||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 3
Sexual Assault Support Services is seeking volunteers
PORTSMOUTH — Sexual Assault Support Services is seeking volunteers. The organization works to prevent child sexual abuse, sexual assault and stalking while supporting victims, survivors and others affected by sexual violence. Visit sassnh.org or call 603-436-4107 for more information.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of NH needs men and women to advocate for abused and neglected children in their communities. To learn more about the program at www.casanh.org, or to call 800-626-0622 for more information.
Prisons are for criminals
by Glenda Simms
The healing process for victims of child sexual abuse is often long and painful.
In 2009, my friend, Judith Scott, and her three sisters created history when they brought charges of rape against their stepfather, father and the adult who should have nurtured and protected them when they were young and dependent on him.
Two years later, on July 17, 2011, The Sunday Gleaner carried the headline "We won!"
The courts found the 'dirty dad', as The Gleaner captioned on its front page last Friday, guilty of sexual assault.
Judith Scott and her sisters undoubtedly experienced many personal, psychological and emotional challenges as they faced the world.
According to their story, they were high achievers and fitted easily into a career path that made each of them independent and self-actualised on a number of levels. In spite of this, they had to find many ways to follow the path of healing their inner damaged self. The court victory reported in The Sunday Gleaner was a major step on this path to healing. In my discussion with Judith, she revealed that this court battle was necessary for her and her three sisters to find the space to grieve and to rejoice.
In court, Judith stared at a pathetic stepfather who has been blind for some time. While she would have had a certain sense of satisfaction if he could have seen her in the halls of justice, she was heartened by the fact that he could hear her testimony of his brutality and trauma which he would have clearly seen in her childhood fears and pain when he raped her from she was four years old and 15.
Apparently, his only response to the charges of rape brought against him by his stepdaughter and his three biological daughters was his denial in the phrase, "My children must be crazy."
Judith has told me that all her incidents of rape by her stepfather (the highly respected schoolteacher) took place in Jamaica. It is, therefore, fitting that the resolution of this sordid story happened in a Jamaican courtroom.
Forty-five years after she was raped by her stepfather, Judith Scott and her three sisters took the bold and courageous step and went public with their pain.
Perhaps other Jamaican women who are carrying the secret trauma of incest and rape within the family will find inspiration and courage in the story of the sisters who took a stance against their father and won their case.
In 1986, when Diana Russell, PhD, published her landmark titled The Secret Trauma, there was a widespread and vicious backlash against victims of incest, especially those who reported their experience at a later stage in life.
According to Russell, such disclosures of incest were still frequently greeted with scepticism by clinicians, law-enforcement officers, child-protection workers, courts and even by parents, teachers and social workers.
It is not unusual for women to be denied justice when they recall suppressed memories as victims of incest and other traumatic violent sexual experiences. The courtroom and the arena of public opinion sometimes have problems fathoming the phenomenon of repressed memory. However, it is well documented that many victims of incest vividly recall the trauma after periods of 20, 30 or even 40 years.
Perhaps this case will help liberate the many whose traumatic experiences have been hidden from their active memory bank and filed within the deep, dark deep corners of their psyche.
When these memories resurface, it might be tempting to dismiss them as false; however, it is the victims who know and feel their unique pain and grief.
It has been an established fact that child sexual abuse is very common and is the base of much of the serious problems that face societies. The reality is that incestuous acts are the most likely to be repressed by the victims of this horrendous crime. Children repress these experiences because they are perpetrated by those who are in positions of authority and trust. These are their fathers, stepfathers, brothers and uncles.
Let us hope that the pain and passion that contributed to the courage shown by Judith and her sisters will educate the public about the impact of child sexual abuse on individuals and their families. Furthermore, this painful story should encourage those who are still denying their childhood sexual abuse to face the perpetrators of this most monstrous crime.
This case of gross child sexual abuse within a family system, which is often envisaged as ideal (the nuclear family), is a very concrete example of the process of how women are expected to bury their grief.
During the more than forty-year period in which Judith Scott and her sisters endeavoured to build their lives and their careers, there must have been moments when they screamed in the dark or vomited after a good meal, or after they made passionate love to their husbands or lovers.
These are some of the severe responses that accompany the buried grief of incest, rape and other forms of childhood sexual trauma.
According to Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, who wrote The Courage to Heal, buried grief poisons and limits our capacity for spontaneous joy and for life itself. They argue that when you are young, you are unable to share your feelings about a traumatic sexual experience.
This is because children do not have the cognitive and emotional capacity to express their feelings about their abuse.
We can well imagine that the childhood persona is incapable of reliving the agony and terror without the most sensitive and understanding support system.
Judith recalls that when she and her sisters told their mother about the sexual abuse of their father, she dismissed them with the terse response, "A weh you want mi fi do? It nuh happen aready."
Like so many dysfunctional women who have been socialised to feel unwomanly without a man, this mother decided to sacrifice her daughters and keep her brute of a husband.
Against this background, Judith and her sisters waited more than 40 years to confront the rapist in a Jamaican courtroom. It took them that long to unearth their grief and seek justice in order to liberate their souls.
In this process, they had the love and support of their spouses, children, two brothers and a host of friends and well-wishers who will always be there for them.
At approximately 1 p.m. on July 21, Judith and her sister Joan found a moment of triumph in the Port Maria courthouse when their father was sentenced to 12 months and was shackled and escorted to his prison cell for the crimes he committed 45 years ago.
Indeed, prisons are for criminals!
Dr Glenda P. Simms is a gender expert and consultant. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Child sex offence convictions nearly quadruple in 11 years
by Claire Miller
SHOCKING new figures showing child sex offence convictions have nearly quadrupled in 11 years may only be scratching the surface of the problem, a charity has warned.
There were 189 people convicted of child sexual exploitation – which includes offences like grooming – in Wales last year compared to 48 in 2000, according to Ministry of Justice statistics obtained by Wales on Sunday. In total 1,209 people were found guilty of offences in Wales over the past 11 years.
Des Mannion, NSPCC national head of service for Wales, said: “The NSPCC believes these figures showing increases in cautions, prosecutions and convictions for child sexual offences only scratch the surface of the problem.
“The sexual exploitation of children is a massive problem, but worryingly it is a virtually hidden problem. It puts vulnerable children at risk of serious sex abuse and leaves them at the mercy of unscrupulous men who pretend to be their friends but in reality are dangerous predators.”
North Wales Police has seen the biggest rise in convictions, from just seven in 2000 to 44 in 2010.
DCI Mark Chesters said: “North Wales Police has invested in the training of officers in partnership with other agencies over the last 12 months. This has raised awareness of this issue and provided the necessary confidence in victims to come forward, report and engage with the police and public and voluntary sector agencies. This means that these offences are reported and investigated robustly to bring offenders to justice while ensuring the welfare of victims.”
Government definitions of the sexual exploitation of children describe situations or relationships where offenders entice or pressure young people into sexual activity in return for something, such as food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, or money. They may take advantage of technology such as the internet or mobile phones to gain contact with their victims and exploit them.
Andrea Barnard, e-Crime Wales Police manager, said: “Although social networking is a fantastic resource, children and young people should be aware that they could be communicating with somebody who purports to be a similar age and gender – when in fact they could be somebody entirely different.
“It's time that parents wake up to the risks of social networking as well as the benefits. Parents should encourage their children to protect their accounts with passwords that can't be guessed, and tell them not to share their passwords.”
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), was formed in April 2006 to work both nationally and internationally to bring online child sex offenders, including those involved in the production, distribution and viewing of child abuse material, to the UK courts.
Mr Mannion said: “The Ceop research on child sexual exploitation has helped everyone understand the sense of the scale of sexual exploitation of children and we hope that it will encourage the relevant agencies to adopt a much more pro-active and coordinated approach to this type of grooming.
“We would like to see better and more consistent data collection and improved training for professionals working in this field – something we are well set up to support.”
Meanwhile, a dangerous South Wales child sex offender has had his details posted on Ceop's “most wanted” site (www.ceop.police.uk/wanted) after going missing.
Dominic Steven Powell, 48, from Cardiff, is wanted for failure to notify a change of address and breaching his foreign travel and supervision orders. He is also wanted for questioning in relation to a number of outstanding offences. His last known UK address was in Cardiff, but he has links to the Pontypridd area, as well as Coventry and Spain.
Jim Warnock, head of intelligence at Ceop, says: “Someone will have seen or will know where this man is and I encourage anyone with any information to come forward and help to locate this high-risk and dangerous individual.”
CASA volunteers give voice to abused children
by Amye Wright
As a victim of child abuse for more than a decade, one local resident is using her ordeal to help today's young victims find a voice and, hopefully, find justice.
"(The abuse) is in my first memories," Lori Murphy said.
Murphy has been a volunteer with Putnam County's Court-Appointed Special Advocates program for two and a half years.
She recalls watching a Dr. Phil episode that focused on the national CASA program.
"I had never heard of it before then," she said.
That episode, along with her ordeal as a child, peeked her curiousity enough that she researched more about the program online and got in touch with Putnam County CASA.
Approximately 250 children in Putnam County utilize the court-appointed special advocates program each year.
More than a decade ago, citizens along with General Sessions Judge John Hudson, who were concerned about the approximately 750 reported cases of child abuse and neglect in the area, banded together to establish the CASA program in Putnam County.
CASA operates under the authority of the Upper Cumberland Human
Judy Greenwood, program manager of the Putnam County CASA office, and Johnnie Wheeler, CASA program supervisor, are both deeply committed to their work with the program and to recognizing the work that CASA volunteers do within the community.
"They're true volunteers because they not only donate their time but they donate their resources as far as their vehicle..and gas; those kinds of things they don't get reimbursed for," Greenwood said.
CASA volunteers do not provide legal representation and do not need any legal expertise in order to volunteer. Legal representation for the child is provided by an attorney referred to as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL).
Cases are assigned to volunteers by the juvenile court judge.
Once assigned to a case, the volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, social workers, teachers and anyone else who can provide information regarding a child's history.
All records pertaining to the child -- school, medical and caseworker reports as well as other documents -- are reviewed by the volunteer.
The volunteers help to enhance the decision made by court officials by providing thorough, accurate information in the case of each child.
"We're trying to get the whole story," Greenwood said.
Volunteers are encouraged to share any information with the GAL and also with the attorneys for the parents. They don't replace social workers but help to gather more in-depth information about the child and make a recommendation to the court independent of state agency restrictions.
As an independent appointee of the court, a volunteer presents written reports to the court and sometimes speaks in the courtroom on behalf of the child's best interests.
"Basically, anybody can be a volunteer," Greenwood said.
To volunteer to work in the CASA program, individuals must be at least 21 years old, have no criminal history, be able to complete the required training, pass a background check performed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and have a desire to help abused and neglected children.
"I think one of the things that the volunteers definitely...need to have is a love for kids," Wheeler said. "It's all about the heart."
Patience and understanding are also important when considering volunteering with CASA.
"Each child will respond differently," Greenwood said. "Some have been hurt so badly that they don't trust anybody.; and then others have been hurt so badly that they want somebody they can attach to."
As a substitute teacher and a grandmother of six, Murphy has plenty of experience with children. She says she finds it helpful to bring a small gift for the child when she first meets them to help "break the ice."
Traveling outside of the county to visit the children is also a possibility for the volunteers. Sometimes, children from Putnam County live in the Nashville area and even in Knoxville and many counties in between.
Some children are moved multiple times throughout the duration of their case.
"We still stay with that child no matter where that child goes," Greenwood said.
CASA volunteers typically work on one case at a time but sometimes work two cases at a time. Social workers on the other hand can sometimes work as many as 20 or more cases at a time.
"A lot of times (CASA volunteers are) the only person that is a constant figure in (the child's) life; from the beginning to the end of their case," Greenwood said. "We ask them to stay at least a year or, until their case closes."
A common misconception is that volunteering with CASA requires extensive knowledge of the court system and laws.
"There's no qualification, really, because you're going to get the training and we're going to give them the qualifications they need to do this job," Wheeler said.
Volunteers are required to complete 30 hours of training that covers topics such as recognizing signs of the different types of abuse, ways to stay safe and how to bond with the children.
Another common misconception, according to Greenwood and Wheeler, is that volunteering with CASA requires a large amount of time.
However, volunteers typically work on a case anywhere from 10-15 hours per month and visit a child at least twice per month. More complicated cases may require more time and more experienced volunteers may take on a few more hours.
Perhaps the only prerequisite is that volunteers come into CASA with a passion for helping children and an ability to earn their trust.
Approximately 50 percent of the volunteers are employed in regular full-time jobs with the majority of that percentage being professionals.
According to Greenwood, the Department of Children's Service and even attorneys contact CASA in search of a volunteer to help with a case.
"They see the value of that volunteer and the problem is that we don't have enough volunteers," Greenwood said.
It costs approximately $900 per year to provide the training that just one CASA volunteer needs.
The program is not government-funded even though it is "under the umbrella of UCHRA." Funding typically comes from allotments from the cities within the county, grants, private donations and fundraisers.
Children from birth to 18 years of age can utilize CASA's services.
According to Greenwood, children who arevictims of abuse often grow up to become abusers themselves.
"We've got to break that cycle of abuse so we won't need CASA or DCS," Greenwood said. "Basically, that's one of our goals...to work ourselves out of a job, but I can't see that happening any time soon."
The national CASA program overall has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a model juvenile delinquent prevention program. It is estimated that when a CASA volunteer is involved in a child's case, the chances of that child becoming a delinquent later in life decrease dramatically, according to Greenwood.
And as for Murphy, her abuser never faced charges.
Cases like hers are the driving force for CASA to continue making a difference in the community by advocating for a safe, loving home for the children who have only known abuse and neglect.
And it's dedicated volunteers like Murphy that help make make it all possible.
"I didn't have a CASA and I wish I had," she said. "I didn't have anyone that I could relate to or that I could talk to and that's why, to me, it's so important that I'm there for them. Those children need an advocate, they need someone to speak for them. They need a voice."
Failure to report child abuse and neglect is a Class A felony and is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500. If you suspect a child is in danger, call 1-877-237-0004 .
To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer or to find ways for a group or business to become involved, call 520-8733 or visit: www.uchracasa4children.com
Child-welfare advocates address recent wave of abuse in Great Falls
A 15-month old Great Falls child remains in critical condition after sustaining life-threatening injuries on Friday.
Charles Cadwell was arrested on Friday evening and has been charged with attempted deliberate homicide; he's expected to make his initial court appearance on Monday.
We spoke to local family advocates on the recent wave of reported child abuse in Great Falls.
Carrie Galvez of the Children's Receiving Home says that she sees the growing problem every day as kids are brought into foster care.
High profile cases like the deaths of October Perez and Kaelyn Bray have spurred friends and family into action.
After Kaelyn's death, her mother Jessica started the Dandelion Foundation to prevent similar cases.
October's family is working to get legislation on the books to toughen state child abuse laws.
Nichole Griffith of Victim-Witness Assistance Services says that learning what constitutes child abuse and reporting it is a start, and parents can learn coping mechanisms to learn not to take frustration out on kids.
Galvez noted that the Children's Receiving Home is at capacity, providing a safe place for 14 kids in the area, but added that there's always room for more foster parents willing to open their homes and hearts to a child in need.
For information on how to become a foster parent, you can call 727-7746.
The Weekly, its parent company face backlash over Online sex ads that exploit teens
Amid the controversy engulfing The Weekly and Village Voice regarding advertising that critics say aids in the sex trafficking of girls and women, a look at a local residential-recovery program for prostituted youngsters
by Sara Jean Green
Seattle Times staff reporter
There's a black futon in the upstairs hallway of an old, beautifully restored house, the location of which is a guarded secret in Seattle.
The futon is for the night terrors. The house is for the girls in the city's year-old Bridge Program, one of only a handful of residential-recovery programs for prostituted youth in the United States.
Three of the six girls who live in the house were advertised as escorts in the adult section of backpage.com, the online classified-advertising site owned by Village Voice Media Holdings, parent company of Seattle Weekly and a dozen other newspapers across the country.
The Weekly and Village Voice have come under fire in Seattle and elsewhere because critics say some of the advertising aids in the trafficking of girls and women in cities across the country.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has ordered all city departments to halt advertising in the Seattle Weekly. On Friday, the Hollywood, Calif., chapter of the National Organization for Women sent a letter to McGinn supporting an advertising boycott of Village Voice Media.
That's part of a backlash directed at Village Voice, which is also fighting a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a Missouri girl who claims backpage.com is liable for facilitating her sexual exploitation.
McGinn made it clear in a meeting July 15 with representatives from Village Voice that he was targeting only backpage.com, and not another advertising site run by the city's other free weekly, The Stranger, or any other websites with adult listings. The city has found no evidence linking those sites to juveniles involved in the sex trade, he said.
The Stranger, which runs escort ads on naughtynw.com, requires in-person verification of escorts' IDs, and proof of age and identity of anyone pictured in an escort ad. McGinn asked Village Voice during his recent meeting to pull all of its escort ads until it implements a similar policy. Village Voice representatives said they would consider McGinn's request.
(The Seattle Times does not accept ads for escort services, massage parlors or strip clubs.)
Dennis Culloton, whose public-relations firm in Chicago represents Village Voice Media, said the media company is working hard to discourage illegal conduct. He said that in the past year or so, it has spent more than $2 million on technological improvements and staff to screen escort ads posted on the site.
Lt. Eric Sano, of the Seattle Police Department's Vice and High Risk Victims Unit, said the online ads on backpage.com have prompted more prostitution investigations than any of the other escort-advertising sites monitored by his unit's detectives.
"Clearly, backpage leads the pack," he said. Eighty percent of the girls and young women found by Sano's unit — juveniles and suspected juveniles who turned out to be adults — were advertised on the site.
Since January 2010, Sano's detectives have investigated 57 prostitution cases that originated with advertisements on backpage.com, 21 of them involving girls younger than 18. In that time, detectives also investigated several other sites that advertise "escorts," including nine cases off Craigslist, two from The Stranger's online ad site, one from tna.com and two from men4rentnow.com, but none of those investigations ended up involving juveniles, he said.
As a result of its prostitution investigations, Sano's unit last year found a total of 81 prostituted youths, up from 40 in 2009, 30 in 2008 and 20 in 2007.
In the past three years, one King County senior deputy prosecutor alone has filed charges in 18 cases involving pimps — and a couple of customers — who used backpage.com to advertise or find juveniles and young women for sex, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Of those, five were convicted, seven pleaded guilty and six are awaiting trial, said Goodhew.
But officials say there are more local girls involved in prostitution than police statistics reflect. Over the past year, two case workers — one who works in King County's juvenile-detention center and the other who does community outreach with youth — have identified 185 females younger than 18 who admitted involvement in prostitution, said Leslie Briner.
Briner, associate director of YouthCare's residential programs for people younger than 18, including The Bridge Program, said of the 185 girls identified, 119 were enrolled in at least one YouthCare program. Of those 119 girls, half were exploited over the Internet and 22 of them said they were advertised on backpage.com.
She also noted that in addition to the three girls living at The Bridge house who were advertised on the site, six of the 18 girls who went through the program last year were pimped through ads on backpage.com.
Culloton, the Village Voice spokesman, said backpage.com employees work closely with law enforcement and as a result banned nudity along with more than 21,000 terms used to describe sex acts from use in escort ads.
In the past year, the company has hired more than 120 people who screen ads and pass along approximately 250 tips a month to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children when they suspect a juvenile is being advertised on the site, Culloton said.
During that time, backpage.com screeners — who respond to about 50 subpoenas from law enforcement every month — have banned almost 100,000 users and blocked thousands of computer IP addresses because of suspected wrongdoing, he said.
"Behind every suspect ad, there is an adult who is furthering this potential crime," he said. "... Individuals who want to break the law and think they can do so on backpage.com run a great risk of being arrested and prosecuted. There's been tremendous investment in security and safety (infrastructure) to protect our children and protect our communities."
Sano, the vice lieutenant, acknowledged that backpage.com quickly responds to warrants and subpoenas — usually for credit-card information that helps police identify pimps — but he said the company isn't absolved of its role in contributing to sexual exploitation just because it complies with court orders.
"They're making a lot of money off these ads," said Sano.
In November 2008, Craigslist — the online advertising giant that was long used to advertise escort services — reached an agreement with 40 state attorneys general to purge ads linked to prostitution from its site and better enforce its own rules against illegal activity, according to The New York Times.
In September, Craigslist abruptly shut down its adult-services section, less than two weeks after 17 state attorneys general sent a letter to the company, demanding that it discontinue sex-related ads, according to The Times.
Mark Whittaker, a senior consultant with the AIM Group, a Florida-based consulting firm that focuses on classified advertising, said personal ads represent a lucrative income for websites and newspapers. He estimated Craigslist made nearly $45 million in yearly revenue from escort ads in 39 cities before pulling the plug on them.
The AIM Group estimates that backpage.com generates about $2 million a month in online revenue from escort and massage ads in 23 cities, including Seattle, Whittaker said.
Culloton, the Village Voice spokesman, declined to say how much money the company makes from its escort and massage ads.
"They are a privately held company and we do not need to disclose our financials," he said.
The cost of placing ads varies, depending on geographic location, but generally ranges from $1 to $5 per online ad in Washington state.
Despite the growing scrutiny of backpage.com, Culloton said the site — which like Craigslist also advertises apartment rentals, job openings and items for sale — isn't considering shutting down its escort advertising section. While users of the site are required to click a link confirming they are at least 18 years old, backpage.com does not require proof that someone depicted in an ad is an adult, he said.
The site's posting rules came under fire in a federal lawsuit filed in September in Missouri on behalf of a girl who was 14 when her pimp — now in prison — advertised her on backpage.com.
In one court filing, the girl's attorney, Robert Pedroli Jr., wrote that Village Voice Media is "aware of prior cases of minors being sexually trafficked on its website and based upon the posted ads and photography, no reasonable person could review the postings in the adult categories and deny prostitution was the object of almost each and every ad."
Attorneys representing Village Voice Media fired back, arguing that the website is immune from civil liability under the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which exempts Internet service providers from being sued for content posted by "third parties," such as the girl's pimp, court records say.
In November, Village Voice attorneys filed a motion seeking to have the case dismissed on summary judgment, a legal device designed to provide a prompt ruling on a case's merits without resorting to a lengthy trial. After eight months, a judge has yet to rule on the motion.
SKIMPY OUTFITS, HEELS
In one recent ad posted on backpage.com's Seattle site, a woman who calls herself "Star," posts: "If you like to have a good time, I can help put the smile on your face. I am good at what I do." The ad, which includes a from-behind photo of "Star" bending over with her skirt hiked to her hips, lists her location as "By Space Needle," a known area of prostitution, according to police.
Skimpy outfits, sky-high stilettos and provocative poses abound on the site, along with ads that promise men "complete satisfaction" and realization of their "wildest fantasies." Many of the "escorts" pictured in the ads either hide their faces or blur them out.
While some ads suggest "donations" or "roses," others list hourly rates, which typically range from $80 to $300. Some ads warn men not to discuss services over the phone or to call from blocked numbers. Others instruct them to include their names and hotel-room numbers in any voice-mail messages.
A Village Voice story, which ran in the Weekly and 12 other papers last month, mocked celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore for their recent advocacy for prostituted youth and challenged the validity of a national estimate that puts the number of American juvenile girls involved in prostitution between 100,000 and 300,000 a year.
"There are not 100,000 to 300,000 children in America turning to prostitution every year. The statistic was hatched without regard to science. It is a bogeyman," the story says.
The article's authors analyzed a decade's worth of juvenile-prostitution arrest records in the country's 37 largest cities and found "slightly more than 800 underage arrests a year," according to the story, which put Seattle's annual average at 19.
But Village Voice's use of arrests records is "in many ways even more unreliable" than the national estimate since few U.S. police departments have dedicated squads looking for juveniles, said Julian Sher, a Montreal-based investigative reporter who spent two years researching and writing his book, "Somebody's Daughter: The Hidden Story of America's Prostituted Children and the Battle to Save Them."
When juveniles involved in the sex trade are arrested, it's usually for theft, not prostitution, he said. Lots of girls lie about their age and carry fake IDs — and once they are classified as adults in the criminal-justice system, "that's who they become," Sher said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates "that 100,000 children are wrapped up" in the sex trade at any time, said John Shehan, executive director of the center's Exploited Children Division in Alexandria, Va. "But we're never going to have a true, accurate statistic for this. We have dozens of confirmed cases, but they in no way paint an entire picture of what's happening."
