Maine Voices: Closure nowhere near on child sex abuse
Society must improve how it deals with child protection and education, abuser treatment and community awareness.
by ELIZABETH CRAWFORD
I wept June 22 as I listened to Linda Kelly, Pennsylvania's attorney general, speak regarding Jerry Sandusky's multiple convictions for child sexual abuse.
I'm not talking a single dainty tear rolling gently down my cheek. I'm talking gulping sobs; red running nose; hiccups -- the works.
I was surprised by the intensity of my response. I should not have been -- I'm a survivor of sexual abuse. I know the shame of victimization, the manipulation by which an abuser controls a child, the fear that someone will learn my secret and take advantage.
In my case, I did not pursue justice through the criminal system or a civil suit. Unfortunately, many survivors don't, whether because of statutes of limitation, concern about repercussions or the challenges of proving abuse from years earlier.
It's been 12 years since I entered therapy (although I had tried several times before, I always quit). I was in therapy for a total of five years. I consider myself a survivor and a functional member of society, and still, some nights my abuser stalks my dreams.
On the night of June 22, some media pundits described Sandusky's convictions as providing "a sense of closure."
In my mind, it is unlikely that the verdicts brought much sense of closure to Sandusky's victims and their families, to say nothing of the countless other abuse survivors around the world.
And it should not bring closure.
If anything, Sandusky's case illustrates how woefully inadequate our response to abuse has been and how much work still needs to be done. The long delay in investigating accusations, the conspiracy of silence among Penn State leaders, the failure of adults to intervene when they witnessed abuse -- all show that many in our society still naively deny the scope of this evil.
We cannot afford to become complacent -- to view the Sandusky case as an isolated incident. We must not assume that with his conviction, justice has been served and we can move along to the next big media frenzy.
No state, no educational institution, no parent, no survivor should allow the issue of child sexual abuse to fade from the public consciousness.
As the attorney general said, we should believe kids. But so much underlies that: We must actively listen to children, we must equip them with the skills and self-esteem to say "No" to a potential abuser, we must recognize and respond to signs of stress or dysfunction in family systems, we must make certain that schools and organizations that serve children are safe havens.
Schools and any organizations serving children should examine their strategies for ensuring child safety -- not with an eye to avoiding liability or protecting their assets, but with a genuine intent to protect the most important of all assets, the children themselves.
And, yet, to truly eliminate abuse, we must go much, much further. We should invest the necessary resources to understand the psychology of pedophilia -- to find treatment options that will enable abusers to learn and practice healthy and appropriate sexual boundaries instead of ever becoming abusers. Warehousing offenders gets them off the street but still leaves a trail of broken victims. What a difference it would make if no one were victimized in the first place.
I remember being upset when I learned my therapist also treated abusers. "Why would she do that?" I wondered. Now, with the passage of time and gathering of insight, I understand. It's the only way abuse will ever truly stop.
Jerry Sandusky's actions, like those of any abuser, are heinous, inexcusable and cannot be mitigated by any good that individual might do or have done in this world.
Ultimately, though, abusers are broken people. Like bullies, they are pitiable because they have a gaping hole in their psyche that enables them, perhaps even compels them, to behave in such a way. I cannot condone or excuse their actions, but I understand them as symptoms of deep dysfunction. We need to commit to the research and invest the resources to find humane, effective treatment -- perhaps eventually even a cure.
It's well past time we attack child sexual abuse on every front: child education and protection, community and organizational awareness and implementation, and abuser treatment. Then, and only then, we will truly have closure.
Until we do so, it's as the mother of Victim 6 said the night of the verdict, "Nobody wins. We've all lost."
Elizabeth Crawford is a writer and educator in northern Maine.
Report: Illinois child abuse hotline resorts to taking messages on many calls
by Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — A newspaper's investigation has found that most callers to the Illinois child abuse hotline don't reach a welfare specialist on their first try.
The Chicago Tribune reports in its Sunday editions that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took messages for more than 60 percent of those calls. The newspaper report says a delayed response can endanger children.
The Tribune analyzed hotline calls over an 11-year period. In 2001, nearly 70 percent of hotline callers got a specialist on the first try. Today, it's less than 40 percent.
Department spokesman Kendall Marlowe tells the newspaper that the hotline needs to be properly staffed to avoid messages.
State law requires the department to operate the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
N.D. tribe accused of hiding child abuse crisis
by TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
Federal and state officials say they have documented glaring flaws in the child welfare system at the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota, contending that while child abuse there is at epidemic levels, the tribe has sought to conceal it.
The problems uncovered by medical and social services administrators include foster children who have been sent to homes where registered sex offenders live and a teenage sexual-abuse victim who was placed in a tribal home and subsequently raped.
The tribe northeastern North Dakota, federal officials said, also hired a children's case worker who had been convicted of felony child abuse and employed another social worker who discovered a 1-year-old child covered with 100 wood ticks but did not take the child to a hospital.
The conditions led the state to take the unusual step this year of suspending financing for 31 tribal children in foster care.
Concerns about the children of Spirit Lake extends to minors outside the social services system as well. In May 2011, a 9-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother were found dead, raped and sodomized, inside their father's home on the reservation, a federal official said. By the time their bodies were found under a mattress, the children may have been dead for as long as three days.
The tribe, officials said, has not conducted required background checks before placing foster children, failed to make mandated monthly visits to children in foster care and illegally removed foster children from homes and placed them elsewhere without determining that the new homes would be safe.
Unease about the tribe's ability to adequately safeguard children has escalated in the past several weeks after two scathing, detailed e-mails were sent by federal officials to their superiors at the Department of Health and Human Services, alleging misconduct by reservation officials.
In a June 14 e-mail sent to his managers in Washington, Thomas Sullivan, the regional administrator for the Administration for Children and Families for six states, called on the government to declare a state of emergency at Spirit Lake, cut off its federal financing and charge the tribe's leader with child endangerment to combat what he described as "daunting" child abuse being covered up.
American Indians make up 9 percent of the state's population, but Indian children constitute nearly 30 percent of its child abuse victims, said a 2009 study by the Department of Health and Human Services. While statistics related to abuse at Spirit Lake are not public information, federal officials believe that the reservation has an even more significant child abuse problem than other reservations.
As one indication, it is home to 38 registered sex offenders out of a population of 4,500, said Justice Department figures -- a far higher proportion than in most U.S. cities and towns. Tribal officials did not return calls seeking comment.
Mark Weber, a Health and Human Services spokesman, said the agency was working "to address concerns."
Cambodian refugee in Folsom mentors girls rescued from sex trade
by Stephen Magagnini
After overcoming a childhood scarred by the Khmer Rouge and abusive relationships, Teav Mam found new purpose and identity through the beauty trade. She says hairstyling saved her life. Now she wants to save others.
Mam, a Folsom hairstylist, mentors five girls who were brought from Cambodia by members of a Roseville-based missionary group, Agape International Missions, after being rescued from sexual slavery. Mam, 34, plans to return to her native Cambodia this fall in hopes of opening a beauty school there for other girls rescued from sex-trafficking.
"Little girls as young as 5 years old are being sold every day by their parents," Mam said. "It just breaks my heart."
Mam is partnering with The Trade, a nonprofit based in El Dorado Hills that aims to empower impoverished women in developing countries by instructing them in the art of hair and makeup and helping them set up their own businesses.
The Trade was created by Chris McCarley and Jonathan Klein, two men from Redding who in 2009 maxed out their moms' credit cards to launch a scissors manufacturing company, Hattori Hanzo Shears. Through Hattori, the pair sell high-end hairdressing shears, then funnel a portion of their profits into charitable work through The Trade.
The company, which expects to do more than $3 million in sales this year, puts $50,000 annually back into The Trade, McCarley said.
Their customers trade in used shears, which are sharpened and given to hairstylists, along with blow dryers and stipends, to train girls in Nicaragua, Mexico, Brazil and Kenya, McCarley said. Many of the girls they help are rescued from sex-trafficking.
"When we met Mam at a Starbucks in Granite Bay, it was an instant connection," McCarley said. "Teav has a heart for Cambodians. We're supporting her with all the tools, and we're working hard to help her raise the funds."
Mam said she was deeply touched by the stories of the five Cambodian girls she mentors, who range in age from 16 to 19.
The girls were flown to California to testify against Michael Pepe, a retired U.S. Marine captain who had worked as a teacher in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. According to testimony at his Los Angeles trial, he hired a prostitute to buy the girls from their families, then repeatedly and violently raped them. He was convicted in May 2008 of sexually abusing seven girls and still awaits sentencing.
Mam's mentees were rescued by a joint task force that included the International Justice Mission, the Cambodian anti-trafficking police, the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Renee Burkhalter, who retired from Agape International Missions in January.
Agape was founded by the Rev. Don Brewster and his wife, Bridget, of Roseville, who moved to Cambodia in 2005 to battle the rampant sex-trafficking of children. The Brewsters put the girls in Agape's after-care program in Cambodia, got them therapy and medical treatment, and helped them come to the United States on visas for sex-trafficking victims, Burkhalter said.
The girls live with host families in the Sacramento area, and Mam serves as mother, driver, confidante and advice counselor, helping them adjust to American life. She is one of the few Cambodians the girls have met since they started school in Placer County in 2010.
"They call me Bong, 'Big Sister,' " said Mam.
She cooks for them and packs them into her SUV for swimming parties at Folsom Lake, shopping adventures at thrift stores, and farmers markets in Stockton.
"One wants to become a stewardess, and we're going to give another girl a scholarship to beauty school. She's a natural with hair," said Mam.
Mam had her own difficult journey to America. She was born in Cambodia during one of history's worst genocides. The Khmer Rouge, soldiers who became communist revolutionaries, killed 3 million of their own people in the 1970s.
The "suspected capitalists" executed included ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese and other minorities, as well as Catholics, Muslims and Buddhist monks; artists and musicians; professionals, teachers and anyone who wore glasses.
Mam's father, an engineer, was forced to become a soldier. Her mother was nearly executed because somebody said she had an Omega watch, Mam said.
"I was 2 when my family escaped," she said. For three days they hiked through a jungle littered with land mines.
They spent five years in Thai and Indonesian refugee camps before coming to the United States in 1982. The next year, they joined the growing Cambodian community in Stockton.
When Mam was 13, she said, she was molested by a family friend, and ran away from home, only to wind up in an abusive relationship. She ran with gangs, then gradually rebuilt her life, getting her GED.
Mam said she got the idea to cut hair from her older sister, who found her own path to financial and emotional independence when she started cutting hair for a living. Eventually, Mam got a job in Folsom, and gave free haircuts at women's shelters.
At a benefit concert for Courage To Be You, which runs a Sacramento shelter for girls rescued from sex-trafficking, Mam met Clayton Butler, a Sacramento missionary who worked in Cambodia. He asked if she would like to be a big sister to a rescued girl.
Soon, she had five little sisters. Though they'd had little schooling, each has embraced her new American life, Mam said. They have Facebook accounts, text in English and one has earned her orange belt in Taekwondo.
When they're not in school, they love swimming, shopping and movies. "But not kissing movies," Mam said. "They like action and adventure."
Mam hopes to raise $10,000 to go to Cambodia to start the "Growing Hope" beauty school. The plan is to train 20 girls at a time to cut hair.
Mam knows what it's like to feel powerless. By opening a beauty school in Cambodia, she said, she hopes to make other young women feel beautiful, confident and independent, "so they can live and love freely."
And she doesn't plan to stop at Cambodia.
"That's what I want to do, bring joy to women all over the world," she said.
HOW TO HELP
On Sept. 16, Mam and other hairstylists will participate in The Trade's fundraiser, Cut for a Cause. To donate, go to supportthetrade.org
Are Child Sexual Abuse Rates Really Declining?
Numerous studies say rates are dropping, but some remain skeptical in communities of color.
by Kellee Terrell
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)
, 15 percent of sexual assault and rape cases occur among children under the age of 12, with 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault perpetuated by someone they know. Of those assaults, 34.2 percent of attackers were family members, 58.7 percent were acquaintances and only 7 percent were complete strangers.
While nearly 80,000 incidents
of child sexual abuse are reported to authorities each year, the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says six million children
are abused nationwide each year.
Those numbers are incredibly worrisome, but the good news is more victims are coming forward to report abuse
, and rates of abuse have declined 60 percent between from 1992 to 2010.
The New York Times reported
| The evidence for this decline comes from a variety of indicators, including national surveys of child abuse and crime victimization, crime statistics compiled by the F.B.I., analyses of data from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect and annual surveys of grade school students in Minnesota, all pointing in the same direction.
From 1990 to 2010, for example, substantiated cases of sexual abuse dropped from 23 per 10,000 children under 18 to 8.6 per 10,000, a 62 percent decrease, with a 3 percent drop from 2009 to 2010, according to the researchers' analysis of government data. The Minnesota Student Survey charted a 29 percent decline in reports of sexual abuse by an adult who was not a family member from 1992 to 2010 and a 28 percent drop in reports of sexual abuse by a family member. The majority of sexual abuse cases involve family members or acquaintances rather than strangers, studies have found.
Experts are not exactly sure why this decline has happened, but Dr. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center
, told the Times
that heightened awareness
, better policies, education and training, and prevention programs may be the reason.
Yet there are some advocates who are skeptical, especially when it comes to rates in different communities of color where there is less dialogue and funding. There are also worries that funding will decrease if sexual abuse is not viewed as a serious epidemic.
Regardless of whether these rates are going down, the Jerry Sandusky trial
is a constant reminder that all parents need to talk to their children about sex, healthy boundaries and the dangers of pedophiles.
For advice on how to talk about sexual abuse, click here.
Cops, state investigate Top Flight
by Libor Jany
NEW MILFORD -- Authorities are looking into possible cases of physical or sexual child abuse at the Top Flight Sports Center, officials said Friday.
The complaint that launched the inquiry was lodged by officials at the multi-use sports facility June 22, according to a state Department of Public Health spokeswoman.
The violations laid out in the complaint included failing to ensure the safety of the children enrolled in the center's day care program.
"The New Milford Police Department is investigating a complaint against an individual at Top Flight," said Lt. Larry Ash, New Milford police spokesman, on Friday. "(The Department of Children and Families) and the Department of Public Health are also involved in the investigation."
Ash declined to elaborate on the allegations or to identify the person named in the complaint because the investigation is ongoing. An arrest is not imminent, he said.
On June 29, Top Flight officials voluntarily relinquished their child care license, effectively shutting down the day care program.
"In any circumstance when there is any serious physical abuse or sexual abuse, we coordinate with state and local law enforcement agencies," said Josh Howroyd, a DCF spokesman. "What we're trying to answer is whether or not allegations of either child abuse or neglect can be substantiated."
The center is located at 17 Pickett District Road. Officials there declined to discuss the allegations Friday, and city officials distanced themselves from the ongoing multi-agency investigation.
New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy said she had not yet been briefed on the investigation.
"I don't wish to comment," Murphy said when reached by telephone. "We don't have any of that info here."
Parent Jason Miesionczek, who had enrolled his 8-year-old daughter in a summer gymnastics camp sponsored by the center, said Top Flight officials announced the cancellation of the program in an email to parents "about a week and a half ago," without giving a reason.
"I called earlier in the week, and I asked why the camp was canceled all of a sudden," Miesionczek said. "The woman on the phone said, `I can't really give out too many details,' and that there's an issue with their child care license."
Penn State findings expected soon
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State
's internal investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case is drawing to a close and the findings are expected within weeks, which would enable the university to confront the next difficult chapter in the scandal well ahead of the new academic year.
Following the former assistant football coach's arrest in November, university trustees appointed former FBI Director Louis Freeh to lead the sweeping investigation. His central mission was to find out how and why Penn State failed to stop Sandusky - who was convicted last month on 45 criminal counts for sexually abusing 10 boys, some on campus - and recommend changes to help prevent more abuse.
With football training camp opening in a month and classes starting Aug. 27, the latest timetable, if met, will assure that the university's own failings can be identified before another school year gets under way.
Freeh's inquiry helped uncover new evidence for the ongoing criminal investigation and will also be central to other inquiries. It is expected to shed more light on the relationship between athletics and the administration and the influence wielded by the late coach Joe Paterno. A fractured Penn State community, meanwhile, is still seeking answers about the events that led to the ousters of Paterno and school President Graham Spanier.
