St Louis, Missouri
CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION: free informational events at St. Charles Community College, auditorium of Social Sciences Building, 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, Cottleville.
Ellen Teller, executive director of the Child Center, will speak from 1-2:30 p.m. April 16 about the process of interviewing a child in child abuse cases. Participants will also hear from a forensic interviewer.
Erin Merryn, author and activist, will speak from 7-9 p.m.
April 17 about her own experience of being sexually assaulted as a child.
Dr. Jamie Kondis, child abuse pediatrician at St. Louis Children's Hospital, will speak from 10-11 a.m. April 18 about the types of child abuse and neglect, what to do if you suspect someone is a victim of abuse and how to work together to prevent child abuse.
Mary Kay Kreider, program coordinator for Crisis Nursery-Wentzville, will speak from noon-1:30 p.m. April 19.
For more information, visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lisa Stoner, SCC associate professor of psychology, at 636-922-8262.
Broken trust, hidden pain
Caring adults must teach children to protect themselves
by Toby Stark
As you read the words "child sexual abuse," I suspect you either want to stop reading and move on to a more pleasant topic; or the words caused a twinge of personal pain; or you thought this article applies to someone else, some other family, some other community. With statistics like, "one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthdays," I hope you don't look away or think this topic applies to other people, other families, other communities.
We, at Chaucie's Place, have met these statistics. She is the woman who stopped me at a garage sale, discreetly put her hand on mine and whispered a thank you for what we do because she was sexually abused and never told anyone.
He's the 35-year-old man who was abused by a babysitter when he was 5 years old and still carries the pain of that abuse with him to this day through failed relationships and low self-esteem.
She's the fourth grader who, though frightened, tells us how her mother's boyfriend has been touching her for as long as she can remember.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Indiana females in Grades 9-12 have the nation's second highest rate of forced sex and the National Coalition To Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation identifies child sexual abuse as a "public health problem" it's time to stop averting our gaze or thinking this is someone else's problem. I ask you to accept that our community is no different than any other and help us reduce the number of children in our community who are being sexually or physically abused.
If I don't have your attention yet, let me share with you the statistic that keeps me up at night as a parent of four. Ninety percent of all sexually abused children know their abuser. That means, we need to protect our children from the people they love and trust. How? How can we possibly do that? I agree it is daunting, but nothing could possibly be more important.
First, you can't be afraid to talk with your children. As difficult as it is to talk with your children about this uncomfortable topic, you must realize that not talking with them places them in potential danger.
Chaucie's Place conducts a Body Safety program in virtually every elementary school in Hamilton County. We teach nearly 9,000 students each school year that their bodies belong to them, they are allowed to say NO to unwanted touches, and they should tell a trusted adult about any touches that make them uncomfortable.
We also tell them that abuse is never, ever their fault. You can share those same messages with your children at home. It's an important first step for your children to hear these messages -- often. These messages are no different than other messages we send them about keeping their bodies safe: wear a seatbelt, wear a helmet when riding a bike, or don't run with scissors in your hand.
While it's important to teach our children about protecting themselves, that's a heavy burden for their little shoulders to carry alone. That's why we urge every parent, guardian, and caretaker as well as every adult who works with children to educate themselves on child sexual abuse. Chaucie's Place, and other prevention organizations in Central Indiana, offer Darkness to Light's Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention program. The training teaches adults how to prevent child sexual abuse, recognize the warning signs and respond appropriately to a disclosure. We started conducting this training just 18 months ago and we've already trained more than 400 adults, including the after-school and early childhood staff at the Jewish Community Center; the after-school staff at Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation; swim coaches affiliated with Indiana Swimming, Inc.; and countless individuals who come to our monthly trainings in the community.
With the Penn State scandal, we've all seen how well-meaning adults can become paralyzed with fear or sadly place other priorities higher than the safety of our children. Don't be that person.
Let's all sit down with our children and teach them that body safety is more than just wearing a helmet when riding their bicycle, and let's all make it a conscious priority to do everything we can to stop child sexual abuse in our community.
We can, if we embrace the words of Maya Angelou: "The World is Changed One Child at a Time."
Stark is executive director of Chaucie's Place, a child advocacy center in Carmel that focuses on child sexual abuse prevention programming.
Kids need the proper kind of touch
by Beryl Wight
Touch can be a touchy subject.
Child sexual abuse has long been a taboo topic. Only in recent years has it come to the surface in public discourse. Stories of children abused by adults in positions of trust or authority are frequently the focus of headlines, talk shows and television dramas. There is a growing consciousness about the pervasiveness of child sexual abuse.
Yet, for many adults, sexual abuse is still a difficult matter to discuss -- a subject that inspires fear and misunderstanding. For most of us, it is nearly inconceivable how an adult could sexually exploit and traumatize a child.
One reaction to the increasing awareness of child sexual abuse is ambivalence about touch when it comes to children. Many professionals have become reluctant to provide a hug, a pat on the head or a hand on the shoulder to the kids in their care. There is often a concern about protecting individuals and institutions from false accusations of abuse. The fear is understandable, although the reality is that children rarely initiate false reports of sexual abuse.
Historically speaking, we are in the early stages of confronting child sexual abuse. As a culture, we are still stumbling around, trying to react sensibly to this unthinkable threat. Avoiding appropriate, nurturing touch to children is not the solution, however.
Touch is like food and water to a developing child. Warm, affectionate physical touch is critical in developing a healthy attachment between parent and infant -- helping to establish a long-term sense of worth and security. Healthy touch also supports a child's physical growth, brain development and emotional resilience. Infants deprived of human touch can die. As children grow, their need for healthy, physical touch decreases, but doesn't go away.
Touch becomes dangerous when it is toxic. When touch is violating instead of nurturing, it erodes the development of self-protective intuition and healthy boundaries. The emotional aftermath of child sexual abuse can be long lasting, and may lead to an adulthood burdened by psychiatric challenges, relationship difficulties, addiction and generational cycles of abuse.
The solution is not to withhold nurturing touch from children -- it is to develop a more informed understanding of touch. There are good resources in our community to help.
The Memphis Child Advocacy Center provides training in prevention of child sexual abuse through its research-informed Stewards of Children program. The training teaches simple steps parents and adults who work with children can take to keep kids safe. It helps parents talk effectively with their kids about personal boundaries and sexual abuse. Stewards of Children also instructs institutions on ways to protect children through organization-wide training and smart policy. For example, good policy ensures that interactions between one child and one adult, if they happen at all, can always be interrupted and observed. With informed policy, universally understood parameters and organizational transparency, hugs need not be outlawed.
There are other resources available for parents, volunteers and professionals who work with children. Neighborhood Christian Centers Inc., in collaboration with The Urban Child Institute, is promoting healthy touch through its "Touch, Talk, Read, Play" program, which acknowledges nurturing touch is as important as reading and talking to your infant.
It can be a little heartbreaking, maybe even frustrating, that touch has become such a loaded issue. The good news is that we are moving in a positive direction. Research indicates that nationwide rates of child sexual abuse are decreasing. Parents are learning how to talk with their kids about personal boundaries. Organizations throughout Shelby County are employing prevention training, transparency and informed policy. We are on our way to a community that is safer for kids.
Consider helping make our community safer and healthier for children by getting involved. Together we can transform our community.
Beryl Wight is communications coordinator for the Memphis Child Advocacy Center. Contact her at bwight@MemphisCAC.org
For more information about sexual abuse prevention training and policy consultation, visit MemphisCAC.org. For information about the "Touch, Talk, Read, Play" initiative, visit ncclife.org.
Child Abuse Prevention Month shines light on local cases
by Sarah Hawley
OHIO VALLEY — Protecting our future, one child at a time.
Each year, April is celebrated as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, bringing awareness to the problem of abuse and neglect in the state and across the nation.
“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children,” said Senator Kevin Bacon (R — Minerva Park), who serves a chairman of the Ohio Children's Trust Fund.
Each year, numerous children and families are affected by abuse — both physical and sexual — and neglect.
In Meigs County, 175 cases of child abuse or neglect have been investigated since July 1, 2011, according to Chris Shank, Director of Meigs County Job and Family Services. This means that, on average, there are more than four cases of child abuse or neglect investigated each week in Meigs County.
In Gallia County, their have been 133 cases — an average of one case every two days — of child abuse or neglect investigated according to Gallia County Children Services Director Russ Moore.
From July 2011 to March 31, 2012, there were a total of 39 court-ordered removals in Meigs County, with 27 of those relating directly to the use of drugs. Cases involving drugs have ranged from prescription medications to meth and other drugs.
A total of 16 kids in Gallia County were removed by court order during the same time frame, with nine directly related to drug use.
The cases involving the removal of children from their homes brings about the need for qualified foster parents in the county.
In Meigs County, there are currently only four foster homes, while there are 11 foster families in Gallia County.
The lack of local foster parents in the county can cause even more problems with children being placed out of county and, therefore, being taken from their respective schools and friends, according to regional children's advocates.
The Meigs County Department of Job and Family Services offers help for “families in need of services.” According to Shank, a few families have taken part in this program.
Also housed at the Meigs County DJFS location are the Family and Children First Council, a psychologist, a juvenile court representative and parent mentor.
Shank added that providing the services in the same building helps to provide access to help for those involved without the added travel and time issues.
In observance of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, the Ohio Children's Trust Fund encourages all individuals and organizations to “Pause for a Child” and take an active role in making their communities a better place for families and children.
Throughout April, the Ohio Children's Trust Fund and county public children service agencies plant pinwheels and wear blue, which are symbols of child abuse awareness.
April was first declared Child Abuse Prevention Month by presidential proclamation in 1983. Since then, April has been a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse.
Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent in Meigs County may contact Terri Ingels at 992-2117 ext. 123. In Gallia County, those interested in becoming foster parents can call (740) 446-4963.
In Meigs County, suspected child abuse or neglect can be reported by calling (740) 992-2117 ext. 187. In Gallia County, the number to report suspected abuse or neglect is (740) 446-4963. Cases of child abuse or neglect can also be reported to local EMS or law enforcement.
Child abuse reports on rise; economy linked to trend
Stearns official says increasing trend linked to economy
by Kirsti Marohn
They are the youngest victims of the recession: children abused or neglected by family members burdened by financial stress.
The struggling economy appears to be one factor in a steady rise in child abuse and neglect cases in Stearns County. Since 2008, when the economic downturn began, the county has seen a steady climb in the number of reports of suspected abuse or neglect as well as assessments to determine if maltreatment has occurred.
“We've seen a large number of families that we never saw before,” said Brenda Mahoney, family and children's services director in the Stearns County human services department. Many have been affected by the economy and job losses, she said.
County social service workers had braced for an anticipated rise in abuse and neglect cases when the recession began, but it took a year or two before the case numbers started to rise, Mahoney said.
“It's just the stress that builds up in people,” she said. “... It's kind of like families can hold out so long, and then they reach that threshold.”
In Stearns County, the number of reports of suspected child abuse or neglect climbed about 21 percent from 2007 — before the recession began — to 2011.
Those reports most often come from mandatory reporters — professionals with jobs that involve caring for children, including teachers, doctors and daycare workers. Relatives or neighbors often make reports as well.
Not all of the reports end up meeting the statutory definition or abuse or neglect, so not all result in a formal assessment. However, the number of potential maltreatment cases that did require investigation also jumped 66 percent — from 232 in 2007 to 384 last year — an increase that Mahoney called “astonishing.”
The problem doesn't appear to be waning. The county already has screened 117 cases for assessment so far this year, Mahoney said.
That's compared with 107 at this time last year.
“We don't believe that it's going to slow down,” she said.
The problem isn't limited to Stearns County.
Most interviews taped in child abuse cases
by Paula Reed Ward
For years, there was a debate among health care professionals, prosecutors and the defense bar whether forensic interviews of children describing potential abuse ought to be recorded.
Locally, at the Child Advocacy Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, interviews conducted for other counties would routinely be recorded, while those for Allegheny County would not.
And at A Child's Place at Mercy, part of Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, they previously did not have the equipment to do recordings.
But, that has all changed.
A Child's Place spent $44,000 to get recording equipment for its three locations in Allegheny County and, as of last month, has begun recording all interviews conducted.
And at Children's, beginning next month, all interviews there will be recorded.
"We studied it long and hard," said Joan Mills, the program manager at A Child's Place. "We're committed to this, and we think it's better for the kids and the outcome of the case."
Ms. Mills estimated that about 90 percent of child advocacy centers across the country record their interviews.
Before recordings were made, alleged abuse was documented in a report compiled by the forensic interviewer. That left it up to subjective interpretation by the interviewer of what a child said and what should be included in the report.
Even good note takers can't get every word, Ms. Mills said. "So you're missing a lot."
By having a recording, the relevant parties can see a child's emotional state, whether he or she might be acting out an event and make an independent determination on believability.
"That child will never again say that like they just said it," Ms. Mills said.
Furthermore, a recording also ensures that a child's appearance is accurate. Some cases can linger for so long in the system that a child victimized at age 10 can look completely different at age 13 or 14.
Although having a recording can facilitate plea negotiations, it cannot substitute for having a child testify at trial.
Because the forensic interview is often done as a part of a police investigation, it cannot be cross-examined, and therefore cannot be played at trial in lieu of a victim's testimony.
In that regard, the recording does not save a child from potentially being re-traumatized by having to testify.
Another downside to recording is that it can become more about how the interview itself was conducted than about the child and the crime being described.
Jamie Mesar, the manager at the Child Advocacy Center at Children's Hospital, said she worries, too, about how children will feel knowing that they are being recorded.
Still, most parties agree there is value to it.
Allegheny County chief public defender Elliot Howsie supports the concept of recording to ensure fairness for a defendant.
If a session is not recorded, he said, "We really don't know what's being asked in that interview, if the child is being led or answers are being suggested. This, I think, keeps everyone above board and holds them accountable."
Allegheny County deputy district attorney Laura Ditka, who heads the child abuse unit, said recorded interviews are "the most thorough and accurate accounting of what was said or done."
Further, she believes consistency is essential, which is why it will be good that both centers in Pittsburgh are using recordings.
"You can't pick and choose what interviews to record," she said.
The forensic interviewing process consists of open-ended questions, and the experts conducting the interviews ask the children to give a narrative of their experience.
"We don't use a lot of prompts like drawings," Ms. Mills said. "It's about fact-finding."
Children are told that they must tell the truth, and if they don't know the answer to a question, that that's OK.
At both centers, law enforcement officials are permitted to watch the interviews from behind mirrored glass. Parents are not permitted to watch. Only the child and interviewer are in the room together.
"You don't want a person that has a stake in the case in the room," Ms. Mills said.
Blue ribbons honor child abuse victims
by Megan Trotter
COOKEVILLE - The 1,203 blue ribbons decorating the trees around the courthouse hang there in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each represents one call the Department of Children's Services answered to investigate a claim of child abuse in 2011.
"Last year ... I was extremely naive about this issue and this problem," Cookeville Mayor Matt Swallows said at the recent Blue Ribbon Memorial Tree Ceremony. "I just wasn't aware. I mean, I was aware of the problem, but in my mind, it was a big city problem, it wasn't a local problem. It didn't happen in our backyard, not in Putnam County, not in the Upper Cumberland. There's too good of folks here; it just doesn't happen. Well, what I found out in the last year - and I've thought about this a lot - there are a lot of (people like me) out there: the naive people, the people who think that this doesn't exist here, that this is not a problem here. I'm ashamed that I was one of those, but now I'm more aware."
According to Cheri Richards, regional administration for the Department of Children's Services, there are currently 1,757 families in Upper Cumberland involved with her department, and many of those families have more than one child. About 80 percent of these cases are drug-related, leaving the children with health issues as well as the possibility of sexual abuse and the dangers that come with the absence of attentive parents.
"Young children end up being the caretakers of the younger children," Richards said. "We have a young man in custody at the age of 10 who was taking care of a one-year-old, a two-year-old, a three-year-old and a five-year-old. He was 10."
Anyone who suspects child abuse is required by Tennessee state law to report their suspicions. This can be done by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-54ABUSE or 1-877-237-0004, or by visiting reportabuse.state.tn.us
"If we all get out and tell one person, tell your family, tell your friends, of this problem and of this epidemic in our area, maybe three or four years down the road, we can come back here and there will be a third of these ribbons up here," Swallows said.
Pause to consider the plague of child abuse
by Jackie Stephens -- CEO, Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County
Statistics tell us that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused before reaching age 18.
Those numbers hit home for me every day of the year, but in April — Child Abuse Prevention Month — I'm reminded of the role each one of us plays in making sure all children are safe from the hurtful hands of adults.
In its 25th year, the Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County (CACC) serves as the first-responder to children who have been physically or sexually abused. Our agency includes social workers, specially trained pediatricians, therapists and court advocates who work together with law enforcement, court officials, Department of Children & Families and other social service agencies to create a child-focused approach to child abuse cases.
In fact, CACC provides assistance in every local child abuse case you read about in this newspaper. Our dedicated and well-trained staff members interview children who've been abused. The recorded interview is then shared with all parties involved, including law enforcement and the court system, so that trauma to the child is minimized. As the child and their family seek justice through the court system, CACC advocates and supports them throughout the process.
The stories our workers hear are difficult to listen to: the 10-year-old who became pregnant after being sexually abused by both her grandfather and uncle; the boy abused by a trusted family member.
At the Children's Advocacy Center of Collier County, we provide hope so that the healing can begin. In 2011, more than 2,500 children suspected of abuse walked through our doors. We also helped bring nearly 100 abusers to justice, with many cases still pending.
While we are indebted to local donors and significant grants provided by organization such the Naples Children & Education Foundation, founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, year after year, funding cuts threaten the necessary work we provide. Already a bare-bones operation, state budget cuts forced CACC to lay off 18 percent of its staff and consolidate positions. Currently, funding provided by the Victims of Child Abuse Act is in jeopardy. Supported on a bipartisan basis by Congress since 1994 to help child victims of abuse, $20 million in funding for Children Advocacy Centers around the U.S. was not included in the president's FY13 budget. Given recent media attention to child sexual abuse cases in places without Children's Advocacy Centers, now is not the time to eliminate funding for this effective response in our own community and in 750 others around the country.
We need your support to ensure our mission continues in Collier County, to ensure that every child who is abused gets the compassionate care we provide. We can change the outcome of these children's lives — but we cannot do it alone. To education yourself on the programs we offer, log onto www.CACCollier.org
Coaches Face New Scrutiny on Sex Abuse
by JESSE McKINLEY
The case of Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator for Penn State's football team accused of child sexual abuse, is now working its way through the courts. But it is already having an impact on thousands of other coaches, both volunteer and paid, who find themselves facing new scrutiny from parents, sports organizations and even state legislators.
Since the Penn State scandal came to light in November, lawmakers in more than a dozen states, including New York, California and Pennsylvania, have introduced bills adding coaches, athletic directors or university officials to the list of “mandated reporters” of suspected child abuse or neglect. In the past month, such bills have been signed in Virginia, Washington and West Virginia, with several other states expected to follow suit.
While the bills vary, some would impose significant punishments, including fines, felony charges and potential prison time for coaches or officials who violate the new laws that require the authorities to be notified.
Taken as a whole, the bills are meant to guard against what critics of Penn State said was a lax response by officials there — including the late coach Joe Paterno — that may have allowed Mr. Sandusky to continue his contact with children for years after suspicions of abuse arose.