"EPIDEMIC IS OVER"
At least one nationally recognized advocate agrees with the Village Voice story.
Lois Lee, founder of Children of the Night in Van Nuys, Calif., claims she was the original source of the estimated 300,000 kids involved in prostitution a year — but that was 10 years ago.
Lee, a sociologist who began working with street prostitutes in Hollywood in the 1970s, said she came up with the number because at the time, 1 million American children were running away from home each year — and roughly one-third of them could be expected to become entangled in the sex trade.
"They are on the right side," Lee said of Village Voice. "Here's the deal: Child prostitution in America was at epidemic proportions between 1979 and 2009," Lee said. "The epidemic is over, though that doesn't mean there are not kids prostituting."
She attributes the decline to tougher laws and stiffer prison terms for pimps who prostitute juveniles.
Caleb Hannan, Seattle Weekly's managing editor, said the point of the recent story was to debunk the "bad science" behind national estimates about the number of American girls younger than 18 involved in the sex trade and to point out that no one really knows how many juveniles are being prostituted.
"I think what was said in the story is still true: Bad numbers lead to bad policy and the damage is real, whether anyone, politicians or otherwise, want to acknowledge that," Hannan said of the piece, which was not produced or edited by Weekly staffers. Sher notes in his book that Congress ordered the Department of Justice to conduct a national study on prostituted youth in 2005, a study that still does not exist.
Melinda Giovengo, executive director of YouthCare, the nonprofit that runs Seattle's Bridge Program, and Briner, the associate director of YouthCare's residential programs for juveniles, recently gave Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess a tour of the Bridge house while the girls were away.
The program, which began as a two-year pilot, has been extended to three years. Funded largely through private donations, the Bridge Program needs approximately $300,000 to fully fund the program through June 2013.
In the dining room, Giovengo stopped to admire neatly crayoned pages that had been torn from a children's coloring book and taped to the wall.
"This is why we're here, so they can reclaim what was stolen," she said, smiling at the pictures of chicks and bunnies. "To be able to touch this part of these children is the miracle."
The girls in the program receive intensive therapy, alcohol and drug counseling and a rigorous course of academics. Staff don't punish the girls but instead reward and celebrate even small achievements.
"These children are living with a level of anxiety you can't even fathom," Giovengo said.
Which is the reason for the futon in the upstairs hallway, positioned with a clear view of the landing: "Some of our young people have extreme night terrors ... They were traumatized in bedrooms and beds, either through sex abuse as a young child or through the victimization that happened to them when they were prostituted," Giovengo said.
Offering them a nontraditional sleeping area, she said, "makes them feel safe — they don't feel claustrophobic and trapped and it alleviates some of the fear that stems from being traumatized in those intimate settings."
Burgess, who took the political lead in advocating for creation of the residential recovery program, said his office has focused on the local statistics, not the national estimates scrutinized in the Village Voice article. A 2008 report commissioned by the city said 300 to 500 girls are being prostituted in King County at any given time.
"Village Voice and backpage.com are messengers with a massive conflict of interest," Burgess said. "They economically benefit from the exploitation of juveniles so when they say there's not a problem or suggest the problem is distorted, they have zero credibility in my mind.
"This is a big problem in our region and frankly, even if there was just one (girl), it would be a problem."
How to help
The Bridge Program for prostituted youth has raised about $1.6 million but needs approximately $300,000 to fully fund the pilot program through June 2013. Donations to the City of Seattle Prostituted Children's Rescue Fund can be mailed c/o the City of Seattle Human Services Department, P.O. Box 34215, Seattle WA, 98124-4215.
Memphis campaign puts a dent in sex trade, serves as national model
by Beth Warren
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Juan Mendez will never victimize children in Memphis again.
If the 33-year-old outlives his 50-year prison sentence, he will be deported back to his home country of Mexico.
Mendez, who raped and beat teens and forced them into prostitution, was prosecuted in federal court, his case the launch of a campaign by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Memphis and federal agents to crack down on human sex traffickers.
Memphis is now considered a model nationally for its initiative to maximize prison stints for sex traffickers, said U.S. Atty. Ed Stanton.
Stanton, a Memphis native who took over the office in 2010, created a Civil Rights Unit, which encompasses human trafficking, in February. He has assigned three prosecutors to the unit, and has vowed to aggressively target traffickers.
"Human trafficking is nothing more than modern-day slavery. The victims often are some of our most vulnerable," Stanton said during an interview at his office Friday.
"There's no question it's a priority for this district and this office."
Veteran prosecutor Steve Parker, who heads Memphis' Civil Rights Unit, has been selected to train fledgling agents how to spot and investigate human trafficking at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. He and local FBI Special Agent Tracey Harris also have trained prosecutors and police in Guam and Saipan.
Traffickers frequently target girls and women from poor families or those who were sexually abused, runaways, and minors in the state foster-care system. They advertise on the Internet and take the women and girls to truck stops and major sporting events.
Mendez used his girlfriend, Cristina Andres Perfecto, who also pleaded guilty to sex trafficking, to recruit girls as young as 12 from poor Mexican villages, promising them legitimate jobs in the United States so they could send money back home.
Instead, he would take the girls back and forth from Memphis and Nashville and to other areas of the South to brothels. One girl, age 14, thought she would be working as a waitress. Instead, she was forced to have sex with 40 men her first day, Parker said.
At the state level, Mendez likely would have faced 15 to 30 years and then could have shaved years off his sentence with good behavior behind bars. In contrast, federal prison sentences are often served day-for-day, said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jeremy Baker.
"It's a high-priority issue right now with the FBI and Department of Justice overall," said Baker, who oversees the Memphis division's Public Corruption/Civil Rights Squad. "And that involves investigating and trying to make the public more aware to develop leads and better assist victims."
Baker also supervises a Civil Rights Task Force which includes members of the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.
The FBI teamed with Memphis police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Oct. 13, 2006, to raid six Memphis brothels in a single day, netting Mendez and several others who have been sent to federal prison for trafficking.
Other Memphis cases have involved local women and minors.
"This is not only people being brought in from across the border," Baker said. "This also is happening in neighborhoods."
On Monday, Mitchell Lamont Chest was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in a federal prison for forcing an Illinois teenager into prostitution in Chicago and later in Memphis.
Convicted trafficker Leonard Augusta Fox, 43, is serving 25 years in a federal prison for recruiting Memphis girls ages 13-17 and forcing them into prostitution at apartment complexes and Tunica gaming hotels.
Memphis native Terrence Arnett Yarbrough is awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.
Prosecutors say he reigned over a dozen teens and women with intimidation and extreme violence. Yarbrough branded four victims with his nickname, "T-Rex"; knocked out a teen's front teeth and chopped her hair off with a knife; poured bleach on a woman before burning her with an iron and beating her with a padlock; and smashed another woman's head into a car before stripping skin off of her back, according to the federal charges against him.
Memphian Charles Kizer, 52, is scheduled to go on trial in federal court in September on sex-trafficking charges.
An 18-year-old told investigators she met Kizer in Knoxville and thought he was going to give her drugs. Instead he kidnapped her and brought her to Memphis where he forced her into prostitution, the federal charges allege. He is accused of keeping a hatchet under his car seat and threatening to chop her head off if she didn't cooperate.
If convicted, Kizer and Yarbrough would each face a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Welfare exec: Child cyber-sex victims end up seeking sex
Exposed to lewd sexual behavior through pedophiles on the Internet, rescued child victims of cyber-sex trafficking in Cordova, Cebu, have ended up seeking sexual intercourse with other children, a local welfare official said.
The child victims seek intercourse with fellow minors not only in exchange for money but for personal pleasure, said the local Children's Legal Bureau executive director Joan Saniel in an interview aired on GMA News TV's Balita Pilipinas newscast over the weekend.
The children are now in the custody of the Department and Social Welfare and Development, the newscast added.
Psychological effects such as guilt and shame usually hound rescued victims of child pornography, according to then-16-year-old Marina (not her real name), who was rescued from a suspected cybersex den in Bacoor, Cavite, in 2008.
Last June, six minors (aged 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15) were rescued from a cyber-sex den after a Cebuano couple allegedly made them strip and perform sexual acts in front of a web camera for $25 per view.
Five of these minors are the couple's own children, while the other is their niece.
Another group of women and children was rescued from a cyber-sex den in July, with the mother of one of the minors allegedly involved in trafficking, Balita Pilipinas reported.
The raids come at around the same time that the United States took off the Philippines from its Tier 2 human trafficking watch list for having convicted a substantial number of human traffickers in 2010.
by Hilda Saeed
The UN data reveals that globally, human trafficking is the third-largest and fastest growing trade, with drugs and weapons generating a staggering total of 31 billion dollars each year. No sector of the world market is immune to this dilemma: 161 industrialised and developing countries are being affected, with millions of people—largely women and children—now reduced to living lives of appalling tragedy and modern-day slavery.
To combat this trans-national organised crime, the UN introduced an International Convention in 2000, the first legally binding instrument in over half a century. It sets out an agreed definition of human trafficking and addresses its cruel chain of abduction, kidnapping, coercion, deception, abuse of power and taking undue advantage of the victim. The helpless victims are vulnerable to exploitation, prostitution, forced sexual labour, slavery, and even the sale of organs.
According to Asia Times, human trafficking is an undeniable part of Asia's persistent tragedy; a widespread scourge. The shadowy criminals who deal in such human misery have established a systematic trafficking chain worldwide, consisting of several steps—the first of which is recruitment, where trust is built between the recruiter and the potential victim. The victims are most susceptible to false promises, better paid work abroad, or marriage (in which the recruiter poses as the potential ‘husband'). The root causes for such vulnerability are oppressive poverty, ignorance, discrimination and social exclusion.
The next step is transportation and arrival, when the victim is passed on to the subsequent member of the chain, who takes them to a temporary destination. Passports are taken away in order to continue control and eradicate any possibility of escape. Middlemen, intermediaries or brokers act as facilitators in the chain of procurement, arranging visas, procuring travel documents, providing pre-departure orientation, guidance and training, and even negotiating the initial work contract.
When the victims reach their final destination, they suffer the worst forms of abuse, and are deprived of even their most fundamental rights. This core of contemporary slavery involves force, fraud and coercion—there is just no escape. Slavery is thriving, with millions being coerced into this trade.
It is essential to address the greatest tragedy, the demand side of trafficking, which arises from the widespread demand for cheap labour and sex, paid for in human terms by these unwitting victims, who lose their most fundamental human rights in the process.
Data from the UN and Pakistan indicates that in South Asia, about one million Bangladeshis and more than 200,000 Burmese women have been trafficked to Karachi alone for slave trade and sale into prostitution. Since the early '90s, it has been estimated that 200,000 Bangladeshi women have been trafficked to Pakistan in the last decade, at the rate of 200 to 400 per month. In addition, most Bengali women are forced into slave trade for the equivalent of 1,500 to 2,500 US dollars each.
Besides Karachi, other entry points include Lahore, Kasur, Bahawalpur, Chor and Badin. The victims enter illegally, suffering immense deprivation on the journey; many reportedly die en route. Two hundred thousand undocumented Bangladeshis and Burmese are currently in prison or shelters; others with undocumented lives have been lost to slavery and/or the sex trade.
Political turmoil in Afghanistan is also accompanied by kidnapping and the sale of women at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where, as of 1991, they're sold like cattle in the marketplace at minimal rates. Auctions of girls are arranged for three kinds of buyers: rich visiting Arabs, state-funded medical and university students, and wealthy local gentry. The data also claims that the police charges a 15 per cent commission on each sale.
Currently, trafficking of girls between the ages of eight and 15 is rising. Orphaned girls are sold as ‘wives' to rich men, for further profitable sale.
India and Pakistan are the main supply source for children under the age of 16. Nineteen thousand Pakistani children have been trafficked to the UAE alone. Hundreds of thousands of children are involved in the sex trade; including in Pakistan, where reports indicate that paedophilia is rife in street children. Children are kidnapped even from internet cafes, or other points where children gather.
Strict law enforcement is critical, especially along borders. Since 2005, an Inter Agency Task Force is responsible for coordinating with coast guards, maritime agencies, and police. This linkage has led to the arrest of over 2000 illegal migrants, including 47 [human} smugglers, including agents, sub-agents and traffickers. Further checking is carried out by the anti-trafficking unit and coordinating and monitoring cell.
Proactive measures to combat this crime include the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance; Pakistan has now been removed from the unsavoury category of International ‘Watch List'. The National Plan of Action, with guidelines for further on-going action has been launched, supported by comprehensive legislation for greater protection of victims. Amendments to the trafficking ordinance are in the pipeline.
A ministerial committee oversees progress, for speedier prosecution of arrested individuals, and greater security at entry and exit points, with enhanced policy and legislative steps, matched by technical steps, and forgery detection.
Undoubtedly, there is critical need for greater vigilance along all South Asian borders. Better law enforcement and large-scale national campaigns against human trafficking, including by NGOs are essential, as is the imperative to keep this horrendous trade constantly on the media radar, and in the public mind, with frequent updating of current information.
Peeping Tom suspect had history of offenses involving children, records show
by CASSIE FOSS
Bret Holterman was 17 when authorities first suspected he'd had inappropriate contact with children.
The victims were his neighbors, two Hilton Head Island girls, ages 3 and 5, who he was accused of sexually assaulting, according to Beaufort County court records.
It was a serious charge, one that should have landed Holterman, now 29, on the state's sex offender registry.
Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone says a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office investigator failed to read Holterman his Miranda rights before he confessed.
As a result, Stone says, the charge was dismissed and Holterman pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated assault and battery. That reduction meant he wasn't placed on the list. If he had made the registry, his address would have been public.
Instead, Holterman was sentenced under the state's Youthful Offender Act to inpatient treatment at a mental health facility and five years of probation, Stone said.
He also was prohibited from being in the presence of any child, Stone said.
"When the case came in, the facts were disturbing, but we couldn't prosecute it as a (criminal sexual conduct) case because the case depended on (Holterman's) statement," said Stone, who was an assistant solicitor when he handled the case in 2000. "He had not been read his Miranda rights before the statement, so I knew it couldn't be admitted in court."
Sheriff P.J. Tanner, elected the year before the Jan. 24, 2000, incident, said the Miranda warning wasn't an issue because Holterman volunteered to provide a written statement confessing to the assaults.
Tanner said the confession, which came before Holterman's arrest when he was only a "person of interest," could have been used in court.
"There was never a hearing on the statement. A judge never got an opportunity to rule on it," he said. "His (Stone's) choice was based on a possibility, an assumption. He made that decision based on his experience as a lawyer and his responsibilities as a prosecutor."
That disagreement aside, the result meant that those living near Holterman had one less tool with which to protect their children.
"I can tell you the facts now because I remember the case as clear as day. I knew I had a bad guy," Stone said.
Holterman was arrested July 16 on charges he peeped into the window of an 8-year-old girl in Bluffton's Mill Creek community three days before.
The same day Holterman was accused of being a Peeping Tom, a Bluffton mother says he posed as a Beaufort County School District employee and tried to persuade her to allow him to examine her son for "testing," according to a Sheriff's Office incident report.
Tanner said deputies are investigating that incident and others like it.
Those incidents aren't the only ones involving Holterman and children.
Since 2000, he has violated the conditions of his probation and parole at least three times, sending him to prison in both South Carolina and Alabama, according to court records.
After his release from the mental health facility in 2001, Holterman moved to Alabama, where he violated his probation by failing to report his whereabouts to authorities, Stone said. He was sent to prison and released in 2003. Holterman also was convicted in Alabama of felony credit card fraud, second-degree theft and reckless endangerment, according to court records.
In June 2004, he was a suspect in the attempted kidnapping and sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl vacationing on Hilton Head Island, according to a Sheriff's Office report. The girl told deputies she was sleeping in a downstairs bedroom of her family's Coral Sands Resort rental unit when a man led her outside and "crammed" his hand down her pants.
At the time, Holterman was a Coral Sands employee, according to the report.
Because the young victim couldn't positively identify her attacker, Holterman was not charged, according to the report.
There were other run-ins with the law.
In August 2004, Holterman pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary after he climbed onto the second-story balcony of a Hilton Head apartment and stole cash, according to an incident report.
He was returned to prison and released on parole again in 2005, Stone said.
In April 2006, he again violated parole after relatives of the two girls he was accused of sexually assaulting in 2000 caught him in their yard. An earlier court order of protection required him to stay away from the girls, their families, their homes and their workplaces.
He was sent back to prison.
His youthful-offender sentence expired in 2008, which meant he was no longer under the supervision of the state's Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
Following his July 16 arrest in Bluffton, he was taken to the county detention center, where he posted a $1,092 bond set by Magistrate's Judge Rod Sproatt according to court records.
Holterman was released the next day. He did not return several phone calls seeking comment.
If convicted of the peeping charge, a misdemeanor, Holterman faces up to three years in prison.
In addition, a judge could add him to the sex offender registry, Stone said.
Some think the peeping charges came too late.
Crystal Wilson, the mother of the Mill Creek girl Holterman is accused of spying on, has been distributing flyers with his mug shot and address.
"It's obvious he's a threat," she said. "He lives close to the pool, the playground. ... I'm not taking this lightly."
She worries about the potential for other victims.
"The fact that he has this history makes me sick," she said. "It seems like he's slipped through the cracks every time. I hope they take his whole history into account when they sentence him."
Wilson said she's checked the sex offender registry to find out where other local offenders live.
That registry, available online, is a necessary tool for the public to check their area for offenders, said Susan Cato, executive director of the Child Abuse Prevention Association. The nonprofit group offers community and school-based education programs focused on child-abuse prevention and intervention.
Cato said it's common for sexual offenders, especially pedophiles, to target and befriend adults with children.
She said the average pedophile has abused a child at least 70 times before being caught.
In Holterman's 2000 assault case, the Hilton Head girls told relatives Holterman had touched their "private parts" at least five times before he was arrested.
"Sadly, his case isn't out of the ordinary," Cato said. "The registry is a tool, but it doesn't replace preventative factors."
Cato praised the 8-year-old Mill Creek child for her quick response.
"That's what we want to happen. We want them to tell an adult they know and trust," she said.
Despite the attention Holterman is getting, Mill Creek residents say it's not enough.
On Thursday afternoon, Bob Vastola, a resident of the neighborhood and father of two, stood in front of Holterman's home with a neon-yellow sign that said "beware child predator."
The effort drew "thumbs-up" signs, cheers of "Amen" and supportive honks from passing motorists.
"I'm just trying to let neighbors know because there are people who still aren't aware of him," Vastola said. "Our neighborhood is full of kids. We just want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else."
Coast to offer sex abuse prevention training
by Sarah Todd
This year, the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits will once again partner to offer Stewards of Children, a sexual abuse prevention program developed by the nonprofit organization Darkness to Light.
The program was created for organizations serving children and adolescents. The three-hour session educates adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
Attendees will learn about developing policies that support the proactive roles communities can take to protect children and educate others. They will also hear about other resources available to enable individuals and organizations to react responsibly to incidents of child sexual abuse.
The importance of being able to identify possible child sexual abuse and to react to it
quickly and appropriately is doubly important. In addition to saving the identified child from this abuse, reporters may be saving many other children.
Nearly 70 percent of child sex offenders have between 1 and 9 victims; at least 20 percent have 10 to 40 victims.
Ironically, nonprofit organizations that serve children and youth may attract sexual predators and inadvertently allow them the opportunity to interact with children. Many are aware of this danger and screen all staff and volunteers.
Nonprofits serving children and youth can take other steps to protect their clients by ensuring their employees and volunteers know how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
Such training also protects the nonprofits serving children. And the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy makes the training available for just $15 per person, well within the reach of any nonprofit.
“This was good training. I now feel more confident in making a decision to come forward if I suspect sexual abuse,” said Shonda Miller, with Gateway Behavioral Health Services.
The training has been offered in locations across the state over the last few years, including in Chatham, Glynn and Effingham counties. This year, with the assistance of the center for nonprofits, the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy will provide the training in Brantley and Bulloch counties in summer and early fall, respectively.
It will also be offered in Albany, Rome and Atlanta before the end of the year. Nonprofits wishing to provide the Stewards of Children training for large groups can contact the center for nonprofits at 800-959-5015 .
Sarah Todd can be reached at email@example.com or 912-224-2120. She is regional manager for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, a nonprofit association providing education, consulting and other assistance to Georgia nonprofits to help them succeed.
New law protects child victims of sex trafficking
by Laura Yuen
St. Paul, Minn. — A bill made law this week by Gov. Mark Dayton will lead to a three-year effort to build a statewide victim-services network for prostituted children.
The new law also clarifies that trafficked children younger than 16 years will not face criminal charges or be treated as delinquents, but as victims, said Jeff Bauer, public policy director of The Family Partnership.
"For years in Minnesota, we've had a conflict in our law, which treats girls who are caught up in prostitution, and children generally, as both victims and criminals at the same time," Bauer said. "What this law does is clarifies that children that are caught up in trafficking and prostitution are victims in need of protective services, and they are not criminals."
The law takes effect in 2014, but several county prosecutors across the state have already agreed not to criminalize prostituted juveniles.
Bauer and other advocates will over the next few years build a network of shelters and counseling programs in Minnesota to help children diverted from the sex trade.
"When the police officer finds them on the street at 2 in the morning, they need to know where to take this child. In many cases, they need medical attention, they've got injuries. They've been abused. Then there's the ongoing counseling/therapy part of this."
Minnesota is the fifth state in the nation to pass "safe harbor" law for child victims.
Partnering for Prosperity: Sex Trade Safe Houses
by Heather Hintze
MAHARASHTRA, India -- In India, three million women make their living as prostitutes, and nearly of third of those are under the age of 18.
In Mumbai alone, there are more than 200,000 sex workers.
For many of these women, their children end up becoming prostitutes as well because it's the only life they know.
India Partners hopes to end that cycle by creating safe houses to give these women and children a better life.
While these little girls sing Sunday school songs, it wasn't long ago they seemed doomed to follow in their mothers' footsteps selling their bodies on the streets of Mumbai.
"They've all been rescued from a brothel. Their mothers are prostitutes, women who've made a decision for their children to come out of the brothel and be in a safe place," said Kaytie Fiedler, India Partners Field Rep.
This safe place is called Anandalay, meaning place of joy.
Eight girls ages five to nine now call it home.
"The good thing about the Anandalay house is the immediate transformation we can see in the lives of these children because we met them when they were in the red light area and the life that they were leading there, it was a horrible existence. But we can see so much change, so much freedom, so much liberation, so much joy on their faces. That's the greatest privilege we have," said Arthur Thangiah, Sahaara Chair.
"I have seen the kids in the places from where they've come and I could only understand one thing. They need love," said Arumina Chouguley, Anandalay teacher.
At Anandalay they get more than love. Staff work to ensure the girls have a family and a future.
"We are a huge family. This project is a huge family. And we all understand that the children are here as family members. So that is the best thing I like, the we have actually started gifting them dreams. Each one has a dream," Chouguley said.
Across town there is a safe house for women who've led a life of prostitution, but have finally escaped the red light districts.
"At this place they have to opportunity for a completely new life. They've been set free from a bondage, something they could be captured in for the rest of their lives," Fiedler said.
Their stories are heart breaking. Shanti breaks into tears, telling how her own mother sold her into prostitution.
Reshme was trafficked by her uncle when she was just 12 years old.
For 20 years she was forced to sell her body, contracting HIV and even losing her six-year-old child to the disease.
"I personally can never understand what they've been through. The horror of living a life of servicing 12 men a night at the minimum, just the physical and emotional abuse that they've been through. And then to have the courage to leave and the courage to want to change, I'm so proud of them. I think they're the bravest women on the planet," Fiedler said.
Sharan Sthan, meaning place of refuge, is their home now where staff help the women achieve their dreams.
Two of the women are working to become nurses, while the third wants to become a cosmetologist.
"When you look at the hugeness of the problem, it sort of overwhelms you. But we can see that one at a time they are coming out, that gives us hope. Our vision is to keep scaling this up so that one day we can see a stop to this whole trafficking trade," Thangiah said.
In the heart of a red light district, the children sing at a school set up by India Partners.
Their mothers are prostitutes.
The school is a place where the kids can go to get a full meal and a valuable education.
"If they can learn that they don't need to do what their mothers are doing, they can go off and show others that there is hope in a hopeless situation," Fiedler said.
These safe houses and schools are just the first step toward ending the prostitution cycle in Mumbai.