The U.S. Department of Education is examining whether the school violated the Clery Act, which requires reporting of crimes on campus. And the NCAA, the governing body of college athletics, is conducting its own inquiry.
More than 400 people were interviewed as part of the Freeh investigation, including everyone from top administrators and trustees to retired secretaries and former staffers in the athletic department.
A spokesman for Freeh this week declined to comment on when the report would be finished, and the university on a website on the response to the scandal hasn't deviated from its late summer timeline.
But school president Rodney Erickson recently told the Centre Daily Times newspaper that he expects the Freeh report by mid- to late July.
Five people in leadership roles at the university told The Associated Press this week that they had either been told or received indications that findings could be released within weeks, if not sooner, and no later than the end of the month. Trustees could offer an update at the next board meeting July 13 in Scranton.
Recently revealed emails among top school officials about a 2001 molestation allegation also apparently led to another round of interviews.
NBC first reported on the email traffic last month. CNN reported this week on an excerpted email from Athletic Director Tim Curley that indicated he changed his mind about reporting the 2001 allegation to child welfare authorities after speaking with Paterno, which suggested the Hall of Fame coach took a more active role in the decision than what he described.
Two people at the university familiar with the investigations told The Associated Press that athletic department staffers were among those interviewed by Department of Education officials since revelations about the email exchanges. The two people, who were also interviewed by Freeh's team, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigations.
Paterno died in January of lung cancer at age 85. His family issued a statement this week that the leaked materials presented only a fraction of the story, and called for both Freeh's team and the state attorney general to release all relevant and records pertaining to the Sandusky investigations.
The NCAA has said it expects the school to provide a more detailed response to its inquiry once Freeh's investigation was complete. The NCAA is examining Penn State's ''institutional control'' over the events that occurred, along with whether school officials followed policies on honesty and ethical conduct.
The NCAA could choose to undertake a more formal investigation that could lead to sanctions. While school officials remain worried about that happening, officials have also remained optimistic Penn State would not be penalized because the Sandusky allegations didn't directly impact the football program or give Penn State a competitive advantage, said two people at the school familiar with the NCAA inquiry.
Penn State also hopes the NCAA takes into account corrective steps already taken, said the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the university. Such steps include increased training for school employees to recognize and report abuse allegations.
Betrayals of trust abound in child sex abuse cases
by Renee Ordway
I wanted to call Bob Carlson this week.
It was a near-automatic response as I began to formulate thoughts for this week's column.
I wanted to speak to a professional person, a leader, a studier of human nature, a counselor, a trusted, spiritual person at the heart of our community.
I wanted to ask him his thoughts on the recent sentencing of a veteran Maine State Police trooper on child sexual abuse charges and the arrest of a longtime and well-known youth baseball coach in Maine and New Hampshire also accused of sexually abusing at least two young boys.
Of course, the sickening trial and ultimate conviction of Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for multiple counts of child sexual abuse is still fresh in our minds.
But his was just the highest-profile case on the national stage. It's happening everywhere.
Have we been so battered by such horrific betrayal that we are no longer shocked? How long before parents start eyeing suspiciously everyone who teaches, coaches, babysits, ministers or counsels their children? If they don't, are they misguided or naive?
Greg Vrooman, the trooper sentenced earlier this week, was not the first trooper to be convicted of sex crimes against a child. There was another in 1990. There also was a Penobscot County Jail transport officer and part-time constable, a beloved music teacher in Searsport, an elementary school computer technician in Searsport, a revered businessman and World War II veteran who was convicted in 2006 at the age of 83, a kindergarten teacher from Jackman and an assistant attorney general convicted of dabbling in child porn.
We won't even bother to mention the scandals within the Catholic Church.
Google similar stories on a national level and you might find your distrust quotient growing with each click of your mouse.
Coaches, both professional and volunteer, teachers, doctors, police officers, clergy.
Every single day across the country. Horrific violations of trust and stunned, angry and saddened community members and victims left in their wake.
How do communities push through this barrage of stories of such respected people committing such heinous crimes against the very children we entrusted them with?
My husband and I coached youth basketball at the YMCA for a few years. He actually did most of the coaching. The real teaching part.
These were little kids, kindergartners and first-graders, and I would often work with the shy one, the more hesitant one, the one who might cry if pushed too fast. The one who needed a bit more one-on-one assistance. The one who might need a hug following a goof-up.
Probably not appropriate, but I was much more a mother on the court than a coach, and I couldn't have done it any differently.
The Y, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and youth athletic leagues all depend on volunteers to coach and mentor and lead. Sure, there are background checks, but I refer you to the list above. Any of them would have passed such a check.
So how does a community, how do parents balance the appropriate level of suspicion against the desire to trust?
I wanted to call Bob Carlson to ask him that.
For countless years he is who many of us went to in search of answers during challenging times and community upheaval.
He certainly was my trusted professional source on many, many occasions.
But of course, Bob, former pastor of East Orrington Church, former chaplain at Husson University, the Penobscot County Sheriff Department, the Bangor and Brewer police and fire departments and president of Penobscot Community Health Care and winner of the Katahdin Area Council of Boy Scouts of America's 15th annual Distinguished Citizen Award, jumped to his death from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge last November amid allegations of child sexual abuse.
It used to be that a person's reputation was the foundation of his or her level of trust and respectability in a community.
Someone who's a good father, a good husband, a hard worker, a civic-minded leader — a police officer, a Boy Scout leader, a kindergarten teacher.
Travel industry learns to spot human trafficking victims
by Jennifer Olney
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As many as 300,000 American children are victims of human trafficking every year. Worldwide, the numbers are even higher and many are transported on commercial airlines. The travel industry may become a critical link in rescuing victims.
Petra Hensely was just 16 years old when she was kidnapped off a public street in the Czech Republic.
"I was drugged, beaten and raped by more men than I could count," Hensely said.
The kidnappers were human traffickers selling their victims for sex. After three days of unspeakable torture, Hensely jumped out a window and escaped.
Now, almost 20 years later, human trafficking is worse than ever and Hensely is telling her story, this time at San Francisco International Airport.
"I have a deep desire to help others escape from the monsters who are dealing with buying and selling human beings," Hensely said.
SFO was the first airport in the country to start training employees to recognize human trafficking -- adults and children sold for sex, slave labor, even forced organ donations. It's happening everywhere, including the Bay Area.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, says human trafficking is now one of the largest and fastest growing criminal industries in the world.
"As drug cartels, they are realizing, 'Hey we can make more money or as much money selling young girls or young boys as we can selling dope,' and you can sell these youngsters over and over again, you can only sell drugs once," Speier said.
Incredibly, many victims are moved from place to place in plain sight on commercial airlines. They are often drugged or too terrified to ask for help.
So now there is a growing call to get airlines involved.
Air France was the first to step up with short in flight videos, graphic reminders that human trafficking is illegal in every country and sex with minors can lead to prison.
Starting this fall, Delta will become the first U.S. airline to train employees how to spot and report human trafficking. A non-profit called Airline Ambassadors is pushing other airlines to do the same.
"If airlines would train their crews, we could have hundreds of thousands of eyes and ears in the air, stopping what we see as the biggest human rights issue facing mankind," spokesperson Nancy Rivard said.
Airline Ambassadors is running a training class at the International Tour Management Institute in San Francisco. Future tour directors are learning to look for warning signs such as bruising, wounds, and maybe no or little eye contact. Some victims are even tattooed with bar codes. The students are told to gather information to report to authorities.
"Your location, what exactly is going on, what the victim and trafficker look like," Rivard said.
"Do not try to rescue, we are not in the business of rescuing and we are not professionals," Airline Ambassadors spokesperson Deborah Quigley said.
But professionals are available anytime. The Department of Homeland Security has a 24-hour tip line with highly trained specialists.
Airline Ambassadors know it works. In just one day a couple of years ago, members reported suspected human trafficking on four different commercial flights and they were correct in every case.
"And in one of those cases it led to the bust of a trafficking ring in Boston and we saved 82 children," Rivard said.
That kind of result, and just an hour of training made a big impact on one group travel professionals.
"This has opened my eyes; I know that I have witnessed so many of these things before, but I didn't know how to handle it or what to do," tour management student Linda Blitstein said.
Others are learning too. Next month, Mineta San Jose International Airport will be training its employees to recognize and report human trafficking.
Speier is calling on all airlines to voluntarily start training employees on human trafficking and if they don't, she may consider legislation to encourage them.
Man Wanted for Child Abuse by Injury in Wagoner County
The Wagoner County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) is asking the public for information on a man on their most wanted list.
28-year-old Zachary Dean Cobb is wanted on one felony charge of child abuse by injury and another felony charge of failure to appear on charges of possession of a controlled dangerous substance within 1000 feet of a school, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Cobb is described as a white male, 6'0", 175 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He has worked as a tattoo artist and has tattoos on his arms, legs, and torso.
Cobb was last seen driving a 2008 Silver Dodge Avenger, Oklahoma license plate 821HRM.
According to Major Gary Handley of the WCSO, Cobb may be using false documents to conceal his identity.
Cobb has been known to be in Wagoner County and Tulsa, Mjr. Handley said.
Anyone with information regarding Cobb's whereabouts is encouraged to call the WCSO Tip Line at 918-485-7799 or Wagoner County Dispatch at 918-485-3124.
Justice for victims and an end to silence
BOSTON , July 5, 2012 - As the trial of Jerry Sandusky began, I was determined to write about how justice would unfold for ten victims of child abuse in the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa.
As the jury settled in on Monday morning and testimony began , I immersed myself in the details of the trial , swallowing up every bit of information as it emerged on Twitter. I had entered the process with the intention of covering the trial of Jerry Sandusky through the eyes of a journalist who was also a survivor of child abuse. Instead , the journalist in me was eclipsed as I found myself consumed by an avalanche of emotion as the survivor inside me began to relive the horrors of my abuse as each detail emerged.
I had been in therapy for over twenty years learning to deal with the effects of my abuse , but the wounds I had suffered run to the very core of my soul. The details of Jerry Sandusky's unbridled abuse of young boys hijacked my emotions back to a time when I , too, was a powerless five year old trapped by silence.
I read the details as prosecutors began their case by displaying photos of each of the eight victims testifying, as they appeared at the age they were when they were abused. Their young faces radiated with the invaluable quality that was stripped away from them by the evil of Jerry Sandusky.
Through his horrific acts , each of his victims was sentenced to a lifetime of suffering and left to drift rudderless through the vast ocean of life. Jerry Sandusky eviscerated the innocence of the children he molested , and he called this love.
Despite my own efforts , my abuser was never brought to justice. My attempts to tell doctors, teachers, school counselors or any responsible adult were ignored and resulted in retribution from family members who protected my abuser. I suffered physically with my ribs being broken by a family member after I tried to tell a doctor about the secret I was warned never to reveal.
As a victim of a pedophile you are at the complete mercy of a person who is nothing more than a monster cloaked in the guise of respect and camouflaged with the mask of congeniality. The toxic web of lies and deceit that they weave creates an inescapable trap that forces their victims into silence. Choosing their prey carefully , they select the neglected and forgotten. Deprived of affection or even the knowledge of what it is to be loved , innocent victims stare wide-eyed as his or her prayers are seemingly answered and someone pretends to care.
Drunk on the affection lavished by the pedophile, victims are manipulated into the most vulnerable position possible , and once every exit has been blocked , the perpetrator makes their move.
The child is faced with the loss of the first vestiges of affection they have ever known and the threat of further degradation of their family life. Survivors of child abuse exist for many years unable to trust anyone. Adults in their lives have taught them they are not to be believed and treat them as liars before the first word forms on their lips.
The harsh reality we have to come to grips with is that Jerry Sandusky is the model for a pedophile. Every survivor of child abuse looks at this man and sees the exact behavior that their abuser used to steal their innocence and vandalize their childhood.
During the trial , every time I closed my eyes I would see my abuser, smell the scent of his cheap cologne , and hear the sick words he would whisper in my ear as he took from me the most precious gift I had, my innocence. Every survivor of child abuse I spoke with these past few weeks has been haunted in some way by the memories of a past that still wields power in many of their lives.
The trial of Jerry Sandusky plunged survivors into the depths of their worst fears as thoughts of an acquittal or a mistrial were bantered about in the media.
As hard as I fought to find justice in the case of my abuse , I was always turned away, bruised and beaten as I struggled to find someone who would believe me. I was the only one who made accusations against my abuser, which made my claims easy to discredit. Even after my abuser's death, I still could not convince others whom I knew to be victims to admit what had happened.
For those of us deprived of justice the case of Jerry Sandusky held the means for our triumph or our tragedy. He became the physical manifestation of the demons that haunt survivors as the echo of our abuse consumed our conscious mind s as each day of the trial unfolded. We became swept up in an emotional whirlwind with its roots in the long distant past , and there was nothing we could do about it.
Then something amazing happened. As the first victim took the stand , the courage he displayed in facing Jerry Sandusky inspired us all. Under the stress of cross examination by the defense he began to waver and cried out for help from the prosecution and , receiving none, righted himself and continued on.
For survivors of child abuse this was an act of courage unparalleled by any other event in our lives.
Victims of child abuse seldom find themselves facing their abuser in a courtroom , and the road leading to that moment is one of the most difficult ever travelled. Studies have shown that on the average a child must tell nine adults that they have been sexually abused before they are even believed. As a survivor I will tell you that it can also invite further abuse. When I began to seek out responsible adults with a plea for help , I found myself being molested by the teacher I thought would bring an end to my suffering.
Each victim who came forward to testify against Jerry Sandusky faced the greatest fear they have ever known in their lives and did not turn away. Investigators spoke of interviews conducted while victims curled up into the fetal position , overwhelmed by the trauma of what Sandusky had done to them as children.
These eight young men have humbled us all with their courage and determination to find justice , and what they have done has changed the way the public will view child abuse forever. They are the heroes of our generation , facing their nightmare as it materialized in front of them in the form a broken down old man.
The trial of Jerry Sandusky has become the Pearl Harbor of the war against child abuse. With his conviction the curtain has been pulled back and the mask has been shed and we now know what the face of evil looks like. It is our duty as a society to never let this crime happen again , and to stop the next Jerry Sandusky at the shower room door before the next scream of a lost innocence is heard.
As survivors of child abuse , our struggle has gained momentum over many decades and evolved with the blood, sweat and tears of both female and male survivors. Male survivors of child abuse have been fortunate that female survivors blazed the trail for both healing and justice for our vandalized childhoods. Male survivors struggle most of all with the issue of vulnerability , and their egos hemorrhage self-esteem.
A conflict rages between the societal definitions of masculine invincibility as it clashes with the innocence forcibly taken from a vulnerable child.
The scandal that rocked the Catholic Church as victims molested by priests came forward began the crack that has caused the demolition of the wall of silence that has protected pedophiles. The psychological blackmail that has kept us voiceless for so long has begun to lose its power. Jerry Sandusky has shown the world what monsters really look like , and the State of Pennsylvania has shown the world what fate they deserve.
The victims of Jerry Sandusky continue to inspire and motivate others who suffer in silence to come forward and become not only survivors but to thrive.
Recently I have caught myself swimming in the jubilation of Jerry Sandusky's conviction , but there are other moments I have to convince myself it is all not just a dream. As survivors we have finally found a North Star that can lead us down the path to both healing and justice. We placed our collective hope in a group of prosecutors in a courtroom in Bellefonte, Pa. , and prayed for an end to silence for all victims. In the end our expectations were not only met but also exceeded when Pennsylvania State Attorney General Linda Kelly and her prosecutors showed us what real heroes look like. Her impassioned speech following the Sandusky verdict has shown all victims they are no longer alone and trapped by silence.
The struggle against child abuse has come a long way and although we may pause with the conviction of Jerry Sandusky there is still work to be done. There has to be a standardized program of education about child abuse in our schools and community outreach programs that educate all responsible adults on how to recognize the signs of child abuse. Parents need to be educated and empowered to help them form the first line of defense against the shattered innocence of child abuse. The statute of limitations regarding victims of child abuse has to be reexamined on a state-by-state basis so victims are not robbed of justice for an eternity.
All organizations involved in the fight against child abuse need to find harmony in their efforts so we speak with one united voice.
