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.
September - Week 1
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.
AWARE to provide advocacy training
by Klas Stolpe - JUNEAU EMPIRE
The Juneau office of Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE) will be holding a 40-hour training seminar to empower community members to understand issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, to recognize and support women and children who have been subjected to domestic violence or sexual assault, and to prevent intimacy violence.
“The training opens eyes to abuse and healing,” AWARE executive director Saralyn Tabachnick said. “The training provides tools for us to create a healthier community for everyone.”
The two-part seminar begins Thursday and goes through Sept. 22. Part 1 is open to the public and Part 2 is training for volunteers and staff and requires a pre-training interview.
Part 1 is a 25-hour series of presentations and interactive discussions exploring the basic history and foundation of domestic violence, adult sexual abuse and child sexual abuse.
The training introduces the role of advocacy and accountability in addressing intimacy violence in today's culture.
A panel of agency representatives from Bartlett Hospital Emergency Room, City Attorney's Office, Office of Children's Services, Tlingit and Haida Council, Juneau Police Dept., Safe Child's Advocacy Center, Alaska Housing and an AWARE Advocate discusses how they work together to address this violence in all aspects of our community. Part 1 culminates in overview of all of AWARE's services highlighting the tools and strategies for prevention.
In an email, AWARE staff state, “Part 1 is invaluable to those working directly with women and/or children who have experienced trauma and to students seeking to understand modern feminism and social health. It gives a glimpse into the possibility of a non-judgmental, fully empowering environment in which women can heal with their children and regain or gain for the first time the tools to address the responsibilities of a healthy life with healthy relationships.”
Part 2 is a 15-hour intensive and interactive study of how these programs actually work in real time. We get hands-on with Advocacy training by practicing to create safety plans, write protective orders, conduct lethality assessments and walk through practice-emergency response procedures.
Professions and agencies working directly with domestic violence, and sexual assault, volunteers and staff of AWARE may apply to participate in Part 2.
AWARE staff also wrote, “This 40-hour training is an eye opening experience regarding the health and well-being of our community. We are offered a deep contemplation of our own personal beliefs and thought constructs about gender roles in society in the 21st century.”
Recent tragedies cast doubt on Montana's child-protection services
by KIMBALL BENNION and KRISTEN CATES
The name October Perez was on the radar of state social workers months before it made its way into headlines about her tragic death.
The 2-year-old died in June from injuries prosecutors allege were caused by abuse.
Perez's body was bruised, multiple bones were broken, her brain was swollen and she had suffered severe head trauma. She spent two days in a Salt Lake City hospital, then was taken off life support after being declared brain dead. Her mother's then-boyfriend, David Wayne Hyslop, was charged in the death of Perez. Hyslop pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide, and a trial has been set for October.
Caseworkers from the Child and Family Services Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services had visited the house where Perez lived at least three times. Two of those visits were to investigate allegations of abuse involving the toddler, according to Child and Family Services documents obtained by the Tribune.
How the division handled the Perez case is being investigated by the Department of Public Health and Human Services, according to the agency's director.
"We've had people put on administrative leave during the investigation," Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said.
Sorrell added that other workers in the department made employment decisions, but she declined to elaborate, or to say who was put on administrative leave.
"I'm working hard every day to look at and examine this situation and circumstances around this case," Sorrell said.
From almost the moment Perez died of alleged abuse, questions swirled regarding what Child and Family Services knew about her home situation, and whether anything could or should have been done before her death.
It wasn't the first time such questions were asked.
In September 2010, 4-year-old Kiera Pulaski was found dead in Missouri less than three months after her 1-year-old half brother Darby Hodges died in Kalispell under mysterious circumstances. Family members said Child and Family Services was alerted to concerns about the children's safety before they died.
In 2009, after Kendra Bernardi's daughter went blind as a result of being slammed against a crib, she said the child protection system failed the child, Seraphina Bernardi. Alicia Jo Hocter eventually was convicted of beating the child and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Court documents from the initial investigation indicate Child and Family Services caseworkers received five reports regarding the conditions Seraphina Bernardi and Hocter's newborn daughter lived in prior to the abuse taking place in February 2009.
Perez's death spurred a petition drive organized by Blaine County child advocate and school superintendent Lisa Stroh, as well as members of Perez's family. The petition, which called for changes in the state's child welfare system, garnered about 3,000 signatures and eventually got the attention of Gov. Brian Schweitzer. On Aug. 3, a handful of Perez's family members met with Schweitzer and Sorrell.
"They did not feel that they were listened to (by Child and Family Services workers)," Sorrell said.
According to Child and Family Services documents, three earlier allegations of maltreatment of Perez were listed as unsubstantiated. April Hall, Perez's paternal grandmother, said that Child and Family Services caseworkers also investigated a claim of abuse involving Perez's 5-year-old half brother, which he reported in April to a teacher at Head Start. That report also was found to be unsubstantiated, Hall said.
Division documents describe caseworkers first going to the home where Perez lived based on allegations that the children were in a "filthy" environment. No allegations of abuse were mentioned. Social workers checked the home, deemed that Perez was safe, and closed the case, according to the documents.
The first time Hall called the division was in January, when she noticed bruises on Perez's body that seemed to come and go. While Hall said she couldn't know for sure what caused the injuries, it was unsettling enough for her to call the child abuse hotline.
"It was just getting pretty obvious that there were things, and it wasn't natural," she said. "A child doesn't constantly have bruises on them."
What followed was a series of visits to the home where Perez lived, followed by increasing frustration from family members who kept reporting abuse but couldn't get the girl out of an environment they thought was unsafe.
"We were treated like low-lifes who didn't know what we were talking about," said Hall's sister, Mary Leibrand, who also talked to Child and Family Services social workers about Perez. "The longer we worked with them, the more pathetic it got."
Child and Family Services was back at the home in February to investigate a fracture of Perez's left arm. The break was discovered after the child was taken to the emergency room when Hall and Perez's maternal grandmother saw Perez crying uncontrollably.
X-rays revealed a fracture to Perez's left forearm, plus a healed fracture to her right forearm that an orthopedic surgeon determined to be as old as 6 weeks, the documents state.
Great Falls Police were called that same day to investigate whether Perez's injuries were caused by abuse. However, after medical professionals at Benefis Health System were unable to determine whether the fractures were caused by abuse, the police dropped the investigation. Child and Family Services listed the initial abuse claim as unsubstantiated.
"It was determined by physicians that October's buckle fracture to her left arm was caused by an accident, not by a grab or twist," the division's report states.
In every investigation, caseworkers are required to make a decision on the merit of the initial report of maltreatment, as well as on the child's safety. Although the report of abuse was found to be unsubstantiated, the caseworker made another decision regarding Perez's safety. The child was determined to be in "impending danger," which is worse than "safe," but not as severe as "present danger" under the division's guidelines.
About two months later, the division was called to investigate the abuse allegation from Perez's half-brother. The boy told a teacher at Head Start, and the teacher reported it to Child and Family Services. Hall said a caseworker checked the boy for bruises and interviewed him, but eventually decided that the report was unsubstantiated. Without division intervention, the boy was sent to live with his father in Phoenix on April 9.
Later that month, a Child and Family Services worker paid another visit to the home to investigate reports that Perez had bruises on her forehead and cheeks and some of her teeth were falling out. The caseworker who visited the home noted bruises on the girl's head but was told by someone whose name was redacted from the report the Tribune received that those bruises were from Perez running into a countertop. The maltreatment reports were found to be unsubstantiated, but Perez was again found to be in "impending danger."
During this time, Perez's biological father, Michael Arndt, was stationed in Afghanistan with the Army. He retained Great Falls attorney David Dennis in an effort to gain custody of his daughter because he thought she was in danger. Dennis wrote a letter dated June 3 to Perez's caseworker, expressing his concern about the division's visits to the girl's home.
"It is my understanding that you are conducting home visits and monitoring October's care," the letter reads. "If this is the case, I am at a loss to understand how the department can justify subjecting October to further injury."
Toward the end of the letter, Dennis wrote: "She is suffering daily, and in danger of serious injury."
By the end of the month, Hall would learn while on a trip to New York City that her granddaughter was in the hospital and probably wouldn't survive.
"Every person tells me: 'April, you did everything right,'" she said. "If I did everything right, why is my baby dead?"
While questions piled up about the division's involvement with Perez before her death, it wasn't the first time a family asked those type of questions.
Tommy Hodges, who paid for the funerals of his son and stepdaughter within three months of each other, said he made Child and Family Services aware of his concerns about each child's safety.
In April 2010, Hodges was stationed at an Army base in Georgia when he placed a call to Child and Family Services asking if someone could check on the welfare of his son, Darby, and Darby's half-sister, Kiera Pulaski. Hodges had just separated from his wife, who then moved back home to Kalispell from Georgia. The response he received from the division surprised him.
"They said they don't do that kind of thing," Hodges said. "I thought that is exactly what they do."
On June 27, 2010, Darby was found dead in his crib. The cause of death was officially listed as undetermined, but his autopsy revealed bruises on his forehead and fractures of two of his ribs. His death is under investigation.
After Darby's death, Kiera was placed in a foster home for three days as a precaution, Hodges said. After that, she was placed back into the custody of her mother, who moved to Republic, Mo., shortly after Darby's death.
Hodges called Child and Family Services in Montana to express his concerns about Kiera's safety. He again was told there was nothing the division could do. On Sept. 17, 2010, Kiera died from what an autopsy determined was blunt-force trauma to her head. She was found dead in a hotel room in Missouri, with bruises on her chin, right ear, shoulder and knees.
Her death also is under investigation.
No one has been charged in the deaths of Darby Hodges or Kiera Pulaski, but Tommy Hodges, who now lives in Shelby, is convinced their deaths could have been prevented. So is his mother, Cheryl Hodges.
"All I wanted was for them to stop by and check it out," Tommy Hodges said of the first contact he made with Child and Family Services. "They just brushed it off."
"Everything slipped through the cracks," Cheryl Hodges added.
In accordance with state law, Children and Family Services is not allowed to comment on specific cases and actions taken by the department.
However, Cory Costello, field services director for Child and Family Services, said, speaking generally, that child protection specialists don't make decisions in a vacuum.
If a caseworker is sent to a call for child protective services because of a complaint the centralized intake division received, he or she is required to make contact with supervisors, if possible, before removing the child from a home. Sometimes that doesn't happen immediately.
"The first priority is to determine if the child is safe," Costello said. "Major decision points are staffed with a supervisor."
But supervisors aren't the only ones who are involved. If a child is removed, child protection specialists have 48 hours to file an affidavit with the court to grant temporary custody of a child to the department.
Even then, if it's a case of physical abuse or neglect, medical records and examinations have to be sought, and usually police are involved.
"There's quite a lot of information," Costello said. "We do what we have to do to keep a child safe."
But if a judge rules that the department doesn't have enough information to take temporary custody of a child, that child is returned to the home at the end of the 48-hour period.
"People worry then if a child will be safe," she said. "There are all these checks and balances, which support the rights of individuals."
Montana received a grade of "C" in terms of legal representation for abused and neglected children in the second edition of a report called Child's Right to Counsel, which was produced by First Star and the Children's Advocacy Institute.
That's not surprising to Kristina Davis, executive director of the Montana Children's Defense Fund.
During the 2011 session, Montana legislators signed onto a resolution supporting the efforts of the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The proposed federal amendment argues that federal and state governments shouldn't be able to interfere with aparent's right to parent a child.
Even though it was only a resolution, Davis said that sort of thinking — that government shouldn't intervene — makes it difficult to advance the cause of improving child protective services and the state's ability to act in the best interest of children when their parents can't or won't.
Montana also is one of 10 states that earned an "F" on a report card from First Star and the Children's Advocacy Institute when it comes to publicly disclosing child fatalities or near fatalities as a result of abuse and/or neglect.
Montana law states that not only is it a violation of confidentiality for any member of the child death review team to release information from its findings, it is also a misdemeanor crime.
National advocates say reporting of this data is crucial to understanding and developing policy that better strengthens child-protection laws.
"We're really protecting these kids to death," said Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance. "I would like to see every state improve their performance."
Costello said laws in Montana are designed so that the department can intervene only when abuse and neglect happens, rather than before.
"It's more of an after-the-fact response mechanism," she said.
Costello said child-protection specialists — and the entire agency — have to work within the confines of the law, even if it's a law they don't feel is strong enough.
