Free Melrose program: Preventing and responding to child abuse
Melrose, Mass. —
The Melrose YMCA and the North Suburban Child and Family Resource Network invite parents, grandparents, teachers, day care providers, or any interested adult to learn the “7 Steps to Protecting Our Children from Sexual Abuse.” It is also appropriate for youth-serving organizations such as sports leagues, after-school programs, children's clubs, church groups and more.
This free training session will help adults understand, prevent and respond to the threat of child sexual abuse. It will be held Monday, March 4, 6:30-9 p.m., at the Dutton Center, 1117 Main St., Wakefield.
We make sure children wear seat belts. We have them hold our hand while walking across busy streets. We store matches and toxic household cleaners out of reach. Why, then, would we leave the job of preventing child sexual abuse solely to children?
The program is free but registration is required. To register, call 781-279-0300. (Note: This program was scheduled for Feb. 11 but was postponed due to the storm.)
Child abuse victim fights for law change
by Hayley Gallimore
A woman who claims she was sexually abused as a child while in care has launched a nationwide campaign to change the law and help protect other victims.
Her book, Please Believe Me, written under pen name Angela Bayley, describes in vivid detail the years of abuse she says she suffered while in the care of Notts County Council.
The married author and mother, now in her 40s, is locked in a battle for compensation with the authority over what she says was their failure to protect her as a vulnerable child.
Angela's allegations date back to the 1980s and include being sexually abused by a teacher, a care worker at a children's home in Worksop, and again by a foster father she was placed with.
All of the alleged abuse took place in Bassetlaw, and Angela says she still suffers the psychological scars, including post traumatic stress disorder, anorexia, bulimia and emotionally unstable personality disorder.
She filed a claim for compensation with Notts Country Council back in 2008, which still has not been resolved.
A loophole in the law is preventing her from getting the compensation and closure she and her solicitor believe she deserves.
Representing her is Andrew Grove & Co Solicitors, specialists in investigating and claiming compensation for adult victims of childhood abuse.
“As the law stands, local authorities cannot be sued or held responsible for the conduct of their volunteers or independent contractors, and that includes foster parents,” said Angela. “Despite the fact foster parents are vetted, selected and subsidised by councils, they are not defined as employees, so the council is not legally responsible for any harm they may come to at the hands of foster carers.
“Foster parenting is advocated above care homes because it's a more normal family environment for a child.
“So the law must change to properly protect children in foster care, and force local authorities to be more stringent in their vetting and selection of foster parents.”
“I'm determined to succeed with Angela's Law, so that other survivors of childhood abuse feel they too can speak out, be believed and get the justice and compensation they deserve.”
“My campaign is about any form of abuse, whether physical, psychological, sexual or neglect.”
Notts County Council service director for children's social care Steve Edwards said it would be ‘inappropriate' to comment as the case was still ongoing.
Angela's online petition has already attracted hundreds of signatures as the campaign picks up pace.
Bassetlaw MP John Mann has pledged to raise the issue in Parliament.
He believes there is a good case for Angela's Law, and wants to present it as an amendment to the existing law.
Last week Angela took her campaign to London where she met with Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).
“NAPAC supports our campaign and Peter knows some influential people who can hopefully help us in our aim to get the law changed,” said Angela.
Alongside her in London was local campaigner Adele Mumby who set up the Save Our Services group and ran a successful campaign to retain services at Bassetlaw Hospital.
Adele sprang into action when she heard Angela's story and has become the face of the campaign, which they are calling Save Our Survivors.
“We are spreading the word about this campaign far and wide and hope to attract as much media attention as possible, both local and national,” said Angela.
“It's vital that we raise the profile of child abuse right across the country and get people talking about it. High profile cases like the Jimmy Savile scandal have helped with that, and we have seen many of his victims speak out.”
“I didn't speak out about my experiences until I was an adult, and many survivors don't because they are scared of what might happen and afraid they won't be believed.”
“People also need to realise that child abuse is everyone's responsibility. It's happening right on our doorsteps and it cannot carry on being brushed under the carpet.”
“I would urge any abuse survivors in Bassetlaw, or anywhere, to seriously consider coming forward and telling someone they trust.”
“It's only by speaking out against the perpetrators that we can bring them to justice. Now is the perfect time as the police are taking these kinds of cases very seriously indeed.”
Sign Angela's petition and read more about her story at www.angelabayley.com
You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
• If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, NAPAC can offer support. Visit www.napac.org.uk
• See next week's Worksop Guardian for local and national reaction to Angela's campaign
Ruben Rosario: Today, I need to tell you about a little boy
by Ruben Rosario
The little boy, no more than 7, knew what was coming when the orange drapes were drawn in the bedroom window of the ground-floor Bronx apartment on Hoe Avenue.
It would be icky. It would be painful. But this was his 15-year-old primo hermano , a first cousin who was like a big brother to a little boy who had no siblings and no father present at the time.
And, at the end, sometimes but not always, the little boy would be given a quarter as long as he promised not to tell anyone. The little boy would use the quarter to buy candy or those plastic insects he loved so much, the ones that came inside little globes from the gumball-like machine at the corner bodega. Then he would stay outside on the street to play with his friends.
That little boy had no clue that he was being raped and molested.
I was and am still that little boy.
I decided last week -- more than half a century later -- to publicly bare what I should have told someone decades ago. I do this now not so much for me. I'm doing this for the little boys and girls across this state, across this nation, across this world, who are being similarly abused, as I write this, by a loved one or a family friend or a so-called trusted adult.
If you are a child dealing with this or an adult who knows of such abuse, overcome the fear. Go outside the family if you have to, and tell someone you trust. Don't wait the way I did.
A YEAR OF ABUSE AT AGE 7
Child sexual abuse is an epidemic that in recent years has gradually, thankfully shed some of its stigma for victims and drawn some light through high-profile cases like the clergy pedophilia scandal and the recent Penn State University molestation cases.
The stats are sobering: In this country, one in four women and one in six men were sexually abused before the age of 18. In 2005 in Minnesota, 17,690 of the 61,000 reported cases of sexual assault involved a child victim. And the overwhelming majority of cases throughout the years -- upward of 80 percent, according to some studies -- involved an abuser who was either a relative or a close family friend known to the child victim. Then throw in the fact that this is the most underreported of crimes.
No matter what form it takes, this kind of abuse is sick and evil. There is no justification for it. But I would argue that when the abuser is a relative, the dynamics are messier, more complex and a bigger barrier for a child to come forward than if the abuser was from outside the family circle.
"Part of it is that you don't have a safe place," said Mic Hunter, a St. Paul-based psychologist and author of "Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse" (1990, Fawcett Columbine). The book is still considered a landmark in literature about child sexual abuse.
"If it's happening at a school or church, hopefully you can go to your home to escape," Hunter added. "But you're living in the home where it is taking place, and it becomes really awkward when you are giving, say, Father's Day or birthday cards to the person who is sexually abusing you."
Hunter says child victims are three times as likely to be abused by a family member as by a stranger.
Although my memory of time is hazy, I believe my abuse occurred several times over the course of a year or so. At the time, my divorced mother and I had moved in with one of my aunts because we could not afford our own place.
The abuse stopped when my aunt and her husband relocated to the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx. I believed it stopped because my cousin no longer was afforded the opportunity to find a way to be alone with me at the new place without someone finding out or walking in.
We moved out a year later in 1963 when my mother married my stepfather, the man who raised me.
MEMORIES BURIED, NOT GONE
Like most victims, I disassociated myself from the child abuse. I tried hard to believe it never happened. I tucked it deep into a remote corner, forgot about it and moved on with my life. I excelled academically. I graduated from college, married, raised two kids and worked at being a success. My abuser got married and had two kids. I don't believe he abused others, but I really don't know, and that still haunts me.
I never confronted him, and he never talked about it at family gatherings. His presence would trigger the memories, but I always felt at fault for my victimization. I allowed him to do it, right? I got a quarter out of the deal, right? I did not want to break my aunt's or my mother's heart by coming out. I did not want to stir up a past that would surely sever family relationships.
And I thought that as unpleasant as it was, I had come out pretty well. The abuse did nothing lasting to me.
I was wrong. Like many, I self-medicated at times to kill the pain. I drank quite a bit through college, but since everybody was doing it, I thought that was just a rite of passage. I would get into what I call my "dark cloudy day" moods, but I shrugged that off as just the blues -- it had nothing to do with my childhood victimization.
A REVELATION AFTER DEATH
The tucked-away memories surfaced with a vengeance the year I was informed that my abuser was diagnosed with leukemia. I thought I had forgiven him for what he had done, but I really had not. It triggered bouts of binge drinking and episodes where I would fly into a rage at my wife or kids at some slight or disagreement. I busted a few doors in my home with my fist.
It was then that I confided to my wife, about 16 years after we wed, what had taken place as a child. She made the connection between the abuse and my behavior. Concerned about my drinking, she told my late stepfather about my abuse. He broke down and cried. But he agreed that the disclosure would break my mother's heart.
My abuser died from his illness at age 48. I made it a point not to attend the wake or the funeral. My family was puzzled by my absence. Now they realize why. I waited until his mother, an aunt I cared for very deeply, died two years ago.
I told my mother the same day I also broke the news to her that I was diagnosed with an incurable but treatable cancer. She's a strong woman. She took it well. She responded that she would have contacted police had she been told sooner. I doubt that, but I appreciated her words.
COURAGE AND SOLACE FROM OTHERS
Another barrier for me, beyond self-inflicted shame and guilt, is that this subject is super taboo in the Latino culture. But in telling the stories of other child victims through my columns over the years, I've learned that there is nothing more macho than having the courage to come forward. And there is nothing more important than having a trusted confidante. That would be my wife, who has been my therapist, consoler, adviser and shoulder to lean on, the one who has unfairly borne the brunt of the negative effects this abuse has had on me over the years. I would have left me years ago.
Then there are the fellow survivors, whose courage also gave me the motivation to tell you what I'm telling you now. There's the 16-year-old Bloomington girl I wrote about 21 years ago, the one who stood before a packed courtroom, confronted her abuser, and then insisted, with her father's blessing, that I identify her by name in my column. There are the numerous prostituted females who shared their stories of sexual abuse at home and how they sought to find love and affection through the men who pimped them out. And then there's Al Chesley, the former NFL player and fellow childhood sex-abuse survivor who came here this past week to testify in favor of a bill to eliminate civil statutes of limitations for child sex-abuse victims.
I embrace and celebrate now that little abused boy who will always live inside me. I'm not ashamed of him anymore. He is no longer dumb or stupid. I thank him for helping me to be nobody's fool, to develop a healthy skepticism about human nature that has served me well in my chosen profession, and to be more empathetic and passionate about this and other issues and the plight of others.
As Chesley so eloquently put it last week: "I nurture him now. I give him a lot of love. I'm good to him today."
Ruben Rosario can be reached at 651-228-5454 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @nycrican.
No victims here: Abuse survivors go public so others will seek help, too
by Sylvia Ulloa
Suki Burciaga describes herself as tough and stubborn. The 41-year-old is the patient care manager at Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation El Paso. She's a single mother of two who put herself through college and put her son through Catholic school.
"No one can believe me when I tell them what happened to me," Burciaga says. "I'm so strong-willed, nothing can hurt me. This is why. Because I've been through everything."
"Everything" means the time her head as bashed against concrete, the time she went into premature labor with her first child two days after a beating, the first time she was ever slapped in the face - right on the front lawn of her high school as a teenager.
But Burciaga doesn't define herself as a victim. She calls herself a survivor, and she wants to help other women become survivors.
She is one of seven "Women of Hope" whom the Center Against Family Violence has asked to tell their stories - stories of overcoming domestic violence and sexual assault - as part of the agency's third annual Lend Us Your Ears fundraiser March 14 at Ardovino's Desert Crossing.
The women have all donated jewelry, and their stories will be highlighted in the evening of cocktails, food and jewelry shopping, which benefits the CAFV's Emergency Shelter for Domestic Violence Survivors. CAFV is an El Paso advocacy group that runs the shelter, a transitional living center, a battering intervention and prevention program, and youth and sexual assault services.
"These are women in our community who are successful, but who are themselves survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault," said Stephanie Karr, executive director of the center. "I approached each woman individually. These were all women I knew personally. And every single woman I approached did not need persuading."
The women come from many walks of life: One is a master sergeant in the Army, another a police lieutenant; several have master's degrees. All share traits such as strength, determination and success - and a commitment to help other people walk away from abuse or to heal from violence. Most have volunteered with CAFV or other victims' rights groups.
Stephanie Schulte, 48, is the ICU charge nurse at Sierra Medical Center. For several years she worked in the emergency room with victims of rape. There was a reason she could empathize. When she was 212 years old, she was abducted from a parking lot at gunpoint, held for more than 1Â hours, raped, robbed, then let out of her own car in the middle of the desert.
"I suffered through 10 years of PTSD, and once I started getting help and once I started talking about it, I started to get really pissed off," Schulte says.
She told herself: "It was nothing I did, but I'm the one who was suffering for it."
After many years of suffering in silence, of refusing to talk about it, she realized that talking could be part of the healing process. Even 27 years later, "I'm still in the healing process."