We have to make sure that not one more child will suffer the tragedy of stolen dreams and a vandalized childhood , and the echo of lost innocence in the next shower room will no longer remain silent.
My dream is that one day with our collective efforts we will finally bring an end to silence.
Deciding Whether to Share a History of Child Abuse
by KJ DELL'ANTONIA
One of the hardest things about being a parent is that there are often unanswerable questions. You make your choices, and then you hope for the best - you can't really know what the "right" thing to do is, or whether what you've done was "right" once you've done it.
Last week's quandary definitely fell into that broad category. K. survived an abusive childhood, and she is trying to decide when, and how, to share her history of sexual abuse with her young adult children. I invited her to share more details but she chose not to, saying that it would be good to hear what people suggest for various circumstances, and to consider what others have experienced.
The one piece of advice that echoed across most responses was that K. should be certain that whatever decision she makes is one that is made with her children's needs in mind and not her own.
Most readers, whether they were victims of abuse themselves, or had a parent who shared that facet of his or her history, felt that it was usually better to tell than to keep the secret. Those who disagreed were those who felt burdened by too much knowledge of a parent's past - or the expectations that came with it.
"My mother was sexually abused by her brother, and physically abused by her father," Angela Confidential wrote.
The knowledge of what happened to her, particularly some of the more disturbing elements, have burdened me since she told me. I'm 39, and it's not that I want to bury my head in the sand, but sometimes I wish I didn't know. Recently my mother tried to tell me more details of her abuse because she said she thought it would help me understand her better. I told her that I knew everything I needed to know about her: that she is my mom, she's a good and caring person and I love her very much. She was kind enough to leave it at that and spare me more heartache. For that, I'm thankful, and I respect her for putting my needs before her own.
KH wrote that she appreciated her mother's ability to share her history of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her own mother, which helped KH to understand her mother's behaviors and insecurities, but:
My mother seemed to need to hear persistent acknowledgment from me that she had been abused. She seemed to often need to turn me into a mini-therapist and to realize in our own mother-daughter relationship all the things she had not had with her mom -- a role that I simply could not (and should not) fill, even though at times I tried to. ... In sum: yes, do tell, age-appropriately. But don't let it take over your relationship with your children. They deserve a parental relationship as free as possible of the effects of abuse, even if you didn't have that with your own parents.
If K. does decide to tell her children, what readers offered her is something I don't think she could have found anywhere else: a wide variety of experiences and histories that can inform how and when to share her history.
There is Amy, whose mother never hid her past, but made it "a part of 'the talk.' She told us regularly that no one should touch us inappropriately."
Commenter dc lambert chose not to tell her children about her history, only to have it come out anyway. But AB wrote that she regretted her decision to tell her children about her history and explained her decision to cut her abusive family out of her life:
If I had it to do over again, I would keep my family away from them from the get-go and not tell the kids why. It is, I think, a heavy burden for them and one I can't help them with much because they feel protective of me.
Eleanor told one child younger than the others because of external circumstances. Beth is sorry her father told her about his history when she was too young to process it.
All of the shared stories can help K. to picture her own story in a different context. It will also help her navigate the question of whether she should tell her children as they are now, and if she does, how to say it and how it will affect them as they grow up. That, to me, is one of the deeper points of opening up a question like this to a thoughtful forum: it's not really that anyone can tell K. what the "right" path is. But by looking at how others have experienced something so varied, and so personal, I hope K. has been able to see more possible paths from which to choose.
Abuse survivor helps families learn the signs
by Lillian Cox
CARLSBAD — Like those victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Jerry Sandusky, Lisa Monaco Gonzales was betrayed by an adult everyone knew and seemed to trust. It was a neighbor, her best friend's father.
Gonzales didn't deal with the molestation until later, after graduating from college.
“I didn't remember, although I think the body remembers,” she said, adding there were signs such as crying following intimate relations. When the memories surfaced, she told her mother first.
“She called her old friends in the neighborhood,” Gonzales said. “There were four houses and everyone moved except one family with boys.”
Although the remaining families, each with girls, knew about the sexual abuse, they decided to deal with it privately and not press charges.
Finally, her mother made the difficult decision to warn the family of the perpetrator.
“Her main concern was that the children knew so they could protect the grandchildren,” Gonzales said. “They were aware that it happened but blamed it on drugs and alcoholism. After therapy, they said he was fine.”
Gonzales remembered the perpetrator's daughters being present during incidents when she was violated, sometimes at the breakfast table, other times in the swimming pool.
“We all wore T-shirts in the pool,” she warned. “If parents see their daughters doing the same thing, they need to recognize the behavior.”
A successful businesswoman, with an active social life, Gonzales said her lifestyle turned serious as she committed herself to therapy and recovery.
Several years later, at 40, she got married. After giving birth to the first of her two children, the memories returned with a vengeance.
“I was in therapy for severe postpartum depression and it all came back,” she said. “I thought I was done with it, but I faced it again at a whole other level.”
In addressing the abuse for a second time, Gonzales learned that the most important thing was to learn forgiveness so she could set herself free and move on. The next step in her recovery was educating parents and teachers.
Today, she is a trained speaker for child sexual abuse prevention organizations including Darkness to Light and Talk About Abuse to Liberate Kids, or TAALK.
“Child sexual abuse is preventable when we surround ourselves with adults who are knowledgeable,” Gonzales said. “The first step is awareness. Parents need to know that 90 percent (of incidents) are within your family or friends. Eighty percent of sexual abuse occurs in a one adult, one child situation.
She adds, “A pedophile will create a pedophile will create a pedophile.”
Gonzales advises victims to seek therapy and support groups.
“Whatever someone is comfortable with, be it one-on-one, or in a group,” she said. “If you are really depressed, go to an outpatient program in a hospital. When you are in a group and they bring it up you have to listen and deal with it — and that's where I really moved forward.”
She also recommends visiting taalk.org to find a local chapter.
Svava Brooks is program director and trainer for TAALK San Diego.
“Lisa's a role model for other survivors, and the healing power of sharing your story and breaking the silence,” Brooks said. “She shares her story from a child's perspective which gives parents insight into how a child interprets what is happening to them. That's why it so important we talk to them.”
Brooks explained that in internalizing what has happened to them, children often misinterpret the events.
“Children tend to blame themselves because they are violated usually at the hands of what everyone thought was a good person. In Lisa's case, it was a kind neighbor.”
Gonzales is also the author of “Unbreakable Spirit: Rising Above the Impossible” and “Jesse's Dream,” a children's book she penned in grade school.
She will be hosting book signings this summer at Pangaea Outpost in the Flower Hill Mall in Del Mar from 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 20 and Warwick's, 7812 Girard Ave., in La Jolla, from noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 19.
For more information, visit lisamonacogonzales.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov. Brown vetoes bill regulating child abuse investigations
Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would authorize counties to establish child advocacy centers to investigate and prosecute child abuse cases and create standards on how they operate.
The governor objected to the state imposing on counties a "one-size-fits-all" approach to dealing with child abuse.
SB 1352 was introduced by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) after she noticed that many counties do not have child advocacy centers, and some of those that do exist have varying approaches and do not effectively communicate with one another on cases.
Corbett wanted to create a "best-practices" model with standards for how such centers operate."It is critical for victims of child abuse and neglect to be provided with the best possible services and treatment during a very difficult time in their lives," Corbett wrote to colleagues.
Brown said the bill was "well intended'' but not needed. "Currently, 33 counties in the state have established child advocacy centers, indicating that state prescription in this area is unnecessary," Brown wrote in his veto message this week.
"More to the point, this bill would lock into statute specific requirements for these centers that may or may not fit with what local county leaders see as the best way to handle these sensitive cases," Brown added.
DCF examining group homes after sex trafficking
by News Service of Florida
Florida child welfare officials are on the defensive this week after revelations that children in taxpayer-financed group homes are falling prey to sex traffickers.
Miami-Dade police last week arrested four alleged pimps in an ongoing investigation of the exploitation of abused and neglected children in foster care, the Miami Herald reported last week. On Sunday, the Herald broke news of a similar set-up in Jacksonville.
In South Florida, authorities said the four men lured teenage girls into prostitution, plying them with money, gifts and personal attention. Starting in January 2011, members of the ring would arrange for the girls to have sex at a building in Homestead. The men collected the proceeds and paid the girls 40 percent. In the Jacksonville case, the teen was advertised in Backpage.com. In both cases, the alleged pimps also used teens as recruiters, police say.
Joe Follick, spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families, which oversees children in state custody, said the group homes are subcontractors that don't report directly to DCF.
"There is not a department employee specifically involved in these children's lives," Follick said. "We contract the care of foster children in the state to community groups who then often subcontract that work out too, whether it be group homes or case management organizations that work with these children."
Robin Hassler Thompson, an expert in human trafficking at Florida State University's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, said it's disturbing that such crimes could happen right under the noses of so many caregivers.
"These are children who are being raped," she said. "So both the pimps and also the johns – the people who are buying sex with these children -- are raping them. It's that simple."
Florida is generally considered to be the third-ranked state in the U.S. for the prevalence of human trafficking. That's due to the many opportunities for trafficking to flourish – the large numbers of service jobs, the agricultural operations that attract migrant workers, the high transience rate, the presence of the sex industry in large cities, and the hotels and restaurants catering to the tourist trade.
Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking are mostly invisible to the untrained eye, said Hassler Thompson, which is all the more reason for caregivers to have proper training and awareness of such crimes.
Follick said as soon as DCF heard reports of trafficking in the group homes, the agency took action.
"Obviously we are ultimately responsible," he said. "But one of the things that I think we have learned from this lesson is the importance of communication in training all the way down, not just at the department but through the people that we pay to take care of these children."
Hassler Thompson credited DCF for having implemented training five or six years ago, under then-Secretary George Sheldon.
"They implemented training department-wide, including hotline workers and child protective investigators," she said. "DCF has been doing probably more than other state agencies where this issue of human trafficking comes to light…So, on the one hand, I think DCF has been doing a good job and being prepared. On the other hand, it's clear that a lot more has to be done."
Among those arrested, ironically, was a DCF child abuse investigator, 46-year-old Jean LaCroix, for having sex with a teen in foster care. LaCroix was arrested Saturday and charged with five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
"What is the level of accountability for the people who are getting state money and who are providing this kind of supervision?" asked Hassler Thompson. "There has to be some level of accountability because it is so prevalent, we can't ignore it."
Follick says DCF is reviewing all aspects of its group homes and recruiting more foster parents to reduce the need for them.
"The arrest last week highlighted an awful problem, but what would make it worse is if we didn't do anything. And we're not going to let that happen. We're going to examine this, we're not going to shy away from it, and we're going to do everything we can to help every child in group care."
Fran Allegra, the CEO of Our Kids, Inc., which oversees foster care and adoption services in Miami-Dade – including one of the group homes in question – said in a statement that her agency's intervention nearly a year ago led to the larger investigation and ultimate arrest.
"Sadly, as evidenced by daily headlines, this is a terrible, chronic and pervasive issue that affects children here and across the country, she said. "Predators will stop at nothing to seek out and find youth to prey on where ever they are…The problem of prostitution in and of itself is very difficult to solve." Allegra noted that the teens "are victims and we must do everything possible to protect their privacy."
Jupiter teen pushes for more power for human trafficking penalty
One Jupiter teen wanted to make the world a better place, and she is succeeding in doing so in a big way.
Julia McBee attended Florida Gov. Rick Scott's signing into law of House Bill 7049 on June 12, making it illegal to take part in human trafficking. The law protects Florida women and children.
McBee worked on the bill as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, and in turn learned more about her world and the democratic process, she said.
“As part of my Girl Scout Gold Award, I spent countless hours researching, networking, presenting and advocating to create awareness of the harsh reality of human trafficking in our state and the absolute need to allow our state to do more to stop human trafficking,” she said.
“I sent thousands of emails; created a Power Point presentation, which I used to make personal presentations; and requested assistance from many groups to help me get the word out regarding the existence modern day slavery and the associated legal issues surrounding human trafficking in Florida.”
The senior this fall at Alexander W. Dreyfoos High School of the Arts had the opportunity to assist Florida Senate, House Judiciary chairman William Snyder (R-Stuart) in advocating for a state law against human trafficking.
The new law, she said, “expands the jurisdiction of the statewide prosecutor to include human trafficking cases; combines existing statutes regarding sex and labor trafficking into one, comprehensive statute for ease of prosecution; increases criminal penalties most of which are first degree felonies; provides each instance of human trafficking of an individual is a separate crime and authorizes a separate punishment; adds sex traffickers to the list of offenders that can be designated as sex offenders and sex predators and allows seizure and forfeiture of property used, attempted to be used, or intended to be used in the trafficking of victims.”
“It wasn't easy, and the bill needed strong backing by many legislators,” she said. “I am so proud of Sen. Anitere Flores, whose Senate companion bill, which she sponsored, allowed HB 7049 to move forward through the complicated and complex Florida Legislature process.”
Snyder said the current law focuses on clarifying a confusing one already on the books.
“There has almost never been an arrest (for human trafficking). The biggest problem was that the penalties were too minor. Invariably arrests were turned over the federal authorities,” he said.
Snyder said offenses would often take place over multiple jurisdictions.
“This (current) law provides for the attorney general through the Office of Statewide Prosecution to investigate,” he said. “There is now racketeering language in there so we can seize their property. Prior, the penalties were like shoplifting charges.”
Snyder said he was pleased to have McBee working on the bill.
“She reached out to us. She had a passion for this issue and galvanized grass root (efforts),” he said. “She's just a wonderful young person, a role model any parent would love to have (as a daughter).”
Snyder said he was impressed with how articulate and respectful she was during the process. “She was very informed about the issue and I found her a better lobbyist than most professionals. She was a great advocate for her cause,” he said.
McBee was invited to the signing June 12. “I was so excited and proud (to be there),” she said.
Although McBee is involved in many extracurricular organizations including Young Singers of the Palm Beaches and Youth Leadership Palm Beach County, she said she plans to continue to advocate on behalf of human trafficking victims.
“There is much work to be done. I am going to continue to network and make presentations to continue to create the awareness of the modern day slavery in Florida and our nation,” she said.
“My Girl Scout Gold Award project has changed my life. As I enter my senior year and look towards college, I now know that I want to be able to help the innocent victims of human trafficking. “
Snyder said he hopes other students will follow McBee's lead.
“With the marvels of the Internet, there is no excuse not to champion a cause that you believe in. There are a lot of injustices in our life; step up to the plate like Julia did,” he said.
McBee plans to focus on social services and international relations in college. The law takes effect July 1.
For more information, visit www.flgov.com/2012/06/12/governor-scott-provides-support-and-justice-for-victims-of-human-trafficking or www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/humantrafficking.
The next door neighbor: Another sad tale of Pennsylvania child abuse
The author writes from Camp Hill and grew up in another part of Pennsylvania. The Patriot-News is not using her name in order to protect the identity of the alleged victims.
Frankly, I am sickened by this whole Jerry Sandusky “thing.” I am the victim of a child predator, but on a much smaller scale.
The impact that a respected individual had on my life has me only imagining what Sandusky's actions did to all these young men.
My story began with my best friend's father asking me, out of the blue, to call him “Uncle Bill” because he was only 33. I was 9 years old, roller skating past his house and had no desire to call him Uncle Bill or anything else. I recall thinking, “What?” I was taught to address my elders as Mr. or Mrs.
Bill's son, who was my age, found a wrapped condom at our local high school. This presented a wonderful opportunity for Bill to teach his daughter, son and me the facts of life. He drew pictures of female anatomy, put the condom over the bathtub spout and filled it up and shared with us his vital information. We were all under 10 at the time.
Several days later, Bill said to his daughter, “Tell your friend what we did last night.” When she wouldn't answer him, he told me that he had “taught her where her vagina was by inserting a finger.” He graciously offered to do the same for me, taking me into the bathroom and putting Vaseline on his finger. Thank God he stopped when I told him that I didn't want to. He said not to tell anyone because they wouldn't understand and he could go to jail.
Bill and his family moved shortly thereafter. He would invite one of my brothers and me to the new house for sleepovers. My mother never understood why I didn't want to spend the night at my best friend's house.
We went several times. Bill would offer to wash our backs in the bathtub. I often wonder how his wife never caught him.