India Partners' goal is to get as many women and children into these shelters as they can. Once they reach capacity, they'll look at opening more shelters
Children in prostitution: Working girls or sex slaves?
They are referred to as escort girls, ladies of the night, prostitutes, and locally, malayas. Sometimes derogatory terms likes sluts and harlots are used to mean females who endure the cold nights to offer their bodies to be used by men at a fee. But shocking is that the trend has taken greater heights.
Now, girls below 18 are streaming into the trade, some with multiple domestic problems, others with high thirst for a quick kill albeit the many problems involved. As Flavia Lanyero writes, the government has not done much to discourage new entrants from embracing the trade.
Polar Nagayi, 22, is a young woman with a charming smile and loves trendy dresses; she is your average girl, with an innocent look. She, however, has a recurring fear, a fear that one day; someone will get to know about her dark past.
Ms Nagayi is one of the 18,000 girls recruited into sex trade, according to a new report released by a non-governmental organisation, Acting for Life. Now a reformed sex worker, she was lured into this illegal business in 2005 at the age of 16, at the time living with her parents in Jinja.
“My father used to drink a lot and when he came back home, they would always fight with my mother. He was chased from his job at UEB in 2000 because of drinking too much and since then we did not have school fees and my siblings and I started staying home,” narrates Ms Nagayi, a first born in a family of seven children.
“My mother did all she could but it was not enough. We were many children, sometimes we could sleep without eating. We had torn clothes, the situation was so bad and I had looked for jobs but they wanted senior four, six or graduates,” she says.
It was at this point that she met an old school friend who told her that she could get her a job where she will earn Shs5,000 a day. “The friend took me to a lady in Nasanga bar (Jinja). The lady gave me a man to go with, she was so harsh and told me not to spoil her business. The man used me and the next day I was given Shs30,000. It was a lot of money and I needed it,” she says.
“I really did not like that work and my mother did not know what I was doing. I told her I was working on night shift, no one respects you in that work, the customers abuse you and even slap you, they expect you to be an expert in bed, you feel dirty and very low about yourself, it was just the money that I wanted,” Ms Nagayi says.
Like Ms Nagayi, most of the child sex workers interviewed in the report say they were lured into the business by friends at a tender age out of dire need for money to cater for their families.
Many of these girls are heads of households as a result of a chain of social problems like child neglect, death of parents, alcoholism and domestic violence. “In addition, lack of sustainable opportunities for education was identified as a key drive,” reads the report.
The study shows that children from poor families and rural areas, traffic into urban centres by adults are the most likely to be exploited. Although recruiting of children is done by adults, the report says some children, especially those working in bars and lodges are increasingly participating in recruitment of fellow children
The trade is well established in Kampala City. The Ministry of Health puts that sex trade is highest in Kawempe Division with an estimated 2,540 sex workers, followed by Rubaga with 1,687, and lowest in Nakawa division.
In Kawempe alone, it is estimated that more than 500 children below the age of 18, are engaged in ‘survival sex.' The report titled Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children in Uganda, published in May, also finds that the age of entry into commercial sex work is increasingly lower to include children of 13 years, with clients of commercial sex workers demanding to have young girls as opposed to middle-age women because among other things; they charge lower prices and are presumed to carry less risk of HIV/Aids and STIs. The situation is worse in Jinja District, where the age when children engage in the trade is as low as eight years.
The study notes that commercial sexual exploitation of children is growing rapidly in Uganda though hidden and appears to be infiltrating schools. The number of young girls getting into the trade has increased from 12,000 in 2004 to 18,000 this year, with more girls affected than boys.
Pornography is also a new dimension of Commercial sexual exploitation of children mentioned in the report, especially in Kampala and this is growing faster than child sex worker. It said this involves well-coordinated network embracing music celebrities, bars, karaoke group owners with about 18,000 children exploited per week. “It is disguised in shooting films, photos, video and participating in strip dancing.” About 20 prostitutes are strung to one pimp whom these girls report to every night. Some of the popular spots with prostitutes in Jinja include Kachi Road, Mbiko Village, Gohkale Road and hang outs like Babes and Nasanga.
The girls we spoke to, however, say some of the ladies in the business do it out of their will while others even come from wealthy families although the younger ones like them are simply struggling to survive. The ones that accepted to be interviewed expressed disgust with the trade and felt ashamed of it. They even refused their photos to be taken lest someone could identify them.
Ms Nagayi stayed in the business for two years, did not reap much from it and with encounters like beatings from men's wives, brushes with those that want to murder women and with fear that she might get discovered, she quit the business in December 2007.
She could earn between Shs5,000 - Shs30,000 while sometimes she was deprived of her wages. And now, after receiving counselling from The African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect, she feels happy about what she termed as ‘a new life of dignity' but one thing, she still wants to go back to school.
The Programme Manager ANPPCAN Uganda Chapter, Mr Anslem Wandega, himself has done a study on CSEC, says that this act compromises a child's right to enjoy their childhood and their ability to lead a productive, rewarding and dignified life.
It can result in serious, lifelong, even life-threatening consequences for the physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional and social development and well-being of a child and are at risk of acquiring HIV/Aids. “Children who have been sexually exploited typically report feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem. Some children do not believe they are worthy of rescue. To cope, some of them attempt suicide or turn to substance abuse. Many find it difficult to reintegrate successfully into society once they become adults,” Mr Wandega says.
Whereas there are a number of organisations that are trying to fight the vice, according to the February 2011 report commissioned by Acting for Life, interventions by both government and non-government orgisations have tended to target adult commercial sex workers with no programmes in place for the children. “There is virtually no commitment on the part of government to address the problem of CSEC and Networking among civil society organisations to deal with the issue is still weak, underfunded, with limited staffing, uncoordinated and limited capacity in many districts,” the report reads in part.
Indeed, even at ANPPCAN where these few former child prostitutes were met, the social workers confess that they had no plans at all to deal with child prostitutes but met them in due course as they look for cases of child labour, trafficking and the like but only offer psychological support.
The International Labour Organisation constitutes child prostitution, pornography and trafficking of children to CSEC are crimes against children. In the Child Labour Convention 1999 (No. 182), these are the worst forms of child labour and these types of work is supposed to be determined by national laws or regulations or by the competent authority.
The Acting Secretary General of the National Council for Children, Mr Martin Kizza, however says the government is trying to handle this issue and there are laws in place. He says they plan to increase advocacy about the issue which he admits is rather under the carpet.
“At least we now have the Trafficking in Person's Act operationalised and we are trying to disseminate laws and policies about the issue it is an issue we cannot rub off,” Mr Kizza says. He is of the view that government has put in place laws that tackle certain aspects of CSEC but there are no tailor-made programmes to stem or even mitigate the impacts of the CSEC problem.
“Of recent, the skyrocketing number of children in street situations has made most of the street children succumb to CSEC in order to survive. This looks to be one of the areas ignored by the government,” Mr Wandega says. And if Mr Wandega's words are anything to go by, there is still a long way to go to mitigate sexual exploitation of children.
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Mayor gets support targeting Village Voice online ads
Local papers has different requirements than overall classified site
by CASEY MCNERTHNEY
The Los Angeles City Council president and the creator of the "Vagina Monologues" signed a letter of support to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn backing his "continued efforts to end sex trafficking" by criticizing backpage.com, a Village Voice Media-owned classified ad service.
Earlier this month, McGinn ordered all city departments to suspend advertising in the Seattle Weekly, a Village Voice publication, after a dispute regarding backpage.com.
Seattle police have said all juvenile prostitution cases investigated in 2010 involved backpage.com, though city officials note the website, which is not run in Seattle, has different classified ad requirements than the Weekly's print edition.
Seattle Weekly Editor-in-Chief Mike Seely has defended the site, saying "the majority of Backpage.com's employees are charged with making sure inappropriate or illegal adult or personal content either doesn't make it onto the site or is reported to the proper authorities or advocacy organizations, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children."
He's also said Backpage staff has been cooperative and helpful with police investigations.
The Hollowood NOW letter, received Friday by McGinn's office, was sent by the Hollywood chapter of the National Organization for Women and co-signed by playwright Eve Ensler, L.A. Council President Eric Garcetti and others. Read it here.
"We are asking that the US Conference of Mayors follow in your footsteps and resolve to discontinue advertising in the Village Voice and its subsidiary outlets until further investigation confirms that neither sex trafficking nor child prostitution are taking place in these publications," Hollywood NOW president emeritus Lindsey Horvath wrote. "Furthermore, we are asking that the Mayors recommit their efforts to identify and eradicate sex trafficking in their respective communities."
Horvath wrote to McGinn that a variety of publications throughout the United States contribute to and participate in the trafficking epidemic through their classified ads.
"At this point, I really have to question whether Mayor McGinn, who appears far more interested in representing the interests of Los Angelinos than those of actual Seattleites, is operating in good faith in his negotiations with Village Voice Media, Backpage.com and Seattle Weekly," Seely said in a statement Friday.
"First, he pulled city advertising before our scheduled meeting with him, now he's attempting to expand this advertising boycott a week before our agreed-upon deadline to get back to him after the aforementioned meeting. As respected media lawyer Michele Earl Hubbard said on KUOW Thursday morning, 'An advertiser can spend their money wherever they want. Doing it in a retaliatory way when you're the government is questionable because if it's a quid pro quo — you won't do what I want you to do — it starts to become government regulation of speech.'
Seely said people should carefully consider Hubbard's advice before following McGinn's lead.
"As for Los Angeles NOW's letter, Backpage.com devotes more resources than virtually any other private organization to dealing with this serious problem," Seely said.
Both the Seattle Weekly and Stranger have escort ads in the back pages of their print publications. In both cases, people placing those ads are required to go to the offices and present photo ID and sign a photo release form, McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus said.
McGinn's office is focused on backpage.com, he said, because people advertising on that website only have to check a box saying they're at least 18-years-old.
McGinn has said the Seattle Center will not advertise with the Weekly until changes to backpage.com are made. The Center is roughly halfway through a $158,121 annual contract, Pickus said.
Prostituted Teenagers: What's Being Done About it In Seattle/King County
by Sara Lerner
Two new Washington state laws take effect today that deal with human trafficking. One allows human trafficking victims to receive money from a state affordable housing fund. Another new law is specific to prostituted teenagers.
The definition of human trafficking in Washington now includes a "commercial sex act." That means it will be easier for prosecutors to convict pimps.
Kids as young as 13 are getting pulled into prostitution in Seattle. KUOW's Sara Lerner explains exactly how many and exactly what's being done about it.
Underage prostitution swept the headlines over the past month as a scuffle ensued between Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle Weekly. Last month, an article in the Weekly decried the national issue of prostituted children as bogeyman panic.
Mayor McGinn reacted by pouncing on the Weekly, saying the paper plays a role in teenage prostitution. Seattle Police and service providers say the Weekly's own classifieds led investigators to prostituted youth 22 times in the past year and a half. At present, the mayor has ordered all city ads pulled from the Weekly. He says that's until the Weekly and its parent company make changes.
This issue may be a recent hot topic, but it's been around a long time. In 2008, an in–depth study stated that 300–500 teenagers are involved in prostitution in King County every year. In the past 12 months, police identified 185.
Novisedlak: "Wanna roll? Okay."
Seattle Detective Todd Novisedlak is part of a vice unit whose goal is to get teenagers out of prostitution.
Novisedlak: "Go up here another block, we'll turn around, come back. She'll still be here."
Novisedlak is wearing jeans. He's driving an unmarked silver car. His fists grip the steering wheel and his eyes scan the streets, constantly. I'm riding along with him as he looks for teenagers walking "the track."
Novisedlak: "There's a girl there dressed in black — her."
"The track" is where johns go to find prostitutes. Around here, that's mainly up and down Aurora and further south where Aurora turns into the Pac Highway [Pacific Coast Highway].
Novisedlak: "As you can see, she's not really walking with any purpose."
Lerner: "So she's wearing jeans, puffy jacket, hair in a ponytail."
Novisedlak: "Yeah that's almost a trademark here, the jackets with a hood."
With fur around the hood, Novisedlak says. Novisedlak acts like a john and looks for girls who are under 18. If she offers him sex, he has grounds to pick her up and take her back to the station for questioning. He'll try to get her to give up information about her pimp.
From the car, it's hard to tell if they're 14 or 20 years old, but some most definitely look young.
Novisedlak says a quarter of the girls he sees on the street are under 18. He says sometimes they'll bring in $300 a night, sometimes even $800.
Novisedlak: "It's not going towards their retirement fund."
Lerner: "How much do the girls get at all?"
Novisedlak: "Of that? Zero. Zero. The guys will allow 'em just enough to eat, maybe something off the dollar value menu at one of fast food joints."
The guys are the pimps. Novisedlak says that in three years in this job he's never seen girls under 18 selling sex without a pimp.
Novisedlak tries to get to know the girls. He wants to convince them to call a case manager. They usually won't at first. But maybe after three or four encounters, a girl will start to trust him. She may eventually end up in a Seattle shelter specifically for prostituted teenagers.
Briner: "All of the kids that we have served so far, and most of kids we will serve, have a history of some sort of child abuse or neglect or sexual assault."
Leslie Briner runs a shelter for prostituted youth. She says even 17–year–olds she sees often got started at 13.
Briner: "Something where life was chaotic for these kids and that's what created the path to prostitution and sex trade in the first place."
Briner works for YouthCare. The nonprofit received nearly $2 million from the City of Seattle to run a three–year pilot project to serve prostituted teens: The Bridge Program. This shelter is part of that program. $450,000 of the $2 million comes from the City of Seattle's General Fund. The rest mostly comes from nonprofit donations — money the city raised for this purpose.
This shelter is a cozy, old house with trees in the backyard and bright yellow and white tiles in the kitchen.
Briner: "Well, we're standing in the kitchen pass, so the room in between the kitchen and the dining area. And what you see is the weekly schedule that youth come up with."
It's a list of meals for the week.
This is one of only five shelters in the country specifically designated for prostituted teens. Briner says they need a long–term place to stay in order to truly break away from their pimp.
The funds pay for nine beds for prostituted kids from King County. They can stay here at the shelter as long as two years. The Bridge Program also includes many other services, like two case managers. They each have caseloads of about 50 teenagers.
But there is a downside. This used to be a shelter for other homeless kids. Now, the beds are only for prostituted teens.
Briner: "We actually did give up those nine, at–large, runaway homeless youth transitional living beds in order to have this program here, and that is a tremendous need in Seattle. This program is critical. It's certainly important to kids we're serving. But — but we did lose the under–18 beds in order to do it."
Prostituted teens still fall under the umbrella of homeless youth. But now they're the only homeless juveniles with a long–term living option in King County.
As mentioned earlier, two new human trafficking laws are in effect as of today and a third one is coming. It, too, aims to make it easier for prosecutors to convict pimps. It alters the state's one–party consent law for taping conversations. Soon, if a girl records a conversation with her pimp without him knowing, that audio can be used against him in court. The law takes effect August 1.
Death sentence overturned in '82 slayings in Largo
by Rita Farlow
July 23, 2011
LARGO — Richard M. Cooper, one of four men convicted in the execution-style slaying of three men in the High Point area of Largo in 1982, has been on Florida's death row since 1984.
On Thursday, a U.S. appeals court overturned Cooper's sentence, saying members of the jury that recommended the death sentence may have voted differently had they known the extent of the physical, emotional and psychological abuse Cooper suffered as a child.
Cooper was convicted in the June 18, 1982, slayings of Steven Fridella, Bobby Martindale and Gary Petersen in Fridella's home at 6351 143rd Ave. The victims were bound and shot at close range. Fridella's 8-year-old son Chris was locked in a bathroom but wasn't physically harmed during what became known as "the High Point murders."
Authorities said Cooper killed the men along with Jason D. Walton, Walton's brother Jeff McCoy, and Terry Van Royal during a robbery gone awry.
McCoy pleaded guilty and received a life sentence. Walton, Cooper and Van Royal were sentenced to death. Walton remains on death row. Van Royal's sentence was reversed in 1987 and he was given three life sentences after the Florida Supreme Court determined the judge in the case did not explain his decision to impose the death penalty, which went against the jury's recommendation of a life sentence.
Circuit judges with the U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit, said in their 68-page decision released Thursday they believed there was a "reasonable probability" that jurors may not have voted for death had they heard from Cooper's brother and sister.
In an earlier hearing, the siblings said their father beat Cooper with "boards, switches, belts, and horse whips." They also said they were never contacted by Cooper's attorneys and asked to testify on his behalf.
The appeals court ordered the case be sent back to district court for resentencing.
Sex abuse accusations date back 30 years
by Dee Sarton
BOISE -- A marriage and family therapist from Boise is being accused in court of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl three decades ago.
It is a civil suit being handled by the north Idaho attorney, Leander James, who recently helped win a huge settlement against the Catholic Church. That case involved over 500 claims of child sexual abuse against priests, some dating back to the 1940s.
This case also dates back many years and while it doesn't involve priests, it involves a person still in positions of influence. His client, Kristin Goodwin, says for that reason, it's important to speak up now.
"I think it's (Cambridge) probably a perfect place to grow up," said Goodwin. "It was a very trusting place, you know, we didn't lock our doors. Everyone trusted everyone. You watched out for everyone's kids. We would come home from somewhere and someone would be in our house using our phone cause they knew that was okay."
But Goodwin says, for her, there was a dark side to growing up in the small town of Cambridge 30 years ago.
"The abuse began at the age of 14 and continued until I was 16 at which point she moved. The abuse was very frequent and became very extensive," Goodwin described. "And the details of which I would refer you, and anyone else, to the complaint."
That complaint is a lawsuit filed in Washington State last week where the statute of limitation law is more lenient than in Idaho. Goodwin claims that in 1981, her Cambridge High school volleyball and basketball coach, Suzanna Tillotson, sexually abused her, not only in Cambridge but on three occasions across the border in Washington, once at a basketball camp in Pullman.
"For years you just want to pretend that it didn't happen because it's too painful to look at," said Goodwin.
Now in her mid 40s, Goodwin is looking for justice. Her former coach, Dr. Suzanna Tillotson, today is a Boise marriage and family counselor. We confirmed she was employed by the Cambridge School District from 1979 to 1982. During one brief phone conversation Dr. Tillotson denied knowing Kristin Goodwin and declined our request for an interview.
"I've been out of the country," said Tillotson. "I don't know that person. I don't know what's going on."
Former Idaho Attorney General David Leroy says these types of cases always raise the issue of fairness.
"After 30 years, it's very unfair to accuse anybody of anything in the sense that it's almost impossible to prove what you did or did not do 30 years ago," explained Leroy. "There are no more witnesses, calendars have been destroyed, tangible evidence is gone. On the other hand, the plaintiff does have the burden of proof. And that means you must show by 51 percent or more that something did happen. Thus the unfairness against the defendant is somewhat balanced by the burden of proof that the plaintiff assumes in attempting to prove what happened 30 years ago."
Goodwin insists she can prove the abuse happened, despite adamantly denying it when she was a teenager.
"It's hard to understand why someone doesn't say something then as opposed to now. Why not then and why now?" Dee Sarton asked Goodwin during an interview.
"So many people trusted and respected and revered her and you know, she was an adult, you know there's so much shame involved in it. It's just pretty much the nature of sexual abuse. People are not able or ready to acknowledge that it even happened until sometimes when you have your own kids and then you look at your children and you think about what you went through and you realize how devastating and horrific it was," explained Goodwin. "I think the big picture is protecting other kids from going through what I went through. My goal is, I want this to be public."
Again, the lawsuit was just filed last week. Since then we have reached out repeatedly to Dr. Tillotson hoping to get her response. She is not only a marriage and family counselor but also holds other positions of influence in the community. For example, she is listed as a lifetime member of the Idaho Juvenile Justice Association.
According to Goodwin's attorney, Tillotson now has 60 days to respond to the complaint.
New York City
Kamenetsky: Report child abuse to rabbis, not police
July 21, 2011
(JTA) -- A leading American Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Kamenetsky, said that child abuse should be reported to rabbis, not police.
Kamenetsky, the vice president of Agudath Israel of America's Supreme Council of Rabbinic Sages, said in a speech July 12 in Brooklyn that the sexual abuse of a child should be reported to a rabbi, who would then determine if the police should be called. He made the speech as a search was being conducted for an 8-year-old Brooklyn boy, Leiby Kletzky, whose dismembered body was found the following day in a dumpster and in the apartment of Levi Aron.
Aron was indicted Wednesday in the boy's murder.
A recording of the Kamenetsky speech in Flatbush first appeared July 17 on the Failed Messiah blog. Kamenetsky was repeating Agudath Israel of America's official policy banning Jews from reporting child sexual abuse to police, according to the blog.
A representative of the Shomrim, a volunteer civilian patrol in New York, told the New York Daily News that his organization keeps a list of alleged child molesters whom they have not reported to the police. The New York Jewish Week reported that it is possible that Aron may have been known to some in the haredi Orthodox community, but that they did not report him to the police.
"We call upon Agudath Israel of America's leadership to immediately retract these dangerous statements [by Kamenetsky]," Survivors for Justice, an advocacy, educational and support organization for survivors of sexual abuse and their families from the Orthodox world, said in a statement.
500 Child Abuse Interviews Since 2009
Dillsboro, Ind. -- Region 15 Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) in Dillsboro, Indiana opened its doors in September of 2009, with the mission to minimize trauma suffered by alleged victims of child abuse.
The center serves Region 15 which is comprised of Dearborn, Decatur, Jefferson, Ohio, Ripley, and Switzerland counties. The center also serves surrounding counties, such as Jennings County, if services are needed. Since opening, the center has conducted 500 forensic interviews, assisting Law Enforcement, Department of Children's Services, and Prosecuting Attorneys combat the cycle of child abuse. Prior to the opening of the Region 15 CAC, the southern portion of Indiana did not have a center dedicated to providing these types services and support to victims of child abuse.
The Children's Advocacy Center uses a team approach which brings numerous multidisciplinary professionals together for one cause; “to prevent, detect, investigate and treat child abuse.” Statistics from the Department of Children's services show that more than 17,000 children are abused or neglected in Indiana every year. This staggering statistics puts in to perspective the importance of the services that the CAC offers. The center provides the region with three services; forensic interviewing of children and developmentally delayed adults whom maybe victims or witnesses to physical and/or sexual abuse, medical exam referrals, and referrals of mental health counseling for victims and non-offending family members. The center has plans to extend services, which will allow the center to provide medical exams and counseling service on site.
As the Region 15 CAC surpasses the milestone of 500 interviews, the staff would like to thank the multidisciplinary team for their hard work and dedication to the development and improvement of the center. They would also like to thank the community for their support and generous donations, which helped make center possible. As the staff at Region 15 CAC continues in their strides to lessen the trauma that child abuse victims suffer, they continually remember the words spoken by Angela Schwindt, “while we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
For more information contact Kara Hudepohl at Region 15 Children's Advocacy Center. Phone- 812-432-3200 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parents Beware: Teens Not Immune to Domestic Violence, Relationship Abuse
by Hugh C. McBride
Every October, you pause at least once during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to acknowledge how grateful you are to have chosen the partner that you did.
When you read the statistics and watch the news reports about how many people are being beaten, controlled or otherwise abused by their spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, you consider yourself lucky to be in a relationship that is based upon trust, love and respect.
Your family has its share of problems and challenges -- what family doesn't? -- but you're so glad that domestic violence isn't one of them.
Or is it?
If you are the parent of a teenager who is dating or in an exclusive relationship, you may want to hold off on assuming that your family hasn't been affected by relationship violence. Experts estimate that as many as one-third of teens have experienced some type of abuse within a relationship, and that about one in 10 have been physically abused by a romantic partner.
Regardless of how good a parent you are, or how close your family is, this doesn't mean that your teen is immune from the effects of relationship violence.
Relationship-based abuse happens to good kids, smart kids and strong kids -- and though you'd rather not even think about it, the harsh reality of the matter is that it can happen to your kid, too.
Not Just Physical Abuse
As the estimates in the previous section indicate, physical violence is far from the only type of abuse that occurs within teen (or, for that matter, adult) relationships. Common types of teen relationship violence include verbal harassment, emotional abuse and controlling or possessive behaviors.
A March 20, 2008, article on the WebMD website describes a number of the ways in which a teen can be manipulated or exploited by an abusive partner, and notes that no teens are automatically exempt from these types of unhealthy experiences:
Abusers try to manipulate their dating partners by making all the decisions, putting them down in front of friends, threatening to kill themselves, stalking them or forcing them to have sex.
