direction."
Jindal also signed bills that strengthen the penalties against people who target senior citizens, as well as those involved in sex trafficking. "One of my top objectives as Governor and as a father of three young kids is to make Louisiana the safest place in the country to raise a family. For more than three years now, we have worked to protect our Louisiana communities by passing some of the toughest laws on those who seek to harm our kids – whether they are common criminals, sex offenders or drug dealers. I want the message from these five new laws to be clear – if you want to prey on a kid, if you want to harm a child, you do not want to do it here in Louisiana. Here, our laws are tough, our justice is swift and our penalties are strong."
HB 49 cracks down on the growing crime of human trafficking. Currently, human trafficking statutes criminalize the actions of the human trafficker, but they do not address a person who knowingly facilitates the crime. This new law will equalize the punishment for the person who helps the human trafficker with the punishment for the person who is actually engaged in the human trafficking. This new law will also expand the type of actions that will put a criminal under the provisions of the human trafficking statutes.
HB 86 equalizes the penalties for sexually abusing people over the age of 65 and people with a physical or mental disability with the penalties for those who sexually abuse children under the age of 13. Currently, when a person is convicted of sexual battery or sexual battery of the infirm, they can only receive a sentence of up to ten years. However, when a person is convicted of sexual battery and the victim is a child under the age of 13, the minimum sentence is 25 years.
HB 94 transfers the Missing and Exploited Children Information Clearinghouse from the Department of Children and Family Services to the Office of State Police. The Missing and Exploited Children Information Clearinghouse maintains a database on all reports of missing children from parents, law enforcement, other state clearinghouses and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The information is disseminated to law enforcement agencies within Louisiana and to other states.
HB 131 ensures that sex offenders are complying with their current registration requirements and do not circumvent state law. Currently, a sex offender has to get a driver's license or ID card that states "sex offender" on it, and that must be renewed every year. However, if they carry counterfeit identification, or they alter their license or card in some fashion, then this is not a violation of their registration requirements. This new law will make it a violation of a sex offender's registration if they fail to get a driver's license or ID card with "sex offender" labeled on it, are in possession of identification that is altered with the intent to defraud or if they are in possession of counterfeit identification.
From the White House
“Apps Against Abuse” Challenge to Help Address Sexual Assault and Dating Violence
by Kathleen Sebelius
July 13, 2011
Today, we are taking a new approach in our effort to address dating violence and sexual assault.
Working together with my colleagues in the Office of the Vice President and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, we launched the “Apps Against Abuse” technology challenge - a national competition to develop an innovative software application, or “app,” that provides young adults with tools to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence. I had a chance to discuss the challenge, along with other ways agencies can attack this problem, during a meeting hosted by Vice President Biden at the White House earlier today.
Having spent years volunteering with victims of domestic violence, I've seen firsthand how vulnerable some women are in their own homes and their communities as a result of violence and abuse. Young women face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. Nineteen percent (nearly 1 in 5) of women report experiencing sexual assault while in college. And while a majority of college students say that it is important to intervene, many often say they don't know how. Moreover, over half – sixty percent – of college students who have been in an abusive relationship say no one helped them.
Through the “Apps Against Abuse” challenge, developers will be charged with creating an easy-to-use application that provides a targeted way for young women to designate trusted friends, allies, or emergency contacts and provide a means for checking-in with these individuals in real-time, particularly in at-risk situations. The winning application will also provide quick access to resources and information on sexual assault and teen dating violence, as well as where to go for help.
“Just as technology is changing the way young people communicate with each other every day, it's also changing the way young people can protect themselves and their friends from becoming victims of sexual violence. This challenge is a chance to empower a new generation to take a stand against violence,” said Vice President Biden, who for over 20 years has led the fight to combat violence against women, including authoring the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 when he was Senator. In April, the Vice President introduced comprehensive guidance with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to help schools, colleges and universities better understand their obligations under federal civil rights laws to prevent and respond to the problem of campus sexual assault.
The “Apps Against Abuse” challenge furthers federal efforts to increase support for victims of sexual assault and abuse and create innovative and targeted ways to bring about change. As Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer said, "We want to tap into the creativity of the American people to empower women who wish to communicate distress in a trusted and immediate way."
We believe it is more important than ever to support programs that help prevent violence and save lives, and we remain committed to supporting a wide range of programs that provide services, information and other resources to address violence against women as part of broader program goals.
Additional information and submission guidelines are available at the "Apps Against Abuse" website. The winner of the challenge will be announced in October 2011.
Kathleen Sebelius is the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Actor Kevin Bacon, left, and his brother Michael
Bacon perform with their band the Bacon Brothers
Band at B.B Kings on May 19, 2007 in New York.
Star-studded fundraiser coming to Bloomington
BLOOMINGTON — The six degrees separating Kevin Bacon from Bloomington-Normal will fall to none.
Bacon is among more than two dozen celebrities coming Aug. 12 to the Parke Hotel and Conference Center to raise money for a new Peoria-based social agency called Justice for All Revolution.
The gala's list of stars, which its organizers say is expected to top out at around 35, was at 27 on Tuesday.
It included, besides Bacon and his Bacon Brothers Band, actors Corey Feldman and Lorenzo Lamas, soap opera star Max (“All My Children”) Decker, cult horror icons Kane (Jason from “Friday the 13th”) Hodder and Tony (“Candyman”) Todd, Oscar-nominated actress Sally Kirkland, Cheap Trick's John Brandt and pop singer Micki Free, whose band Shalamar had a chart success (“Dancing in the Sheets”) from the soundtrack of Bacon's 1984 hit “Footloose.”
Justice for All Revolution bills itself as “one of the first online interactive, self-help social networks dedicated to offering direction and hope to people around the world, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.”
Working out of an office at 1014 W. Pioneer Parkway, CEO Patty Cummings said the network hosts 17 categories of live interactive chat discussion rooms, each with its own blog and access to private e-mail messaging.
In development since April, the website went live a week ago, she said.
The subjects include “Adult Survivors of Child Abuse,” “Cancer Victims and Survivors,” “Grieving the Loss of a Loved One” and “Veterans.”
Cummings describes it as “like MySpace and Facebook mixed together.” Each of the celebrities at the gala has issues in one or more of the categories, she said.
Tickets are $500 and limited to 500. They are available at the website, along with a complete list of the celebrities.
Planned are performances by the Bacon Brothers Band and other singers; mingling with audience members; a “Dancing with the Stars”-style competition; auction of celebrities' personal items; and an all-star sing-along to a song written for the event.
The Bloomington location was selected through Cummings' “long association” with Twin Cities developer Larry Bielfeldt, co-owner of the Parke Hotel.
“I was approached just last Friday,” Bielfeldt said. “They contacted me and said they were going to hold this event, so I gave them at tour of the hotel. It sounds like a great idea, and a great plus for Bloomington and Normal.”
What: “Live on the Red Carpet Celebrity Gala”
When: 5 to 11:30 p.m. Aug. 12
Where: Parke Hotel and Conference Center, 1413 N. Leslie Drive, Bloomington
Tu Casa hosting groups for survivors of sexual assault, abuse
ALAMOSA - Tu Casa is now hosting groups for survivors of sexual assault, date rape, marital rape, and sexual abuse as a child.
These groups are open to the community and area held at the Tu Casa office every Monday starting at 4:30.
For more information call 589-2465.
Protecting Our Children
by Victoria Cuthbert
July 13, 2011
Sex abuse is one of those disconcerting topics that no one wants to talk about, and sex abuse carried out on children is even more difficult. Nonetheless it is an undeniable part of society - every society and so it must be confronted.
Child abuse is not place specific, nor is it a recent phenomenon. It happens all over the world with awareness and efforts to tackle it varying from country to country. Just as it does elsewhere, child sex abuse occurs in Oman, and although it is still considered a cultural taboo, people are beginning to wise up to it and seek change.
“Child sexual abuse is not a new phenomenon in Oman, it has been around for a long time. We are just becoming more aware of it now,” said Dr Khoula al Said, a paediatric gastro-enterologist at the Royal Hospital, and member of the newly formed Child Abuse Committee. According to the American Psychological Association, child sexual abuse is ‘any interaction between a child and an adult (or another child) in which the child is used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or an observer.
A central characteristic of any abuse is domination of the child by the perpetrator through deception, force, or coercion into sexual activity. Children, due to their age, cannot give meaningful consent to sexual activity'.
“There are a lot of cases out there. In many cases abuse happens from other children around the same age. But it is usually because they have been abused themselves; its not natural for a child to abuse. When it comes to abuse by adults, it is usually by someone who is close to the family, or within the family,” said Basma al Said, psychotherapist at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).
One of the biggest obstacles to the effective prevention of child sexual abuse is admitting there is a problem. “The first thing we need to do in Oman is accept that it is an issue. People think it is a small-scale problem but this is because it is not easily detected. Not seeing it doesn't mean it's not there. One of the reasons we don't see it is because culturally it is unacceptable and therefore hidden,” said Dr Mona Sadoon, Assistant Professor in Paediatrics and member of the child protection team at SQU. “But we do think it is a problem. There is no community immune from child abuse.”