We moved out of state for several years, and when my father was transferred back to Pennsylvania, I prayed that Bill would die before I got there. Amazingly, he did die in a car crash.
This supposedly upstanding father who attended church every Sunday and sang in the choir and was known to my parents, who made me fearful of any man who so much as winked at me, was dead.
The experience forever changed me.
When I grew up and began dating, I always had my guard up. One young man said he “liked to pinch his nieces' butts to make them scream and run away.” He was gone. Another said he “liked my innocent look.” Gone.
Later on, I ran a day care. A child who came to my day care was supposedly injured in her private area when falling out of bed. It happened not once, but twice. I immediately told her mother that is highly unlikely to happen and that she should take a close look at everyone in contact with her daughter. This girl was never injured in that way again.
I decided to speak out because we never truly know what someone is like behind closed doors.
The fact that someone treats us well, smiles a lot, pays his bills on time and has us over for a hamburger now and then over five, 10 or even 20 years doesn't mean he doesn't crave bizarre and unusual things.
Before the media spotlight moves on from the Sandusky case, put yourself in the place of these poor, troubled victims.
A child's mind has trouble comprehending that an adult would betray them.
Trust your instincts. Watch over your children and those around you. Maintain open lines of communication. No subject should be off limits between a child and his or her parents. I wish I had felt able to speak up when I was a kid and prevent Bill from harming anyone else.
Las Cruces sees spike in sexual child abuse cases
by Samantha Manning
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Experts from La Pinon, the sexual assault recovery services of Southern New Mexico, told KFOX14 Las Cruces saw an increase in the number of sexual child abuse cases from May to June.
Executive Director of La Pinon Donna Richmond said the number of sexual abuse cases involving children 13 years old and younger jumped to around 85 percent in June, up from around 65 percent in May.
"Consider what population that is in our community," Richmond said. "There's more people that are 14 to 100 than there are 13 and under and that's where we've seen the increase in cases."
One example of the kinds of cases that have been on the rise includes the 14-year-old Las Cruces boy who allegedly sexually abused an 8-year-old and 5-year-old girl.
Others include when police arrested Ernesto Robles, 57, June 20, who is accused of molesting an 11-year-old girl.
Fifty-five-year-old Raymond Brunson was also arrested June 14. Brunson is accused of raping a girl from the time she was 6 years old until she became a teenager.
Andres Baca-Linares, 29, was arrested June 1 for allegedly sexually abusing a 3-year-old relative.
Richmond said many of the cases she sees are discovered my medical professionals.
"Some of them were medical exams and some of them were what we call outsider protocol so we cannot do a medical exam but we do refer them for a medical follow-up," Richmond said.
Richmond said if you suspect abuse, even if you can't prove it, it's best to contact La Pinon or the authorities so they can start an investigation.
"If something you feel is wrong, look into it," Richmond said.
DHS response to child abuse too slow
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A new report finds Mississippi is failing to investigate most child abuse complaints from children in its care within the required 24 hours or complete most investigations within 30 days.
That is one of the findings released by the independent monitor appointed by a federal court to oversee the state's progress in meeting requirements of a 2008 settlement. The settlement stemmed from a class-action lawsuit filed by a child's advocacy group in 2004 regarding the state's care of children.
Court-appointed monitor Grace Lopes of Washington, D.C. says the state has made some progress, but not enough.
Mark Smith, deputy director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, tells The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/PcKahD) the state is working diligently to satisfy the agreement.
UK report reveals yet another scandal of children in care
by Mark Blackwood
Of the 65,000 children in care, 10,000 ran away or went missing last year, leaving them open to abuse and exploitation.
Speaking of a June 18 parliamentary report, Ann Coffey, the Labour MP who chairs the all-party group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said, “There is a scandal going on in England involving children missing from care—and until recent cases of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale and other places put the spotlight on this issue—it was pretty much going unnoticed.”
The Children's Society CEO Matthew Reed said, “It is unacceptable that some of this country's most vulnerable children are being completely let down by the very systems that should be there to protect them from these shocking crimes.”
In a cynical attempt to downplay their own culpability, MPs have yet again branded the British child care system as “not fit for purpose,” and called for an independent inquiry into the system's failings. The report calls for action to track when and where children go missing, restrictions on local authorities sending children long distances from where they live, and demands that the regulator Ofsted takes into account missing children when it audits homes. Currently Ofsted can give a “good” score to a home with high numbers of runaway children.
Despite Coffey's claims of ignorance, the Daily Telegraph reported in May that both Greater Manchester police and social services were fully aware of the sexual exploitation of dozens of young girls in Rochdale for over a decade, and failed to act. The victims in the Rochdale case were groomed, incapacitated with drugs and alcohol before being raped by a gang of local men and trafficked for sex around the north-west of England. All of the victims, some as young as 13, had been known to social services, including one of whom was living under the care of the local authority at the time.
When compared to the national average, the proportion of those children reported missing or running away from care homes in the Manchester region is staggering.
An investigation undertaken by Manchester Evening News last year uncovered huge numbers of children absconding from local authority residential care. The findings highlighted that in 2010 over 12,000 missing children's reports were made to Greater Manchester police, 5,598 of which related to children living within the child care system in the city and surrounding region.
For Coffey, the chair of the committee for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, to say the situation had gone unnoticed begs the question: what exactly are these well-paid people doing with their time? Countless state run children's homes across the country were shut down during the 1970s and 1980s due to widespread cases of sexual abuse of children placed in their care. However, the systematic abuse of children in care didn't end and continued throughout the 1990s. In 1999, a report published by the Department of Community Paediatrics from St. James University Hospital in Leeds, “Abuse Of Children In Foster And Residential Care,” highlighted a case study of children in the care of Leeds Local Authority. Most of the children, some 80 percent, had been abused prior to entry into the care system.
During the study, which took place over a five-year period from 1990-1995, 191 episodes of physical and/or sexual abuse were reported by 158 children. In foster care, 42 children were physically abused, 76 were sexually abused, and 15 experienced both forms of abuse. In residential care, 12 children were physically abused, six were sexually abused, and six experienced both forms of abuse. A significant proportion of abuse was severe, with one death, eight children with burns, 18 with genital penetration, and 34 with anal penetration.
The study indicated that foster children were seven to eight times, and children in residential care six times, more likely to be assessed by a pediatrician for abuse than a child in the general population. The report concluded that “children in foster or residential care form an at-risk group for maltreatment. Their special needs include additional measures to protect them from abuse.”
In 2000, the “Lost in Care” report published by the Waterhouse Inquiry into the sexual abuse of young children in local authority care in Wales recommended a major overhaul of the system. The inquiry was established under the Conservative government of John Major in 1996, after allegations that sexual and physical abuse of children in the care of Welsh authorities had been covered-up by politicians and police. Social workers, care home staff, local authorities and the Welsh Office were severely criticised. But the inquiry absolved the police and authorities of any cover-up. The police immediately announced that there would be no further prosecutions.
The Waterhouse Inquiry found a lack of financial resources for children's services, a lack of suitable staff forced to work long hours on low pay and failure to carry out adequate inspections. The inquiry heard how a group set up in 1997 by the Welsh Office—the Adrianne Jones Report Implementation Group—to implement recommendations on childcare facilities had run into financial difficulties.
The tribunal report drew attention to the increasingly authoritarian attitude taken towards children, criticising the political and media campaign to present childhood difficulties as the result of some innate “evil” or failing on the individual's part. It noted how the trend towards retribution rather than rehabilitation had developed since the 1960s.
None of the underlying issues raised by the inquiry were addressed. Then-Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair wrung his hands at the “appalling catalogue of terror and tragedy inflicted on some of the most vulnerable children in our society,” while then Conservative Party leader, now Foreign Secretary, William Hague demanded the privatisation of children's homes.
The Labour government duly obliged. It established “league tables” for England's 150 social services authorities and where they were found to be “underperforming”, private operators were brought in. As a result, alongside an expansion of “cheaper” foster care and adoption provision portrayed as a more progressive alternative, profit driven institutions emerged which now receive an estimated £1 billion of public money.
Today, three-quarters of England's 1,810 registered care homes are run by the voluntary or private sector. At an average cost of £200,000 per child, privatised childcare has become a lucrative business. Stockport is home to 43 privately-run children's homes—the second highest number in the country. Last year some 2,000 cases of missing children were reported to the police from those homes.
The financial incentive for privatised children's homes not to report children missing from care has now become a very real possibility. If, as the report suggests, Ofsted was to base its assessment of the quality of care given in children's homes upon the level of children absconding, a large number of homes would be put out of business.
To suggest large numbers of children are running away simply out of a self-willed desire to misbehave is too simplistic an analysis. Running away is driven by a need to escape an appalling situation.
What children in care want and need more than ever is a system that values their needs, instead of viewing them a problem to be dealt with. To suggest such a set-up can be implemented based upon the principal of free market economics is politically and indeed morally bankrupt.
New immigration rules targets sex trade
Intent is to prevent Canadian employers involved in industry from hiring temporary foreign workers, Kenney says
by Jordan Press and Darah Hansen
Canadian employers will be blocked from hiring temporary foreign workers in sex-trade-related jobs under new rules announced by the Harper government Wednesday.
The changes are intended to prevent temporary foreign workers from taking employment as exotic dancers, with erotic massage parlours or escort services, or in any other field deemed "degrading" by the government.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the intent is to ensure that the temporary foreign worker pro-gram is not being used to bring vulnerable women into Canada to face exploitation in the sex industry and possibly become victims of human trafficking.
"This is not based on a hunch. This is based on a great deal of research and police work which demonstrates the connection in the broader (sex) industry," Kenney said in a telephone inter-view with The Vancouver Sun.
The announcement drew praise from anti-sex trafficking advocates.
"It recognizes that immigration and human trafficking are not distinct issues," said Naomi Krueger, man-ager of Deborah's Gate Safe House, a Salvation Army-run support facility in Vancouver for women escaping sexual and labour exploitation.
The government also was criticized for going after an easy target and stoking societal stigmas about exotic dancers, while unfairly penalizing business owners who operate strip clubs and other sex-related industries legally in the country.
"What about those Toronto strip clubs in core downtown that have been there for literally 40 or 50 years with no incidents of exploitation or human trafficking, etc.?" said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer and policy analyst.
"I understand the morality of it. But if they are going to make it illegal for foreign nationals, then they better make it illegal for Canadians and permanent residents," he said.
The association representing licensed strip clubs nationwide said Wednesday it was looking at all options, including legal action, to reverse what it sees as a policy aimed at shutting down clubs.
"This is nothing more than political brownie points for their western, ultraconservative base," said Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada. "We're going to be challenging this in some way."
Effective immediately, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada will issue negative Labour Market Opinions, or LMOs, on all temporary foreign worker applications submitted from businesses linked to the sex industry, or "other businesses where the workplace presents a risk of sexual exploitation or degrading work."
The move will prevent those businesses from hiring temporary foreign workers.
"Businesses outside of these categories may also be included if there is reason to believe that temporary foreign workers are at risk of exploitation and abuse," Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said in Toronto.
The rules will get even tougher on July 14, when Citizenship and Immigration Canada will no longer process new work permit applications for temporary foreign workers linked to sex-trade related employment.
Right now, about 40 per cent of strip clubs in Canada hire temporary foreign workers, according to Lambri-nos, a figure based on internal polling the association conducts with its members.
The association argues it needs foreign workers because there aren't enough Canadians willing take jobs as exotic dancers.
The number of exotic dancers entering Canada under the temporary foreign workers program has steadily fallen under the Harper government.
Between 2006 and 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada issued 496 visas to exotic dancers, down from the 1,713 visas the Liberals issued between 2001 and 2005, according to government figures.
HRSDC figures show almost all exotic dancer applicants received extensions between 2007 and 2011, while new work permits have been given to eight per cent of applicants over the same period.
Kenney also said that as of July 28, open work permits issued to foreign workers that normally would allow them to work for any Canadian employer will see a new condition on the permit forbidding them from working in the sex industry.
"We're erring on the side of protection here," said Kenney of the changes.
"Is there a possibility that mature women who know how to take care of themselves as a result of this, yes. But that is a price we are willing to pay in order to stop vulnerable younger women who are unable to defend themselves from getting into a degrading industry that is tied to human trafficking."
Schools work to raise awareness of human sex trafficking
Principals were briefed on the issue before summer break, and the district is working on a campaign to educate students, too
by Laura Isensee
The Miami-Dade school district, together with federal agencies, law enforcement and social service groups, is working to raise awareness of human sex trafficking in an effort to prevent school-age kids from being lured into prostitution.
A new awareness campaign aims to train teachers and administrators on the warning signs. Principals were briefed on the issue before summer break, and the district is working on a campaign to educate students, too .
“It is our responsibility to be as smart and aware on social issues as we are with curriculum. It's part of our job, and it should be part of our forefront to do whatever we can do to make sure kids are safe,” said Miami-Dade School Board Vice Chairman Lawrence Feldman, who proposed the new campaign.
He said the idea stems from what he's seen as a 35-year veteran of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. But last week's arrest of four Miami-Dade men accused of recruiting foster children from a group home to work at a Homestead brothel has underscored its importance. Some days, the foster girls would arrive at school, text or call their pimps to pick them up and ditch class for the brothel.
“This is just a the tip of the iceberg. It's an indicator of what's going on,” said Carmen Pino, an assistant special agent in charge of the human-trafficking division with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He did not work on the Homestead case, which is being prosecuted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.
Pino said ongoing cases and other information indicate that traffickers are focusing their attention on high school students, students in foster care and other vulnerable children.
Federal authorities say pimps manipulate other students to act as their recruiters on school grounds.
“A 20-odd-year-old person can't have ready access to a high school or middle school or junior high, but if they recruit some boys to recruit on their behalf by offering them money or drugs, this is some of the evidence we're starting to see,” Pino said. “The traffickers are having their little runners work for them.”
Unexplained absences and difficulty in attending school on a regular basis are some of the warning signs a child might be a victim of human trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
“When a child doesn't show up, and we send out a Connect Ed message, and the teacher sends out a letter, and we don't hear from a child for two or three days, and we haven't heard from a parent that the child is sick at home, I think it behooves us as administrators and teachers to take the next step — to find out why,” Feldman said.
When a student is absent, school employees try several ways to find out why: through Connect Ed messages, parent contact, home visits and parent conferences, said John Schuster, district spokesman.
The Miami-Dade School Board approved the new awareness campaign in May. Miami-Dade principals and assistant principals received a briefing on human trafficking, including what signs to watch for and whom to call. The district put general information on its website for teachers and parents. Feldman said he expects the program to be an ongoing effort.
The campaign involves several partners, including Kristi House, a Miami home that supports abuse victims; ICE; the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes law enforcement agencies, safety groups and nonprofits from all over South Florida. Kristi House helped put together information for principals and is expected to help create more professional development for school employees. The task force is also working on a community presentation, said Barbara Martinez, a federal prosecutor and coordinator for the task force.
Martinez said Florida is a hub of human trafficking of all kinds, including adults and workers. Every year, her office handles 8-12 such cases, most of them involving the domestic sex trafficking of minors.
In a 2011 Broward case, two teenage cousins ditched plans to party at a teen club and headed instead with two men to the “Boom Boom Room” in Oakland Park.
One of the girls, 14, was familiar with the spot, so her 16-year-old cousin agreed to go. At the house-turned-club, the older teen saw two other girls from school. There was dancing and alcohol, but it was not a regular teenage bash.
It was a brothel, federal prosecutors say. That night in April 2011, the 16-year-old girl had sex with three men, danced for tips and got paid $240 before she left at dawn.
Martinez said the traffickers target vulnerable children, including those in foster care, runaways and kids who are still living with their parents or have only left home for a short time — a new trend that has emerged over the past few years.
“People think of [human trafficking] as an international problem,” Martinez said. “It's like anything else, once you open your eyes to it, it's everywhere.”
Arrest Made in Warren County Abandoned Children Case
by Joe Corcoran
The biological mother of some of the 19 children found abandoned in filthy living conditions earlier this week has been arrested.
32 year old Jackie Farah was taken into custody late Tuesday afternoon and charged with 14 counts of criminal abuse first degree and five counts of wanton endangerment first degree.
She was enroute back to Bowling Green from Chicago and was instructed to go to the Warren County sheriff's office for questioning.