Like adult domestic violence, teen relationship abuse affects all types of teens, regardless of how much money their parents make, what their grades are, how they look or dress, their religion or their race. Teen relationship abuse occurs in heterosexual, gay and lesbian relationships.
On its website, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline lists four simple statements to help teens remember that physical abuse isn't the only symptom of an unhealthy relationship:
- Love is Trusting -- It isn't keeping tabs with obsessive calls and texting.
- Love is Secure -- It isn't being jealous, suspicious or paranoid.
- Love is Accepting -- It isn't telling someone what to do, what to wear or how to act.
- Love is Freedom -- It isn't about possessing anyone or anything.
Five Signs Your Teen May be Being Abused
Relationship abuse can take many forms, and for such an oppressive experience the symptoms can be relatively subtle. And because "normal teen behavior" can be more than a bit of an oxymoron, identifying the signs of teen relationship abuse is hardly an exact science.
Still, there are a few common symptoms that might indicate your child is having a problem within a romantic relationship.
As with other teen problems, such as substance abuse, depression or an eating disorder, noticing signs of relationship abuse isn't a matter of identifying exact signs, but rather of noticing out-of-the-ordinary behaviors, attitudes and appearances:
- Unexplained physical injuries -- We all know that teens fall down, bump into things and otherwise find ways of hurting themselves. But if you notice cuts, bruises, burns or other injuries that your teen can't explain -- or if the explanations offered don't sound plausible to you -- don't ignore these warning signs.
- Isolation -- One of the most common ways that abusers control their victims is by limiting (or eliminating) their contact with friends and family members. If your teen has abandoned friends, withdrawn from family or abruptly quit activities (such as sports, school clubs or a job), this could indicate an abusive relationship. The partner may be overly possessive, or the victim may be withdrawing as a way of hiding the effects of the abuse.
- Changes in appearance or behavior -- The teen years are a time of experimentation and change, and new styles, attitudes and preferences are to be expected. But if your teen has changed significantly, quickly and without explanation, this is an invitation for you to investigate further. Your child may simply be trying to establish a unique identity. But if, instead, this identity is being imposed upon your child by a boyfriend or girlfriend, then you need to step in.
- Mood swings -- If your formerly ebullient teen suddenly becomes morose or angry -- or if relatively minor conflicts result in disproportionate sadness or rage -- then relationship violence may be to blame. Teens who are being abused by their boyfriends or girlfriends are under considerable stress, and are likely to be anxious, nervous, scared or depressed. With no healthy outlet for these emotions, they may remain repressed until they "boil over" in response to seemingly irrelevant events.
- Problems in school -- From truancy to experiencing a dramatic drop in grades, teens who are involved in abusive relationships may have trouble maintaining their previous levels of academic achievement. Their partners may be pressuring them to skip school, may not be allowing them ample time to study or may have impaired their self-esteem to the point where they don't believe they are capable -- or worthy -- of doing well.
How You Can Help
If you suspect that your teen is being abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend, you need to get involved. Though television, films and other aspects of popular culture have often been blamed for exposing teens to adult issues at too early an age, the truth of the matter is that they often remain surprisingly naive.
Some teens are aware that they are being abused, but are either too confused, too afraid or too ashamed to get help. Others may not even realize how bad the problem is -- with few or no previous relationships to compare, they might think that this is just a normal part of being in love.
Either way, if your teen is being abused, you need to intervene.
Express your concerns to your teen, talk about what you have observed (and suspect) and listen to the answers you receive. If you're not satisfied with the explanations you hear -- and if you're unsure of how to proceed -- make an appointment with an expert such as the school guidance counselor, your family physician or a domestic violence prevention organization in your area. If these people can't give you the help you need, they should definitely be able to put you in contact with someone who can.
When you decide to intervene, you may experience significant resistance. But this isn't the time for you to worry about being right -- it's the time to take the steps you need to ensure your child's continued physical safety and emotional well-being.
Girl, 11, crashes SUV in Brandon after her mother's boyfriend lets her drive
by Jessica Vander Velde
St Petersburg Times
July 21, 2011
BRANDON — Donald Leet told deputies he had a glass of wine with dinner and his driver's license was suspended.
His girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter said he was teaching her to drive.
Whatever the reason, it ended badly when the girl crashed her mother's sport utility vehicle into a water pipe at First Baptist Church of Brandon about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.
When deputies arrived, the daughter and a 7-year-old girl who was in the back seat were screaming and crying as they climbed out of the driver's window, water shooting about 50 feet into the air, a report states.
No one was badly injured, deputies said.
At the scene, Leet, 37, told deputies he had allowed the girl to drive. He said he had a suspended license and had one glass of wine but was not intoxicated, the report states.
"You are going to make me lose my job," he told deputies, the report states, adding: "Why don't you arrest a rapist or murderer instead of me. You're an illiterate Southerner. You don't know anything. You only have a high school diploma. You're dumb."
Deputies arrested Leet of Apollo Beach on two counts of child neglect. He was released early Wednesday on $4,000 bail.
Academy of Pediatrics beefs up protections
Bradley case inspires new recommendations
by DAN SHORTRIDGE
The News Journal
Pediatricians around the country are being urged to screen employees for past records of abuse and develop policies about chaperoned medical exams in the wake of the Dr. Earl B. Bradley pedophilia case.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, citing the Bradley case, released its first policy on protecting children from abuse by health care providers, telling doctors and hospitals to train their staffs to make formal reports of complaints -- "not simply to pass the provider and issue on to some other setting."
Bradley was accused of raping or assaulting more than 100 girls he treated, most of them too young to speak, with many attacks recorded by him on video. He was convicted on June 23 on all 24 counts of rape, assault and sexual exploitation of a child lodged against him. Sentencing is set for Aug. 26, when he will receive a sentence of life in prison.
While sexual abuse by physicians is extremely rare, cases such as Bradley's are cause for concern and attention, said Dr. Cindy Christian, a Philadelphia pediatrician who co-authored the group's position, which will be published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics.
"Earl Bradley is unfortunately not the only one," said Christian, who holds an endowed chair at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Still, she said, the vast majority of parents should be vigilant, but not concerned.
"We want to increase awareness, but we don't want parents to think that any kind of genital examination is a sign of sexual abuse," Christian said. "I want them to be aware, but not to panic."
The eight-page statement says that Bradley's case has "reminded us that some among the pediatric profession may use their position of authority and trust to take advantage of their patients" and called such reports "a profound betrayal of their responsibility for patient well-being, trust, and medical ethics."
In response to revelations by The News Journal and two independent investigations into the Bradley case, Delaware legislators reformed the state's medical disciplinary laws.
They imposed increased fines and the possibility of license revocation for medical officials who don't fulfill their legal duty to report suspected misconduct by a doctor; opened doctors' disciplinary hearings to the public; and made it easier to get an emergency suspension.
Also, doctors seeking to get or renew a license now must disclose all previous investigations into their behavior -- not just those resulting in punishment.
The report's recommendations include:
~ Educating medical trainees and pediatrics workers about "appropriate provider-patient boundaries" and use of chaperones.
~ Screening workers for previous abuse cases through state registries and by checking with past employers.
~ Educating doctors about genital examinations and performing routine exams during annual check-ups.
~ Having pediatricians explain each part of the exam to parents, offer chaperones and provide them when requested or required.
The academy earlier this year revised its policy on the use of chaperones during pediatric exams, saying a parent or guardian should always be present during an exam of an infant, toddler or child. Another chaperone, preferably a nurse or medical assistant, should be present if a parent is unavailable or if there are possible abuse or parental mental health issues.
There are only scattered reports on the scope of the problem of sexual abuse by doctors or other medical professionals. In one Indiana study the AAP cited, 0.85 percent of children in hospitals and psychiatric facilities suffered sexual abuse. News Journal research found dozens of doctors who have been accused of abusing hundreds of children over the last 10 years.
Bradley, who came to Delaware in 1994 after being cleared of an abuse claim in Pennsylvania, was arrested in December 2009 and convicted in June of raping or abusing more than 85 children over several years. Under Delaware law, he must receive life in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 26.
Christian said the Bradley case hasn't changed much about the way pediatricians outside Delaware care for patients.
"I think most pediatricians practice excellent medicine, and provide incredibly good care to children around this country," she said. "This is a small, but obviously terrible, problem."
Florida spurns $50 million for child-abuse prevention
by Carol Marbin Miller
Florida lawmakers have rejected more than $50 million in federal child-abuse prevention money. The grants were tied to the Obama administration's healthcare reform package, which many lawmakers oppose on philosophical grounds.
The money, offered through the federal Affordable Health Care Act passed last year, would have paid, among other things, for a visiting nurse program run by Healthy Families Florida, one of the most successful child-abuse prevention efforts in the nation. Healthy Families' budget was cut in last year's spending plan by close to $10 million.
And because the federal Race to the Top educational-reform effort is tied to the child-abuse prevention program that Healthy Families administers, the state may also lose a four-year block grant worth an additional $100 million in federal dollars, records show.
“This is just crazy,” said Gwen Wurm, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami, and a board member of the Our Kids foster care agency. “This is the model for what you want in a prevention program. They have proven results.”
Healthy Families, which started with a $10 million budget in 1998, provides trained home visitors — many of whom are nurses — to work with young parents who, based on a questionnaire filled out at child birth, are deemed at risk of abusing or neglecting their children. The visitors offer guidance on everything from healthy eating habits and early childhood development to recognizing safety hazards, such as pools and sweltering, sealed automobiles.
Wurm said the model is particularly effective because it is hands-on and offers parents concrete advice on how to care for their kids — not just a laundry list of things they shouldn't do. “If I just tell you, ‘Do not shake your baby,' and your baby is still screaming, I have not solved your problem,” Wurm said. “They are not just telling parents what not to do.”
Richard Gelles, dean of the Department of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, said prevention models such as Healthy Families have been the most successful in the country in preventing child abuse and encouraging appropriate child development — but also saving states millions of dollars down the line in costs associated with foster care, delinquency and healthcare.
The most recent year the program was studied, budget year 2010, 95 percent of the parents who participated avoided any verified reports of child abuse or neglect within a year of completing the program, records show. Almost two-thirds of the parents who were unemployed when they entered the program had found a job by the time they completed it.
Healthy Families has seldom enjoyed wide support within Florida's GOP-controlled Legislature.
From budget year 2010 to budget year 2011, lawmakers cut the program's spending plan from $28 million to $18 million, including $2 million in non-recurring dollars added late in the process. Administrators estimated the cuts would translate to a reduction in services from 12,099 families and 20,919 children to 8,130 families and 13,821 children.
State Sen. Joe Negron, who chairs his chamber's Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, said he long has been philosophically opposed to Healthy Families, which he views as an intrusion into the private lives of parents.
“I believe in providing basic information to parents at hospitals and medical settings,” said Negron, a Palm City Republican. “I am not persuaded that it is a good idea to show up at a family's home year after year giving advice and guidance. I do not think that is a core, essential function of government.”
Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat who is vice chairwoman of Negron's appropriations subcommittee and sits on the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, said the decision to forego the funding ultimately will hurt children. Most other states have capitalized on the federal grants, Rich said, and failing to do so means Florida taxpayers will get fewer healthcare dollars than taxpayers elsewhere.
On Wednesday, leaders of the state House and Senate and the governor's office all insisted they had nothing to do with rejecting the money.
“The grant was included in [the state Department of Health's] legislative budget request, but beyond that, the executive branch never advocated for it and a budget amendment was not submitted,” said Katherine Betta, spokeswoman for Republican House Speaker Dean Cannon of Winter Park.
Brian Burgess, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, said Scott did ask for the money. Burgess produced a budget request that has the proposal. “If there is to be finger-pointing,” he said, “it should be directed elsewhere.”
McMartin Preschool abuse-case fiasco led to new child interview techniques
by Cynthia Hubert and Sam Stanton
The legacy of the notorious McMartin Preschool case of the 1980s is playing out this week in Sacramento.
As the principal of a private elementary school in Citrus Heights stands accused of molesting his students, authorities are warning the school's parents against aggressively questioning their children about the man they affectionately know as "Mr. Bob."
It is the exact opposite of what police asked parents to do during the McMartin case, in which members of a Southern California family who ran a highly regarded preschool in Manhattan Beach were charged with numerous acts of sexual abuse.
In that case, following an initial accusation from one mother, police sent form letters to more than 200 parents at the preschool, urging them to question their children about possible sexual abuse. Many parents, as well as therapists aiding in the investigation, asked the children provocative questions that led to wild accusations involving underground tunnels and satanic rituals. The case unraveled in court, and eventually all charges were dropped.
"We learned everything from McMartin," said John Myers, a Pacific McGeorge School of Law professor whose specialty is investigating and litigating child abuse cases. "It was the case that launched the modern era of psychological research" on proper ways of interviewing youngsters who may have been abused, he said.
Authorities this week shut down Creative Frontiers preschool and elementary school pending an investigation into sweeping allegations that principal Robert Adams molested children over the past 14 years. He has not been arrested, and on Wednesday he declared his innocence.
"I am shocked at the allegations that have been made against me and the school, but I welcome a full investigation," Adams said in a brief and emotional appearance with his lawyer, wife and daughters in front of the Sacramento Superior Courthouse.
"I am sad, mostly, for the trauma this has created for these children, closing the school in this manner. But I assure you I'm very confident that nothing inappropriate has happened."
His attorney, Linda Parisi, suggested that a former volunteer at the school, Irma Mertens, triggered the investigation in retaliation for the school's decision not to hire her as a full-time staffer
Mertens did report an alleged incidence of abuse, claiming she walked into the school office last summer and saw Adams touching a young girl in a sexual manner. But investigators said others also have made accusations.
The state Department of Social Services, in a complaint filed in support of revoking the preschool's license, accuses Adams of "inappropriate physical and sexual contact with female children" on "numerous occasions" beginning in 1997. The complaint cites two specific allegations, including the one by Mertens, and other more general accusations. Those include Adams touching children's bodies under their shirts and down their pants, and lying with female children on a mat in a secluded area.
Interview techniques key As confused parents and children tried to make sense of the developments, police have begun carefully questioning youngsters about their experiences at Creative Frontiers. Police are still reviewing evidence obtained during searches of Adams' home and school, and say they are moving "methodically." The Citrus Heights Police Department "continues to receive new significant information relating to these allegations," said a news release issued Wednesday.
Parents contacted by The Bee described Adams, who ran swim schools for kids prior to founding Creative Frontiers, as affectionate but not inappropriate with students. They said they were devastated by the allegations.
"We are all very surprised," said one mother who did not want to be named for fear of identifying her daughter. "He just seemed very sincere. I would never think of him doing these things. But what we are hearing sounds really bad, so it's confusing."
Properly questioning youngsters is the key to finding truthful information that could either put a molester in prison or exonerate a wrongly accused person, said Myers. But interviewing children about sexual abuse can be tricky, he and others said.
Young children, they said, are vulnerable to "suggestive questioning," in which the interviewer coaches a child into saying things that incriminate the accused person.
"Parents, by definition, are going to ask their children leading questions in these cases," said Myers. "The fear is that if parents or others talk to these kids and then they are interviewed by a professional, they will repeat what they told their parents. You can't unring the bell."
In the McMartin case, according to transcripts, parents and therapists asked children such leading questions as "Can you remember the naked pictures?" and "Did he touch you on the bottom?" Interviewers told youngsters they were "smart" if they answered yes to certain questions and "stupid" if they denied abuses by the McMartin staff.
The case, which spawned a national hysteria about child sexual abuse, was such a disaster that it sparked new investigative techniques that today are the gold standard, said James Wood, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, El Paso. Wood has written extensively about McMartin and has served as an expert witness on child abuse.
In response to the McMartin debacle, authorities across the country established "child advocacy centers" with special rooms where youngsters can be questioned by trained psychologists or law enforcement specialists.
"In the Sacramento case, ideally they would say something like, 'Tell me about Mr. Bob. What are the things you like or don't like about him?' " Wood said. "Interviewers are not supposed to tell them what other kids said, thank them or praise them or condemn them for their answers."
Interviews should be conducted as soon as possible after an accusation surfaces, said Wood, and parents should not further question their children.
"It sounds like the Sacramento officials are doing the right thing," said Myers. "This kind of response is light years ahead of what it was when the McMartin case was decided."
Yet, similarly horrifying cases still slip into the courts, he said.
Lawyer: 'No sex abuse' Wood served as an expert witness in the case of a Fort Worth, Texas, schoolteacher who in 2007 was accused of sexually abusing several of his female students. The case created a public and media frenzy.
"It set off a panic, and one by one parents started coming forward, saying they believed their children had been molested," said Wood.
"After awhile it became clear that these kids, who initially denied that anything happened, had changed their stories" under questioning by parents and others. All charges eventually were dropped, but the teacher lost his reputation and his job, Wood said.
As the investigation continues into Creative Frontiers, parents are scrambling to find new schools for their children. Some of the youngsters attended Creative Frontiers during the regular school year in addition to participating in summer camp.
Parisi on Wednesday sought to portray her client's school as an institution that has been needlessly harmed by police announcing a probe without filing any charges.
"That school is a treasure to the community," Parisi said, adding that Adams has received many calls of support from families and former students. "It was an educational model."
"There was no sex abuse going on at that school," Parisi declared.
The mother who described Adams as sincere said her daughter has attended Creative Frontiers for more than two years and is upset that she no longer can go to class.
"The kids are taking it hard," she said. "They had to leave their school all of a sudden, and they didn't even get to say goodbye to each other. Now we have to find somewhere else to place them."
The parent said she has "vaguely" and gently questioned her daughter and has no evidence that she was ever harmed at school.
"All she knows is that Mr. Bob lost his license, and she just hopes that he's able to find it soon."
Tired of Corrupt Cops, Citizens Fight Child Abuse
July 20, 2011
by Natalya Krainova
It took just two days for the online profile of a fictitious 12-year-old girl to attract the attention of an older man.
When the man asked to meet the girl, whose profile was created by child rights activists and Moscow police, undercover police officers stood by to capture him on video camera.
But that was all they could do.
Russian legislation, unlike in the United State and other Western countries, does not allow the arrest of a suspected offender unless a child has actually been abused.
But at least the police showed up. Many police officers do not, ignoring a flood of reports from volunteers struggling to stem child abuse, activists say. Officers seem to prefer to crack down on suspected extremism, often involving anti-Kremlin political groups, and unsanctioned street rallies.
Some disillusioned activists have turned vigilante, tracking down and even beating up suspected offenders who are, after all, unlikely to complain. But grassroots violence is no replacement for government action — which, so far, has been limited to a draft bill envisioning chemical castration for convicted sex offenders and reams of bureaucratic babble.
While President Dmitry Medvedev launched an overhaul of the corruption-ridden national police force in March after public confidence in law enforcement sank to new lows, activists fear that children will still receive scant attention.
The sting operation that ended in the videotaping occurred in Moscow this spring and was announced by children rights activist Denis Davydov at a roundtable organized by the ruling United Russia party this month.
"Maybe we should criminalize the cyber-contacts of pedophiles with children," Davydov said at the roundtable, which was devoted to child sex abuse.
None of the high-ranking attendees, who included federal legislators, a senior prosecutor and a police chief, voiced support for the proposal.
But U.S. law allows the arrest of people entrapped by police officers pretending to be underage, Davydov said in an interview. The problem, he said, is that Russian law bans entrapment of suspected child sex offenders.
The law also appears to be unable to curb abuse. Children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said on his web site this month that reported instances of suspected abuse soared by 147 percent to 623 percent last year, depending on the type of abuse. More than 9,500 children were victimized last year, he said.
At the same time, about 7,500 people were convicted on child sex charges, including 2,500 repeat offenders, according to statistics on the Kremlin's web site.
But the figures tell little about the real story, say activists, who complain that police have ignored their attempts to expose cases of abuse.
Among the most prominent activists is Anna Levchenko, a Moscow-based member of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi, who details her campaigning on her LiveJournal blog, Agatacrysty.
It's a depressing read. For example, she wrote in February that she had handed information to the Tula region police about a man who posted child pornography online and admitted to regularly abusing eight boys under 14 on an Internet forum.
The law requires police to reply to complaints within 30 days, but all Levchenko got was a private conversation with a local police officer two months later, she said by telephone. The officer told her that the region's Investigative Committee had refused to open a criminal case for lack of proof that the man had acted intentionally when he posted the pornography online.
But Tula region police said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday that they did take action on Levchenko's complaint and informed her of that by telephone. They declined further comment on the case, citing an ongoing investigation.
The statement also accused Levchenko of frightening the suspect into fleeing Russia by continuing to report about him on her blog despite being asked not to do so. The man left Russia in June, the statement said, without specifying why he was not detained before that.
Levchenko said the police should have "at least sent a piece of paper" to prove that they were working on the case. "How can I know that they are really looking into my complaint?" she said.
Levchenko, who works with some 200 activists, said her group has alerted law enforcement agencies about 80 suspected offenders over the last six months and received by e-mail about 2,500 complaints since March.
The group's efforts have led to four cases being opened.
A more aggressive group of activists operates under the name Head Hunters and posts personal information about suspected offenders on a blog, Goodwin-hunters. According to the blog, the Moscow-based group also alerts the friends and relatives of suspected offenders about their alleged activities, and its members sometimes pretend to be children and arrange meetings with adults online. When the adult shows up for a "date," several activists beat him up.
"We believe that even though we are hunting them, their numbers are only growing," said the group's leader, whose online name is Goodwin and who only agreed to a telephone interview on condition of anonymity for fear of his personal safety.
The group says it has been active since 2007 but only went public in May 2010 when it launched its blog on Mail.ru.
Despite its tactics, the group never faced criticism from the authorities. Goodwin said the group comprises about a dozen regular activists and hundreds of occasional or one-off supporters. He claims that it has tracked down 700 to 1,000 suspected offenders.
But the group's efforts have failed to impress law enforcement officials. In 2009, it sent information about several suspected offenders to the Prosecutor General's Office, but the agency forwarded it to the Interior Ministry's cybercrime department, which "flat-out refused to accept information about pedophiles," saying its job was limited to child pornography, Goodwin said.
When the group passed a list of 150,000 web pages containing child pornography, many of them on the Vkontakte social networking site, to the cybercrime department last year, police blocked access to most of these web pages and sent a note of thanks to the group but no pedophile was prosecuted, Goodwin said.
Nashi activist Levchenko, who has monitored the Internet for sexual content involving children for three years, said that "so much child pornography appears daily that we are constantly late in tracking it down."
Yana Lantratova, a senior member of Childhood Territory, an initiative of United Russia's youth wing, Young Guard, also said her group was getting the "runaround" from law enforcement agencies.
In March, Lantratova said, she complained to the Interior Ministry's cybercrime department, the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee about a gynecologist who was suspected of posting online pictures of his underage patients. She received no reply.
Inquiries submitted Monday to the Interior Ministry's cybercrime department, the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General's Office went unanswered.
Child pornography is "a business sheltered by certain people," said State Duma Deputy Grigory Ivliyev. Although he named no names, he spoke of "a system of corrupt law enforcement agencies" at the recent roundtable. He also said he and fellow legislators have asked police and Internet service providers to remove child pornography from the Internet but have been told that both groups lacked the power to act.
Ivliyev, a United Russia member and chairman of the Duma's Culture Committee, also co-authored a 2009 bill introducing definitions for erotica and pornography, still absent from Russian legislation. The bill was dropped because the government did not approve of its wording.
Some organizations have had more luck in their efforts. The Friendly Runet Foundation, for example, has managed to have some 10,000 web resources with pornographic content involving children — both whole web sites and individual pages — taken down in 2010 alone, its head, Yevgeny Bespalov, told the roundtable.
Another group, League for a Safe Internet, was created in February under the auspices of the Communications and Press Ministry and four telecom giants to combat illegal online content, including child pornography. It is headed by Davydov, who helped create the fake profile of a 12-year-old girl in the spring.
But Bespalov said the task is getting harder because child pornography is circulating mostly through social networking sites and file-sharing systems, not easily identifiable web sites.
Participants of the roundtable had no problem agreeing on the general outlines of what needs to be done: tightening Internet regulations, introducing hotlines to report suspected offenders, and spreading awareness about the issue among both children and parents.
But when activist Lantratova proposed to introduce "direct" communication between activists and law enforcement officers, the then-acting chief of the Interior Ministry's cybercrime department, Konstantin Machabeli, questioned the very notion of activists hunting suspected offenders.