“What we saw in Penn State was a conspiracy of silence, and that's what my bill is directly aimed at,” said State Representative Kevin Boyle, a Democrat who introduced a bill in Pennsylvania in mid-November. “I want to stop institutions that keep sex abuse under wraps.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks such laws, most states spell out exactly which professions must report child abuse, including everyone from teachers to social workers to health care providers. Legislators say the proposed new laws are not meant to cast doubt on innocent coaches, but to close loopholes in states where they are not explicitly named in abuse-reporting laws.
“Hopefully, this is a positive step rather than a punitive step,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, the California Democrat who sponsored one of the state's several pending reporting bills.
Background checks of potential coaches are also on the rise, as are efforts to close gaps in such inquiries. This month, the National Council of Youth Sports is expected to announce expanded and tightened criteria, specifically adding any conviction or pending charges involving indecent exposure, prostitution or a crime involving harm to a minor to a list of “red lights” meant to warn sports leagues away from questionable volunteers.
The new guidelines, expected to be used by leagues in a range of sports to determine who can coach, are meant to strengthen a set of “zero tolerance” guidelines that already list crimes like cruelty to animals and drug possession as potentially disqualifying offenses, no matter when the violation occurred.
“If somebody wants to volunteer, and thinks they shouldn't because they are worried about whatever happened to them in the past, then don't,” said Sally S. Johnson, executive director of the council. “I'm sure there's other people out there who want to coach.”
For all the concrete changes affecting coaches, the new oversight has also led to more subtle shifts in attitudes and approaches. “I know my players' parents would never suspect me of misconduct,” said Raven Scott, a college volleyball player at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., who also coaches 14-year-old girls. “Yet at the same time, I know that they are now even more inclined to be present at practices to monitor with that ‘just to be safe' mentality.”
Coaches, many of whom are parents themselves, said they were more conscious of how they communicate with players. Some said they had taken to sending more e-mails and texts to teams to provide a record of interactions in case accusations ever arise, while others said they had also shifted how they congratulate winners or console losers.
“I have become even more careful about being the initiator of hugs,” said Dug Barker, a computer system administrator and father of four in Louisville, Ky., who has been a coach in a variety of sports since the late 1970s. “And I am very careful with words and phrases that can have double meanings.”
The Sandusky scandal has also served as a reminder of the importance of long-practiced codes of conduct: avoiding working alone with players, for instance, or giving rides home without another adult or player in the car. Physical contact — a hand on the arm to adjust a swing, for instance — should be announced in advance.
All of which is meant to protect not only children, but also the reputations of coaches. Karen Ronney, a professional tennis instructor and the mother of three tennis-playing daughters in San Diego, said she remained “extremely cautious when dealing with kids” — continually monitoring everything from the way she speaks to the way she dresses — despite years of experience on the sidelines. “One potentially negative situation can destroy a career or a life,” Ms. Ronney said. “Possibly my own.”
Organizations that represent youth sports have also taken action in response to the Sandusky case. In late November, Little League Baseball reiterated its guidelines for reporting abuse — and for identifying potential child sex offenders — after hearing from parents and volunteers. In February, the Positive Coaching Alliance, a nonprofit group in Mountain View, Calif., hosted two online seminars devoted to stopping abuse.
“Part of our message to coaches is: ‘Don't be defensive, don't take it personally,' ” said Jim Thompson, the group's founder. “Don't be like, ‘I'm a good guy, why would there be any suspicions of me?' Recognize that this is a community trying to protect kids and embrace your role as a protector of kids.”
“If a child says you have been abusive, don't try to suppress or deny it,” read one tip in the presentation. “Instead, use this as a teaching moment. You can say, ‘Thank you for telling me this. I am sorry that this upset you. Problems should not be secrets, and we are going to talk this over with your parents.' ”
Perhaps no place has been more shaken by the Sandusky scandal than towns like Mill Hall, Pa., down the road from State College, home to Penn State. Bill Garbrick is a Little League coach here, and by all accounts, a model for others: humble, hard-working and devoted to his team, a squad that he led to the Little League World Series last year.
He said the scandal had hit “real close to home,” and certainly could put some coaches ill at ease. “If I was one of the new coaches coming into the league, I'd certainly be very cautious,” he said.
His players' parents say they, too, were shaken by the Sandusky accusations, though they had no worries about their children being away from home for overnights during the Little League World Series.
“I've always felt safe with them,” said Shelli McCloskey of Mr. Garbrick and his fellow coaches, who have coached her son Tyler for several years. “They are very respected by the kids.”
On a recent Friday night, as Mr. Garbrick watched his team practice, he admitted the Sandusky case was hard to avoid. But he said he was much more worried about the children who said they were abused.
“How it affects coaching Little League? It's certainly going to make it a little more difficult,” he said. “But that's a little piece of it.”
Kentucky mothers who lost children to abuse go public to help prevent future deaths
by Deborah Yetter
An accomplished deer hunter, Kara Mellick has felled a 7- and 10-point buck. The antlers hang in her living room.
A motivated student, she graduated from Fairdale High School with perfect attendance and is putting herself through college.
But as a devoted mother, Mellick, 23, couldn't prevent her infant daughter's violent death from abuse three years ago at the hands of a man living in her home.
“It kills me every time I think about it,” said Mellick, whose 9-month-old baby, Karlie, was fatally battered while Mellick was at work. “I don't understand how can you take out that much frustration on a baby that's totally innocent.”
Now, Mellick has decided to talk publicly about her story in hopes of preventing other such deaths. It's part of a regional public service campaign, led by Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, that is dedicated to ending child abuse deaths.
Mellick, who lives in Southern Indiana, will become the face of that campaign, along with Ebony Carson, 23, a Louisville mother whose son, Cornell, now almost 2, survived a beating in late October that left him disabled with a severe brain injury. They will appear in videos, advertisements and in other material promoting the effort.
“Reducing child abuse is not a very good goal,” said Dr. Stephen Wright, medical director at Kosair hospital, where many victims are treated. “It needs to be eliminated.”
Roughly 30 Kentucky children die each year of abuse and neglect, ranking the state eighth-highest in the nation in its rate of deaths, according to a 2010 report by the federal government. Another 50 or so Kentucky children are so severely injured each year from abuse that the state classifies the cases as “near fatalities.”
Indiana reported 17 child deaths from abuse or neglect in the year covered by the 2010 federal report, which provides the most recent national statistics available. The state has a fairly low rate of child deaths from abuse or neglect.
And such cases had one common factor, according to medical professionals involved in the Kosair hospital campaign — most, if not all, could have been prevented.
Wright and others involved say they decided to launch a major prevention and education effort out of growing outrage over the seeming unending string of child abuse deaths and injuries that sometimes draw media attention but fail to result in meaningful change.
That includes the high-profile death of Amy Dye, a 9-year-old Western Kentucky girl whose fatal beating last year in her adoptive home vividly illustrated the horrific nature of abuse and the shortcomings of the child-welfare system.
“It is a problem that is so frequent it is shocking to me,” said Dr. Sandra Herr, medical director of emergency services at Kosair hospital. Herr said she is weary of seeing children who are “killed or horribly injured' from abuse.
“The goal really is to see if we can get rid of this problem,” she said.
To that end, Kosair and Norton Healthcare officials, joined by more than 200 hospitals, doctors and other professionals from Kentucky and Southern Indiana, plan next month to launch a blitz of announcements, advertisements, videos, child protection tips and other information in what officials hope will bring lasting change.
Details of the project are to be announced May 16.
Both mothers said they hope telling their stories will spare others the devastating events they experienced — as well as the grief and guilt that followed. a group of private, nonprofit child-welfare agencies also dedicated to eradicating child abuse.
Mellick, who is single and has no other children, said her sorrow at times is overwhelming.
“You could take everything I own, just let me have her back,” she said. “All I want is her. I miss her.”
Carson, also single with no other children, said she is haunted by the memory of seeing her unconscious toddler at the hospital — bruised, swollen, hooked up to an array of medical monitors and not expected to survive.
“I didn't believe it was my baby. I didn't recognize my son,” she said. “It was heartbreaking.”
Both mothers' participation in the campaign follows an announcement earlier this month that Kosair Charities, a philanthropic group that raises money for children's health, will lead
People involved in the Kosair hospital project say they hope such stories will help more children and families avoid such terrible events through better detection of signs of possible abuse.
“You usually don't die the first time you are abused,” said Dr. Jaime Pittenger, a pediatrician at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, whose Lexington hospital is part of the effort. “It's the subsequent times.”
Missing the clues
Mellick and Carson, whose children were both treated at Kosair hospital, said they now wonder about things they may have overlooked.
“Ever since this happened, I've wanted to get word out to the public,” said Mellick, who believes she might have been able to help Karlie had she known how to recognize the clues, such as the small bruises that began appearing on the baby shortly before her death.
Carson, whose ex-boyfriend is charged with battering Cornell, also believes she might have prevented the attack that occurred while she was at work had she picked up on clues — including an unexplained previous injury and her son's increasing reluctance to stay with the ex-boyfriend.
“I didn't think there was anything going on,” she said. “After I started looking back, I saw the signs.”
Wright said these mothers aren't alone in missing such signs — and that's the impetus for the public-education campaign.
“We think that with the media, we can get to a lot of people we're not getting to now,” he said.
Medical professionals involved in the project say there are several key things parents can do, especially single parents who may need help with child care:
••••• Watch for bruising, they say, especially around the face, ears or torso, and be especially concerned about bruises on an infant not yet walking or crawling.
“Bruising in babies is not normal,” said Dr. Melissa Currie, a child abuse pediatrician with the University of Louisville. “Karlie Mellick's case is such a classic example.”
Mellick said she had noticed some small bruises on her daughter, including one on her face and ear in the days before her death. But Mellick said she never suspected Matthew Vaughn, 21, her former housemate, who sometimes watched Karlie, was responsible.
“There was nothing that he did or that I saw that showed me he would put her in harm's way,” Mellick said.
Vaughn pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year for the attack that left Karlie with a fatal head injury and broken bones. He is serving a 17-year prison sentence.
Mellick, when she first noticed bruises, thought perhaps Karlie had fallen or been injured at the day care she recently had begun attending.
And a doctor who treated Karlie for an ear infection never remarked on the ear bruising, Mellick said, even though Currie said it takes a forceful blow to bruise a child's ear.
“I know what bruising on the ear means now,” Mellick said. “I didn't know that when it happened.”
••••• Be wary of leaving a child with a partner who may have no child care experience and has little emotional attachment to the child.
The caregiver may be less patient and more likely to become frustrated with a fussy or crying child.
Both Karlie and Cornell were left in the care of men who were not relatives, and both men reported that they became irritated by the children's crying and fussing. Both mothers had placed their children in day care but sometimes relied on the men they lived with to help with child care.
Mellick said she asked Vaughn to watch Karlie on a Sunday when the day care was closed and she was called into work at her office job. Carson said she sometimes had to leave early for her job as a nursing assistant, so she would leave Cornell with her boyfriend, who took the child to day care.
Vaughn, who was watching Karlie at home, emailed Mellick to report “the baby is making me crazy … every time I walk out of the room she starts crying.”
Vaughn later told police he shook the infant and slammed her on the floor.
Roderick Williams, Carson's former boyfriend, was watching Cornell after Carson left for work about 5:45 a.m.
“He was steady whining,” Williams said in a videotaped interview with police. Williams said he became angry that the child wouldn't go back to sleep and threw him into his crib, where the child struck his head.
The Rip Current: Recovering From Childhood Sexual Abuse
by Chris Carlton -- Development director, 1in6
So many of us, at one point or another during a summer vacation or trip to the beach, have learned about rip currents. This little summer surprise is when seawater begins to channel from the beach out through the surf, making anything caught in the current move out to sea. If you end up in one of these water treadmills, the harder you try to swim or paddle towards the shore, the more exhausted you become. The trick to managing the rip current, as counter-intuitive as it seems, is to swim parallel to the shore, separating from the channel and then riding the surf in to safety.
As a survivor of seven years of sexual abuse as a child, and an author of a book chronicling my recovery, I often get asked what recovery from childhood sexual abuse is like for a man. It's a pretty complicated question.
Just getting to the point where you can say to yourself in a mirror that you were molested, much less stepping foot into a therapy office is complicated and incredibly challenging. For me, it took over a year to see a professional once I acknowledged my past.
My problem was I'm a man. I'm a proud man. I'm proud of how well I chop wood. I'm proud of how quickly I can open a jar of relish for my wife. Showing distinctive value every now and then in this world of uber-equality makes us feel good about ourselves. So, uncovering the truth about a sexually abusive childhood, and the hours of crying and snotting and shame that go along with it, is not exactly something we jot down anxiously on our weekend to-do list.
Dealing with these memories feels like something that will chip away at our value as men.
But, for me, after over 12 months of self-therapy, which is as effective as it sounds, I finally made the decision for the sake of my sanity and for my marriage, to pick up the phone and dial a therapist for help.
So, what is therapy for childhood sexual abuse like? It's like swimming in a rip current. At first, your male instincts kick in. Run. Avoid. Find cave. Shut down. This is the panic part, when you start to swim aggressively towards the shore while the current keeps you firmly in place. The harder you fight, the more exhausted you get. At some point in your therapy process, you realize that you have to make a decision. Are you going to give up? Are you going to keep swimming full speed and attempt to out-muscle the current? Or, are you going to drop a little bit of the macho-man, admit that you're human, and do the right thing for your life?
Once I figured this out, which I have to admit took a while, my recovery from childhood sexual abuse improved. I began to drop the wood-chopping, relish-opening junk, and I started to just be human. I began to accept things that felt a bit awkward. I began to cry when I had to. I began to tell my wife when I felt weak. And through all of this counter-intuitive behavior, I began to love myself for the first time in decades.
I'm still on my long road to recovery, but I'm taking the right steps. Some of them forward, some sideways, and every now and then one backwards. The Penn State sexual abuse allegations and other sexual abuse scandals at other institutions have made me feel less alone, in a sad way, and it has given me more hope that other men will feel strong enough to talk about their personal stories. One out of every six men in the U.S. has some form of unwanted or abusive sexual contact in their past. The more men who choose to take a deep breath and do the right thing for their lives, and swim parallel to the shore out of the rip current, the better we all will be.
In Child Sexual Abuse, Strangers Aren't the Greatest Danger, Experts Say
ScienceDaily (Apr. 13, 2012) — Parents generally teach their children about "stranger danger" from an early age, telling them not to talk to, walk with or take gifts or candy from strangers. But statistics show danger often lurks closer to home. According to numbers provided by the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, the vast majority of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know -- most often a family member, an adult the family trusts or, in some instances, another child.
Parents can help protect their children from sexual abuse by talking frankly to them about abuse, starting at a young age with age-appropriate information.
"It's essential that parents have a continuing conversation with their children about sexual abuse," said Kay Knaff, clinical services program manager for Youth Villages, a private nonprofit organization that helps children with emotional, behavioral and mental health issues, as well as children who have been abused or neglected. "This may seem hard to do, but it's the best way to protect your child. It's best to start talking to your children about child abuse as early as age 3 or 4."
Parents should talk to their children about inappropriate touching and other forms of child abuse, and make sure their children know what behavior is right and what is wrong. In addition, Knaff said parents should teach children to say "no" to their abuser if they can, try to get away from the abuser and/or call for help so other people become aware of the situation.
"Child abuse data show that the majority of children keep abuse a secret," Knaff said. "That means it is even more important that parents not only talk to their children about what child abuse is and emphasize that it is never the child's fault. Abuse is always wrong, and children should report it to a trusted adult. Parents need to keep the lines of communication open and seek out their children whenever they feel like something is going on with their child or their child is behaving differently in some way from usual."
To encourage children to report any abuse, parents should let the child know about two or three people designated as safe adults the child can talk to if he or she suffers abuse or feels unsafe.
"Children need to know who they can talk to," Knaff said. "They also need to be encouraged to tell what happened to them to more than one person and keep telling until someone believes them and does something about it."
Knaff also recommends parents specifically teach their children to report any touching that feels uncomfortable or wrong, even if it is by a family member, teacher, coach, pastor or church official, youth group leader or another child.
How to talk to your child about sexual abuse: ¦Tell your child about good touch -- a hug or a pat on the back -- and bad touch, when someone is touching your private areas. ¦Tell your child nobody -- no family member, teacher, other child or adult -- is allowed to touch him or her in the areas covered by a bathing suit because these are private areas. Exceptions are a parent bathing a young child or helping the child with using the bathroom, as well as a doctor or nurse when examining the child at a doctor's office or healthcare facility. ¦Tell your child he or she has permission to tell any adult who touches them in their private areas, "No!" ¦Tell your child that if anyone ever touches him or her in any way in their private areas, he or she should tell mom, dad and or grandma/grandpa or another trusted person about it immediately.
Other forms of child sexual abuse are exposure to sexual acts or sexually explicit materials not intended for minors, as well as indecent exposure. Children should be encouraged to talk to the designated safe adults any time they feel unsafe.
Get help immediately If you suspect your child has been abused, act immediately. Either call your local police department, your local rape crisis center, child protective services or the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), then push 1 to talk to a hotline counselor.
"The best thing you can do for a child who has been abused is to get the child professional help right away," Knaff said.
Nonprofit Organization Aims To Bring Attention To Child Abuse
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – PatchesKids.org is a non-profit that provides Patches the bear to young children to help them better express emotion. Because April is child abuse awareness month, the group decided to do something even bigger.
This effort isn't for the kids- instead it's a music video designed to raise awareness about the impact of child abuse.
“You're morally obligated to report it.”
Founder and abuse survivor Kathylee Forrester says adults are in a special position to prevent abuse against children.
“By turning a blind eye, which is what people do because they don't want to get involved. They don't want to falsely accuse, they don't want to risk someone's reputation. But now, they've put the child at even more risk,” said Forrester.
The video features music by Keith Dudley and demonstrates the harmful impact that child abuse can cause. For more info on the video or on Patches the Bear, go to www.patcheskids.org
Free resources for parents and families facing problems before they escalate to danger
LITTLE ROCK, Ar (KTHV) -- The Centers for Youth and Families is one place many parents can find help when dealing with stressful or problematic situations before they escalate too far.
According to the National Child Abuse Statistics website, more than 5 children die every day due to abuse or neglect.
Every 10 seconds, a case of child abuse is reported in the U.S.--if that's not troubling enough, imagine the thousands which remain secret. Heather Bennett with the Centers for Youth and Families says when the stress gets to be too much--for parent or child-- there are ways to cope before it escalates into a dangerous situation.
"When you sense you're losing your cool--maybe it's one time, maybe it's many times and you're getting concerned about your own behavior, it's time to evaluate your situation." says Bennett.
Financial stressors, time commitments, physical limitations can be too much for any parent.
Bennett says, "If you find some things in your life are taking precedence over your relationship with your child or your ability to parent your child in a constructive way, then it's time, that would be a red flag!"
At the parent resource center, you can find free help including classes, books, videos, outpatient therapy or simply a conversation with another parent who's "been there, done that."
"Anybody could come in here during the week, Monday through Friday, check books out on mental health and wellness, parenting issues...any topic you could think of that has to do with families and mental health." says Bennett.
It's also important to know what is normal in a child's development.