The 19 children ranging in age from eight months to 14 years old were discovered living unattended for a week at 130 Kingston Way in Bowling Green earlier Tuesday.
There was no food in the house or air conditioning during the triple digit heat wave. All were medically evaluated and are in the custody of the Department of Child Based Services.
The sheriff's office says other adults are still being sought for questioning and their investigation is continuing.
Parents: Be vigilant for signs of child sexual abuse
by Christopher Burbach
Jerry Sandusky probably will be locked up for the rest of his life, which would extract justice for his victims and provide protection for other potential victims in Pennsylvania.
But what about abuse victims closer to home?
The day after Sandusky, a former Penn State University football coach, was convicted of 45 child sex abuse charges, a dance teacher in Omaha made his first court appearance to face charges of sexually abusing three boys he had taught.
In late May, a Douglas County sheriff's deputy caught a 28-year-old man sexually assaulting his former girlfriend's 10-year-old sister in a pickup truck. In early May, a former Omaha youth football coach was convicted of sexually assaulting a girl from the age of 6 to 11. In March, a former youth pastor from Victory Fellowship Church in Council Bluffs was convicted of sexually abusing a teenage boy from the church.
Every week as the Sandusky case unfolded, just like every week all year, children abused by people they — and often their families — trusted have been brought to Project Harmony Child Protection Center in Omaha to see doctors, police and counselors. The center last year provided sexual abuse services to more than 1,300 children from metropolitan Omaha and southwest Iowa. And for every known incident of abuse, many more occur without being reported, experts say.
Meanwhile, as Sandusky awaits sentencing, parents send their children off to sports camps, summer camps, church camps, vacation Bible schools, sleepovers with friends or relatives and lots of other places where wonderful memories are made but where terrible trauma can occur.
One in four girls, and one in six boys, is abused by the age of 18, advocacy groups say.
Parents and other people with an interest in protecting children should think about the Sandusky case, said Gene Klein, executive director of Project Harmony.
The Penn State tragedy should make us aware, Klein said, but it should not make us paranoid.
“If you're paranoid, you're powerless,” he said. “If you're vigilant, you can make a difference.”
If there's a silver lining to the Sandusky cloud, following on the heels of clergy sex abuse scandals, it is that the public now knows that sexual abuse of children is a pervasive problem, Klein said. The next step is to become part of the solution.
The good news is that there are solutions. Sexual abuse reports are declining in the United States, in part because of increased public awareness and improved policies. And there are things everyone can do, said the Olympic medalist swimmer Margaret Hoelzer, a spokeswoman for the National Children's Advocacy Center. Hoelzer, who has been in Omaha for the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, was abused at age 5 by the father of a family friend.
While people are still paying attention because of Sandusky, The World-Herald asked Klein, Hoelzer and other experts what parents can do to protect their children, and what the community can do to make youth programs safer for all children.
The following advice comes from their experience and training and a prevention-and-response program called Stewards of Children, developed by the South Carolina-based nonprofit organization Darkness to Light.
“There's this myth that sexual abuse occurs by strangers jumping out of the bushes,” Klein said. In reality, 90 percent of the time the perpetrator is someone the children know and the family trusts. They are people about whom “people would say, ‘Oh, that's a good guy, or a good woman, and I trust them and they're OK,' ” Klein said. “Just because we trust Father so-and-so, or Coach so-and-so, or Uncle so-and-so doesn't necessarily mean something couldn't happen with them.”
Often, a predator gradually builds a relationship with a child he or she is targeting, grooming the child for abuse, Klein said.
“You have lots of opportunity as a parent to stop the grooming process,” Klein said.
He said parents need to be cautious about where their children are, and for how long.
Inform your children
Parents often are understandably reluctant to talk to their younger children about sexuality, but there are ways to do so without confusing children or taking away their innocence.
“Open up a conversation to talk about sexuality with children at age 6 or 7,” Klein said. “Make sure you are communicating with them about what's appropriate and what's inappropriate.”
Parents can talk to children about good touch and bad touch. Use the actual names for body parts. Teach them which parts of their bodies other people should and should not touch. Teach them how to say no.
Children won't freak out about such a talk as much as parents freak out over the idea of it, Hoelzer said.
When she was abused as a 5-year-old, she said she felt uncomfortable and knew there was something not right, but she said it would have helped to know beforehand that it was actually wrong for her abuser to do what he did.
Hoelzer's abuser told her something that predators often do: “This is our secret. Don't tell your parents.”
Children should know not to keep secrets from their parents. If an adult tells them to keep a secret, they should tell a parent or another trusted adult such as a grandparent, teacher or school counselor.
Children should be taught that they can tell their parents anything, anytime, Klein said. Tell them it's your job to protect them.
For groups, there are a number of highly regarded programs available to teach even young children about recognizing, resisting and reporting abuse. They include “Bubbylonian Encounter,” a play presented to first- through third-graders by Completely Kids of Omaha and the “Circle of Grace” safe environment curriculum developed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha. Project Harmony offers the Darkness to Light curriculum for adults.
Ask questions, and expect answers
Ask about an organization's abuse-prevention policies before sending your child there. Don't be shy about conducting your inquiry at programs in which your children already are involved.
The questions only begin with “Do you have a policy?”
“We do criminal background checks” is no longer enough of an answer.
Stop It Now! — a child abuse prevention and protection center based in Massachusetts — suggests questions for parents to ask. Among them: Do organizers check references of staff? What is their policy about interactions between employees or volunteers and youths? How do they monitor interactions? What training do staff and volunteers receive about preventing child sexual abuse? How do they handle inappropriate behavior or allegations of sexual abuse?
It's very important for organizations to screen and train volunteers and staff, said Yvonne Cournoyer, a program director at Stop It Now! Staff and volunteers also should insist on clear policies and training, if they are not already in place.
Cournoyer, Klein and Hoelzer all stressed asking about policies for one-on-one time between adults and children, or between older children and younger ones. More than 80 percent of sexual abuse occurs in one-on-one time between adults and children.
Ask about specific situations: If an adult has to discipline a child, for example, the adult should not take the child into an office and close the door.
Hoelzer said USA Swimming, among other organizations, has taken steps to maintain the important relationships between coaches and athletes while reducing risks for abuse.
A coach should “never be alone with an athlete,” Hoelzer said. “If you're having a one-on-one conversation, it should be in a public venue.”
If a parent agrees to one-on-one time between the child and a coach or a mentor, Darkness to Light suggests ways the parent can protect the child. Drop in unexpectedly. Ask the adult about the specifics of any planned activities. Make sure the outings can be observed by you or other people. Tell the adults that you and the child are educated about sexual abuse.
Parents have learned that when researching prospective day cares, they should ask about dropping in unexpectedly, and do it, Klein said. They also should do that with programs for older children, he said.
If the organization doesn't allow that, that could be a red flag.
Be on time to pick up your child from sports practice or other activities. This eliminates opportunities for the child to be alone with a coach or other adult. It also sends a signal: You are an involved parent.
Look for behaviors and physical signs of sexual abuse, Klein said.
For example, “If your kid's starting to wet the bed, if they're withdrawing, they're not sleeping,” he said. “They might try to overcompensate, try to be too perfect.” They might have nightmares or the sweats.
“There can be physical indicators — rashes, swelling in the genital area, urinary tract infections, warts; those kinds of things in a 5-year-old are not common,” Klein said.
Younger children might be overly curious about sexuality for their age. Pre-teens and teenagers might become preoccupied with alcohol or suddenly have money out of nowhere.
Such behaviors and conditions might not mean that a child is being sexually abused, but they should at least trigger parent questions and possibly a visit to a medical or mental health professional.
Klein cited a recent case of a man with a lawn service who hired teenage boys to work for him. “He paid them cash and gave them cigarettes and alcohol and then, one by one, started molesting these boys, doing sexual stuff to them. It was his way of controlling them, giving them cash, it was his pay-off to them.”
Parents should ask questions if their child comes home with money.
“That alone doesn't mean your kid's being molested, but you need to pay attention and get more information,” Klein said.
Know what to do, and do it
If a child tells a parent he was sexually abused, the parent should believe him, and not overreact.
False reports are rare, and anger or overly emotional reactions can shut down an abused child.
“If they say, ‘So-and-so has done this to me,' you can't give the impression that you're going to go over there and chew out the alleged perpetrator,” Klein said. “You have to be level-headed. You have to be ... kind of in charge of the situation. ...Your job is not to take the law into your own hands. Your job is to say, ‘That is awful. That is not going to continue, and we're going to make sure that that doesn't continue.' And then you get professional help to be the ones to really investigate what's going on.”
Report all cases of suspected abuse. Parents can call state abuse and neglect hotlines. In Nebraska, the number is 800-652-1999. In Iowa, it's 800-362-2178. Parents also can report their concerns to law enforcement.
Hoelzer, now 29, told her mother when she was 11, after the abuse had ended. Her mother was redecorating a bedroom, and Margaret asked to help. As they worked, Margaret began to tell her mother what had happened.
Her mother listened. She stayed calm. Hoelzer's parents took her to the Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Ala. She said she received wonderful treatment there, even though her abuser wasn't prosecuted.
Often, children tell someone other than parents, such as a teacher. Employees or volunteers at an organization that works with kids might see or hear things that make them suspicious. If you suspect abuse, report it.
Nebraska and Iowa, like all states, have mandatory reporting laws.
Sometimes, people hesitate because they're uncertain, Klein said. They don't want to harm someone's reputation if the allegation is untrue. You don't have to be sure, he said. You're not the judge or the jury or the prosecutor.
“You're just saying you saw this happened; this doesn't seem right,” Klein said. “Our message is, ‘Have the courage to come forward.' Parallel that with the courage of a 6-year-old kid to come forward. ... It's about building up people's courage to step up and make sure they make the call.”
Help organizations that serve children. Volunteer at an after-school program. Donate to organizations that work with kids who may be at risk.
The more good people who work in an organization, who follow abuse-prevention policies and insist that others do, too, the better the culture is for children. That could make potential predators leave, or not try anything.
“Government can't pay for this,” Klein said. “It really does take a whole community to get behind and make sure that there are organizations out there for kids so that this doesn't happen to them.”
Ad campaign seeks to reduce child abuse and neglect
by Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje
This week the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services unveils a two-month, $2.4 million advertizing blitz and social media campaign aimed at reducing child abuse and neglect in Texas.
The Help for Parents, Hope for Children campaign features inspirational stories from real parents designed to motivate others to address the underlying causes of child abuse and neglect.
The media blitz, in English and Spanish, includes public service announcements on television and radio as well as advertisements online, on billboards and buses, in movie theaters and retail stores.
“This is a first in Texas — a campaign designed to stop abuse before it happens by helping parents deal with many of the stresses and problems that contribute to abuse or neglect,” said Howard Baldwin, DFPS commissioner. “Our goal is to inspire parents to seek help and then show them where to find help in their communities.”
The summer-long campaign will encourage parents to visit websites — HelpandHope.org or AyudayEsperanza.org — where they will find information on the signs of child abuse or neglect, parenting tips and where to get help for a range of issues, from drug and alcohol abuse to employment, child care, counseling, food and housing, family violence and legal assistance.
The social media campaign will feature daily posts and tweets on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The TV ads and parent testimonials can be found on YouTube and the websites.
The campaign includes a Facebook contest that challenges visitors to spread the message and learn more.
The need for this type of campaign is urgent, officials said.
In 2011, 231 children in Texas died from abuse or neglect. In that same year, almost 66,000 children were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect, and more than 17,000 children were removed from their homes for those reasons.
Audrey Deckinga, DFPS assistant commissioner for Child Protective Services, said the video testimonials show parents facing their demons and getting help to break the cycle of abuse.
“These courageous stories mirror what we see on a daily basis,” she said. “All parents struggle and many times abuse or neglect happens when well-meaning parents are overwhelmed and don't get the support they need. I hope these stories inspire vulnerable parents to seek help without fear of being judged.”
Sex abuse prevention expands to Hispanic residents
by Sanne Specht - Mail Tribune
A$50,000 federal grant is allowing the Children's Advocacy Center to get Spanish-language messages about preventing child abuse out into the Hispanic community, said Marlene Mish, executive director.
In the past, Mish has had to bring a translator while performing Darkness to Light outreach education about child sexual abuse within the Hispanic community.
Mish believes in the training, but she also believed her message was losing some of its impact in translation. Mish wanted to recruit messengers from within the Hispanic community, which she says is both underserved and overburdened.
"These families are hungry for information but terrified that if they report, something bad will happen to them — someone will be deported, for example," Mish said. "For an Hispanic child to break the code of silence is to betray the family, his community and his entire culture."
But a child's silence and an adult's ignorance are a perpetrator's most powerful weapons. Mish is counting on the Spanish-speaking Darkness to Light facilitators to break through those cultural barriers and perform a vital service to Hispanic children — and to society as a whole, she said.
"They're going to give their community permission to talk about this issue," Mish said.
The grant has allowed the CAC to train five volunteer Spanish-speaking facilitators. The center is looking for another five for training in September or October, Mish said.
Medford resident Juan Salles, 48, one of the new facilitators, will reach out to organizations, including faith-based, Spanish-speaking groups and education centers such as Headstart, he said.
Salles, an organic coffee distributor and father of two, took the Darkness to Light training at CAC two weeks ago. He was the only male in the class, Salles said.
"I want to educate my community with workshops," Salles said. "I believe the Children's Advocacy Center has provided a great tool."
Salles has volunteered in other organizations that help children, including Junior Achievement and Children's Miracle Network. His experiences have helped convince him there are lifelong impacts from child abuse, he said.
"Parents don't realize the trauma done to young brains," Salles said. "And sometimes they don't think of the resources available to them in fighting this."
Salles said he would reach out to the clergy and school officials within the Hispanic community first. Then he would like to start teaching workshops for parents and "fight the disease of hurting or abusing children," he said.
"The problem is widespread," Salles said. "I believe there is a lack of awareness. But a lack of protection for our children damages everybody. I have seen how children have been mistreated in our culture — and I mean our entire culture, not just in the Hispanic community."
The CAC has also created Spanish-language public service announcements. Radio Medford has made PSAs in English and Spanish that direct people to the center for training and guidance, Mish said.
"We wanted them to be in their own unique language that is culturally in tune with their values," she said.
One woman was so grateful that her culture was being recognized in mainstream media that she came to take Darkness to Light and then went on to become a certified facilitator, Mish said.
"There is tremendous passion in the Hispanic community," Mish said. "And they are really passionate about how to protect their children."
Seven steps to protect children from sexual abuse
• Learn the facts and understand the risks: Realities — not trust — should influence your decisions regarding children.
• Minimize opportunity: If you eliminate or reduce one-adult, one-child situations, you'll dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse for children.
• Talk about it: Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about it.
• Stay alert: Don't expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. Signs often are there but you've got to spot them.
• Make a plan: Learn where to go, whom to call and how to react. Don't overreact. Offer support. Call Child Protective Services or law enforcement.
• Act on suspicions: By acting on suspicions of child sexual abuse, you may save not only one child, but perhaps countless others.
• Get involved: Volunteer and financially support organizations that fight child sexual abuse.
— Source: Darkness to Light. For more information, see darkness2light.org
Darkness to Light is a course that provides seven specific steps adults can take to protect children.
New Pennsylvania law allows expert testimony on victims' response in sex-assault cases
by Michael Macagnone
HARRISBURG - Psychologists and doctors will for the first time be able to testify in Pennsylvania courtrooms as experts on sexual assault victims' behavior.
Gov. Corbett on Tuesday signed a bill allowing such testimony in criminal trials, saying momentum for the law grew out of the publicity surrounding the child sexual-abuse case against former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and the charges against Philadelphia-area Catholic priests.
"If there is a positive side to what happened, this [bill] is one of the positives," Corbett said.
Corbett - who as state attorney general oversaw the Sandusky investigation - said Pennsylvania was the last state to allow such testimony.
Expert witnesses for the prosecution and the defense will now be able to testify about victims' responses to assault and abuse in general, but not to a witness' credibility.
The law covers all crimes that require registration as a convicted sex offender, such as rape, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and child sex offenses.
James Carpenter, chief of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, said the law would let prosecutors more clearly show how most victims respond to sexual assault.