It's why she tells her story to victims and advocates, and also why she is sharing it through Women of Hope. Schulte says breaking that silence is one way to release victims from a sense of shame and to change what she calls "a rape culture."
A 2011 study from the University of Texas at Austin found that one in three adult Texans - a total of 5,353,434 people - have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. More than 3 million women and 2 million men (37.7 percent of Texas women, 26.8 percent of Texas men) have experienced at least one type of abuse over the course of their life - physical violence or sexual violence, or both.
The most frequent types of abuse reported by women were threats of physical harm, being slammed against something, and being choked, strangled or suffocated. Men reported being hit with a fist or something hard, threats of physical harm, and being kicked.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said 18,088 incidents of sexual assault were reported in 2011, the most recent figures available. About 44 percent of the perpetrators were spouses or family members, 29 percent were friends or acquaintances, and about 10 percent were strangers.
Those kinds of numbers are what the Center Against Family Violence is fighting against. In addition to helping people escape from violence, it wants to help change the conversation. Both Karr and Cesar Campa, community relations director at CAFV, say the culture of domestic violence hasn't changed much. What has changed is that women are more empowered and speaking up, technology has made stalking and intimidation easier, and there is more realization that men can also be victims. The group's emergency shelter helps about 300 people a year, and at least 10 of those residents are men or fathers with their children, Campa says.
"The movement itself is really looking at bringing men into the discussion. It's important to look into the culture. What can we do as men to keep women safe," Campa says.
While it is more uncommon for men to be abused, those men are even less willing to talk. "There's a sense that they have to do it on their own or deal with it themselves."
Part of what makes doing this work on the Borderland different is the predominantly Hispanic population - and that doesn't mean the culture of machismo, Campa says.
"It's important to recognize that because we are a heavily Latino area that we don't experience it in any higher rate. But it does affect the way we deal with it," he says.
Advocates have to approach domestic violence and sexual assault in a culturally sensitive way.
"Latinos have their own specific views on the family," Campa says. "That you have to deal with it within the family, you don't talk to people outside, you don't talk to counselors."
Burciaga agrees that her upbringing in a traditional, Catholic, Mexican-American family affected how she dealt with her situation.
She said she had no experience with domestic violence: Her parents have been happily married for 55 years, and her father never laid a hand on her mother. But she was the youngest of four children with much-older siblings, some out of the house, and her parents spoke only Spanish, so they weren't very involved at school.
When someone paid her exclusive attention - in this case, her high school boyfriend - "He was everything to me." When he began to abuse her, she felt ashamed and didn't really have anyone to turn to. And when she became pregnant as a young woman, she felt pressure from her traditional parents to marry the man who only she knew was her abuser.
The "keep it hush-hush" attitude is something Burciaga says is still prevalent in the Mexican-American community. Only last month did she tell her older brother about what happened to her in her first marriage, and that was because she was planning to go public about her experiences.
When her father overheard her talking to her brother, "he told me, 'How come you never told me? If I would have known, I would have killed him.' See? 'That's why I didn't tell you.' "
In the end, what gave Burciaga the strength to walk away from the abuse was her son, Jacob - her fear of his growing up in a violent household and what would happen to him if her husband killed her. Since then, she has raised her son, and her daughter, Andrea, from her second marriage, with the help and support of her family. Jacob is now a pre-med student. "I'm so glad I walked away from it. If I hadn't, I don't think he would have these opportunities."
Since 2011, Burciaga has been involved with the Center Against Family Violence. She recently held a fund-raising garage sale and has collected toiletries and supplies for the women at the shelter. And when CAFV approached her about the Women of Hope project, she was glad to speak up. "I hope I can make a difference in someone's life," she says. "Especially a teenager, since that's when it happened to me."
Making a difference is something that Schulte, the ICU nurse, has made a guiding force in her life. In 2010, Gov. Rick Perry appointed her to the Crime Victims' Institute Advisory Council. She's also president-elect of the board of directors of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, a statewide agency organization committed to ending sexual violence in Texas. When she talks to groups about her abduction and rape, people come up to her and tell her about their own experiences.
"If we don't get people talking about it, how are we going to change the culture?" she says. "I want people to know it happens. I think we have to have a cultural change.
"I also live by the words John Kennedy said: 'One person can make a difference, and every person should try.' I'll go to my death trying to make a difference. Whether it's helping one person or changing laws. That's the person I try to be."
Sylvia Ulloa may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Britain suffers worst rate of child abuse cases: probe
- What: Lend Us Your Ear, an evening of cocktails, food and jewelry shopping with proceeds benefiting the Center Against Family Violence's Emergency Shelter for Domestic Violence Survivors.
- When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. March 14.
- Where: Ardovino's Desert Crossing, 1 Ardovino Drive in Sunland Park.
- Cost: $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Sponsorships from $500 to $5,000 are available.
- Information: cafv.org/events/lendusyourear, where you can buy tickets online.
A new shocking investigation revealed that more than 400 children are sexually abused every week in Britain, one every 20 minutes.
According to data collected for 2011 as part of the probe, the 43 police forces in England and Wales recorded 23,097 child sex offences in 2011, including rape, incest, child prostitution and pornography.
The annual figure is equivalent to 444 attacks a week - or one kiddie abused every 20 minutes, the probe found.
This is while that of all these recorded crimes only 2,135 of those reported - ten percent - led to someone actually being convicted and sentenced. It means that thousands of child abusers escape scot-free.
Thames Valley Police, covering Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, had the second highest child abuse figures, with 1,264 offences, according to the nationwide study.
Last month, the police force smashed an alleged child sex ring in the university city of Oxford. It is claimed 24 victims - some as young as 11 - were groomed, drugged and raped over a period of six years.
More than 1,470 of the national total were aged five and under, 4,973 were ten to five and 14,819 were between 11 and 17. Six times as many girls (19,790) were abused as boys (3,218), authorities said.
They also revealed that one percent of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse by a parent or carer, and a further 3 percent by another relative during childhood.
Based on the unveiled statistics, 11 percent of children aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse during childhood by people known but unrelated to them, while, 5 percent aged under 16 experienced sexual abuse during childhood by an adult stranger or someone they had just met.
The majority of children who experienced sexual abuse had more than one sexually abusive experience; only indecent exposure was likely to be a single incident. More than one third (36 percent) of all rapes recorded by the police are committed against children under 16 years of age.
A separate study which examined police data on rapes committed against children found that children under the age of 12 were the most likely of all those aged 16 and under to have reported being raped by someone they knew well.
Children under the age of 12 were least likely to have been raped by a stranger. Children between 13 and 15 years of age were the most likely to have reported being raped by an ‘acquaintance.
This comes as almost half of all sex offenders were spared jail in 2011. And lenient judges let 2,497 - or 43 percent - of the 5,784 convicted walk free from court.
Recent figures show the number of sex criminals allowed straight back into the community has increased by 20 percent over the past five years. Separate figures showed sex assaults on boys and girls under 13 have more than doubled since 2004.
Sex and labor trafficking in the U.S. -- Q & A on the 21st century slave trade
by Linda Ocasio
It's a shocking fact to contemplate in the 21st century: There are more people in slavery worldwide today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
That point comes from Polaris, a nonprofit organization with offices in Washington and Newark. It is devoted to strengthening the framework of laws to better support survivors and prosecute traffickers, and to providing victims safe passage to freedom and normal lives.
Trafficking networks have been expert at evading laws here and abroad. Last week, the state announced arrests in a human trafficking and diamond smuggling operation that stretched from Manhattan and Atlantic City to Las Vegas and beyond. Women were ensnared in a prostitution ring they could not escape. State Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said the victims were “degraded, threatened and isolated from any support in their lives.” It is the modus operandi of trafficking.
Polaris rates the states on the statutes they have in place to effectively prevent and prosecute human trafficking. New Jersey rates 6 out of 12 possible points — in the middle of the pack — and a new bill is pending in the Legislature. The state has sex and labor trafficking laws and penalties, including asset forfeiture, but still needs to allow victims to have removed or “vacated” convictions that occurred as a result of being trafficked, among other things. Law enforcement officials, in many cases, mistake trafficking victims for criminals who have been willing accomplices. More training is also needed to help police recognize a trafficking victim.
Congress last week passed a bill reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act. The trafficking reauthorization allocates $130 million to prosecute traffickers and provide recovery assistance to victims, including housing and legal services.
Star-Ledger editorial writer Linda Ocasio spoke with Mary Ellison, director of policy for Polaris Project, about what we know and don't know about human trafficking.
What do people misunderstand about human trafficking?
The biggest misunderstanding is that it only happens somewhere else, not on U.S. soil. Not true. Modern-day slavery happens right here, in the most free and democratic country in the world. People think victims are complicit in their own exploitation. With sex trafficking, people think that “they're just prostitutes.”
All sex trafficking victims have been forced, defrauded or coerced. A child cannot consent to his own sexual exploitation. With foreign nationals, people think they're essentially illegal immigrants who have been smuggled in because they wanted to be. That's not the case. They have been forced against their will to work here, and that is clearly a violation of U.S. and international law.
Many people think mostly of sex crimes when they hear about trafficking.
We have found all the calls to our hotline were evenly divided between sex trafficking and labor exploitation or trafficking, people forced to labor against their will for little or no pay.
The seeds of what becomes trafficking in labor can be seen in violations of health and safety laws, wage and hour violations, and discrimination — factors that ripen into a labor trafficking situation.
In what kinds of jobs do you see labor trafficking?
We see it in farm work, construction, restaurants and other jobs in the hospitality industry. Peddling or begging rings especially exploit youth. Most calls we get in the labor trafficking arena are in domestic servitude. Women are forced to work cleaning homes, taking care of children. They're completely unseen, isolated.
There was a case in upstate New York of a wealthy family with a large mansion who for five years enslaved a woman for something like 85 cents an hour. Her family member found our national hotline number, and we got law enforcement involved and they freed her. Now the employers are being prosecuted.
Many people wonder: Why don't they just walk away?
The reason they don't is they are severely traumatized, brainwashed by traffickers into thinking they have no dignity. They are told they will be beaten up, killed or their family harmed. They are completely at the mercy of their captor. These are not physical chains, but chains of the mind. Imagine being tortured and trying to leave that situation. They're similar to torture survivors.
How can we recognize when someone has been trafficked? What are the signs?
There are several signs: Is there someone apparently controlled by someone else? Do they have control over their own money or identification documents? Are restaurant workers not allowed to leave the premises, sleeping in the back room of the restaurant? They could be working against their will. Can you see high security measures on a building where someone lives or works? Things like opaque windows, boarded-up windows, barbed wire or security cameras. Of course, any time you see a child in prostitution, working on the streets or posted online for sale, that is an immediate red flag.
Other signs: If it seems a person is not free to come and go, working excessively long hours, and seems anxious and tense, avoiding eye contact, and not willing to talk normally. Often domestic servants have their documents taken, so they have no passport or ID, and often they are not in touch with their families back home. They are socially isolated.
Not everyone can be expert on who the victims are, but sometimes it comes down to using your gut: “I have a bad feeling this person is in a human-trafficking situation.” Call the hotline and let us walk you through it. We have resources to follow up.
How widespread is trafficking?
The International Labor Organization estimates 20.9 million victims globally, with hundreds of thousands here in the United States.
Since we began operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in 2007, we've identified more than 8,000 victims in the U.S., based on almost 70,000 calls we've received. We believe this is just a fraction of the people victimized. Last year, we received reports of human trafficking in every state in the U.S. We're actively working to increase awareness of the hotline number around the country and online so that more people know there is a place to call to get help and information.
We still have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to victims in the United States. We want to err on the side of “I think this person might be in trouble,” and give people the safety net they need.
How is law enforcement trained to recognize victims?
Training of police and social service agencies is going on around the country. We partner with groups that provide training and we provide materials ourselves. There is no national training program because each state has different laws on trafficking.
Why aren't we all on the same page?
There's only been 10 years of development of these laws on the state level. The American Bar Association asked the uniform law commission to come up with a uniform state statute on trafficking, and that is expected to come out this year.
Without uniformity it's hard to deter traffickers. If punishment in one state is five years and elsewhere it's 10, they might go to the state with five years. Also, there's a lack of consistency in protecting victims. One state might have services for victims but another state might not have anything.
Which states have been ahead on this?
Washington and Texas were the first to have anti-trafficking laws, in 2003, followed by Missouri and Florida. Minnesota and Massachusetts use the law to prosecute, so we have more cases coming out of those states.
The biggest challenge over the next decade will be all about using the laws, not just on paper, but holding traffickers accountable.
Traffickers are very adaptable, sadly, and know how to evade detection. They know how to move their product, and their product is human beings. They know how to shelter their revenue. Oftentimes they are putting profits into luxury vehicles, mansions, property or in the name of someone else, mom or grandma. We've had cases where lawyers sued in a civil action and recovered thousands of dollars that go to victims, if an asset forfeiture law is in place. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human traffickers make $32 billion a year, but that number is probably low. It's up there with arms and drug trafficking.
Is there one country where traffickers come from?
No. Traffickers come from every nationality, gender. Some traffickers are women. We've seen situations in the U.S. where an aunt, mom or grandmother has trafficked a daughter, granddaughter or niece, for both sex and labor.