Doctors and psychologists in Oman are becoming better trained and more experienced in the field. Although they can be trained to manage the situation after it has occurred, prevention is their primary objective. They believe the first steps towards prevention are education and social awareness. This includes educating children from a young age, both at home and at school, and educating the community on how to prevent children from being in situations where they are vulnerable.
“It's not wrong to talk to your child. They can't be oblivious to these things; they need to know to look after themselves, that there are certain parts of the body that shouldn't be touched. And we have to let them know it's not their fault,” said Basma.
“Children should be educated to know their rights. The education should be appropriate for the age of the child and they also need to be encouraged to discuss ideas with somebody they can trust,” said Dr Mona. “At a professional level we need to raise awareness among those who have direct contact with children such as teachers and health care providers. Children should be provided with a safe environment, which is the responsibility of the family and schools.”
Once an incidence or chain of incidences has occurred, it is important that it is reported. Vitally, the child must receive professional help to recover psychologically. This is called secondary prevention, and will work on the psychological effects and reduce the likelihood of the child going on to be abusers themselves. Sexual abuse is a traumatic experience for an adult, but for a child it is compounded by the fact that they don't have a full understanding of sex.
“It is crucial for victims to receive therapy in order to have a normal life later. Sexual abuse leaves marks very deep in the child that can't be seen immediately but will show with time,” said Dr Amna al Shamsi, a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
There are signs to look out for in a suspected case. “Children will show signs. There are lots of them. Some will be very insular and isolate themselves and be quiet and depressed. Others will be very angry and aggressive, start hitting, their grades may suddenly go down, and they may show a lack of concentration. Some children even show an interest in sexual acts or talk about sexual parts, which is abnormal for a certain age,” said Basma.
If you suspect child abuse of any kind you should:
- Take the child to a quiet, private area
- Gently encourage the child to give you enough information to evaluate whether abuse may have occurred
- Remain calm so as not to upset the child
- If the child reveals the abuse, reassure him/her that you believe him/her, that he/she is right to tell you, and that he/she is not bad
- Tell the child you are going to talk to the persons who can help him/her
- Return the child to the group (if appropriate)
- Record all information
- Immediately report the suspected abuse to the proper local authorities
Warning signs a child has been abused:
- Child tells you he/she was sexually mistreated
- Child has physical signs such as difficulty in walking or sitting; stained or bloody underwear; genital or rectal pain, itching swelling, redness or discharge, bruises or other injuries in the genital or rectal area
- Child has behavioural and emotional signs such as difficulty eating or sleeping; soiling or wetting pants or bed after being potty trained (if a toddler); acting like a much younger child; excessive crying or sadness; withdrawing from activities and others; talking about or acting out sexual acts beyond normal sex play for age.
Child Sexual Abuse Facts
- Studies show that for every ten cases, between 7-9 are committed by someone the victim knows. Most often the abuse is committed by family members and relatives. It may also be perpetrated by family friends and others who have access to children including coaches and religious and youth leaders. (Committee for Children)
- Three-quarters (72 per cent) of sexually abused children do not tell anyone about the abuse at the time. 27 per cent tell someone later. Around a third (31 per cent) still do not tell anyone about their experience(s) by early adulthood. (NSPCC)
- Those with a prior history of sexual victimisation are very likely to be re-victimised. Some research estimates an increased risk of over 1,000 per cent (American Psychological Association)
- Approximately 20 per cent of women and 5–10 per cent of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25–50 per cent of all children report being physically abused (WHO)
Wilmington University Offers Child Advocacy Studies Certificate
(Media-Newswire.com) - The verdict in the Casey Anthony trial has shocked the country. Across the nation people continue to speculate on who committed the most horrific form of child abuse: murder. The sad truth is that over 1,500 children are murdered each year at the hands of those who are meant to protect and care for them. Closer to home in Sussex County, Delaware, the child sexual assault case against a well-known pediatrician, Earl Bradley, has traumatized an otherwise quiet town and sent shock waves through the state. The public is left at a loss for words.
Wilmington University hopes to take the first steps in eradicating child abuse through education. This fall, the University's College of Social and Behavioral Science is offering a Child Advocacy Studies certificate ( CAST ) aimed at anyone seeking to work with children including case workers, teachers, nurses, medical personnel and law enforcement. The certificate will help students recognize the symptoms of child maltreatment, identify intervention strategies and conduct investigative interviews. All the courses are taught by practicing professionals who have significant experience in the field.
Mariann Kenville-Moore, Wilmington University adjunct instructor who teaches the three core CAST courses, is the Director of the Delaware Attorney General's Victim/Witness Program. She has been at the center of many child abuse cases meeting with parents, law enforcement and medical professionals. Kenville-Moore hopes the CAST courses will illuminate the importance of recognizing the signs of child abuse and early intervention.
“For far too long, the systems established to protect children have intervened after too much trauma has occurred. By educating our professionals of tomorrow about child maltreatment, we can intervene earlier, more effectively and with better outcomes for families and our communities,” Kenville-Moore said. She co-teaches the course Responding and Investigating Child Maltreatment with detective Jacob Andrews, a twelve year veteran of the New Castle County Police Department and an adjunct instructor at Wilmington University.
Andrews has spent over three years investigating physical and sexual assaults against children as part of the Family Services Unit. “The [CAST] courses teach students the principles of child abuse investigation, and awareness of the heinous crimes committed against our children. Children are the most vulnerable of victims, and awareness is the first step in stopping the abuse.”
Wilmington University is among a small group of academic institutions that are offering courses in child abuse recognition and investigation. In fact, the University is only the 17th university in the country to offer a certificate in Child Advocacy Studies. Students, regardless of major, can register for the 15-credit certificate that consists of three core courses and two electives. They will learn everything from understanding the profiles of child abusers to forensic interviewing. This fall, courses will be offered at the New Castle campus, the Georgetown site and the Cumberland, New Jersey site. In the spring courses will be offered in Cumberland, New Castle and Dover.
“This certificate has been two years in the making,” said Johanna Bishop, Director of the Behavioral Science program at Wilmington University. Bishop credits Lori Sitler, Assistant Professor, with bringing the idea for this certificate to Wilmington University. “It is a passion of hers. This certificate will offer our students a cutting edge educational opportunity,” said Bishop. Professor Sitler has many years of professional experience working with crime victims and currently serves as a board member for the Children's Advocacy Center of Delaware, a non-profit agency that conducts forensic interviews of suspected child abuse victims.
Once given the green light to turn the idea into a reality, Sitler and Kenville-Moore traveled to the National Child Protection Training Center at Winona State University in Minnesota for training. The weeklong training session on “Implementing CAST at Your University” brought together national experts. Returning with fresh ideas Sitler and Bishop went about convincing Wilmington University's Faculty Senate. Advocates in the community encouraged them. Wrote Randall Williams, Executive Director of Children's Advocacy Center of Delaware, “I firmly believe Wilmington University has the resources, the vision and the determination to successfully implement and sustain the CAST curriculum. The University has a solid reputation in Delaware and beyond and the professors leading the CAST effort are extremely dedicated to and knowledgeable about the interdisciplinary...response to child abuse.”
In April, Faculty Senate approved the new CAST program. Despite the recent, horrific cases of child abuse in the news, there still remains hope for change. “Delaware law is clear,” said Lori Sitler, Assistant Professor. “All citizens of our State are mandated to report suspected child abuse and neglect. The CAST certificate will help our students recognize and respond to the signs of abuse so that, as professionals in the field and parents in our community, they will be able to intervene appropriately. We can prevent this from happening. Education is key.”
Any person with knowledge of the abuse or neglect of a child should call the Child Abuse and Neglect Report Line at 800-292-9582 .
To learn more about the CAST certificate at Wilmington University visit http://www.wilmu.edu/behavioralscience/childadvoc_cert.aspx.
EU To Crack Down On Child Abusers, Web Pornography
(RTTNews) - Child abusers and viewers of child sex images on the web would face tough penalties for abuse, exploitation and pornography offenses under draft EU rules.
The rules, as agreed with European Council representatives and approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday, would also require EU member-states to remove child porn web sites, failing which, make it possible to block access to them within their territory, if a member-state so decides.
The draft directive sets out minimum penalties for about 20 criminal offenses to do with sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography - far more than are usually provided for in EU legislation.
The draft was unanimously passed after its first reading by the Council of Ministers representatives, with three abstentions. The draft legislation will be put to vote in the European Parliament's plenary session in September and should be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers shortly thereafter. Once adopted, the directive will replace current EU legislation dating from 2004. Member-states will have two years to transpose the new rules into their national laws. The UK and Ireland have notified their wish to take part in the adoption and application of the directive.
Denmark is the only member-state not taking part. "The new directive to combat sexual abuse and exploitation of children and child pornography is an innovative legislative instrument and represents a step forward for the protection of our children," said Roberta Angelilli, who is steering the legislation through Parliament.
"The text will be at the disposal of the competent authorities and NGOs, so that there is zero tolerance against all crimes against children," he added.
MEPs fought for tougher penalties for child abusers across the EU, especially in cases of abuse by persons in a position of trust, authority or influence over the child such as family members, guardians or teachers, or abuse of particularly vulnerable children.