"Jurors think victims should be running out of the house half-naked and screaming," Carpenter said, "but research and experience shows that is not the case."
David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said such testimony can counter defense lawyers' efforts to undercut accusers' testimony - such as by asking why an alleged victim stayed in touch with an alleged abuser or kept quiet for years about the alleged crime.
"This could be a very significant tool for prosecution," Harris said. "It's definitely more useful to the prosecution, whether it is titled like that or not."
He also predicted the law would pose problems for defendants who cannot afford to pay an expert witness.
"Defense counsel are likely to find themselves in a situation where they go to a judge and say, 'We're going to be in a position of fighting with one hand tied behind our back,' " he said.
But the bill's chief sponsor, State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker (D., Phila.), said the law was balanced and added that it took the legislature six years to approve it.
"We did not start working on this issue when the eyes of the world turned to Pennsylvania because of the two high-profile trials," she said. "This issue was important to us then, and it is now addressed."
Even so, said Shawn Wagner, district attorney for Adams County, in south-central Pennsylvania, the two high-profile trials provided a crucial push for the bill.
Both juries were out when the state House of Representatives, without debate, voted final passage of the expert-witness bill and sent it to Corbett.
Both trials ended the next day, June 22, with Sandusky's conviction on dozens of child sex-abuse charges, and Msgr. William J. Lynn's conviction on one count of child endangerment. The latter verdict was the first time in the nation that a Catholic Church supervisor was found criminally liable for child sex abuse by a priest.
"But for the case in Philadelphia and the case in Bellefonte," Wagner said at the signing ceremony, "we would not be here this afternoon."
New York City
NY taxi drivers get sex trafficking lesson
New York City taxi drivers will soon not just be taking passengers around the city, they're being asked to help spot potential sex trafficking victims.
Under a new city law, drivers should be on the lookout for clues that a passenger is a victim of sex trafficking activity.
In a little under three months the law will kick into effect, and drivers will be required to alert authorities if they see suspicious situations in their cabs which may cause them to believe there is a trafficking victim in the backseat.
The city plans to run a training course for the drivers of taxis and private cars for hire. A video is planned to teach what to look for.
New York cabbies say they understand the value of the sex trafficking law but questioned enforcement. Driver Michael Dick said: "I don't know understand how they're going to enforce it. They don't even enforce the honking law which is a lot easier."
There are few recorded incidents of sex trafficking involving New York cabs but Dorchen Leidholdt, of Sanctuary for Families, an anti-sex trafficking group, says the use of drivers is increasing in the trafficking industry.
Leidholdt said it's a big problem around the world. "We're seeing drivers as an integral part of the sex trafficking industry," she said.
She added: "Sex trafficking is a huge problem in New York, and FBI has identified New York City as a major destination of trafficking victims, but the victims aren't only arriving at our airports, they're also in our inner cities, in our rural areas. We're learning more and more that the vast majority of sex trafficking victims are girls and young women, and sometimes boys, who are born here, who fall under the control of pimps…
"Our trafficking victim clients are telling us over and over again, "I was under a control of a trafficker, but my trafficker was working closely with a driver, who was taking me from buyer to buyer, or picking me up from the street, when I was vulnerable and taking me to a brothel." So, they're working very close together. It's a big problem, actually not only here in New York city and around New York state, but around the world. We're seeing drivers as an integral part of a sex trafficking industry.
"We're hoping that they're gonna become an important arm of law enforcement, because they're in a key position to identify trafficking at the very beginning. But the chief responsibility is you cannot serve as a pimp, you cannot deliberately profit from the commercial sex, sexual exploitation of another human being. That is a crime, you're gonna be held accountable, you're gonna lose your license, you are going to face felony level charges."
Advocacy groups for victims report in some places 'brothels on wheels' are created as drivers are employed to avoid increasing police raids on home where victims are kept.
Opponents said the law unfairly targets cab drivers. One taxi driver accused the backers of practicing 'sexual McCarthyism"
But supporters of the measure also made sure the new law did not include language that would target sex workers or leave room for drivers to question women dressed in a risque manner who are believed to appear involved in illegal sexual activity
A driver convicted of sexual trafficking will lose his license and face a $10,000 fine.
30-year prison term ordered in teen's trafficking
by ERICA BLAKE
By providing her with names, clothing, and instructions on what to say and what to charge, Anthony C. Willoughby controlled a teenage runaway and forced her into prostitution -- a form of "modern-day slavery," a federal judge said Tuesday before sentencing Willoughby to 30 years in prison.
"… We have a situation where a young runaway, vulnerable, ends up with you, Mr. Willoughby, for a period of time," U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary said. "… You then turn her out to turn tricks for you for money, all the while keeping her captive. …"
Willoughby, 39, of Toledo was found guilty Dec. 16 of sex trafficking of a minor. The jury further found Willoughby used "force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion" to force the victim to engage in commercial sex acts.
"You're known as P.T., Party Time. Well, party time is over," Judge Jack Zouhary said at the conclusion of the nearly two-hour sentencing hearing. "It is now prison time, a long time, but it is deserved time."
Willoughby was indicted in September, 2010, in a one-count indictment. During the three-day trial more than a year later, the victim testified that she was 16 and in foster care when she ran away from home and met Willoughby.
Judge Zouhary recounted in court Tuesday some of the victim's testimony, which included being taken in by Willoughby and led to believe she was his girlfriend. She testified that she cleaned his house, watched his children, and had sex with him daily, the judge said.
He coached her in prostitution and gave her clothing, lists of names, and instructions on what to say and how to act. She was forced to walk Lagrange Street at least once and recounted being beaten by Willoughby at least three times, the judge said. "This was, in short, a scared juvenile who had no place to go when you walked into her life, and who you made sure she had no place to go to get away," Judge Zouhary said.
The charge is punishable by a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Judge Zouhary said based on Willoughby's criminal history and the facts of the case, federal guidelines recommended a sentence of 30 years to life in prison.
Judge Zouhary said during the hearing that he could not find any factor that would warrant a sentence below the recommended guideline.
Attorney Spiros Cocoves, who was appointed after the trial when Willoughby asked for a new attorney, noted in court that he believed the sentences attached to the charge were "unduly punitive." He said when comparing these cases to those in which someone is shot and killed, the time behind bars appears "unfair."
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Maroney, Jr., countered that the sentences were outlined by Congress to reflect its beliefs of "how horrific these crimes are."
Mr. Maroney further noted that this case was unlike many pornography cases in that there was a "live victim" who suffered at Willoughby's hands.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland, Willoughby's case was one of the first human trafficking cases to go to trial in northern Ohio. It was investigated by the FBI, and the Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force.
"The details of this case underscore why it is so important that we continue to work collaboratively and try to eradicate this modern-day slavery," U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach said in a statement. "This defendant preyed upon a weak, vulnerable victim and used her suffering as an opportunity for profit."
During the hearing, Willoughby was given several opportunities to speak and voice objections. He professed his innocence, claimed to be the victim of "guerrilla justice," and expressed dissatisfaction with his attorneys. He pointed to several instances in which he believed his rights were violated.
He further accused the victim of lying and of being coerced by federal investigators and said she could not be found credible because she had recanted her statement in the past. Federal officials countered by saying the victim never wavered from her account of what happened.
Several of Willoughby's supporters were in the courtroom, and one began crying after hearing the sentence. Security escorted the group out after one man began yelling about the sentence while his friends and family tried to quiet him.
Safety of the child is the first priority after learning about sexual abuse
by Evan Bevins
In cases of child sexual abuse, the most dramatic points may be the abuse itself, the revelation, the arrest and, ideally, the conviction.
But a lot happens between these steps and the process of dealing with abuse often continues long after.
"You never forget it. You never get over it. You just move past it," said Monica, the mother of a sexual abuse victim, who agreed to speak to The Marietta Times for this series on condition of anonymity.
The first step after learning about the abuse is to make sure the child is safe, said Alice Stewart, intake assessment unit supervisor at Washington County Children Services.
"The first choice, because you don't want to re-victimize the child ... is for the child to stay in the home," she said.
That may not be possible in some cases, such as if the offender lives in the home and doesn't leave because the child's parent doesn't believe the accusation. So the next step is to look for a friend or family member to take the child.
If that isn't feasible, the child would be sent to foster care. Unless behavioral or mental health issues require otherwise, the child would be kept in Washington County, Stewart said.
Visits would still be set up with the non-offending parent "if the non-offending parent can be appropriate," Stewart said, meaning they would not talk about the case or try to talk the child into recanting.
After a case is opened, and sometimes for long periods after, including following the resolution of the case, counseling for victims is provided by Washington County Children Services through the Private Violence Project. The program offers grant-funded counseling for children who have experienced physical and sexual abuse and is available to county residents whose cases have been investigated by Children Services.
The process of helping a child cope with his or her abuse and heal from it varies with each individual, Private Violence Project counselor Lee Ann Bates said.
"A lot of it is just that they are a survivor and they were brave, even brave in disclosing this," she said.
Bates described her approach to counseling in some cases using the word "popcorn" - popping back and forth between serious subjects and topics the child is more comfortable with, like friends and interests. Younger children may convey their experiences through demonstrating with toys or writing or drawing about them.
How long a child requires counseling also varies by individual. Bates has worked with some children for just three or four sessions, while others have been meeting with her for two years.
And if a child who has stopped coming to counseling needs help again later, they can always come back, Bates said.
"Sometimes it takes years to get over this," she said.
The effects of sexual abuse can resurface at certain times in life. For example, Bates said that as teenagers develop sexually they may be able to process the experience in a way they couldn't when they were younger. Dating, marriage and childbirth are other times the issue may arise again, according to materials provided by Children Services.
Parents are never identified clients for Bates' counseling services, but they can be a part of it if it helps the child.
Monica said Bates' counseling and other help from Children Services was beneficial to her family.
"They have things in (place) to help you with your kids," she said. "I didn't know they did all this stuff."
Children Services can refer families to various entities for help, such as EVE Inc., L&P Services and more, said Kimberly Ensign, protective caseworker. She noted EVE provides parenting classes and assists victims of any kind of personal violence, even if they're not staying at the shelter.
"We partner with everyone we possibly can to help (families)," Ensign said. "We've done some pretty crazy stuff to help people out."
In the past, the agency had funds to assist people who needed to move, she said.
Monica is also grateful for the support she received from caseworker Ginger Davey.
"She's family now, whether she likes it or not," Monica laughed.
Stewart said although a caseworker can keep a case up to 45 days, they often stay connected to the family for longer than that - whether it's attending court hearings or just listening.
"Sometimes that's all people need to get through these situations is just a little boost from someone who believes them and their child," Stewart said.
Monica said she was nervous about the outcome of the abuser's trial, but "Ginger kept reassuring me through the whole thing, 'We got him.'"
The suspect was convicted.
Child sexual abuse treatment is possible, but takes time
by Peter Sullivan
Beth Docherty is still healing.
It wasn't until she reached her thirties that she felt she had overcome most of the shame and guilt from being sexually abused by a music teacher when she was 15. Even after getting married, she found it hard to have an intimate relationship.
Ms. Docherty, 43, who lives in the North Hills, said though the teacher was charged and convicted, her ordeal was far from over. "You can't just heal from all that pain and all that damage that was done just instantaneously," she said.
The trauma of child sex abuse was on display in a Centre County Courtroom in June when eight victims testified against former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. He was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse after a two-week trial and awaits sentencing.
But victims of child sexual abuse, including the 10 who Mr. Sandusky was convicted of violating, face a long healing process.
Experts say treatments for victims of abuse are often effective in helping people come to terms with what happened, but don't erase what happened.
"We're not looking for major breakthroughs. We're looking for the person to be able to function as well as they were before," said Michael Tony, who leads the treatment team at Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.
"We've had victims tell us that this has affected every decision they've ever made -- and these are victims that have thrived," said Alison Hall, executive director of Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.
Signs of sexual abuse in children include anger problems, acting out in school, changes in friend groups, bed-wetting, sexualized play and eating disorders.
"I think the biggest thing that is the most common is a sense of shame," said Mary Carrasco, director of A Child's Place at Mercy, which evaluates children to determine if they have been abused.
"The child feels that they are someway at fault, and they are afraid to tell, and I think you saw that consistently in the [Sandusky] testimony," Dr. Carrasco said. "A skilled pedophile, as this guy undoubtedly was, used this as well as bribes to keep them quiet."
Symptoms of child sexual abuse vary, but victims often experience anxiety, post-traumatic stress, sadness and problems trusting others as they move into adulthood.
One of the most common treatments is cognitive behavioral therapy. Through guiding questions, a therapist allows victims to express what happened to them in a way that helps them conceptualize the events in a way that is easier to live with.
"It involves helping the child to conceptualize cognitively what happened to them and realize they're not at fault," said Dr. Michael Franzen, chief of neuropsychology at Allegheny General Hospital.
"They help the kid develop a narrative and it could be a verbal narrative, a story that they write or a book with pictures only."
Mr. Tony said having children use a sand tray with figures in it to tell the story of what they are going through can be effective in identifying and treating problems.
"Throughout the story I would likely be asking projective questions to try to identify any cognitive distortions," he said. "For instance maybe the child thinks it's their job to make sure everyone in the family's safe or everyone in the family's happy."
"A lot of what we're doing is trying to help a child make order out of chaos," Mr. Tony said.
Ms. Docherty, now a research consultant and president of the Pittsburgh Action Against Rape board of directors, said treatment helped her heal.
"At PAAR, I was able to go in and just talk about what happened. Get [out] all those things that I had never talked about and just talk about it with someone and learn that the way that I was feeling was common," Ms. Docherty said. "I wasn't just alone in feeling this shame and feeling this anger."
Treatment usually takes around six months.
Mr. Tony says it is hard to pinpoint what percentage of the victims with which his team works can be called successfully treated. But he says, "I think we have a pretty high success rate."
Perpetrators of sexual abuse can also be treated.
At Services for Adolescent and Family Enrichment, treatments try to increase juvenile perpetrators' empathy and understanding of their actions through techniques such as writing apology letters. The program also works to increase parents' supervision and understanding of their child's actions.
Treatment can be effective in both juvenile and adult perpetrators.
"There is pretty significant improvement for a reasonable majority. Some subgroups might be harder than others," said David Kolko, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of SAFE, which is a collaboration between the Juvenile Court of Allegheny County and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.
A 1999 study in the journal the Social Service Review found that 30 percent to 40 percent of women -- up to two in five women -- and 13 percent of men -- or about one in seven -- say they were sexually abused during childhood.
But the number of child sexual abuses that are reported to authorities is far lower. Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that about one in every 1,000 instances of child sex abuse is reported to child protection agencies.
Publicity, such as the allegations against Sandusky and the subsequent trial, though, can increase the number of reports. Calls to the Pennsylvania ChildLine, a hotline to report child abuse, were up 40 percent when the allegations became public in Nov. 2011, compared to Nov. 2010.
The agency's data are not yet available for June, but Pittsburgh Action Against Rape says its hotline received 20 percent more calls since the Sandusky trial began.
Ms. Hall emphasizes the importance of reporting suspected abuse. "What I would say to parents is make that decision as if it were your own child," she said. "Would you not want some adult to report it?"
Vigilantly, lovingly work to stop child sex abuse
by Paul Carapetyan
The Jerry Sandusky trial was ugly and incredibly sad, and we're all glad it's over. We wish it would go away.
Unfortunately, childhood sexual abuse is not over, and it won't go away if we continue to ignore it. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. You know others like me.
Nothing about the Sandusky affair surprises me, including the apparent complicity. Abuse is not an event; it's a process. Generally, childhood sexual abuse is a plan executed by a person who chooses to harm a child. The abuser usually has the unwitting assistance of others in the home and community. This is how a predator plans and commits childhood sexual abuse:
Seek out a vulnerable target.
Gain the target's trust.
Gain trust of the target's family.
Carefully engineer the place to abuse the victim.
Give emotional support and "love" to the victim.
Have damage-control mechanisms in place.
The community cooperates in a number ways:
The vulnerable target. We turn our backs on young boys, for one. When was the last time you wanted to spend time with a rude, angry preteen or teenage boy? On the outside, they're difficult little men; inside, they're confused, curious, changing little boys in need of high-quality adult role models.