Anytime you have a natural disaster, war or internal conflict, all contribute to trafficking. Haiti had an earthquake a couple of years ago and that created vulnerability. People were living on the street. India is a major concern for both sex and labor trafficking. We do get a lot of calls about Mexico, the Philippines, China, India and Thailand. But we've also had calls involving 54 other nationalities. And of course, traffickers can be U.S. citizens as well.
You would think meeting with victims would make you sadder, but I am constantly amazed at the resilience of human trafficking survivors. They've experienced the most evil humans are capable of, but because of their resilience, they're able to move on and they want to help others. That is so hopeful. If we can help people get out of their enslavement, there is hope.
By the numbers
The numbers bear out how big a problem human trafficking is worldwide. Polaris compiled these statistics from 2007 government data and nonprofit research. Experts say the situation is likely worse today.
20.9 million – People in modern day slavery across the world.
2 million – Children exploited by the global commercial sex trade, every year.
800,000 – People trafficked across international borders every year.
$32 billion – Total yearly profits generated by the human trafficking industry.
Sources: Polaris, U.S. State Department, International Labour Organization
Sex Traffickers Could Be Added to Sex Offender Registry
by Bruce Ferrell
(RALEIGH) -- Sex trafficking could join the list of offenses that are included on the sex offender registry. Legislation that is headed to the Senate floor would require anyone convicted of kidnapping for the purpose of sexual slavery to join the list.
Senator Thom Goolsby of New Hanover County explains why the public should have that information
“When they are on the registry they are reported to the counties in which they live, their neighbors will know who they are. They'll have to wear ankle bracelets and monitoring. It will put a crimp in their ability to traffic in sex.”
Some legislators were concerned that the measure might apply to people who were convicted of crimes that aren't sex offenses.
Child sex trafficking: Innocence lost in 90 seconds
by LINDA D'AQUILA
Perhaps Heather (a pseudonym) slipped through the cracks in the foster care system. Maybe she was a runaway, or a girl struggling with identity and self-esteem issues. Maybe she was just trying to escape from a home where domestic violence, drug use or sexual abuse finally became too much to bear.
They met her at the bus station and were kind. Offering shelter, understanding and sympathy, they loved her and would take care of her. In return, she trusted and loved them.
Then something changed. They used her trust and love to manipulate her. Alcohol, drugs and beatings were a few of the tools they used to force her into prostitution. Her "quota" was $300 a night. To reach her nightly quota she would have to endure 10 to 30 sexual encounters. If she didn't make her quota, she would be beaten unmercifully as "a lesson to the other girls."
She was only 13.
Florida is blessed to be a destination state. Theme park family vacations, business conferences, weddings, sporting events and the natural beauty of our beaches entice thousands of visitors a day. Unfortunately, Florida also draws visitors for a far less attractive reason: child sex trafficking. Our beautiful state is ranked third in the nation, just behind California and Texas, for this dubious honor.
Early on a recent morning the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women (COSW) hosted a forum. The topic: the sex trafficking of minors. Survivors, advocates, law enforcement, faith-based organizations and community leaders met to share experiences and expertise and to develop community-based solutions to the crime of child sex trafficking.
Acting as community liaison in bringing together like-minded individuals and organizations, the COSW fired the opening salvo in the fight to end this vicious crime against children in the Tampa Bay area. Together with the Fall Forum's generous sponsors — the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, Athena Society, Hillsborough County League of Women Voters, HTV, Kiwanis Club of Tampa and The University of Tampa — the COSW begs you to join in this effort.
Imagine the fear and hopelessness suffered by the children trapped in this horror. Who knew this was happening here in our hometown?
When Pam Iorio, former mayor of Tampa and interim executive director of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County; Det. James McBride, director of the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking; and Laura Hamilton, from the Clearwater Police Department and Department of Justice Human Trafficking Task Force, finished speaking, we knew the facts. We were horrified, indignant and committed to saving these children.
Education and action are the solutions. According to the FSU Center for Advancement of Human Rights, at any given moment there are 30,000 to 40,000 pre-teen and teenage runaways in Florida. They are tremendously vulnerable to exploitation by pimps or to abuses in Florida's adult entertainment industry.
Advocates note the "recruiting" of runaway or throw-away children for sexual exploitation is increasingly done on the street, at schools, in malls, online through MySpace and Facebook, and even outside juvenile courts. It takes a trafficker 90 seconds to evaluate the weaknesses of a vulnerable child.
The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children (NISMART-2) indicates that one out of three of these children will be lured and forced to prostitute within 48 hours of being on their own.
Our community must forge partnerships with the school system, the faith community and the business community in the effort to identify and reach out to children at risk. This is our community. These are our children. They need our protection.
If you suspect a child might be victimized, pick up the phone and make a call:
- National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 1-800-3737-888;
- Florida Department of Children & Families Abuse Hotline, 1-800-96Abuse;
- Department of Homeland Security, 1-866-347-2423;
- FBI Innocence Lost (202-324-3000 (national), 813-253-1000 (local);
- The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay (211)
We'll say it again. This is our community. These are our children. They need our protection. The COSW's forum was just the beginning. As a community, we must use every tool and resource available to identify, rescue and provide a safe haven for the child victims of sex trafficking.
Heather could be your daughter, son, grandchild, niece, nephew or the kid next door. Please don't turn your back.
To learn more and to find out how to become involved or to request a speaker, please contact Dotti Groover-Skipper, Community Awareness chair, Tampa Bay Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking at (813) 417-1648.
Child Sex Traffickers Target California Foster Children:
New Report Calls for State Officials to Act Immediately to Improve Protection
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Today the National Center for Youth Law released a new report, "Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: A Call for Multi-System Collaboration in California." Report author Kate Walker, an Equal Justice Works Fellow and Attorney at the Center, commented that "Every day, the unthinkable happens: thousands of America's children are coerced into performing sex for hire. Exploitation can start as young as age ten. Some exploited children are brutally beaten and raped. Others are isolated, drugged, and starved until they become "willing" participants. Yet, these children are regularly arrested and held in juvenile detention facilities even though they are victims of crime."
Worldwide, human trafficking is a $32 billion industry, involving 100,000 children in the U.S. The FBI has determined that three of the nation's thirteen High Intensity Child Prostitution areas are located in California. Studies estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) are or were formally involved with the child welfare system. "We all need to come together to reinvent the way we respond to this problem," said Patrick Gardner, President of Young Minds Advocacy Project. "This report is a first step."
Four of the report's key recommendations highlight the urgent need for:
1. Safe, secure and specialized homes for exploited children and children at risk
2. New screening tools to help professionals working with children identify both victims and children at risk
3. Special training for "child serving" professionals and systems to identify and support vulnerable individuals
4. Increased data collection and information sharing to promote collaboration across systems and raise public awareness
The report recommends that the Council create a CSEC Action Committee that would be charged with overseeing implementation of the recommendations put forth in the report.
"We know from our daily work that the level of system coordination required to address the emotional trauma, constant physical danger and coercive techniques used by traffickers does not yet exist in California," said Stacey Katz, Executive Director of WestCoast Children's Clinic, an agency that serves over 100 commercially sexually exploited children per year in Alameda County, California. Katz states, "The traffickers benefit directly from these system gaps. Until the agencies responsible for serving and protecting young people come together, we will continue to see youth who are severely traumatized and whose lives are in danger. We can do better by these youth-this is not an issue of resources. It's an issue of will."
According to Leslie Heimov, Executive Director of Children's Law Center of California, "the more we learn about child sex trafficking, the clearer it becomes that we are facing a national crisis. Without safe placements, access to highly trained therapists and other experts, we are powerless to stop the brutalization and re-victimization of the youth the child welfare system seeks to protect."
The Report will be presented at the Child Welfare Council's quarterly meeting on March 6th at the Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco. According to Gardner, who is a member of the Council, the recommendations developed for the report will be discussed at the upcoming meeting and voted on for adoption at the next meeting in June. The meeting will be open to the public.
National Center for Youth Law
Kate Walker, 510-835-8098 ext. 3050
Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow
Challenge: Julian wants to see blue forest of trees for child abuse awareness
by Phyllis Zorn
ENID, Okla. — Jodi Julian is extending a challenge to community entities throughout the county to build a Blue Ribbon Tree for Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.
Julian, Department of Human Services resource specialist for Garfield and Grant counties, hopes to see trees with blue ribbons all over Enid and see the community well-represented in the state tree registry maintained by Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
“Last year, DHS made a blue ribbon tree in the mall in an old store window,” Julian said. “This year, I wanted to do something a little different.”
She hopes to see a blue forest of trees for child abuse prevention awareness.
“Wouldn't it be cool to see blue ribbons all over the community?” Julian said.
Schools, libraries, churches, civic and community groups, child care centers, hospitals and medical facilities could lead the way in creating awareness of child abuse prevention, Julian said.
DHS officials confirmed 93 incidents of child abuse or neglect in Garfield County during 2012, and 130 children are in DHS custody in the county, Julian said.
“That's just in one county alone,” she added.
The Child Abuse Prevention Action Committee recommends blue ribbon trees be on display before April begins, or at any time during the month of April.
Trees can be registered in the official Tree Registry by sending in a registration form and no more than two photos. Tree photos received by April 3 will be featured during CAP Day at the Capitol on April 9 and in the 2013 CAP Month Scrapbook.
To make a blue ribbon tree, select a living tree or construct a tree from any material, then decorate it with blue ribbons. Ribbons on trees can represent the number of new babies born in the community, the confirmed number of abused and neglected children in the county, or something significant to the designers of the tree.
“Several people just tie blue ribbons on trees, and some people just tie the one big blue ribbon around the tree trunk — I've seen that, too,” Julian said.
If people are shown in the tree photo sent for the registry, signed photo releases for each person shown must accompany the registration.
Information and a registration form is available online at ok.gov/health/Child_and_Family_Health/Family_Support_and_Prevention_Service
Pilot Anti-Child Abuse Program
A local agency has been selected to be one of the first sites in New York to kick off a new anti-child sex abuse campaign.
The Crime Victims Assistance Center in Binghamton will use the "Enough Abuse" program to educate parents about how to detect and prevent child sex abuse. Center employees say over 300 cases of child sex abuse in Broome County are reported to them each year.
"It's just a horrible thing to have a child go through something like that. I'm hoping with more communication about the subject and more awareness and people talking about it-- that even if it does happen, we can respond quicker. But certainly prevention is our goal," said Raini Baudendistel of Crime Victims Assistance Center.
The center will the carry out the campaign by partnering with other agencies through the Broome County Family Violence Prevention Council.
‘Star Child' necklace to shine spotlight on child abuse
by Joseph Vasquez
Jewelry designer Sir Zoltan David will unveil a star with a story at the CASAblanca Gala and Benefit Auction on March 2 at Hyatt Regency in Austin.
The unique Star Child piece, valued at $18,000, features a pendant made with palladium, 24-karat gold with a collection of rare diamonds surrounding a perfect pearl on high-end stainless steel and gold plated strings.
Inspired by the Nativity Star depicted in the New Testament as a sign that led the three wise men to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, David created the sparkling masterpiece to embody the mission of CASA Travis as advocates of defenseless children.
The jewelry piece will be the highlight of the CASAblanca auction, organizers said.
“The Star Child is truly a special piece for me,” said David, who has a Hill Country Galleria store. “It took a few months for the entire piece to come together. I'm proud of the final outcome and the message it conveys.”
Volunteers at Court Appointed Special Advocates of Travis County volunteers speak in the court system on behalf of abused or neglected children.
Rhonda Chandler, a five-year CASA volunteer and gala chairwoman who is a friend of David, suggested the idea for a special jewelry piece.
Chandler, who is a victim of child abuse, explained that his contribution to CASA will make a huge difference in the lives of the most vulnerable among society.
“I was abused as a child, and no one was there to protect me,” Chandler shared. “God put it in my heart to protect children. I did not know when or how this would happen, but then I found CASA, and now I'm able to protect children.”
She said the agency's mission ties in perfectly with her goals to help children.
“CASA is an amazing supportive and encouraging partner,” Chandler said. “They have never failed to come up alongside me to help me do what I need to do for the kids.”
The gala also will feature a gourmet dinner, casino gaming tables and a wine pull. The black-tie affair will honor the Topfer Family Foundation. Tickets are available for $200 per person and may be purchased online at casatravis.org/events/casablanca.
Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse Absent From Debate on New Pope
The Washington Post News Service
The last time a pope was picked, Ann Hagan Webb was one of the best-known faces of the demand for church reform. After surviving sexual abuse for years by her childhood priest, the Massachusetts therapist's life in the mid-2000s was consumed by rallying at parishes around New England and tracking priest court cases.
Today, as cardinals gather in Rome to select the next pope, the 60-year-old catches updates on the news — and feels ambivalent even about that. "I shouldn't watch, but I do."
Webb now limits her activism to working with clients — some Catholic, some not — who suffered child sexual abuse. Her choice is emblematic of a community of survivors who have largely given up on changing the church.
"I went from trying to change the church to accepting the fact that they won't [change], and anyone that's still in the church has blinders on," she said this week. "At this point, my opinion is they are corrupt to the core and there's not a single cardinal we can find who would be a good pope because there's no such animal."