Offenders could face penalties ranging from one to at least ten years in prison, depending on the crime. For instance, causing a child to witness sexual activities could be punishable by one year in prison, and coercing a child into sexual actions by ten. Attending pornographic performances involving children could be punishable by at least two years in prison, and forcing a child into prostitution by at least ten. Child porn producers could face at least three years in prison, whilst those possessing it would face at least one year.
US probes underreporting of child abuse deaths
by Karin Zeitvogel
WASHINGTON — Two years ago, a 13-year-old American boy from Indiana, Christian Choate, died after years of abuse, allegedly at the hands of his father, that authorities discovered only after it was too late.
"After his death, police found letters he had written about how he wondered when anyone would check on him or give him any food or water," US Congressman Geoff Davis said Tuesday as he convened a hearing on Capitol Hill into the under-reporting of deaths of US children from abuse and neglect.
"It is hard to know which child deaths are more tragic -- those we know about, or those we do not.
"But our job today is to make sure that all deaths of children due to maltreatment are recorded, so we can learn from all of them and use that knowledge to work with state and local partners to prevent more of these tragedies from occurring in the future," Davis said.
Actress Tamara Tunie, who plays a medical examiner in the television series "Law and Order," said the number of children who die from abuse or neglect is underreported, even as such deaths increasingly grab the headlines.
"On 'Law and Order' we investigate fictionalized crimes and often have to deal with difficult story lines, but nothing compares to the real and tragic cases that we hear about with increasing regularity," Tunie said.
She cited the widely televised case of toddler Caylee Anthony, whose badly decomposed body was found six months after she disappeared -- a disappearance that her mother did not report until a month after it happened.
Anthony's mother was found not guilty last week of the murder of her two-year-old.
"An estimated 2,500 children die each year from abuse and neglect" in the United States, Tunie said, adding: "That's seven children a day."
But according to official records compiled by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), 1,770 children in the United States died from abuse or maltreatment in 2009, the most recent year for which data are available, Kay Brown of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said.
"Some experts believe that more children have died from maltreatment than are captured in this estimate and that there are inconsistencies and limitations in the data that states collect," she said.
Many states only report as deaths from abuse fatalities of children who were known to the state's Child Protective Services (CPS), Brown said, citing a report compiled by the GAO and released at the hearing.
"Yet not all children who die from maltreatment were previously brought to the attention of CPS," Brown said.
Davis said he hoped the hearing would encourage better documentation of such deaths in order to prevent them from happening.
"Our role is to be the voice for the voiceless," he said.
In letters left behind by Choate, the boy from Indiana asked "'why nobody liked him and how he just wanted to be liked by his family,'" Davis said in his opening statement.
"It's hard to fully comprehend the depth of the sadness this boy must have experienced during his too-short life," he said, vowing to do better for children who die at the hands of abusive guardians.
DCFS launches new number to report child abuse
by Drew Dover
The following is a news release from the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services:
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has launched a new toll-free number for the public to report child abuse or neglect.
The new toll-free number - 1-855-4LA-KIDS 1-855-452-5437 - replaces all previous local DCFS numbers used in the past to report child abuse to the Department. The new number is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Previously, concerned members of the public and mandated reporters had to wade through 25 parish and regional phone numbers to make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "Today, calling a single number will allow the public to report to a streamlined, central system, ensuring that every report is dealt with promptly and uniformly."
To ensure that no reports are missed, the previous numbers to report child abuse have been forwarded to the new toll free number during a transition period.
Trained child welfare workers staff the new hotline, taking reports of possible child abuse and neglect from the public and mandated reporters. Mandated reporters, including law enforcement officials, teachers and childcare workers, clergy, and health practitioners, are laid out in state law, specifically the Louisiana Children's Code Title VI, Article 603.
1-855-4LA-KIDS is part of the state's new centralized intake system to report child abuse. Centralized intake ensures more consistent screening and decision making of child abuse and neglect reports statewide. It also allows local child protection investigation workers with DCFS more time in the field completing investigations.
"We developed this centralized system to help guarantee that DCFS is responding fully to the needs of Louisiana children who may be the victims of abuse or neglect," said Johnson. "A single, centralized system will help ensure that DCFS fulfills its mission to protect children at risk of abuse and neglect."
Law requires NY camp directors to report abuse
ALBANY, N.Y. — A new law adds 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.
Camp directors were already required to report incidents at their camps, but they could face civil liability for contacting authorities on behalf of a child when it concerns suspected abuse or maltreatment elsewhere.
The new law gives them immunity for good-faith reporting of abuse or maltreatment.
It was passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
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.
Caylee Anthony ripple hits state
by Jason Cato
July 13, 2011
A wave of legislation in response to the Casey Anthony verdict soon could touch Pennsylvania; a Philadelphia lawmaker said he intends to strengthen state laws to better protect children.
"I was motivated by the protection of children," said Sen. Larry Farnese, a Democrat. "Nothing is more important to me as a legislator."
Legal and child-abuse prevention experts question whether such laws would help because, they said, cases such as Anthony's are rare. Anthony, 25, is scheduled for release from jail on Sunday. A Florida jury last week cleared her of charges she killed her toddler daughter, Caylee.
"I don't like the idea that there's one case that gets a lot of attention. It's an outlier case," said Dr. Mary Carrasco, director of Uptown-based A Child's Place at Mercy, which provides services to suspected child abuse victims. "To write a law based on that is almost offensive. It's silly. It's not how kids are dying every day."
Farnese said he envisions "Caylee's Law," which would change concealing the death of a child from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of seven years incarceration and a $15,000 fine. Farnese plans to introduce another bill that would make neglecting to report a missing child to authorities a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
The bills are being written, but Sens. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, and Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, are among six cosponsors, a Farnese aide said. Farnese said he hopes the Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member, will hold hearings before the Legislature reconvenes this fall.
Lawmakers in at least 17 other states, including West Virginia and Ohio, are considering similar bills. A petition on Change.org urging such laws drew nearly 1.2 million signatures by Tuesday.
"If my law was in effect in Florida, she would be facing up to 12 years in prison for the failure to report and concealment," Farnese said about Anthony.
Anthony did not report her 2-year-old daughter missing for 31 days in 2008. Caylee's decomposed remains were found that December in a wooded area. Prosecutors could not determine how she died. Anthony's lawyers said during trial she accidentally drowned in the family's pool.
The jury convicted Anthony of four counts of lying to investigators but acquitted her of murder, aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. She was jailed for three years.
Law professor Bruce Antkowiak, who recently left Duquesne University for St. Vincent College in Latrobe, said he believes Pennsylvania's child welfare laws would suffice if a similar case occurred here, but he thinks Farnese's effort won't present a problem.
"I don't know that we've experienced a systematic problem of a parent losing a child and not reporting it for days on end," Antkowiak said. "But if I was in the Legislature, I would vote for it. ... It does no harm."
Carrasco said she believes Farnese means well but believes there are better ways for lawmakers to protect children, including increasing funding for child-abuse prevention and intervention programs.
"We need to be looking at what is the most common problem and how do we help those cases," she said.
Sex Trafficking Trend Raises Concern
Survivor of underground world reaches out to help others.
Sex trafficking is a growing problem in many American cities and New York City is no exception to the lamentable trend.
In late June, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office announced the arrest of four men accused of forcing a young woman into prostitution, starting at the age of 13. The victim came forward after allegedly enduring years of forced prostitution when she confided in one of her professors at John Jay College.
Those arrests brought domestic sex trafficking back into the spotlight. Sex trafficking has become such a problem in New York City that the Brooklyn District Attorney started a special unit last summer to prosecute those who exploit women and children.
“When we think about trafficking, we have a tendency to think about girls and women brought in from overseas from Thailand from the Ukraine, we don't really think about that label applying to American girls,” said Rachel Lloyd, founder of the group GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services).
“Young women from our own country, from our own city are trafficked. I was in Times Square doing outreach last week I met some young women who were out there, in the ‘life,'” Lloyd added.
Lloyd, a survivor of sex trafficking herself, talks about the sex trade in America in her new memoir, “Girls Like Us.”
In her 14 years as an advocate and counselor for sex trafficking victims, she has seen much about this underground world.
“We work with girls 12 to24,” said Lloyd. “It's tough to see girls being bought, even after all my years of advocacy. I see adult men, who are very comfortable approaching these young girls. They are not really worried about the consequences because there are no real consequences for the buyers. But there are a lot of consequences for the girls and the women.”
Lloyd and her team, many of whom are sex trafficking survivors, do outreach in the field or at her Harlem office. Last year they helped 328 girls. The youngest girl was just 11 years old.
A woman identified only as Sheila is now 24, but she said that she was pulled into the world of commercial sexual exploitation when she was just 15.
“I thought he was a regular guy,” Sheila said of the person who got her involved in the trade. “And came to find out he was a pimp and he took the opportunity to play on my needs.”
Sheila, who used to live in the Bronx, was sent to live in a group home by child protective services because her parents were drug abusers.
Alone and vulnerable, she met a man who promised her a better life. But that life was one of prostitution.
Sheila says he forced her into selling her body. Her pimp drove her to different places in New York City, including Queens Plaza, near the Queensboro Bridge and Times Square, to find Johns.