Gain target's trust. Do you remember what you said to your parents? "You just don't understand me!" The abuser understands the lonely child, especially the one whose parents don't.
Gain parents' trust. Nearly all parents have said it: "I can't deal with this kid. Here, you take him." Along comes someone to take these obnoxious, angsty kids off our hands.
Engineer the environment. Everything is planned by the abuser and nothing is left to chance. In Sandusky's case, there were signs, most notably his showering with boys in an empty gym and taking them on trips. Many people ignored these signs because "it wasn't their business."
Love and support. To a child hurting for love, even bad love is better than none. The child doesn't understand the world, but he understands when someone pays attention to him. This is love. That other thing—the abuse — is just something that happens. But the love is why boys and girls go back.
Repeat. Tragically, we have many opportunities to see the patterns and do something. Childhood sexual abuse is almost always repeated with the same victims and with new ones.
Damage control. Most victims of childhood sexual abuse push away the pain of betrayal and get on with growing up. Sandusky's more courageous victims cried out but were dismissed. Many turn to various means of self destruction. When we see this behavior, we think it's just a kid being an impossible teen. It doesn't occur to us to listen to the child. Here's how you can stop complicity:
The vulnerable child. Despite what they say and how they act, our teenage children need to be in our lives and they need us in theirs.
Earn and keep your child's trust. Be the adult your child can most trust. You'll learn where and with whom your child spends time.
Many well-regarded institutions have betrayed our trust and hurt our children.
Teach your children about boundaries, how to yell and how to know when something is wrong. Trust people and organizations with your child only to the extent you can verify.
Even the best organizations can have predatory employees they don't know about. Always trust your child more than the coach or other authority. Listen to your child.
|Pay attention to the environment. Our children should be in transparent environments, supervised by more than one adult. Never apologize for wanting to know where your child will be, and with whom.
Many people love children. Most childhood sexual abuse is committed by men. It's OK to love kids but not other people's children isolated from their parents. Parents, grandparents and trusted family are the adults who should be giving love and gifts to a kid, and taking him to ball games.
Repeated contact with your child by anyone outside his or her age group is not normal. Intervene.
|Listen. Any form of abuse is complicated and shameful. It's rare a child will say what is happening. A skilled abuser makes it hard to tell. Listen for changes in your child's voice and words. Look for physical changes. Children will talk, if someone will listen.
I believe every child is everyone's child. This was obviously not the philosophy at Penn State nor in other organizations where abuse occurred. Everyone thought it was someone else's job to think about what they were seeing. Become the courageous bystander who speaks up when something seems odd. Ask questions. So what if you insult someone by putting your nose "where it doesn't belong"? How many noses stayed in their proper places at Penn State, followed by how much pain?
Carapetyan, father of three children, is an Austin business owner.
Impact of Sandusky trial on childhood abuse survivors
by Heather Gunnell
The trial of Jerry Sandusky has brought the issue of child sexual abuse to the forefront of the media's attention and in turn it has opened many people's eyes to a frightening reality: this crime happens often, it happens in communities many would consider safe, and it can involve trusted adults and local heroes.
We cannot underestimate how difficult this time has been for the victims in the Sandusky case, and for all survivors of childhood sexual assault. If you are a survivor of sexual assault and you need support you can call our NH hot line 24 hours a day 1-800-277-5570.
The details of Sandusky's actions were disturbing. The Penn State case garnered national attention because of the status of the individuals and university involved, but we must not forget that there are thousands of children across the U.S. each year who are victims of child sexual abuse.
Now that the Sandusky coverage has ended it may fade from our consciousness, but for survivors of childhood sexual assault, this episode may have triggered painful memories. As the trial focused society's attention on the issue of sexual abuse, it is also inevitable that someone has said, or is going to say something (or not say something) that will send someone else into a spiral of anger, frustration, sadness, or even fear.
Triggers may be different for each survivor. What triggers each particular survivor depends on his or her unique experiences of being vulnerable and hurt, and the unique details of the situations in which those experiences occurred. Getting triggered does not give rise to a simple, uniform set of symptoms that can be easily labeled. If you find yourself struggling with more negative emotions than usual — anger, sadness, anxiety, bitterness, etc.; if you are noticing that things which normally do not bother you are becoming stressors; and/or if you find yourself pushing others away and wanting to be alone — these can all be signs that you might be upset and need to take some time to rest, reflect, and take care of yourself.
It's important to remember a few things: First, all of these emotions are normal reactions to having a painful subject discussed. Outside of the therapeutic environment, where these feelings can be processed, there is a higher risk that these emotions can be destabilizing. If you feel yourself getting triggered (e.g. if you are having strong emotional swings, feeling out of balance and unable to focus, and/or if you find yourself more irritable and moody) and do not have a therapist to process these feelings, you can call our New Hampshire hot line 24 hours a day 1-800-277-5570.
If you are in severe crisis or considering self-harm, call your doctor, emergency services (such as 911), or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
For those of you who may know someone who has been through this, and who may now be struggling, it is important to know that the NH hot line is also available for you to call at any time. There are a number of resources available for you to begin to understand how to support the person you care about. The website 1in6.org has some very good information for people who are supporting survivors, including the following advice: "Our most important advice: take care of yourself, and don't push him. Why focus on yourself, not just on him and his needs? The better you take care of yourself, the more effectively you can support him. You'll be more able to take a break when you're getting overwhelmed, to manage feelings like anger and sadness, and to reach out for help when you need it. You'll also be a model of self-care for him, and more likely to stick with him (in a way that's healthy for you), even in the hardest times."
Please visit the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website www.nhcadsv.org
for more links to resources on helping male survivors of childhood sexual assault.
Heather Gunnell is the Program Director for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program which is housed by the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Pennsylvania takes its time creating tougher child abuse laws
by Jeremy Roebuck / Philadelphia Inquirer
Ten states have rushed to toughen their reporting laws on child sex abuse in the eight months since Jerry Sandusky's arrest set off a nationwide scandal.
One is conspicuously absent from that list: Pennsylvania.
And many of the state's victim advocacy groups have worked to keep it that way -- at least for now.
Amid pressure to pass headline-grabbing legislation in response to the case against the former Penn State University assistant football coach and the equally landmark trial of two priests from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, child-welfare advocates have urged lawmakers to show restraint.
Many worry that in the heat of scandal, the state runs the risk of over-correcting -- of passing knee-jerk bills with requirements that would overwhelm cash-strapped social services agencies or, worse, cast undue suspicion on families and individuals tenuously accused of abuse.
"It's been a balancing act," said Cathleen Palm, executive director of Protect Our Children, a statewide coalition of child-welfare organizations. "We all want to act fast, but we also want to act right."
Despite a host of bills floated since Mr. Sandusky's arrest last year, only three have reached Gov. Tom Corbett's desk, and none directly addresses abuse reporting requirements.
One, signed last week, allows expert testimony in sex-abuse trials. Another, as yet unsigned, would require training every five years for professionals such as teachers and doctors, who are legally bound to report suspected abuse.
But the third -- which in January established a panel to assess the need for new rules -- may be the most important, said Ms. Palm and other victim advocates.
Comprising legislators, lawyers, judges and victim advocates, the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection has met seven times and heard testimony from dozens of witnesses on the advantages and pitfalls of proposed measures. Those include extending civil and criminal statutes of limitations; appointing an ombudsman to handle abuse appeals; and requiring all adults, under threat of criminal penalties, to report suspected abuse.
The group is expected to issue by November a slate of recommendations to overhaul the state's systems for reporting and investigating child abuse.
For advocates such as Frank Cervone, the task force represents the most sustained and thorough look the state has yet taken at an issue that has rarely received the attention it deserves from Harrisburg.
Mr. Cervone, who runs the Philadelphia-based Support Center for Child Advocates, says he fears that rushing to pass bills before the panel is finished could undercut the chance for comprehensive reform.
"To their credit, many legislators want to act now," he said. "But we need to ... make judgments based on good data and sound legal framework."
Victims groups learned that lesson the hard way in 2005. A Philadelphia grand jury issued a scathing report that year accusing archdiocesan officials of covering up for pedophile priests. But because of the statutes of limitations in place then, none of those cases could be prosecuted.
Outraged, state legislators pushed through measures extending the civil and criminal deadlines for reporting rape and broadening child-endangerment laws to include those who supervised suspected molesters.
Those changes made possible this year's case against Monsignor William J. Lynn, who was convicted June 22 of endangering children in approving transfers of pedophile priests to other parishes.
But the swift response to the grand jury's findings left many cracks in Pennsylvania's reporting system.
It remains too confusing for many, Mr. Cervone said. And abuse reports still are not processed through a single authority.
Also, the state continues to treat the accused and their alleged victims differently based on whether the abuse happened within a family or involved an outside figure.
But once the 2005 grand jury report stopped generating headlines, "we could hardly get the Legislature's attention" to fix the problems, Mr. Cervone said.
Mr. Sandusky's case stoked discussion among lawmakers across the country. And other states moved quickly.
In 2012 legislative sessions, about 105 bills on abuse reporting have been introduced in 30 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia are among those that expanded the list of professionals who are legally bound to report suspected abuse. In Iowa and Indiana, schools now must develop written reporting procedures for staff.
In Florida earlier this year, lawmakers passed the toughest mandatory-reporting law in the nation. It requires all adults to report suspected abuse, with failure to do so a felony.
Such universal mandatory reporting has become one of the most frequently floated proposals in legislatures across the country since the Sandusky case, spurred in part by former assistant football coach Mike McQueary's story of walking in on Mr. Sandusky sodomizing a boy in a locker-room shower in 2001. Mr. McQueary said he reported what he saw to higher-ups within the school, but not to outside law enforcement officials.
Pennsylvania task force chairman David Heckler, however, points to the Florida law as an example of knee-jerk legislation, passed without a full understanding of potential consequences.
"An eyewitness account of child abuse like Mr. McQueary's is truly a one-in-a-million situation," said Mr. Heckler, the Bucks County district attorney. "If you lower the reporting standard too far, you're going to have waves of reports of hangnails and devote all of the resources of [social services workers] to investigating."
So far, he said, Pennsylvania legislative leaders have given his panel time to do its work, refusing to bring certain abuse bills up for votes.
But the pressure to move persists.
Frustrated by the reluctance of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, to advance bills to lengthen the civil and criminal statutes of limitations on child sex abuse, two Philadelphia Democrats attempted last month to circumvent him.
State Reps. Mike McGeehan and Louise Williams Bishop filed a discharge motion to move the proposals to the House floor for a vote.
In response, Mr. Marsico drafted a consolidated bill, which received the unanimous support of his committee, but he said at the time that he had hoped to wait to hear from Mr. Heckler's task force first.
"A number of legislators have been insisting our committee act now," he said.
Even while she supports the task force's contemplative debate, Ms. Palm, the Protect Our Children Committee director, cannot shake the concern that waiting too long could squander the legislative momentum that has been so hard to come by since 2005.
"Every day I wonder, 'What if this is it?' " she said. "But I have to believe the door is not closing. We have to believe that the political will will still be there."
Opinion / Editorials
Florida shatters the code of silence
FLORIDA'S CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE
Turn to the Florida Department of Children and Families to report child abuse.
Phone: (800) 962-2873
HOW TO REPORT
Anyone reporting in good faith shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability. Be prepared to provide specific descriptions of the incidents. Include:
- Name, date of birth (or approximate age), race and gender for all adults and children involved.
- Addresses or another means to locate the subjects.
- Information regarding disabilities and/or limitations.
- Relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the victims.
- Other relevant information that would expedite an investigation, such as directions to the victim (especially in rural areas) and potential risks to the investigator, should be given to the abuse hotline counselor.
FALSE REPORTS PROHIBITED
Any person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report or counsels another to make a false report is guilty of a felony of the third degree punishable by up to five years in prison. In addition, the department may impose a fine not to exceed $10,000 for each violation.
A false report is one that is not true and is maliciously made for the purpose of:
- Harassing, embarrassing or harming another person.
- Personal financial gain for the reporting person.
- Acquiring custody of a child or vulnerable adult.
- Personal benefit for the reporting person in any other private dispute involving a child or vulnerable adult.
Florida shatters the code of silence
Florida soon should be the safest state in the nation for children following passage of the toughest child abuse law in the country.
The state's legislators reacted to the national outrage created by the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State University by beefing up required reporting of child sex abuse in several significant ways.
Florida colleges that fail to report certain child abuse taking place on campus will pay a steep price: Fines of up to $1 million and potential criminal charges.
Apart from the college aspect, everyone is required to report child abuse. The penalties for failing to do so were raised from a misdemeanor to a felony, and the fines were increased from a maximum of $1,000 to $5,000.
The legislators also responsibly beefed up the state's ability to deal with an expected increase in calls to the child abuse hotline. Based on a predicted increase of 10 percent, the Legislature added 47 positions and more than $2 million in funding.
The bill, which takes effect on Oct. 1, continues a modern trend to provide more attention to the problem of child abuse, defined as sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect.
For too long, silence was the norm when it came to child abuse.
A long history
One of the earliest breaks in the code of silence came in the 1870s when a missionary reported child abuse to authorities in New York City. The mother of the child was placed in prison for a year, and the child was removed from the home.
Still, the concern for child welfare grew slowly. In 1962, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article on battered child syndrome, which helped physicians identify child abuse.
Laws in the meantime tended to focus reporting requirements on physicians, teachers and others who deal directly with children. In 1974, Congress passed a law that provided federal funding for states that pass mandatory reporting laws.
In 1990, child abuse was declared a national emergency by the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, reported an article in Washington Lawyer, a D.C. Bar publication.
Rates have declined
Actually, the attention seems to have worked. Rates of reported child abuse have declined in the last two decades. Cases of child sexual abuse declined by more than 60 percent from 1990 to 2010, reported The New York Times.
Forty-eight states require at least some professionals to immediately report knowledge or suspicion of child abuse, reports the national Conference of State Legislatures.
And 18 states require mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse by all adults, the Associated Press reports.
At the same time, the rates of child abuse reported by children themselves have doubled.
Still, it became apparent that states had inadequate reporting laws. Attention focused by the Sandusky case led to a serious examination, resulting in expanding the requirement to report to everyone and toughening the penalties for failing to do so.
More than 100 bills have been filed on reporting child abuse in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Laws have been enacted in 10 states.
But Florida has taken the lead.
For those unsure about the various aspects of reporting child abuse, there is an excellent website from the Florida Department of Children and Families (see adjacent box).
Society has a duty to protect its children. The evidence is clear that progress is being made.
That Florida now has the toughest reporting requirements in the nation is a badge of honor.
Study Links Child Abuse to Adult Obesity
by Crystal Phend
- Black women who were abused as children may go on to have a higher rate of obesity as adults.
- Note that the associations persisted after adjustment for physical activity, socioeconomics, depression, and other key factors.
Black women who were abused as children may go on to have a higher rate of obesity as adults, a large observational study showed.
Severe physical and sexual abuse in childhood or the teen years predicted 29% higher risk of overall and abdominal obesity in this segment of the U.S. population, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD, of Boston University, and colleagues found.
The associations persisted after adjustment for physical activity, socioeconomics, depression, and other key factors, the group reported in the August issue of Pediatrics .
"Our findings suggest that efforts to prevent child abuse have implications for current and future health," they wrote. "Moreover, for survivors of abuse, behavioral patterns associated with cardiovascular risk may emerge in childhood and require tailored interventions that address trauma history in addition to modification of health behaviors."
Prior studies have suggested a link between abuse in early life and obesity, though they have not looked at racially or ethnically diverse groups.
One reason for the link may be "the use of food in response to stress in adulthood," particularly comfort foods, Boynton-Jarrett's group suggested.
Other mechanisms could be an influence on mood and mental health that leads to sedentary behaviors or on glucocorticoid levels that stimulate insulin and appetite, they added.
The researchers examined self-reported exposure to abuse in early life among 33,298 participants in the prospective Black Women's Health Study, which recruited its cohort through the Essence magazine subscriber list, professional organization rosters, and friends and relatives of early participants.
Nearly 58% of the women reported at least one instance of sexual or physical assault or witnessed violence by age 18.
The abuse was categorized as mild -- one or two instances of physical abuse and no sexual abuse -- for 18%. Most fell into the "moderate" category with several instances of physical abuse and one to three reports of sexual abuse.