In the face of criticism that reuniting children with their parents — especially those that have been abusive — isn't the best policy, Costello said those critics need to listen to the children who have been a part of the system.
"When you talk to children, they will tell you they want to be connected to their roots," she said. "Even if they have been abused and neglected, they still love their parents."
Lisa Stroh was shocked when she read about Perez's death in the newspaper.
A couple of days later she found out that she was distantly related to the girl through marriage. As word got out that Child and Family Services had made contact with Perez on allegations of abuse before her death, the Blaine County schools superintendent felt like she was reading a familiar story.
As an educator, Stroh is required to report abuse if she suspects it, but she said she found herself running into walls at the division numerous times.
"I've made referrals that they've refused to take because I didn't know the birth dates of the kids," Stroh said. "If they do take a referral, they'll never tell you if they've even acted on it."
Even before Perez's death, Stroh decided that the system needed major changes. She said as much in a letter addressed to the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
"The role of this department is to keep children safe, and the people involved are not responsive when there is a critical need," she wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 26, 2010.
"After the experience I have gotten with (Child and Family Services), I will not only hesitate to report in the future, but I will also lobby my legislators and governor to have a complete audit and revision of the delivery model, because I do not believe it is meeting the tremendous needs of Montana's young people," Stroh wrote.
She said changes in the model are needed more than ever now.
While Stroh cited a lack of urgency from people who took her calls to the statewide hotline, she also faulted the system's framework for what she sees as a failure to protect children such as Perez.
"Most of the people that work for this agency truly care about children," Stroh said. "However, they are working within a system that does not have the proper checks and balances in place. Therefore, children are falling through the cracks."
The key is to pour resources into preventing these crimes
September 4, 2011
IN HIS column “Follow evidence, not gut feeling, on sex offenders
'' (Op-ed, Aug. 28), Gareth Cook writes, “The question we must answer is, what do we want for these people, after they have been released?'' Given that of every 100 sex abusers, 70 percent or more are never reported; of those who are, only two-thirds face criminal charges, and less than 15 percent of those are convicted and serve prison time, the better question is: What can we do to prevent these crimes from ever happening?
The public has already responded. In a 2007 poll, 650 Massachusetts residents were asked how state dollars to address child sexual abuse should best be spent. Thirty-seven percent said that we should invest in educating adults and communities about how they can prevent child sexual abuse in the first place. Only 20 percent said funds should be used to publicize the sex offender registry.
The work of the private-sector Enough Abuse Campaign prompted officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to hail Massachusetts as “one of the first states in the nation to lead a trailblazing effort to prevent child sexual abuse by building a movement of concerned citizens, community by community.'' Let's use our resources on programs working to prevent child sexual abuse, not on public notification efforts that research has shown to increase recidivism and make our communities and children less safe.
Massachusetts Citizens for Children
The writer directs the Enough Abuse Campaign.
4 convicted in undercover sex tourism operation
CLEVELAND — Four convictions were announced Friday after an undercover sex tourism operation was made public by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Brian M. Moskowitz, ICE HSI special agent in charge for Ohio and Michigan, revealed details about the cases and convictions on Friday.
"These convictions help keep children safe, both children here and children around the world," said Dettelbach. "The details of these cases show the lengths people will go to commit these unspeakable crimes. We will work cooperatively and vigilantly to protect our most vulnerable."
"Sex tourism is a scourge and must be combated with every available resource," said Moskowitz. "These cases show international borders are no longer a hindrance for predators. HSI will continue to use our unique authorities to confront this threat wherever it exists."
The felony convictions are the result of an investigation that began in September 2009. ICE HSI created an undercover website offering secure travel from Cleveland to Canada for people who sought to engage in sexual conduct with minors. Special agents, acting as undercover facilitators of sex with minors, then responded to email requests to arrange such encounters.
Details of the four cases:
United States v. Peter Beichl : Beichl, 49, a doctor from Stuttgart, Germany, was arrested in Cleveland by HSI agents in March after he flew from Germany to Cleveland for the purpose of having sex with an 11-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to sex trafficking crimes on Aug. 15. Arresting agents found Beichl with lingerie, sex toys, bondage ropes, straps, a mask, lubricant, 17 condoms as well as five wrapped presents â€“ four stuffed unicorn toys and a unicorn paint-by-number set. The undercover HSI agent told Beichl the fictitious 11-year-old he wanted to have sex with liked unicorns, according to court documents.
Beichl also carried with him a bottle of a sedative, Midazolam. Beichl previously wrote to the undercover agent, who posed as a man who could arrange sex with underage girls, "If she should be scared I could bring some short acting slight sedative, which is doing no harm," according to court documents.
Beichl agreed to pay $1,150 to spend eight hours with the girl at a hotel near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and agreed to pay extra to videotape the encounter, according to court documents.
United States v. Otto Linzenbach : Linzenbach, 63, of Leipzig, Germany, pleaded guilty in Cleveland on Aug. 9 to three crimes: attempted sex trafficking in children, attempted exploitation of children and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
Linzenbach first emailed the undercover agent in June 2010. Linzenbach eventually inquired about the availability of a girl between the ages of 10 and 13 for sex and requested pictures of available girls, according to court records.
He eventually asked about the availability of a boy and girl and mailed a $100 deposit reserving the pair. He inquired about what sex acts the children would do with each other and with him. He also asked if he could videotape the encounter, according to court documents.
Linzenbach was arrested on April 1 after an undercover agent picked him up at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Cleveland. He paid $1,600 in cash before being arrested, according to court records.
United States v. Zachery Casey : Casey, 38, of Millersburg, Ohio, is currently serving 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to four charges earlier this year. Those charges include: attempted receipt of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, receipt and distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
While attempting to purchase child pornography from an undercover postal inspector, Casey inquired as to whether the undercover inspector knew where he could find a child with whom to have sex. The undercover inspector referred Casey to the ongoing undercover HSI operation.
Casey contacted the undercover HSI agent and made arrangements to travel to Canada through Cleveland to engage in sexual intercourse with an eight-year-old girl. While traveling by car with an undercover agent, Casey allegedly bragged about having sexual relations with two previous children. A search warrant executed at Casey's home revealed child pornography on his computer.
United States v. Jonathan Waltman : Waltman, 25, of Nashport, Ohio, pleaded guilty Aug. 30 to attempted sex trafficking of minors. Waltman, a registered sex offender, traveled from Nashport to Cleveland, thinking he was going to Detroit to engage in sex with an 8-year-old girl. Waltman could not go to Canada (the normal purported undercover trip) because he was still on parole for a molestation conviction.
Waltman paid extra money to the undercover agent so that he could take pictures of his sexual encounter, according to court documents. HSI agents from the Columbus office executed a search warrant at Waltman's house immediately after the arrest. Waltman bragged to the undercover agent how he would download and pleasure himself to child pornography on his computer. Then, he would remove the hard drive and hide it in the basement so that it would not be discovered by his parole officer. Agents recovered the hard drive.
These cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael A. Sullivan and Carol M. Skutnik following investigations by ICE HSI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Child abuse: seeing the signs
Tauranga residents are being urged to speak up if they know or suspect a child is being abused.
Tauranga Hospital Clinician Vivienne Hobbs says most weeks she sees a few children come to the hospital with signs of child abuse.
She says the typical signs of child abuse are unexplained injuries such as bruises, welts and cuts, “especially if they are in unusual places or if they suspicious shape, ie slap mark from hand”.
Vivienne is saddened when a child is unable to live life to their full potential due to abuse.
“I certainly see a lot of children whose lives have been ruined as a result of abuse.
“Children are a real blessing and we are privileged to be part of their lives.
“It makes me sad when the people who children love and trust the most abuse that power.”
She says unexplained burns or broken bones are typical signs of abuse.
Vivienne says finding signs of sexual abuse; discharge or bleeding from the genital region in a young child, is suspicious.
“Some infections are diagnostic of sexual abuse, such as gonorrhoea in a young child.
“Pregnancy is also diagnostic in non consenting children and adolescents.”
She says neglect is harder to identify, but includes things such as not feeding the child well enough, not dressing them in appropriate clothes, not going to doctor when sick, truancy from school, parents looking after kids whilst intoxicated.
Vivienne says a child's behaviour can also point to abuse.
“Developmental delays, lack of attachment to parents and bad behaviour, such as stealing or lying.”
There are also clues to abuse found in a child's sexual understanding.
“Age inappropriate sexual play, ie demonstration of sexual acts in young child, age inappropriate knowledge of sex, reluctance to go to a particular person, aggression, over eagerness to please, risky behaviours such as running away and drug and alcohol use.”
Vivienne feels all parents should be educated on how to look after children with parenting courses being the norm, rather than for “bad parents”.
“I also think having better support for parents with babies, better Working for Families packages, more help given to families where domestic violence is the norm to help stop the violence, and less drug and alcohol use.”
There are agencies people can approach if they suspect such abuse is taking place, including the Women's Refuge and Child, Youth and Family Services.
“For sexual abuse I work as part of a team offering medical assessments called BOPSASS (BOP Sexual Abuse Support Services).
“The police are also very good locally at listening to peoples concerns.
“It is important that if someone has concerns that they voice them early to try to stop further abuse from happening.”
Report child abuse 'for victim's sake'
Police chiefs are encouraging people to report incidents of child abuse, saying that is the best way of saving the victims from long-term damage.
Police Commissioners across Australia and New Zealand have launched a Child Protection Strategy to coincide with Child Protection Week in response to what they say is a continued appalling rate of child abuse.
Jon White, chief of ANZPAA, the agency that provides strategic and policy advice to the police commissioners, says police are often first responders to reports of child physical and sexual abuse and know the great harm it causes.
"Police commissioners acknowledge that child abuse, in all its forms, is an insidious crime that is a black mark on our society and which often leads to long-term emotional and psychological difficulties for its victims," Mr White said.
"However, it is people in the community speaking up who can offer the best protection for children."
The aim of the protection strategy is to promote early intervention and prevention, and increase responsiveness to victims and reports of child abuse.
"Police are encouraging people to report any abuse without delay," Mr White said.
Police also hope to increase consistency in the investigation of child abuse and develop appropriate responses to indigenous communities and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Oregon man charged in plot to murder child rape victim from jail
An Oregon man jailed on suspicion of raping and sodomizing a 10-year-old girl now faces charges that he plotted from behind bars to have the girl killed so she couldn't testify against him.
Police in Springfield said that Jared Anthony Bernal, 24, tried to hatch a plan with another inmate to have someone get a gun from Bernal's brother and kill the girl before his trial, which had been scheduled to start this week.
The other inmate went to police with details. An undercover detective was appointed to deal with Bernal's brother, who told police he never intended to help his brother. "He thought the plan was real and that his brother was serious in killing" the girl and one other potential witness, according to a police affidavit in the case first obtained by the Eugene Register-Guard.
Authorities learned of the alleged plan on Aug. 23, when robbery suspect Venus Vishal Chand reported it to authorities at Lane County Jail, where both men are incarcerated.
Acting at the police's direction, Chand subsequently obtained notes about the alleged plot from Bernal and maps designating the location of the victims' homes, turning over all of it to detectives.
Police set up a plan for an undercover detective to pose as Chand's cousin to obtain the gun from Bernal's brother. "We had two or three contacts with [the brother], with the undercover officer. He wasn't sounding reluctant to [the officer], but listening to his conversations with his brother [in jail], he was reluctant. He was way over his head. He was just trying to appease his brother," Springfield Police Sgt. David Lewis said in an interview.
He said police were primarily concerned about making sure there was no one else involved in the alleged plot. "One of the biggest things you have to do on something like this is make sure there's not two guys with the same goal working on something -- one we don't know about," he said.
Bernal, already facing charges of rape and sodomy, now also is charged with two counts of attempted aggravated murder and additional counts of conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder. He had been a friend of the victim's family, police said.
Child-custody expert cleared after posting lewd photos
The state medical board has found insufficient evidence to bring disciplinary action against Dr. Joseph Kenan, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and child-custody evaluator who posted lewd photos of himself on Facebook and appeared to condone illicit drug use.
Kenan, a past president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, had helped decide hundreds of child-custody disputes when the postings surfaced under the names of "Joe Kegan" and "Joe Keegan" and were used to challenge his fitness as an evaluator, court records state.