“Once I got into the life, he totally changed,” said Sheila. “He was very abusive, very controlling, he isolated me from everyone, I couldn't talk to anyone, nobody it was all about him.”
Sheila was not able to leave on her own until she was 19. Now she works at GEMS and counsels young women and girls who face the same predicament that she did, years ago.
According to the state, in 2007 there were 2,652 commercially sexually exploited children reported. More than 2,200 of them were from New York City.
According to Lloyd, many of those girls were in the foster system at some point in their lives. But even girls with families have been pulled into this world and picked up in the most unlikely places.
“We've had girls picked up right outside where they lived, walking to school, on a train, on a subway,” said Lloyd. “Not in a bad place, just regular places where young people are coming and going and hanging out and pimps are savvy to where young people are going to be.”
Lloyd helped push for a safe harbor law that protects young people from being prosecuted for an act of prostitution to which they cannot legally consent.
New York State passed the law in 2008 and Georgia became the most recent state to pass similar legislation.
Sisters of St. Joseph team up with St. Louis hotel to combat sex trafficking
by Jennifer Brinker
At 18 years old, Katie Rhoades found herself homeless. On top of that, she was dealing with alcohol addiction and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder from rape and sexual trauma. A friend suggested exotic dancing as a way to make some “quick cash” with the hope it would get her on her feet.
That didn't happen.
Instead, she fell deeper into a hole, surrounded by a life of sex for money, drugs and alcohol. By the time she was 19, she was picked up by a pimp and was taken from her home in Oregon to California, where she was groomed as a prostitute.
Now 30 and studying for a master's degree at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Rhoades says she knows all too well the realities of the sex-trafficking industry, which she escaped in 2002. The U.S. Department of Justice notes that approximately 300,000 young girls in the United States are at risk for commercial exploitation each year. The average age of entry for child-trafficking victims is 12 years old.
That's why Rhoades joined nearly 900 Sisters of St. Joseph, who were in town this week for a meeting of the community's U.S. Federation at the Millennium Hotel Downtown, to witness as the hotel publicly called
for greater awareness of the child sex-trafficking industry.
After months of planning for the federation meeting, the Sisters of St. Joseph and others worked with the Millennium Hotel to sign a Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in
Travel and Tourism. The code, which was signed at a public ceremony at the hotel July 12, was developed by an international non-government organization called End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking Children for Sexual Purposes, or ECPAT.
The six-point code of conduct has been implemented by more than 240 tour operators, hotels, travel agents and others worldwide. Known as “The Code,” it calls participating companies to commit to establish an ethics policy regarding commercial exploitation of children, training personnel, introducing a clauses in contracts with suppliers stating repudiation of commercial sexploitation and providing information to
travelers and local “key persons” at destinations. The code has received the support of many, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
ECPAT “seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights, free and secure from all forms of sexual exploitation,” said Sister Kathy McCluskey, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph. By signing the code, she said, the hotel “declares itself as a place where the trafficking of persons is not tolerated.” Her statement was met with an overwhelming round of applause by those who attended the signing.
Millennium Hotel general manager Dominic Smart, who signed the document, said the move was a “proactive step” in drawing greater awareness and putting a stop to human sex trafficking. He noted that the St. Louis hotel is serving as a sort of “pilot effort,” with the hope that the hotel chain, which includes 100 properties worldwide and 14 in North America, will implement the code in other cities. Smart added that
several dozen managers in St. Louis already have attended an awareness training, which he said included a list of signs to look for that someone visiting the hotel may be a victim of sex trafficking.
Partnering with the Sisters of St. Joseph and the hotel were Nix Conference and Meeting Management, which assisted in planning the sisters' federation meeting; and the Covering House, a new, St. Louis-based nonprofit organization that seeks to assist girls under 18 who are victims of sex trafficking.
Teen Sex Trafficking in Georgia
by Allison Neal
Atlanta Child Safety Examiner
Three days ago, a 16-year-old girl (who was a runaway from Tennessee) was found working as a prostitute in a Clayton County motel room. The girl was reportedly a ward of the state when she ran away, probably hoping for a better life in Atlanta. What she got was 30 days of forced prostitution, working for a 26-year-old pimp from Jonesboro. Thankfully, authorities received a tip that saved her. This girl's story parallels too many others in Georgia, where statistics indicate that approximately 400 teenage girls are sexually exploited every month in our state. Many of these girls are lured via advertisements posted in newspapers and on the internet that promise modeling or acting careers.
According to a study conducted by Street Grace (www.streetgrace.org), an Atlanta based organization dedicated to eliminating sexual exploitation of minors, approximately 28,000 men pay for sex with a minor female annually in Georgia, and 10,000 of these men purchase sex with a minor multiple times each year. 42% of these men are from the northern suburbs of Atlanta.
There is some good news in this bleak picture. The Georgia General Assembly passed a law yesterday that is one of the toughest sex trafficking laws in the country. It protects the trafficking victims from being prosecuted, and simultaneously imposes much tougher sentences on both the traffickers and the men paying for sex with the victims. Hopefully this new law will be a step in the right direction.
You may be reading this and assuming that your child could never be trafficked for sex. You should never assume anything. Teens are impulsive and will sometimes run away because of conflict in your home. What seems to you to be an innocuous little disagreement may be the catalyst that causes your teen to run away. Runaways are prime targets for sex traffickers. Teens are also easily manipulated by predators. The promise of a modeling career or a chance to act in a movie are both easy ways for a predator to lure your child; and predators are very good at what they do.
What can you do to prevent it? According to Street Grace, many “connections” between these men and their victims are made via Craig's List. Check your child's internet history and look for any visits to Craig's List or other such sites where your child could unknowingly answer a dangerous ad. Talk to your child about the problem and tell her what to watch out for. Make sure that your child knows you will always love her even if you argue or if you have to impose punishments. Remind your child that home is a safe place to land, no matter what she may have gotten herself into; and you will always be there to support her and help her. The sex trafficking pimps will use brainwashing tactics on their victims, telling them that they can't go home because what they've done is unforgiveable, or threatening to harm them or their families. Your dialogue with your child should include a discussion of these brainwashing techniques and you should verbalize that these are nothing but empty lies. Finally, get involved. Visit the Street Grace website and find out more about how you can help stop sex trafficking.
Enforcement Is Next Challenge After Virginia Human Trafficking Bill Becomes Law
July 12, 2011 - This spring Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law several measures to provide new protections against human trafficking and more severe punishment for those who engage in it. Before the introduction of the legislation, many people didn't realize how prevalent the crime is, especially in Northern Virginia.
The challenge now that the bill has become law is recognizing human trafficking and taking action when it occurs.
The nation's human trafficking watchdog is the Polaris Project in Washington, D.C. CEO Bradley Miles says Americans find it hard to believe that such crimes exist here.
He says Congress even defined "human trafficking."
"You got the child sex trafficking, the adult sex trafficking, and the labor trafficking," he says.
Sex trafficking involves online escort services, brothels disguised as massage parlors, and strip clubs. Many adult victims who were abused as children, witnessed violence or ran away from home, are easily recruited by traffickers.
Some are able to escape, and Polaris Project's Public Outreach Program Manager Andrea Austin says a lot of their clients are women, seeking refuge, wanting to start anew.
One victim, whose name is not released to protect her identity, was asked how she was caught up in sex trafficking
"I was looking for a job and a woman that live close to my house gave me a card with a phone number and asked me to call, because they were looking for housekeeping ladies," she says. "I called, and they gave me an address for an interview, and when I showed up in the house, a woman and man locked me up in the house, and they told me I was going to have sex with men, and I was going to have to make a lot of money for them."
And while she says she's lucky to be alive, her story depicts a victim with no life of her own for a long time:
"They locked me in a room, and I was forced to have sex with almost 25 men a day," she says. I couldn't live in that room at all, I had to eat and sleep there in that same bed where I had to be with those dirty men. I couldn't even change the sheets for weeks, I could only go to the bathroom in the morning and the evening. It was a dirty bathroom, the same one used by all those men. there were always people doing surveillance and I wasn't ever alone."
Sometimes victims can share information about their captors and help investigators shut down an operation. But Miles says traffickers operate underground, and a lead is often stale before it can be investigated.
When it comes to labor trafficking, Miles says even the child seen peddling magazines on the streets may be a victim of a form called "begging rings."
These children are often abducted, held captive, and forced to work for lengthy periods. He says all forms of this modern day slavery are very prevalent in the greater D.C. region, in part because Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia converge in an area with varying law enforcement policies. He also says it's where criminals prey on unsuspecting foreign nationals:
"Folks that might work for diplomats that live in the D.C. area, different forms of labor trafficking, summer visas, people who come in for summer or seasonal work, on the J-1 visa, we're seeing some concerns there," says Miles. Outside of Northern Virginia, the problem exists in other parts of Virginia with higher immigrant populations and where it's easier to smuggle people into the state.
Polaris Project and others are working to get this added to FBI and police training and they're asking for state and federal laws that crack down on all trafficking forms. They also want residents to be aware and look for signs. The Polaris hotline answers calls 24-hours a-day in 170-different languages. Those who want to become involved or report a possible human trafficking case can contact the Polaris Project.