Ten years after the abuse scandal exploded, creating a passionate reform movement, the U.S. victims behind it have largely turned their attention away from trying to reform the Catholic Church. Survivors who picketed cathedrals and priest court appearances or launched write-in campaigns in 2005, the last time a pope was picked, say they have grown discouraged by a perceived lack of tough punishment and exhausted by the emotional toll the subject takes on them. Their efforts have shifted to changing civil laws or to general support for abuse survivors within and outside Catholicism. Or, in some cases, to simply functioning.
This shift is happening as the topic of clergy sex abuse — once U.S.-centered — is bursting into the open in countries around the world and taking center stage in the conversation about Benedict XVI's successor. The senior cardinal in Britain, Keith O'Brien of Scotland, resigned earlier this week — less than two days after allegations surfaced that he had had inappropriate contact with three priests and a former seminarian.
Many of the groups that appeared during the early and mid-2000s have shrunk or disappeared, and even groups whose purpose remains church reform are debating what that means: Holding individual clergy accountable? Focusing on more dramatic structural changes such as electing bishops and allowing priests to marry?
Bill Casey, a longtime national leader of the Massachusetts-based Voice of the Faithful, once one of the leading reform groups dealing with survivors' concerns, said the energy level "has diminished quite a bit.''
"There has been a broad diminishment of expectations that these efforts will prove anything in our lifetime," Casey said. Attendance at group events has plummeted, as have donations, he said. "The average age is gray-haired folks. And they're 10 years grayer."
Survivors have criticized the group because "it has had an interest in working within the structure," Casey said. "Many people say, 'You're just dreaming; it's a lost cause.' "
Terry McKiernan, head of the largest research database on clergy and abuse, said of the survivor community: "For a lot of people, it's not a community anymore. . . . I think a lot of people who were involved in the early days, they've run out of steam."
Survivors who are confronting the topic now face a very different culture than even a decade ago, when victims were accused of lying and scandals in other places such as Penn State and the Boy Scouts hadn't surfaced. Fixing religious institutions isn't as central to a society that has less faith in them.
And the epicenter of the crisis has moved from scandal-hit dioceses such as Boston, Philadelphia and Houston to places like Ireland, Germany and Australia. Some think that will pump energy into the movement and help yet-unknown victims, while others fear that some of those nations have limitations in dealing with the issue.
"I've never heard someone say: 'Wow, I wish I'd been abused in Argentina or Ghana or India because there's such a vibrant civil justice system there,' " said David Clohessy, executive director of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, the world's largest support group for survivors of clergy sex abuse, with thousands of members. SNAP will hold its first world conference in April in Dublin. "I'm not saying we're perfect, but we have our things going for us."
Each survivor grapples the trauma in his or her own way. Many can't set foot in a church, and even hearing a rush of news about Rome triggers waves of traumatic memories. Others still worship at Catholic parishes and send their children to Catholic schools — even as they describe obsessively keeping adults from being alone with them. Even many who say they have zero expectation for institutional reform often admit, as they talk, that they can't completely extinguish their concern about the church.
Richard Jangula, a carpenter from Bismarck, N.D., who was raped by a priest as a teenager, attended church and sent his three children to Catholic school even as he kept the crime a secret and was hospitalized twice for related breakdowns. It was only after his parents died and he went public about four years ago that he felt dismissed by the church's response and stopped attending.
Now on Sundays, the 55-year-old grandfather watches church on television. He remains close with a priest friend and prays. "Oh yeah, I pray, every hour."
At the time of the last conclave, "I thought if I went public, the church would help me, would say: 'We did Richard wrong.' Now I don't think the next pope will be any different. Do I hope so? God, you have no idea how much I hope so. I know this sounds dumb, but I'll always love my church because my church is what made me. It gave me — how should I say? — a foundation. That foundation was cracked, but that doesn't mean it's broke."
In 2005, David Lorenz, a 54-year-old NASA engineer and survivor who lives in Bowie, Md., participated in a write-in campaign to the Archdiocese of Washington to remind then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick to focus on helping abuse victims. He says he had a couple meetings at the archdiocesan offices, but Lorenz gave up on reform after a church official told him "not to come back until I was sacramentally healed." Now he leads a small, monthly group of survivors and focuses on that.
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese declined to comment.
For years, Lorenz said he felt the church needed to change but that "nothing was severely wrong. There was more good than bad. Then people started getting hurt."
"In 2005 I thought there might be some change. Now I'm hopeless." Four years ago he left his parish, and now he worships with a breakaway independent group. His wife has become active in ending celibacy. With the church in the news, Lorenz said five survivors called just this week for the first time, seeking help.
Gary Bergeron represents a different point of view. The Massachusetts antique dealer dealt with his anger — over being abused by a priest who abused dozens of other boys — by becoming convinced that transparency can happen only in conversation with the church. He has met with the last two popes, founded an international group for survivors and sees hope in the fast resignation of O'Brien and the recent admonishment of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony by his successor. Mahony protected priests accused of sexually abusing minors, recently released documents show.
"I think most of the groups have fallen by the wayside because it's a long road to walk, it's very tiring, and the public tunes out," he said. "But right now is another perfect storm for us to again raise the level of awareness of child abuse. Ten years later, survivors have been able to open the door on a topic that's been closed since the beginning of time."
Even SNAP, the survivors' group, had no events scheduled related to the conclave until Monday, when two SNAP leaders made a last-minute decision to fly to Rome to protest.
"Regardless of what church officials do or don't do," Clohessy wrote in an email from Rome, "we've always felt duty-bound to reach out to survivors who are suffering in silence, and one way we do that is by speaking out at key moments. . . . We're not confident [about] changing the church, but one never knows."
U.S. Sex trafficking victims are mostly American kids
by Elizabeth Aguilera
Human-trafficking cases filed in San Diego federal court have jumped more than 600 percent in the past five years as the victimization of children and adults for sex or labor has gained a bigger spotlight, law-enforcement officials said Friday at a regional conference on the topic.
One of those cases began when a San Diego teenager found a job as a bookkeeper for a small, home-based business. The position quickly turned into a nine-month nightmare of beatings and sexual slavery. Within weeks, the employer revealed himself as a pimp, beat the teen and set a $1,200 daily quota for her prostitution. The victim was 17 at the time.
On Friday, she shared her story at the American Bar Association's daylong conference at the University of San Diego. The pimp was arrested as part of a law-enforcement investigation, and he is serving 30 years in prison.
The survivor, now 20, asked not to be named for this story. But she decided to speak at the event because “how else are people going to know what is happening here in our community?” More than 175 attorneys, advocates, educators and doctors attended her session and others.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said the huge increase in federal prosecutions — from a couple five years ago to dozens now — is expected to rise further as special units in her office, local and federal law-enforcement agencies, nongovernmental groups and educators focus on trafficking.
Nationally, the Department of Justice has seen its number of trafficking cases increase 30 percent in the past three years, she said.
Paralleling the growth in enforcement has been the rising amount of money spent on creating public awareness of the crime and helping victims. The combined efforts are aimed at curtailing what has become the second-most lucrative criminal endeavor in the world.
Friday's conference, the first of its kind in San Diego County, is evidence of the greater attention paid to the issue in the past year. Grassroots campaigns against human trafficking received a significant boost with President Barack Obama's speech in September and his executive order requiring stricter hiring guidelines, increased training and other efforts.
Experts said there is actually more labor trafficking in the United States than sex trafficking, but that it is harder to prosecute because victims are mostly migrant men who are reluctant to report the abuse. Sex-trafficking victims, usually thought to be foreign, are predominantly U.S. girls.
“Human trafficking is not isolated to third world countries. It's prevalent all across the globe, it's prevalent in our own borders,” Duffy said. “All ages and all ethnicities are being victimized.”
Americans make up 72 percent of human-trafficking victims, according to a report released last year by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Duffy said the victims have gotten younger in recent years; the typical age of a new victim is now 12 to 14.
The affected children are not all runaways or kids from broken homes. Gangs have moved into the trafficking business because they see the selling of girls as a recyclable, highly lucrative and low-risk product.
Teenagers — mostly girls — are recruited by classmates, pimps and boyfriends who may be gang members with promises of love, glamour and money. Once in the grip of a gang, the victims are often branded, beaten and humiliated to maintain control over them, as prosecutors revealed last year in the take-down of an Oceanside gang prostitution ring that landed dozens of men in jail.
Human trafficking also has changed with the use of technology to recruit and advertise, said Travis Le Blanc, special assistant attorney general of California.
Traffickers seek vulnerable girls and boys by trolling the Internet, especially Facebook, looking for kids who appear bored, sad, lonely or neglected. They cruise malls during school hours to chat up youngsters who did not go to class and lurk around homes for foster children, centers for at-risk children and classrooms with special-needs students.
“It's all lifestyles, we've seen it in all facets,” said George Crysler, a deputy sheriff who is part of the North County Human Trafficking Task Force.
Foster children are most at risk but it can happen to anyone, said Sharon Cooper, an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Medical School.
“Traffickers are very, very wily in the way they locate victims,” said Cooper, who was a speaker at the conference.
Parents and other guardians often do not know what is going on until it is too late. Their teen has become isolated and angry, has skipped school, has been staying away all night and has possibly threatened to run away, Cooper said. She encouraged parents to call the National Missing and Exploited Children's hotline if their child runs away.
Because sex trafficking often involves minors, educators are critical partners for law enforcement, social-service organizations and nonprofit groups working on trafficking issues, said Jeneé Littrell, vice principal at Chaparral High School in the Grossmont Union High School District. In the education field, she is a pioneer in addressing commercial sex exploitation of children and is developing a guide for the U.S. Department of Education that can be rolled out to school districts nationwide.
“I can't think of a school district in San Diego that has not been touched by this, including some of the private and elite schools,” she said. “Schools have to be ahead of the curve.”
Littrell said Grossmont Union has been proactive on the issue and has tracked numerous student victims — who have experienced anything from one coerced sexual interaction to ongoing trafficking — and worked to “wrap them” in support services. The district has created an infrastructure that includes a partnership with local law enforcement, social-service agencies and nongovernmental groups.
The district also works to prevent or detect the grooming or luring of teens for sex trafficking by giving training on the issue to all of its employees, Littrell said.
Utah spends approximately $153 million for child abuse investigations
The Utah Division of Child and Family Services spent approximately $153.2 million during its 2012 fiscal year to investigate 18,831 child abuse complaints, 35 percent of which were found to be supported cases.
The division, which falls under the state's Department of Human Services, releases an annual report breaking down the number of Child Protective Services cases investigated, the percent of allegation types for supported cases, the victims and perpetrators by age and gender, and the percent of supported victims who do not experience repeat maltreatment.
Its most recent report shows the number of child abuse cases is decreasing. Since fiscal year 2009, the number of cases investigated has decreased by 9.6 percent.
Of the18,831cases investigated, Washington County had 181 cases and Iron County had 425 cases. Of those cases, 43 percent of Iron County cases (approximately 183) and 42 percent of Washington County case (approximately 76) were supported by the division.
Navina Forsythe, the director of information systems, evaluation and research for the division, said the decline in fiscal years 2011and 2012 is partially attributed to a change in the state's statute regarding domestic violence related child abuse cases.
“The definition used to be broader,” Forsythe said. “That statute required a rule change that narrowed the scope of when we get involved in child abuse cases.”
According to the annual report, allegations for child abuse cases included medical neglect, non-supervision, deprivation of needs, psychological abuse, child endangerment, physical abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence. The top three cases investigated in both Washington and Iron counties are physical abuse, sexual abuse and child endangerment.
“Child endangerment has been increasing, and that's been related to substance abuse,” Forsythe said. “Physical abuse and sexual abuse are the larger percentages, and those have remained pretty consistent.”
The majority of victims in both counties were female while the majority of of perpetrators were male, according to the report. The majority of perpetrators were between 18 and 30 years old, and the majority of victims were between 5 or younger. In addition, 1,987 children entered foster care after being abused, and 62 percent of these cases reported that substance abuse was a factor.
Cosette Mills, the federal revenue manager for the division, said most of the costs for CPS goes toward its staff and investigative costs.
“For Child Protective Services last year it was about $14.3 million total, and that's rounded up a little bit,” Mills said. “It's the cost associated with doing the investigations and the cost of maintaining data, so it's really a comprehensive cost related to child abuse relations.”
The money, which is acquired through state and federal funding, breaks down into approximately $760 per investigation.
“The most expensive thing is if the parent has no way to keep a child safely in their home and are taken into foster care,” Mills said. “When a child is in our care, the court basically says we have to take care of the child like we're the parent. If they're placed with a foster family, we will pay the foster family.”
The division is one of many that would be affected if sequestration occurs.
“Probably a third of funding is federal,” Mills said. “For the most part, the percentage cuts are not huge, and it will have some impact, but not a serious impact. It would be a lot of money, but the initial estimates we had for some of our federal programs would be about an 8 percent cut.”
To stop child deaths and abuse, 8 common-sense reforms for DCFS
by David Green and Blanca Gomez
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services has been under much scrutiny lately, following a series of highly publicized child deaths, a disgusting case of child abuse in Palmdale and, more recently, the publication of a scathing internal report, which The Times wrote about in the Feb. 14 article, “ Report excoriates L.A. County agency in child deaths, torture.”