Bennett says, "Often times we think 'surely this can't be normal! But then just 5 minutes of research you can find that something your child is doing is normal. It may be annoying! And grating on your nerves! But there are ways to deal with those things in a more constructive way."
So if you are feeling overwhelmed as a parent -- take a time out -- don't take it out on your child.
Centers for Youth and Families is the oldest continually running non-profit in Arkansas, according to Bennett.
Other helpful sites:
St. Lucie and Martin counties can help reduce child abuse and neglect
Cheri Sheffer, community development administrator for the Florida Department of Children and Families in Circuit 19, serves on the Children's Services Councils of St. Lucie and Martin counties
It's easy to feel helpless when hearing stories about horrific child abuse — and it's something I hear a lot lately. Physicians and children's advocates working together in Martin and St. Lucie counties are reporting more intense injuries caused by abuse and neglect, greater challenges facing families and an increased number of verified abuse reports, both statewide and locally.
There are a number of reasons for the uptick in child abuse investigations, and one is just simply greater awareness: More people are reporting their concerns for specific children to the abuse hotline (800-96-ABUSE).
Other reasons include added stress on families resulting from our current economic conditions and an increase in prescription drug abuse.
But there's also a lot our community is doing to address this serious problem, and it's enough to give Martin and St. Lucie counties hope for the future. The Children's Services Councils of Martin and St. Lucie counties, independent special districts, fund a variety of programs that work to prevent abuse and neglect from ever occurring.
These programs, which create a culture of support for children and families, are designed to build the strengths research has shown exist in families that do not abuse or neglect their children. The strategies used in our programs:
Create a strong and nurturing bond between parents and children.
Teach parents about child development and appropriate parenting strategies, so they can maintain reasonable expectations for their children at each stage of their growth.
Provide problem-solving and stress reduction skills for parents, so they can become more resilient and patient when faced with everyday frustrations.
Offer social connections for families so parents are able to reach out for help when they need it.
Support families with basic needs like food, housing and financial help.
Help children to develop social and emotional competence, so they can learn positive interaction with others. Challenging behaviors and delayed development can also cause added stress on parents.
The programs funded by the Children's Services Council of St. Lucie County are essential in building these strengths. The council proudly supports agencies like 211, CASTLE, Healthy Start Coalition, Helping People Succeed, Family Preservation Services and the Hibiscus Children's Center, which all run programs that directly work to reduce child abuse and neglect.
The programs funded by the Children's Services Council of Martin County also are essential. CASTLE's Valued Visits and Safe Families programs teach parents skills and provide a supervised facility for parents to visit with children in a positive environment when there's a history of abuse. Helping People Succeed's Healthy Families program offers comprehensive support to families with voluntary in-home visits that bring new skills to parents. Father & Child Resource Center provides classes in healthy parenting and support the involvement of fathers.
In fact, almost every one of the 53 agencies funded by the council in St. Lucie and 19 agencies funded in Martin play a role in keeping children safe and families supported. Healthy families and babies, school success, family building and strengthening, out-of-school activities and teen wellness — the funding priorities of the Children's Services Council — are all part of an overall strategy to reduce child abuse and neglect.
Since the councils are funded through ad valorem taxes, every homeowner in Martin and St. Lucie counties is working to strengthen families and prevent children from experiencing abuse and neglect. Because of the successes of our community's strategies, we are not helpless. When the entire community takes responsibility for healthy child development today, we lay the foundation for safety, health and economic prosperity in Martin and St. Lucie counties' future.
Elizabeth Smart Speaks Out For Child Abuse Prevention in Ozarks
by April Hansen
(Springfield, MO) -- It was one of the most-followed child abduction cases in the past ten years.
Elizabeth Smart was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 and Friday she was in the Ozarks raising awareness for child abuse and neglect prevention. Smart was held captive for nine months.
Smart was greeted with a standing ovation when she arrived at Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. She shared what her life was like after being kidnapped, and says she now lives each day like it is her last.
"I made a resolve in that moment. I resolved I was going to do whatever it took to survive."
She did survive after being abducted by Brian David Mitchell. She now shares the vivid details of abuse when she was captive.
"The nine months he's taken from you will never be given back to you, but don't give him another minute of your life. The best punishment you could ever give him is to be happy. Let me just tell you, I have tried to do exactly that."
She's advocating for the more than 6,000 children in Missouri who are abused or neglected every year and the 900 children who are in foster care Greene County every month.
The Boys & Girls Town of Missouri started its "Be a Lifesaver" campaign and with the help of Smart, is sending a message of hope.
"That the people here today who may have been abused as children, that there's hope for them in going forward and as much as Ms. Smart suffered, she's able to make a positive impact on her country," says Kristi Fulnecky, committee chair for the campaign.
It's a strong message that a survivor has decided to live by.
"We could choose to take our life back and say yes this did happen to me but I'm not going to let it take anymore of my time," says Smart.
The "Be a Lifesaver Campaign" runs for the rest of the month. It's encouraging individuals and businesses to "adopt a day" to hold an activity to help raise awareness of the child abuse and neglect in the community.
More information: http://www.bgtm.org
City event held promoting child abuse prevention
by RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds.
More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse. Approximately 80 percent of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4. It is estimated that between 50 and 60 percent of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on the death certificate.
More than 90 percent of juvenile sex abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way. Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. Approximately 30 percent of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. Eighty percent of 21-year-olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder. The estimated cost of child abuse and neglect in the U.S. for 2008 was $124 million.
To say these statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are alarming would be a tremendous understatement.
The month of April has been designated as National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. A proclamation was recently signed by members of the Mingo County Commission to show their support for the children who reside within the county and also to acknowledge the efforts of law enforcement, child protective service (CPS) workers and all others who strive to prevent the abuse from occurring, and for serving as protectors for those too young to have a voice.
Thursday afternoon, a crowd of supporters met at the Williamson office of the West Virginia DHHR to join their employees and the students of the Williamson Christian School to walk in a parade through the town in recognition and support of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Each participant was given a blue and silver pinwheel, the new symbol of child abuse and neglect prevention nationwide. Following the conclusion of the parade that ended at the Mingo County Courthouse on Second Avenue, the pinwheels were placed in the lawn of the courthouse, where they will remain until the month of April comes to an end. Nearly 900,000 pinwheels have been displayed across the U.S. since April of 2008.
Amy Martin, Director of the Family Resource Network and Geannie Curry, CPS Supervisor for the Mingo County DHHR, spearheaded the parade, and were pleased with the turn out for the event.
“We want to express our appreciation to everyone who took the time to be a part of the walk with us,” said Curry. “Child abuse is a wide-spread epidemic that has touched far too many lives in our county, our state and our nation.
“We hold this event to bring awareness to this cause, and we can't emphasize how important it is to step up, report child abuse and take a stand for these children who are being mistreated,” commented Martin.
“All children deserve the right to live in an environment without fear or pain.”
Martin pointed out a statement from James M. Hmurovich, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, that is printed on the literature distributed in hopes of encouraging the public to do their part to protect children from becoming the victims of abuse. It reads as follows:
“There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.”
Both Curry and Martin said a special thank you to the students, teachers and administrators of the Williamson Christian School for participating in the parade, and for allowing the luncheon for those who joined their cause to be held inside their facility.
Several county officials participated in the walk for abuse, and praised the efforts of the event organizers that invest their time and effort into assuring the abuse of children is brought to the attention of the public.
“As the county prosecuting attorney, I can do my best to make sure the defendants found guilty of the abuse against a child are punished and held responsible for their crime,” said C. Michael Sparks. “However; without the CPS workers and law enforcement doing a thorough investigation and making the arrests, the conviction wouldn't be possible.
“I applaud the efforts of these workers for putting the safety and welfare of the children of our county at the top of their list of priorities.
“Nothing affects me more than a case that involves the mistreatment or the death of a child that cannot defend itself against their perpetrator,” said Sparks.
This is the third year the DHHR had held the awareness walk in Williamson, and the second year they have conducted the flag raising ceremony with the child abuse awareness flag in each municipality within the county.
For more information regarding Child Abuse and Awareness Month, contact the Mingo County DHHR at 304-234-4680.
Las Vegas officer testifies on efforts to help sex trade victims
by Steve Tetreault
WASHINGTON -- There is change under way in how prostitutes are being viewed in many communities, experts say. They are not as much criminals but victims, and more resources are needed to rescue them from pimps and abusers.
Among other places, that view is coming from Las Vegas, which a Metropolitan Police Department lieutenant told a federal commission on Friday is "ground zero" for the sex trade, from hotel hookers to Internet-advertised escorts to "neighborhood brothels" that cater to customers in ethnic enclaves.
Lt. Karen Hughes of the Las Vegas police vice section briefed the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the department's reorganization three years ago to create a team dedicated to hunting down panderers as part of a new approach to cleaning up the streets.
Hughes said the pimp investigation team was formed "recognizing that adult victims can't be forgotten." The unit kicks into action on crimes involving women, such as kidnapping, battery and sexual assault, that point to sex trafficking and the presence of gangs or organized crime.
"They refer to themselves as 'PIT,'?" Hughes said. "And they hunt. That's what they do. They hunt the bad guys."
The detectives also are trained as victim advocates, which is unusual in law enforcement. "The best things we have done since I've run my unit is change the mindset and culture," Hughes said.
"It's the only unit in the department where we pick our victims up at the airport, we walk them into court," she said. "We make sure we are there" for women needing protection from handlers.
The pimp investigation team complements a Metro unit that polices sex trafficking in minors, an effort that has been ongoing since 1994, Hughes said.
The eight-member civil rights commission is studying enforcement of sex trafficking laws, with plans to issue recommendations later this year to the White House, Congress and the states.
Witnesses recommended that laws against pandering be strengthened, as well as partnerships among the states and federal government as authorities see an increase in trafficking networks.
At the same time, laws should be updated to protect both underage and adult exploitation victims, said Bridgette Carr, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School who runs a legal clinic on human trafficking. "As a nation, we cannot improve upon our response to and our protection of victims of sex trafficking until we create a new model which supports victims rather than treating them as criminals," Carr said.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said many women are drawn into prostitution as either young runaways or victims of home abuse and come of age with the practice. So when does someone "choose" to be a prostitute, he asked.
"Is it when she became of the age of consent?" he asked. "When did she stop being a victim of human trafficking? When did she make the volition choice?"
"And yet for the better part of her life we have all treated her as a criminal," Zoeller said. "I would ask you to think of the prostitutes on the streets and take a good hard look at who they are and how we treat them as criminals, and maybe think maybe their civil rights were violated somewhere.
"I'll be addressing this with my legislature," Zoeller said. "We are not going to decriminalize prostitution," he said, but perhaps create some diversionary path for women who can show they were forced into prostitution as minors and want to ditch the profession.
"We need a change in culture in law enforcement," said Salvador Cicero, an Illinois attorney who is on a Chicago-area anti-trafficking task force. "I've had conversations with police officers throughout the country, and they say, 'So you are telling me I have been putting prostitutes away for 20 years, and now they are victims?'" Cicero said.
"But that's reality,'' he said. ''That means we have to change the way we view the people ''
Todd Gaziano, a commissioner and senior fellow in legal studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, asked what would happen if prostitution were legalized, as it is in rural Nevada counties.
Hughes and others said it would not stem illegal prostitution or sex trafficking in minors. David Kladney, a civil rights commissioner and attorney from Reno, said some prostitutes in legal Nevada brothels are tied to pimps who skim their earnings.
Legalized Sex Trade Threatens More Young, Homeless Kids, Covenant House Fears
Child prostitution, often involving homeless youth, will likely escalate if prostitution is legalized in Canada as it has in other countries where the sex trade is legal, according to Carol Howes, program director at Covenant House.
Toronto, ONTARIO -- April 14, 2012
Child prostitution, often involving homeless youth, will likely escalate if prostitution is legalized in Canada as it has in other countries where the sex trade is legal, according to Carol Howes, program director at Covenant House, an Ontario-based charity that offers shelter and support service for homeless youth.
The possibility of legalized prostitution in Canada moved a step closer to reality with the Ontario Court of Appeals' recent landmark ruling that swept away most of the country's prostitution laws and would see legal brothels, reports the Globe and Mail.
“We fear that more vulnerable kids will be forced into the sex trade as they have in other countries with more relaxed prostitution laws. Often youth who are struggling to survive on the street are easily manipulated into prostitution or coerced with drugs and violence,” Howes says.
As many as 30 percent of Canadian street youth are involved in some form of selling sex, according to a study by New Brunswick's St. Thomas University.
“In our experience, most kids are not making an informed choice to get into the sex trade. They are most often forced by circumstances and adults who know there is a lucrative market for the young,” she adds. “Many of those who end up involved in prostitution have been sexually abused as children. Often these young people see no other choices or options. When they come to us, they are among the most in need of counselling and support to change their lives.”
Several European countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, where prostitution is legal, are re-examining their laws in the wake of rising human trafficking and child prostitution, reports the Nevada Coalition.
Howes says,“Possible changes to Canadian prostitution laws will do nothing to make street-level prostitution any safer and could increase illicit activity as it has elsewhere.”
Covenant House is Canada's largest shelter for homeless youth offering the widest range of services under one roof to some 4,000 youth annually.
Survivors of sex trafficking speak out at Salt Lake symposium
by Emiley Morgan , Deseret News
April 13 2012
SALT LAKE CITY — It took Stacy Lewis 10 years after leaving "the life" to realize and understand that she had been a victim of sex trafficking.
But when she found her voice, it was powerful and it was strong.
Friday she performed a monologue she wrote titled "10 Years and One Day" with fierceness and tenderness. Her voice raising and then lowering, she spoke of the children she saw working in the streets and of the sun that taunted her while she was forced to work only in darkness.
"While it took 10 years to fully understand that I was a victim, it only took me one day to believe in the sun," she said. "God was in the light all along. … I escaped my prison while all the vampires were asleep."
Lewis was one of eight "survivors" who took the stage on the last day of the 2012 Trafficking In Persons Symposium that was held this week in Salt Lake City. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and leaders from various nonprofit organizations from across the country and beyond, including Mexico and Montreal, attended in an attempt to learn more about what they can do for victims and to prevent human trafficking in their communities.
The U.S. Office of Safe and Drug-free Schools reports on its website that human trafficking is a domestic problem and that there have been reported occurrences in all 50 states. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, it is akin to "modern-day slavery" and as many as 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for sexual exploitation.
They reported that federally funded task forces opened as many as 2,515 cases involving suspected human trafficking between January 2008 and June 2010.
Keisha Head, who is an advocate for Atlanta organization A Future Not a Past, offered a number of suggestions from the perspective of someone who was trapped in the system and found a way out. Victims are not going to give you information readily. They are afraid. Be aware of the first contact you make.
She said she remembers her first buyer and her first predator. She said she cannot forget what the first social worker she met said to her when she left her life on the streets behind.
"(She) used the word 'throwaway,'" Head recalled Friday.
She now knows that's a word often used by those "inside," but what it said to her is that she was seen as trash, as something disposable. She said it's also important to realize that many of these victims, whether they are runaways or children of the system, are still only kids.
"Let's peel back all the labels," she said. "We're talking about children."
In her performance, Lewis spoke of children she would see on the streets. Children, she said, whose hair should be in pigtails and their hands carrying lunchboxes instead of asking men on the street if they want a date.
"(There was) no hope in their eyes," she said. "They weren't old enough to understand hope."
Head said youths will always be targeted as long as there is a market for them.
"We have to look at this as supply and demand," she said. "Our children are the supply and they are being demanded. The reason I was trafficked was because a man purchased me."
Head said eliminating that demand needs to be a priority. There also needs to be more awareness in schools about what prostitution is and what predators are. There is also a need for support systems to help those trying to leave the captivity of their pimps, who often threaten harm to them or their loved ones.
"Help us learn the normalcy that was not taught to us as children," she implored. "We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude for it."
Many of the women on the panel said they gained strength from hearing each others' stories and the efforts they were making to help those like them in their respective homes. Shamere McKenzie, who works as a policy assistant in the Protected Innocence Initiative of Shared Hope International, said the experience showed her she was not alone.
"I don't want to know your story, I don't want to know who your pimp was," she said. "You're out of it. Give me a hug!"
Beyond the encouragement and motivation she got from her fellow "sisters" in survival, she was also impressed by the large group attending the symposium.
"Just to see law enforcement, prosecutors and people shows someone does care about the boys and girls still in the life," she said.
There are also some in Utah working to create organizations to help create awareness and support for those in this state who may be involved in human trafficking. Tyler Brklacich of BackyardBroadcast.org said they emphasize awareness and education in the community. While he is uncertain how prevalent a problem this is in Utah, he's been told by law enforcement officers that there is about one case a week in Utah.
"We need to understand that there is so much we don't know," he said. "We want this to become a household issue."
Kimberly Bell, who works with a nonprofit organization in Salt Lake City that helps the homeless in the city, said they have encountered homeless prostitutes and are working to learn more about how to help children who may have been forced into prostitution. The symposium, and the stories of the survivors, left her looking to the future,
"I feel really motivated," she said. "There are a lot of resources, connections with a lot of groups who can help me. We're starting from ground zero. It's pretty small, but it's growing. It's hopeful."
Woman raped as a child speaks out
by Diane Turbyfill
She had to end the pain, depression and abuse.
He would never touch her again. She took a handful of her mother's sleeping pills and waited for death.
The attempt failed. So did the seven others that she would make.
Today, Mary Kendrick is glad she didn't succeed. Despite years of physical and sexual abuse and subsequent desire to die, the Gastonia woman now has purpose. She serves as an advocate for the sexually abused. She's working on her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and reveals a joyful smile when talking about her present and future.
Keeping a secret
Kendrick was 9 when a 41-year-old relative asked her a poignant question, “Can you keep a secret?”
That secret included rape, unwanted touching and sodomy. The abuse went on for six years. Sometimes her family wasn't at home. Other times her brother and sister were outside playing.
Her demeanor changed.
“I felt dirty,” she said. “I didn't know about sex then. It wasn't talked about.”
Threats kept Kendrick quiet. A trip to the doctor said what she couldn't. Kendrick had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. She told her mother what had happened, but her deep-rooted admission fell on deaf ears.
“It was me. I was a whore,” Kendrick said was the response.
She blamed herself for the sexual abuse.
Kendrick continued to be abused when her family moved. A neighbor sought her out and raped her.
Kendrick never pressed charges against that man, but he later went to prison on sex charges against someone else, she said.
Kendrick moved out of her mother's house at 17. Her aunt took her in.
She dropped out of high school. She fell into an abusive relationship. Kendrick described the perfect storm for depression.
“I felt like I was alone, that I didn't have nobody,” she said. “I just got so angry that my life turned out like this. I felt I missed most of my life.”
At age 33 Kendrick made her final suicide attempt in 2008. She followed her usual method, pills. It didn't take.
Kendrick doesn't remember how she found out about Assault & Victimization, Intervention & Deterrence. But she remembers walking through the door and meeting AVID Director Nancy Newman.
“At the time I was just doing what God laid on my heart to do,” she said.
Nancy Newman remembers the angry Kendrick who came to get help three years ago. Now the two laugh, smile and work together to help sexual assault victims. Kendrick volunteers at AVID as a victim advocate. Newman is the program director.
Kendrick worked through the pain of her past with counseling and by writing a book, “The Masquerade – What Mask Are You Wearing.”