Jessica's Law boosts number of sexual predators considered for mental hospitals
The number of convicts referred to mental health officials for possible confinement in a state hospital as sexually violent predators has skyrocketed since California voters passed Jessica's Law, a state audit said Tuesday.
The audit said part of the increase is attributable to prison officials not complying with requirements for thoroughly screening offenders before they are referred to the Department of Mental Health.
That has resulted in the state performing "unnecessary work'' and has created a burden for the department, which conducts the evaluations, the audit found.
Despite the increased number of referrals, the department did not significantly increase the number of sex offenders it recommended to prosecutors for commitment to a mental facility.
The audit indicated that the department's screening of sex offenders leaving prison appears to have been effective.
Of the 13,512 sex offenders released since 2005 which screening determined did not require further confinement, 59% later violated their parole, but only one person was convicted of a sexually violent offense.
"Although higher numbers of offenders were subsequently convicted of felonies that were not sexually violent offenses, even those numbers were relatively low,'' the audit found. It said 134 of the offenders, about 1%, committed new felonies that were not sexually violent offenses.
The audit looked at a state program created in 1996 that evaluates sex offenders who complete their prison sentences and allows the courts to commit them for at least two years to a mental facility if they are found by the Department of Mental Health to be a continuing danger to the public as a sexually violent predator.
The audit said voter passage of Jessica's Law in 2006 added more crimes to the list of sexually violent offenses and reduced the number of victims required for a sexually violent predator designation. The number of sex offenders referred by prison officials to a mental health evaluation went from 1,850 in 2006 to 8,871 a year later, the audit said.
Auditors also said that prison and parole officials referred all offenders convicted of sexually violent offenses "without assessing whether those offenses or any others committed by the offender were predatory in nature'' and without considering other information required by law to be part of the evaluation.
Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation indicated they agree that improvements can be made in streamlining the referral process.
The department, wrote corrections Undersecretary Scott Kernan, "is committed to adhering to the statutory law governing this program and will always err on the side of caution in regards to public safety when making sex offender referrals to the Department of Mental Health.''
Lara Logan breaks her silence on '60 Minutes': 'They raped me with their hands'
Breaking a months-long silence, CBS war correspondent Lara Logan talked to "60 Minutes" on Sunday night about what really happened to her in Cairo's Tahrir Square. On the night of Feb. 11, as the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak was falling, Logan joined the more than 100,000 people celebrating in the square, where she says a mob turned on her and sexually assaulted her.
"Suddenly, before I even know what's happening, I feel hands grabbing my breasts, grabbing my crotch, grabbing me from behind," she told Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes."
Things quickly spiraled out of control. "I think my shirt, my sweater was torn off completely," she said. "My shirt was around my neck. I felt the moment that my bra tore. ... And I felt them tear out, they literally just tore my pants to shreds. ... I didn't even know that they were beating me with flagpoles and sticks and things, because I couldn't even feel that. Because I think of the sexual assault, was all I could feel, was their hands raping me over and over and over again. ... They were tearing my body in every direction at this point, tearing my muscles. And they were trying to tear off chunks of my scalp, they had my head in different directions."
Logan said she was fighting for 25 minutes and didn't think she would live. "I was in no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying," she said. But thinking about her two children at home in Washington helped her focus on staying alive.
Eventually, she said, she was rescued by a woman dressed head to toe in black religious robes. "Just her eyes, I remember [I could see] just her eyes," Logan said. "She put her arms around me. And oh my God, I can't tell you what that moment was like for me. I wasn't safe yet, because the mob was still trying to get at me. But now it wasn't just about me anymore.
"It was about their women and that was what saved me, I think," she said. "The women kind of closed ranks around me."
Logan flew back to Washington, where she spent four days in a hospital as she was treated for cuts, bruises and internal tearing. She's been recovering at home with her husband and children. "I felt like I had been given a second chance that I didn't deserve," she said of her family. "I came so close to leaving them, to abandoning them."
Logan told "60 Minutes" that she was speaking out to help end the code of silence surrounding sex assaults on female journalists. You can watch a clip of the segment here.
Jaycee Dugard's memoir: Chilling details and a lonely existence
As much as Jaycee Lee Dugard's memoir, "A Stolen Life," is a chronicle of rape and terror, filled with graphic detail and unimaginable pain, it is also a meditation on loneliness.
The book chronicles her 18 years in captivity and landed on electronic bookshelves shortly after midnight Tuesday.
Dugard writes about missing her mother, about fearing she might forget that beloved face. She describes her growing dependence on her kidnapper, Phillip Garrido, her need for his company, any company. He was her captor, but also for long stretches, he was the only other human being she saw.
EVIDENCE: D.A. releases video and documents in Dugard case
"When he is not hurting me," she writes, "he likes to make me laugh."
Garrido took methamphetamine to prolong his ability to rape Dugard. He tied her up, he played out his fantasies. She was a little girl in pain -- and near-solitary confinement.
"It is Christmas Day," she writes of the holiday in 1993. "I am alone. I am mostly always alone. No one to talk to. No one to hug me unless Phillip comes in. He gives me hugs sometimes and makes me feel loved."
But perhaps the most chilling sentence in Dugard's book -- which alternates between detailed memories of captivity and "reflections" on the experience -- is this: "With time I grew used to all kinds of things."
On the book's cover is a photograph of a smiling, toothy little 11-year-old, tongue out, blond hair tumbling down her shoulders -- Jaycee, free, before she was kidnapped by Garrido and his wife and held as a sex slave in a ramshackle compound in their Antioch, Calif., backyard.
There's also a pine cone -- the last thing Dugard remembers touching before she was dragged into the Garridos' car as she headed to the school bus in 1991. She calls it "a symbol that represents the seed of a new beginning for me."
Earlier this year, the Garridos pleaded guilty to multiple charges of kidnapping and rape; they are in state prison serving sentences that will likely keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives.
Dugard, who gave birth to Garrido's two daughters while in captivity, is working to adjust to her new life. Her memoir, released officially Tuesday, is dedicated to her girls -- "For the times we've cried together, laughed together and all the times in between."
After she was kidnapped at age 11, Dugard never set foot in a classroom again. Now 31, she acknowledges that her memoir "might be confusing to some."
"A Stolen Life" was published less than two years after Dugard and her daughters were rescued. In an author's note at the volume's outset, Dugard says the book is her "attempt to convey the overwhelming confusion" she felt during her years with the Garridos and "to begin to unravel the damage that was done to me and my family."
Police: NYC boy's remains found in fridge, trash
NEW YORK (AP) — Remains believed to be those of a boy who disappeared while walking home from a Brooklyn day camp were found in a refrigerator Wednesday inside the home of a man being questioned by detectives, police said.
Eight-year-old Leiby Kletzy is shown on grainy surveillance video footage wearing a backpack as he walks down the street. A man who seen walking near the boy in the video is in custody, chief police spokesman Paul J. Browne said. Detectives found other body parts believed to be those of Leiby wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag inside a red suitcase that had been tossed into a trash bin in another Brooklyn neighborhood, Browne said.
At about 6:45 a.m., an NYPD crime unit carted away the trash bin and put it in a truck, and police officers walked in a line looking for evidence under cars and on sidewalks.
The 35-year-old man is still being interviewed, police said, and has not yet been arrested on any formal charges. He lives alone in his apartment, in a building shared with his parents. The man, whose birthday is Wednesday, once had a summons for urinating in public but otherwise did not have a criminal record.
The man made statements implicating himself in the crime, Browne said, but would not go into detail.
Investigators hunting for the boy noticed the man on the video going into the office of a nearby dentist about 5:30 p.m. Monday, Browne said. The dentist, located later in New Jersey, said he remembered someone coming in to the shop who wasn't a patient, but who was paying a bill for a patient there, and police were able to track down the man using records from the office. When they went to his home, they made the gruesome discovery.
Leiby was last seen near 44th Street and 12th Avenue in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn just before 5 p.m. Monday. The Hasidic boy was coming home from day camp and was supposed to meet his mother about three blocks away but never showed up.
Hasidism is a form of mystical ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Followers live in tight-knit communities nearly closed off to modern society and wear traditional dress — for men, dark clothing that includes a long coat and a fedora-type hat. Men often have long beards and ear locks.
Most of the 165,000 members in the New York City area live in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and are part of three different major sects. Hasidism traces its roots to 18th-century Eastern Europe.
The insular community rarely seeks outside help, and State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose district includes the area, often speaks for the group.
The man in custody at a Brooklyn precinct was Jewish but it's not clear if he's Hasidic. A $100,000 reward had been offered. Hikind said the outpouring of support has been tremendous with people from all over the state volunteering their time to scour the neighborhood and hand out flyers.
Hikind said the boy was the only son of the Kletzy family. The couple has four daughters, and the husband drives a private car service.
"Everybody is absolutely horrified," he said. "Everyone is in total shock, beyond belief, beyond comprehension .. to suddenly disappear and then the details .. and the fact someone in the extended community it's awful," he said.
Hikind said the parents did not know the 35-year-old man, who lived about a mile away from the boy.
Recognizing the Signs of Child Abuse
The Casey Anthony story grabbed headlines around the world. It tore at people's emotions, and brought up the topic of child abuse once again. Though there are hundreds of thousands of cases of child abuse, most don't make the headlines. The children simply suffer in silence.