The postings included photos of Kenan baring his buttocks to a camera in public and looking down the pants of a young man, as well as a picture of a woman holding a large straw while kneeling over a mirror with lines of white powder, the records state.
Kenan said in court records that the photos were not meant for public viewing.
His attorney, Joel Douglas, called them "prank, joke photos" that did not reflect fairly on Kenan's work.
"Everybody is entitled to their private life, and the medical board, to its credit, was able to get away from the hue and cry and look at it objectively," he said Friday.
At least four parents who had hired Kenan as an evaluator cited the postings in complaints to the medical board, which opened an investigation earlier this year and closed it this week.
"A complete investigation was performed, including a subject interview. We then retained an expert witness to review the case, which resulted in a conclusive finding that there was no evidence of professional misconduct," a board investigator wrote in a letter to Deborah Singer, one of the complainants.
Singer, who had succeeded in getting Kenan dismissed from her child-custody case, said she was "shocked and sickened" by the board's conclusions and would seek to reopen the case.
Kenan suspended his practice earlier this year after The Times published a story about the allegations, and he is now weighing his career options, Douglas said.
Archdiocese creates Healing Garden for victims of clergy abuse
September 2, 2011
by Gabija Steponenaite
Where do you start the process of forgiving clergy who preached about high morals, love, and compassion, but behind closed church doors committed shameful crimes against the most vulnerable members of society — children?
How do you restrain your anger toward those who turned a blind eye and covered up sexual abuse crimes?
How do you regain trust in those who chose to represent God but ignored the pain of a wounded and destroyed human being?
The Archdiocese of Chicago, as part of its efforts to recognize the pain that some clergy have caused and to reach out to victims of clergy sexual abuse, has constructed the Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago adjacent to Holy Family Church at 1080 W. Roosevelt Rd.
The garden was created as a place of prayer, meditation, and healing for the victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families. Cardinal Francis George, OMI, archbishop of Chicago, recently presided at a prayer service and official dedication for the garden.
“There is no question the church has a long road to go in order to regain the trust and confidence of people,” said Rev. Jeremiah J. Boland, Holy Family Church parish administrator and member of the Healing Garden planning committee. “Creation of the Healing Garden is just one tiny step.”
The idea for the garden came from victims and survivors determined to help others who suffered similar traumatic experiences. The garden's planning committee created a vision statement noting the project “is an attempt by us, clergy abuse survivors of the Archdiocese of Chicago, to heal, learn, and grow from the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harm done to us. We wish to reach out to you who may have suffered from any tragic event that has left your hearts broken, just like ours. Together in this healing space, may we find within ourselves a place to feel free: free from fear, free from shame, and free from judgment.”
The planning committee was composed of four victim-survivors, two diocesan priests, and staff members from the Archdiocese Office for the Protection of Children and Youth. Construction began in November 2010 and concluded in June.
In the center of the garden, surrounded by 25 different kinds of plants, stands a bronze sculpture, The Circle of Love. Created by George Michael Myers of Prescott, AZ, and donated by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, it represents Jesus, Mary, and Joseph joyfully dancing in a circle. “The holy family could be an inspiration to the wounded families, showing that healing is possible,” said Fr. Boland. It is no coincidence the garden was planted next to the second oldest church in Chicago. Holy Family Church symbolizes endurance and survival, having escaped the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, a second fire in 2003, and demolition due to lack of funds in the 1990s.
Disturbing as sexual abuse of children and youth is, it is even more appalling when these crimes are committed by those called to serve as exemplary role models of moral values and faith.
“Apastor is like a parent who has to protect his children,” Fr. Boland said. “When this relationship is broken, the trust gets deeply wounded. I think we are still in very early stages trying to understand the ramifications of these crimes. It may take awhole generation for the church to recover its name and trust. Undoubtedly, there is a lot more pain to be faced.
“In terms of what happened in the past, justice demands the church face the consequences of the actions of our priests, sisters, and others involved,” Fr. Boland continued. “We try to review, reflect, and evaluate what we can do in the future to make our churches, our schools, and our activities safe for the children. The church provides numerous training and educational programs. As an organization, for the future we are better than we were in the past.”
The Healing Garden also helps people currently dealing with abuse in their lives by including receptacles for brochures and other information about where to seek assistance and reminders to stay vigilant to prevent possible child abuse. Also, members of Holy Family parish provide information for those seeking help, counseling, and support. The church plans to hold events for those concerned about sexually abused children and will invite speakers, organize training sessions, and provide special time for prayer and spiritual contemplation.
“As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I am trying now to understand and reconcile in my life the traumatic loss that I experienced at the hands of my abuser and how those painful memories affect me today,” said Michael Hoffman, who initiated the garden project in 2009. “To me, the Healing Garden represents a good, decent attempt to create a beautiful space for reconciliation and contemplation. We can learn from mistakes that were made which caused real pain for too many children and their families so that we can grow together to be better people, filled with compassion, love, and understanding.”
The Healing Garden provides hope for the possibility of healing, reconciliation, and eventual freedom from shame and pain not only for the victims but for the Catholic Church. “I just hope with all my heart that it will help to make a difference,” said Fr. Boland.
To contact the Archdiocese Office of Assistance Ministry, call (312) 534-8267. To learn more about workshops for victim survivors, call (312) 534-5268. To report child abuse to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, call (800) 252-2873.
Backpage.com accused of facilitating sex trafficking
by Julie Strupp
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
In July, police in DeKalb County, Ga., found a 15-year-old Wisconsin runaway who was allegedly forced into prostitution and was advertised online as a 25-year-old providing “adult services.”
Wisconsin, however, wasn't among the 45 states that on Wednesday accused Backpage.com, the website that published the Wisconsin girl's advertisement, of facilitating child exploitation and sex trafficking across the nation.
The state attorneys general sent a letter to Backpage.com lawyer Samuel Fifer calling the website a “hub” for human trafficking and asking for details about the company's policies aimed at preventing the illegal activity.
More than 50 cases of trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors on Backpage.com have been filed in 22 states in the past three years, the letter says.
Backpage.com vice president Carl Ferrer acknowledged the company identifies more than 400 “adult services” posts that may involve minors, the letter says. Minors are not legally capable of consenting to sex, and law enforcement officials have discovered many of those advertised are coerced, officials said.
When asked why he declined to sign the letter from the attorneys general, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who has focused on fighting Internet crime against children, issued a statement to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism saying he has “a policy of not publicly announcing the details of ongoing investigations or publicly negotiating private sector cooperation.”
Illegal activity has occurred on Backpage.com and other websites, Van Hollen said.
“More than 200 cyber tips involving unlawful web activity—including activity on Backpage.com—and numerous child enticement and child pornography cases are investigated by Wisconsin's ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force,” the statement said, noting that such investigations have resulted in more than 100 arrests this year.
Van Hollen encouraged all websites to cooperate with law enforcement to prevent their sites from being “conduits for illegal activity.”
Backpage.com officials have readily acknowledged prostitution ads appear on the website, but said in a February 2011 statement they have introduced some policies to eradicate illegal activity on the website, including implementing a no-nudity policy.
But Backpage.com hasn't gone far enough for the attorneys general, who said the website makes an estimated $22.7 million per year from ads in the “adult” section.
“We believe Backpage.com sets a minimal bar for content review in an effort to temper public condemnation, while ensuring that the revenue spigot provided by prostitution advertising remains intact,” the letter says.
Fitchburg, Wis., police say the runaway teenager, who has an infant son, was forced into prostitution in Milwaukee and Atlanta. Police say a pimp advertised her on Backpage.com as a 25-year-old providing “adult services.”
Lt. Steve Elliott of the Appleton Police Department agrees online escort advertisements like those found on Backpage.com often mask what is actually human trafficking in Wisconsin, a crime he says is hidden and pervasive.
Craigslist.com, another classifieds website, shut down its adult services section last September after a similar outcry from anti-trafficking activists and attorneys general. The attorneys general applauded the website's decision in the letter to Backpage.com, saying it's difficult to accurately detect underage human trafficking.
If you have information relating to illegal sex trafficking activity being conducted online, call a local law enforcement agency or the Missing and Exploited Children Cyber Tipline at 1-800-843-5678.
Wyoming attorney general joins fight against sex trafficking ads
CHEYENNE -- Wyoming Attorney General Greg Phillips joined 44 other state attorneys general in demanding a crackdown on a website that they claim exploits children for sex trafficking.
The letter to the attorney for Backpage.com, headquartered in Chicago, said the entity has failed to effectively limit prostitution and sex trafficking activity on its website.
Phillips said Thursday the website has been a haven not only for adult sexual activity, but more serious cases involving runaways and minors being sexually exploited.
In one case a Dorchester, Mass., man in May posted pictures of minors on the website to lure customers, then arranged for a 15-year-old runaway girl to have sex with men for a fee of $100 to $150 an hour, according to Phillips.
The attorney general said the pimp made thousands of dollars in profit from the illegal activity.
"There are a whole lot of minors being exploited," Phillips said.
Backpage.com activities haven't prompted complaints in Wyoming, but there have been cases of sexual exploitation of minors here, Phillips said. The U.S. Attorney's office, where he formerly worked as a deputy, prosecuted a case involving underage girls from Mexico, he said.
The Craigslist website, which drew similar complaints, has shuttered its adult services section, Phillips said.
The state attorneys general want Backpage.com to take similar action since it is difficult to detect underage human trafficking on its adult services section.
"As our state's chief law enforcement officers, we are increasingly concerned about human trafficking, especially the trafficking of children and prostitution," the letter said. "Backpage.com is a hub for such activity."
Backpage.com officials said they are trying to police the site, but those efforts aren't working, the letter said.
Backpage.com vice president Carl Ferrer acknowledged that the company identifies more than 400 "adult services" posts every month that may involve minors.
The letter cited more than 50 instances in 22 states over three years in which charges were filed against those trafficking or attempting to traffic minors on Backpage.com.
"In some cases, minors are pictured in advertisements. In others, adults are pictured but minors are substituted at the 'point of sale' in a grossly illegal transaction," the letter said.
The company estimated its annual revenue from its adult services section at about $22.7million.
Instead of a subpoena, he state attorneys general want Backpage.com to submit more information to substantiate its claim that it screens content on the website.
The letter asks the attorney for Backpage.com to reply by Sept. 14.
Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-732-1244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As long as deployments increase, so do deaths of military children
The number of children in military families killed annually through abuse and neglect has more than doubled since 2003, and has begun to exceed child abuse fatality rates in the civilian world, a Military Times investigation found.
Deaths of military dependent children related to abuse and neglect have risen steadily from 14 in 2003 to 29 in 2010, according to data from the Defense Department's Family Advocacy Program office that the Military Times reviewed. The individual services consistently report higher numbers, and the Pentagon has been criticized by officials inside and outside the military for failing to collect and maintain accurate records of domestic abuse.
Experts say an increase in fatalities is unsurprising because long deployments -- and the increased stress they place on servicemembers -- have become common since 2003.
In many cases, there were warning signs that the family was struggling. According to the Defense Department, about one in five deaths in the past decade involved a child or family that was previously reported to the military's family advocacy system for either child or domestic abuse.
Several high-profile child deaths have occurred in overseas military communities, including:
- Seven-month-old Cordale Wickware, whose father, an airman stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, faces court-martial later this month on murder charges. Cordale died of brain trauma after being violently shaken.
- Jordan Peterson, 8, who was beaten to death in his home near Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. His stepfather, a civilian married to an airman, was convicted of murder in a civilian court and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
- Kylie Delgado, a 2-month-old girl whose father -- a sailor stationed at Misawa Naval Air Facility, Japan -- was convicted of shaking her to death in July 2006.
The Military Times delves into the data discrepancies and examines the rise in fatalities in its investigative report.
This is child abuse, not discipline
by Ana Veciana-Suarez, Miami Herald
Point out a mother or father who has never lost it with the children, and I'll show you a liar. Raising kids tests the most even-tempered among us, but recent news stories of parents taking punishment to an extreme makes me wonder if their defenders aren't confusing cruelty with creative disciplining.
You're probably familiar with hot sauce mom, the 36-year-old mother of six who was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in Anchorage. Jessica Beagley was filmed forcing her son to drink hot sauce and then making him take a cold shower. In case you're one of the few who missed snippets of the video on the news, check out the Internet.
But be forewarned: I couldn't make it to the end.