Kendrick has been married nearly 15 years and has two adult children.
She went back to school to get her GED, earned an associate's and is working on her bachelor's degree.
She is no longer the quiet girl who stands off to the side. In fact she's quite the opposite, according to Newman.
Kendrick embraces her boisterous new attitude, admitting that she might overcompensate for some of her childhood.
“I didn't get told as a child that I love you. So I always tell people I love them,” she joked, saying sometimes she makes the statement to strangers.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Both Newman and Kendrick stressed the importance of reporting instances if you suspect or experience sexual abuse.
Kendrick told her story as a child but found no help. Newman had only one suggestion in such a case.
“They need to keep telling until they tell the right person,” she said. “There is hope. There are people who will understand.”
Child abuse prevention highlighted
April brings issue to center stage
by Mitzi Perdue
SALISBURY -- Farah Smith, a counselor at Salisbury's Life Crisis Center, wants everyone to become aware of child abuse. And since April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, it's an ideal time to examine the issue.
To see how child abuse happens, let's follow a hypothetical but realistic composite girl, Melissa, who arrives in Smith's office.
Smith reads the Child Advocacy Center report and learns that Melissa, 11, had a sexual relationship with one of her teachers, including four episodes of intercourse.
In the next several months, Smith gradually learns from Melissa how it all happened. The perpetrator had "groomed" his victim, that is, he gradually drew Melissa into the sexual relationship while shrouding everything in secrecy.
The offender targeted Melissa from the beginning, sizing up her emotional neediness, isolation and low self-confidence. Then he set to work gaining her trust.
He seemed to relate to her so well. He "got" her, he understood her more than her parents or her peers. She trusted him.
Gradually, he began isolating her, finding time alone with her that reinforced their special connection. But then, when she was used to being alone with him, he touched her breast.
Strangely, Melissa could hardly believe this had happened. It felt surreal. She had trouble processing it and afterward was asking herself, "Did that really happen?"
After a few such episodes, aberrant behavior seemed normal. This pattern gradually progressed to full sexual intercourse.
The offender succeeded in keeping her silent by creating a terrible fear of the humiliation she would feel if she told anyone and the fury her parents would feel toward her. He had her trapped.
By now, her family and friends were noticing something was terribly wrong. She couldn't sleep, and if she did, she suffered nightmares. She was losing weight, couldn't concentrate in school, was moody and as her parents put it, "She's just not Melissa anymore."
One day Melissa hinted at what was going on to her friend Janie, who freaked out and immediately told her guidance counselor. That began the chain of events that led Melissa to the Life Crisis Center.
Melissa didn't know it at the time, but this was incredibly fortunate for her. Without months of counseling, if she had followed a path that happens all too often when sexual abuse victims don't get help, she would have been at risk for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, extreme promiscuity, substance abuse and suicide attempts.
Melissa is almost certain to have a vastly different outcome. Farah Smith, when looking at how much Melissa has learned and how far she's come in the course of her counseling, is confident that Melissa will become a well-adjusted and productive adult.
If you suspect child abuse, Smith urges you to call the local county Social Services. Your call can mean the difference for a young person between a good outcome and a terrible one.
To learn more about the Salisbury Life Crisis Center, visit www.lifecrisiscenter.org
Special Missouri task force on preventing child sexual abuse meets Friday in Springfield
Governor Jay Nixon tabs Springfield's Senator Bob Dixon to lead effort inspired by Penn State scandal
by Jonah Kaplan
-- State lawmakers want child sexual abuse across Missouri to stop.
On Friday, as part of a special task force, state and local leaders will be in Springfield to talk about it with you.
Advocates for child safety say Missouri needs to improve the quality of life for the thousands of children at risk for sexual abuse.
Governor Jay Nixon appointed Springfield's own Senator Bob Dixon to head this latest effort to do just that.
Officials hope to define exactly what counts as child sexual abuse that will help witnesses identify those acts more appropriately.
The goal then is to then develop models for preventing abuse before it happens -- not merely a reaction to stop it from happening again.
The Penn State scandal had a lot to do with why states are now talking about sex abuse.
"[Child sexual abuse] happens in lots of different venues," explains Barbara Brown-Johnson of Springfield's Child Advocacy Center. "It can happen in the family, it can happen in a coach and child relationship and it can happen anywhere. [The Penn State scandal] suddenly made it much more acceptable to have that discussion to talk about child sexual abuse."
Child sexual abuse is a big problem here in Southwest Missouri. The Child Advocacy Center saw 1,072 children in 2011, with 831 reporting sexual abuse.
More than 400 of those kids were younger than six , and almost the same number of cases, the child said a parent did it.
Several Ozarks officials ranging from police chiefs to attorneys will join Senator Dixon at Friday's public meeting.
This will be your only chance to attend in Greene County.
It starts at 9:00 a.m. at the Meyer Alumni Center on South Jefferson.
The task force will continue its tour through Missouri and hold public meetings in Kansas City (June 30), Saint Louis (August 15) and Kirksville (TBD).
To report an abuse, you can call the child abuse hotline at 800-392-3738
Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole Speaks at the Yale Law School Human Trafficking Symposium
From the Department of Justice
New Haven, Conn. ~ Thursday, April 12, 2012
Thank you, David [Fein], for that introduction. Thank you Yale Law School, the Trade of Innocents team, the United States Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for organizing this important symposium.
I am honored to join with so many esteemed colleagues gathered here to talk about what more we can all do in the global fight against human trafficking. The groups represented in this room have all been critical partners in trying to eradicate this scourge at home and abroad.
At the Department of Justice we have a number of components deeply involved in our effort to combat human trafficking. These include the United States Attorney's Offices, the Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and the FBI. And the Office of Justice Programs funds task forces across the country. But even with all of those Department participants, we cannot win this fight alone.
That is why I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the vital importance of partnerships in the Department's effort to combat human trafficking. Law enforcement agencies; federal, state, local, and international authorities; and non-governmental organizations such as the Polaris Project and the International Justice Mission all have key roles to play in advancing this critical mission.
It seems almost unfathomable that today in the 21 st Century, we still live in a world where human trafficking persists.
And yet it exists and is often hiding in plain and painful sight. It's the young woman who comes to America for the promise of a new life but finds herself enslaved and sold for sex. Or the child who grew up here in America but ran away from home only to find herself the victim of her desperate acceptance of help from the wrong person. Or the migrant worker who is deprived of identification, transportation, and access to money in order to ensure his total dependence on his employer.
The Department of Justice is resolutely committed to preventing and combating human trafficking in all its forms. For Attorney General Holder and I, this is a deeply held conviction. Earlier this month, I had the privilege of speaking about this modern day form of slavery at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Later this month, the Attorney General will be delivering an important speech on human trafficking at the Clinton Presidential Library.
Yet the Department's commitment extends beyond mere words by its leadership and transcend into real action on the ground – action that has saved lives, delivered on the promise of freedom, and restored dignity to women, children and men held in bondage.
Last year, the Department set a new record in the number of defendants charged in human trafficking cases in a single year. And over the last three years, there has been a 30-percent increase in the number of forced labor and adult sex trafficking cases charged.
Here in Connecticut, you have served as leaders in fighting human trafficking. In 2008, Dennis Paris was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and ten other co-defendants were convicted in connection with a Hartford-based sex trafficking ring that targeted young, vulnerable women and girls. And just last year, Jarell Sanderson was sentenced right here in New Haven to over 25 years in prison for the sex trafficking of a 14-year-old victim.
Now, there's always a bit of a good news/bad news aspect to higher numbers of prosecutions because they reflect not only the good—an effective enforcement effort--but also the bad—the reality that these cases are there to be prosecuted.
Yet it also reminds us that an absolutely essential element in bringing these prosecutions in the first instance has been a broad array of partnerships. These partnerships have proven to be force multipliers and yielded concrete results.
Take the tragic and shocking case out of Virginia where an MS-13 gang member preyed on a 12-year-old girl. He forced her into prostitution, seven days a week, using illegal drugs to keep her compliant. The defendant and his fellow gang members aggressively marketed her for prostitution at apartments, hotels, and businesses.
Law enforcement agencies in partnership with victim advocates working through the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, we're able to discover this crime, stop it, and last October—two years from the very day that the victim was first ensnared—her trafficker was sentenced to life in prison.
The Department also partners with federal authorities to combat human trafficking.
Last February, the Justice Department launched a Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative to take our counter-trafficking enforcement efforts to a new level.
As a part of this effort, Attorney General Holder, along with the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and the Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, announced the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team – or “ACTeam” – Initiative. This Initiative is an interagency collaboration among the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Labor aimed at streamlining federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses.
Following a rigorous interagency selection process, we launched six Pilot ACTeams around the country. Today, these teams are fully operational and are developing high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions.
As we continue to increase coordination at the federal level, we are also partnering with state and local law enforcement authorities and the National Association of Attorneys General on its Human Trafficking Initiative.
We are providing grant funding through an Enhanced Collaborative Model to state and local law enforcement partners – and to victim service organizations – pairing proactive law enforcement efforts to stop traffickers, with programs to help victims heal and rebuild their lives.
Also we are hosting regional training forums, delivering training and technical assistance to the broader anti-trafficking community, and developing training curricula for state prosecutors and judges.
Yet even as we leverage these domestic partnerships, we recognize, as the title of this symposium notes, that a global perspective on trafficking is needed. Pursuing justice within our borders is simply not enough. That is why we are also taking steps to forge partnerships across borders.
One concrete example of this can be seen in Southeast Asia. During my visit to the Philippines last November, I had the honor of addressing the graduates of a course on Human Trafficking at the Philippine National Police Headquarters. The course was conducted by American and Philippine police instructors through DOJ's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). Graduates of this course are now key partners on the front lines of the fight against human trafficking.
Closer to home, we are working with Mexican law enforcement authorities to dismantle sex trafficking networks operating on both sides of the border. Our joint actions have brought freedom to victims, and secured landmark convictions and substantial sentences against the traffickers in a number of high-impact bilateral cases.
And we continue to work with our friends at the State Department to engage a wider number of international partners on this issue, and to ensure that they, too, are pursuing aggressive enforcement efforts against traffickers and have the tools to do so. I am glad to see Ambassador CdeBaca will be speaking later in the afternoon to share the State Department's perspective.
And so, in surveying these partnerships, while we can all be encouraged by our recent achievements in the fight against human trafficking, we have far more to do.
We must proceed with the humility of knowing that lives have been irreparably harmed and that justice alone can only bring a quantum of solace. It simply cannot undo the harm.
That is why, above and beyond all else, our various partnerships must focus on prevention. Prevention through prosecution of trafficking rings before they can ensnare other victims. Prevention through deterrence so that our prosecutions dissuade others who may follow suit. Prevention through public awareness as films like Trade of Innocents importantly seek to generate. And, lastly, prevention through the education of potential victims who driven by fear, poverty, or lack of education often unwittingly place their lives in the hands of exploitative traffickers.
The efforts we all make in this area are of critical importance. They are of critical importance to the victims, to their families and friends, and, frankly, to the fabric of our entire nation. These are truly among the most vulnerable members of our communities and are in desperate need of our help.
I want to thank all of you for the efforts you have made and that you will continue to make to fight for justice on behalf of victims of human trafficking. Without you they have little hope.
Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you on this vital subject.
Tougher human trafficking law sought
Measure calls for an increase in protections, harsher penalties
ALBANY — Lawmakers and prosecutors are pushing for a stronger human-trafficking law that would increase protections for victims and strengthen penalties against traffickers.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, introduced a bill this week to revise the state's 2007 law to hold sex and labor traffickers, sex-tourism operators and other human traffickers accountable.
The measure would particularly increase protections in cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
It would also close a gap in the state's 2008 Safe Harbor Law, which prohibits prosecution and incarceration of children on prostitution charges. Children ages 16 and 17 still have been arrested and convicted in criminal court because the judicial system has some discretion about transferring cases to Family Court, Paulin said Thursday.
Prosecutors, members of law enforcement and organizations that serve victims of human trafficking have pointed out other gaps and loopholes in the law that make it more difficult to catch traffickers, she said.
“My bill builds on the 2007 anti-trafficking law by increasing accountability for the criminals, the buyers and the traffickers who are fueling the underground growth of this massive industry,” Paulin said.
The legislation would create the felony sex offenses of first-, second- and third-degree aggravated patronizing a minor so penalties would conform to those for statutory rape. Under existing law, patronizing a minor for prostitution is a class E felony. Rape is a class B felony, a more serious offense.
“People who buy sex from children should face the same penalty as people who commit statutory rape of children,” said Dorchen Leidholdt, director of the Center for Battered Women's Legal Services at Sanctuary for Families in New York City.
The legislation would classify sex trafficking as a class B violent felony, which carries more penalties than a B felony, as it is categorized under current law. It would increase the penalty for labor trafficking from a class D felony to a class B felony.
Sen. Steve Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, said he would introduce the bill in his house, “knowing full well that it's going to need some work.”
New York has made progress, but there is room for improvement on human trafficking. “Clearly there's more that needs to be done. It's just how do we get there,” he said.
Paulin said she and Saland put in everything they want in the bill and will begin the negotiating process.
The bill would remove New York's requirement that prosecutors prove coercion in sex-trafficking cases involving children. New York's Safe Harbor Act recognizes that prostituted individuals younger than 18 are exploited youth, as does federal law.
Judge refuses to toss child sex-abuse charges against ex-Penn St. assistant Jerry Sandusky
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A judge on Thursday refused to throw out child sex-abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky but will allow defense lawyers for the retired Penn State assistant football coach to ask again to have the case dismissed as more evidence is turned over by prosecutors.
Judge John Cleland ruled on a catch-all pretrial defense motion that also sought to have some of the evidence against Sandusky suppressed, compel additional disclosure of prosecution materials, and win the court's permission to introduce an alibi defense.
Sandusky, 68, is charged with more than 50 criminal counts that allege he sexually abused 10 boys over 15 years, both on the Penn State campus and elsewhere. He has denied the allegations. The scandal led to the ousters of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who died in January, and Penn State President Graham Spanier.
Cleland rejected an argument by Sandusky's legal team that the statute of limitations may have run out for eight of the 10 alleged victims.
He also rebuffed defense arguments that some of the charges against Sandusky were not specific enough, and that evidence was lacking in others. But the judge said Thursday that Sandusky can raise those arguments again before a June trial, writing that “discovery is ongoing, and, as a result, some of the defendant's requests for relief are premature.”
Sandusky attorney Joe Amendola declined comment on the order, citing a gag order imposed by Cleland that severely limits what lawyers on both sides may say to reporters. A spokesman for the state attorney general's office did not respond to a phone message.
Ruling on other defense motions, Cleland said prosecutors must turn over any evidence of crimes beyond those for which Sandusky has been charged, and to disclose any criminal records of prosecution witnesses. Cleland also said Sandusky will be allowed to introduce an alibi defense, but only if it's based on new evidence arising from the discovery process.
Cleland rejected Amendola's argument that a June search of Sandusky's home in State College was illegal. Amendola has said previously the search turned up nothing that implicated his client.
The judge granted a defense request to question prospective jurors individually, but deferred ruling on a second request that jurors be sequestered at trial. Prosecutors did not oppose either motion.
Sandusky's trial is scheduled to begin June 5.
Penn State, meanwhile, announced Thursday that it's starting a professional training program designed for employees to recognize and report instances of child abuse.
The first round of training, to begin April 18, will target employees working in summer camps and programs.
Support Group for Sexual Assault Survivors
Passaic County Women's Center
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 • 8:49am
PATERSON, NJ - The Passaic County Women's Center will be facilitating a free and confidential 8-week support group for adult female survivors of sexual assault.
This group will take place on Wednesday evenings, starting on May 2, 2012.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, child sexual abuse or incest, and are looking for a safe, confidential space to discuss the issue with those who have had similar experiences, please contact Maria Pintar at (973) 881-0725, ext. 205 to set up an intake appointment.
Child abuse series begins on WNIT
SOUTH BEND — WNIT Public Television presents the three-part, locally produced series “Child Abuse: Our Silent Crisis” in recognition of April as National Child Abuse Prevention month.
Child abuse prevention professionals from throughout the area will lend their expertise and experience to these programs, which are co-hosted by Gary Sieber, Kelly Morgan and Amanda Ceravolo.
The series begins at 8 p.m. today with “Recognizing and Reporting” and guests Linda Cioch, director of the St. Joseph County Department of Child Services; Dr. Tom Soisson, a pediatrician and member of St. Joseph County Child Protection Team; and Barb Vernon, Child and Parent Services (CAPS) in Elkhart.
“Consequences” airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday with guests Linda Baechle of the YWCA North Central Indiana; Dr. Jeff Burnett, a psychologist with the Family & Children's Center Counseling and Development Services; and Magistrate Deborah Domine, juvenile magistrate from Elkhart County.
The series concludes at 8 p.m. April 26 with “Ask an Expert — Child Abuse” and guests Vicki Becker, the Elkhart County chief deputy prosecutor; Patricia Hancock, a licensed clinical social worker at the Family & Children's Center Counseling and Development Services; and Dr. John Hutchings, director of student services for Elkhart County Schools.
The first two programs will air live from WNIT's Center for Public Media. During “Ask an Expert” on April 26, viewers are invited to call or e-mail comments and questions to the station.
For more information, call 574-675-9648 or visit the website wnit.org
Walk against child abuse set for Saturday
by IVY FARGUHESON
MUNCIE -- Saturday afternoon is the time to celebrate the voices of all children in Delaware County.
The fourth "We Have a Voice" Child Abuse Awareness Walk is a reminder to the community that listening to children is essential to stopping any harm against them as soon as it starts.
"Our whole mission is to raise awareness about child abuse; ... many children in our community are affected by abuse and we need to do something about it," said Bob Coles, vice president of clinical services for Meridian Health Services, a sponsor of the walk. "Each year, more people attend the walk, and it's great because we're bringing more attention to this issue. We also have a strong connection with the schools and we see more children as well. And that's important because they're helping children, too."
Between 1 and 1:45 p.m. Saturday -- a new time for the walk -- residents are encouraged to go to Worthen Arena at Ball State University to begin the walk inside the arena.
The walk will then move outdoors, weather permitting, to become a visible message for drivers along McKinley Avenue.
"We Have a Voice" has been the walk's theme for four years, a message to represent the need for children to be heard and protected from abuse.
The Child Advocacy Center, a division of Meridian Health Services housed at the Suzanne Gresham Center, opened in 2007 to provide children with a voice in their own fights against child abuse.
The family-friendly environment of the CAC has welcomed more than 600 children since it opened, providing a space for them to speak with law enforcement, parents, therapists and other advocates about the abuse they've experienced.
"The (CAC) gave me my son back," said Erica Graham, a parent whose two children were the victim of abuse. "They give him his voice and they were the frame that held us together. I plan on attending the walk on Saturday to share my story and support all that they do ... and, of course, to support prevention."
Fifteen organizations will have booths at Worthen, distributing information about ways to prevent child abuse, what you should do if you suspect it and how residents can be advocates for awareness.
The Delaware County Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse, as well as representatives from Court Appointed Special Advocates will be there.
But there will also be representatives from agencies that celebrate children and build their confidence, such as the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana and the Muncie Public Library.