He said exposing suspects online would only make them "hide their activities better," and fighting them face to face would be dangerous because their "reaction might be unpredictable and daft." He did not comment on complaints of his agency's nonfeasance.
Machabeli declined to comment to a Moscow Times reporter on the sidelines of the roundtable. Admittedly, he may have had other things on his mind — he was fired by the Kremlin days later. The presidential order cited no reason for the dismissal, but former Yevroset owner Yevgeny Chichvarkin earlier accused Machabeli of ordering police raids that bankrupted several companies.
After taking office last year, children's ombudsman Astakhov spoke about a "pedophile lobby" in the Duma blocking legislation on the issue. But he voiced a more reserved stance in an interview with The Moscow Times on Tuesday, saying the police simply lack specialists and courts underestimate the danger that offenders pose to children.
Machabeli was "voicing his personal position, which for the most part is outdated," Astakhov added.
Astakhov said he would not give up efforts to amend legislation on child abuse and noted that he convinced Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev this month to start training police officers to handle child sex crimes.
Meanwhile, Medvedev on July 12 submitted a bill to the Duma that would toughen punishment for convicted child sex offenders. The bill bans suspended sentences, makes it harder for convicted offenders to receive parole and introduces life sentences for repeat offenders, the Kremlin web site said.
The bill, which will not be reviewed before the start of the Duma's fall session in September, also introduces voluntary chemical castration for offenders ruled by a psychiatric examination to be legally sane and not suffering from a mental disorder. Offenders found sane but suffering from a mental disorder could be prescribed unspecified mandatory treatment.
Days before Medvedev submitted his bill, A Just Russia introduced its own version envisaging mandatory castration. The bill has slim chance of being approved because the Duma remains controlled by the Kremlin-friendly United Russia.
Neither bill mentions the fact that the police cannot arrest suspected offenders until they are caught in the act.
Nigeria: Who Are Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse?
by Dr. Princess Olufemi
Kayode — The above subject is a big question today! However, studies on who commits child sexual abuse vary in their findings, but the most common finding is that the majority of sexual offenders are family members or are otherwise known to the child.
Sexual abuse by strangers is not nearly as common as sexual abuse by family members. Research further shows that men perpetrate most instances of sexual abuse, but there are cases in which women are the offenders. Despite a common myth, homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men
Most times, people assume that perpetrators have psychiatric challenges that explain why an adult picks on a child or children to initiate sexual acts. This from their perspective is otherwise not accurate. Most perpetrators are quite intelligent and do have a high IQ if I may add.
If you care to review the circumstances surrounding the initiation you will see carefully planned patterns that reflect in the selection, grooming and initiating the main sexual act - it is obvious that they are master minds.
Perpetrators will go to great lengths to gain access to children. They will volunteered as Sunday school teacher, youth church leader, worked as guidance counselors, swimming coach, lesson teacher - pro bono, day-care worker, P.E. Teacher coached youth athletic teams, give free home lessons, Arabic teachers, imams, pastors and more.
Interesting to note is that these group of people live behind the mask that society bestows on them and fall under our socio- nomenclature. "Don't you know him, he is a very respectable man, God fearing, supports the poor, serves in the community."
Another person exclaims, " It is not possible, she cannot. I do not believe them. They want to destroy her family name. It is unimaginable. Who did she offend?"
Our sentimental falsehood blinds us from seeing the tale signs that danger is looming or just round our corner if not already taken us hostage.
It is vital to know that both males and females are perpetuating sexually abuse. Adults, young adults, teenagers and older children are potential abusers. Once 3 - 6 years gap exist between the parties' abuse is occurring.
A perpetrator is also called an abuser, accuse and these very intelligent personalities always have more than one victim at any point in time. Sometimes, same siblings who have no idea of each other.
'Silence and tolerance encourage abuser'
KOCHI: Social activist Sunitha Krishnan came to the city in the light of the increasing number of sexual abuse cases in the state. Sunitha works for the Hyderabadbased NGO 'Prajwala'. The group works in the area of rehabilitation of prostitutes, child sexual abuse and AIDS patients.
Sunitha spoke to Express on various issues, including child abuse, incest and sexual violence. She will meet the Chief Minister in the coming days to submit her proposals for actions on the issue.
Excerpts from the interview:
|Question: Do you find any trends in the cases of sexual abuse in the current scenario?
Answer: The cases of trafficking and incest are definitely on an increase. The victim's age is going down by the day.
There are cases where children as young as 2 been sexually abused. Do you find any reasons for this?
The reasons are many. It is the silence and tolerance of the abused which encourage the abuser. Society also has a role to play in this. There are myths about virility and sexual dysfunction that has to do with abuse of young children. Then there is increasing sexualisation of the environment owing to technology.
How do you see the work towards prevention?
We have to look at it from three angles prevention, protection and prosecution. All three have to work simultaneously otherwise it will become ineffective. For instance, take the case of the helpline number 1098. People should first of all know about it, the mechanism should function and there should be a follow up rehabilitation for the victim once the call is made.
What are your recommendations as far as children are concerned?
The parents should talk to the children. In schools too there should be awareness campaigns. Empowerment clubs are something that can be organised in schools where there is a mechanism for children to air their problems and find solutions.
Many talk about sexual frustration. Do you think that has a role to play?
I dont think it is as much about sexual frustration as it is about hypocrisy. When I talked to the NGOs here they said women can't walk on the streets here after 7 in the evening. The amount of denial I have seen here, I have not seen anywhere else. A reluctance to take steps towards prevention is another thing. People talk about it, there is discussion but there is no action.
Eliminate Child Sex Trafficking
An estimate that more than 1,000 children are victims of sex trafficking each year in Ohio may be greeted with skepticism by some. That is a lot of children involved in a horrific crime, after all.
Sadly, the estimate may not be far off the mark.
For obvious reasons it is difficult to know how many children are forced into sex trafficking. But there is some solid, reliable information from an organization that helps victims of the offense.
During the past year alone, the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, a reputable organization led by the Salvation Army, helped 60 victims of child sex trafficking. Given factors such as the coalition's limited reach geographically and the fact many victims do not seek help, it is clear the total number may well be 1,000.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, stressing "we must do everything in our power to stop this exploitation and abuse," has reactivated the state's Human Trafficking Commission. The panel, formed by former Attorney General Richard Cordray, had been inactive for a few months since Cordray left office. DeWine recognized the need for it to continue its work; it will meet again in mid-August.
Cordray was right to establish the commission and DeWine was correct to keep its work going. Child sex trafficking is a terrible crime that exploits the very weakest Ohioans, harming them physically and emotionally, sometimes for life. Ohioans should provide the commission and law enforcement agencies working with it the resources needed to stamp out child sex trafficking and punish perpetrators severely.
Tricks of the Trade
Undocumented women servicing field workers, streetwalkers in seedy motels, high-end flesh sold at high-end events: Sex sells in Monterey County.
by Rebecca Robinson
An intricate dance takes place weekend nights on the streets of East Salinas. As the bars and clubs close and people seep onto the streets, the women come out of the shadows and into plain view. Whether black, white or Latina—the cops say most are black or Latina—their dress is similar: skirts or booty shorts, skintight shirts, high heels and thick makeup.
Outside an East Salinas bar in the dark hours of a recent Sunday morning, men sporting cowboy hats and big-buckle belts follow the women, first with their eyes and then with their feet, to street corners and alleyways. Other women flock to a nearby parking lot, where they lean over driver's side windows to chat with potential clients. When a deal is struck, they get in on the passenger's side and ride away.
One of these cars winds up at a Kern Street motel just blocks away, where the woman pauses briefly to make a phone call, then disappears into a room.
Summer in Monterey County means migrant workers swell the population, and when they're not working, they have time and a little money to spend. But it also means big events—and big events mean big spenders. While they're in town to drop dollars on bucking broncos at the California Rodeo, motorcycle races at the MotoGP or classic car shows at the Concours d' Elegance, some visitors also set aside a chunk of change for flesh, from high-end female escorts to street-level sex workers.
Police, residents and shelter workers all confirm a thriving sex industry in the county. What's less well known is how many of these women, both U.S.- and foreign-born, are trafficked by handlers or pimps within California, or across international lines, to work in prostitution against their will. While numerous service providers and law enforcement officers interviewed for this story said they don't perceive sex trafficking to be a significant issue in this region, Katherine Thoeni, a longtime program manager at Shelter Outreach Plus in Salinas, has just two words for them: “They're wrong.”
Thoeni and others working in shelters and on the streets say they serve a growing population of women who, because of fear, language barriers and the public's lack of awareness, are nearly invisible and impossible to reach. But increased education by a wide range of people, from concerned citizens to federal programs, is bringing a greater understanding of the industry, its workers and their plight, into the public light.
Maria, as she asks to be called, is part a circuit of women who follow seasonal ag workers and the big-money special events to Monterey County—some by choice, and others by force.
Maria used to do “walking,” (as she calls it) in Salinas, back in her teenage years. Now 20, she lives in Fresno but comes to the county twice a month, charging $180 an hour to clients she meets on the adult entertainment site myredbook.com.
“I see doctors, I see lawyers, I see some man who's always on TV in Monterey Bay,” Maria says during an interview in her Marina motel room. “I like working over here; the clientele's better, and they pay more.” She says she tends to avoid the summer events—“the hotel prices go up the ass”—but she can make good money on the off-season draws.
“The AT&T golf thingy last winter, that was really good for business,” she says, referring to the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament. “But lots of girls come out here, period. Lots of people visit here from out of town all year.”
A private security guard at the Motel 6 on Salinas' Kern Street says he doesn't see a lot of action on weeknights; weekends, when the clubs are open late, are when he watches the girls walk by.
"I'd say about 90 percent of them are African American," he says. "Five percent are white, and the other 5 percent are Hispanic."
He rarely sees the same girls twice, he says, "probably because they're always on the move. They move on to another area, either somewhere in town or somewhere else."
At 11pm on June 24, it's easy to spot another telltale sign of prostitution: four or five men, driving cars with no passengers, circling the motel parking lot like sharks. They slow to a crawl as they approach the building's south side, their windows open, watching the second story and the stairwells.
After a while, a black woman, wearing a short red dress with plunging neckline, emerges from a second-story room and walks halfway down the stairs. She holds her cell phone to her ear and speaks softly into it. At the same time, a car turns around and pulls into a parking space. A man gets out and follows the woman upstairs to her room. About 15 minutes later, the door opens and he leaves.
Down the hall, another door opens and an overweight white woman wanders out to smoke a cigarette. As she taps its ashes off the balcony, I move from my position behind some bushes and walk upstairs to approach her. After some small talk, I awkwardly ask her, “Are you working?”
“I ain't no hooker, girl!” she says indignantly. She motions to her oversized hoodie and flip-flops. “Would I be dressed like this if I was?”
“What about you?” I ask her companion, a busty, barely clad young black woman.
“She's in the business, yeah,” the white woman says. “She's my lil' bitch.”
The scantily dressed woman says she's just in town for the weekend, like lots of the girls who work here.
“Where are you headed next?” I ask. She won't say.
A week later, I recount the incident to Jim Smith, the education and program manager with Central Coast HIV/AIDS Services, at his Salinas office.
“You come across a lot of women who don't admit to sex work,” he says.
Same goes for the johns, says Det. Carlos Rios with the Salinas Police Department's narcotics and vice unit. “The times I've contacted prostitutes or prospective johns, it's always, ‘I'm waiting for a friend,'” Rios says. “What can you do with that? You have suspicion, but no proof.”
The unit has conducted four stings in the past two years; but these are lengthy and pricey operations. Most of the time, it's catch as catch can where sex workers and their clientele are concerned.
As with any long-running operation, prostitution is becoming more sophisticated and harder to track. Much of the on-street business is moving inside, Smith says: “Women have it set up now so that their pimps get them a hotel room, they have men come into that room, and when one person leaves, she freshens up, just looks out the blinds of her window and the next guy comes in. She never leaves the room.”
There's also a booming business online, where sites like backpage.com and myredbook.com have quickly stepped in to fill the void left by the shutdown of Craigslist's adult section last year. Perusing the Monterey Bay listings turns up graphic ads for scores of women serving Salinas, Seaside, Marina and even supposedly sleepy Pacific Grove.
Maria's been a myRedbook.COM regular for nearly two years now, and says she has two lucrative markets: San Jose and Monterey County.
“I come visit over here every couple weeks, 'cause I like the business over here,” Maria says, referring to the Monterey Peninsula. “There are men I'd never see in Salinas. Nobody from Monterey goes over there because they're too scared.”
Short, curvy and fresh-faced, Maria could pass for a college co-ed. She's been in the sex industry since she was 14, she says, when a man in her hometown of Fresno talked her into working for him.
“I was way younger and really dumb,” Maria says.
Though she's left her Fresno boss, pimping remains part of Maria's reality. “I'd say 99 percent of the girls on Redbook do have a pimp,” she says. “The other 1 percent who are independent are mothers and older ladies. They say it's like peanut butter without the jelly, a girl without a pimp. It's just how it is.”
Maria hesitates when asked if she has a pimp now.
“It was like that in the beginning,” she says of the man she's been with for three years. “But our relationship's on another level now. I have one kid by him, and we love each other. Right now, it's just me, no other girls.”
Maria seems unfazed by her work.
“A lot of girls do drugs or drink,” she says. “I don't know why it's so damaging to some girls, 'cause it's just sex. It doesn't bother me.” She's also says she's been lucky: never had any threatening clients or abusive pimps; never been arrested.
It's hard to believe her.
“Human trafficking is a hidden crime, and accurate statistics on the nature, prevalence and geography of human trafficking are hard to calculate.” So says the final report of the California Alliance to Stop Trafficking and Slavery Task Force, a group assembled by the state Attorney General's office as part of California's 2005 anti-trafficking legislation to investigate sex trafficking and forced labor.
Because so much of the sex trafficking business occurs in the shadows and remains undocumented by law enforcement and social service providers, reliable state and national numbers are hard to come by.
These are some of the numbers on the books at the U.S. State Department: 14,000-17,500 foreign nationals trafficked into the U.S. every year. Roughly 244,000 American children and youth are at risk of sexual exploitation. Californians have placed almost 3,300 calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center since December 2007. Five different California human trafficking task forces have identified 559 victims between 2005 and 2007 alone.
The data are just as hard to track in Monterey County. “I don't think I can even give an estimate of the number of sex workers we see,” says Nina Alcaraz, interim executive director of the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center. “We don't do a lot of specific outreach for sex trafficking victims.”
But although sex trafficking may be well hidden, it's an issue everywhere, says Lt. John Vanek, the head of the San Jose Human Trafficking Task Force, one of 42 such multi-agency task forces nationwide. Vanek's jurisdiction includes Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. “We don't have a high enough number of cases [in Monterey County] that we really have to have this conversation on the same scale as in the Bay Area.”
Last year, the Central Coast Coalition to Stop Enslavement, a group of social service providers and citizen advocates, disbanded, in part because the shelter for female trafficking victims established in 2008 by a pair of nuns in Watsonville wasn't getting any referrals. This led former coalition coordinator Sister Jean Schafer to migrate south to San Diego, where she works in a shelter for trafficking victims that has the resources—grant funding, plenty of multilingual interpreters—the Central Coast region lacked.
“I sort of threw in the towel,” Schafer says. “After paying rent for two years, I knew that it wasn't working.” 1
Part of the reason, she says, was a lack of interest and awareness on the part of local law enforcement
“Police weren't convinced at the time that trafficking was an issue,” Schafer says.
That's not surprising to Vanek, whose own task force was created just five years ago, and who only started doing “train-the-trainer” trafficking education workshops in Monterey County in 2009.
Vanek says he doesn't have a point person in the Monterey County Sheriff's office, and there aren't many police vice units or shelter workers actively engaged in helping victims of trafficking.
Nevertheless, Rios says he knows prostitution when he sees it.
The Salinas P.D.'S statistics division doesn't keep figures on prostitution-related arrests. But you don't need a spreadsheet to tell you Marina Beach is sandy.
“It is prevalent in a few areas,” Rios admits. “We see mostly black girls, many of them from out of town—Fresno, Richmond, Oakland—who come down to work for the weekends, usually out of motels.”
Transience is commonplace, for practical and psychological reasons. “Women get moved not only to keep them unfamiliar with their territory, but to keep them emotionally imbalanced,” Vanek says.
This shift from on the street to out of sight has made it that much harder to keep track of prostitution's prevalence in any measurable way beyond chance sightings and stories from outreach workers. That doesn't mean you can't find working women if you know what to look for, Smith says, especially during the summer event season.
“Even at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, you can find high-price escorts,” Smith says, referencing the world-renowned car show that's taken place on the Peninsula every August since 1950. “You go to any bar or auction during that event, and you'll see 'em.”
Women who command up to $500 per hour, however, are the exception rather than the rule. More common are the Salinas street-walkers and women countywide who advertise less expensive services online, who charge less than half that.
One woman who was walking through Chinatown in Salinas to visit a syringe exchange and collect an armload of free condoms told me she charges $40 for a half hour.
“I do it for my man, to support his habit,” she says. That habit is heroin.
But it's worth it, she says: “My man don't hit me, don't steal my things. He's good to me.” Indeed, her-beautiful-though-weathered face and sinewy arms show no signs of bruising, and she says she's not being forced to work. She knows that's rare.
“I'm one of the lucky ones,” she says. “And it ain't always been so easy.”
Smith and Alcaraz say it's not their place as service providers to ask women why they're seeking testing or treatment.
“We never ask straight out whether or not women are involved with prostitution,” Alcaraz says. “It's not our business. Our business is whether or not they've been sexually assaulted.”
Adds Smith: “I'm here to serve their needs. If in the counseling session they want to open up to us, we allow them to, but I don't try to prod anything out of them.”
He's forged relationships with pimps over the years and convinced them to send their women in for testing and contraception, but that takes time.
“Building the trust with a pimp to get him to know that I wasn't going to step on his turf took about a year and a half, consistently giving him condoms without questions, reaching out to him,” Smith says.
As for getting a pimp to talk shop with a reporter, “I could ask him, and he would laugh at me,” Smith says. “That would undo years of work I've done, and put all the women he works with at risk.”
This is a microcosm of the challenges involved in trying to piece together the puzzle of prostitution. Once you find the people who know the industry's key players and are willing to talk themselves, they quickly tell you that talking to anyone about selling sex is damn near impossible, because of a pervasive culture of fear: of arrest, of retribution, and, particularly in the Salinas Valley, of deportation.
The SAlinas P.D.'s Rios says he knows of cases where somebody will offer to take a prostitute across the border in exchange for cash. “But they'll only bring her so far, and then tell her she has to come up with an additional amount of money or he'll kill her,” he says. “So he'll either try and call her family to get it, or he'll use her to make that money.”
Sometimes, the transporter, called a coyote or pisa (which translates loosely from Spanish as “border brother”), is actually a pimp, and trafficks women on what Thoeni calls the “ag circuit”: a seasonal loop that follows agricultural workers from Salinas to Oxnard to Yuma, Ariz., and back again.
“Oftentimes what you'll see during the agricultural season [spring through early fall] is a group of women whose handlers install them into one or two motel rooms someplace,” Thoeni says. “Then they'll take them out in vans, wait out on the edge of the field, and roll customers in and roll them out, and then they'll disappear.”
Smith says these are the hardest people to reach, both because of the language barrier and their fear of the police and federal immigration officials. Not only are they in a line of work illegal in California, their very presence in the U.S. is illegal.
Several years ago, members of Smith's outreach team were able to earn the trust of one woman living with her coworkers in a Greenfield motel. She told them how the motel owner threatened her and the other women with eviction if they didn't start paying higher rent; how their pimps told them they'd make more money if they let men have sex without condoms; how they were afraid to leave the motel because they could be beaten or even killed by their pimps or deported by law enforcement.
A nurse who's worked at multiple hospitals in Monterey County says she's seen victims of trafficking but feels powerless to help.
“It can be difficult to bring to a male doctor's attention that the injuries a woman sustained are not from falling down the stairs,” says the nurse, who asked for anonymity because discussing patients violates federal privacy guidelines.
“In one case, I called adult protective services and tried to confront the male physician, but [the woman] spoke no English or Spanish, just Triqui,” she says, referring to a Oaxacan language spoken by some agricultural workers in the Salinas Valley. “She was panicked, so she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and started on meds.”
After working with an interpreter, the nurse discovered that the woman was living in a large building surrounded by guards and barbed wire fencing, and was taken out to the fields several times a day. Upon further questioning, the woman repeatedly uttered something sounding like “Nocaline.”
“I was racking my brain, trying to think what this could mean,” the nurse recalls. “Finally, I said, ‘North Carolina?' And she nodded and said, ‘Nocaline! Nocaline!'”
From what the nurse gathered, the woman had been trafficked into North Carolina from Oaxaca, and then to California. When the nurse's shift ended, she left notes with the doctor. When she returned to work a few days later, the woman was gone.
“They can't articulate their situation, they don't know if the system will protect them, and the doctor won't buy the trafficking argument,” the nurse says. She adds that many of her colleagues have encountered similar cases, and struggle to convince the doctors who see patients for 15 minutes that they, who encounter the same patients several times over their eight-hour shift, have additional knowledge and observations that could prove useful in the patient's diagnosis and treatment.
“They say, ‘Well, do you have proof?'” the nurse says. “And I say, ‘Well, do two and two make four?'”
In Greenfield, Smith and his Central Coast HIV/AIDS Services outreach team got one woman to act as a liaison with her fellow sex workers, passing along referrals to health care providers for exams and tips on how to sneak on a condom so a john won't notice.
“It's a lot of underground guerrilla work with this population,” Thoeni says. “And it can take a long time to build inroads.”
Vanek's task force hasn't made any trafficking arrests since its inception in 2006, the year after California enacted a law making human trafficking a felony.
The state's law is one of the most comprehensive in the nation, addressing intra-state trafficking and assisting victims through social service agencies.
Part of the reason for the near-zero arrest count, according to Vanek, is the fact that many times traffickers are arrested for trafficking-related activities, not the trafficking itself. There have three convictions on human trafficking in Northern California since the law was enacted—two on federal charges and one on state charges—as a result of investigations by partner police departments.
The San Jose Police task force and the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking also have trained more than 11,000 health care workers, local law enforcement officers and community members to help them identify potential victims of trafficking.
His task force designed a multi-language poster with information on trafficking, including national hotline numbers and local emergency shelters, and placed them in hospital restrooms across Santa Clara County.
“It's the one place where people won't be followed or watched by their interpreter or captor,” Vanek says.
That's an important step toward connecting women with the services they need not just to heal their bodies and minds, but to be treated like human beings again. “These are just people trying to survive like everybody else,” Thoeni says.
Maria stopped working for a time and stayed in Fresno with her pimp/boyfriend and their daughter, now 2. But she returned to myredbook when times got tight.
“We needed the money; we need to get stuff done,” she says. “I've had normal jobs, but when you can make faster money, nothing's gonna compare to this.”
Slavery Ended in 1865? That Myth Puts our Kids in Danger
Anyone who paid attention in a high school history class has heard this story: Slavery ended in the United States in 1865 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It's got all the features of a great story -- patriotism, triumph over evil, and a tall, handsome hero with a penchant for cool hats. The only problem is, the story isn't exactly true.
Slavery didn't end in 1865, it was just made illegal. But modern-day slavery, now called human trafficking, still exists across America. The U.S. State Department estimates up to 17,000 people are trafficked -- enslaved -- in the U.S. each year.
Modern-day slavery is just as horrific as historical slavery -- people are forced to work on farms, in factories, or in the commercial sex industry. They have no rights, no ability to leave, and no control over their situation. And this industry affects school-age children -- one study from the University of Pennsylvania found up to 300,000 American children at risk for modern-day slavery in the form of child sex trafficking. So why do textbooks still teach the myth that slavery ended in 1865?
Incorporating modern-day slavery into school curriculum is important to me as a survivor of modern-day slavery, a mother, and an advocate for trafficked children. That's why I support the Change.org campaign calling on McGraw-Hill, one of the largest producers of history textbooks in the U.S., to amend their teaching that slavery ended in 1865 and include information about modern-day slavery. If we can correct this misinformation in textbooks, we'll be taking the first step toward educating children on modern-day slavery.