Contrary to what some people believe, front-line social workers -- the men and women who struggle every day to keep children safe and families whole -- have long been calling for departmental reforms. Our suggestions, which follow, are common sense. And they could make all the difference in improving the lives of thousands of children.
• Lighten the load. Social workers in L.A. County are drowning in cases. A report conducted by the California Department of Social Services concluded that social workers should have no more than 14 cases at any given time. Almost all L.A. County social workers regularly juggle more than twice that number.
• Hire more social workers. To reduce caseloads to safe levels, DCFS Director Philip Browning asked the Board of Supervisors to hire 1,400 new social workers. Instead, the board authorized hiring 100 -- fewer than typically hired before Browning's request.
• End the “culture of fear.” There's a vicious cycle at the DCFS: A newspaper article critical of DCFS runs; top administrators react by layering on dozens of new policies and procedures with no explanation or training; social workers who run afoul of these byzantine rules are brought up on disciplinary charges. This is no way to run any organization.
• Implement education-based discipline. Instead of using the disciplinary system to shift blame and cover up problems, front-line workers want the department to invest in training so they can avoid mistakes and become better social workers.
• Get workers out from behind their desks. Just 22% of the DCFS's 7,000 workers provide direct services to clients. The remainder manage the bales of paperwork dictated by federal and state law, funding requirements, court decrees and the department's own ballooning policy mandates. We must simplify the rulebook and get workers at all levels back into the field, where they can protect children.
• Make policymakers do casework. It's time top managers and policymakers at the DCFS spent some time on the front lines. There are more than 20 administrators in the DCFS's Office of Strategic Management. Few, if any, ever see a client, work a case or meet a child served by the agency. Every executive at the DCFS should understand firsthand the difficult judgment calls social workers are forced to make each day.
• Make emergency services more accessible. Before making the ultimate decision to remove a child to foster care, social workers must properly establish that abuse has occurred. Often, this requires a visit to a “catch clinic” miles away. If the nearest clinic is overcrowded, that can mean visiting a clinic on the other side of the county, which can mean a day's driving on America's most congested freeways. Multiply this situation by the 35,000 open cases on the DCFS' docket and you can see why more clinic access in more L.A. neighborhoods would mean better, faster diagnoses and safer children.
• Give front-line workers the tools they need. Millions of dollars have been spent creating databases to track child abusers and keep them out of the foster-care system. And yet, experts who have reviewed Los Angeles' child protective system point to breakdowns in information sharing that render social workers in the field unable to identify clear and present danger. Databases still lack key information about clients, and most social workers don't have ubiquitous electronics like iPhones, which would allow us to share and track information from the field.
These common-sense reforms are long overdue at the DCFS. L.A. County should involve its front-line workers in moving them forward. After all, L.A.'s children are counting on us.
Classes merge art and therapy to promote community healing
The Rehoboth Art League and SOAR Inc. are partnering to host experiential classes integrating healing and art. These classes will be held throughout the month of April at the Rehoboth Art League in the newly renovated Chambers building on the historic campus. Classes will feature the talents of Delaware community artists and mental health practitioners.
Through the centuries, art has been an influencing force in calming the mind, soothing the soul, and flexing the mind and body. The Rehoboth Art League and SOAR invite the public to join in celebration of art's influence. Classes are being offered for children and adults ages 5 and up.
Topics will include dreams, journaling, relaxation and grounding, mindfulness, creative expression of emotions and family dynamics.
Participants will have the opportunity to select from a variety of media including clay, acrylics, watercolor and mixed media collage. To explore a variety of offerings and enroll go to www.rehobothartleague.org.
Enrollment is open to the public. However, preregistration is required and space is limited. Some participant scholarships are available upon request.
The Rehoboth Art League is a membership-based teaching and exhibiting nonprofit arts organization dedicated to encouraging and preserving the arts in Delaware. It is funded, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
Incorporated as a 501c3 organization in 1992, SOAR is a statewide recovery program which provides counseling, referral and education services to adult, adolescent and child survivors of sexual abuse and assault, their non-offending partners and non-offending family members. SOAR also provides outreach programs to community organizations and businesses.
More than 1,000 adults, adolescents, children and their families residing in Delaware and surrounding counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland utilize SOAR's services annually. SOAR is the only treatment agency of its kind in the Delaware/Mid-Atlantic region
For more information about the Rehoboth Art League and these classes call 302-227-8408 or visit www.rehobothartleague.org. For information about SOAR go to www.survivorsofabuse.org.
Victims Of Child Abuse Fight To Change MN's Statute Of Limitations
ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Victims of child sexual abuse were at the state capitol Thursday, fighting to change a Minnesota law that would allow survivors more time to take civil action.
Sitting before a room of complete strangers, victims of childhood sexual abuse shared their survival stories.
“This is big moment for me. I was abused by catholic priest at 13,” said Jim Keenan.
“In an instance, my childhood innocence was stripped from me,” said Al Chesley, who was sexually abused as a child.
Their stories didn't end in adolescence. As an adult, Keenan found himself a victim once again when he discovered the statute of limitations on his case ran out.
“I really thought our justice system would be there for me when I was ready for healing,” said Keenan.
Both men spoke out in favor of a bill to end the statute of limitations for civil cases dealing with child sex abuse.
“You need to be able to stand up say, you did something wrong and watch the system work,” said Keenan.
Right now, the statute of limitations is six years after the victim turns 18. Victims and their supporters want to change Minnesota law, allowing survivors more time to take civil action.
But not everyone is in favor of the change. The Minnesota Religious Council worried about the accuracy of facts, decades after an alleged abuse.
“It's precisely because memories fade, records lost, that virtually every other claim has statute of limitations,” said Al Connolly, who represented the Minnesota Religious Council.
The other concern was the financial impact on defendants associated with the crime, but who didn't commit it, like schools, counties or cities. Those opposed to the change argue costly settlements could ultimately cost taxpayers.
“Should today's students pay for yesteryear's problems?” asked Grace Keliher, of the Minnesota School Board Association.
The issue was too big for an immediate decision. The Senate Judiciary Committee tabled the bill until a later date, leaving both sides wondering if compromise is possible.
Some of the groups testifying on Thursday included representatives for schools, daycares and the Minnesota League of Cities. They said they still haven't decided if they are for or against this bill.
There have been previous attempts to end the statute of limitations on civil cases involving sex abuse, but they have not passed the Legislature.
More Than 2,000 Child Sex Abuse Cases in 2012
'People shy away from talking about child sexual abuse, but abuse happens ... in every corner of New Hampshire.'
by Carol Robidoux
Nashua Police Department's Youth Services Division arrested a 14-year-old male on Feb. 25, charging him with delinquent child: attempted felonious sexual assault, a class B felony; and lewd and indecent exposure, a class A misdemeanor.
The arrest comes in the context of the release earlier this week of statistics from Nashua's Granite State Children's Alliance, which documented more than 2,000 cases of sexual abuse of children in New Hampshire in 2012.
Police said the Feb. 25 arrest originated from a call to police from a residence in Nashua in which it was reported that the 14-year-old was suspected of having had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor child under the age of 13, who is known to him. This matter was further investigated by detectives in the Youth Services Division and it was subsequently learned that the defendant had in fact attempted to have sexual contact with the minor child.
The Delinquent Child offenses could result in commitment to the Sununu Youth Detention Center. The juvenile was released to the custody of legal
guardian pending a juvenile hearing at the 9th Circuit Nashua District Court.
“People shy away from talking about child sexual abuse, but we release these statistics to remind people that abuse happens, and that it happens in every corner of New Hampshire,” said Kristie Palestino, executive director of the Nashua-based Granite State Children's Alliance.
Of the 2,065 child victims of crime served by CAC in 2012, 1,655 of those children were victims of sexual abuse.
“Particularly striking in this year's data is that only 1 percent of the children we served were abused by strangers, which underscores how important it is for parents to be vigilant, even with people they know and trust.”
Based on a nationally recognized model, child advocacy centers are community partnerships dedicated to pursuing the truth in child abuse cases and providing social services to child victims. By bringing together New Hampshire's law enforcement, county attorneys, state protective services, victim advocates and health professionals, child advocacy centers provide safe, child friendly locations for interviewing child victims, coordinating the investigative team and providing ongoing help for the victim's recovery.
Palestino said child advocacy centers help break the cycle of child abuse by improving prosecution rates of abusers and putting victims on a path to healing.
2012 Statistics on Child Sex Abuse
Total Cases: 2,065
Sexual Abuse: 1,655
Physical Abuse: 189
Witness to Crime: 146
Male : 36 percent
Female : 64 percent
< 6 years : 30 percent
7-12 years: 40 percent
12-18 years: 30 percent
For additional information on the members of the Granite State Children's Alliance, child abuse or related subjects, contact Kristie Palestino at (603) 498-8909 or email@example.com
Maryland Legislators Want to Restrict Custody Rights for Parents Convicted of Child Sexual Abuse
by AMBER LARKINS
ANNAPOLIS (February 28, 2013) -- Several Maryland legislators are pushing for stricter limits on custody and visitation rights for parents convicted of sex crimes.
Thursday, the Judicial Proceedings Committee heard a bill from Sen. Richard Colburn, R-Caroline, which would prevent courts from awarding custody and visitation to a parent guilty of sexual abuse of a minor, unless there is “good cause” to award custody.
Colburn's bill was cross filed with legislation by Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, R-Talbot, who learned of two cases where a parent convicted of sexually abusing a minor either won custody of their child, or could get it.
In one of the cases, the man found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor has now sexually abused his son, Haddaway-Riccio said.
“We need to make a higher standard for child custody,” Haddaway-Riccio said.
The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault supported Colburn and Haddaway-Riccio's bills in written testimony, but requested an amendment that would clearly define “good cause.”
Barbara Mattison, an Annapolis woman who has been a victim of mental and physical abuse, spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of her mother, who was sexually abused as a child by her father and uncles.
“She did not get this protection,” Mattison said.
The Office of the Public Defender opposed the bill, saying existing laws already protect children from abuse and neglect.
“We believe the current law not only protects children from a broader range of harm (than the bill), but does so pursuant to laws and proceedings that embody appropriate standards and steps,” read the office's written testimony.
Bret Larrimore of Easton, who was sexually abused when he was 11, is also opposed to the legislation.
He was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in 2009, has attended classes and therapy, and is now married with a 2-year-old son.
“I know the effects and what it can cause and where it can take you,” Larrimore said.
The bill would only cover cases of sexual abuse of a minor if the conviction occurred after Oct. 1, 2013, and so would not affect him personally, but he knows of other men who have turned their lives around.
”These men are good fathers. They're good men. They don't want to go back where they were. They don't want to be those men anymore,” Larrimore said.
Maryland courts resolve custody disputes based on what's in the best interests of the child. If the court has reason to believe a child has been abused or neglected by one of the parents, then the court must determine whether the parent would abuse the child if granted custody or visitation.
The courts may also consider a supervised visitation agreement.
Courts must consider evidence of abuse between parents or spouses, as well as abuse of any child living in the household.
Courts have only denied visitation in exceptional circumstances, according to a fiscal note accompanying the bill. In a 1985 case, Arnold v. Naughton, the Court of Special Appeals held that noncustodial parents didn't necessarily lose supervised visitation rights if they were guilty of sexually abusing the child.
The U.S. Supreme Court and the Maryland Court of Appeals have recognized parents have a fundamental right to govern the care, custody and control of their children, unless the parent is found unfit, or under exceptional circumstances.
Haddaway-Riccio's version of the bill was heard by the House Judiciary Committee Jan. 17, with no opposing testimony, but nothing has come of it, so far. Haddaway-Riccio said this may be due to the committee dealing with high-profile issues like gun control and the death penalty.
Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery also had a bill regarding custody and visitation heard by the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Raskin's bill would deny male rapists of their parental rights if a child resulted from the violent act, but courts could still impose child support orders. There are 30 senators and 77 delegates supporting his bill.
8K To 'Stop The Silence' & End Child Sex Abuse
by Kristina D'Ambrosio
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -According to reports, more than 1 our of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys are sexually abused in the U.S. by 18 years old.
His name is a household word among Redskins fans in our area, but Mark Moseley isn't here to talk about football. The Superbowl XVII champ joined JC Hayward on Thursday with CEO Dr. Pamela Pine to end child sex abuse in the U.S. and around the world with local non-profit, Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sex Abuse.
Stop the Silence is a non-profit dedicated to improving society's response to end child sexual abuse, and helping survivors heal worldwide.
You can be apart of the global campaign to End Child Sex Abuse by taking part in Stop The Violence's annual 8K race event off of Freedom Plaza on April 14. Click here for more information.
If you can't make it to the race, but you want to help the organization thrive, you can easily make a $10 tax deductible donation to Stop the Silence by texting GIVE 3583 to 80088.
We all have the power to prevent child abuse
by Alan Silvia -- State Representative
We all share a common vision of a world where children have the opportunity to grow up safe, healthy and whole. Child sexual abuse threatens this vision. The consequences of child abuse for children and society last a lifetime. Sexual crimes against children are also a factor in many of society's most significant and expensive problems, including substance abuse, mental illness, chronic disease, school dropout, teen pregnancy, behavioral issues, delinquency and crime.