"It's important for children at the walk to see adults they can trust," said Eileen Moore, program manager for the CAC. "They should see that there are people who will listen to them and encourage them."
During the walk inside Worthen, television screens will flash information about child abuse nationally and locally.
A screen will also flash the number of the anonymous child abuse helpline -- (800) 800-5556 -- for those who suspect a child as been a victim of abuse.
"It's important for children that they are not responsible for what has happened to them," Moore said. "And that adults must do something to prevent it. This walk spreads that message to everyone."
How common is child sex abuse?
Darkness to Light, a national nonprofit that works to empower adults to prevent child sex abuse, provides the following information on its website, www.d2l.org.
"The real prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known because so many victims do not disclose or report their abuse. Researchers have suggested rates varying from 1 percent to 35 percent. Most professionals in the field of abuse use rates from 8 percent to 20 percent.
Even if the true prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known, most will agree that there will be 500,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually abused before they turn 18 if we do not prevent it.
Adult retrospective studies show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006). This means there are more than 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the U.S.
The primary reason that the public is not sufficiently aware of child sexual abuse as a problem is that 73 percent of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45 percent of victims do not tell anyone for at least 5 years. Some never disclose (Smith et al., 2000; Broman-Fulks et al., 2007).
Most people think of adult rape as a crime of great proportion and significance. Most are unaware that children are victimized at a much higher rate than adults.
Nearly 70percent of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under (Snyder, 2000).
Youths have higher rates of sexual assault victimization than adults. In 2000, the sexual assault victimization rate for youths 12 to 17 was 2.3 times higher than for adults (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000)."
Child sex abuse prevention training at KMC
April 11, 2012
Free training on how to recognize, prevent and react to child sex abuse will be offered next week at Kootenai Medical Center.
Kootenai Health is hosting "Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children" on Wednesday, April 18, from 6-9 p.m.
The free workshop will offer information about the prevalence and consequences of child sex abuse, and effective ways to prevent and respond to it.
Ruth Willford, an R.N. at Kootenai and program facilitator, will lead the program. The course is free but registration is required.
Register online at www.kootenaihealth.org and click on Classes & Events or call (208) 666-2030.
The workshop follows a national curriculum that works to empower adults to prevent child sexual abuse.
Accuser of ex-Syracuse coach gets prison for child abuse
(Reuters) - A man who accused former Syracuse University basketball coach Bernie Fine of molesting him was ordered to prison for more than three years on Wednesday for child abuse in Maine.
Zach Tomaselli, 23, was sentenced to 12 years with all but three years and three months suspended, said the clerk for Judge Robert Clifford in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn, Maine. The sentence called for six years of probation and other conditions.
As the result of a plea bargain, Tomaselli of Lewiston, Maine, pleaded guilty in December to gross sexual conduct, unlawful sexual contact and visual sexual aggression.
He admitted molesting a 13-year-old boy at a Maine camp where he worked as a counselor.
Tomaselli is one of three men who say they were molested as children by Fine, who as a result of the scandal was fired as a former long-time assistant coach to Syracuse Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Boeheim.
Fine, who has not been charged with any crime, denies the allegations. Tomaselli's father, also accused by his son of molestation, has said his son is lying.
Tomaselli's accusation that he was molested on a basketball team trip to Pittsburgh in 2002 triggered a federal investigation of Fine.
Authorities said claims by the other two accusers, former ball boys Bobby Davis and Michael Lange, that they were abused in the 1980s were considered too old to be investigated under state statutes of limitations.
Judge to issue verdict in 50-year-old rape case
SYCAMORE, Ill. — A Seattle man charged with sexually assaulting an Illinois teenager 50 years ago is set to discover his fate.
Jack McCullough is accused of rape and indecent liberties with a child in Sycamore, Ill., in 1962. His accuser testified Tuesday that she was 14 when McCullough raped her and allowed two other men to do the same.
DeKalb County Judge Robbin Stuckert says she will reach a verdict Thursday.
The Daily Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/HBya7w ) that prosecutor Victor Escarcida said McCullough took advantage of the teen while he held a position of authority and trust.
Public Defender Regina Harris argued no one can corroborate the victim's story and there is no physical evidence.
McCullough is charged with the 1957 kidnapping and murder of a 7-year-old Sycamore girl in a separate trial.
Protecting children from sex trafficking continues to be elusive goal
Underage sex trafficking is in the news again after Washington state enacted a law requiring websites like backpage.com to maintain documentation proving the age of escorts advertising on the site. Some argue that escort websites are better than the alternative, but, there does not yet appear to be a model for ending child prostitution.
Recently, the Washington legislature enacted a law requiring websites advertising escort services, like backpage.com, to obtain documentation that escorts advertising on their sites are at least 18.
The industry is already required to disclose the age of its employees, but Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times, said the age disclosures are not always truthful.
"And, indeed, on backpage that girl, or any girl, will be listed as 18 or 19, and some of the girls who have been trafficked in the past who told me that 18 is really code for 15 or 16 and 19 means 17 or 18," Kristoff said. "Now, backpage says it is now more rigorous about that, and it is trying to eliminate some of the words that used to be code for underage girls, like 'fresh 18-year old,' things like that, but there is no doubt that a lot of girls are underage and are marketed on backpage, even though they are under 18."
However, Kristof said that backpage is not driving underage sex trafficking, rather demand is. He said addressing the problem may require reducing demand.
"There are some initiatives around the country to crack down on johns, and I think that is promising," Kristof said. "But at the end of the day, when that demand looks for finding a girl, it goes to backpage more than anywhere else. About 70 percent of the market is on backpage.com — 70 percent of the online prostitution market is on backpage, and there is, I think, some evidence that if one were to take out that channel that there would indeed be less trafficking. There would be less prostitution and, with it, less of this underage prostitution."
Often those paying for sex are not arrested. In a discussion over whether to criminalize paying for sex in Britain, some argued that arresting johns would be "unworkable." Kristof described the online market as asymmetrical between escorts and johns. Those paying for sex are able to almost always remain anonymous while escorts are advertised online.
"I just came across a case in Michigan where a 16-year old went missing. Her family was desperate to try to find her. They found an ad for her on backpage, and so they contacted law enforcement, and it (the ad) had a phone number. Law enforcement, the police then made a raid, and they found this 16-year old girl, and they arrested her," Kristof said. "You know, here she is. She's 16-year old girl. She's a victim of trafficking, and she gets arrested and the johns don't."
Kristof said he couldn't think of another situation in which the victims are arrested and the perpetrators, the pimps and johns, largely are not.
But critics of Kristof argue without backpage, a black market would emerge or other websites would crop up, and those would invariably be less cooperative with law enforcement. Kristof disagrees with that notion.
"Backpage, to its credit, it responds very quickly to subpoenas. It does, to some degree, try to screen ads that show very young girls. I wouldn't say it tries as hard as it should, but it does try," Kristof said. "I just don't buy that argument. You know, backpage told me, for example, that in Seattle they had been able to identify two girls that had been trafficked, and because of their tips, law enforcement rescued them. On the other hand, I came across 23 girls who had been underage, who had been rescued separately, independently by authorities, all of whom had been marketed on backpage, so I just think that it is a major forum for this kind of trafficking.
"There's some evidence, for example, that when Craigslist went out of the escort ad business that business did drop, and I find that promising."
Kristof said he used to be in favor of complete legalization of prostitution among consenting adults but now believes it does not work. In the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal and regulated, human trafficking in on the rise.
Myths about sexual abuse
Scott W. Turner
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. First observed in 2001, the purpose is to promote awareness of sexual assault and campaign for its prevention.
This year's theme is “It's time ... to talk about it.” And while it's something we don't want to think about actually occurring in our community, it is something that we do need to face -- and talk about.
There are many myths regarding sexual assault. I would like to talk about a few of those myths and the actual facts.
Sexual assault doesn't happen here.
It does happen here. In 2011 there were 19 felony sexual assault cases filed in the 5th Judicial District, which is made up of Summit, Eagle, Lake and Clear Creek counties. Eight of those cases involved adult victims, while the remaining 11 involved child victims. Out of the 19 total cases, nine occurred in Eagle County. In Colorado, one in four women and one in 17 men are sexually assaulted during their lifetime.
Those 19 felony cases are the only sexual assault cases that occurred in the jurisdiction.
Probably not. Statistics show that only about one in six sexual assault cases are ever reported. In those cases that are reported, the perpetrator is only caught about half of the time. And even when he's caught, there's still a 20 percent chance there will not be enough evidence to prosecute.
Sexual assaults are only perpetrated by strangers.
Studies indicate that up to 70 percent of women know their attacker. When the victim is a female student in college, that number climbs to up to 90 percent, with about 50 percent of those attacks occurring during a date. When the sex assault victim is a juvenile, the number climbs to 93 percent.
Victims of sexual assault will always report the crime immediately.
Initially, as previously stated, only 16 percent of sexual assault cases are reported at all. Out of those that are reported, 25 percent are reported more than 24 hours after the assault. The majority of reports are not made to police but instead are made as an outcry to a friend, who then convinces them to report the assault to the police. The biggest reasons that sexual assault victims do not want to report a crime are embarrassment and shame, fear of her name going public, and fear of her family and friends finding out and how they will react.
A victim of sexual assault will fight back and incur injuries.
Studies show that only about one in five women fight back. Most victims cite being confused, being afraid of dying or being seriously injured, or just engaging in a self-preservation mode (appeasing the offender, for example) as reasons why they don't fight back. As a result of this, 70 percent of women do not incur physical injuries as a result of their assault.
To learn more about the misconceptions involving sexual assault, you are invited to attend the presentation of “The Myths and Facts of Sexual Assault.” It will be given at the Eagle Valley High School at 7 p.m. today.
As part of the presentation students from the school will perform scenes from the play “Until Someone Wakes Up,” which was written from interviews of sex assault survivors.
Why should you come? Because it's time to talk about it.
Scott W. Turner is an assistant district attorney in the 5th Judicial District and Republican candidate for district attorney.
New method of helping sexual assault victims
The allegations that Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky sexually assaulted dozens of young boys highlights an ugly truth.
"We know that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18," said Peg Langhammer, executive director of Day One.
Located in Providence, Day One provides counseling services for sexual assault victims and a high-tech way of interviewing children who have been sexually abused in preparation to charge the abuser.
A child sits in a comfortable room with an experienced interviewer, often a doctor. There are hidden cameras that broadcast live the interview to an adjacent room where a team of experts listens and evaluates.
One of the team members is a doctor from Hasbro Children's Hospital.
"It's critically important that all kids who have experienced some sort of sexual abuse have a physical evaluation," said Dr. Amy Goldberg.
Sexual assault victims sometimes come into contact with police first. Day One's high-tech expert driven approach to deal with the victims makes a big difference.
"In the old days an investigator himself, usually not trained that well especially in the interviewing of children, would have to struggle through it," said Deputy Chief Thomas Oates of the Providence Police Department.
It's not east preparing a case against a sexual abuser but the chief of the Rhode Island Attorney General's criminal division said the team of experts at Day One makes prosecutions smoother.
"I tell you it's helpful. Because prior to that we would be faced with a situation where an investigation came through the doors and there were four or five different statements by the child to different people," said Stacey Veroni, assistant attorney general.
Now, there's only one statement making it difficult for a defense attorney to rip apart on cross examination.
Day One's child advocacy center is a model for much of the country. Experts from DCYF, Day One's staff, police, doctors and interviewers are at the forefront of dealing with and helping those children who have been sexually abused.
When a child is interviewed, it's videotaped and under law can be submitted as evidence to a grand jury.
Day One is looking for funding to place its high-tech method of helping sexual assault victims in other parts of the state. It has started to establish an office on Aquidneck Island.
YWCA kicks off child abuse, sexual assault awareness month
by Nichole Grant
Utica, N.Y. —
The Mohawk Valley Young Women's Christian Association conducted a press conference Monday morning to usher in April as Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“Child abuse affects all families at some point in time, whether a family member has been a victim or a member of the family knows of a victim,” said Herkimer County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Carpenter. “The YWCA established a child advocacy center and when they become involved in a case they stay with the victim throughout the investigation and trial. Because of this I'm proud of the center and the level of law enforcement who have helped in Herkimer County.”
Margarita M. Cuevas-Cruz is a victim and a survivor of child abuse. She is a student at Utica College and an advocate who speaks for those who cannot. Cruz works in the Women's Resource Center at UC. The college and the YWCA work together and organize Take Back the Night, an event to raise awareness of sexual and domestic violence. Cruz participated in the November 2011 event and since then she has been telling her story and raising awareness of child abuse and domestic violence.
Cruz's story took place in Harlem when she was three-years old. Her mother was sent to prison and she was left in foster care where she was shown unconditional love.
Unfortunately, her mother was released from prison, tricked the child care system and gained custody of her daughter. For the next 15 months, Cruz's biological mother and her boyfriend abused Cruz. Cruz was locked in a closet where she would spend the majority of her time.
“I was deathly afraid of mice and they used this to their advantage. They put trapped dead mice in the closet with me,” said Cruz who explained she was burned multiple times behind her ear with a cigarette by her mother's boyfriend. Cruz said she still has a scar on her foot from her mother, who threw boiling water on her. “I call the scar my battle wound because I am an Amazonian princess and I am a survivor,” she said as she admitted there were times when she was locked in the closet she would starve and the only thing for her to eat was her own urine and feces.
After a while a housing inspector noticed something was not right.
“He had seen me being hit with a baseball bat by another child, and I just let it happen,” said Cruz. “Soon after he alerted the authorities and I was taken away from my biological mother and brought back to the loving care of my foster care guardian and my ‘real' mother. Not long after my foster care mother adopted me as her own, and the housing inspector became my godfather. The only thing that kept me going then and to this day was experiencing real unconditional love.”
Cruz said, “You, me, us we are all deserving of healing and happiness. Say something if abuse is occurring. Don't keep it a secret. Be the voice for those who cannot speak.”
“Over the last 20 years I've had contact with people who are victims and the abuse never goes away,” said Oneida County Undersheriff Robert Swenszkowsi. “Please say something. We understand the feeling of shame in speaking up, but if nothing is said there is no way to protect the innocent. We need to stop the abuse and report any act of violence in the home.”
“Child abuse and sexual assault are the most difficult crimes to deal with. It's emotionally devastating to families and victims. Child victims have been groomed to think abuse is acceptable and adult victims are usually too embarrassed to report abuse,” said Rome Police Department Detective Commander Timothy Bates.
Bates called attention to The Family Watchdog, a website that allows users to see where registered sex offenders are living to keep a watchful eye within one's community.
The website can be found at www.familywatchdog.us
Free Workshops Set To Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
Free workshops are being held to teach adults how to recognize and prevent child sexual abuse.
With a recent study indicating one in four girls and one in six boys are victims of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Livingston County will host two free “Stewards of Children” sexual abuse prevention workshops this month to recognize April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The evidence-based program teaches adults seven critical steps for preventing, recognizing and reacting responsibly to child sexual abuse.
The three-hour training will include multimedia presentations designed to overcome the taboo of acknowledging and addressing sexual abuse. A video will feature survivors of sexual abuse, such as former Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur, who spoke in Livingston County when the local Stewards program was launched in November of 2007.
The workshops will be held at LACASA's facility in Howell Township on Thursday, April 19th, from 6 to 9 p.m. or on Saturday, April 28th, from 9 a.m. until noon. Reservations are required due to space limitations.
Community members interested in registering for either of the April workshops are asked to contact the CAP Council by calling (517) 548-1350, ext. 287, or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com
web site at: http://www.lacasacenter.org
Advocates honored for efforts to fight child abuse
OGDEN — When asked how he would like to be remembered, John Gullo's response came without hesitation.
“As someone who cared about saving a child,” Gullo answered.
Gullo was one of many honored at an awards ceremony for Prevent Child Abuse Utah on Tuesday morning
The founder of the American Dream Foundation said he liquidated his fast-food empire because it was taking too much time away from his work with children.
Gullo and his wife, Karen, have been instrumental in the success of Prevent Child Abuse Utah, said Doug Anderson, a member of the board who presented Gullo with the Child Advocate of the Year award.
“Not only have they provided financial support, they have spent countless hours dedicated to improving the lives of children,” he said.
The award's ceremony, held at the Eccles Conference Center, marks 30 years in business for the nonprofit organization committed to breaking the cycle of child abuse.
“We proudly celebrate our accomplishments over the years, but realize none of it would be possible without the wonderful support of friends, volunteers, sponsors and donors,” said Suzanne Leonelli, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah.
Also receiving the Child Advocate of the Year award was Youth Impact Executive Director Robb Hall; Blake and Susan Andersen, of Bountiful; South Jordan detective Scott Russell; and the South Valley Sex Abuse Team.
“I just celebrated my 17th birthday, and that's the truth. My birthday is Feb. 29, so I can truly say that Robb Hall has been a mentor to me,” said Gullo, who presented Hall's award to him. “Robb's dedication to the kids at Youth Impact has been absolutely unbelievable. He knows every one of those kids and, let me tell you, many children are walking proud today because of his influence.”
Visionary Leader recognition went to Fred Riley, Tony and Cynthia Divino, Roger and Anita Dutson, Doug and Cari Fullerton, John and Karen Gullo and Tony Kaye. Champion Foundation awards went to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Sisters of St. Benedict and St. Benedict's Foundation and the Ruth Eleanor Bamberger and John Ernest Bamberger Memorial Foundation.
Salt Lake City resident Preston Jenson told his personal story of sexual abuse he endured as a child. He credited Russell and Prevent Child Abuse Utah with much of his recovery. His abuser was sentenced to prison last December.
“So many wonderful people crossed my path to help me get through my abuse,” Jensen said. “The statistics for sexual abuse are not in our favor, and I want to try and help change those numbers. I want to let other kids know there is hope, and they are not alone.”
Pinwheels spin against child abuse
April 11, 2012
by Clint Confehr
Pinwheels, those happy and seemingly carefree childhood toys, were posted on the east lawn of the Marshall County Courthouse on Monday with each of the 104 toys representing a child who suffered severe physical or sexual abuse in this county during the most recent reporting year.
Statistically, four and a half children die of abuse every day in America and that number is high when compared to the death rate from abuse in other industrialized nations, according to Heather Warden, director of Junior's House Child Advocacy Center. Headquartered in Fayetteville, the service has an office here at 906 Second Ave. North.
"It's a good thing that they've got a Junior's House office here because before they'd have to go to Fayetteville," said Kim Young, chairman of the Community Advisory Board for Marshall County that helps coordinate services for children ad their families.
Warden said, "Children are our most precious resource. They need a voice and direction. Junior's House does that."
When law enforcement officers must investigate a child abuse case, employees at Junior's House assemble a team to coordinate the inquiry in a child-friendly environment so that the child can tell his or her story once while being videotape recorded, Warden said. That way the child faces only one interview instead of several, or one for each agency that must become involved under state law.
Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett reports that during the most recent reporting year there were 1,500 cases of child abuse in the 17th Judicial District of Marshall, Bedford, Lincoln and Moore counties.
Warden said a third of those cases, or 500, were deemed severe.
Lewisburg Mayor Barbara Woods praised the service provided by Junior's House and recalled a day when she was principal at Lewisburg Middle School before Junior's House had an office here.
"The saddest thing I had to deal with was child abuse," Woods said. "We had nobody to respond [from the school system or other designated agency] and the only person who finally came was the nurse who worked at the Marshall County Health Department."