Before Beagley became a web sensation, she was also something of a TV celebrity. She appeared on Dr. Phil last November in a segment called “Mommy Confessions.” It was the debut of her homemade video that alerted local police to her unusual disciplining.
For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would be filmed committing such an act — and by one of her camera-savvy children, no less. Beagley's attorney told the jury she was desperate to find ways to help her son and had thus appealed to the producers of Dr. Phil. Yeah, right, and I'll barter my magical glass beads for your oceanfront condo. I suppose seeking help from a child psychologist or a school counselor wouldn't have gotten her what she wanted: attention.
Beagley, who received a suspended sentence, is hardly the only parent to lose her cool, though she may be the only one who sought publicity for it. (Can we spell t-w-i-s-t-e-d?)
Joining her in the Hall of Shame this week is Sloane Briles, a California man who threw his crying 7-year-old son off a sightseeing cruise boat. Briles had been arguing with his girlfriend and son, according to passengers, and repeatedly hit the child when the kid, acting his age most likely, wouldn't stop bawling. He also told the boy he needed to toughen up. I suppose throwing a second grader into the water five feet below was this idiot's way of making a man out of a little boy.
Finally, in an incident surely to make you shudder: The father and stepmother of a 10-year-old boy were charged with his death after the Dallas County Medical Examiner determined that Johnathan James was not allowed to drink anything for five days before he collapsed. Police said Johnathan was made to stand in one place for long periods as a form of time-out.
If found guilty, here's an appropriate sentence for the couple: Twelve hours a day in the prison yard. No water breaks.
A few confused souls have offered excuses online for such horrid behavior. They claim they themselves are not the worse for wear after they had their mouths washed out with hot peppers. They turned out all right, too, after kneeling on rice for hours on end. But past wrongs don't justify today's mistreatment.
These latest cases of child abuse show a pattern of pre-meditated meanness, of parents who can't differentiate between discipline and brutality. Sure, we've all been pushed to the wall by whining, by lying, by fighting, by hitting, by repeated and dangerous disobedience. Most parents, however, manage to step back, to regroup, to cool down. That's a sign of maturity.
Anything else — hot sauce and cold showers, a shove off a boat or refusal to quench a child's thirst— proves yet again that some mothers and fathers don't deserve to wear those titles. Discipline is not an excuse for barbarity.
Paedophile raped 14-month-old baby girl
David Morrison also filmed the abuse on a webcam at his Grangemouth home.
David Morrison, 45, of Grangemouth, also admitted being in possession of a library of child abuse images at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday.
Morrison admitted that he raped the child after evidence of the sexual abuse was built up by police through combining online chat logs, photographs and expert analysis of veins in Morrison's hands.
He also admitted taking, possessing and distributing images through the internet.
The investigation found he stated online that he intended to carry out the act. Detectives who seized his computers then discovered he had taken a video clip of the rape, sent the image to a paedophile in the USA and then spoke about it online afterwards.
Detective Inspector Barry Blair, of the Public Protection Unit, which led Operation Malta, said: "This man is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous sexual predators we have ever investigated. We know that children in the Forth Valley area and beyond are considerably safer now he has been convicted at court of these despicable offences.
"A comprehensive and unique evidential jigsaw helped us to charge Morrison with rape, to which has now pleaded guilty. We were able to piece together his offending by examining his chat logs to other offenders immediately before the offence took place, detailed examination of the images he had taken of the abuse actually taking place and looking at chat logs immediately after the offence had taken place.
"Experts were able to tell us, that by examining the patterns of veins on the back of a hand in one of the images and comparing that with photos we took of Morrison's hands, the person in the photo was him. They were also able to tell us by closely scrutinising the backgrounds of the images that the photos were taken in his home."
Expert analysts were able to identify the location in the image as his home and that a hand which featured in the photograph was that of Morrison.
The pattern of veins on the back of his hand was compared to Morrison's, confirming that he had committed the act.
Forensic examination of five hard-drives taken from his home revealed Morrison had been in contact with paedophiles in 25 countries. In the UK alone, 15 people have been arrested as a result of the inquiry. Three children were removed from harm after being identified as at risk.
In total Morrison was found with more than 13,000 downloaded and uploaded images, including photographs and videos.
A number of the child abuse images found in the investigation that began in December 2010 were of the most severe kind.
More than 30 police officers and staff worked on the investigation, alongside representatives of other agencies.
Detective Sergeant Douglas Howie, of the Specialist Investigations Unit, which investigates online crime and sexual abuse, said: "The possession and distribution of child abuse images is in no way a victimless crime. Morrison was in contact with more than 200 people around the world through the internet, who were all like-minded individuals who were interested in the sexual abuse of young children. In the UK alone, three children were effectively rescued from being at risk.
"Morrison was carrying out sex abuse on a small child and posting those images around the world for the gratification of others. I cannot think of a more abhorrent offence."
Anne Donaldson, Central Scotland Procurator Fiscal, added: "David Morrison has today pled guilty to offences that any civilised person will find it impossible to comprehend.
"He sexually abused a child and transmitted images of this abuse via a webcam. He made and downloaded indecent images of children and shared these photographs on the internet. "Working closely with police specialists, who utilised the latest technology to uncover the extent of his offending, the expert prosecutors in our National Sexual Crimes Unit have today brought Morrison to justice for these most despicable of crimes.
"I want to reassure the public that the prosecution service will work tirelessly to ensure that there is no place to hide for those intent on committing child abuse. They will be found, and they will be brought to justice."
Child sex abuse convictions rise 60% in 6 years
LONDON — The number of people convicted of sex offences against children under 16 in England and Wales has risen by nearly 60 percent in six years, an investigation found on Friday.
The BBC said a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) found that while there were 1,363 convictions in 2005, there were 2,135 in 2010.
The broadcaster said the increase was being attributed to better detection and wider awareness.
"It is good news as it's a good indicator that police services and others are getting their act together," the chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), Peter Davies, told the BBC.
But he added that authorities did not use conviction numbers as a key indicator of success because sexual abuse remains an under-reported crime.
"It's difficult to tell if these figures indicate an increase in the number of sex offences being committed against children," Lisa Harker of children's charity the NSPCC told the BBC.
"It may be that more people -- adults and children -- are becoming aware of abuse and so are reporting cases to the police and other authorities.
"Nevertheless it's still a relatively small number of convictions considering child sex abuse is a big problem."
Harker told the BBC that police in England and Wales were notified of more than 23,000 offences of this kind last year. A survey conducted by the NSPCC in 2009 suggested that one in 20 secondary school pupils had experienced sexual abuse.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson told the broadcaster that better support for victims throughout the prosecution process, such as allowing witnesses to give evidence through a video link, had contributed to the rise in convictions.
The MoJ publishes quarterly statistics on sexual offences against children, but this does not include children who were raped. The figures obtained by the BBC cover all sex offences against children.
WomenSource hosts panel on child abuse
by Katie Austin
GAINESVILLE-WomenSource of Gainesville hosted a panel discussion Thursday to communicate the ways law enforcement, DFCS and the Edmondson-Telford center for Children are teaming up to tackle child abuse cases in Hall County.
The panel included Dr. Julie Battle, clinical Psychologist who conducts forensic interviews for children who have made allegations of abuse to teachers or parents. Christy Van Scoten from the Hall county Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division informed attendees of the ways law enforcement aides in the evidence gathering process of child sexual abuse.
Also speaking at the event was Dr. Heather Hayes. Hayes serves as the Executive Director of the Edmonson-Telford Center for Children says that law enforcement, DFSC, and ETCC now work together to help children who have been sexually abused.
According to Hayes Hall County is ranked fifth in the state for child abuse cases. Hayes says there are several reasons for the high ranking.
Hayes said,“Hall County is one of the largest counties, land mass and population, we have a significant migrant population and significant methamphetamine problem in these areas.”
Hayes also said, “This community is very blessed with a lot of resources. We have a lot of agencies in tack and a lot of trained professions that know what they are doing and are responsive to abuse. If they suspect abuse, teachers suspect anything, counselors suspect anything, various folks around the community identify it, they respond to it. They don't brush it under the carpet.”
Learn to recognize and prevent child abuse
August 31, 2011
The Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center together with Montrose County Health and Human Services Empowering Dads Program will conduct a Parenting SAFE Children training. The training is free and open to all professionals in the 7th Judicial District who are mandated to report suspected child abuse.
The course will take place on Monday, Sept. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Montrose County School District administration office. Lunch will be provided.
"With the rise of child abuse victims in our district, our goal is to protect our children through prevention education, support services and community collaboration. This training meets one of our first educational objectives," said Sue Montgomery, director of the Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center. "By working together to meet the goals of the district's Child Abuse Prevention Education Initiative we can and will increase the protective capacity of our communities' parents and caregivers."
The training will be conducted by Feather Berkower, a licensed clinical social worker. She holds a master's of social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, is an expert in the field of child sexual abuse prevention and has worked with over 70,000 children and 6,000 parents. Berkower is the author of the book "Parenting Safe Children" and provides training throughout the United States for parents and their children and professionals who work with children and their parents.
Seating is limited to 75, so early registration is encouraged. Registrations will be handled by the Dolphin House. Please contact Sue Montgomery at sue@dolphin
housecolorado.com or 240-8655. Registration information must include a full name, agency name, title/job at the agency, e-mail address, mailing address and phone number.
If more than 75 register, the same class will be offered the following day, Tuesday, Sept. 27. Each person attending will receive a copy of Feather Berkower's book, as well as a notebook of additional materials.
REPORTS of sexual assaults on children have jumped by 25 per cent in the Geelong region in the past year.
The head of the Geelong police Sexual Offences and Child Investigative Team, Detective Senior-Sergeant Peter Miller, yesterday said the number of interviews the team was conducting with the Department of Human Services in relation to child sexual assaults had "gone through the roof".
"It's increased by 25 per cent from June last year to June this year," he said.
The Barwon Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) had also experienced a dramatic increase in demand for its services in the past year in relation to children, program manager Kerry McFarlane said yesterday.
The centre had dealt with 562 victims of sexual assault in the past financial year, 18 per cent of whom were children under 12 years of age and 27 per cent of whom were aged between 12 and 21.
Of the 280 new clients the service had counselled in relation to family violence, 36 per cent were aged under 12, she said.
Sen-Sgt Miller said the figures reflected changing community attitudes to sexual assault and domestic violence.
Children were more aware of their rights and confident in reporting abuse to authorities, he said.
Increasingly, older siblings of abused children were raising the alarm.
Mandatory reporting laws, requiring teachers and health professionals to report suspected abuse of children, had also worked to bring more cases to light.
Sadly, however, a lot of cases of abuse still went unreported, Sen-Sgt Miller said.
Ms McFarlane said the sexualisation of children in modern society was also to blame for rising sexual assault figures.
"We've got X-rated video games, sexting, all of that sort of things happening," she said.
"Children are being sexualised at a young age."
Hard financial times and the breakdown of families were also contributing factors, Ms McFarlane said.
The majority of sexual offences on children were carried out in the child's home by family members or people who were well known to the child, Ms McFarlane said.
It was a community responsibility to protect children against sexual assault and violence, and people should never be afraid to "interfere" if they thought a child was being abused, she said. "It's too late when you pick up a newspaper and see the child you've had concerns about for ages has come to serious harm," Ms McFarlane said. "If you think there's something wrong, pick up the phone."
The rise in family violence across the region reflects a state-wide trend.
Victoria police crime statistics for the past 12 months reveal a big jump in family incident-related crime.
According to the statistics, released this week, assaults in homes rose by 26.1 per cent in the past year.
Maine joins other states asking website to halt sex trafficking ads
by Eric Russell, BDN Staff
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Attorney General William Schneider
joined his counterparts in 45 other states on Thursday to request information about how a networking website intends to remove classified advertisements that reportedly promote sex trafficking.
Officials in several states have discovered listings on backpage.com, an online classifieds networking site similar to Craigslist, that advertise illegal services, in some cases involving minors.
In a letter submitted to lawyers representing backpage.com, the attorneys general said the site claims it has strict policies to prevent illegal activity, but that hasn't stopped the ads from showing up.
Law enforcement officials allege that there have been 50 cases in 22 states over three years involving the trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors through the site, and those were only the ones that made news.
In May, a Dorchester, Mass., man was accused of forcing a 15-year-old girl into a Quincy motel to have sex with various men for $100 to $150 an hour. The customers were found after the man allegedly posted a photo of the girl on backpage.com.