Child sexual abuse crosses all socioeconomic lines; no child is immune. The magnitude of the problem is somewhat unknown because a majority of the victims never disclose their victimization. Children are often abused by a family member, or close friend of the family. Of those who do disclose, only a small percentage will file an official report of abuse. Children living in poverty, unstable homes, dangerous neighborhoods, and who experience violence are far more likely to be victims. Poverty doubles the risk of child sexual abuse.
Fall River has the highest rate of reported child sexual abuse in Bristol County, and one of the highest in our state. Recent statistics show that more than 500,000 children born in 2012 are destined to become victims of child sexual abuse.
Massachusetts law mandates that professionals in education, social services, clergy and law enforcement report child abuse.
My colleagues on Beacon Hill continue to sponsor and support legislation that will enhance and ensure mandated reporting and provide adequate funding to our schools, social service organizations, law enforcement and district attorneys so that evidence-based child abuse programing and enforcement have the resources to protect the safety of our children.
So what is missing? As a legislator assigned to the Joint Committee on Public Safety, and a former child abuse investigator who investigated more than 300 incidents of child rape and indecent assault of a child, I know we have the knowledge, laws and ability to prevent child sexual abuse. The missing link is the gap between what we know and what we do (or what you do). I believe that every capable adult should be a mandated reporter of sexual crimes against children.
What we need now is the public will to say: “no more child sexual abuse.” Parents have a responsibility to protect their children. We can start by educating parents on the situations which increase the likelihood of child sexual abuse so those situations can be avoided. We should also recognize the signs of abuse and act responsibly when abuse is suspected or observed.
Children must know that being touched in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable is wrong, and when it happens, they should tell a trusted adult.
April is Child Abuse Month. Evidence-based intervention, prevention and investigation makes sense. One of the very best is the Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County.
They will be presenting a program to adults on child abuse at the South End Neighborhood Association meeting on March 7 at 6:30 p.m., at the Good Shepherd Parish Center, on South Main Street. All are invited to attend. The Fall River Police Department will be present. Our children are scared and they are our future. We must do all we can to protect them.
Alan Silvia, D-Fall River, is the state representative for the 7th Bristol District and president of the South End Neighborhood Association.
N.H. sees increased child abuse
Awareness, better reporting may account for increase
by John Toole
New Hampshire's child advocacy centers are seeing an increase in victims.
The Granite State Children's Alliance released statistics yesterday showing a 3.8 percent increase year-over-year for child victims of crimes.
The state's child advocacy centers handled 2,065 cases in 2012, up from 1,989 in 2011.
“We are seeing an increase,” alliance executive director Kristie Palestino said yesterday.
In Rockingham County, the year-over-year numbers were level at 348 cases, Rockingham County Child Advocacy Center executive director Maureen Sullivan said.
“We average about 350 cases a year,” she said.
At its offices in Derry and Portsmouth, the Rockingham County center already has handled 60 cases in the first two months of this year, she said.
Palestino said overall numbers tend to increase every year, though not because crime is changing.
“People are more aware of it,” she said, “talk more and more people come forward.”
The numbers represent reported cases, not actual numbers. Advocates believe the actual victim count is as much as 90 percent higher, but held down by stigma and other factors.
“It is shame, it is fear,” Palestino said. “Children keep things in to protect their families.”
“Only 10 percent report,” Sullivan said. “The hard part is this is a topic people like to sweep it under the rug.”
Even when the Penn State football abuse scandal presented a national awareness moment, people had trouble with it, Sullivan said.
“People didn't want to talk,” she said.
Derry police Chief Edward Garone, one of New Hampshire's longest serving chiefs, agrees the statistics represent a fraction of actual numbers.
“It's certainly much higher than what is reported,” he said.
Garone speculates the increase this year reflects the ease of reporting made possible through the centers.
“I think parents and caretakers are more comfortable reporting because of the advocacy centers,” he said.
Sexual abuse cases account for the bulk of crimes. There was some good news statewide, a slight decrease from 1,790 to 1,655 cases involving sex abuse.
Physical abuse cases were up from 119 to 189.
There also was an increase, from 79 to 146, in cases where children witnessed violent crime.
The percentage breakdown of all cases by age showed the largest number, 40 percent, was for those 7 to 12. Thirty percent were 6 or younger; 30 percent were teenagers.
Most of the victims – more than 95 percent – suffered at the hands of relatives, neighbors or friends. Palestino said that underscores why it is important for parents to be vigilant, “even with people they know and trust.”
The alliance releases numbers annually to highlight the issue and also the work the centers do for victims.
This year's release is especially timely, however, with the alliance set to embark on a statewide awareness campaign in April.
County-based centers will host events. The alliance will kick the campaign off April 17 in front of the Statehouse in Concord. Individual lights will represent each victim served last year.
“We're trying to bring more attention to the work we're doing,” Palestino said.
The campaign will teach children about safety and let parents know how to recognize signs of child abuse. The idea is to let people know abuse is a problem in every town.
The advocacy centers act on referrals from the attorney general and police departments. They serve as a safe, child friendly location for investigators to interview victims and assist victims with recovery.
Garone, who with Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams gets credit from Sullivan for helping establish the first center, sees their strength in making a tragic situation easier for victims.
The centers let victims tell their story one time, Garone said.
“That makes it much more palatable for the victim,” he said.
Palestino said the centers and the alliance serve as resources, too, for those who have questions.
She said people can get more information from the alliance's website, cac-nh.org, or by contacting their local center.
The Rockingham County center, the first to operate in New Hampshire, can be visited at cacnh.org.
Sullivan said the advocacy centers help keep down law enforcement expenses.
She estimates the Rockingham program has saved the county $6.5 million in expenses police otherwise would have incurred since its founding in 2000.
Office of Human Resources launches Reporting Child Abuse online training program
On Feb. 28, the new online training program, Reporting Child Abuse, will be available to all Penn State employees at psuohrlearning.skillport.com. The Reporting Child Abuse training has been specifically designed for Penn State employees and Authorized Adults to ensure they understand policies/laws, their responsibilities around reporting and reporting protocol.
Under Policy AD72, all Penn State employees are required to complete the training each calendar year. It is important, once the training has been completed, that employees retain a copy of the Certificate of Completion. Employees classified as an Authorized Adult under policy AD39 must complete the training prior to working with minors, as well as complete a background check. Employees who are not classified as Authorized Adults can take the training any time throughout the calendar year (2013) and must recertify each year.
“We are extremely pleased to launch the Reporting Child Abuse program in an online format”, said Sue Cromwell, director of the Center for Workplace Learning & Performance. “It is an essential step towards reaching the goal of educating the entire University community about child abuse and reporting.”
As of Feb. 15, more than 11,000 Penn State employees and volunteers have been trained in reporting child abuse since the initiative began in April 2012. The program was created through a collaborative effort between Penn State's Center for Workplace Learning & Performance, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), WPSU Learning and Media Design Team, University Police, Penn State Student Affairs, Intercollegiate Athletics, Centre County Women's Resource Center, faculty experts and professionals throughout the community.
The Center for Workplace Learning & Performance in Penn State's Office of Human Resources has partnered with a company called SkillSoft, who will be hosting the training content within their SkillPort platform. Employees will be notified via an email from their HR Representative. Each employee should expect to receive a welcome email message from SkillSoft. The message will have instructions to log in to the SkillPort system (including the log-in credentials for the training). Once logged in, employees will then be taken to the SkillPort landing page, where they will be able to access the Reporting Child Abuse training. (Instructions will be available within the site navigation.) Within the next few months, employees may notice a change in the login procedure. At that time, users will be prompted to log in with a Penn State Access Account (WebAccess).
For questions regarding the training, the following link http://ohr.psu.edu/learning/skillport/faq will take individuals to an FAQ sheet. For problems accessing the training, employees should contact the ITS Service help desk at ITServiceDesk@psu.edu or 814-865-HELP (4357). Questions about the training itself can be directed to the Center for Workplace Learning & Performance (CWLP) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-865-8216.
A wider window for civil suits after child sex abuse
Minnesota is an outlier, compared with other states, when it comes to giving victims of child sexual abuse only until they reach age 24 -- six years after becoming an adult -- to file a civil lawsuit.
But under a proposal before the Legislature, they could file a lawsuit at any time, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, Minnesota would remain an outlier -- but 180 degrees the other way, as the only state to give victims the right to pursue civil lawsuits without a time restriction.
Measures seeking to give victims more time to bring civil suits have gone before state lawmakers repeatedly since a Supreme Court ruling in 1996 interpreted the six-year time limit.
Thoughtful people on both sides make compelling points about the proposal. They deserve attention from lawmakers and citizens who want to do right by victims and yet consider what's at stake for institutions that include churches, schools or youth organizations.
It can take decades before victims recognize the abuse and the extent to which they were harmed and find the strength to come forward. Those who do find themselves barred by the legal technicality of a "woefully short and arbitrary statute of limitation," advocates say.
The six-year limit is the same that applies to fraud and product liability litigation, House chief author Rep. Steve Simon said at a news conference introducing the measure. "Victims of this kind of abuse deserve better than that."
"The wounds are unseen but the changes can be profound," Kathleen Blatz, a former Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice, told us. She is among advocates for the measure, who also include several county attorneys, the National Center for Victims of Crime and organizations that serve child-abuse victims.
The proposal would, however, "open the door to some very old cases" in which it would be "very difficult to get a clear picture of the facts," said the Rev. Karen Bockelman, chair of the Minnesota Religious Council, a public policy representative of major Christian denominations in the state. Memories fade, documents go missing, witnesses can't be found and "it can be very difficult to determine the truth," she said.
Opponents are concerned about the proposal's broad language and its implications for "a corporation, organization or other entity" that it terms as simply "a cause" of the plaintiff's damages, Bockelman said.
And the proposal, by omission, she told us, doesn't "acknowledge that anything has changed," suggesting churches are continuing to ignore the issue. "That simply isn't true," she said, noting that Minnesota churches are "among national leaders in taking proactive steps" on child sex abuse.
Opponents also suggest the proposal might have a negative effect on early reporting of child abuse, she said, with victims feeling they had "all the time in the world." The earlier abuse is reported, however, the quicker perpetrators "can be identified and removed from positions of responsibility, providing a chance for prevention of future abuse."
Advocates, though, say eliminating the civil statute of limitations for past sexual abuse cases allows survivors to come forward and identify abusers who have never been caught and may still be abusing children. As a result, they say, others currently experiencing abuse may be encouraged to come forward and those victims may still be under the protection of the criminal statute of limitations.
The issue also is more prevalent than perhaps many of us realize: According to a state health department report, 10 percent of Minnesotans were sexually abused as children. One out of two Minnesotans knows someone who was sexually abused as a child, according to the National Center for the Victims of Crime.
Advocates also cite public awareness of the issue. They point to a recent survey by the National Center for Victims of Crime, which concludes that "more than three out of four Minnesotans are concerned about child sexual abuse, and 63 percent believe child sexual abuse victims should have the right to directly sue their abusers or the institution that facilitated their abuse at any time."
The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to retroactively change the criminal statute of limitations; only civil statutes of limitations may be altered.
Blatz is confident in the protections afforded by our legal system. Cases that aren't solid typically are weeded out before they reach a courtroom, she says. An attorney needs sufficient evidence on which to build a case, and victims "still must convince a jury."
Those who oppose changing the law have indicated in the past their willingness to compromise, Bockelman told us. "We've worked very hard to do that. We're open to discussion."
This year, it looks as if that discussion will lead somewhere new -- somewhere between a too-narrow window and one that's wide open.
Understanding child trauma `offers abuse survivors hope'
CHILD abuse survivors can develop heightened perception and intuition due to their trauma, Launceston community workers have heard.
Pyschotherapist Dragan Wright yesterday explained the heightened sense of awareness could arise as a survival instinct.
"Those parts of the brain can actually be more developed because you're living on your senses, you're living on your intuition, you're surviving on that,'' he said.
Mr Wright, from Adults Surviving Child Abuse, will spend two days in Launceston training community and health workers how to be ``trauma informed''. He said understanding child trauma was important because it was very likely to manifest during adulthood.
Conservative estimates indicate 75 per cent of drug and alcohol abusers have suffered some form of childhood trauma.
Mr Wright said there was a general lack of awareness about how child abuse may affect a survivors behaviour. Trauma informed training attempted to change that and offer some hope for survivors.
Those seeking support can contact National Child Abuse Prevention Helpline on 1800 991 099 or Adults Surviving Child Abuse on 1300 657 380.
N.C. lawmakers, DA target sex traffickers
by Kelly Corbett and Michelle Saxton
Those convicted of exploiting people through prostitution would need to register as sex offenders if the victims were forced into sexual servitude or younger than 18 under Senate Bill 122, which was recently filed in the North Carolina Senate.
In addition, traffickers would be required to wear GPS tracking bracelets when released from jail, Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, told county and local municipal leaders during a New Hanover County Local Officials Caucus at Wilmington City Hall on Monday, Feb. 25.