The youngster who needed help could not stay awake, she said. "He'd been drugged by somebody."
Nationally, approximately one of every four girls are abused and one of every six boys are abused.
Blue pinwheel "gardens are being planted statewide," Warden said. It's to raise awareness about the problem and to encourage people to take an interest and not ignore the issue.
Doctors should increase domestic-violence screening
by Daniel R. Taylor
A few weeks ago, a 7-year-old overweight boy came in for a "well-child check." His mother was concerned because he was "always getting into trouble" in his new school and his teacher thought he should be evaluated for attention deficit disorder (ADHD). At home, he was more withdrawn, twitchy, and continually fighting with his older sister.
I had a hunch about what was wrong.
That same day in the mail I received the 2011 report from the Women Against Abuse shelter, the largest of its kind in Philadelphia, with 85 beds and 15 cribs.
Amid all the report's statistics, one number jumped off the page: 7,705. That was the number of requests for shelter denied in 2011 because of lack of space.
Experts say domestic violence rises in bad economies because that's when household stress levels rise. Last year, the national domestic violence hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) logged a 21 percent spike in calls. Shelters across Pennsylvania have been packed for months.
In 2009, Philadelphia police responded to 137,913 domestic-violence incidents. Domestic violence claimed 37 lives in Philadelphia during 2009 and 30 in 2010. The likelihood that someone will suffer domestic violence at some point in life is 25 percent for women and 7 percent for men.
The research is undisputed. Besides the physical wounds of domestic violence, mothers are more likely to be depressed; to have unplanned and premature pregnancies; to go to fewer prenatal visits; and to miss more well-child visits for their children.
Before having a baby, more than 325,000 pregnant women are battered by their partners yearly; yet we screen for domestic violence less than for sugar diabetes in pregnancy or preeclampsia, which is less common.
Two significant risk factors for domestic violence are poverty and being unmarried. In the First Congressional District, which surrounds St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, 45 percent of children live in poverty (third-highest in the nation) and 67 percent live in single-parent households (second-highest in the nation). Behind closed doors, muffled by raised volumes on TV sets, our district, and our city, are brewing a potent concoction for domestic violence.
Forty-three percent of adult domestic-violence victims live with children. Up to half of these children are abused or neglected, as well. They bear silent witness, hands over their ears, hiding. They are bathed by their own stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which their developing brains and immune systems cannot defend against, causing health damage that can last a lifetime.
In Philadelphia, abuse affects more than 5,000 children annually. These children are more likely to suffer from physical health problems such as premature birth, poor asthma control, obesity, and child abuse and neglect.
Teens in households with domestic violence have more unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Depression, anxiety, traumatic stress disorder, academic under-performance, and bullying are more likely.
The longer the domestic violence goes on and the more severe it is, the more damage it does to children. When they reach adulthood, the cycle of violence is more apt to continue.
All told, domestic violence leads to $5.8 billion in increased health-care costs a year. This is a public-health crisis of a staggering magnitude.
A survey of mothers in pediatric clinics found that 4 percent are current domestic-violence victims and 15 percent had a history of domestic violence. In four different studies of abuse survivors, 70 percent to 81 percent reported they would like health providers to ask them privately about intimate-partner violence.
Yet a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that only 10 percent of primary-care physicians routinely screen for intimate-partner violence during new-patient visits. Only 9 percent routinely screen during periodic checkups.
We must make domestic-violence screening a routine part of our practices because it crosses all racial, ethnic, and socio-economic boundaries. We must stop the hurt.
Using a laminated domestic-violence screening card stashed alongside the poison-control hotline stickers, I asked the mother of the 7-year-old privately about her exposure to domestic violence. She shook her head, but the expression on her face told me otherwise. She wasn't ready yet, but a door was opened for her.
I explained what domestic violence does to children and how widespread it is. Then I offered her the domestic-violence resource card in case she "knew of anyone who might need these services." She took the card without hesitation.
Daniel R. Taylor, an associate professor at Drexel University College of Medicine, can be reached at Daniel.Taylor@Drexelmed.edu
Catholic Church says child abuse cases rose in 2011
by Andrew Stern
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The number of credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors committed by Roman Catholic priests or deacons in the United States rose 15 percent last year, and the church spent $144 million to deal with the ongoing scandal, according to a church-sponsored audit released on Tuesday.
A total of 489 people reported credible allegations of abuse by priests or deacons in 2011, the bulk of them involving adults victimized when they were children decades ago by now-deceased clerics, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a report on its ninth annual audit of the issue.
Twenty-one of the victims were younger than 19 and victimized more recently. Attorneys for victims say there are likely tens of thousands more victims who have never come forward since the scandal erupted in Boston in 2002.
"We renew our promise to strive to the fullest to end the societal scourge of child sexual abuse," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the conference, said in an introductory letter to the report.
Critics of the church's handling of the sex abuse crisis scoffed at the audit, saying it minimized the extent of the abuse and the culpability of the church hierarchy.
The yearly audit for the bishops identified credible allegations against 406 priests or deacons. In 2010, there were 428 credible allegations against 345 offenders. More than one-third of the alleged perpetrators had never been charged before.
The figures for victims and offenders were twice as high earlier in the decade, then dropped off beginning in 2008.
Twelve accused clerics remained active in ministry pending the outcome of investigations. Eleven percent of new allegations were deemed false.
Altogether, U.S. dioceses and religious institutes spent $144 million on abuse settlement-related costs, which included $50 million for settlements, $37 million in attorneys' fees, $6 million on therapy for victims and $10 million on support for offenders. About a quarter of the settlement amount was covered by church insurance policies.
The church spent another $33 million on child protection efforts last year. Nearly all church employees have undergone training on the issue, the bishops' audit said, and a majority of children in parishes have been instructed how identify when they are being "groomed" for abuse and what to do.
"The church must continue to be vigilant. The church must do all she can never to let abuse happen again. And we must all continue to work with full resolve toward the healing and reconciliation of the victims/survivors," Dolan said.
The yearly audit was conducted for the first time by StoneBridge Business Partners, which visited one-third of the 195 dioceses. Data was also provided by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.
Critics such as the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and BishopAccountability.org have said the church cannot police itself, and that the crime of church higher-ups hiding and transferring offending priests is a persistent problem.
SNAP's outreach director Barbara Dorris called the audits "nearly meaningless." BishopAccountability.org president Terence McKiernan called it a "serious disservice to the public by pretending that all is well."
A trial is under way for a member of the church hierarchy in Philadelphia, Monsignor William Lynn, who is accused of transferring offending priests to unsuspecting parishes.
Lynn, 61, is the highest-ranking member of the U.S. church to go on trial in an abuse-related case, though Kansas City, Missouri, Bishop Robert Finn is to go on trial in September on a charge he failed to report to authorities about a priest found with pornographic pictures of young girls.
"Those horrific cases prove that, when it comes to kids' safety, little in church hierarchy has changed," Dorris said.
McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org said the number of priests credibly accused of molesting children since 1950 has now increased to more than 6,100.
Altogether, U.S. dioceses have spent $2.1 billion on settlement-related costs for the abuse scandal between 2004 through last year, according to the report. Eight dioceses, a Jesuit province, and the Irish Christian Brotherhood, a Catholic brotherhood that runs schools and orphanages, have declared bankruptcy since 2004, claiming overwhelming debts from the costs of the scandal.
Eric Justin Toth, a former private-school teacher and camp counselor, has been on the
run since warrants for his arrest were issued in Maryland and Wash DC in 2008.
Child Porn Suspect Tops FBI Most Wanted List
by Carol Cratty
Washington (CNN) -- A former private school teacher and camp counselor facing child pornography charges was added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list Tuesday.
Eric Justin Toth, also known as David Bussone, was a third grade teacher at the National Cathedral's Beauvoir school in Washington, D.C., in 2008 when pornographic images were found on a school camera that had allegedly been in his possession.
Toth went missing while the initial investigation was under way.
He was later indicted in Washington for possession of child pornography and in Maryland for production of child pornography.
An FBI official said Toth allegedly installed a camera in a bathroom adjacent to his classroom which was used by students.
Toth, 30, is 6 feet, 3 inches tall, weighs approximately 155 pounds and has brown hair and green eyes.
The FBI issued a wanted poster with several photos of the suspect.
The agency described Toth as a computer expert who has above average knowledge of the Internet. He graduated from Purdue University with an education degree and the FBI poster says "he may advertise online as a tutor or male nanny."
According to the FBI, since he left the Washington area, Toth is believed to have traveled to Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He was last seen in a homeless shelter in Phoenix in 2009.
The FBI hopes adding Toth to the most wanted list and offering a reward of up to $100,000 will bring in new tips and lead to his arrest. An FBI statement notes the former teacher has eluded capture despite various media reports about the case and his being featured on the "America's Most Wanted" television program.
The May 2011 raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan which killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden opened up the spot on the Top Ten list which Toth now fills. "There is no comparison to be made between Toth and bin Laden," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jacqueline Maguire. "Although Eric Toth has not murdered anyone and he is not an international terrorist, that does not mean he isn't dangerous."
"We are very concerned that he may be in contact with other children, so we are asking for the public's assistance to help us capture him," Maguire added.
Alleged Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, also on the FBI Top Ten list, was arrested in California in June. He is still pictured on the list with a banner underneath his face saying "captured." The FBI has not yet announced who will fill Bulger's slot.
Toth is the 495th person to be put on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List, which was created in 1950. The FBI says 465 of those fugitives were found, 153 of them as a result of help from the public.
Five Steps to Help Recover From Childhood Sex Abuse
(Plymouth Meeting, PA) - The nightmare of childhood sexual abuse is a lasting trauma that manifests debilitating consequential legacies in the lives of adult victims.
Child abuse survivors typically struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety, eating and sex disorders, and many other behavioral problems, according to experts with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress (AAETS).
"Unfortunately not all sexual abuse victims seek help," says Peter S. Pelullo, who is a frequent guest on the Dr. Drew show and the author of the new book "Betrayal and the Beast." "They are either ashamed or afraid to acknowledge the trauma. It takes significant courage, strength, and understanding to come forward."
In his book Mr. Pelullo focuses on his own journey as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and sexual predation. For many years he kept hidden and refused to face his own debilitating issues as a survivor of sexual predation-the shame, rage, multiple addictions, depression, and other influences that directly impacted his life. Finally, at the age of fifty-five, he confronted the sexual abuse he endured as a child.
It's estimated there are tens of millions of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States today and hundreds of millions more worldwide.
To reach out to and help the victims of childhood sexual abuse, Mr. Pelullo created the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation. The foundation is aimed at supporting and guiding men and women throughout the world who experienced childhood sexual abuse into the recovery process.
In addition the foundation is aligned with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in a common goal of preventing childhood sexual abuse and the harm and suffering it inflicts and improving treatment for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Generally there are three phases in dealing with recovery from abuse: stabilizing the symptoms (dealing directly with addictions, depressions, etc.); remembering and mourning (going through some form of restorative psychotherapy); and integration (actively getting back into a normal, healthy lifestyle). To do that most adult sexual abuse survivors will need to:
|Seek professional help and counseling
Join groups and organizations for sexual abuse victims
Find support among family and friends
Be ready to work to change for the better
Peter S. Pelullo was the founder of Philly World Records and owner of a premiere recording studio in the '70s, where he worked with the Rolling Stones, Evelyn "Champagne" King, and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. He is now an entrepreneur and financier focusing on technology startups. During his journey in recovery, he created the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation, which supports adult victims of childhood sexual abuse throughout the world.
For more information contact Gretchen Paules at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.letgoletpeacecomein.org.
Gretchen Paules - Only Serenity LLC
Springfield to Host First in Series of Child Sex Abuse Public Hearings
(Springfield, MO) -- A series of public forums meant to combat child sexual abuse will kick off this Friday in Springfield.
The Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse will host the first of four public hearings on April 13 at the Meyer Alumni Center at 300 S. Jefferson Avenue.
Missouri State Senator Bob Dixon will chair the event, which will run from 9 a.m. to noon. The other hearings will held over the summer in Kansas City, St. Louis and Kirksville.
Dixon says the task force will be gathering information on the way child sexual abuse is currently addressed and seeking suggestions for what Missourican do to prevent abuse from happening. He says public testimony will be by invitation only, but professionals and the public are encouraged to attend the public hearings.
You can submit input to the task force by emailing email@example.com.
Here's a list of presenters:
|Barbara Brown-Johnson, Executive Director, The Child Advocacy Center
Mark Webb, Chief of Police, Marionville Police Department
David Stoeffler, Executive Editor, Springfield News-Leader
Patricia Webb, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, The Child Advocacy Center
Dan Patterson, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney
Bill White, MA, LPC, Children's Program Coordinator, Phelps County Crisis Services
Nancy Corley, Alliance for Southwest Missouri
There's no excuse for child abuse
Blue ribbons traditionally have long been seen as symbols for excellence and awarded for first place in competitions, but each April the color takes on a more somber meaning. For the Blue Ribbon campaign against child abuse, blue represents the color of the bruises on a child who has been mistreated.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, which began in 1983, but the blue ribbon didn't become its symbol for six more years. Virginia grandmother Bonnie Finney tried unsuccessfully to help her daughter leave a troubled relationship, one in which her three grandchildren suffered abuse. The youngest, 16-month-old Michael, was treated for bruises and cigarette burns, placed in foster care, and returned home against her wishes. Months later, her youngest granddaughter was treated for burns, a broken leg, and a beating, and Michael's body was found wrapped in a sheet and stuffed in a toolbox. Finney tied a blue ribbon on her car's antenna in his memory. “Bruises are black and then eventually blue,” she said. “Blue serves as a constant reminder to fight for our children.”
Blue pinwheels on Talladega's Courthouse Square, 434 of them, are there to remind people of the number of child abuse reports in Talladega County last year. Alabama recorded 6,088 victims of child abuse in 2011.
Palmer Place, Sylacauga's Alliance for Family Enhancement and St. Clair County's Children's Place are among the organizations working to help raise awareness and prevention of child abuse.
People in professions that have regular contact with children are required by law to report suspected abuse and neglect. Educators, day care workers and health care professionals are trained to be alert to signs of abuse and to call police or the sheriff's department when something seems wrong.
Sometimes there is an innocent explanation, but at other times, intervention is necessary to protect children who simply are not capable of protecting themselves.
Alabama Department of Human Resources' website states that people reporting suspected abuse or neglect (whether required by law to report or not) are presumed to be acting in good faith, and are immune from legal action against them for reporting abuse or neglect of children under 18.
We commend all those working to raise awareness of the problem with pinwheels, T-shirts, rallies, runs, luncheons, blue ribbons and more, and we thank those people who saw something wrong and took the time to call for help.
Blue is a good color for ribbons. It doesn't belong on kids.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
CENTERVILLE — April is nationally recognized as child abuse prevention month. In April, Appanoose County will participate in a national movement to raise awareness of the importance of supporting families and investing in early childhood development.
Raising children in safe and nurturing environments is a critical step to ensuring children grow up to be healthy and successful adults.
Family Alliance of Appanoose County invites community members to celebrate and support families in the upcoming Blue-Out Day.
On April 11, the Family Alliance, in collaboration with Cook Insurance and Vision Financial, will be hosting lunch on the Centerville Square. There will be plates available for a good-will offering going to the Family Alliance of Appanoose County.
Any proceeds will be donated to the Family Alliance to further spread awareness about Child Abuse Prevention.
There will displays and free items handed out to those in attendance. The goal is to bring awareness to the community and spread the news that although child abuse is something that we would prefer not to face in our community, it is here, and we must bring it to light on our path to stop it and keep our children safe.
In addition to joining us for lunch, everyone is asked to wear blue on April 11. There will be blue ribbons all around town as a reminder that child abuse is everywhere and must be stopped.
“Keeping children safe is everyone's responsibility,” stated Steve Scott, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa. “Our mission as individuals and as a state should be to ensure that all children grow up free from abuse. April's activities are an excellent reminder of the part we all play in supporting children's safe and healthy development.”
In Appanoose County, Family Alliance works in coalition with numerous programs which provide services to families to reduce the likelihood child abuse will occur. Parents as Teachers, Children and Families of Iowa, FADDS and the Appanoose County NEST Program are some examples. These programs are centered on providing local parents with parent education, either through one on one sessions in the home or through group sessions. Any member of the Family Alliance could guide you to the contacts for these programs.
Taxpayers can support child abuse prevention efforts this season by donating a portion of their state refund to the Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Program. For more information about the state income tax check off campaign, visit www.checkoffchildabuse.org.
YWCA: ‘Say something' to counter child abuse, sex assaults
by ROCCO LaDUCA
UTICA — The brutal cycle of violent abuse or sexual assaults against a child or person may never stop unless somebody speaks up.
That was the message several members of law enforcement and a survivor of child abuse echoed Monday morning at the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley in Utica as they ushered in Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“Please, say something,” Oneida County Undersheriff Robert Swenszkowski said as other police officials, prosecutors and social services officials stood behind him. “In no way is anyone being helped by their silence … Time doesn't always heal all wounds, but actions can make a difference.”
Last year, YWCA's services were provided to 1,255 victims of domestic and sexual violence in Oneida County, as well 597 unique victims of sexual violence in Herkimer County, including 354 children, according to a news release.
Child Protective Services in both counties also made more than 225 referrals to YWCA services.
“Our advocates, counselors and therapists see the devastating impact of child abuse and sexual violence in Herkimer and Oneida counties every day,” said YWCA Executive Director Natalie Brown. “It sets in motion patterns that affect victims often for a lifetime. The community needs to know what to do if they become aware of abuse, and victims need to know how and where to get help.”
Oneida County Social Services Commissioner Lucille Soldato and Rome police Detective Commander Timothy Bates also encouraged people to report any signs of abuse they think might be occurring. Members of Ilion, Little Falls and Utica police, along with a representative from the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center, also were present.
Prosecutors from both counties – Herkimer County Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter and Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Kara Wilson – credited the support services that help guide victims through the painful process of finally coming forward.
“These victims don't have to go through this alone,” said Wilson, who is one of three prosecutors assigned to Oneida County's Special Victims Bureau. “We're there for them.”
One child abuse victim – who now considers herself a “survivor” – also put a face to the uplifting life a victim can still live if they find the courage to one day talk about what they went through.
Margarita Cuevas Cruz was about 3 years old living in New York City when her biological mother snatched her from foster care, only to subject her to 15 months of torture and neglect at the hands of her and her boyfriend. She was locked in a closet with dead mice, burnt with cigarettes behind her ears and forced to eat her own feces, Cruz said.
It wasn't until a concerned housing inspector reported the neglect that Cruz was able to “see the world again” and be reunited with her foster mother, said Cruz, who is currently a senior at Utica College.
“People need to see there's a way out,” Cruz said. “Of course speak up, but when you are ready … Don't keep the secret. Say something.”
For help or information, call the YWCA's 24-hour confidential hotlines: 866-4120 in Herkimer County or 797-7740 in Oneida County.
Child Abuse Prevention Month: How Old Must Children Be to Be Left Home Alone?
Washington County Child Protection Citizen Review Panel members Melissa Charley and Aine Bebeau provide information about child care arrangements to promote the idea that it's not safe for kids under eight to be left home alone.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Washington County Child Protection Citizen Review Panel is providing some important information regarding child care arrangements to promote the idea that “It's not Safe for Kids Under Eight.”