In Benton County, Wash., prosecutors say teen girls report that they were threatened and extorted by two adults who marketed them on backpage.com. One of the adults rented a hotel room and forced the girls to have sex with men who answered the online ads.
“Children are being forced into prostitution and those traffickers are being given a tool to make this deplorable crime even easier.” Schneider said in a statement Thursday. “We urge backpage.com to stop child sex trafficking on the site by completely removing all adult service advertisements.”
Two weeks ago, 11 people were arrested in Maine in a prostitution sting allegedly involving backpage.com, although that case did not involve minors.
Attorneys general in 42 states reached an agreement with Craigslist in 2008 to crack down on illegal listings in an effort to reduce prostitution and trafficking of men, women and children.
Craigslist removed its “erotic services” section in May 2009 and shut down its adult services section in September 2010.
That same month, several attorneys general, including Maine's, tried unsuccessfully to go after backpage.com as well.
The site is owned by Village Voice Media LLC, which also runs 13 alternative weekly newspapers throughout the United States and has admitted its involvement in advertising illegal services.
In a June 29 article published nationally by the Village Voice, the corporation criticized those concerned about child sex trafficking as “prohibitionists bent on ending the world's oldest profession.”
While backpage.com has ramped up its effort to screen some ads for minors, the attorneys general said the site “sets a minimal bar for content review in an effort to temper public condemnation, while ensuring that the revenue spigot provided by prostitution advertising remains intact.”
The letter submitted Thursday from state attorneys general makes a series of requests to backpage.com, asking that the company willingly provide information rather than be subpoenaed. They set a deadline of Sept. 14.
Child sexual abuse training offered
MANITOWOC — Lakeshore CAP Inc. of Manitowoc will offer a free training session, presented by Tricia McGinty, to teach adults how to prevent, recognize, and react to the signs of child sexual abuse.
The training, set for 5 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at O.H. Schultz Elementary School, 510 Woodlawn Drive, Mishicot, equips and empowers adults to keep children safe, according to a press release.
For more information or to register, contact McGinty at (920) 686-8729. RSVP by Sept. 19, as a limited number of registrations will be accepted. This training is made possible through the Child Abuse Prevention Fund.
Signs of Child Abuse Over the Summer may Show up When Children Return to School
HARRISBURG, PA, Aug. 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Most kids who have just arrived back at school are energetic, talkative, and eager to tell their friends about what they did over the summer, but an unfortunate few may be uneasy or trying to hide the scars of having spent a difficult summer in an abusive or neglectful home.
The dark secret of abuse and neglect has a way of slipping out, and it's often up to teachers to be alert and notice the tell-tale signs.
Teachers and other school employees are "mandated reporters." That means they have a legal duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Experience has shown that in the first few days of kids being back at school after summer vacation, the signs of abuse or neglect often tend to show up.
"This is a time for teachers to have their radar turned up high," said Tina Phillips, director of training for the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA). "They may see behaviors or physical clues that suggest abuse—and that stick out a little more because they are so at odds with the way most kids come back to school after a happy, healthy, fun-filled summer."
Phillips said the signs include such things as showing up at school early or staying late and not wanting to go home; behavior that seems overly compliant, withdrawn, or passive; poor hygiene or clothing that's dirty or poorly fitted; and obviously unaddressed medical or dental needs.
Sometimes the signs are very subtle, she said, such as difficulties in learning or concentrating not attributable to specific physical or psychological causes or indications of sexual knowledge or behavior not typical for the student's age. Other times, she added, the clues can be very direct? unexplained bruises, burns, broken bones, or other suggestive injuries; displaying fear of parents; or mentioning a lack of adult supervision at home or the use of drugs and alcohol by parents.
Phillips said the behavior of parents at parent-teacher conferences or school open house nights also can signal problems at home—such indicators as showing little or no concern for the child's welfare, blaming the child for problems at home or school, requesting harsh discipline, conveying that a child is worthless or burdensome, making demands on a child beyond his or her developmental abilities, or rejecting offers of help for a child's problems.
"These are some of the signs that something could be wrong—but they are by no means all inclusive," Phillips said.
"And it is important to point out," she added, "that the law does not require certainty when it comes to reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. The operative word is 'suspected.' It's not necessary to be absolutely sure. The only threshold is reasonable suspicion."
She said it's better to make a report and let children and youth authorities conduct an investigation than it is to hold back.
Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.
"Every year, statistics show that most child abuse is committed by parents and other family members," Phillips said. "Teachers and other school employees are uniquely situated to see children on a frequent basis and observe behavior, appearance, and changes in both. They are on the front line when it comes to combating child abuse."
PFSA supports state legislation that would require training for teachers and other education professionals in identifying and reporting child abuse.
PFSA specializes in providing training on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect through schools, early childhood education centers, religious institutions, and social service agencies. It annually trains an estimated 8,000 individuals who work with or around children in how to recognize and report suspected child abuse.
PFSA also is the Pennsylvania sponsor of The Front Porch Project®, a community-based training initiative that educates the general public about how to protect children from abuse and works with more than 50 affiliate agencies across Pennsylvania to provide information, educational materials, and programs that teach and support good parenting practices.
Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance
Protecting children from abuse
Training for professionals
Support for families
Education for communities
Visit the PFSA website at www.pa-fsa.org.
Martinez announces new NMSU minor degree that takes aim at child abuse
LAS CRUCES - Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday touted a new minor degree at New Mexico State University that's aimed at curbing child abuse.
The 18-credit-hour program, called Child Advocacy Studies, or CAST, spans several disciplines and adds three new courses to the university's schedule, officials said.
The program was added without an accompanying budget increase, according to NMSU.
It's meant to help social workers, teachers, law enforcement personnel and others who deal with children recognize abuse and understand how to report or investigate it and keep children safer, officials said.
Martinez helped announce the program before the start of the Domenici Public Policy Conference at the Las Cruces Convention Center.
The first students started the program this fall, officials said.
Snohomish County Receives Funds to Fight Child Prostitution
Sen. Maria Cantwell advocated for local law enforcement to be awarded $450,000 in federal funds.
by Heidi Dietrich
The Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office and the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office will receive a $449,908 U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing (COPS) grant to address child sex trafficking.
The county is one of 20 law enforcement organizations around the country being awarded federal funding through the COPS program. The Child Sexual Predator Program grants total more than $9.3 million. Funds are intended to help local law enforcement locate, arrest and prosecute child sexual predators and enforce state sex offender registration laws.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, who lives in Edmonds, is a supporter of the COPS program.
“This investment will help law enforcement keep Snohomish County families safe and put child predators behind bars,” Cantwell said in a statement.
With the new funding, Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe will build a team focused on going after child sex traffickers. The team will include a Deputy Prosecutor, Sheriff's detective, and support staff. The grant will also provide for forensic computer tools and resources to enlist expert witnesses for trials.
“Sex trafficking of children, kids forced into lives of prostitution and drugs, happens in Washington, as it does everywhere in the country," Roe said in a statement. "This Department of Justice grant gives Snohomish County a way to fight it; a way to hunt down and hold accountable those who hurt kids and profit financially from their sexual abuse."
More information, including the full list of Child Sexual Predator Program 2011 grantees, can be found online at www.cops.usdoj.gov.
Alaska AG signs anti-prostitution letter
Alaska Attorney General John Burns joined other state attorneys general in signing a letter Wednesday calling on the website Backpage.com to detail how it is attempting to remove advertising for sex trafficking, especially ads that could involve minors.
The Backpage.com online classified sites claim to have strict policies to prevent illegal activities, yet research has found hundreds of ads that are clearly for prostitution.
“It does not require forensic training to understand that these advertisements are for prostitution,” the attorneys general wrote.
The letter states the hub for illegal sex ads is a magnet for those seeking to exploit minors and points to more than 50 cases, in 22 states, over three years involving the trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors through Backpage.com.
“These are only the stories that made it into the news; many more instances likely exist,” the attorneys general wrote. They also reminded Backpage.com of a 2010 request from nearly two dozen attorneys general asking the adult services site be taken down.
In a press release, Burns stated, “Kids aren't capable, legally or otherwise, to consent to be sold for sex. And regardless of a prostitute's age, its difficult to know whether the person advertised is being coerced.”
Richard Svobodny, deputy attorney general for the Department of Law, stated in a press release, “The only way for Backpage.com to completely stop child sex trafficking on its site is to take down adult services advertisements altogether and take aggressive steps to be sure such posts don't appear elsewhere on the site. Traffickers who exploit runaways and other disadvantaged kids shouldn't be provided with a tool that makes that process so much easier.”
Village Voice Media, LLC, a top provider of “adult services” advertisements, owns Backpage.com. The company owns 13 weekly newspapers in the United States including a web page that advertises “escort” services in several Alaska communities.
Backpage.com vice president Carl Ferrer, in a meeting with the Washington state AG's office, acknowledged the company identifies more than 400 “adult services” posts every month that may involve minors.
There has been no change in postings for prostitution services on Backpage.com since that meeting. On Aug. 1, the Washington Attorney General's Office found 142 advertisements for what they considered prostitutes in the Seattle area. On Aug. 2, the Connecticut AG's Office found ads for prostitutes in Springfield and Rhode Island that circumvented Backpage.com's omission of an adult section.
Investigators are finding that Backpage.com's review procedures are ineffective in policing illegal activity, according to the attorneys general's letter. In the letter, Backpage.com also states to being committed to preventing those intent on misusing the site for illegal purposes and states they have implemented strict content policies to prevent illegal activity and that the company has inappropriate ad content removed.
The letter demonstrates ads on Backpage.com still show nearly naked persons in provocative positions pictured in nearly every adult services advertisement.
In the letter, an independent assessment by AIM Group estimated Backpage.com's annual revenue from its adult services at approximately $22.7 million. The letter also applauded the decision by Craigslist to shut down its adult services section as a way for it to eradicate advertising on its website that trafficked children for prostitution.
The National Association of Attorneys General requested Backpage.com's response on or before Sept. 14.
Girls lured into human trafficking in Canada, experts warn
by Kris Sims, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA - Those "Become a model!" posters could lure your daughter into the clutches of the gangster-run sex-trade.
That's the warning coming from people fighting human trafficking in Canada.
"There is an instruction manual that is used by sex traffickers. It often starts as a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship," said Benjamin Perrin, law professor at the University of British Columbia and author of "Invisible Chains: Canada's Underground World of Human Trafficking."
He said traffickers charm young women using gifts and promises of glamour.
"It's the knight in shining armour," he said - except these knights drive a convertible.
"The really sophisticated traffickers never get caught. They make a lot of money, and their victims are so psychologically controlled that they don't even need to use physical violence," Perrin said.
With forthcoming federal laws targeting human trafficking, analysts say young women need to know criminals are on the hunt to feed prostitution rings in Canada's big cities.
The United Nations highlights human trafficking as one of its key concerns.
In a study of 155 countries it found that sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking, with 79% of victims used for the sex trade; 18% are used for forced labour.
Most slaves are women, but many traffickers are also women.
The total number of people snared in human trafficking is unknown, but the non-profit children's rights group Beyond Borders estimates more than one million people are involved globally.
The RCMP website notes that at-risk youth and runaways, as well as new immigrants and anyone who is socially or economically disadvantaged could be vulnerable.
The site also lists some signs that a person might a victim:
"They may be controlled by someone else (i.e. being escorted or watched. They may not have a passport or other ID. They may show visible signs of torture (such as) cigarette burns."
Some, however, question the motivations of those campaigning against human trafficking, saying they are actually trying to crush all forms of prostitution.
"A lot of what is going on is political posturing in the name of a particular prohibitionist, abolitionist agenda," said criminologist John Lowman of Simon Fraser University. "The people who are leading it cannot produce credible information for their claims."
He doesn't deny that human trafficking exists. But, he said, "Before we go spending vast amounts of money on police initiatives or policies, we need reliable information."
Federal prosecutor discusses sexual exploitation
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An assistant U.S. attorney who was the first federal prosecutor to use anti-sex-trafficking laws to prosecute sex trade customers is working to spread her techniques in Missouri and Kansas.
The Department of Justice approved a pilot program last month for enhanced enforcement task forces to combat sex trafficking from St. Louis to western Kansas. It will be headquartered in Kansas City, where federal prosecutor Cynthia Cordes is based.