Child abuse is much more than bruises and broken bones. No caring person would want to let a child suffer, yet many people are either scared to interfere, aren't sure what to do, or they don't recognize the signs of child abuse.
While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children's needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.
There are several types of child abuse; physical, emotional, child neglect, and sexual abuse.
The earlier child abuse is recognized and stopped, the better chance of recovery with appropriate treatment.
Helpguide.org offers these warning signs of child abuse.
Warning signs of emotional abuse in children
~ Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
~ Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
~ Doesn't seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
~ Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, tantruming).
Warning signs of physical abuse in children
~ Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
~ Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
~ Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
~ Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
~ Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
Warning signs of neglect in children
~ Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
~ Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
~ Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
~ Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
~ Is frequently late or missing from school.
Warning signs of sexual abuse in children
~ Trouble walking or sitting.
~ Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
~ Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
~ Doesn't want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
~ An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.
~ Runs away from home.
There are certain situations in the home that can add to the neglect of children. The home life may appear perfectly fine, but when one or more of these situations exist – child neglect is more likely.
~ Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence is terrifying to children and emotionally abusive. Even if the mother does her best to protect her children and keeps them from being physically abused, the situation is still extremely damaging. If you or a loved one is in an abusive relationships, getting out is the best thing for protecting the children.
~ Alcohol and drug abuse. Living with an alcoholic or addict is very difficult for children and can easily lead to abuse and neglect. Parents who are drunk or high are unable to care for their children, make good parenting decisions, and control often-dangerous impulses. Substance abuse also commonly leads to physical abuse.
~ Untreated mental illness. Parents who suffering from depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or another mental illness have trouble taking care of themselves, much less their children. A mentally ill or traumatized parent may be distant and withdrawn from his or her children, or quick to anger without understanding why. Treatment for the caregiver means better care for the children.
~ Lack of parenting skills. Some caregivers never learned the skills necessary for good parenting. Teen parents, for example, might have unrealistic expectations about how much care babies and small children need. Or parents who where themselves victims of child abuse may only know how to raise their children the way they were raised. In such cases, parenting classes, therapy, and caregiver support groups are great resources for learning better parenting skills.
~ Stress and lack of support. Parenting can be a very time-intensive, difficult job, especially if you're raising children without support from family, friends, or the community or you're dealing with relationship problems or financial difficulties. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs, or difficult behaviors is also a challenge. It's important to get the support you need, so you are emotionally and physically able to support your child.
What should you do if you suspect that a child is being abused? You should report the incident or family. Critical time is lost when people do nothing.
Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families' lives. Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse
~ I don't want to interfere in someone else's family. The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.
~ What if I break up someone's home? The priority in child protective services is keeping children in the home. A child abuse report does not mean a child is automatically removed from the home – unless the child is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.
~ They will know it was me who called. Reporting is anonymous. In most states, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse. The child abuser cannot find out who made the report of child abuse.
~ It won't make a difference what I have to say. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don't see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
To get help or report abuse in the US or Canada, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at: 1-800-4-A-CHILD 1-800-422-4453
If the situation is an emergency – call 911 immediately.
Jaycee Dugard's story of survival giving victims courage to speak about abuse
July 11, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY — Coming forward with her amazing story of survival, Jaycee Dugard — along with others like Elizabeth Smart — give other children who have suffered abuse the courage to talk about what happened to them.
The story of Dugard's kidnapping and 18 years of captivity has come to light in her new book "A Stolen Life."
Dugard was kidnapped near her California home in 1991 when she was just 11 years old. Convicted pedophile Phillip Garrido took her to his house and locked her in backyard sheds, where he subjected her to sexual assaults.
In her memoir, she wrote, “I try to stop the tears. I tell myself I must be brave.”
Three years later, she gave birth to a girl in the backyard. Three years after that, she gave birth to another baby girl.
It wasn't until 18 years after she was kidnapped that she was finally reunited with her mother. She wrote, “There she stood, with arms wide open. I walked to her, and she was smiling and crying, and she put her arms around me and I felt so safe and whole again.”
In Utah, other women have come forward and spoke about the abuse they suffered. Elizabeth Smart told her story in court. Deondra, Desirae and Melody of “The 5 Browns” turned in their father. These high-profile cases, experts say, give others courage.
“I think it's really helped that other victims have come forward and have really had the courage to speak up,” Susanne Mitchell, director of the Children's Justice Center of Salt Lake County, said. “When they see that people believed them and that they did the right thing and that they protected the other people from being abused, that's usually the reason why people would come forward.”
The majority of the cases the center sees are children who have been victims of crimes, ages 17 and under. The vast majority are sexual violations toward children and teenagers. The center also serves children who have been seriously physically abused or witnessed a violent act.
Mitchell said a big shift happened in the 1990s, where people really became to accept that child abuse is in the community. It became OK to talk about it and deal with it. Talking about their experience allows victims to put it in their past, so it doesn't have to be part of their future.
“You're not a victim forever,” she said. “It was a bad experience, but you are still the same wonderful person that you always were.”
Some people don't understand why a child might wait months, years or never to tell about what's happened to them. Mitchell said there are several reasons for that. The child may have been intimidated or threatened, or maybe the perpetrator threatened to harm their pets or family members. The child could have been so terrified by the experience that they are just too scared to speak about. Sometimes it's just too humiliating to even talk about it.
So what can parents do? “The best advice we can give to parents is really to trust your instincts,” Mitchell said. "Listen to your children when they are talking to you, and really try not to have an emotional reaction, because kids will stop talking when they notice that you're upset.”
She explained that kids don't want to upset their parents. They really just want the abuse to stop.
"A Stolen Life" will be in bookstores Tuesday. And like Smart, Dugard has created JAYC Foundation. Hers will provide support and services to families recovering from abduction and traumatic experiences.
Georgia Passes Sex Trafficking Law With Heavy Penalties
Georgia has passed one of the nation's toughest laws on human sex trafficking, giving victims advocates greater hope that other states will follow suit.
by Paul Stanley
The intent of the law is to impose tougher penalties on criminals and provide more treatment options for victims. The new law is the result of a four-year battle that sought to satisfy religious conservatives who argued the changes could in essence legalize prostitution, and children's advocates who maintain a safety valve was needed for victims forced into the sex trade.
“This is America's dirty little secret, these are crimes the public doesn't see, that the public doesn't want to believe exist; these are hidden victims,” said Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to The Associated Press.
“Historically, what law enforcement has tended to do is to arrest the kid,” Allen said. “We're trying to ensure that they focus on the pimp and the customer.”
Senator Renee Unterman (R-Gwinnett) told The Christian Post that she first began working on the legislation more than five years ago.
“The first bill we passed three years ago mandated that anyone who had knowledge of sex trafficking would be required to report it,” said Unterman. “I brought the tougher legislation because Atlanta is a known hub for the sex trade for both boys and girls since Atlanta is a major hub city.”
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After educating her legislative colleagues about the real problems of sex trafficking in Georgia, members of both sides of the aisle began to support her efforts.
The bill enforces a 25-year minimum sentence for anyone convicted of using coercion to traffic someone under the age of 18, and imposes a minimum sentence of five years on those who pay for sex with a 16 year old. People trying to have sex with someone even younger face a minimum of 10 years behind bars.
In order to satisfy her colleagues and the conservative groups who opposed and defeated the bill last session, Unterman added stiffer penalties.
“My biggest challenge came from the conservative women's group who were concerned I was trying to lower the age of consent in Georgia,” said Unterman. “Believe me, that's the last thing I was trying to do. I don't think for a second any young person wants to be a prostitute. I believe most are forced into the trade or are trying to survive on the streets. I think this bill will give them a fighting chance.”
Keisha Head knows first-hand the damaging impact sex trafficking can have on a young teenager. She was lured into a life of prostitution at the age of 16 after she ran away from home. Throughout her ordeal, Head was repeatedly raped and abused by her pimp and others.
“I became numb to what I was doing,” Head told AP. “I guess that is the survival instinct to become numb when inflicted with such an ordeal.”
Media outlets, including the Associated Press, do not normally identify victims of sexual assault. However, Head agreed to let her name be used to illustrate the dangers of child prostitution.
“They need to turn up the heat,” she said, “and start convicting the predators or the pimps who are exploiting the children.”
A Future. Not a Past (AFNAP) is a statewide campaign to stop the prostitution of girls in Georgia and is spearheaded by the nonprofit, Juvenile Justice Fund. They are putting up billboards in the Atlanta area to educate the public about the dangers of child prostitution and to scare off potential predators.
3 voices: How to end modern-day slavery
by Liane Membis, CNN
It seems impossible.
Human trafficking cases, blind promises of freedom, forced prostitution rings — these aspects of modern-day slavery come to light all too often.
Estimates of the number of slaves worldwide range from about 10 million to 30 million, according to policymakers, activists, journalists and scholars. Approximately 100,000 victims are in the United States, working as slaves inside homes, in agricultural fields, in the sex industry and other places, according to the U.S. Department of State's 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report.
That's millions of women, children and men struggling to escape captivity. That's millions of people wondering what it means or what it would take to be free again.
But what about solutions - How can we end modern-day slavery? Three experts weigh in what businesses, governments, the public and individuals must do.