“When we introduced that bill last year there wasn't much of a whisper about it,” said Goolsby, a primary sponsor of SB 122. “It's really caught fire this year.”
Rep. Susi Hamilton, D-Brunswick, New Hanover confirmed during the caucus that the House planned to run a concurrent bill.
Human trafficking is a felony under North Carolina law and is defined as knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining another person for involuntary or sexual servitude.
“We've got two large military bases here, which drives some of that traffic, and also being on the coast,” Goolsby said.
North Carolina ranked among 21 states in the top tier of a 2012 Polaris Project study that stated the state has passed significant laws to fight human trafficking and should continue to improve laws. Provisions in which North Carolina lacked points in the study, however, included Safe Harbor laws or protecting trafficked minors and vacating convictions for sex trafficking victims.
Lawmakers were drafting a Safe Harbor bill, which Goolsby said would be comprehensive watershed legislation.
It could include creating a “john school” for men caught soliciting prostitutes, Goolsby said in a Feb. 16 interview.
“They get to understand fully what sex trafficking is all about, how these women are abused,” Goolsby said. “They understand the consequences.”
Goolsby has said he hoped North Carolina could begin to institutionalize a system of addressing sex trafficking, with specially trained coordinators and officers.
Stiffer penalties for pimps
Goolsby and Hamilton both have said they would like to see parental rights stripped from traffickers who have children with prostitutes.
“Pimps are using the children as a way to keep women enslaved,” Hamilton said in an earlier interview this year. “They're threatening to take away their children.”
Meanwhile, pimping is a misdemeanor in North Carolina and should be a felony like human trafficking New Hanover and Pender County District Attorney Ben David said Tuesday, Feb. 26.
“It's too hard to draw the distinction between human trafficking and pimping,” David said. “Once they're under a felony conviction several things are triggered,” David added. “We can take away their guns. …We can monitor their movements, because they could be subject to GPS tracking, and they would be registered sex offenders, so if they move into an area, that would have to be known to a sheriff.”
In North Carolina, where those accused 16 years and older can be treated as adults in the criminal justice system, the age-neutral prostitution law should be changed to say those under 18 cannot be charged, Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Roberson said Feb. 26.
“If you see a 17-year old being sold for sex our state law says you treat her like a criminal,” Roberson said. “We're ending up with teenagers … in these detention centers instead of being treated as victims in need of resources.”
Renaming, reclaiming the victim
“We have to take this issue out of the shadows and into the light,” David said. That could include changing the terminology from “prostitute” to someone “being prostituted,” he said.
“In many cases these are good people. They're someone's daughter, someone's son in some cases,” David said, adding that most are engaging in the vice crime through coercion of others or have been abused in the past.
Redemption is important, too, Goolsby said, with prostitutes given a chance to straighten out their lives, get off drugs, get an education, learn parenting skills and get psychological support.
“How do we clean up these women's records so that when they've gotten out of all this they can stay out?” Goolsby added.
On Feb. 25, Deanna Stoker, victim services and advocacy coordinator for the Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons Center, Inc., spoke in-depth to the League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear during a luncheon about the issues North Carolina faces with human trafficking.
In fiscal year 2011-12, 13 human trafficking victims were served locally. So far for fiscal year 2012-13, 12 human trafficking victims have been served.
“A victim is not just going to come out and identify as being a victim,” Stoker said.
The center finds victims through Federal Bureau of Investigation tips, the Polaris Project human trafficking hotline, the Centre of Redemption's A Safe Place hotline and from direct phone calls.
With survivors, Stoker said she tries to make them understand the odds are stacked against them, and most will go back into prostitution.
“We have to understand that this is a process,” she said.
The Polaris Project hotline, or National Human Trafficking Resource Center, received about 361 calls from North Carolina from January through September 2012 that included community member tips and general information requests, media relations specialist Tamara Robinson said Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Since the resource center opened in 2007, North Carolina has been the 10th highest state in terms of volume of phone calls, Robinson added.
One challenge in trying to help trafficking victims is a funding gap between support for domestic-born and foreign-born victims, Stoker said. In North Carolina, foreign-born victims typically are from Latin American or Asia, she said.
“For foreign-born, our goal as the rapid response team is to provide them with emergency services in the first 72 hours and then get them directly linked to the Salvation Army in Raleigh, so that they can take over and provide them with ongoing case management,” Stoker said. “For our domestic-born victims it gets a little more complicated, because there is no one specific agency in the community that can provide them with the array of services that we need.”
“To be found guilty of human trafficking takes a lot of work,” Stoker said.
Senate Bill 122 is a public safety measure, and planning also is needed to address other aspects of human trafficking – such as ensuring the Division of Social Services has the capacity to serve additional victims who come through the system as a result of law changes, she said.
“It does add another layer of accountability,” Stoker said. “I'm hopeful to see what happens. … When you change a law, you have to have a thorough thought process for it.”
On Feb. 6, 2013, Alexandrea Nicole Berte, a 20-year-old who moved to Wilmington in February 2012, pleaded guilty to interstate transport of another for purposes of prostitution. According to the United States District Court Eastern District of Tennessee plea agreement, Berte operated a make-shift brothel at a hotel in Wilmington before operating a second brothel in Winston-Salem and then heading to Nashville, Tenn., when she was stopped and arrested on Sept. 25, 2012.
The punishment for the offense is a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, a $100 mandatory assessment, a maximum of three years supervised release and forfeiture of the instrumentalities and fruits of the offense.
The other charge against Berte for inducing travel to engage in prostitution for a period from Sept.1-25, 2012, will be dismissed at sentencing by the U.S. for consideration of the defendant's guilty plea.
A plea hearing was held on Wednesday, Feb. 27, but a sentencing date had not been set as of press time.
Violence against women: Fresh start for acid attack heroines
by Elisabeth Braw
Bushra shouldn't be alive. One day, after eight years of marriage and three children, her husband, aided by his mother and another relative, tied her up and poured acid over her. Then they tied her scarf around her neck, hung her from the ceiling and left her to die in front of her two youngest children. To make sure Bushra really died, they set the house on fire. The reason: returning from a visit to her family, Bushra had brought her husband's family expensive gifts rather than cash. They hadn't mentioned they expected cash.
Thanks to kind neighbors, Bushra survived. But like every acid attack victim, she looked like a monster. Of course, condemning victims to a life as monsters is what men intend when they throw acid at their partners and relatives. In Pakistan, it's an easy crime to commit: acid is cheap, a bottle of it costs some $0.30.
But today Bushra, now 43, has a good job – as a beautician in an upscale salon here in Lahore, a bustling city of some 10 million near the Indian border. “Since I walked in here I've never looked back,” she tells me as I visit her. Bushra belongs to the sisterhood of Pakistani acid attack survivors who've been helped back to life by Musarrat Misbah, the owner of Pakistan's Depilex chain of beauty parlors.
I'm ashamed to admit that at my first meeting with Bushra and her fellow attack survivors, I reacted with shock and averted my eyes. But after spending time with them, all I felt was awe at their courage and lack of bitterness. Some of them are outgoing, some shy, but they're among the most formidable people you'll ever meet. And I'm humbled by their incredible kindness. “Your hand looks tired,” said Bushra as I was writing down her answers. “You need a hand massage.” She began to massage my hands, arms and neck. This is a woman who was almost dead, and now cares about my weary hand!
Misbah, a stunning woman in her early fifties, never set out to help acid victims. “I'm a beautician through and through,” she tells me. “I love my job. I'm always the last one to leave at night.”
One night as she was closing her salon, a woman in a burka showed up and curtly said she needed help. When she pulled her veil back, Misbah saw a face so disfigured that she fainted. Since then, the beauty entrepreneur has become Pakistan's unofficial protector of acid attack victims.
The 30-some Depilex salons now double as offices for her Smile Again Foundation, which helps survivors get reconstructive surgery and then trains them in professions so they can re-enter society. “Without vocational training, where would these girls go?” asks Misbah. “Back to those men who threw acid at them?”
To date, the Smile Again Foundation has helped over 500 victims. But it's only a small share of the estimated 9,000 women who were acid-attacked between 1994 and 2001. The assaults continue despite the passing of a law banning the practice two years ago. Acid attacks are common mainly in central and southern Asia but also occur worldwide.
“They often come from a poor background, and when you're poor and uneducated, you often don't know the difference between right and wrong,” reflects Hina Dilpazeer, Pakistan's leading TV actress, who campaigns for victims. “If society's poor get an education, I'm convinced attacks will drop.”
Many of Smile Again's graduates now work in Depilex's parlors, while others have are nurses and call center workers. “The foundation is my home and family,” says Bushra, who hasn't seen her children since the attack. “People make faces when they see me outside. But here at the salon I'm safe, I've gained clients' respect.”
But the road to recovery is rough, as not even the 35 required operations result in a natural face. “Reconstructive surgery is very expensive,” says Misbah. “Donors prefer supporting schools.” Threats have forced her to hire a bodyguard.
For survivors like Nasreen, a 27-year-old from rural Punjab, life is essentially over. When she was 13, three middle-aged daughters of wealthy neighbors taunted her, and when she finally responded in anger, their fiancés threw acid on Nasreen as she slept. The attack left her blind. But when I meet Nasreen at the Depilex salon in Lahore, her nails are beautifully done and she sports a stylish hairdo.
“This is like a haven,” explains Nasreen. “Everyone else shuns me.” Smile Again pays her a stipend as she can no longer work in the fields: her attackers still live next door after paying their way out of a 25-year prison sentence.
At any given time, between five and seven women stay at Misbah's home while awaiting surgery or receiving training. But Misbah feels insufficient: “I just hope God gives me strength to help more girls. I want to build a shelter where I can live with them. Sorry if I sound like Mother Teresa.” However, with acid attacks a persistent problem not just in Pakistan, the world needs more Mother Teresas, even though other groups are helping victims in Pakistan and overseas.
And though thousands of acid attack survivors desperately need help, Misbah is making a huge difference in individual women's lives. These days, Bushra puts on lipstick and beautiful clothes. Her brother-in-law then tells her, “Why do you do that? You should just sit in a corner.” To which she responds, “You have no power over me.”
“Acid attack culprits will be tried as terrorists” — Begum Zakia Shahnwaz, Senior Advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab – the top-ranking female politician in Pakistan's most populous state
Metro: What is Punjab doing to protect women?
Shahnwaz : Last year we proposed a comprehensive bill, which is very likely to be passed. It includes violence against women. It will tell the men that this animalistic behavior can't go on.
For acid attack victims we will provide physical and psychological care, and the perpetrator will be tried in a terrorist court, where cases are dealt with swiftly. And acid attacks are terrorist acts. The bill also includes changes in the inheritance law, a higher female quota in the public sector, anti-harassment legislation and high-standard day-care centers. And every college in Punjab will be required to provide two women-only buses.
Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead the government in a Muslim country. On the other hand there are acid attacks. When it comes to women's situation, is Pakistan advanced or way behind?
In North America and Europe, which are far more advanced than us, women are battered and abused. Our fundamental problem is that we haven't given education to the masses, and abuse also stems from economic frustration. But bear in mind that many of our powerful women are beaten by their husbands, too. The difference is that the strong woman can walk away and the poor woman can't. However, men should remember that when they get old their wives will return the abuse. When the children are young, they can't protect her, but as adults they will.
Are you optimistic that women's situation will improve?
Yes. Everyone here says that politicians are corrupt, the army is bad, NGOs are bad, the press is bad. But not everyone is bad or corrupt. There are people who want to help women.
Sarwari: From pariah to family breadwinner
Sarwari always covers her head and wears dark sunglasses. When she removes her veil, a head burned beyond recognition emerges, but it's progress. For 20 years, Sarwari's burned chin stuck to her chest and her eyes bulged out like a frog's.
“One year after I got married to my husband, he wanted to take a second wife,” she tells me when I visit her in the one-room house outside Lahore where she lives with her brother and his family. “I said, ‘No, just divorce me'.” Her husband poured acid over her. Even so, Sarwari's mother didn't let her file a case against her husband: he's her first cousin.
One year ago, a relative heard about Smile Again and brought Sarwari there. Surgery detached her chin from her chest and gave her eyelids. She's now been able to start a bottle-cap business. “It gives me an income, so I can give my brother's family money,” she says. “But I want to be more financially secure, because my brother is getting married, too. If I can provide for his family his wife will be nice to me.”
In fact, Sarwari, now 40, commands respect as she's the family's breadwinner. But she has received taunts from her sister-in-law's sisters, who said, “Your husband's new wife is beautiful!” But, Sarwari explains, “I said, ‘What are you talking about? I'm financially secure, I provide for other people. I'm beautiful'.”
Happy ending: Abuse led her to self-immolation but Urooj has found a new life
Urooj tried to burn herself to death. “My in-laws tortured me,” she tells me. The abuse worsened when Urooj didn't immediately get pregnant. “My husband would say, ‘You're infertile, what's the point of you being alive?'” she says. After Urooj got pregnant, she gave birth to a girl: a misfortune.
Urooj survived the burns, with damage to 70% of her body. Her parents blamed her, while her husband remarried. Urooj hasn't seen her daughter again. But a friend had heard of Smile Again and brought Urooj there. She now works as a beautician.