Cordes discussed her efforts Tuesday at a three-day conference on crimes against children that was sponsored by U.S. Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom., The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/n96c3q ).
"It's so hidden, people say it doesn't happen here, but all you have to do is look, and it's there," Grissom said.
Cordes discussed the issue with law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers and others at the eighth annual Protect Our Children Conference at the Airport Hilton. Her workshop on 2009's "Operation Guardian Angel" was a focus for police and prosecutors during the three-day event in Wichita.
Cordes said she grew tired of watching the females involved in the sex trade being treated as criminals while customers "were getting a pass."
The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, enacted in 2000, initially focused on international human trafficking. But Congress revised it in 2005 to include domestic trafficking, including the sex trafficking of children. Cordes was the first to use the act to go after customers of the domestic child sex trade.
It began in 2009 when Cordes worked with Independence, Mo., police to set up a sting, placing online classified ads for "young fun" and "little girls."
"Within the first 24 hours, we got 500 responses," Cordes said Tuesday.
An Independence police officer posed as the pimp, who would claim to have girls as young as 11 available for sex. Men asked for specific ages of girls, paid the officer and went to a room with a dirty mattress on the floor. When the men stepped into the room, they were arrested. Seven men were convicted in 2009.
Cordes also has helped obtain sentences from 10 to 30 years for pimps and 10 to 15 years in federal prison for customers.
Cordes believes the females involved in commercial sex are victims, rather than prostitutes.
"I've never had anyone tell me they wanted to stay in that life," Cordes said.
The cases can be legally difficult, often taking up to four years to resolve through the courts.
But Cordes said they also are among the most rewarding cases she's prosecuted because she's watched women go back to school, get job training and counseling and rebuild their lives.
Woman who recorded and reported child abuse talks
(Video on site)
GILBERT, Ariz. – Alexandrea Kingsley, 18, only knew Jessica Callaway, 21, and her 10-month-old daughter, Laura, for about a month.
The three only lived together a couple of weeks but it didn't take long for Alexandrea to realize the mom's bad behavior, record it and report it.
“I wanted to get up and grab her, hold her in my arms and keep her safe, but the smartest decision was to sit there and make the video because without that video I'd have no proof,” said Alexandrea Kingsley.
Kingsley says she needed proof that her friend and roommate was abusing the baby because, “It wasn't the first time she hit the baby. I'd seen it before,” said Kingsley.
Kingsley had compiled a long list of terrible things done to Laura in the last couple of weeks.
“She would leave the baby in dirty diapers until they were so heavy they were falling off her,” said Kingsley. “There's times she yelled ‘I wish I never had you, maybe I should just give you away, you're such a mistake I hate you, you piece of….”
Kingsley says Callaway even blew marijuana smoke in the baby's mouth and gave her medicine to make her sleep. So when Callaway was angry Friday night Kingsley pretended to be texting on her phone when in reality she was recording.
You can hear Callaway yell at the baby “You better shut up.” You can also hear the baby scream and get smacked on the leg and in the face.
“I showed my dad and called the cops,” said Kingsley
Callaway was arrested. Her excuse for the abuse, according to court records was that she was having a bad day and unable to find an outfit to wear out.
Kingsley just hopes little Laura won't have to experience another one of those bad days. “My hope is she has a better chance and will find a loving family that will care for her and giver her everything she needs and deserves.”
Callaway is out on bond but has been charged with three counts of child abuse.
St. Xavier man sentenced for sexual abuse of child 20 years ago
St. Xavier man sentenced for sexual abuse of child 20 years ago
by CLAIR JOHNSON, Gazette Staff
?A St. Xavier man continued to deny sexually abusing a child 20 years ago as a federal judge ordered him to spend 14 years in prison on Wednesday.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull sentenced Bert Travis Little Owl, 39, at the top of the guideline range, adding that he would have imposed the minimum mandatory 30-year term required under current law if he could have. Because the crime occurred in 1991, the judge had to apply the sentencing guidelines that were in place at that time.
“I know I'm innocent. My whole family knows I'm innocent,” Little Owl told the judge. “I'm a good person. Loyal. I've never hurt anybody,” he said.
A jury convicted Little Owl in May of aggravated sex abuse of Lauren Stewart-Brunelle, who was about 7 years old, while baby-sitting her in St. Xavier on the Crow Reservation. Little Owl had given a taped confession to investigators, but recanted at trial.
The case was unusual because Stewart-Brunelle, 27, now a resident of New Mexico, reported the crime in 2010.
U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said in a statement that although the events happened about 20 years ago, it was successfully prosecuted because by law, under the specific facts of the case, sexual abuse of a child had no statute of limitations. He called Little Owl's conviction “a victory for all children on the Crow Indian Reservation.”
The Billings Gazette has a policy of not identifying victims of sex crimes, but Stewart-Brunelle volunteered to talk about the case in an interview. She testified at trial and read a statement at sentencing describing how the abuse affected her life.
Cebull rejected Little Owl's claim of innocence, saying evidence of his guilt, by his own words, was overwhelming, right down to details that only he and Stewart-Brunelle knew.
“You not only recanted, you blamed her,” he said.
“You did this while baby-sitting her. She trusted you and you abused her. You didn't give any compassion to the victim,” he said. “And you surely didn't show any today after she spoke.”
Cebull also noted that the family has ostracized Stewart-Brunelle and her brother, who supported her, not Little Owl, and claim Stewart-Brunelle made up the abuse because “she wanted some property somewhere.”
Stewart-Brunelle said some family members have supported her through the ordeal but that others have shunned her.
Cebull called Stewart-Brunelle courageous for reporting the abuse after 20 years, for testifying and for making a sentencing statement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia Hurd asked for the high end of the guidelines, saying Little Owl “needs to be held responsible for what he did.”
Assistant federal defender Dave Merchant recommended a four-year sentence or a combination of time in a halfway house and electronic monitoring under house arrest. Little Owl has led a mostly law-abiding life in the last 20 years, suffers from diabetes and requires dialysis three times a week, he said.
Cebull allowed Little Owl to surrender when assigned to a prison and recommended that he be placed in a medical prison
What in the world has happened to the United States? Once upon a time the U.S. was one of the best places in the world to raise a child, but today it is an absolutely horrible place for children.
We physically abuse our children at staggering rates, we pump them full of antidepressants and other pharmaceutical drugs and we send them off to public schools that more closely resemble prison camps every single day.
Meanwhile, the economic decline of the America is hitting children far harder than it is hitting the adult population.
More than one out of every five children in America is living in poverty and one out of every four children is on food stamps.
One of the ways that a society is judged is by how it treats its most vulnerable members. As you will see below, the way that children are treated in America today is absolutely shameful.
The following are 30 signs that America has become a horrible place for children ….
#1 There are more than 3 million reports of child abuse in the United States every single year .
#2 There are 314 counties in the United States where at least 30% of the children are facing food insecurity .
#3 In Washington D.C., the "child food insecurity rate" is 32.3% .
#4 If you can believe it, an average of five children die as a result of child abuse in the United States every single day .
#5 In the United States today, it is estimated that one out of every four girls is sexually abused before they become adults .
#6 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is now publicly advising parents that infants and young children are "sexual beings ".
#7 67 percent of all sexual assault victims in America are children .
#8 The state of Illinois has actually been paying convicted sex offenders to babysit young children .
#9 20 percent of all child sexual abuse victims are under the age of 8 .
#10 Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are .
#11 The United States has the highest divorce rate on the globe by a wide margin. This is ripping millions of families with children to shreds .
#12 According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States were living below the poverty line in 2010. In the UK and in France that figure is well under 10 percent.
#13 It is estimated that up to half a million children may currently be homeless in the United States .
#14 In America today, many families allow the television to raise their children. In fact, the United States is tied with the U.K. for the most hours of television watched per person each week.
#15 Our public schools are being transformed into prison camps. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has announced that school officials can search the cell phones and laptops of public school students at any time if there are “reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school.”
#16 Today, one out of every four American children is on food stamps .
#17 It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18 .
#18 More than 20 million U.S. children rely on school meal programs to keep from going hungry .
#19 The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending huge amounts of money to install surveillance cameras in the cafeterias of public schools so that government control freaks can closely monitor what our children are eating .
#20 According to researchers, convicted rapists in the United States report that two-thirds of their victims were under 18, and among those cases 58% said that their victims were 12 years old or younger .
#21 Since 1973, approximately 50 million babies have been slaughtered in the United States before they were even born .
#22 One out of every four teen girls in the United States now has an STD .
#23 It has been reported that Texas police gave "1,000 tickets" to elementary school kids over one recent six year period .
#24 The number of young children that are being ripped out of good homes by "child protective services" continues to soar .
#25 All over the nation, little children are being publicly arrested by police in their own classrooms and are being marched out of their schools in handcuffs .
#26 Law enforcement officials estimate that about 600,000 Americans and about 65,000 Canadians are trading dirty child pictures online .
#27 All over the United States, lemonade stands run by young children are being shut down by police .
#28 The federal government has spent 14 trillion dollars that belong to our children and our grandchildren. Will future generations thank us for loading such a massive debt on to their backs ?
#29 In airports all over the country, many young children are being subjected to "enhanced pat-downs" during which their private parts are touched before they are allowed to get on to their airplanes .
#30 It is estimated that 500,000 babies that will be born this year will be sexually abused before they turn 18 .
What in the world has happened to us? America used to be the envy of the rest of the world, but now they look at us like we are a bunch of degenerates .
How are we supposed to teach our children that it is improper for them to be touched in certain places when the federal government is forcing large numbers of children to be publicly groped at airports before they are allowed to get on to their flights ?
How are we supposed to teach our children what liberty and freedom are all about when our public schools are slowly being turned into "Big Brother" prison grids ?
How can we claim that we are "the greatest nation on earth" when millions of American children are going hungry tonight ?
The way that we are treating our children is shameful. Sadly, the abuse that we are heaping on to them is going to come out in their behavior as they get older .
When we pump our kids full of "legal" drugs and allow the television, movies, video games and public schools to raise them, we should not be surprised when they turn out very sick and twisted.
Tanzania paves the way for Africa to wake up to child abuse truths
Tanzania became the first African country to reveal the full extent of child abuse after publishing a study last month.
It revealed that nearly one in three girls and one in seven boys claims to have been sexually abused before turning 18.
Twenty nine per cent of girls and 17.5 per cent of boys did not consent to have sex before their ‘first time'. Those figures come from a report by Dar es Salaam's Muhimbili University and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
In schools, where corporal punishment is legal, 78 per cent of girls and 67.4 per cent of boys said they had been whipped, kicked or punched more than five times a day by a teacher. Those exposed to abuse during childhood were more likely to show emotional, behavioural and health problems in future.
Elsewhere, nearly 60 per cent of girls and 52 per cent of boys thought it was acceptable for a husband to beat his wife for reasons including a refusal to have sex, burning the dinner and leaving the house without telling him.
Despite the raft of shocking statistics, Unicef, which funded the study, praised the Tanzanian government for cooperating with the comprehensive report and hoped it would pave the way for other African countries to follow.
The Violence Against Children survey involved more than 120 interviewers questioning 3,739 girls and boys aged 13 to 24. The country has a population of about 44million and half are under 18.
Fulton, DeKalb Counties Awarded Grants to Fight Child Sex Crimes
Money comes from federal COPS department
by Jaclyn Hirsch
Fulton and DeKalb Counties were awarded federal grants Tuesday that police departments will use to fight child exploitation and sexual abuse.
Dekalb County will receive $496,793 and Fulton will get $352,803 from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) within the United States Department of Justice.
COPS Director Bernard Melekian came from Washington D.C. to Atlanta to hold a press conference Tuesday morning where he greeted the grant recipients and announced details of a national Child Sexual Predator Prosecution grant program, according to a media release.
“Community policing has become an important tool in our efforts to secure the safety of all our citizens,” said DeKalb County Police Chief William O'Brien in the release. “When it comes to ensuring our children are safe, it is important that we strengthen relationships with all community partners, and I am grateful to COPS for supporting our agency in doing so.”
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said, “I am truly honored to receive this grant. These funds will go a long way towards ending Atlanta's reputation as the ‘Child Prostitution Capital of the World.'”
In Fulton County, the grant money will allow the Crimes Against Women & Children's Unit to hire additional staff members.