On a personal level, this issue matters to me as a person who was enslaved in America long after 1865. I was enslaved by a pimp at age 14, who used the vulnerability an unstable and abusive childhood in foster care had given me as a tool to force me into prostitution. He offered me attention and love, so I ran away from home to be with him. The abuse started almost instantly, and I survived it for over a year before escaping.
Now, as a mother, I've watched children learn about trafficking the hard way. My oldest daughter graduated from a prestigious high school in Northern Virginia. As a teenager, she has referred two of her classmates to Courtney's House, the Washington, DC shelter for child sex trafficking victims I run. As my daughter watched her peers become trapped and enslaved by pimps she asked me "Mom, why don't we learn about this in school?" It was a good question without a good answer.
But it's not just my daughter's high school teaching the myth that slavery in America ended centuries ago. Most high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools in the U.S. teach the same thing. And it's written in most history textbooks that slavery has an expiration date, and that date is far, far passed.
McGraw-Hill has several textbooks, including United States Adventures in Time and Place, World Issues , and Social Studies World History , which directly or indirectly present the end of the Civil War as the end of slavery in America. In doing so, they not only present an untrue statement, but miss a critical opportunity to educate children about how to protect themselves from modern-day slavery.
Kids and teens need comprehensive education about slavery so they can make informed decisions to protect themselves and their peers against would-be exploiters. That education starts with modern-day slavery in textbooks, but also includes the age-appropriate material in curriculum and education for parents. Education about human trafficking is key to preventing it, key to making sure I don't get any more referrals of child sex trafficking victims from my oldest daughter's high school or start getting them from my youngest daughter's middle school.
In less than a month, I'll be speaking to over 10,000 educators about the importance of teaching children and teens the truth about modern-day slavery, giving them the tools to make safe decisions, and educating them about the dangers they and their peers face. I hope to be able to announce that McGraw-Hill is taking the lead and working to set the record straight: that slavery didn't end in 1865, but still happens in America today.
Father faulted in boy's death at mother's hands
by COLIN CAMPBELL
SMITHFIELD -- Five years after 4-year-old Sean Paddock was suffocated to death by his adoptive mother, a civil court jury found that his adoptive father was also responsible for the boy's death.
The verdict Tuesday against Johnny Paddock and adoption agency Children's Home Society of North Carolina was the result of a lawsuit brought in Johnston County Superior Court by Ron Ford, Sean's biological grandfather and administrator of his estate.
Johnny Paddock was never charged in Sean's death on the family's farm near Smithfield in 2006. But throughout the murder trial of his ex-wife Lynn, relatives and others questioned why Johnny Paddock wasn't held accountable for the child abuse in his home, which went on for years before Sean was killed. Lynn Paddock was convicted of first-degree murder in 2008 and will spend the rest of her life in prison.
"It belies all common sense that Johnny Paddock didn't know what was happening to those children," said Jay Trehy, an attorney for Ford. "All we're asking (the jury) to do is say to the world, to Johnny Paddock, 'you're a slayer, too.'"
The attorney for the Greensboro-based Children's Home Society, David Coats, said the evidence didn't support a judgment that Johnny Paddock participated in the "willful and unlawful killing or the procurement of killing of Sean Paddock."
"It's not, 'Do you like Johnny Paddock,' " Coats said. "It's not 'Should Johnny Paddock have done something?' "
Absent from court
While the adoption agency was a defendant in the case, the action that concluded Tuesday was to determine Johnny Paddock's responsibility. Whether the agency has liability for the death of the child it placed with the Paddocks will be determined in a second trial.
Paddock wasn't in the courtroom to hear the jury's findings. He didn't attend any of the trial, nor did he send a lawyer. That left lawyers for the Children's Home Society to defend him, and Trehy was critical of his absence. Tuesday's verdict was a setback for the agency because a successful defense of Johnny Paddock would have ended the suit.
"Did (Paddock) once walk through that door and defend himself because we're calling him a murderer?" Trehy said. "He'll send out his children to defend him. He'll get an adoption agency to defend him."
As in the 2008 murder trial, much of the case centered on testimony from the Paddocks' other children, several of whom are now adults. Others still live with Johnny Paddock. They said Lynn Paddock often beat them with the plastic plumbing pipes she kept in each room of the farmhouse. They said their mother also made them eat their own feces and exercise for hours and taped their mouths shut.
But they largely defended their father, who they say never beat them and was often away from the house or asleep when the abuse happened.
What did he know?
Lawyers for Ford say Johnny Paddock still knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it - except on the night his daughter's screams were keeping him from sleeping.
"Sleep was very important to Johnny Paddock," attorney David Mills, who also represented Ford, said, adding that Lynn Paddock wrapped Sean tightly in blankets to keep him from disturbing her husband - the act that caused Sean to suffocate. "He didn't care what she did to those children as long as it didn't bother him."
Mills said Johnny Paddock drove his wife to buy the plumbing pipes.
"He admitted that he knew she used plumbing pipes to beat the children," Mills said. "He had to know that no one was allowed to go to the bathroom without permission. He admitted that he knew Sean slept on the floor in the kitchen for months."
Coats, the adoption agency's lawyer, questioned the children's testimony that led to those conclusions. He pointed to inconsistencies in what they said in court now and what they told investigators in 2006 and again at the murder trial in 2008.
Coats also reminded jurors that Johnny Paddock was seen crying in the days after Sean's death, while his wife appeared to be angry and spoke to no one.
In the end, Coats' arguments didn't sway the jury, which took just 30 minutes to reach a verdict. But the decision won't put an end to the lawsuit, and no damages will be awarded yet.
What is next
This jury's finding against Johnny Paddock stops him from being Sean's legal father. Under state law, that finding is necessary before someone can seek damages for the remaining siblings. Attorneys for Sean's grandfather plan to seek a second trial for wrongful death to obtain unspecified damages from Paddock and the adoption agency.
Ford would not collect a dime of any money a jury awards Sean Paddock's estate. That money would be directed to Sean's nearest relatives: his siblings. Ron Ford's standing as Sean's family was erased the day the Paddocks adopted Sean, and he is not allowed to see the boy's siblings.
Still, Tuesday's verdict left Ford in tears, and he said he's pleased to see the adoptive father held accountable.
As he left the courtroom, he said, "I need someone to take responsibility."
From the Dogtrot: Pressed into service
by D.B. Johnson
I compare it to ‘pressing,' which was done to get a crew for sailing ships long ago. Men were just taken by force or coercion and ‘pressed' into service. Done without their free will or acquiescence, they were often tricked into service. So it is with victims of childhood sexual abuse. This happens to both males and females, commonly between the ages of 7 and 13.
One in four girls has been assaulted and one in six boys dealt the same fate. There are 90,000 reports annually with many more suspected. Children are afraid to tell or don't know who or how to tell. For girls, the perpetrator is generally someone they know and trust; for boys it is generally someone outside the family. It is always a crime but not always treated as such. It is sometimes ignored or minimized.
Children often don't have the language to explain what has happened to them so they use actions. The behavior is not positive because they are confused by the harm that has been done to them. They often feel responsible, afraid, even terrified because they have been told that people they love will be harmed if they tell. They are told that this behavior done to them is special. They carry the shame of being treated special for many years….often a lifetime.
We have all heard and read the statistics. We say that we are appalled. It is frightening to listen to details. Frequently the discomfort comes from our own unresolved feelings because there is a very good chance that some form of sexual abuse happened to us. We want the feelings to go away. We believe that we can push the memories out of our consciousness. Can't be done. They appear in both blatant and subtle ways.
Warren Tucker was pressed into service by his parish priest, William Casey. He endured the confusing assaults and then lived with the lingering psychological aftermath for many years. As an adult, he was able to address what had happened to him and he found support from The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the police and even the Catholic Church administrators.
What took him so long? The same things that keep others from coming forward and confronting their perpetrator were evident with Tucker: shame, embarrassment and fear that he would not be believed. I have such admiration for Warren Tucker. He understood that he had not done anything wrong except trust someone who had not earned that trust. He bravely told in explicit and graphic detail what Casey had done to him.
The defense attorney told jurors that he found it odd that it took Tucker so long to report the abuse. Not odd at all, really. It is often many years later that the truth comes out. Those that have endured such treatment are often filled with shame and just want to put it behind them.
Ever notice when reports of sexual abuse are made, television, newspapers, and/or police don't give the name of the accuser. It is said that this is done to protect them - from what? The abuse is now over. They have done nothing wrong so why does their identity need to be protected. I believe it is the sense of them being “damaged goods” that fuels this practice.
We should rally around and support these people so they can internalize that they did nothing wrong. It is our society that contributes to the feelings of shame and embarrassment. If there was active support then perpetrators would understand that predatory behavior will not be tolerated in our community. The perpetrators are the ones who need to feel shame and humiliation.
Warren Tucker is a hero for us all. Putting this chapter in his life behind him will help with his healing. Knowing that he testified with his head held high and without a sense of shame moves us toward a better understanding of sexual assault. William Casey was held accountable. Thanks to all who participated in seeking justice. Not everyone is a victim. Some of us are survivors.
Sexual Abuse Counselors Investigate Rising Number Of Cases Involving Children
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Eyewitness News uncovered troubling numbers which show sexual abuse counselors are investigating a rising number of cases against young children. In 2010, Child Advocacy Centers across North Carolina investigated 10.5 percent more cases of physical and sexual abuse than the year before.
"Sexual abuse is a huge issue. Having therapists trained to address this is critical," said Angie Nance, a counselor at United Family Services Child Advocacy Center in Union County.
Until recently, only a handful of specialists received a trauma-based training to deal with childhood sexual abuse. However, now all 40 UFS counselors in Union, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and Iredell counties have received the training.
Dr. Lynn Hernandez examines many of the victims at the facility in Union County. She said the youngest victim examined was just three months old.
"It's a reality in our community and it can happen to anybody," she said. It's unclear why the number of sexual abuse cases has risen. Nance said it could be because people today are more comfortable coming forward, or it could be because more abuse is taking place.
Funds Awarded to Help Child Abuse Investigations
The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention today announced it was awarding a total of $311,772 to 13 Maryland agencies under the Child Justice Act. The funds have gone to both non-profit social service organizations and to government agencies.
The Children's Justice Act (CJA) is a federally funded program that helps States develop, establish, and operate programs to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases, and to improve the handling of fatalities where child abuse or neglect is suspected.
The goal is to protect vulnerable children while successfully developing information to prosecute suspected abusers. This is done primarily training of professionals and volunteers who respond to suspected child abuse to interview children who have been victimized.
The funds support efforts to investigate and prosecute fatalities that may be linked to child abuse or neglect, or cases of sexual child abuse and neglect . Recipients may also use grant funds for the investigation of cases involving children with disabilities or serious health-related problems who are suspected victims of child abuse and neglect.
These funds are in addition to $60,531.00 spent this year on ChildFirst/FindingWords Maryland. That is an innovative and intensive five-day course specifically designed for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and child abuse professionals to conduct skillful and legally sufficient forensic interviews of child sexual abuse victims.
Internet censorship machine quietly revs up
by Asher Moses
As Australia's biggest internet providers begin blocking an Interpol list of child abuse websites, the communications regulator is quietly compiling its own similar blacklist.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) confirmed it was building a list of URLs that “potentially contains child abuse material” and having them formally reviewed by the Classification Board. Sites on the blacklist have been categorised by the Board as “ACMA – ISP FILTERING”.
Optus, Telstra and Primus are among the internet service providers (ISPs) to have already committed to blocking child abuse content for their customers.
This filtering scheme – voluntary for ISPs but not users - is much milder than the mandatory filtering policy proposed by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, which the government has shelved but remains committed to.
Even before ACMA's blacklist is delivered, ISPs such as Telstra have been blocking Interpol's list of child abuse links since July 1. Whether they will take on ACMA's blacklist is still an open question.
“We continue to work with ACMA regarding the blocking of a list of child abuse sites it generates,” a Telstra spokeswoman said.
Optus said it was in the process of implementing blocks of Interpol's list for its customers but had not yet committed to filtering ACMA's list. Primus would not comment.
While ACMA's blacklist is separate to the Interpol list the government says it sees filtering the Interpol blacklist as just an “interim step” while ACMA's list is being prepared.
However, the Internet Industry Association (IIA) warned that blocking websites at ACMA's request – as opposed to Interpol's - could be seen as ISPs implementing the government's mandatory filters “through the backdoor”.
Anti-censorship lobbyists criticise any internet censorship efforts, arguing the sheer amount of content on the internet makes any attempts futile.
A compromise scheme
After the Federal Government shelved its much-maligned mandatory internet filter policy pending a review of the scope of content to be blocked by the scheme, ISPs sought to defuse the issue by agreeing to voluntarily block child abuse material.
Critics claimed Senator Conroy's scheme – much broader than just child abuse material - would be open to abuse and would block reams of legitimate, innocuous content.
ACMA yesterday clarified that its child abuse list would include “material that meets the criteria for Refused Classification under the National Classification Code for containing offensive depictions or descriptions of children”.
The list of URLs, which ACMA has not yet begun distributing to ISPs, was being formally classified by the Classification Board “in preparation” for the voluntary ISP blocking scheme.
“The ACMA investigates content – at specific URLs (webpages or images), not whole websites – that may be prohibited upon receipt of a valid complaint,” ACMA said.
But Conroy's mandatory filters still kicking
Senator Conroy's spokesman said the government was still committed to introducing its heavily criticised mandatory ISP filtering scheme, which would see all “refused classification” (RC) material blocked by ISPs on a mandatory basis.
But the spokesman said the legal obligation to implement the mandatory scheme would not commence until the government was able to conduct a review of the RC category.
The review, which is being conducted by the Australian Law Reform Commission, was announced following claims RC was too broad to be the basis of a mandatory censorship scheme.
“The Government remains committed to introducing legislation to require all ISPs to block the RC content list,” Senator Conroy's spokesman said.
“While the RC review is going on, work is underway to support voluntary filtering of child abuse content, which Telstra, Optus and Primus undertook to voluntarily block.”
He said the government saw the blocking of the Interpol list as an “interim step” before ACMA's child abuse list is adopted.
Net industry prefers Interpol to ACMA
A spokesman for the Internet Industry Association (IIA) said while individual ISPs could decide to filter ACMA's list, the industry's view was that it preferred to deal with Interpol and the Australian Federal Police as opposed to ACMA.
Dealing with Interpol and the police “very clearly ferments the proposition that the cooperation they're seeking from ISPs is of a law enforcement nature and not one of censorship … we get away from any idea that we're implementing effectively mandatory filtering through the backdoor”.
“I think there is some uncertainty around the legal status of ISPs acting upon notifications from ACMA versus that which they may receive from the police where the legal powers are far more clearly defined under the Telecommunications Act,” the IIA spokesman said.
Internet censorship 'futile'
Stephen Collins, spokesman for the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said any attempt to filter the internet was inevitably futile.
“Any action taken as a consequence of the making of such a list barely scratches the surface of activity related to child sexual abuse, which doesn't take place on the public web and is rarely available via it,” said Collins.
“Even if we're not talking about child sexual abuse material, trying to classify the web is futile. It's too big, too fluid.”
The IIA said these criticisms missed the point as the filter was just “one piece of the puzzle” and would ideally work in conjunction with an effective legal framework, policing and education campaigns.
University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, who has been a high-profile critic of Senator Conroy's mandatory filtering scheme, said he had no issues with a voluntary scheme that only targeted child abuse links.
It is highly likely that any blacklist of banned sites will be leaked, as has already occurred with previous ACMA blacklists. Furthermore, filtering schemes can generally be bypassed relatively easily by tech savvy users.
Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam is on leave but in a recent radio interview said he was less concerned about the voluntary blocking scheme because it was much narrower than the one originally proposed by the government.
“Most of the filter campaigners who have expressed a view on this voluntary system think it's either irrelevant or dangerous to the extent that it may be even less regulated than the government's scheme,” Senator Ludlam said.
“But at least we've stopped having the argument about the much greyer areas around the [mandatory] refused classification scheme while that review is going on in the background.”
Policy: Sex abuse by doctors 'profound betrayal'
The Associated Press
CHICAGO -- The nation's largest pediatricians' group has issued its first policy on protecting children from sexual abuse by doctors, citing a recent Delaware case and urging medical facilities to screen employees for previous abuse.
Parents and patients also should be informed that they have a right to have a chaperone present during children's exams, according to the policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Training programs should educate future doctors about appropriate boundaries, and health care institutions should report suspected abuse to authorities and not quietly pass the problem doctor along to another institution.
"Any sexual abuse of children by medical providers is a profound betrayal of their responsibility for patient well-being, trust, and medical ethics," the policy states.
In June, former Delaware pediatrician Earl Bradley was convicted on 14 counts of first-degree rape and five counts each of second-degree assault and sexual exploitation of a child. Prosecutors said Bradley recorded homemade videos of sex crimes against more than 80 victims, most of them female toddlers.
That case has "reminded us that some among the pediatric profession may use their position of authority and trust to take advantage of their patients," the policy states.
The policy is available online and is to appear in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Online Policy: http://bit.ly/nU5Okq
Baby Brianna case left mark on NM law
by Ashley Meeks
LAS CRUCES - It's mid-July and it should be the last few weeks of summer vacation before Brianna Mariah Lopez began fourth grade.
But instead of being a normal, anonymous elementary school student, Brianna became the bruised and brutalized face of child abuse nine years ago Tuesday, when the five-month-old was raped, flung across a room, bitten and brutalized until she died.
District Attorney Amy Orlando stopped by the grave first thing Tuesday morning, leaving a little stuffed dog with angel wings. She returned with others at mid-day, to lay a bouquet of pink roses.
"I think the anniversary of Brianna's death should remind everyone how precious our children are and how we need to protect them," Orlando said. "I am committed to prosecuting and holding anybody who hurts children accountable to the maximum that's allowed by law."
That maximum has changed since Brianna's death, which triggered legislation that now allows for a maximum life imprisonment in cases of child abuse resulting in death - something that wasn't possible for Brianna's father, Andrew Walters, then 21, and her uncle, Steven Lopez, then 19 - her abusers - or her mother, Stephanie Lopez, then 19, who failed to report the crimes and is expected to be released from prison in 2016.
However, the first of six defendants charged under the law in 2007, Robert J. Flores, is still awaiting trial. Since the state appealed a defense motion to suppress certain evidence, the case is not likely to be tried this year, said Orlando, who called the delay "frustrating."
Flores, now 26, faces accusations that he caused the suffocation death of his baby daughter three and a half years ago. He allegedly left 4-month-old Kalynne Flores in a laundry basket full of clothing in a closet before leaving his apartment to buy beer. An Artesia native who is free on a $50,000 cash bond, Flores has pleaded not guilty on all counts.
In addition to the strengthened penalties for child abuse, Brianna's legacy includes the Child Crisis Center of Southern New Mexico, a long-supported project that finally opened its doors last December, to provide respite for parents at the end of their wits, who might be at risk of striking, shaking, throwing or screaming at their little one. In a poor county in a poor state, that possibility is higher than average. A British study published in November found that babies in poor families are 17 times more likely to die via "unintentional injury."
Donna Richmond, executive director of La Pi-on Sexual Assault Recovery Services of Southern New Mexico, which operates the complex, says while child abuse still happens in Do-a Ana County, the community is on alert.
"The community is aware that child abuse is taking place and they do want to help children who are being abused and want to prevent children from being abused," Richmond said. "I think awareness has definitely been heightened by the tragedy of Baby Brianna and our community was able to come together and create the child crisis center.
Of the 62 children who have spent time at the center since its opening, Richmond says a few of their families "may have been on the brink" of neglect - or something worse.
"I think we need to support families with young children," Richmond said. "I think we need to be neighborly toward them and maybe if your friend or neighbor or family member has children, offer to help out, cook a meal, take the child to the park. And I think the community needs to continue to report child abuse."
"I see more people reporting the first time they see something - we get a lot more neighbors or people who call from the mall or, we got a call from a hotel because they saw a child walking around unattended, so I think people are aware and willing to stand up for kids."
One of the mourners who gathered at Brianna's grave Tuesday afternoon was a woman with her 21-month-old baby, who was awed by the whimsical toys left at the infant's grave, Orlando noted.
"It makes you see how precious they are," she said, "and so full of life. It breaks your heart to think about what Brianna could have been."
Ashley Meeks can be reached at (575) 541-5462.
13 Do-a Ana County children - all 5 and younger - have died as a result of child abuse in the past decade:
• Jade Goenaga was taken off life support Nov. 10, 2011, after her father and a doctor found her alternately unresponsive, limp and vomiting. At a hospital in El Paso, pediatric specialists said Jade had suffered head trauma consistent with shaken baby syndrome, allegedly at the hands of her 17-year-old mother.
• Angel Lorraine Jimenez died June 24, 2010, after abuse that left the 5-year-old bruised back and front and head to toe, dotted with more than a dozen puncture wounds, her brain bleeding, a rib broken, her chest scratched and a human bite mark on her ankle. There were also allegedly signs Jimenez was raped.
• Isaiah Lawrence Jimenez died Aug. 4, 2009, after a caretaker allegedly tossed the 4-month-old in the air, caught him by the legs and held him face down on a pillow with his arms behind the baby's back.
• Daniel Medina died March 6, 2009, after autopsy revealed the 6-month-old had suffered multiple sources of bleeding in his brain and bleeding in and around his eyes, consistent with abuse.
• Armando Wood died Dec. 3, 2008, after suffering blunt-force injuries to his head and neck, bruising to his face and chest, bleeding and swelling in his brain and a fractured collarbone after the 21-month-old was allegedly shaken by the shoulders and grabbed by the chin.
• Kalynne Flores died Dec. 6, 2007, after the 4-month old was allegedly placed in a laundry basket full of unfolded clothes and left in a closet suffocating.
• Diana Urrutia died Jan. 15, 2005, after the prematurely born 5-week-old suffered broken legs and ribs and massive head injuries at the hands of her father.
• Uriah Vasquez-Ordo-ez died July 29, 2004, after the 15-month-old suffered a massive head injury from being picked up by the ears and thrown in an empty bathtub, then had his body burned and buried in the desert.
• Sierra Browning died July 27, 2004, after the 5-month- old was allegedly thrown on the ground, where she landed on her head.
• Devon Boothe died Sept. 23, 2002, after the 4-year-old was beaten to death by his 10-year-old sister, allegedly on the order of their stepfather.
• Brianna Lopez died July 19, 2002, after the 5-month-old was thrown, bit and raped by her father and uncle, resulting in bruises and rib and skull fractures.
• Ameil Valverde died Feb. 3, 2002, after his father allegedly threw the 13-month-old into a wall, resulting in bruises on his chest, arms, legs and back and a skull fracture.
• Rodrigo Bravo died July 17, 2001, after his mother allegedly banged the 4-year-old's head against a wall several times after he fainted, causing injuries that led to his death.
• Report abuse or neglect to the Children, Youth and Families Department at (800) 797-3260 or dial #SAFE (7233)
• Need someone to listen? Call La Pi-on free, local ParenTalk "warmline" for parents and caregivers at (575) 636-3133 or KidTalk (575) 636-3636.
• In crisis? Call the Child Crisis Center of Southern New Mexico at (575) 525-1277
Bus driver reports abuse, punished
Bill proposed may not resolve problem completely
July 19, 2011
BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - The Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities heard a bill Tuesday filed by Representative Geraldine Creedon (D-Brockton) that proposes to specifically include school bus drivers and monitors under the definition of a mandated reporter – someone who works with children who is required under law to report anything they see or hear that gives them reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused.
“Let's back up our bus drivers and our bus monitors to make sure they can and will do the right thing,” said Creedon.
The legislation is in response to a Middleboro school bus driver, Colleen Anderson, who faced retaliation from her employer after reporting an alleged case of child abuse to school officials while on the job. Anderson is suing her employer, First Student Inc., for making her inelgible for overtime pay after she reported the alleged child abuse in March 2009. First Student Inc. claims school bus drivers aren't mandated reporters and therefore have no duty or protection under law to report abuse.
“What [my legislation] gives [school bus drivers] is the teeth behind them to say I have done the right thing, the state mandates that I must do this. You cannot retaliate against me,” said Creedon.
But Adam Bond, the lawyer representing Anderson says the proposed bill weakens the definition of a mandated reporter. Instead of specifically naming a school bus driver, it should be more general and include anyone who works with children.
“If she's trying to fix the problem, don't pinpoint it to a single case, that's myopic. That's real short sighted,” said Bond. “Do it in a broader sense, like I was suggesting, ‘any other person employed by or contracted with by the school whose job brings them into regular contact with children.'”