While it is recognized that most parents want to keep their children safe, in these trying financial times, parents are often forced to make many changes concerning child care arrangements.
Law enforcement and child protection services across the state frequently receive phone calls requesting information on how old children must be to be left home alone, or to babysit other children.
In Washington County, Community Services follows these helpful guidelines to assist parents in their decision making:
Child neglect reports alleging inadequate supervision may be accepted for a child protection response, including:
children age 7 and younger who are left alone for any period of time;
children ages 8-10 who are left alone for more than three hours;
children ages 11-13 who are left alone for more than 12 hours;
children ages 14-15 who are left alone for more than 24 hours;
children ages 16-17 may be left alone for more than 24 hours with a plan in place concerning how to respond to an emergency.
Neglect reports alleging inadequate child care arrangements may be accepted for a child protection response according to the following guidelines:
children younger than age 11 should not provide child care (babysitting);
children ages 11-15 who are placed in a child care role are subject to the same time restrictions of being left alone as listed above;
children ages 16-17 may be left alone for more than 24 hours with adequate adult back-up supervision.
These supervision guidelines are provided as a basic framework only. Each case is evaluated individually based on age and the ability of the child to respond appropriately in both routine and emergency situations.
Child abuse or neglect reports, or questions regarding these guidelines, can be referred to Washington County Child Protection Intake at 651-430-6457.
Call for action over 'intra-familial' child sex abuse
by Elaine Thelen - BBC News
A number of children's charities have written to the government calling for an action plan to tackle the problem of sexual abuse within the family.
Charity ChildLine said its figures, based on calls about sexual abuse, showed that 59% of perpetrators were family members.
Children's Minister Tim Loughton MP said work was being done "to improve responses to all forms of child abuse".
The charities have requested a meeting with Mr Loughton to discuss the issue.
NAPAC, NSPCC, Action for Children and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation have written jointly to Mr Loughton saying they specifically want the issue of intra-familial child sexual abuse properly addressed.
They wrote: "All types of sexual abuse and exploitation are difficult for those who experience it to talk about, and preventative work is hampered because people do not want to think about it.
"Our experience of raising awareness and engaging people in talking about this subject is especially difficult if there is a risk that the perpetrator may be a close and trusted relative.
"Our charities welcome the government's much needed action plan, however we believe that in raising the profile of the types of abuse defined in the action plan there should be more specific reference to abuse which occurs within families.
"Everyone wants their home and family to a be a safe place, but tragically this is not always the case." According to the NSPCC, between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011, there were 16,222 counselling interactions where sexual abuse was the primary concern.
Where the perpetrator was disclosed, about a third said the person responsible was their father, while 4% said that the person responsible was a stranger.
Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), said: "In the 10 years that NAPAC has been running a national support line for people abused in childhood we have spoken to many thousands of survivors and the overwhelming majority (close to 100%) suffered abuse at the hands of a family member or someone trusted and known by the victim.
"Whilst the abuse of children and young people by gangs and traffickers is a serious problem that needs tackling, it is a very unhelpful distraction from the far greater problem of child abuse that occurs within families."
Mr Loughton added: "When abuse occurs within the family it is even more important that children have somewhere to turn.
"That is why the government has invested in the NSPCC helplines, so that even when children are betrayed by those closest to them there is always someone to listen and help."
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Announces Briefing on Enforcement of Federal Laws Against Sex Trafficking
WASHINGTON, April 10, 2012
The United States Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public briefing on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM ET to hear testimony on the effectiveness of federal enforcement of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). The briefing will take place at Commission headquarters, 624 9th St. NW, Washington, DC 20425, 5th floor conference room. Interested persons are invited to attend, and no reservation is necessary.
The trafficking of persons has been called a modern form of slavery in which most victims are female. The TVPA established an interagency task force to combat trafficking with the participation of more than a dozen agencies. The Commission has requested information from the task force and the Departments of Justice, State, and Health and Human Services, as to enforcement efforts. The Commission will also hear testimony on sex trafficking as a form of gender discrimination.
The briefing will include three panels of experts:
|Panel I will include Maggie Wynne, Director of the Division of Anti-Trafficking in Persons, HHS, and Greg Zoeller, Attorney General of the State of Indiana and a representative of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Panel II will include Bridgette Carr, Professor and Director of the Human Trafficking Clinic, University of Michigan Law School and member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force; Salvador Cicero, Cicero Law Firm and member of the Anti-Trafficking Task Force, Cook County, Illinois; Merrill Matthews, Resident Scholar, Institute for Policy Innovation and Chairman of the Texas SAC; and Karen Hughes, Lieutenant, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, manager of the Vice Section of the Vice/Narcotics Bureau.
Panel III includes Mary Ellison, human rights lawyer and Director of Policy, Polaris Project; Amy Rassen, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Senior Advisor, SAGE Project; Rhacel Parrenas, Professor and Chair, Sociology Department, University of Southern California and author of Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo; and Tina Frundt, Executive Director/Founder of Courtney's House and a survivor of domestic child sex trafficking.
Deaf or hearing-impaired persons who will attend the meeting and require the services of a sign language interpreter should contact Pam Dunston at (202) 376-8105 as soon as possible.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with monitoring federal civil rights enforcement. Members include Chairman Martin R. Castro and Commissioners Roberta Achtenberg, Todd Gaziano, Gail Heriot, Peter Kirsanow, David Kladney, Abigail Thernstrom, and Michael Yaki. Commission meetings and briefings are open to the general public. The Commission's website is http://www.usccr.gov.
Contact: Lenore Ostrowsky, Acting Chief, Public Affairs Unit 202-376-8591
SOURCE U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Human trafficking conference to be held in Salt Lake this week
by Chris Vanocur
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 news) - The U.S. Department of Justice is making Utah home to a major human trafficking conference.
The four day conference will feature victims, cops who try to stop it and a powerful documentary.
The documentary, “Sex + Money: A National Search for Human Worth,” doesn't pull punches.
It shows the inner workings of the global, 32 billion dollar human slavery business.
Global includes our own state.
Monday, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told ABC 4 that,
"There are people in Utah today…who are working as slaves."
When ABC 4 asked the attorney general what slavery and trafficking means, he says too often it means sex,
"Between 100,000 and 300,000 are trafficked in sex in the U.S every year. That's a huge number."
Shurtleff angrily points to the internet as a huge part of the problem, a place where kidnapped and smuggled young girls can be sold and bought.
But Shurtleff says it's not just about sex.
He also told ABC 4 that young slaves are also brought here for cheap labor.
Part of his job, the conference's job, he says, is to let Utahns know just how widespread the problem is,
"The concept of human trafficking, of modern day slavery, is something that people just aren't aware of."
Boston doctor sentenced to 21 years for traveling to Alaska to have sex with minor
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Boston doctor was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison Friday following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that revealed he traveled to Alaska to have sex with a 5-year-old boy.
John Mark Felton, 48, was convicted of traveling from Boston to Anchorage in November 2009 to meet a grandfather and engage in the planned sexual abuse and rape of a boy. He was met by law enforcement and arrested. At the time of his arrest, investigators determined Felton had amassed a collection of more than 1,200 images and at least 70 videos of boys and girls being sexually abused.
Undercover HSI special agents encountered Felton in 2008 in an online chat room dedicated to discussing sex with young boys. In his first chat with an HSI special agent posing as a grandfather, Felton proposed traveling to Alaska to have sex with the "grandfather's" 5-year-old grandson. Over a series of online conversations with the undercover special agent, Felton expressed his continued interested in the illicit activity. He eventually followed through and was arrested.
Felton, a United Kingdom citizen, had been most recently living and working as a physician in the Boston area.
As part of his sentence, Felton agreed to pay $20,000 to an Alaska non-profit that deals with child victims of sexual abuse and pay $5,000 to the victim depicted in the "Vicky" series of child sexual exploitation images that were among Felton's collection.
Because he is a citizen of the U.K., Felton may pursue transfer to a U.K. prison pursuant to an international prisoner transfer treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom.
The case is part of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a Department of Justice effort launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, PSC marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.
Child abuse shames and silences victims
Little justice results from allegations
by Cheryl Wetzstein
The child sex-abuse accusations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky are staggering and yet familiar.
Mr. Sandusky, the founder of the Second Mile charity for troubled boys, generously brought them to football games and treated them to food, clothes and gifts, eight men told a grand jury. He also fondled them or exposed himself or had sex with them, they testified.
One might think it would be easy to prosecute such accusations made by men, now in their late teens or 20s, who tell remarkably similar stories. But federal data show that less than half of suspects in child sex-abuse cases are brought to trial, mostly because no crime can be proved against them.
“It's really tough” to get justice on child sexual abuse, said Bill Murray, a Los Angeles community activist who leads the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse.
First of all, “only one in 10 kids ever tell,” said Mr. Murray, 59, who only recently began explaining fully about how, beginning at age 11 in the mid-1960s, he was molested for several years by a camp counselor, and later by priests and leaders at an all-male Catholic school.
“One of the hallmarks of what happens to most of us is we don't want to remember it. We don't want to admit it. We don't want to talk about it. We're ashamed. We feel guilt. We feel somehow it was our fault,” said Mr. Murray, who once used drugs and alcohol to obliterate the memories of abuse.
Once people realize that, as children, they can't be blamed for these abuses, they finally can get into recovery and tell their stories for the first time. “But this can take decades. Decades,” said Mr. Murray, who discusses these issues on blogtalkradio.com.
“I was molested as a boy, and I know a lot of men that have been molested as boys, and they don't want to talk about it for a variety of reasons,” said retired lawyer Mark Douglass, who in 1988 sued and won a $1.27 million civil judgment against a family friend who molested him for more than a decade.
A primary reason for staying silent is fear of “being branded gay,” Mr. Douglass said.
But there are other reasons: If a boy cooperated with the molester in any way, or felt any sexual pleasure during the abuse, or stole money or committed other illegal acts with the molester, or if the molester threatened him - these things can keep men “very, very quiet for years.”
“My perp used to say, ‘I never get mad. I get even' ” and “I know someone who, for $500, will kill somebody at my direction and there will never be any trail leading back to me,” said Mr. Douglass, who told his story in a book, “Flashbacks of Abuse.”
Even if a victim finds the courage to speak up, it is often too late to file a criminal or civil lawsuit on the abuse because of statutes of limitations.
The only reason Mr. Douglass could sue his molester was because “at a family dinner, he jokingly said, ‘I know so much about Mark, I could easily blackmail him.' And he looked across the table at me.”
“I was a young lawyer at the time, and I realized, ‘You son of a gun, you're doing that right now: You're blackmailing me,' ” said Mr. Douglass, who was in his mid-30s and married.
“I realized he could pick up the phone at any point and have me disbarred … so I sued within [the time limit of] the blackmail statute,” he said, adding that, because of the molester's ability to hide his financial assets, “I never collected a dime.”
In 2006, 3,661 people were referred to U.S. attorneys on child sex-exploitation charges, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report.
Of these suspects, almost 6 in 10 were prosecuted (up from 4 in 10 in 1994) and of these defendants, 9 in 10 were convicted and sentenced (up from 8 in 10 in 1994), the agency said.
However, the bulk of the 2006 prosecutions involved child pornography, not child sex abuse.
Moreover, less than half - 46 percent - of child sex-abuse suspects were prosecuted. Why were hundreds of child sex-abuse suspects let go? “Weak or inadmissible evidence” was the top reason, followed by “lack of evidence” that a crime was even committed, the Bureau of Justice Statistics report said.
Mr. Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, has taken that line of attack against the charges, announced in November with Mr. Sandusky's arrest on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor.
Mr. Sandusky, 68, has pleaded not guilty and is confined to his home on $250,000 bail, pending a June trial.
In a court hearing Thursday before Pennsylvania criminal court Judge John Cleland, Mr. Amendola issued - and then withdrew - a request to dismiss all 52 charges against Mr. Sandusky. But in his pre-trial motion, Mr. Amendola argued that without the exact ages of the victims, and exact dates, times and locations of the purported abuse, no one can tell whether the statute of limitations has expired.
Moreover, not only are the accusations against Mr. Sandusky “so general and non-specific that the defendant cannot adequately prepare a defense to those charges,” two of the 10 victims remain unidentified, Mr. Amendola said.
Judge Cleland declined to dismiss the charges against Mr. Sandusky, but agreed that “the whole proceeding is somewhat complicated and in flux,” and it “would be premature to decide what can and cannot be prosecuted.”
Bob Flores, former deputy chief of the Justice Department's child exploitation and obscenity section, said that, in general, cases against serial child molesters have to be built carefully. The most credible witnesses have to be identified, and the clearest corroborating evidence has to be found on the most provable counts, he said.
However, he said, “I would not expect an overly difficult challenge to the prosecution” in Mr. Sandusky's case.
This case appears to involve much misconduct over a long period of time that “fits so well within the established profiles of an active predator,” said Mr. Flores, who today runs Hampton Road Strategies and consults on sexual risk-management issues.
If the prosecutors make their case, “it will be difficult, I think, for him to get the benefit of the doubt from a jury,” he said.
Helping prevent child abuse
April is National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month and a time to remember that we all have a role in promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and their families in our community.
North Carolina has a mandatory reporting legislation, indicating that anyone who knows or suspects any type of child abuse should immediately make a report to local law enforcement or department of social services.
As a relatively new nonprofit organization serving Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties, the Children's Advocacy Center of the Blue Ridge is partnering with local law enforcement and social service agencies to help streamline child abuse cases and prosecute the offender, as well as helping to provide treatment for the victimized child.
“We are here to serve the needs of sexually and physically abused children of Watauga, Avery and Ashe counties,” said director Selena Moretz. “We coordinate with various agencies involved in child abuse cases to advocate for the young victims and offer them comfort and hope during what is possibly one of the most trying times of their lives.”
The CAC staff is trained to conduct forensic interviews and medical exams with the young victims and to help them and their families begin the healing process.
“It's all done in our building and keeps families from having to go from one facility to another and prevents the child victim from having to go through multiple interviews by different professionals,” Moretz said.
The CAC operates under the auspices of Southmountain Children and Family Services, a nonprofit organization that has provided services to children and Western North Carolina families for decades.
Based in Morganton, the CAC also provides services in Burke and McDowell counties, as well as its new location in Boone.
CAC program administrator, Beth Browning is a longtime employee of the Southmountain service center and is also the certified sexual-assault nurse examiner, on call 24/7.
“We are able to provide one central place where the professionals involved are able to meet with the victim in a comfortable, homelike atmosphere,” Browning said. “First and foremost, we are here for the children and we do everything we can to minimize their trauma.”
The center diminishes the institutional feel of a police department or hospital emergency room, where prior to its availability, most children were taken for interviews and exams.
“We have a family room here,” Moretz said, “ filled with comfortable furniture, a DVD player, stuffed animals and toys, plus we provide snacks. Thanks to our local Project Linus group and Bethany Lutheran Church, we are able to give our children blankets and shaws for an extra measure of security.”
Usually within 72 hours of an alleged abuse report, the CAC assembles the child, family and a multidisciplinary team to begin the interviewing process.
The team is generally comprised of representatives from the county department of social services, law enforcement, the district attorney's office and mental health, which collaborate from the beginning until the case is resolved.
“Within the child and family-friendly atmosphere that we provide, a child victim is saved much of the trauma and stress that he or she once had to endure, when interviews and exams were required from several different entities,” Moretz said. “Here, we conduct one professional and recorded interview with the child in one room, which is observed, unobtrusively, from another room by other professionals involved in the case.”
The process is handled in a professional and confidential manner, Moretz said.
“Sometimes, it can take several hours to complete the interview and exam process, but we're here for whatever it takes.”
In addition to gleaning information from the interview and exam to prosecute the perpetrator in the case, the multi-disciplinary team also works together to ensure that the victims and their families get assistance with other treatments and services as needed, Moretz said.
Since it opened in September, the local facility has served 25 children, according to Moretz.
Acknowledging that the CAC concept is “new” for many, Browning said it usually takes about a year for a new CAC to become fully enmeshed in a community and for people to recognize its value to the families it serves and to the legal system.
“Last year, we conducted 127 interviews in McDowell County and 140 in Burke,” Browning said.Browning's on-site service as a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric/Adolescent Nurse, eliminates the need for an emergency room visit.
Morez also serves as the forensic interviewer, a neutral, fact-finding entity that helps authorities and partner agencies determine if the child has been sexually abused.
“In addition to producing information on whether abuse has occurred, this approach provides evidence that will stand up in court if the investigation leads to criminal prosecution,” Browning said. "Forensic interviews are legally sound because they ensure the interviewer›s objectivity, employ non-leading techniques and emphasize accurate documentation of the interview via video recording.”
As the forensic medical examiner, she may include in her wellness exams testing for sexually transmitted diseases and specific exams for alleged sexual assaults. She is available to testify in court when necessary.
Highlighting Hawaii's problem of child abuse
Effort underway to reach families
(Video on site)
An eye-catching display at the State Capitol aimed to draw attention to the problem of child abuse in Hawaii.
Thousands of shiny pinwheels spinning in the wind reminded some of their carefree and fun days as a kid.
But each of the pinwheels placed on the Capitol grounds also represented the harm that has come to Hawaii's children.
"We have 5,000 cases of child abuse a year," said Aileen Deese, with Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii.
26% of those children are physically harmed. 36% have been sexually abused. While 38% have been emotionally abused or neglected. And for every reported case, experts estimate, five more go unreported.
At least to authorities -- who could help stop the abuse.
"We found family members tell their coworkers or friends, rather than reporting it and getting professional help," said Deese.
Many of those who are told are not required by law to report the abuse. Only those who work directly with children are legally obligated to report suspected child abuse.
Treena Pieper knew how difficult it was seek out help.
"As a result of domestic violence, my children suffered emotionally, psychologically verbal abuse," said Pieper.
Now a decade later, Treena uses her title as Hawaii's America Super Ms. to reach out to women. She shares her story and offers them hope that getting help will not only stop the abuse, but heal the damage.
"The scars from verbal and emotional abuse last longer the physical ones. They are much deeper and still touches me til today. The physical will disappear but the emotional stays," said Pieper.
Studies have shown one of the best ways to prevent child abuse is to provide parents with a strong support network of family or friends.
Families can also call prevent child abuse Hawaii at 951-0200 for additional help.
And for those who suspect a child is being abused, contact the Department of Human Services at 832-5300.
Child Abuse Awareness Month: Expert weighs in on what parent can do to prevent baby deaths
by Althea Paul
LAKELAND, Florida - Tampa Bay has seen two recent cases of babies allegedly dying at the hands of their fathers, who police said were frustrated at their crying children.
With April being Child Abuse Awareness Month, we wanted to focus on the issue.
On Friday, police arrested 20-year-old Jacob Hartley after they say he shook his 3-week-old infant son and killed him. According to authorities, the child's mother found him unresponsive and bleeding from the nose at their home along Stoneway Drive.
And just days before, authorities arrested 27-year-old Christopher Ryon in Winter Haven for allegedly punching and killing his 3-month-old daughter .
"It's just breaking everybody's heart, because we've all been working so hard to try to get the education out there and yet it's still happening," said Janet Goree.