Activist: We must believe that change can happen
Rob Morris is president and co-founder of Love 146, a non-profit organization that works to combat child sex trafficking.
I think first of all it will take the audacity to believe that we CAN end it. Considering the overwhelming stats of how many slaves exist today and how much money the sale of human beings generates, some would call it naive or idealistic to believe we can end it. I prefer to think that it is audacious. And it has only been people of audacity that have ever changed the world. Was it naive or idealistic for a William Wilberforce who fought against the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Great Britain to believe that it could and should end? No. It was audacious. And it came to an end. Was it naive or idealistic for a Martin Luther King Jr. to stand up on the Washington Mall and cry; "I have a dream!" No. It was audacious. I could go on and on.
It will take tenacity. We need to be committed for the long haul. Albert Einstein said; "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stick with problems longer." In other words ... we don't give up ... even when it gets hard. The reality is traffickers are committed 24/7. We must be at least that committed to stopping them. I love the words of jazz singer Billie Holiday who sang; "The difficult I'll do right now. The impossible will take a little while."
It will also take a collective effort. I love that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added a fourth "P" to the international framework in combating human trafficking. In addition to Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, she added "Partnerships." If we are going to end modern-day slavery, governments, non-government organizations, law enforcement, service providers, communities of faith, businesses and corporations, individuals, all have to work together. The reality is traffickers make up such a small fraction of the human race. Then there is the rest of us.
Rabbi: Money and knowledge is power
Rachel Kahn-Troster is a strong supporter for the interfaith movement against slavery and Director of Education and Outreach Rabbis for Human Rights in North America.
We need to all learn the signs of slavery. One thing that strikes me when I read about examples of modern slavery in the United States is how many of them were found by nosy neighbors. People who noticed a nanny who never left the house, for example, or a hotel worker who noticed a child who seemed scared and not with people they knew. We have to know what questions to ask and how to direct victims to the right services, for example, the National Human Trafficking Human Resources Center.
Slavery is an issue that is hidden in the open - we choose not to ask questions about the price of goods that we buy or the labor that produces those goods. But once we know how to recognize slavery, we have to act and we have to help victims.
I think it is also important to work with businesses - no business truly wants to be built on the work of slaves, but they need incentives to create transparency in their supply chains. And as consumers, we don't want to buy chocolate that comes from child slave labor in the Ivory Coast, or tomatoes picked by slaves in Florida. The first step is to make educated choices as a consumer: buying fair trade tea and coffee and chocolate, for example, or only buying tomatoes from companies and grocery stores that have signed on to the Campaign for Fair Food. But we have to go beyond being a consumer to being an activist, writing to corporations that don't have policies about slavery in their supply chains (along the lines of the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act) or who don't buy fair trade and telling them that we are choosing to spend our money elsewhere.
We also need to learn about government policies that root out slavery - the Trafficking Victims Protection Act for example, or laws that prevent the exploitation of workers here legally - and ensure there is enough funding to implement them and provide services to victims of trafficking. In today's economic climate, times are tough and budgets are being cut, but we have to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are supported. Compared to the defense budget, the amounts of money our government spends to fight slavery is relatively small. Surely, we can do better.
Ultimately, slavery is a moral question: In the land of the free, how much of our lives are build on the work of those who are not free? Slavery is a human rights crime of the highest nature. We have to live to a higher moral standard than that created by slavery, protesting that human lives are not cheap commodities to be bought and sold. We have be prepared to say that we are not willing as Americans to be complicit in slavery. We have to make ourselves aware, and then we have to do something.
Researcher: Academic research should influence the public hemisphere
Christina Bain has been addressing issues on human trafficking and domestic violence in Massachusetts since 2005. She currently serves as the Director of the Program on Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery at Harvard Kennedy School's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
In order to prevent modern-day slavery, key areas to develop are public and private partnerships and social entrepreneurship within an academic setting.
One example of a partnership took place in March 2011. During the 2011 Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, the Kennedy School's Program on Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery co-created a panel at the Harvard Business School focused on the role that businesses can play in preventing modern-day slavery. The panel featured representatives from LexisNexis, The Body Shop and Panjiva and addressed how every business can tackle modern-day slavery, whether through supply chain management; allocating business capital to assist non-governmental organizations; or human resources training.
Academia can also work with the public and corporate sectors to produce multi-disciplinary professional development trainings. These trainings would give promising practices in combating modern-day slavery to not only current law, business and public policy students, but public health professionals, law enforcement and corporate leaders.
By effectively combining resources, tools and knowledge, public/private partnerships and academia could begin to meet the challenges of modern-day slavery prevention.
Veto looms over pedophilia bill
Lawmakers passed legislation removing the statute of limitations for the sexual molestation of children
by Derrick DePledge
Christine Johnson thinks anyone who sexually molests a child should have to worry about the potential legal consequences for the rest of their lives.
The retired nurse, whose son was molested by a Catholic priest in California, acted in time to get some measure of criminal and civil relief. But many others, often because of fear or shame, wait too long to come forward.
A bill approved by state lawmakers would lift the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits by victims of child sexual abuse, which is now two years from the victim's 18th birthday or, in certain instances, two years from the time the victim discovered the injuries or damage arising from the abuse.
Victims could also seek damages from churches, community groups, businesses and the state if there was gross negligence that contributed to the abuse. The bill also opens a two-year window for victims who have been barred from filing lawsuits because the statute of limitations had expired to now sue.
While Senate Bill 217 glided through the Legislature — not a single lawmaker voted against it — Gov. Neil Abercrombie put the bill on his potential veto list, warning that it raises grave constitutional and fairness concerns.
Eliminating the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits, the state attorney general's office told lawmakers, would be "troubling and unprecedented" in Hawaii and could threaten due-process rights and expose the state to unknown liability.
The Hawaii Catholic Conference told lawmakers that not only the state, but churches, preschools, child care centers, camps and recreational programs could find such lawsuits difficult to defend against. The reason for statutes of limitation, the church contends, is because individual memories fade, written records might no longer be available and witnesses and the alleged abusers themselves might have died during the lapse of time.
Abercrombie has until Tuesday — the deadline for vetoes — to decide.
"It tells child molesters that they will be held accountable, no matter how much time has passed," said Johnson, who lives in Makaha.
Johnson, who became an activist against child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church after her son's experience, urged state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Nanakuli-Makaha) to introduce the bill. It was co-sponsored by the eight other women in the Senate.
Shimabukuro, a Legal Aid Society of Hawaii attorney, and her mother, Karen Young, a retired nurse practitioner, have seen many adults with social problems they believe could be traced back to child sexual abuse.
"There really needs to be a clear message sent out — this is from the victim's perspective — that this is wrong," Shimabukuro said. "For perpetrators out there, this is a crime against humanity that won't be tolerated."
Walter Yoshimitsu, executive director of the Hawaii Catholic Conference, the public-policy voice of the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii, said the church's opposition to the bill should not be construed as minimizing child sexual abuse.
While Yoshimitsu said people often single out the Catholic Church, he said there is potential for abuse at any institution that cares for children. In testimony to lawmakers, he highlighted the potential liability for the state and cited national reports about the prevalence of sexual abuse at public schools and juvenile detention facilities.
"My intent for doing that was to make the state aware that they are a big potential target," he said.
The state, at one point in a House version of the bill, was exempted from liability. The attorney general's office also told lawmakers that the Abercrombie administration would support the bill with a statute of limitations for civil lawsuits that extended for eight years after a victim's 18th birthday or three years after a victim discovers injuries caused by abuse, as in California.
But House and Senate conference committee negotiators decided that all entities, including the state, should be subject to civil actions. They also chose to lift the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits entirely, modeling the bill after a 2007 law in Delaware that was passed in response to a pattern of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
The Delaware Supreme Court upheld the law in February, ruling that the state's General Assembly has the power to determine the statute of limitations and that the law can be applied retroactively without violating constitutionally protected due-process rights.
The Delaware case involved a man who sued a Catholic school and congregation over his sexual abuse by a priest in 1962. The priest had died in 1985, but witnesses and church records documented his behavioral problems.
As safeguards against frivolous lawsuits, the Hawaii bill requires a victim to provide a certificate of merit with a notarized statement from a psychologist, a marriage and family therapist, a mental health counselor, a clinical social worker or a registered nurse attesting that the claims of abuse are reasonable.
Defendants would also be able to recover attorney's fees if a court rules that a false accusation was made with no basis in fact and with malicious intent.
"If the Legislature is truly interested in justice for the victims, then the wider the window, the wider the opportunity for justice," said state Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe), who served on the conference committee.
Child abuse fight finds ally in effort to break the cycle Gus Thomson
Breaking the cycle of childhood physical or sexual abuse has become the mission of former Auburn resident Averen Bareggi.
Bareggi, owner of Break the Cycle Jewelry and now an Orangevale resident visited the Auburn Police offices last week to donate comfort packs filled with a variety of items to be given to victims of abuse and used as part of the healing process.
The bags are the end product of Bareggi's jewelry business, which handcrafts awareness-raising bracelets stamped with messages similar to the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Livestrong-style wristbands, with words such as “faith,” “justice,” “hope” and “love” imprinted on them.