Severe exposure was recorded in 11% of the women with six or more episodes of physical abuse or sexual abuse four or more times and in 2% with both.
The likelihood of obesity as an adult climbed with increasing severity of abuse ( P <0.0001 for trend
Compared with no abuse as a child, the relative risk of a body mass index of 30 kg/m 2 or greater was:
- 1.02 for mild physical abuse (95% CI 0.99 to 1.06)
- 1.07 for moderate abuse (95% CI 1.04 to 1.11)
- 1.17 for severe physical or sexual abuse (95% CI 1.12 to 1.28)
- 1.29 for severe physical and sexual abuse (95% CI 1.20 to 1.38)
Adjustment for marital status, education, birth weight, foreign born, and menopause status slightly attenuated the associations at the higher end of the exposure groups. Additional control for parity, alcohol use, smoking status, energy intake, soda consumption, fast food, TV viewing, vigorous physical activity, and depressive symptoms further weakened but didn't eliminate them.
Fully adjusted relative risks ranged from a significant 1.07 for moderate abuse to 1.14 for the most severe category.
The same patterns were seen for the association of abuse to central obesity as an adult ( P <0.0001 for trend).
Compared with no abuse, the fully-adjusted relative risk of having a waist circumference over 35 inches as an adult was:
- 1.01 for mild physical abuse (95% CI 0.97 to 1.05)
- 1.05 for moderate abuse (95% CI 1.02 to 1.08)
- 1.12 for severe physical or sexual abuse (95% CI 1.05 to 1.27)
- 1.18 for severe physical and sexual abuse (95% CI 1.10 to 1.27)
The researchers cautioned that retrospective reporting underestimates abuse and self-reporting tends to underestimate weight, likely yielding relatively conservative estimates.
Another limitation was that the study didn't control for other childhood hardships or social stressors, such as parental substance abuse, that could have been mediating factors in the relationship between obesity and abuse.
Wendy's sex assault suspect has history of child abuse
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A man on parole for trying to infect children with HIV nearly 20 years ago pulled a boy into a Portland restaurant bathroom over the weekend, attempted to sexually assault him and then stabbed him several times, police said.
The 10-year-old's injuries from the attack Sunday were severe enough to require surgery, and officers said he would have died without immediate care.
The suspect, Adam Lee Brown, pleaded not guilty Monday in Multnomah County Circuit Court to charges that included kidnapping, attempted murder and assault. He appeared in court surrounded by sheriff's office deputies and wearing a so-called "suicide smock," a rip-resistant vest which prevents inmates from tearing off strips of clothing with which to hang themselves.
His arrest Sunday after a two-hour standoff in which he was holed up in a Wendy's bathroom marks the second set of child sex abuse charges leveled against Brown, who was the subject of an abuse investigation two decades ago.
The HIV-positive son of a church pastor, Brown was convicted in 1993 of three counts of first-degree sodomy, each involving a child. He pleaded no contest to reduced charges — the initial charges included attempted murder because of his HIV.
The case came during a peak in the AIDS crisis and amid fears fueled by public misunderstanding that vengeful patients willfully would infect unsuspecting bystanders.
At least nine children in the small logging town of Roseburg told police that Brown molested them over the course of several months in 1992.
According to a criminal complaint, the children said Brown told them not to tell and threatened them with knives, scissors and matches. One child said Brown once burned a Bible, warning that Satan would come if they didn't do what he wanted.
Brown's wife at the time, Nancy, told The Associated Press in 1993 that her husband had contracted the disease in Southern California while he was stationed there with the U.S. Marines. A lay preacher at Fair Oaks Community Church, Brown served nine years in the Marines as a computer technician before his discharge in the early 1990s.
"God was always in the picture," Nancy Brown said about her husband's religious upbringing. "But he thought Satan would deliver the boys."
Brown spent 11 years in Oregon's prison system, accruing three years of earned-time off a 15-year sentence. Prison officials said their records show Brown spent the years 1999 to 2004 without incurring any disciplinary infractions; older, paper records were unavailable.
He also apparently lived for seven years outside prison without incident, until Sunday.
Police said he pulled the 10-year-old boy into the fast-food restaurant bathroom and locked the door. After the boy fought back, Portland police say Brown stabbed him.
A Wendy's employee opened the locked door and Brown shoved the 10-year-old out of the bathroom but locked himself inside and told arriving officers he had a gun.
Police evacuated the restaurant and brought in crisis negotiators. Brown surrendered. Police found a knife, but no gun.
Brown's parents could not be reached Monday by the AP.
An attorney representing Brown at the arraignment was unavailable for comment after the hearing. He declined to give his name.
Child abuse and foster care admissions increase when parents use methamphetamines
Methamphetamine abuse leads to an increase in child abuse and neglect, which causes an increase in foster care admissions, according to a study from Baylor University.
The study, published online in the journal Economic Inquiry , found that a 1 percent increase in meth use led to a 1.5 percent increase in foster care admissions. It is the first study to provide evidence for meth abuse's causal effect on foster home admissions.
"Our findings suggest strongly that the social costs of parental meth use include child maltreatment and growth in foster care placements," said Scott Cunningham, Ph.D., study co-author and assistant professor of economics at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business. "To address this, child welfare policies should be designed specifically for the children of meth-using parents."
To measure the effect of meth use on foster care admissions, Cunningham and co-author Keith Finlay, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics at Tulane University, collected monthly data on foster care admissions and exits, meth drug treatment admissions, retail meth prices, and a variety of other potentially relevant factors from January 1995 to December 1999.
The study centered on federal laws that severely restricted two key ingredients used to produce methamphetamine: ephedrine, which was restricted in 1995, and pseudoephedrine, which was restricted in 1997.
"The consequence of each policy was to cause a temporary scarcity of methamphetamine in the market, driving prices up and purity down," Cunningham said.
The 1995 restriction caused a dramatic spike in meth prices, but the effect was relatively short lived. After six months, prices returned to their pre-restriction level. The 1997 regulation had a smaller but more sustained effect on prices—lasting approximately a year.
"Public health professionals have observed these large social costs of methamphetamine production and use," Finlay said. "Our paper is one of the first to provide plausible causal evidence of these effects that are not borne by users but by children."
The study used foster care enrollment data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), a federally mandated database that aggregates detailed case information on each child in foster care and each child who has been adopted under the authority of all state child welfare agencies. AFCARS also indicates whether a child was removed as a result of neglect, physical abuse, parental drug use or parental incarceration.
The U.S. foster care population increased from approximately 280,000 to 408,000—a rise of over 45 percent due primarily to increased admissions in the 1980s and 1990s. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from 1986 to 2010, there was a stark increase in the foster care population from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s caused by a rapid growth in entry with no associated uptick in exit.
From August 1995 to December 1995, white meth treatment self- admissions fell 26.5 percent due to the 1995 ephedrine regulation. The drop was temporary since drug producers substituted pseudoephedrine and meth self-admissions grew 25.6 percent from December 1995 to February 1998. That growth caused 2,257 children to enter foster care, according to the researchers.
"Given the large social costs of meth use on child maltreatment, policymakers face a significant challenge to reduce its use," Cunningham said. "Regions with intensive meth use should consider greater resources for meth treatment and child welfare services. These areas have historically been rural or exurban and so may already be underserved. Our study also highlights the social benefits of policies restricting consumer access to methamphetamine ingredients, like pseudoephedrine."
Online Ad Service Challenges Child Sex Law
by ROBYN DANIEL
NASHVILLE (CN) - An online classified ad service claims in court that a new Tennessee law meant to prevent sex trafficking of children is unconstitutional.
Backpage.com challenged Tennessee's Public Chapter 1075, which makes it a felony to sell or offer to sell an ad "that 'would appear to a reasonable person to be for the purpose of engaging in' 'a commercial sex act' 'with a minor,' even if no such content is ever published or the ad does not actually concern a minor."
Backpage.com, a Delaware LLC that operates out of Phoenix, sued Tennessee's Attorney General Robert Cooper and the state's 31 district attorneys
Public Chapter 1075 was scheduled to take effect July 1.
Backpage.com claims it violates the First Amendment.
The complaint states: "Public Chapter 1075, scheduled to take effect July 1, 2012, is based on a Washington State statute that a federal court has already temporarily enjoined. Like that statute, Public Chapter 1075 seeks to force, by threat of felony prosecution, websites and other providers to become the government's censors of user-submitted content. Although its ostensible purpose - to prevent the sex trafficking of children - is laudable, the law is not. It threatens up to 15 years imprisonment and a minimum $10,000 fine (the same penalties for kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, robbery, and arson) against anyone who 'sells or offers to sell an advertisement' that 'would appear to a reasonable person to be for the purpose of engaging in' 'a commercial sex act' 'with a minor,' even if no such content is ever published or the ad does not actually concern a minor.
"It is not a defense under Public Chapter 1075 that the defendant did not know the person depicted in the post is a minor. Instead, the defendant must have obtained governmental or educational identification for the person depicted in the advertisement - even if the identification does not contain a photograph ( e.g
., a birth certificate or marriage license) or the ad does not contain a photograph, rendering the age verification process meaningless.
"To avoid prosecution, online service providers have few choices. They could attempt to review every user-submitted post to determine whether a Tennessee prosecutor could claim it 'would appear to a reasonable person to be for the purpose of engaging in what would be a commercial sex act ... with a minor,' and if so, obtain identification. Given that many websites receive millions of user-submitted posts ( e.g.,
more than 3.3 million posts on Backpage.com in April 2012 alone), this would be impractical or impossible. And, because the standards of Public Chapter 1075 are so broad and the penalties so severe, Backpage.com and other providers would have to require identification for any ads or other posts that come even remotely close to the prohibitions of the Act.
"Alternatively, online service providers like Backpage.com could demand identification from all
third-party users for all
ads or other content for which they charge fees. Such a requirement would be so onerous that many (perhaps most) websites could not comply. And the age-verification requirement may well deter many users from posting content altogether because of the difficulties of providing identification or because of privacy concerns.
"In all likelihood, online service providers and other publishers will choose a third option - they will stop allowing third-party content altogether, or at least, all adult-oriented content. And, because Public Chapter 1075 is not limited to conduct within
Tennessee, online service providers may also be compelled to attempt to block or censor for Tennesseans information and content available elsewhere in the country.
"Public Chapter 1075 contravenes well-established federal law. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act prohibits the State from treating interactive computer service providers 'as the publisher or speaker of any information' provided by a third party and expressly preempts inconsistent state laws. The First and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit state laws that severely inhibit and impose criminal liability on speech, as Public Chapter 1075 does. Finally, the Commerce Clause prohibits states from passing and enforcing legislation, like Public Chapter 1075, that regulates activity outside the state.
"Public Chapter 1075 practically eliminates online service providers' ability to provide paid forums for legitimate public speech. The law chills speech and deters ecommerce and the growth and development of the Internet. If this Court does not enjoin enforcement of Public Chapter 1075 and declare it invalid, Backpage.com, countless other online service providers, and the public will be irreparably harmed."
Backpage.com's lead attorney is Lucian T. Pera, with Adams and Reese, of Memphis.
McHenry County woman teaches self-defense to sex-trafficking victims
by Elena Ferrarin
Two years ago, Belle Staurowsky hopped on a plane to India armed with just a Hindi dictionary and a mountain of good intentions.
Her mission? To make a difference — a true difference — to young girls in a country she'd never set foot in, speaking a language she didn't know.
Staurowsky, 48, of Oakwood Hills in McHenry County, who is a first-degree black belt in karate, is the founder of the Green Tara Project , a one-woman nonprofit organization that teaches self-defense to girls who are victims of or are at risk for human sex trafficking. Staurowsky has been on two trips to India, in August 2010 and this past April, both times for four to five weeks, and taught group classes to girls as young as 6.
“I learned all the basic martial arts words, like 'punch,' 'kick' and 'block,' how to count, and words like 'nose,' 'fists,' 'knuckles, 'palm,' 'knee' — anything you could strike with, I learned the word for,” she said.
Staurowsky practices karate at Focus Martial Arts & Fitness in Lake in the Hills and was a gold medalist in kumite (fighting) at the 2009 World Karate Confederation's world karate championships.
The classes she taught in India are an offshoot of “Fight Like a Girl,” a women's self-defense class she helped teach at Focus Martial Arts, she said.
Inspired by others
“Green Tara” is a female Buddha figure that represents enlightenment and action, which are the tenets of her mission, Staurowsky said.
It all started in 2009 when she read a column by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times about a 16-year-old girl from Pakistan who had been abducted and raped over the course a year, only to be raped again by police officers when she thought she'd finally been freed.
Assiya Rafiq's story made such a profound effect on Staurowsky that she started searching for more stories and information about human sex trafficking. And then, she decided to do something about it.
“I thought, 'Here I am, I've got so much. I have a house, I am gainfully employed, I have freedom to pursue my love and passion of karate and martial arts,'” she said. “That story inspired me so much.”
She Googled social service organizations in India that work with survivors of human trafficking and emailed asking if they wanted her help. They did.
Her first trip was to the state of Bihar in far northeast India, one of the poorest areas of the country. During her second trip in April, she spent time in Bihar and Mumbai.
Because many of the girls had been sexually and physically abused, Staurowsky was mindful of making modifications in her teaching, such as going very slowly and asking their permission before touching them to show them things like how to get out of a wrist grab. If they said no, she just stuck to showing them how to punch and kick.
“One girl had probably about 12 cigarette burns on one arm. Another had her front tooth knocked out, anther had her arm broken and it was never set right,” she said. “To look at them ... but look beyond that and see them as a totally whole human being who is standing in front of me and is ready to be lit from within ... that was my job.”
She also found herself in slightly bewildering situations like teaching a class in an outdoor corral. “It was 90-degree heat. That was kind of fun. They're moving the cows out, so I'm like, 'OK, so I'm teaching here?'”
Staurowsky uses her karate expertise to teach not just physical but mental skills, said James Goes, chief operating officer for Project Crayon, which runs a shelter for at-risk girls in Mumbai.
“In India or other similar nations that come with a history of a girl being considered 'expendable,' a girl has to overcome more hurdles and stigmas and clichés, which make her a target of violence and abuse,” Goes wrote via email. Through Green Tara Project, “a girl not just learns self-defense, she learns to value herself and respect herself more, and this helps the girl inside to not undermine her confidence and her potential.”
“The enthusiasm that the program builds within the beneficiaries is unparalleled,” Goes added.
Jyoti Nale-Tajane, senior program officer for Save the Children India, agreed.
“When she actually started conducting the sessions, we realized she was not only doing sessions in defensive techniques but also in enhancing confidence building of girls. The girls discovered a new self in them and 'I cannot do this' turned into 'I can do anything' for all the girls,” Nale-Tajane wrote via email.
“The sessions helped girls to come out of mental trauma and get back self esteem and respect. The training in self-defense gave them confidence that they are not dependent on somebody else to keep them safe and convey the message that you should not look down on you.”
Staurowsky said the young women made an indelible impression on her.
“They were amazing women to work with; they so wanted to learn. They showed up early. When I hit that gate, they were all ready and lined up. They were a joy to work with.”
More work ahead
Staurowsky wants to go back to India one more time this year and then plans to expand the Green Tara Project's reach to Nepal. She hopes to do some fundraising via a PayPal link at blog.greentaraproject.com and perhaps recruit more people to teach self-defense with her, although she knows not everyone can afford the commitment.
Staurowsky's home-based job as a business development consultant allows her the flexibility and financial means to take a break for a few weeks. Still, at more than $3,000 per trip including visas and inoculations, plus the loss of income, it's definitely an investment, she said.
The trips also take a great emotional toll.
During her trips abroad, Staurowsky focuses on her teaching while living the experience at its fullest. It is only when she comes back to the U.S. that she gives herself permission to let her guard down, she said.
This last time, she broke down halfway through the 36-hour journey back to Chicago during a layover in Frankfurt, Germany.
“I ran for the women's bathroom and had a mini meltdown,” she said. “It's a big emotional assault, but totally worth it.”
Human sex trafficking happens every day across the world, even if it's hard to fathom for people who lead comfortable lives in the United States.
“Women have to stand up against the men and say, 'Enough is enough. We are not commodities,'” she said. “They need to take that back to the men until they decide to stop treating them like commodities.”