Goree is behind Florida's Kimberlin West Act of 2002, named after her granddaughter, who was shaken by her father in 1993 and later died. Under the act, hospitals and birthing facilities are required to educate new parents about the dangers of shaking babies. Goree says for young men especially, no one really teaches them how to care for infants.
"I do think if we can teach alternatives of what to do when you get frustrated, and empower young men that it's really OK to put that baby down and let the baby cry if he's fed and he's not dirty, he's going to be OK," said Goree.
Goree added that parents should have a plan on what to do to calm down before dealing with the baby. It could have made all the difference in the recent Bay area cases.
Goree said the state funding she was getting to go into the hospitals and train nurses about getting the information out on Shaken Baby Syndrome has since been pulled. She thinks more needs to be done to possibly include fining hospitals that don't comply with the law to educate parents.
Child Abuse Prevention month breaks out the blue
by Anne Fitten Glenn
One in five children in Buncombe County has experienced abuse or neglect.
Yes, that number is staggering. It equals more than 4,200 reported cases in 2011. Half of those kids were younger than 6 years old, and the majority were abused by someone they know (and probably trusted). And that distressing number doesn't represent all of the abused kids. Many incidents go unreported.
“So much of this exists in secrecy,” says Bill McGuire, director of Child Abuse Prevention Services, an Asheville-based prevention, education, and counseling agency.
Most tragic is when the report comes after a child dies at the hands of an abuser — which happens to four children every single day in this country.
In truth, I'd rather not write about child abuse, even from a prevention point of view, because it's something I'd rather not think about. But not wanting to think or talk about a thing, unfortunately, doesn't make it go away. Clearly, this isn't one of my humorous columns. It fact, it's stomach-twisting in a whole different way. Sorry about that.
April, in addition to being a month of fools and flowers, is Child Abuse Prevention month. You may see symbolic blue ribbons around town this month, thanks in part to CAPS.
“Our primary goal this month is to increase awareness of child abuse prevention and treatment,” McGuire says. “We hope more people will start or increase their efforts to teach personal safety to their kids.”
He notes that this is a preventable tragedy. Educating both caregivers and children does make a difference.
“One of the best things parents can do is to establish true open communication with their kids,” McGuire adds.
CAPS will be presenting their prevention and personal safety program in city and county schools throughout the month, which offers a great opportunity for parents to talk to kids (saying "no," your body belongs to you). In addition, CAPS provides the “Becoming a Love and Logic Parent” program — a free parenting education course designed to provide us with practical tools and strategies for raising kids. Strategies are always good, y'all.
CAPS also provides counseling and support to thousands of children each year.
“Children ware so resilient. It never ceases to amaze me,” McGuire says.
While that's good to hear, it's not ideal. Not having abuse happen in the first place is preferable.
One of the highlights of the month's events will be the second Paws for Kids event on April 21. Hundreds of children, adults, and dogs will be walking at Biltmore Park Town Square near the YMCA from 10 a.m. to noon to increase awareness and encourage involvement in protecting both children and animals.
The event, a partnership between CAPS and the Asheville Humane Society, will feature music, dancers, blue bandanas for dogs, blue ribbons for kids, a raffle, pets for adoption, a dog agility demonstration, and more.
“Ironically, there were laws in this country to protect animals long before there were laws to protect kids,” McGuire says.
The Paws for Kids event offers a way to advocate for both. To register for Paws for Kids and to learn more, visit www.childabusepreventionservices.org
If recognition and education can prevent one child from being hurt, that's a difference. If it can stop many from being abused, that's huge.
Wear blue on Wednesday to show support for stopping child abuse
Athens County Children Services (ACCS) is joining child protection agencies across Ohio and inviting everyone across the county to wear blue to work on April 11 for "Wear Blue to Work Day!"
According to a news release, Athens County Children Services received 1,375 calls to report suspected abuse and neglect of children in 2011. The agency responds to reports of abuse and neglect 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
"We want the community to know that child abuse is preventable, and the best way to do this is to heighten awareness of the issue," Public Relations and Community Events Coordinator Sherri Oliver said in the release. "Something as simple as wearing blue to work can spark a conversation about the importance of child safety all across Athens County."
The unified, community-wide act of wearing blue is to help raise awareness of April 2012 as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Public Children Services Association of Ohio reports that in 2009 (the most recent data available, according to the release), nearly 120,000 Ohio children were victims of abuse or neglect. In Athens County approximately 1,375 adults contacted Children Services in 2011, expressing concerns about a child's safety and wellbeing. By wearing blue, the entire community can be unified against child abuse, which is preventable, according to the release.
To help people share in the "Wear Blue to Work" experience, ACCS is asking individuals, groups and companies to send photos of themselves wearing blue to Sherri Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org. These photos will be posted on the ACCS Facebook page (www.facebook.com/athenschildrenservices).
Indiana man charged with child sexual exploitation
INDIANAPOLIS -- A western Indiana man is accused of coercing 100 or more teenage boys into recording and sending him sexually explicit images in what federal prosecutors said Monday could be the largest U.S. case of online sexual extortion of children.
Federal officials released a booking photo of 39-year-old Richard Leon Finkbiner, hoping it might generate leads that could help them to identify teens shown in hundreds of sexually explicit videos found on his computer. Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis say Finkbiner estimated to FBI agents that he had coerced at least 100 young people into such videos.
Finkbiner was arrested Friday at his home in the Clay County city of Brazil on charges that he extorted two 14-year-old boys in Maryland and Michigan by threatening to post sexually explicit videos of them online. Court records did not list an attorney for Finkbiner. A court hearing was scheduled for Wednesday in Terre Haute. Finkbiner faces a preliminary charge of sexual exploitation of children.
U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett told The Indianapolis Star ( http://indy.st/HtZEd1) that federal investigators are trying to figure out how broad the case is and that victims or their families should contact the FBI if they recognize Finkbiner from the mug shot.
"We are fearful it will be vast, but we don't know that," he said Sunday. "This is a case, frankly, in its infancy."
The U.S. attorney's office said in a statement that, "the presence of hundreds of victims would put this investigation and prosecution among the larger - if not largest - sextortion prosecutions ever undertaken in the United States."
Sextortion is a growing crime in which Internet predators catch victims in embarrassing situations online and threaten to expose them unless they create sexually explicit photos or videos.
A Maryland man who pleaded guilty to charges he extorted an Indiana teen and girls across the country into sexual favors online was sentenced in January to 33 years in federal prison.
Almost all of the youths pictured in seized videos are boys, and most appear to be 14 to 16 years old, said Brant Cook, the federal prosecutor handling the case.
Federal agents found Finkbiner by tracking online communications with the two 14-year-old boys, the complaint filed Friday in federal court said. The boys told police an unknown man had threatened to post on gay porn websites sexually explicit videos of them that he had recorded on chat sites if they did not comply with his demands.
Investigators tracked the communications to Clay County Internet in Brazil, which is owned by Finkbiner, the complaint said.
Prof pens social work handbook
Guide deals with issues pertaining to child abuse
By Jennifer Pearson
Professor and chair of the clinical practice concentration at the Graduate College of Social Work, Monit Cheung, recently published “Child Sexual Abuse,” a book which serves as an extensive manual for the treatment and court preparation of child sexual abuse cases.
With sample interviews and a DVD that provides a step-by-step process in forensic interviewing, Cheung's book is aimed at multidisciplinary professionals who work with child and adolescent victims.
“I have been a social worker for 35 years. I received my first child sexual abuse case in my caseload when I worked in a refugee camp in the 1970s,” said Cheung, who began her social work career in Hong Kong. “This experience of working with a child victim of sexual abuse in the refugee camp made me realize that this problem exists everywhere.”
Seeing that most authors in the field of child developmental psychology were American, Cheung decided to get her M.S.W. in Ohio State University.
After graduation, Cheung worked at a child protection agency and as an instructor in various colleges, where she wrote several research articles on forensic interviewing techniques, which eventually led to publication.
“This book is the essence of 30 years of preparation,” Cheung said. “I felt that it is important to write a book about these experiences with support from the current literature so that a systematic guide can be provided for those who work closely with children to prevent mistakes in child sexual abuse investigations.”
Cheung said preparing the manuscript was tedious, but with the encouragement of her publisher at Lyceum Books and the assistance provided by graduate students who helped complete the accompanying DVD, Cheung was able to finish “Child Sexual Abuse.”
“I feel very happy that this book was finally printed in Feb. 2012,” Cheung said. “A group of police officers who encouraged me to write this book since 1995, when I started a special training program in child protection in Hong Kong, were excited about this book and have ordered a copy for their own use. From the day I started writing, I knew that this would be a useful manual for social workers and other professionals.”
Cheung plans to prepare another manuscript featuring exercises using therapeutic games and guided imagery to aid the treatment of child and adolescent victims.
“Now that this book is published, I feel a sense of relief because I can now move on to other projects and continue to use my knowledge and experience in the field,” Cheung said.
“It will be another busy year for me, and my Dean has granted me a developmental leave to complete this new project. (There are) many more days and nights ahead of me … I will complete another book for children's sake.”
Upcoming presentation to dispel myths, raise awareness about sexual assault
by Bridget Manley
Sexual predators are strangers who lurk in dark alleys.
Young children are the primary victims of sexual crimes.
Sexual assault doesn't happen in Moffat County.
The above notions are false, said Karen Zimmerman, who coordinates Moffat County's Sex Assault Response Team.
She's spearheading a presentation Wednesday to shed light on sexual assault and dispel some of the myths surrounding the crime.
The event takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Moffat County High School auditorium, 900 Finley Lane. It is free and open to the public, including families.
The presentation will not contain material inappropriate for children or teenagers, Zimmerman said.
The presentation coincides with April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Zimmerman believes the campaign's theme this year is apt.
“The slogan this year is ‘It's Time to Talk About It,'” she said during an interview in March.
She plans to define what sexual assault is and to confront common misconceptions about sexual violence.
“People in society have the mentality that it's the stranger in a dark alley that rapes,” she said. “And it's not. It's usually somebody that you know, somebody that you've had acquaintance with.”
The crime is indiscriminate and can happen to elderly adults in nursing homes as well as children, she said.
Sexual assault is a topic Zimmerman believes many residents would rather not broach.
“People do not want to talk about sexual assault,” she said. “They really want to just bury their head in the sand like it's not happening around them.”
But for she and other members of SART — which includes Advocates-Crisis Support Services, the Craig Police Department, Moffat County Sheriff's Office, Department of Social Services and the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office — sexually based crimes are a chilling reality.
Wednesday's presentation also includes the voice of Craig resident Amber Hampton, who found justice after years of sexual abuse from her stepfather, Cyril Joseph Lenahan IV.
In November 2011, Lenahan, of Craig, was convicted of one count of sexual assault on a child with a pattern of abuse, a Class 3 felony; one count of sexual assault on a child, a Class 4 felony; and one count of sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust, a Class 4 felony.
He was sentenced in February to 15 years to life in prison.
Being believed first by law enforcement then by a panel of 12 jurors gave Hampton closure after years of sexual abuse that began when she was a child and continued into her teenage years, she said.
By telling her story, she hopes to let other survivors know they are not alone, “that the district attorneys' office does take this seriously and they do prosecute,” she said.
Hampton also affirms that sexual assault does not eclipse hope for a full life.
Although confronting the abuse from her past was at times excruciating, it made her stronger, she said, “and it's helped me embrace that I can't change the past but I can use that and build my future.”
“The assault happened to me,” she said. “It isn't who I am.”
For more information about Wednesday's presentation, call Zimmerman at 629-3799 or Advocates-Crisis Support Services at 824-9709.
A survivor explains the vulnerability of child sex trafficking victims
RICHMOND , April 9, 2012 — Many people question why some sex trafficking victims stay with their traffickers. As a survivor, I know this simple question requires a rather complex explanation.
I am a survivor of sex trafficking and of child abuse by a family member. My story demonstrates that an untreated case of child sexual abuse can lead to the sex trafficking of that child victim.
My history of sexual abuse began when I was under the age of ten. To make this trauma worse, my parents instructed me to lie about it when confronted by a social worker at home. My parents seemed to believe that they needed to protect our family from the social stigma associated with child sexual abuse. But by squelching the truth, they in turn sentenced me to an adolescence of misunderstanding and distrust. My resilience and sense of self-worth further diminished.
Without proper counseling, I harbored a secret of past abuse, a secret which slowly ate away at my self-confidence. The day I met my trafficker, I was shuffling behind my friends in the mall. I was feeling angry and depressed. I hated my parents and teachers. At the same time, I was losing my friends in the naturally changing social circles between middle and high school.
My self-esteem had spiraled downward throughout intermediate and middle school. I endured several exploitations by older high school boys and men who prowled the neighborhood and local skating rink for unsupervised girls.
By the time the trafficker spotted me in that New Jersey shopping mall, I had already been broken down.
As traffickers are skilled predators, they look for girls that are withdrawn and quiet. They prey upon minors with emotional brokenness as my trafficker did in late June, 1992, soon after my eighth grade middle school graduation.
Child sexual abuse paralyzes many children with the inability to differentiate a healthy relationship from an exploitative one. I, too, thought that exploitive relationships were the norm. Prior to meeting my trafficker, I was already used to relationships based on deception.
Many victims do not understand their fundamental right to say “No.” They often fail to understand ownership over their bodies. I didn't run away when my trafficker demanded that I agree to prostitute.
This was not because I wanted to stay but rather because I didn't understand that I had another option.
Scholars agree on a strong correlation between childhood sexual abuse and the sex trafficking of minor victims. In her podcast, Ending Human Trafficking, Sandra Morgan, R.N., M.A., the director of Vanguard University's Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ), discussed predisposing factors for homeless and runaway youth who fall victim to traffickers
“The reason kids are homeless often is because of preexisting abuse; Maybe there's a history of domestic violence in the home," Ms. Morgan says. "The child may have experienced sexual abuse. And in fact some of the literature now shows us anywhere from 65 to 85 percent of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation have a history of child sexual abuse in their own community or home environment. And so they may have run away to escape that and now then they're in another situation where they're being sexually exploited.”
Kate Price, M.A. lectured in a Wellesley Centers for Women seminar titled, Longing to Belong: Relational Risks and Resilience in U.S. Prostituted Children. Price stated a link between the prior history of sexual abuse and the prostitution of minor victims. She stated it really is that history of betrayal that really is a risk, and oftentimes…the entryway, into how children even end up in prostitution.
Price reports that at least 60 percent of sexually exploited children, which includes prostituted children, have a prior history of sexual abuse. Studies also show that roughly one in four girls—and one in six boys—will be victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Gustavo Turecki, M.D., Ph.D. argues that a history of abuse is associated with the decreased function of a gene that is important in helping a person respond to stressful situations. As a survivor, I believe that, without proper therapy, child sexual abuse often leads to further sexual exploitation because an abused child is unable to recognize the difference between a healthy relationship and exploitation.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. And, it's long overdue that we draw greater attention to the critical link between childhood sexual abuse and child sex trafficking in the U.S. Prevention methods to reach out to vulnerable youth are critical in ending the sex trafficking of minors in the U.S.
Holly Austin Smith is a survivor advocate, author, and speaker. She invites you to join her on Facebook or Twitter and to follow her personal blog . Holly is a guest writer on Communities @WashingtonTimes.com
How to combat sex trafficking in massage parlors
by Youngbee Dale
WASHINGTON , March 25, 2012—Law enforcement officials across the U.S. agree that sex trafficking in massage parlors continues despite efforts to curb the practice. However, the recent success against the sex trade in massage parlors in Georgia demonstrates that there may be a path to combat the crime without employing extensive manpower.
The case of Macon city, Georgia, demonstrates that stringent law helps local law enforcement stomp out sex trafficking in Asian massage parlors. The new ordinance mandates that massage parlors in the city have a business license, and requires that massage parlor owners disclose previous criminal convictions and submit to a background investigation before opening a business in the city. It also requires all masseuses to possess a license to perform therapeutic massages.
Before the new legislation, Macon city was a perfect spot for sex trafficking in massage parlors. Atlanta, one of the biggest hubs of sex trafficking in the country, is only 100 miles from Macon, Georgia. Because of its close proximity to the highway, the city attracts truck drivers and johns on business trips who stop to exploit sex-workers in Macon. Prior to the new regulation, the city had around 15 Asian massage parlors offering sexual services.
Macon's new ordinance also empowers the local police, giving them a tool to catch the predators. Instead of having to rely on intense undercover sting operations, which require prolonged investigations, local police now have the authority to perform random inspections in the parlors to fight sex trafficking and prostitution.
Warner-Robins, another small city near Atlanta, Georgia, also retains a strict law against massage parlor prostitution. Since 1976, the city has forbidden any adult entertainment business owners who have committed a misdemeanor, including prostitution, from obtaining permits and licenses to practice for two years.
The city requires that all employees dress modestly and that all customers have their genitals covered during the massage session. Also, it holds owners accountable for adhering to the regulations. The law requires that owners ensure that their employees do not come into contact with the genitals of customers. In the event of a violation, both employer and masseuse are subject to license or permit revocation for two years.
The regulation grants the local police authority to perform random inspections at any time during business operation hours.
Prior to the new ordinance, Macon City was a hub of massage parlor prostitution and sex trafficking. In 2008, police arrested over 20 people at eight different businesses operating as massage parlors. The police said that the charges included “keeping a house of prostitution, masturbation for hire, solicitation of prostitution and simple prostitution.”
During the operation, police found two women who they believed to be trafficking victims. One of the victims was held under debt bondage to pay off fees to human traffickers who smuggled her from her home country to the United States. Traffickers also forced her into prostitution in various massage parlors throughout the East Coast. Another woman disappeared after police released her from custody.
Research shows that the new legislation reduced the rampant prostitution and sex trafficking in massage parlors. Since the new legislation took effect, The Telegraph, a local news media in Macon, reported in 2010 that four out of twelve massage parlor raided in 2008 were either out of business or moved elsewhere. The storefronts remained empty in 2010. Two of them continue to operate but do not advertise massage services according to the Telegraph.
Critics argue that the strict laws in Macon and Warner-Robins did not necessarily end massage-parlor prostitution and sex trafficking in the area. Three of the twelve businesses raided in 2008 continued to advertise massages in 2010. In 2010, two of these businesses also had their employees arrested for prostitution-related charges.
Warner-Robins city currently retains six businesses advertised as Asian spas or chiropractic businesses, but no erotic massage parlors openly advertise in the area.
In areas without tough legislation, rampant sex trafficking in massage parlors continues. In Los Angeles, California, lax regulation has led to spikes in prostitution and sex trafficking in massage parlors in the city.
Since 2009, California state law created “voluntary state certification for massage therapists.” Though the city regulation classifies massage parlors as adult entertainment, licensed therapists do not have to apply for police permits, which would require them to submit to background checks and fingerprinting by the local law enforcement.
To make matters worse, Los Angeles permits another loophole by failing to require massage parlor owners to show their state certification at all times. Currently, Los Angeles has 95 erotic massage parlors openly operating as brothels.
Macon and Warner-Robins have come a long way to fight the crime. Still, the authorities must close remaining loopholes in the legislation. They should crack down not only on massage parlors, but also on other businesses used by traffickers, such as acupuncture clinics and spas. Asset forfeiture from traffickers or facilitators to assist victims is also vital to forbid re-victimization of young women in the brothels.