In Dekalb County, the grant will help the DeKalb County Police Department locate, track, arrest, and prosecute child sexual predators “more efficiently.” The money will also go toward overtime pay for investigators and purchasing equipment used to analyze evidence, transport tools and process cases.
CPS seeing a growing number of child abuse deaths in Arizona
by Corey Rangel
PHOENIX - Newly released statistics released by Child Protective Services show the agency is understaffed and overworked, and critics argue its having a negative impact on children.
According to its website, so far in 2011, CPS has recorded several deaths and near deaths from abuse or neglect. .
Earlier this month, Phoenix police said 6-year-old Jacob Gibson died from brain injuries after being beaten by his parents. CPS admits it had received five prior reports about abuse and neglect allegations before Gibson died.
In 2010, 23 children died from abuse or neglect, according to CPS. In five of those cases, CPS had prior contact at the home. In 2009, 22 children died and CPS had prior contact at the home in two of those cases.
According to records released to ABC15, CPS workers have seen a recent jump in calls to a statewide child abuse hotline.
From April through September of 2010, the agency received 17,068 calls that met the criteria for a CPS report. From October to March 2011, the agency received 17,586 calls.
According to CPS, workers are exceeding the state's caseload standard by 62%.
Over the past two years, the Department of Economic Security's budget, which oversees CPS, has faced steep budget cuts approved by state lawmakers trying to deal with Arizona's growing deficit.
Boy Scouts Need Not Produce Trove of Records
TACOMA (CN) - A federal judge said the Boy Scouts do not have to produce 60 years of documents about suspicious volunteers for a sexual abuse lawsuit in which two former Scouts call the organization a "pedophile magnet."
Two brothers, R.D. and C.D., sued the Boy Scouts of America for covering up their sexual abuse by a family friend at a church-sponsored Scout event more than 40 years ago.
Gary Reese was a merit badge counselor at the time, and became a Scoutmaster some years later, the brothers say.
"Paradoxically, the BSA promotes the wholesomeness of its programs while knowing that since the 1940s, it has been secretly removing Scoutmasters for child sexual abuse at an alarming rate, which in the 1970s reached an average of one every three days," according to the complaint, which was filed in June 2010.
"Its own records demonstrate that it has long known that Scouting attracts pedophiles in large numbers and that Scouts, far from being safe, are at heightened risk of sexual abuse by child molesters," the complaint adds.
The former Scouts also sued the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsored the troop in Lakewood, Washington.
The brothers asked the Boy Scouts to produce records of its a database of ineligible volunteers, "in which each flagged individual's name and suspected activity was logged and stored."
The brothers claim the files "highlighted BSA's vulnerabilities, including pedophiles' technique for infiltrating the BSA organization and grooming victims," the court order states.
The Boy Scouts opposed the request and sought a protective order. It said that none of the requested documents are related to this case, and that there was no file regarding the alleged molester Gary Reese.
The Scout organization also said the Scouts' claim that they needed the files to prove that the Boy Scouts had "generalized knowledge of sexual abuse" is unrelated to the issue of whether the organization owed them a legal duty.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton disagreed with the Boy Scouts' claim that the evidence sought was irrelevant, but found that the request for thousands of files "offers little probative value to what is known by the plaintiffs about the notice to BSA about Gary Reese's abuse of plaintiffs."
The judge said the former Scouts would be able to question witnesses about the Boy Scouts' knowledge of sexual predators without making the organization produce 60 years worth of ineligible volunteer files.
"These questions can be asked without the time and expense of redacting names of victims and alleged abusers all to provide a predicate for cross-examination," Judge Leighton ruled, noting that there are already 1,000 ineligible volunteer files in the public domain.
A 10-day jury trial is set to begin Jan. 31, 2012.
“Hot Sauce” Mom Avoids Jail
by Nathan Koppel
We bring to a close the case of Jessica Beagley, the Alaska mother convicted last week of child abuse for using hot sauce and a cold shower as punishment on her adopted son.
A judge Monday gave the 36-year-old mother a 180-day jail sentence and fined her $2,500, but the judge suspended imposing those penalties on the condition that Beagley avoid committing any other criminal offenses for three years.
In other words, Beagley will not have to serve jail time or pay a fine so long as she keeps her nose clean for three years.
The Law Blog talked to her attorney William Ingaldson, who said he is pleased with the sentence. “I am happy that there was no jail time or fine to pay,” he said.
While Beagley is on probation for three years, he said, it is an “informal” probation, meaning that Beagley does not need to report to a probation officer. “No one checks on her,” he said.
The judge did order Beagley to undergo counseling, Ingaldson said, adding that his client already had sought out professional help for herself and her children. “Her intention all along was to get help to deal with the issues she had with her kids,” Ingaldson said.
In Russia, where Beagley adopted her son, a Kremlin official voiced mixed feelings about the sentence, Reuters reports.
“I cannot say that this ruling completely satisfies us, but we must accept the verdict,” said Pavel Astahkov, the Kremlin children's rights ombudsman.
Cynthia Franklin, the prosecutor in the case, did not return a Law Blog request for comment.
Officer under investigation for allegedly giving alcohol to toddler
by Justin Joseph
August 30, 2011
DENVER -- Jeremy Olive is a decorated Denver police officer. In 2007 the department awarded him a purple heart.
He is now on the other side of the law facing potential felony child abuse charges after restaurant patrons say they saw him feeding his child liquor last week trying to subdue her.
"Cute, darling little girl," said the woman who witnessed the incident. Her identity is not being released because she is an active part of the investigation.
On the patio outside the Fish City Restaurant, you'll find the perfect ambiance. Even so, last week one of the restaurant's youngest patrons wasn't exactly eating at their tables.
"(I) kind of noticed they weren't paying much attention to the little girl because she was eating off the ground," said the woman.
She says over the course of two hours she witnessed the little girl virtually ignored by the two people eating over her ... one of them, Denver Police Officer Jeremy Olive.
She claims Olive tried to subdue the child as her behavior worsened.
"Dad picks up the little girl puts her on the lap and starts feeding her straws of margarita," the woman said. "The bartender came back and I was like I hate to make a fuss about it, but I don't think this is right for this little girl. She's like we totally agree but I guess he's a cop though."
The woman called Lone Tree Police and witnesses say Olive played his police card and put up a struggle.
The woman says she knows she did the right thing even knowing what Olive does for work
Her thoughts are with his little girl.
"To be just sitting outside in an open bar and you're giving your kid margarita when clearly it's because their fussy." It was just sad.
Olive was arrested and cited with a misdemeanor. Lone Tree police are investigating and just turned the case over to the Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office. They tell the woman they are investigating Olive for felony child abuse.
Denver police say unless that happens, Olive will remain on active duty
Chicago Catholic church to expose abusive priests: attorney
August 29, 2011
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago's Catholic archdiocese will allow dozens of former priests accused of child sexual abuse to be identified as part of a settlement that moves the church closer to naming all offending clergy, a lawyer for abuse victims said on Monday.
The undisclosed financial settlement with the nation's third-largest diocese on behalf of 12 abuse victims promises to identify as many as 35 former diocesan priests as offenders, a significant advance in the protection of children, attorney Jeff Anderson said.
"This establishes a strict protocol for the review of every file" the diocese has on abusive priests, said Anderson, who has worked on more than a hundred abuse cases involving the Chicago archdiocese and collected some $50 million in settlements.
"This protocol, if implemented, is on the front end of the child protection movement," Anderson said.
Boston's archdiocese, where the priest abuse scandal broke a decade ago, set a new standard for transparency last week when it published the names of 159 accused clergy.
The Chicago archdiocese already lists 65 former clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse. Anderson said he has brought cases involving roughly half of them.
Among those identified as part of the settlement was former priest Joseph Fitzharris, who was defrocked in 1991 but still lives in Chicago. Like many accused clergy, he has not been criminally charged in part because the abuses occurred long ago and the statute of limitations has expired, Anderson said.
Angel Santiago, a father of two who still wears a cross around his neck, told reporters he was abused by Fitzharris when he was 12 and 13 but suffered in silence until after his father and sister died.
Santiago's father loved his job as custodian at Fitzharris' church though the priest fired him in a move Santiago said he believes was punishment for his own absence from the church to avoid the priest.
"I'm here to protect kids," Santiago said of the importance to him of naming offending priests. "I'm not afraid anymore."
Fitzharris could not be reached for comment.
Sex offenders paid to baby-sit in Ill.
August 27, 2011
CHICAGO (AP) - Child molesters, rapists and other violent felons have been allowed to take part in a state-federal babysitting program and got access to children even after reforms were made, a Chicago Tribune investigation found.
In Sunday's editions, the Tribune reported (http://trib.in/pHKTv3 ) problems with the Child Care Assistance Program -- a $750 million-a-year program that subsidizes child care for more than 150,000 poor families in the state.
The paper didn't uncover instances of children being harmed, but it said privacy laws prevented an in-depth study.
The program, intended to provide impoverished families with much needed child care, has come under scrutiny before, with lawmakers passing a law in 2009 that forced the state's Department of Human Services to do a better job of vetting potential participants. The aim was to prevent convicted rapists -- like a man who earned $5,000 baby-sitting two children over a two-year period -- from taking part.
Still, the Tribune found that not only did it take nearly 18 months to start doing the checks, but that even today there are not sufficient safeguards to prevent people who live in homes with sex offenders and other felons from participating.
For example, the paper found that a woman in Bellwood was paid by the state to babysit in her home -- even though her husband pleaded guilty to molesting a teenage girl. The state removed her from the program this year after the paper asked about her case. In another case, the paper reported that nothing stopped a parolee from moving in with his girlfriend, whom the state was paying to babysit, despite convictions on two gun and three drug cases.
In fact, according to court records, the man, Raheem Gray, only moved out last year when he was returned to prison after a parole check revealed a gun hidden in the couple's apartment under a child's bed.
State officials, after learning of the findings, have vowed to implement further reforms, the paper reported.
"You are talking about not only the state sanctioning, but the state creating an economic incentive for someone with a criminal record to be in a room with a kid," said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican. "That's frankly not a situation that I find acceptable."
Advocates, though, say there are no problems with the vast majority of those who participate in the 14-year-old program that they say is crucial to helping parents work their way out of poverty.
"This is a program that is absolutely essential if we are going to, with a straight face, tell families that if they work and if they continue to develop themselves, we can help them make a difference for their families, said Maria Whelan, the president of the nonprofit Illinois Action for Children.
Child predators: Is our punishment misguided?
by Janice D'Arcy
The chilling abduction this weekend of a 5-year-old Fairfax County girl has stunned every parent who has heard about it. The girl was apparently kidnapped from her home and assaulted while her parents slept. Police said this weekend it remained unclear whether the little girl was sexually assaulted. Her parents only realized she had been taken after their daughter made her way back home and told themshe'd been hurt, according to The Post story.
Cases like this are the reason we've created a system to not only punish but also track child predators. You'd better believe any sentient parent would want to know if a lunatic like this one is lurking nearby.
That reaction, George Mason University cultural studies professor Roger N. Lancaster says in a new book, has led us down a dangerous legal path.
Lancaster's “Sex Panic and the Punitive State,” (University of California Press, 2011) argues that our reaction to rare child abductions and stranger abuse has created a system that is grossly unjust.
He and I had an e-mail exchange on the subject last week, before the Fairfax abduction. Given the news, it's an especially raw, but also relevant, time for Lancaster to explain why he thinks we need to reconsider our child predator laws. Here's our back-and forth:
Q: In “Sex Panic,” you make the case that our sex offender registries are neither fair nor effective. Many parents appreciate these lists both for a sense of security that a sex offender will not be living nearby and that they can determine where “predators” are. What's wrong with keeping registries? Do these lists give parents a false sense of security?
Lancaster: The unknown person living somewhere in the neighborhood isn't the main risk to children's safety and well-being. Most perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members, close relatives or someone known to the family. Stories of abduction, rape, and murder by strangers excite the worst fears. But these are exceedingly rare events — comparable to the chances of being struck by lightning. And only a very small percentage of sex crimes are committed by repeat offenders, which does suggest that the registries mislead parents.
But I'd suggest that instead of giving a sense of security, false or otherwise, what the registries actually do is to stoke unnecessary parental anxieties. They foster perpetual dread: It becomes everyone's duty to be constantly alert to remote dangers. Sociologists who've studied these practices talk about how they undermine trust, create a culture of fear and fuel a rage to punish. This is bad for adults. And many who have studied the subject think that this is bad for children as well. A study in the U.K. found that excessive fear of predators has contributed to keeping kids indoors, producing a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and other health risks.