Japan child abuse cases jump 28%
TOKYO - CASES of child abuse in Japan surged by 28 per cent in the year to March, official data showed on Wednesday, with authorities saying better public awareness had led to more cases being reported.
The number of incidents recorded in the 12-month period surged by a record 12,090 to 55,152, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said.
The figures did not including cases for the two prefectures of Miyagi and Fukushima which were hit by the March 11 quake-tsunami disasters and unable to collect data.
There were 43,062 cases of child abuse reported in the previous year in areas outside the disaster-hit region, representing a 28.1 per cent increase.
A ministry official attributed the sharp increase to 'growing public awareness,' saying that more people were reporting reporting possible abuse cases to consultation centres, Kyodo News agency reported.
The recorded cases include those in which child consultation offices run by Japan's local governments take action, such as taking children into protective custody or visiting families where mistreatment is suspected. -- AFP
Priests will to go to jail rather than break the seal of the confessional
Say seal of confession means they cannot disclose wrongdoings
by CATHY HAYES
A founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests has said he would he would rather choose to serve time in prison rather than break the seal of confession.
In the wake of the Cloyne report the Irish government stated that priests who fail to report child abuse disclosed to them during confession, to the relevant authorities could face up to five years in prison.
Writing in his Western People column Father Brendan Hoban said that the seal of confession outweighs “any form of professional confidentiality or secrecy.”
“Priests do not just regard it as an absolute duty not to disclose anything that they
learn from penitents in the confessional. They know that if they reveal anything they have learned during confession to anyone, even under a threat of their own death or that of others, that they would be automatically
Canon law states: "Let the priest who dares to make known the sins of his penitent be deposed."
Under the seal priests cannot disclose anything they learn from their penitent. Fr Hoban said the most any priest can do is encourage the person to surrender themselves to authorities.
“We cannot directly or indirectly disclose the matter to anyone, civil authorities or anyone
else,” he states.
He goes to to reference the Alfred Hitchcock film “I confess” in which a killer confesses a murder to a priest. The priest himself is later accused of the murder but cannot convey the truth as it would break the seal of confession.
“It is a measure of the vulnerability of the Catholic Church that part of the package of measures being contemplated by the civil authorities effectively amounts to a rejection of protection in law for what was always regarded as the sacred seal of Confession,” he concludes.
Funds Awarded to Help Child Abuse Investigations
The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention today announced it was awarding a total of $311,772 to 13 Maryland agencies under the Child Justice Act. The funds have gone to both non-profit social service organizations and to government agencies.
The Children's Justice Act (CJA) is a federally funded program that helps States develop, establish, and operate programs to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases, and to improve the handling of fatalities where child abuse or neglect is suspected. The goal is to protect vulnerable children while successfully developing information to prosecute suspected abusers. This is done primarily training of professionals and volunteers who respond to suspected child abuse to interview children who have been victimized.
The funds support efforts to investigate and prosecute fatalities that may be linked to child abuse or neglect, or cases of sexual child abuse and neglect . Recipients may also use grant funds for the investigation of cases involving children with disabilities or serious health-related problems who are suspected victims of child abuse and neglect.
These funds are in addition to $60,531.00 spent this year on ChildFirst/FindingWords Maryland. That is an innovative and intensive five-day course specifically designed for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and child abuse professionals to conduct skillful and legally sufficient forensic interviews of child sexual abuse victims.
ASACP Addresses Erroneous Phrase in Letter to Congress
by John Sanford
July 18, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) has penned a letter to the U.S. Congress, protesting its erroneous use of the phrase “Internet Pornographers” in new legislation targeting sex crimes against children.
H.R. 1981, the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, seeks to tie the online adult entertainment industry with the heinous crime of child sexual abuse — providing stiff penalties for criminals, but falsely equating legitimate businesses with illegal enterprises.
“Given the inaccurate portrayal of the industry within this legislation, we had no alternative but to respond with facts to counter this falsity,” ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning stated. “It may be an attractive title in an election cycle, but its presumption is flat out wrong.”
The letter to Congress outlined how ASACP research has repeatedly demonstrated that there are no substantive ties between the online adult entertainment industry and child pornography, stating that the association “objects to the malicious and inaccurate characterization depicted in the naming of this Act and believes that ‘Protecting Children From Internet Pedophiles' or ‘Protecting Children From Internet Sex Crimes' would both be more appropriate and accurate titles for this Act."
“Since 1996 ASACP has operated a child pornography (CP) reporting hotline,” the letter states, describing how, “An analysis of the data compiled from more than 400,000 reports of suspected child pornography received by this hotline during a recent five-year period provides a deeper understanding of the reality, scope and context of online CP.” (www.asacp.org/whitepaper/ASACP-whitepaper-9-10-2010.pdf)
“In fact, the online adult entertainment industry has repeatedly shown leadership regarding Internet child safety issues — such as in 2006, when ASACP launched the Restricted To Adults (RTA) meta-label,” the letter adds. “The RTA Label (www.rtalabel.org) is free to use, voluntary, and universally available to any website that wishes to clearly and effectively label itself as being inappropriate for viewing by minors.”
The letter goes on to highlight the great success of the RTA initiative, which currently sees more than 20 billion monthly hits to RTA-labeled web pages — including the 20 percent of adult websites that generate nearly 80 percent of all adult entertainment traffic on the Internet; as well as the many accolades from business leaders and trade associations, governments and civic organizations, that RTA has garnered for ASACP and its efforts.
While ASACP supports global law enforcement efforts to protect children, it notes that there are many current mechanisms, legal and technological, available for performing this task; including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Mandating a new requirement for ISPs to collect and retain IP addresses, as well as other indentifying data, for 18 months, “is overbroad and problematic from privacy, security and economic standpoints.”
The letter points out the loophole which would allow criminals to “simply use public wireless hot spots in order to circumvent this Act,” and registers its concern over the power the law would provide to agents wanting “to ‘fish' through ISP data at will — even if the information is unrelated to any sex crimes against children."
“ASACP believes in the merits of many of the proposals in this Bill, but believes there are serious issues which need to be addressed before it can proceed further,” the letter concludes.
“This type of timely governmental outreach is an important keystone of the ASACP mission,” Henning said. “By reinforcing the distinction between the legitimate adult entertainment industry and criminal providers of illegal imagery, we help responsible businesses protect themselves; by providing tools and awareness for parents and website owners, ASACP helps to protect children.”
Early reports from Capitol Hill indicate the ASACP letter is receiving widespread attention and is being broadly circulated among relevant stakeholders, mere hours after its receipt.
“It's a win-win situation,” Henning concluded. “But it can only happen with your continued financial support of ASACP.”
Q & A: A Prominent Advocate Presses for Better Investigations of Child Deaths
by Aarti Shahani
July 18, 2011
ProPublica, in collaboration with Frontline and NPR, recently published "The Hardest Cases," a report about how medical examiners and coroners have mishandled child death investigations. In some cases, their errors helped put innocent people behind bars.
Recently, we interviewed Dr. Carole Jenny, a pediatrician at Hasbro Children's Hospital and a leading figure at the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. She is a high-profile advocate for putting more resources toward investigating suspect child deaths.
According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, there were 1,700 child maltreatment deaths last year. Yet, according to the FBI, there were 500 child homicides. Why is there such a big discrepancy?
The FBI data comes from medical examiners and state health departments. The NCANS [data] is from child protection agencies. Child death review team data is yet another source. Different agencies have different ways of collecting data. I don't think any of them are all that good. The techniques people use to obtain that data are very, very different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Last week you told the House Ways and Means Committee that progress has been made in tracking pediatric maltreatment, and now the field needs federal money. Could you elaborate on what you meant?
There is now a board-certified sub-specialty called child abuse pediatrics. Physicians who are already board-certified pediatricians take three extra years of training, learning about all aspects of child maltreatment. Most of the folks who go through this—there's 187 in the U.S.—will work at children's hospitals, doing child protection full time. Here we have three physicians and three fellows in training who do child abuse cases. We keep very busy. It's not cheap.
ProPublica's partner NPR recently reported on how scientists are rethinking Shaken Baby Syndrome. Years ago you credited Dr. Norman Guthkelch, the pediatric neurosurgeon, for first observing the condition in children in a 1971 paper for the British Medical Journal. What's your reaction to his recent statements that doctors are over-diagnosing SBS?
I've talked with him. He has the same position as many of us. We do know that kids' heads don't spontaneously explode. But sometimes we don't know if [they've] been shaken, hit or both. The Shaken Baby Syndrome diagnosis presumes a mechanism—major traumatic injury to the head that has absolutely no accidental explanation. Sometimes it's obviously [that]. Sometimes it's not.
Medical examiner Dr. Jon Thogmartin, another expert we interviewed in The Child Cases, says that when a child dies, people presume it's murder. A prosecutorial mindset sets in. Do you agree?
No, that's not true. When a child collapses unexpectedly, child protective services and law enforcement do get involved. Somebody has to do a scene investigation, and it's not going to be the doctors. I'm not going to go to the house to look for toxins or poisons. No one presumes that child injury is abuse. Abuse is a diagnosis we make after we rule out a long, extensive list of physical and accidental ideologies that would explain the degree and severity of the injuries we see.
You testify in child abuse criminal cases monthly and in cases involving child death four or five times a year. Are you more concerned about innocent parents and caregivers being convicted or guilty ones walking free?
Obviously both are not good outcomes. When people who've hurt children aren't held accountable, it puts other children at risk. No one would advocate putting innocent parents in jail. That's why the quality of scientific practice has to be very high.
We work with the medical examiners in Rhode Island, who are board-certified forensic pathologists. None [of the 3] are board-certified in pediatric pathology. It's not a very well-developed field. In general, many jurisdictions underfund it. There's not a lot of people that go into the specialty [of forensic pathology]. It doesn't make a lot of money. It's not like being a plastic surgeon or dermatologist.
Is the "CSI effect" an issue with juries? Will they only convict if they believe the medical science is foolproof, or are they hungry to convict regardless?
I'm not so sure the two poles are opposite. I haven't seen the "CSI-effect." Juries take the material they get and deal with it the best they can.
Instead of arguing these issues in the lab, [doctors] are confronted with an adversarial justice system. We shouldn't do research in the courtroom. We should do research in the lab and at the bedside.
Is there a problem with the standards for those who testify as experts?
People are for sale. Obviously not all. Some who testify are extremely ethical and professionally responsible.
There's no quality control. Some of the experts who give the most outrageous testimony are in very high demand. They are making very large amounts of money.
It's an area where there seems to be no downside to irresponsible expert witness testimony. Most of the folks who do it are retired, doing it as a hobby. State medical societies won't take it on for fear of liability or litigation. State medical boards in most states don't consider expert testimony to be "the practice of medicine," so they don't take it on. And most prosecutors are very hesitant to charge anyone with perjury because this is, in fact, their opinion. If you have an opinion, it may be false. But it's not necessarily a lie.
Is there a solution to this?
I think the medical societies should take a more proactive stance. In the OBGYN societies, they've taken on the issue of malpractice testimony—people going around the country, providing false testimony, causing ethical, competent doctors to be sued.
I know the American Academy of Pediatrics won't touch this. It has lots of missions to promote child health. If they had to tie up millions in child lawsuits, it would decrease their resources for other core missions.
The American Academy of Emergency Medicine has taken an interesting [stance] on this. If their members feel that other members have testified irresponsibly, they will put the transcripts online so that others can read it and comment. It's kind of like a public shaming.
Why did Hasbro Children's Hospital start its Child Protection Program?
It started in 1996, in response to an incident that happened years before. A baby was brutally abused and seen at three different health care institutions. The abuse wasn't recognized. The child went on to be permanently and seriously disabled with a devastating brain injury. A task force formed to look at why this happened. They [concluded] that there was no physician in Rhode Island who had expertise in child abuse. They raised money to endow the first chair in child abuse pediatrics in the country. They went out looking for someone to take it. They ended up recruiting me. In the first year we saw 79 kids. Now we see 1,800 plus per year. If you build it, they will come.
Correction (July 18): This post originally said the American College of Emergency Physicians had posted transcripts of what some of its members see as irresponsible court testimony. It is actually the American Academy of Emergency Medicine that has done this.
Pope accepts resignation of Philadelphia archbishop amid sex scandal
by the CNN Wire Staff
July 19, 2011
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) – The archbishop of Philadelphia has resigned just months after a Philadelphia grand jury report accused the archdiocese of failing to investigate claims of sexual abuse by priests against children.
Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Cardinal Justin Rigali as the Philadelphia archbishop, the Vatican said Tuesday.
The Vatican cited Rigali's age as the reason. Canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation from the pastoral governance of their diocese on their 75th birthday, which Rigali did in April 2010.
The archdiocese plans to announce Tuesday that the pope has appointed Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver to succeed Rigali, it said in a statement.
The move comes five months after a Philadelphia grand jury report accused the archdiocese of failing to investigate claims of sexual abuse by priests against children.
The grand jury report report led to the Philadelphia district attorney's office criminally charging four Philadelphia priests and a parochial school teacher with raping and assaulting boys in their care. A former high-ranking archdiocese official was accused of allowing the abusive priests to have access to children.
All five pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse and conspiracy charges in April. Edward Avery and Charles Engelhardt were charged with allegedly assaulting a 10-year-old boy at St. Jerome Parish in Philadelphia from 1998 to 1999. Bernard Shero, a teacher in the school, is charged with allegedly assaulting the same boy there in 2000. Avery was defrocked in 2006. James Brennan, another priest, is accused of assaulting a different boy, a 14 year old, in 1996.
Monsignor William Lynn, who served as the secretary for clergy under then-Philadelphia Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua, was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the alleged assaults.
From 1992 until 2004, Lynn was responsible for investigating reports that priests had sexually abused children.
The grand jury found that Lynn, 60, endangered children, including the victims in these most recent cases, by knowingly allowing dangerous priests to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children.
In addition to the charges, the grand jury alleged that as many as 37 priests remained in ministry in Pennsylvania despite solid, credible allegations of abuse. Rigali had initially challenged that claim, but eventually many of these priests were placed on administrative leave.
"I want to be clear: These administrative leaves are interim measures. They are not in any way final determinations or judgments," Rigali said in a statement in March.
In the months following the release of the grand jury report, Rigali, 76, who succeeded Bevilacqua in 2003, was named in several civil suits against the Philadelphia Archdiocese alleging sexual abuse.
This year's grand jury report is the city's second issued regarding priests' alleged sexual abuse in Philadelphia. The first grand jury report was released in 2003. A gag order barring all parties involved in the criminal case from talking to the media imposed by a Philadelphia judge remains in effect.
Authorities failing to enforce law aimed at tackling sex with trafficked women
July 19, 2011
Only 40 cases have been prosecuted since new offence came into effect in April 2010, Home Office strategy reveals
The failure of police and prosecutors to enforce a law that criminalises men who pay for sex with trafficked women is jeopardising the attempt to tackle human trafficking into Britain.
A Home Office strategy published on Tuesday says that only 40 cases have been prosecuted since the new offence came into effect in April 2010 and that includes prosecutions of kerb crawlers.
"Enforcement of this offence would be a key part of the chain that leads to women being trafficked into the country and help deter those that may consider paying for sexual services from someone who may be trafficked, thereby reducing demand," says the strategy.
The document calls for a greater effort to target the demand for "inexpensive, unprotected and often illegal labour" and to create a business environment where it is neither considered desirable or readily available.
"There is growing awareness amongst consumers of the harm caused by unethical business practices. But more needs to be done to increase understanding and encourage greater corporate moral and social responsibility within the private sector," the strategy acknowledges.
Home Office minsters are to review by the end of this year the current legislation on trafficking to ensure that it supports the effective prosecution of human traffickers. The strategy recognises that there are some problems caused by the fact that trafficking for sexual exploitation is prosecuted under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act while labour trafficking comes under the 2004 Asylum and Immigration Act which has a different standard of proof.
"While there have been successful prosecutions under both, there are some disparities which make the legislative framework less straightforward than it could be for prosecutors. In addition, the different levels of proof mean that it is more difficult to prosecute for labour exploitation," says the new strategy. Crown Prosecution figures show that just 48 people were prosecuted over trafficking offences in England and Wales.
The official strategy says a key element in disrupting the market for trafficking and reducing its profitability is to target those who pay for sexual services from trafficked women. In particular it cites the 2009 Policing and Crime Act which introduced an offence of paying for the sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force, deception, threats or any other form of coercion.
"This means that someone who pays for the sexual services of a woman (whether or not they know the woman has been trafficked) can be arrested and prosecuted," says the strategy. It notes that as of June only 40 offences have involved somebody being charged since April 2010 and that includes cases of kerb crawling.
The strategy confirms that from this month the Salvation Army will play a central role in the £2m-a-year programme to support the adult victims of trafficking.
It also advocates a more targeted focus on the countries that are the major source of trafficking; extending the use of powers to seize the assets of traffickers and establish closer relationships with overseas law enforcement agencies.
The immigration minister, Damian Green, said the new strategy would send the message that Britain was not a soft touch for traffickers. "We will pursue and disrupt trafficking networks overseas wherever possible to stop them before they ply their trade in the UK and then bring them to justice," he said.
Human rights charities have criticised Britain's human trafficking strategy in the past, arguing that it has backfired, increased the suffering of victims and undermined attempts to prosecute the criminal gangs who abused them. The Crown Prosecution Service earlier this month issued new guidance that women and children who were suspected of having been trafficked should no longer be treated as criminals.
Photo project to help young sex abuse victims
July 18, 2011
by Peter E. Bortner
Local youths who have become victims of sexual abuse now have a new program through which they can express their feelings about the horrors they have undergone and help themselves and others to recover from them.
The Through Your Lens Project of the Sexual Assault Resource & Counseling Center will incorporate photography into the counseling and therapy it provides to sexual abuse victims in Lebanon and Schuylkill counties, according to Executive Director Jenny Murphy-Shifflet.
"SARCC will exhibit the photography and videos of children and teens to create awareness of sexual abuse," Murphy-Shifflet said.
Photography and video can enable young people who otherwise cannot express their feelings to tell the world what has occurred to them and how it has affected them, Murphy-Shifflet said.
Members of SARCC's counseling staff will join professional photographer Madelaine Gray, Mount Gretna, in training youngsters to use a digital camera and then to take what they have learned and depict different aspects of their lives in photographs, Murphy-Shifflet said.
The photography project will expand SARCC's use of the arts in helping sexual abuse victims.
SARCC, which received $2,500 from The Kids Trust Fund through The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, Harrisburg, in order to start the photography project, already incorporates art and play therapy in its work with children in order to allow them to express feelings they otherwise cannot share with the world. Art and play have proven helpful in helping youths communicate about a difficult subject, according to Eric Stiles, a SARCC sexual assault counselor.
"This effort has proven to be highly effective in SARCC's work with children, and serves to remove barriers that can be daunting and intimidating to a child," Stiles said.
After they take the photographs, the youngsters will look at, and talk about, them in a supportive group setting, Murphy-Shifflet said. SARCC will hold child- and teen-oriented group sessions designed to bring survivors of sexual abuse together to give them a more powerful voice and promote acceptance, support and healing, she said.
"These activities will be incorporated into the fabric of SARCC's existing work with children and teens through their individual counseling sessions and in concert with their counselor or therapist," Murphy-Shifflet said.
For more information on the program, contact SARCC at 628-2965 or (717) 270-6972.
Women relive daycare abuse in nightmares
by Megan Neil
July 18, 2011
Two women still have nightmares about the "monster" who sexually abused them at a Melbourne daycare centre, shattering their lives.
The women were abused from the age of four and kept their shame to themselves for years after the man told them not to tell anyone.
The 68-year-old abuser, who cannot be named to protect the victims' identity, has pleaded guilty to one charge of committing an indecent act on a child under 16 and three of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 10.
The offences occurred at a family daycare centre run by the man's wife at their home in suburban Melbourne from 1997 to 2001.
One of the victims told the Victorian County Court that the man took her childhood away and she still didn't feel safe.
"I never will until this monster is put away," she said, crying as she read her victim impact statement to the court.
"At Halloween I would have the same nightmare, of the defendant coming to get me, because he was my monster, the thing that I was most scared of in my life."
She didn't tell anyone about the secret until she confided in high school friends in 2008.
"I kept it to myself and it destroyed me," she said.
"I was so young, a child carrying around this huge burden, a child in pain."
The other victim said she still felt the daily scars of the abuse and experienced constant nightmares.
"I feel this has been and remained such a big secret and burden in my life," she told the court, crying.
"I can't forget or even mask the pain at times. It's literally something I am forced to live with forever."
Defence counsel Sarah Leighfield said the man was very aware of the trauma he had caused the victims.
"He apologises unreservedly to the complainants and would like them to hear that and he's very aware of the impact that he's had on their lives," she said.
Judge Mark Taft said the impact of sexual abuse was very often lifelong.
"The effects of abuse persist and are shattering in terms of the way in which a young woman can live her life," Judge Taft said.
The pre-sentence hearing is continuing.
Victims tell of stolen childhoods
by Jodie Minus
ONE of Australia's worst paedophiles kept his head down, as three of his victims told a Sydney court how the man not only robbed them of their youth but set them on a path of self-destruction.
Andrew Dean McIntosh, 53, was convicted in May over 18 offences related to the sexual and indecent assault of three boys at Inverell, in the state's northwest in the 1980s.
The 53-year-old today faced a sentencing hearing over those convictions as well as 24 offences related to the sexual abuse and indecent assault of another teenager, Sascha Chandler, in the early 1990s.
Those 42 convictions, combined with another five child-sex convictions from the late 1980s, are twice that of one of Australia's worst paedophiles, Robert "Dolly" Dunn, who was convicted of 24 child sex charges in 2001.
The three Inverell victims, now in their 40s and who cannot be named, today told the court they continued to suffer from the sexual assaults and beatings that McIntosh inflicted upon them in their youth.
One man, who was subject to buggery and violent assaults, including, at 13, being beaten with the cord of an electric jug before having McIntosh simulate sex between his legs, said the older man ruined his life.
"I suffer from depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, nightmares when I do sleep, rely on alcohol to sleep, problems socialising, extreme and violent mood swings," SM said.
"If I had never met Andrew Dean McIntosh I know I would have a better education, which would lead to better employment . . . I may have even married and had kids."
Another, known as MP, said he had lost relationships and "felt shame all my life".
"At a time when a young boy should be fun-loving, care-free and innocent, I lived in a world of torment and suspicion," MP said.
"Because of what he did to me I isolated myself emotionally from everyone, including my family."
IM told the court McIntosh destroyed his adolescent years and "set me up for a life of continued self-torment and fear".
"I have not had anyone close to me for a very long time," IM said.
"I have not been able to give anyone a cuddle for 25 years."
Judge Michael Finnane will continue hearing sentencing submissions today and has indicated that he may sentence McIntosh tomorrow.
Judge Finnane also sentenced Robert "Dolly" Dunn in the late 1990s to 30 years in jail, saying he would "remain a danger to children until the day he died."
The sentence was reduced on appeal to 20 years, with eligibility for release in November 2015, but Dunn died in jail in 2009.
Victim's horror over East Lancashire sex offender Facebook message
July 18, 2011
by Sam Chadderton
A CHILD abuse victim has spoken of his horror after two convicted paedophiles contacted him on Facebook.
Police said they were investigating whether Colin Barlow and Alf Farley, who met in prison, have been working together to track down previous victims on the social networking site.
Earlier this year, public protection officers went to court to ask for stricter conditions on the Sexual Offences Prevention Orders placed on Barlow, 49, from Burnley, and ‘like-minded' Farley, 60.
The duo, who are said to have bonded while staying at bail hostels in Blackburn and Manchester, had been planning trips to France together.
Now, they are under investigation again after one of Farley's victims contacted the Lancashire Telegraph.
The 33-year-old man was one of several young boys abused by Farley in his HGV cab or on cross-channel ferries in the early 1990s.
But after almost two decades, he was ‘stunned and scared' to get a Facebook message from Barlow, asking him to contact Farley.
Barlow is banned from using the internet as part of his SOPO.
The man, who must remain anonymous, said:
“It just brought it all back after all this time.
"It was pure panic. I've been trying to get on with my life for so long and then something like that just knocks me right back.
“I didn't know the name Colin Barlow, but seeing the name Alf Farley and a contact number left me absolutely petrified.
“The worrying thing is how many other victims are they both trying to get at in this way?”