Inside the bags, children will discover a broad assortment of self-help objects, including a stress ball, journal, stuffed toy, “Curious George” music CD and finger paints. The pack also includes a list of resources for parents and caregivers to assist them in getting help as quickly as possible for children who have been abused.
The items in the comfort packs are the result of Bareggi's own journey of understanding into the pain and confusion of families of the abused. While Bareggi's declined to detail the circumstances, it has sparked a mission to help others.
“My family was affected by abuse and my husband and I found things that would heal our family,” Bareggi said. “My goal is to make it easier for other people.”
Bareggi said she turned to the Internet to find ways to create jewelry that could bolster confidence and send a message to help break the cycle of abuse. The jewelry comes in pendants and bracelets and most of the profits will be turned over to assemble and pay for comfort packs, she said.
Bareggi, a 32-year-old mother of three boys, lived in Auburn from 2006 to last year. A hair stylist and former Grass Valley resident as well, she has also donated comfort bags to that city's police department.
Jewelry with the “brave and true” words stamped onto metal has been the most popular so far, Bareggi said.
Bareggi started her campaign to distribute the bags in March, at first asking friends to turn in recyclables for Break the Cycle funding.
She found instructions on making hand-stamped metal jewelry on YouTube and developed products available through breakingthecyclejewelry.com by trial and error, never having made pieces like it before.
Her husband, Eric helps with his power tools and their oldest son, Elijah, pitches in with the sanding.
“I've never found anything before that I was as drawn to,” Bareggi said. “But once I discovered the idea, it was something I knew I needed to do.”
Acting Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris said the comfort packs provide security and comfort for children in stressful situations while also personalizing police.
“It helps ease their minds and provide a positive outcome in a difficult time,” Harris said.
Christian Choate one of two region boys to die as doctors kept quiet
Two region boys who died of abuse-related injuries were seen by doctors who knew or suspected mistreatment but didn't report it to authorities, a Times review of state and medical records shows.
Christian Choate died in early 2009 of blunt force trauma injuries and a skull fracture — a year after telling his doctor he was getting locked up at night, according to records in the case. The 13-year-old's body was unearthed by Lake County police in May 2011 from a shallow grave in Gary.
Eighteen-month-old Anthony Mogan died of blunt force trauma injuries in October 2008 in Lowell — three months after his pediatrician treated the first signs of suspected abuse, state records show.
Neither doctor reported the accounts to authorities, according to state investigative records.
While doctors are required by law to communicate suspected abuse to law enforcement, they are unlikely to face penalties for remaining silent, The Times found.
Concerns about Christian
Christian's pediatrician, Dr. Leticia Chy-Koa, treated him for depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder in the years before his 2009 death, medical records contained in state investigative files show.
Most of the handwritten notes describing Christian's doctor visits are illegible, but some of the records state he was soiling his pants.
In one 2008 visit, Christian told the doctor he was getting locked up at night, the records show. But Chy-Koa never reported to authorities what Christian told her, according to Indiana Department of Child Services records.
When contacted at home, Chy-Koa declined to comment on Christian's medical treatment.
"I sent the records to the Department of Child Services, and that should be sufficient," she told The Times. "There's no reason for me to take calls from you."
Chy-Koa no longer works for the Highland medical practice where medical records indicate she saw Christian as a patient.
Prior to a court gag order issued last week, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter told The Times that prosecutors have discussed whether to charge Chy-Koa for failing to report Christian's family to authorities, but a two-year statute of limitations may prohibit charges.
Concerns about Anthony
Anthony's pediatrician, Dr. Reena John, documented her concerns multiple times in the months leading up to his October 2008 death — first when he showed up in her office covered in mosquito bites with a skull fracture and again when he wasn't using his left arm, medical records show.
But she told an investigator she "decided to watch to see if anything else happened" before reporting Anthony's injuries to the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Within a month and a half, Anthony was dead.
John could not be reached this week for comment, but she previously told The Times that she asked the family to keep Anthony safe.
John never was criminally charged for not reporting her concerns to authorities, court records show.
Crime and punishment
In Indiana, failure to report child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
But Dr. Antoinette Laskey, a forensic pediatrician with Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and chairwoman of the state's Child Fatality Review Team, said she can't think of a case in Indiana in which a doctor has been charged for failing to report child abuse or neglect.
She said prosecutors in several Indiana counties have criminally charged school officials for not reporting their concerns, but Laskey said she is unaware of that happening to any doctors.
"If you have a criminal penalty yet never apply it, what do you do?" Laskey asked. "There is no reason for anyone to do their job when you see other people egregiously violating (the law) and not being punished for it."
Laskey said doctors who fail to report their concerns also may face civil penalties through multimillion-dollar lawsuits.
Officials in Lake and Porter counties said they don't believe anyone in the region has ever been charged with or prosecuted for failing to report child abuse or neglect. The law making that a crime was enacted nearly 15 years ago.
Archdiocese moves to teach workers how to report child abuse
by David O'Reilly
Inquirer Staff Writer
Protecting children from abuse and neglect would seem the first duty of any civil society.
But only in 1912 did the United States adopt its first child-protection laws, and not until 1967 were such laws on the books in every state.
Today, those early efforts sound almost quaint.
In 1967, for example, Pennsylvania required only doctors to notify authorities if they suspected a minor in their care was being abused or neglected.
In 1970, however, the legislature added teachers and nurses to its list of "mandated reporters." Four years later, it adopted the Child Protective Services Law, which expanded the definition of child abuse, greatly enlarged the list of those who must report it, and required the state and every county to create agencies tasked with responding to abuse reports.
In 2009, about 75 percent of the 18,000 child-abuse cases recorded statewide came from mandated reporters.
But Pennsylvania's current definition of child abuse is so detailed and its list of mandated reporters so extensive (firefighters, morticians, and animal-control officers are just a few) that many who should be reporting are displaying a "troubling lack of understanding" of their responsibilities, a survey found.
While state law does not oblige mandated reporters to take training, one of the region's largest caretakers of children - the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia - has launched a comprehensive program for all its employees and any other adults who work with its youths.
Responding to February's grand jury report that it was harboring priests accused of sexually abusing minors, the archdiocese has contracted with the nonprofit Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) in Bucks County to teach 24,000 archdiocesan employees and church volunteers about Pennsylvania's child-protection laws.
The training program began late last month and will continue through early November.
"In Pennsylvania, any professional who works with children is a mandated reporter," Mandy Mundy, NOVA's training director, said at a session last week at Stella Maris Parish in South Philadelphia.
Among the audience of 175 were priests, nuns, teachers, parish employees, and sports team volunteers.
"It's not your job to be sure," said Mundy. "It's your job to have a suspicion." And whether to report a suspicion "is not a choice," she added.
A mandated reporter who sees evidence of "recent" neglect or abuse of a child - defined by law as anyone younger than 18 - and fails to notify authorities faces fines, even jail.
The five categories of child abuse recognized by state law are:
Serious physical injury.
Serious mental injury.
Serious physical neglect.
Sexual abuse or exploitation.
Imminent risk that any such dangers might occur.
Some signs of physical injury are obvious, such as bruises or fractures, Mundy said, but many are not. Evidence suggesting physical neglect can include hunger, weight loss, dirty or tattered clothing, and poor hygiene.
Mental abuse, which is any repeated behavior that does emotional or psychological harm to a child, can include denigration, threats of injury, or exposure to domestic violence.
Abuse can also show as anxiety, depression, anger, or some sudden mood change, said Mundy, but "because we won't see a bruise" when a child is neglected or psychologically tormented, nonphysical forms of abuse are often under-detected.
So, too, is sexual abuse, which ranges well beyond rape, fondling, and indecent exposure. It can include pornographic posing, sexualized talk, and exposure to pornography as a part of a "grooming" process calculated to erode a child's sense of boundaries.
"These behaviors . . . are just as important to report" as sexual contact, Mundy told the group, because reporting them can thwart molestation before it begins.
In many cases, mandated reporters don't have to make their suspicions known directly to civil authorities, but only to a designated person where they work.
A teacher who worries that a student is malnourished, for example, might advise the principal or school psychologist, who must notify the state's ChildLine hotline at 1-800-932-0313.
Hotline employees then call the county agency responsible for child welfare, which must make contact with the child within 24 hours and assess the situation, according to Mundy.
Anyone - mandated reporter or not - who suspects child abuse may notify ChildLine, and cannot be sued in Pennsylvania if the report is made "in good faith."
Mundy appealed to her listeners to overcome any qualms about reporting abuse. The laws exist, she said, "to help a child who is being hurt from being hurt more."
Tough New Georgia Sex Trafficking Law Takes Effect
July 11, 2011
ATLANTA – One of the nation's toughest crackdowns on human traffickers has taken effect in Georgia.
The measure launched July 1 would increase minimum sentences for human traffickers from one year to 10 years behind bars.
It also tacks on fines of up to $100,000 for a conviction. And traffickers face at least 25 years in prison if the victim is a minor.
The law also says a person cannot be found guilty of a sex crime if it took place while that person was a victim of trafficking. Some Georgia religious groups argue that effectively legalizes prostitution.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has called the law critical to address a growing problem in the state.