Q. You compare the recidivism rate of sex offenders to perpetrators of property crimes. As a society, isn't it of a higher concern to try to prevent the recidivism of sex offenders (and murderers?)
Lancaster: The goal of preventing recidivism for brutal, violent crimes, including the abuse of children, is obviously a higher priority than, say, preventing recidivism by shoplifters. But recent studies have found no evidence that current sex offender laws and procedures reduce recidivism or that they reduce the number of victims.
The point is that we have an ever-expanding, ever more expensive apparatus — which has never shown to be effective — for managing a problem (sex offense recidivism) that is small in numbers and has declined since the 1980s.
Q. In terms of fairness, why should we be concerned that punishments for child sex offenders are harsh? Aren't these criminals the worst of the worst?
Lancaster: I'd make two arguments here, one based on principle, the other based on practice.
On principle, the legitimacy of law rests on the premise that punishments are proportionate, that judgments are dispassionate and that laws and penalties are announced prior to events, not tacked on afterwards. These are not liberal or modern ideas; they go back to the founding of rational law, to the ancient Greeks. Reasonable people might disagree over what might count as harsh or excessive, but they shouldn't disagree over the idea that law should not punish more than is necessary.
In practice, it is not only the “worst of the worst” who've been swept up and entangled in sex offender laws. Some of the registrants had consensual relations with near-adults. Others appear to have been falsely accused and accepted a plea bargain. Some were themselves minors who had consensual sex with their girlfriends or boyfriends. A random sample of one state's listings shows that two-thirds of the registrants were convicted of non-violent first offenses — and their crimes may have involved no physical contact.
The idea that violent repeat offenders ought to be “incapacitated,” as they say when speaking of long prison terms, is one thing. But what we have in practice is a system of perpetual punishment for a growing host of lesser offenses. So I have argued that it's time to revisit our laws, which are founded on unreasonable fears and a boundless rage to punish.
Q. Strictly speaking in terms of child sex offenders, what might be a better approach?
Lancaster: You could start by comparing U.S. practices with British practices. The British have sex offender registries, too — but a far smaller portion of the population is listed, and yet a smaller portion of registrants are deemed high risk. In England and Wales the ratio of registered sex offenders to the general population is 46 per 100,000; in the United States the ratio is more than 4.5 times greater: 228 per 100,000. The overwhelming majority of British registrants are classified as “Level 1” (on a three-level scale); they are said to pose minimal public risk and are subject to minimal supervision. And the registries are a closely guarded secret, available only to police, parole officers and authorities who might be involved in supervising an ex-convict's doings. So we could start by scaling back the lists, taking them out of the public domain and professionalizing the supervision process. There's no evidence whatsoever that this would compromise public safety.
Where a person previously convicted of a sex offense lives or works has no bearing on whether he commits more crimes. But variants of “Jessica's Law” evict sex offenders from living, working or sometimes even walking within 1,500, 2,000 or 2,500 feet of a school, park, bus stop or place where children might gather. Such laws uproot sex offenders and their families; they scatter them to remote or rural locations. We should rethink this approach, which resembles techniques of governance in authoritarian or even totalitarian states.
While pruning back punitive or excessive measures, I'd also take some positive steps. I'd start with better counseling services for the victims of abuse. But part of what has happened in the last 30 to 40 years is that children have been viewed in terms of threats to safety but not in terms of their overall well-being. Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done to improve education, nutrition and exercise.
Q. What else might parents want to consider about sex offender registries and child sex offenders?
Lancaster: Parents might be concerned that in a culture ruled by fear, their children could get caught up in sex offender laws. Young children have found themselves on sex offender registries and not invariably for brutal acts. Minors who had sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends have been labeled sex offenders. Teens have been prosecuted for “sexting.” When thinking about crime and punishment, it's a good idea not only to think of the stranger somewhere in the neighborhood but of the son or daughter in the house.
What do you think? Does Lancaster have a point?
Agency helps abuse survivors
August 27, 2011
bY JAMES GILBERT - SUN STAFF WRITER
Even as an adult, Yuman Rosie Hernandez carries the emotional scars from the sexual abuse she suffered as a child in the foster homes where she grew up.
“It started when I was 5 years old,” Hernandez said as she wiped back tears. “By the time I was 12, I became very rebellious, hateful and ran away a lot.”
But her suffering didn't end there. When she turned 18, she married a man who introduced her to drugs and would regularly physically and emotionally abuse her.
“He was supposed to be my backbone, but it just kept getting worse and worse with him. I tried telling him about my past, but he never understood. When he would get violent with me, he would tell me I deserved everything.”
Hernandez and the man were married for eight years and had three children together. But it wasn't the drugs or the abuse that she experienced that caused her to end their often volatile relationship. It was something much worse.
“He molested our oldest daughter when she was 11 or 12. It is very hard, almost unimaginable to think about. I chose my daughter over him. He was the one to go, not the children.”
While Hernandez says she has been coping with her emotional scars, she has never been able to recover from them completely. Those scars were reopened when her oldest daughter moved in with her and began verbally abusing her.
It wasn't until recently, while attending a domestic violence vigil, that Hernandez realized she could finally get help dealing with the hurt that had been a part of her life for so many years.
“One of the speakers was talking about domestic violence and it hit home. It hit me so hard I cried. It opened up a lot of stuff that I had shut out and forgotten about.”
Estrella Fitch, a former victim services representative with the Yuma County Attorney's Office, recently opened a small nonprofit agency, The Healing Journey, in hopes of improving the lives of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. It also has group meetings for parents of children who have been molested.
Although Hernandez's husband was convicted for molesting their daughter, he served only three months in jail. Back then, in California where they were living at the time, the punishment for offenses committed against children weren't as severe as they are today.
Having been affected by some of her cases over the years, Fitch said she has realized that even after helping victims get the counseling and other help they may need, the case wasn't over once a sentence was handed down.
“The victim was still a victim. I saw more needed to be done than just finishing the case in court.”
Fitch said she was first approached three years ago by Lorraine Banko, who works for a local behavioral health care agency in Yuma, about forming a new nonprofit agency to provide counseling for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Eventually Fitch decided to go ahead with the suggestion, and she and Banko approached the pastor of Champion Church about providing a place for meetings.
“He was very excited and he gave us the space we needed,” Fitch said. “He said he felt it was something the community needed to help heal.”
The agency meets at the church every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., but Fitch said she has plans to start meeting more than once a week due to the number of referrals she is getting.
Now also partnered with Campesinos Sin Fronteras, Fitch said she wants to improve the lives of area residents as much as possible, and to do that her future plans include expanding to offer peer support groups for men who are victims of domestic violence and providing classes on prevention to schools and other community groups. She even hopes to one day to have a therapist on staff to provide individual counseling.
Fitch said she refuses to call her clients victims, instead referring to them as something she says is far more fitting of what they experienced: survivors.
“They survived a horrible crime that was committed against them. They are alive to tell their stories and are able to be real about it.”
Hernandez said she would still be carrying a lot of anger and bitterness inside of her had it not been for The Healing Journey.
“I feel I'm not alone anymore. Our stories are all the same. I've learned not to give up, and that there is always hope. And that there is someone who loves you. It shouldn't hurt to be a strong woman.”
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.
1,000 cases of child abuse monthly
August 29 2011
by ESTHER LEWIS
Nearly a thousand cases of abused, abandoned and neglected children are being reported to Cape Town Child Welfare every month from some of the city's poorest areas.
And the caseload has meant that, in some cases, a single social worker has to deal with up to 200 cases at a time. The national average is 60 cases per social worker.
Cape Town Child Welfare has more than 5 000 cases being handled by its 48 social workers.
The organisation's chief executive, Niresh Ramklass, said more than 200 new cases were reported each week.
In Hanover Park, three social workers were responsible for 609 cases. In Hout Bay, six social workers were dealing with 657 cases between them.
Seven social workers were responsible for 814 cases in Athlone, while four people were handling 566 cases in Dunoon.
Manenberg has five social workers whose caseload is 599. In Philippi East there are 850 cases divided between eight people. In Khayelitsha the load is 633 between eight people. In the Lotus River/Ottery area, there are seven social workers for 692 cases.
“They are under pressure. They are not coping,” said Ramklass. “Hanover Park is in crisis. It needs a lot of government attention and proper investment.”
Cape Town Child Welfare was facing backlogs because of the high volumes of cases coupled with a shortage of staff, he said.
Ramklass said the number of abused, abandoned and neglected children reported in and around Cape Town had increased over the years.
One of the factors contributing to the increase was the scourge of substance abuse gripping the city, he said.
In some cases, drug-addicted parents left their children with grandparents, who were unable to cope and approached Cape Town Child Welfare for help.
The new Children's Act, said Ramklass, demanded a more intensive approach to social work.
“It's not easy being children in this city. The government must invest more money and resources into child protection,” he said.
Child advocacy group Molo Songololo agreed that substance abuse contributed to the increase of child abuse and neglect.
“It is the main factor in cases we work with. It causes dysfunction in families and parental neglect,” said Molo Songololo spokesman Patric Solomons.
He added that it was not only the children of diagnosed addicts who suffered, but also those of functional alcoholics and drug users.
Solomons said there was very little support for the children of these people until something bad happened to them.
As part of the organisation's strategy, Molo Songololo officials had increased home visits, he said.
Solomons found that when parents or guardians knew that officials were visiting regularly, they decreased their intake of substances, cleaned up their houses and started taking better care of their children.
“We need to increase monitoring children in their homes, because that is where the crimes against them take place.”
Social Development MEC Albert Fritz urged neighbours to report any suspected incidents of abuse or neglect to their local social development offices.
He was planning to send a memo to all offices to pay special attention to the complaints of neighbours and relatives.
Fritz said social workers were compelled to do site visits when complaints were received.
He would request that feedback be sent to his office.
firstname.lastname@example.org - Cape Argus
China, US join hands to shut down child porn sites
First joint operation by the two countries to tackle cyber crime
CBR Staff Writer
August 29, 2011
The US and China have reportedly joined hands to shut down a network of Chinese child pornography sites.
According to an AFP report, the two countries closed the ring having at least 48 pornographic sites aimed at Chinese Internet users.
Eighteen of the 48 sites contained graphic images of children, China's public security ministry said.
The ministry said the joint operation was "the first successful joint law enforcement campaign by the two nations on online crimes."
"We will continue to strengthen joint judicial cooperation with other nations to tackle international cyber crimes such as online pornography, fraud, gambling and hacking," it added.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano in the US revealed that 72 individuals across the world had been indicted for child sexual abuse in coordinated crackdown 'Operation Delego'.
Authorities dismantled the online bulletin board 'Dreamboard' which was created in 2008 and allegedly used by 600 people across the world to pictures and videos of child sex abuse. Material equivalent to 16,000 DVDs were seized.
"To put it simply, we have charged that these individuals shared a dream -- to create the preeminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation," said Holder.
"But for the children they victimised, this was nothing short of a nightmare."
Operation Delego, an ongoing investigation that was launched in December 2009, targeted the 72 charged defendants and more than 500 additional individuals around the world for their participation in Dreamboard.
It is believed that 'Operation Delego' represents the largest prosecution to date in the US of individuals who participated in an online bulletin board conceived and operated for the sole purpose of promoting child sexual abuse, disseminating child pornography and evading law enforcement.
Officials also said that 'Operation Delego' involved extensive international cooperation to identify and apprehend Dreamboard members abroad.
They said, "Through coordination between ICE; the Department of Justice; Eurojust, the European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit; and dozens of law enforcement agencies throughout the world, 19 Dreamboard members across five continents and 13 countries have been arrested to date outside the United States, including two of the five lead administrators of the board."
"Those countries include Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Qatar, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland."
Numerous foreign investigations related to Operation Delego remain ongoing, said the officials.
"The dismantling of Dreamboard is another stark warning to would-be child predators who think they can trade in child pornography and commit heinous acts against innocent children while hiding behind pseudonyms and other technological tricks," said ICE Director John Morton.
"As these criminals try new techniques to digitally erase their trail, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations along with our U.S. and international law enforcement partners continue to upgrade our strategies and technology to track down the depraved individuals who bring suffering to children."