His mother said:
“These people are very clever in what they do.
"It is not hard to find out from people's Facebook accounts where they live and who their family is.
“They are supposed to be visited on a regular basis and should not be able to access the internet.
“For Alf Farley to put my son in this position, using another convicted paedophile to do his dirty work so he doesn't get into trouble is disgusting.
“When he got the message he was shaking. I'm worried about his state of mind because this has all been raked up again.
"He seems to be looking over his shoulder all the time.
“I want answers from the police on what they're doing about these two men working together to target innocent victims all over again.”
The Facebook message reads:
“From Colin Barlow, June 11, at 14:53.
"A friend of mine is trying to get in contact with you, Alf Farley.
"He says that he will fully understand if you do not wish to have contact, but hopes you will.
"His contact number is XXXXXXXXXXX.
I am merely a messenger so please do not react against me.
"If you want me to pass on any message I would be more than willing to.
Farley was jailed for 10 years in 1998 for molesting schoolboys in his lorry and met Barlow during their time in custody together in HMP Wymott, Leyland in 2004.
Detectives from Eastern division's Public Protection Unit put Barlow back before Burnley Crown Court in October.
It means Barlow, who has a string of convictions for child sexual offences dating back more than a decade, can be more closely monitored.
Barlow had been living in a bail hostel in Blackburn, but is now back in the Burnley area.
He used to live in Rhoda Street, Nelson.
He was jailed for seven years in 2000 for a series of sexual offences against children.
He was locked up again in December 2007 and December 2009 for possessing indecent images and then breaching his lifetime Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
Police believe Barlow sees Farley as ‘something of a father figure'.
Barlow was already banned from unsupervised contact with girls under 18, using computers, data storage devices and accessing the internet under his existing SOPO.
The crown court also banned Barlow from associating with Farley in public without consent from a PPU officer.
A spokesman for Lancashire POlice said: “A joint investigation is currently on-going between Lancashire Constabulary and Greater Manchester Police following an allegation made to police on June 14, 2011 by a victim of a sexual offence who has been contacted through a social networking site therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
A Facebook spokesman said it was investigating the message.
He said: “It is a breach of Facebook's terms to attempt to use Facebook as a convicted sex offender and Facebook works aggressively to remove profiles that are reported to it.”
The spokesman advised that in the UK, the details of registered sex offenders are not shared with online service providers as they are in the USA, which makes it more difficult to enforce.
The John Next Door
The men who buy sex are your neighbors and colleagues. A new study reveals how the burgeoning demand for porn and prostitutes is warping personal relationships and endangering women and girls.
by Leslie Bennetts
July 18, 2011
Men of all ages, races, religions, and backgrounds do it. Rich men do it, and poor men do it, in forms so varied and ubiquitous that they can be summoned at a moment's notice.
And yet surprisingly little is known about the age-old practice of buying sex, long assumed to be inevitable. No one even knows what proportion of the male population does it; estimates range from 16 percent to 80 percent. “Ninety-nine percent of the research in this field has been done on prostitutes, and 1 percent has been done on johns,” says Melissa Farley, director of Prostitution Research and Education, a nonprofit organization that is a project of San Francisco Women's Centers.
A clinical psychologist, Farley studies prostitution, trafficking, and sexual violence, but even she wasn't sure how representative her results were. “The question has always remained: are all our findings true of just sex buyers, or are they true of men in general?” she says.
In a new study released exclusively to NEWSWEEK, “Comparing Sex Buyers With Men Who Don't Buy Sex,” Farley provides some startling answers. Although the two groups share many attitudes about women and sex, they differ in significant ways illustrated by two quotes that serve as the report's subtitle.
One man in the study explained why he likes to buy prostitutes: “You can have a good time with the servitude,” he said. A contrasting view was expressed by another man as the reason he doesn't buy sex: “You're supporting a system of degradation,” he said.
And yet buying sex is so pervasive that Farley's team had a shockingly difficult time locating men who really don't do it. The use of pornography, phone sex, lap dances, and other services has become so widespread that the researchers were forced to loosen their definition in order to assemble a 100-person control group.
“We had big, big trouble finding nonusers,” Farley says. “We finally had to settle on a definition of non-sex-buyers as men who have not been to a strip club more than two times in the past year, have not purchased a lap dance, have not used pornography more than one time in the last month, and have not purchased phone sex or the services of a sex worker, escort, erotic masseuse, or prostitute.”
Many experts believe the digital age has spawned an enormous increase in sexual exploitation; today anyone with access to the Internet can easily make a “date” through online postings, escort agencies, and other suppliers who cater to virtually any sexual predilection. The burgeoning demand has led to a dizzying proliferation of services so commonplace that many men don't see erotic massages, strip clubs, or lap dances as forms of prostitution. “The more the commercial sex industry normalizes this behavior, the more of this behavior you get,” says Norma Ramos, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).
The ordinariness of sex buyers is suggested by their traditional designation as “johns,” the most generic of male names. “They're the cops, the schoolteacher—the dignified, respected individuals. They're everybody,” says a young woman who was trafficked into prostitution at the age of 10 and asked to be identified as T.O.M.
Equally typical were the men in Farley's study, who lived in the Boston area and ranged from 20 to 75, with an average age of 41. Most were married or partnered, like the majority of men who patronize prostitutes.
Overall, the attitudes and habits of sex buyers reveal them as men who dehumanize and commodify women, view them with anger and contempt, lack empathy for their suffering, and relish their own ability to inflict pain and degradation.
Farley found that sex buyers were more likely to view sex as divorced from personal relationships than nonbuyers, and they enjoyed the absence of emotional involvement with prostitutes, whom they saw as commodities. “Prostitution treats women as objects and not ... humans,” said one john interviewed for the study.
In their interviews, the sex buyers often voiced aggression toward women, and were nearly eight times as likely as nonbuyers to say they would rape a woman if they could get away with it. Asked why he bought sex, one man said he liked “to beat women up.” Sex buyers in the study committed more crimes of every kind than nonbuyers, and all the crimes associated with violence against women were committed by the johns.
Prostitution has always been risky for women; the average age of death is 34, and the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that prostitutes suffer a “workplace homicide rate” 51 times higher than that of the next most dangerous occupation, working in a liquor store.
Farley's findings suggest that the use of prostitution and pornography may cause men to become more aggressive. Sex buyers in the study used significantly more pornography than nonbuyers, and three quarters of them said they received their sex education from pornography, compared with slightly more than half of the nonbuyers. “Over time, as a result of their prostitution and pornography use, sex buyers reported that their sexual preferences changed and they sought more sadomasochistic and anal sex,” the study reported.
“Prostitution can get you to think that things you may have done with a prostitute you should expect in a mutual loving relationship,” said one john who was interviewed. Such beliefs inspire anger toward other women if they don't comply, impairing men's ability to sustain relationships with nonprostitutes.
Sex buyers often prefer the license they have with prostitutes. “You're the boss, the total boss,” said another john. “Even us normal guys want to say something and have it done no questions asked. No ‘I don't feel like it.' No ‘I'm tired.' Unquestionable obedience. I mean that's powerful. Power is like a drug.”
Many johns view their payment as giving them unfettered permission to degrade and assault women. “You get to treat a ho like a ho,” one john said. “You can find a ho for any type of need—slapping, choking, aggressive sex beyond what your girlfriend will do.”
Although sex buyers saw prostitution as consensual, other men acknowledged that more complex economic and emotional factors influence the “choice” to prostitute oneself. “You can see that life circumstances have kind of forced her into that,” said one nonbuyer in the study. “It's like someone jumping from a burning building—you could say they made their choice to jump, but you could also say they had no choice.”
T.O.M.'s story is a case in point. Her father went to prison when she was 2 years old, and she was 4 the first time her body was exchanged for drugs by her mother, an addict. Growing up in foster-care families, she was abused in every one. When she was 10, a 31-year-old pimp promised he would take care of her. “He was my savior at first—I was stealing food to survive. He said, ‘I'll be your mom, your dad, your boyfriend—but you have to do this thing for me.' And then he sold me.”
For the next five years, until he went to jail, her pimp trafficked her all over the Western United States. “I looked very much like a child for the first three years, and that made it more profitable for him,” T.O.M. reports, still diminutive and fine-boned at 21. In Farley's study, one thing that johns and men who don't buy sex agreed on was the ease of access to such children: nearly 100 percent of men interviewed in the study said that minors were virtually always available for purchase in Boston.
Trafficked children often have histories similar to that of T.O.M. Research indicates that most prostitutes were sexually abused as girls, and they typically enter “the life” between the ages of 12 and 14. The majority have drug dependencies or mental illnesses, and one third have been threatened with death by pimps, who often use violence to keep them in line.
But the sex buyers in Farley's study overlooked such coercion and showed little empathy for prostitutes' experiences or their cumulative toll. Researchers and service providers consistently find high levels of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, suicidal ideation, and other psychological problems among prostitutes. “It doesn't matter whether it's in a back alley or on silk sheets, legal or illegal—all kinds of prostitution cause extreme emotional stress for the women involved,” Farley says.
And yet johns prefer to view prostitutes as loving sex and enjoying their customers. “The sex buyers were way off in their estimates of the women's feelings,” Farley reports. “In reality, the bottom line is that prostituted women are not enjoying sex, and the longer she's in it, the less she enjoys sex acts—even in her real life, because she has to shut down in order to perform sex acts with 10 strangers a day, and she can't turn it back on. What happens is called somatic dissociation; this also happens to incest survivors and people who are tortured.”
Farley is a leading proponent of the “abolitionist” view that prostitution is inherently harmful and should be eradicated, and her findings are likely to inflame an already contentious issue. “Modern-day prostitution is modern-day slavery,” says former ambassador Swanee Hunt, founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and cofounder of the Hunt Alternatives Fund, a sponsor of Farley's study.
But other feminists defend pornography on First Amendment or “sex-positive” grounds, and support women's freedom to “choose” prostitution. Tracy Quan, who became a prostitute as a 14-year-old runaway, says that many women do it for lack of better economic opportunities. “When I was 16, it's not like there were great high-paying jobs out there for me,” says Quan, the author of Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl and a spokeswoman for a sex workers' advocacy group.
“My view of the sex industry is that if we treat it as work and address some of its dangers, it would be less dangerous,” says Melissa Ditmore, an author and research consultant to the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center in New York.
And yet even Quan admits she had one customer who tied her up and scared her so badly she thought he was going to kill her. Noting that such men often escalate their violence over time, she starts to cry; there is a long silence as she struggles to regain control. “I always wondered if he went on to kill somebody else,” she says finally.
In response to such dangers, a growing antitrafficking movement is now targeting sexual exploitation both here and abroad. “Before this time, we heard from ‘happy hookers,' we saw Pretty Woman, the whole country was being fed a pack of lies about prostitution, and sex trafficking was invisible,” says Dorchen Leidholdt, cofounder of CATW. “There is a growing recognition that this is pervasive, that it's enslavement, and that we've got to do something about it.”
No one really knows how many women and children are trafficked for sex in the United States, often through the use of force, fraud, or coercion; the scope of the problem is hotly debated, but many believe it is growing. An array of organizations are now working to combat trafficking by building coalitions to reshape policies and change attitudes in the criminal-justice and social-welfare systems. “I think there has been an amazing evolution in thinking, and the movement is growing by the day,” says Norma Ramos of CATW.
Such efforts have led to the passage of tougher enforcement laws and the growing use of “john schools” that offer educational programs and counseling as an alternative to sentencing for first offenders. Their effectiveness is under debate, however; Farley's study found that johns themselves viewed jail as a far more powerful deterrent to recidivism, and the strongest deterrent of all was the threat of being registered as a sex offender.
Estimates suggest that “for every john arrested for attempting to buy sex, there are up to 50 women in prostitution arrested,” Farley reports.
But the traditional double standard that punished women and forgave men is also being reevaluated. “It's been accepted that this is something men will do, without any real thought about the victims,” says New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, whose department recently started an antitrafficking unit and increased its sting operations against johns. “It was considered a victimless crime. But it certainly isn't; we realize that young women are being victimized.”
During her years in prostitution, T.O.M. reports that the police often violated her and always treated her “as a criminal, not a victim. This is the only form of child abuse where the child is put behind bars,” says T.O.M., who has escaped prostitution and is now working as a youth advocate in California.
Many law-enforcement officials say such longstanding practices are changing and credit the efforts of the antitrafficking movement. “I've seen a huge shift,” says Inspector Brian Bray, commander of the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. “When I first started, I didn't really understand how many of these girls have been trafficked. Now our mindset has changed from assuming the girls are criminals to trying to rescue the victims, provide them the services they need, and get information to lock up their traffickers. Most of our arrests used to be female prostitutes, but now we arrest more johns than we do prostitutes.”
Striking developments abroad are also influencing policies in the United States. In 1999 Sweden decided that prostitution was a form of violence against women and made it a crime to buy sex, although not to sell it. This approach dramatically reduced trafficking, whereas the legalization of prostitution in the Netherlands, Germany, and much of Australia led to an explosive growth in demand that generated an increase in trafficking and other crimes. Sweden's success in dealing with the problem has persuaded other countries to follow suit. “The Swedish model passed in South Korea, Norway, and Iceland, and has been introduced in Israel and Mexico,” says Ramos.
Despite the struggle to control it, human trafficking is often described as the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, and as second only to drug trafficking in its profitability. With billions of dollars at stake, the campaign against sexual exploitation has also provoked a predictable backlash. Last year Craigslist shut down its “adult” classified-ads section in response to the antitrafficking campaign led by Malika Saada Saar, founder of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights. The Craigslist crackdown increased revenue at Backpage.com, where The Village Voice runs its own adult ads.
Clearly worried about growing social pressure, the Voice attacked the antitrafficking campaign last month, charging that it has exaggerated the extent of the problem. The most common estimates, oft-repeated by major media, suggest that 100,000 to 300,000 children are trafficked in the United States every year. The Voice reported that this statistic identifies children at risk and claimed that the number of those who are actually trafficked is only a fraction of those figures. But the Voice 's calculations were promptly dismissed as unreliable; Seattle's mayor and police chief pointed out that their city alone is estimated to have hundreds of minors exploited for commercial sex, and they accused Backpage.com of acting as an “accelerant” of underage sex trafficking.
The Voice also ridiculed Real Men Don't Buy Girls, the antitrafficking video campaign launched earlier this year by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher with a series of public-service ads featuring Justin Timberlake, Sean Penn, Bradley Cooper, and Jamie Foxx. The ads reflect a growing recognition that men are the key to addressing this problem.
Sex buyers are overwhelmingly male, and they purchase males as well as females. Whatever its form, the underlying question posed by prostitution remains the same: should people be entitled to buy other human beings for sexual gratification? If such ancient practices are to be curtailed, both johns and men who don't buy sex will have to rethink their complicity, according to Ted Bunch, cofounder of A Call to Men, a national organization working to end violence against women and girls.
“This is the first generation of men that's being held accountable for something men have always gotten away with, and that's why you have such a backlash,” Bunch says. “Our social conditioning is to see women as objects, as property—that's what commercial sexual exploitation is all about. It's a multibillion-dollar industry; it makes more money than the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball combined.”
Fighting that behemoth will require the participation of both sexes. “The system has been set up to blame women for the violence men perpetrate, and this has been seen as a women's issue, so it's easy for men not to get involved. But men's silence about the violence men perpetrate is as much of a problem as the violence itself,” Bunch says. “Men feed the demand, and men have to eradicate the demand.”
Poll on child abuse finds isle residents hold misconceptions
by Gene Park
In Hawaii, 64 percent of residents have difficulty recognizing child abuse, and 2 out of 3 would not report abuse to Child Welfare Services if the child is a stranger.
This is according to an unprecedented statewide study, released today, jointly commissioned by the Hawaii Children's Trust Fund and the Joyful Heart Foundation.
"We asked ourselves how we're going to engage the community," said Maile Zambuto, Joyful Heart's chief executive officer, based in New York. "When we tried to find research about perceptions, we couldn't find it. We knew so much more about public perceptions in the mainland."
Armed with the study, both groups plan to launch a statewide awareness campaign — dubbed One Strong Ohana — by the end of the year. It will consist of public service announcements, online and community outreach, events, training sessions for service providers and media spots.
"The Trust Fund has committed over $1 million in funding for this initiative, and Joyful Heart is working to engage private-sector support, enlist influential local leaders to join the coalition and engage social media to expand the reach of the campaign," Zambuto, who is from Hawaii, said by telephone. "We need to turn up the volume on this critical issue."
The Hawaii Children's Trust Fund was established in 1993 to prevent child abuse. Since then it has awarded $6.6 million to support almost 150 programs and projects across the state.
Joyful Heart, which has offices in New York and Hawaii, was founded in 2004 by television actress Mariska Hargitay of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
The survey was conducted by Ward Research, polling 703 residents age 18 and up.
About 39 percent of residents said they knew a victim of child abuse, and 80 percent of them consider it a major problem in the state. Also, 9 percent said they have experienced abuse.
The survey also reveals that about 76 percent believe that spanking a child is an acceptable disciplinary practice.
~ Eighty-one percent of residents hold the false belief that the person who reports child abuse will be involved in the case.
~ Seventy-six percent hold the false belief that children can be taken out of their home once the call is made;.
~ Sixty-seven percent would not report child abuse if they are not acquainted with the child in question.
~ Fifty-eight percent fear retribution from the family if they report abuse.
~ Forty-five percent said they believe children can do things to prevent abuse.
"There's so much shame, and I think people either didn't feel comfortable saying they were abused or they're uncomfortable telling people they know that this has happened to them, and that's really what we want to change," Zambuto said. "We didn't have a sense of what the prevalence was and what people were willing to disclose."
Bill on child abuse, animal cruelty becomes law
A bill introduced by State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, that would require the cross-reporting of child abuse and animal cruelty was signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy last week. It goes into effect Oct. 1.
The law requires state, regional and municipal control officers and Department of Children and Families employees to report to the Department of Agriculture commissioner when they reasonably suspect that an animal is being treated cruelly or neglected. The agriculture commissioner must then forward the information from the animal control officers to the DCF commissioner who will determine whether any address in an animal cruelty report corresponds to an address where there is an open investigation of a child.
"I am so thrilled to get this bill signed as it truly gets agencies working together to take animal cruelty seriously as a red flag for future violent behavior," Rep. Urban said in a statement. "Statistics show us that when an animal is being abused in a household there is an 80 percent chance that a child in the same household is also being abused. This bill sends a strong message that animal cruelty will be taken seriously in Connecticut."
By Oct. 1, 2012, the DCF commissioner must also develop and implement training for DCF employees on identifying cruelty to animals and its relationship to child welfare case practice. The DCF commissioner must also make training about accurate and prompt identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect available to all animal control officers.
ACMA builds new child abuse blacklist
Australia's communications regulator has this month quietly started evaluating new URLs which it believes may contain child abuse material, to be added to a subset of its controversial ‘blacklist' of sites to be filtered under the Federal Government's planned mandatory Internet filtering scheme.
The news comes as the nation's two biggest telcos Telstra and Optus have pledged to implement a voluntary filtering framework developed by the ISP industry's peak representative body, the Internet Industry Association. The filter, which is being seen as a more moderate industry approach developed in reaction to the Federal Government's much more comprehensive filter scheme, will see the ISPs block a “worst of the worst” list of child pornography sites generated by international police agency Interpol. Telstra's blacklist has already gone live.
The telcos' move stems from an agreement between the pair and the Federal Government in mid-2010, at which time the Government postponed its own wider mandatory filtering scheme.
However, it emerged this week that the Australian Communications and Media Authority had started adding new sites which it believed may contain child abuse material to its existing list. According to records available online, the ACMA has requested the Classification Board classify five or six dozen sites over the past several weeks to determine whether they fit within Australia's existing classification scheme.
Most of the sites have been refused classification, but several have received R18+ or MA15+ (legal) ratings, while others received M or even G ratings. The new entries in the Classification Board's database of classifications have been labelled “ACMA – ISP FILTERING” (for an example, click here) and were spotted by interested onlookers at broadband forum Whirlpool.
In response to questions about the new sites being evaluated, the regulator today issued a statement highlighting sections of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's July 2010 announcement postponing the filter effort (PDF).
At that stage, it was planned that Telstra, Optus and Primus (which has since backed out of the scheme) would voluntarily filter a subset of the ACMA blacklist solely containing child abuse material.
“URLs of child abuse imagery obtained from lists maintained by highly reputable overseas agencies such as the International Watch Foundation will also be placed on the ACMA list that ISPs have agreed to block, following a detailed assessment by the ACMA of the processes used to compile those lists,” the Minister's statement said at the time.
“The Minister's announcement regarding voluntary ISP blocking on 9 July 2010 foreshadows a role for the ACMA in terms of distribution of a list of child abuse material and transparency and accountability measures,” the ACMA said today.
“In preparation, the ACMA has been applying to the Classification Board for formal classification of content that potentially contains child abuse material (that is, material that meets the criteria for Refused Classification under the National Classification Code for containing offensive depictions or descriptions of children). The ACMA also continues to apply for formal classification of threshold classification matters relating to potential child abuse material – and other content investigated – as per established practice.”
However, the ACMA added that it had not “as yet” distributed any list of child abuse material to ISPs for blocking, and it noted that the regulator played no role in the voluntary filtering scheme involving the Interpol list that Telstra and Optus are implementing.
The regulator appeared to state that its actions were part of normal operations.
“As is required under legislation, the ACMA continues to submit potential prohibited content for formal classification to the Classification Board when the content is hosted in Australia,” the statement said. “The ACMA also continues to submit potential prohibited content for formal classification where the content is hosted overseas and is of a threshold nature (ie it is borderline in terms of classification or age issues).”
“All content submitted to the Classification Board by the ACMA has been the subject of ACMA investigation under existing laws. The ACMA investigates content – at specific URLs (webpages or images), not whole websites – that may be prohibited upon receipt of a valid complaint from the public.”
The regulator's actions leave a number of questions unanswered regarding the future of its involvement in voluntary filtering of child abuse material by Australian ISPs. For example, it remains unclear why the ACMA, a year after Conroy postponed the filter, had commenced evaluating new sites for its blacklist.
In October last year, a DBCDE official told a Senate Estimates Committee hearing in Canberra that the department was not working directly on the filter project at that time, with departmental staff primarily working with the Attorney-General's Department to frame how the review of the Refused Classification category of content associated with the delay of the filter will be conducted.
In addition, at that time, the department was also working with the ISPs planning to voluntarily filter for child abuse material, as well as industry representative body the Internet Industry Association, which is behind the framework which Telstra and Optus are implementing.
In February this year, DBCDE deputy secretary for its Digital Economy & Service Group, Abdul Rizvi, told a Senate Estimates Committee the Australian Communications and Media Authority was developing a subset of internet addresses which would only include child abuse content and was trialling a “secure method” of transmitting that list to ISPs in the near future.
However, it appears that that subset list has somewhat been superceded by the Interpol list which Telstra and Optus are implementing. Today, the ACMA directed further enquiries to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
Sex Trafficking of Native Women, Girls and Boys in Alaska Increasing
by Scotty Smith
July 16, 2011
During a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs meeting on Thursday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski questioned officials from the Department of Justice about the growing problem of Native youth exploited in the sex trade.
At the meeting the senator said, “We have had some really frightening instances where young women coming into town, coming in from the villages, are basically being picked up off the street and lost—gone for ever into these sex trafficking rings.”
But detectives with the Anchorage Police Department and social workers say that children of all races, ages, and backgrounds are potential targets. Typically, it's the vulnerability of a child that attracts the attention of sex traffickers.
Detective Sergeant Kathy Lacey of the APD Vice Squad said sex traffickers are everywhere. “They're at malls, they're at the bus stations… they're on the streets of your town…that's what surprises people,” she explained.
Even children staying at “safe houses” are targets of sex trafficking, including those who live at the Anchorage branch of Covenant House Alaska, an organization that helps homeless teenagers.
Lauren Rice, its director of public affairs, said that children staying with them have been approached in the past but that it is important to realize that it's not just homeless children and teens who are at risk.
“Recruitment of youth is going to occur wherever youth congregate. There are vulnerable kids in churches, in schools [and] in after school programs,” Rice said.
Lacey said that a first step to combating the problem is to be aware that it exists. “A lot of it is just knowing that it's out there. People need to know that this is going on right in their neighborhoods.”
If you or someone you know is a part of the sex trade and are seeking help, you can contact police at 786-8900.