When she met a man online, they decided to get married, much to her parents' ire. “They said that I should have accepted my fate and continued living with my first husband,” she says. “I told them, ‘I've lost everything. I don't want such parents'.” Today Urooj, now 32, has a full-time job. But such happy endings are rare for acid attack victims. Of the 500 women assisted by Smile Again, only eight have married. “In the early years after the attack they don't dare to think about it,” says Misbah. “But when they become more confident they start thinking about it.
The problem is, who would marry them?” But these women are fighters. They've clawed themselves back from near-death, so they can dream of romance, too. In my first visit, on Valentine's Day, all the victims-turned-beauticians in Misbah's salon wore bright red lipstick.
Supporter's to do list
An Italian surgeon emailed Musarrat Misbah, promising to treat three survivors free of charge. But many Pakistani doctors instead charge Smile Again a higher fee. Here's how you can help.
|• Donate. By PayPal.
• Volunteer. At one of Smile Again's locations.
• Hire. Provide employment to the survivors.
• Encourage. Plastic surgeons to volunteer their services.
• Like. Smile Again's Facebook fan page.
• Organize. Surgeries & lodging for the survivors, and raise money for their travel expenses.
• Teach. If you're in any other profession that can be taught to the survivors: volunteer to teach them, thereby helping them to earn a living.
• Pressure. Put pressure on your government to ask Pakistan to ban sales of acid.
Proud Anam, 16: ‘I've only cried once in past year'
Anam, 16, is a beautiful girl. That is, the right side of her face is beautiful. The left side has been destroyed by acid. “I was walking to school with my father one day, when I heard a man from the neighborhood call my name,” she recalls. “I kept walking, but then he shouted, ‘If you don't stop I'll throw acid at you'. I kept on walking, but then I felt something burning on my back, and when I turned around to see what it was the man threw acid on my face and body.”
After an entire year in the hospital, Anam was released. But she became a recluse: she didn't leave the house and certainly didn't want to look at herself in the mirror. Two years later Anam is a self-confident young woman who is studying for her high school graduation while training as a beautician with the Smile Again Foundation. “I used to be very angry and say why me?” she explains. “But when I look at the kind of torture the other women here have gone through I have nothing to complain about.”
Anam's attacker had given Anam's parents a marriage proposal for her older sister, but the parents and sister had rejected it. The family suspects that he had wanted to harm the sister, but when he only found Anam he attacked her. Anam will have surgery, but like other acid attack victims, she will be marked for life. Even so, she makes a huge and successful effort to remain upbeat. “I've only cried once in the past year,” she says. “That's when my attacker was sentenced. He only got four years in jail.”
Guest opinion: Protect survivors of violence
by Anne Tapp
Congress is playing its usual partisan games of "chicken" with the federal budget, pitting the needs of the most vulnerable against tax breaks and loopholes for the very rich and profitable corporations. Those of us working with adult and child survivors of violence are hoping for the best but planning for the worst when it comes to federal funding for domestic violence programs.
In 2011, there were more than 13,384 reports of domestic violence crimes filed with Colorado law enforcement agencies, including 11,381 assaults, 905 kidnappings, 305 sexual offenses and 23 homicides. About 1,700 of those cases are in Boulder County every year.
In the wake of leaving an abusive relationship, adult survivors (most often women) and their children face staggering challenges as they rebuild their lives after violence. They need to:
Find safe shelter and meet their basic needs for food and clothing
Heal from trauma through short- and longer-term individual and group counseling
Navigate the justice system for protective orders, divorce and child support
Develop marketable job skills, especially for former stay-at-home moms
Identify trusted childcare and affordable health care providers
Plan for self-sufficien cy, including financial education, home maintenance, etc.
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) works closely with numerous community partners, like Boulder Housing Partners, Emergency Family Assistance Association, Clinica Family Health Services, and YWCA Children's Alley to provide stability, opportunity and hope for Boulder County families seeking to stop the cycle of abuse.
We know this collaborative, comprehensive approach works. Consider a recent client, "Emma." Feeling trapped in an abusive marriage, she stayed with her husband for the sake of her two young daughters. But the night he came within an inch of strangling Emma to death, she knew she could no longer protect them or herself. With little more than the clothes on their backs, Emma and her girls escaped the abuser and fled their home.
When relying on the hospitality of friends and family members was no longer an option, Emma and her daughters became homeless. Formerly a preschool teacher, Emma was in crisis and in dire need of support to put her life back together. Fortunately, she landed at SPAN, where we could offer her transitional housing with the comprehensive wraparound services that allowed her to stabilize, rebuild her confidence and eventually move her family into permanent housing in a nearby community where she is safe and again teaching early childhood education.
But looming federal cuts will mean women like Emma will either remain in abusive situations longer with potentially deadly results or end up living on the streets.
Colorado is at risk of losing millions of dollars in Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, Violence Against Women Act and Victims of Crime Act funding. This means that thousands of women and children will be at the mercy of their abusers. We will be unable to provide shelter, transitional housing, legal services, counseling or other essential services to help survivors escape to safety and stability. Furthermore, specialized training on how to effectively respond to domestic violence training for police, prosecutors, judges and victim advocates will be reduced.
Last year, SPAN responded to nearly 7,800 calls for assistance, provided emergency shelter to 364 adults and children, and assisted another 1,800 individuals with crisis intervention, legal advocacy and support counseling. All of these services are threatened with the loss of federal funds. Women and children are the fastest growing population of homeless people in the Denver Metro area, and domestic violence is the number one reason for their homelessness. The SPAN transitional housing program last year assisted 75 women and children, including Emma and her daughters, with housing and wraparound support services. Cuts to the Office of Violence Against Women, which helps fund transitional housing for domestic violence survivors, will result in 50 fewer women and children provided housing assistance through SPAN, and possible facing the impossible choice of either returning to an abuser or becoming homeless.
Additionally, if current cut projections hold, SPAN's outreach counseling that now serves 800 individuals will be cut to 200. Simply put, proposed federal budget cuts will be devastating for adults and children surviving the crisis of domestic violence.
It doesn't have to be this way. I call on Congress --especially Sen. Bennet, Sen. Udall and Rep. Polis -- to vote for a budget the protects the vulnerable and asks corporations and the richest among us to pay their fair share. I feel confident we can find the political will to protect families in danger.
Anne Tapp is the execu tive director of the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Non violence in Boulder
Launch of centre to support victims of sex assaults
A new support service for victims of rape and sexual abuse will be launched in Aberystwyth next month.
The Mid Wales Rape Support Centre will occupy premises in Great Darkgate Street, above the Spar store, currently being renovated to create counselling rooms and a training facility.
Funded by a grant from Ministry of Justice, obtained by the Survivors Trust, the centre will operate as a subsidiary of New Pathways, a respected and long-established rape crisis and sexual abuse support service with offices across south Wales.
The client provision will take two forms. Firstly there will be an independent sexual violence adviser to support clients, and offer advocacy to men, women, and children who have reported sexual violence to the police. Support will continue up to, and throughout, the trial.
Secondly, the centre will have fully-trained counsellors, to offer counselling to any adults affected by rape and/or sexual abuse, either recently or in the past.
Additionally, the centre will also be offering a range of training and awareness-raising events.
The Mid Wales Rape Support Centre' launch event on 11 March (1pm - 4pm) in Aberystwyth Arts Centre, will open with a presentation by Fay Maxted, chief executive of The Survivors Trust.
Speakers will include Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon, and Anne Krayer from Bangor University, who will present the research ‘Adult survivors and their families: current needs and service responses'.
Katryn Bennett, service manager at the Mid Wales Rape Support Centre, said: “The offi-cial launch of Mid Wales Rape Support Centre feels like the point of transition, from an intense period of planning and preparation, and on to the start of our service delivery.
“It is an incredibly exciting time. Everyone involved wants to make sure that we provide the very best possible support to people who have experienced rape or sexual abuse.
“There has been a very positive response to the centre locally, and I hope as many people as possible are able to join us for the launch to show their support and to mark the occasion. Everyone is certainly very welcome to join us.”
And The Survivors Trust's chief executive, Fay Maxted, said: “I am delighted that the new Mid Wales Rape Support Centre is ready to be launched in Aberystwyth.
“It is so unusual for new rape and sexual abuse support centres to be established, despite the fact that they are so desperately needed, and Mid Wales is an area that, up to now, has been sadly lacking in specialist support for victims/survivors of sexual violence.
“This is an amazing opportunity to establish a dedicated centre providing specialist support, counselling, and advocacy services across mid Wales. The new centre will also offer volunteering opportunities and will provide specialist training to agencies and individuals.”
Katryn Bennett can be contacted on 07962 139556.
Volunteers on the front lines helping sex assault victims
by DAVID HOLTHOUSE
A post-it note on the family phone read, "Crisis line. Do NOT answer."
The warning was meant for Sarah Wood's husband and daughter.
It was February 2005 and Wood, then 24, was minutes away from beginning her first shift on the 24-hour Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) sexual assault crisis line.
For the next seven hours, anyone in Anchorage who dialed 276-RAPE would ring through to Wood's house and speak with the new STAR volunteer. She'd just completed 40 hours of rigorous training in how to communicate in crisis situations with rape victims and their loved ones.
But that night, no one called Wood but Wood.
"I was so nerve-wracked I kept calling the STAR line with my other phone to make sure it was ringing through to my house, then hanging up really quickly so it wouldn't give a busy tone," she recalled.
Since then Wood has lost count of how many crisis calls she's handled. She has eight years on the line, which is unusually long for a STAR volunteer. Incoming crisis line staffers commit to three shifts a month for two years. Fewer than half of every graduating class of trainees lasts for six months.
"If you're not emotionally prepared for what you're going to hear and experience on the line, it'll kick your ass, in a hurry," Wood said.
Last year STAR volunteers took 1,520 crisis-line calls. During a two-week course, they are trained to handle the range of trauma they can expect to encounter.
Those scenarios include:
A woman calls. Two hours ago she was raped. She is injured and terrified.
A man calls. His girlfriend, wife or sister has been sexually assaulted. The caller doesn't understand why the victim won't report the crime to the police, why she didn't fight off the attack, why she is emotionally withdrawing from him. He is enraged and considering doing harm to the rapist, whose identity he knows.
A woman calls in the throes of a panic attack. Years ago she was raped. She's never told anyone of her ordeal and thought she had put it behind her until a scene in a movie triggered a flashback. Now she's re-experiencing the rape, over and over, and is considering suicide.
A mother calls. She just discovered that a man she knows and trusted has been sexually assaulting her children. She is wracked with guilt and wants to know what will happen if she calls the police.
Crisis line volunteers are trained to provide information and help callers understand their options, but not to offer advice or try to convince the caller to report a sexual assault to police.
"When someone's been assaulted they've had their choice taken away from them in fundamental way, so we want to make it perfectly clear to them that what to do next is entirely their choice," said STAR executive director Amanda Price. "We let them know, 'If you want to report (to law enforcement), this is what you can expect. If you don't want to report, that's your right, and that's fine."
STAR volunteers are prohibited by a strict confidentiality policy from discussing the details of any crisis line calls they receive with anyone outside STAR, including spouses, parents and siblings.
"It's a lot to ask of somebody to handle this kind of sensitive, disturbing information on a regular basis, and then tell them, 'Sorry, you can't talk specifics with your loved ones, ever,' " Price said. "I sit on the line myself. I completely understand our attrition rate. I get it. It's tough. But people in the community have to believe the line is 100 percent confidential. Otherwise, they may not pick up the phone, and it may very well be the only call for help they ever make."
The only exceptions to the policy are calls involving child sex abuse. State law requires STAR to report to police the details of any call involving a sexual assault of a minor in which the caller provides the name, address or other information that identifies the victim, whether the victim is the caller or someone the caller knows.
"Often when someone calls the line about a child being harmed, they know the law, and they want to remove the burden of being the one who calls the police," Price said. "They want us to be the one who reports, and we do that for them."
Anchorage Police Department Sgt. Ken McCoy, head of APD's Special Victims Unit, is supportive of STAR's policies on confidentiality and leaving the decision of whether to report a sexual assault entirely up to adult victims who call the crisis line, even if they identify themselves and the rapist.
"I'm fine with more victims reaching out to STAR than reporting to us, because we already know we only deal with a small percentage of the sexual assaults in our community, because far more go unreported. STAR gets the bigger picture, and that's useful," said McCoy, a member of STAR's board of directors. "Some victims don't want the kind of intervention the police provide. They just really want to talk to someone about what has taken place. They want help navigating very difficult circumstances. As law enforcement we investigate, we don't provide emotional support. We just can't. STAR fills that gap, which is huge."
STAR currently has 20 active crisis line volunteers. "Ideally, we'd have 40," Price said. "At 20, we're stretched pretty thin."
Eleven would-be volunteers signed up last fall for the most recent training course. Two of them dropped out on the second day. "Frequently people sign up for the training with the best of intentions, but many times they have their own personal history with sexual assault, and listening to the information, they get triggered, become upset, and realize it's not going to be functional for them," Price said. "That's okay. We'd rather they roll off during training."
The remaining nine individuals graduated and are handling calls. One of them is Cheryl Grove, who moved to Alaska in 1996 and has since worked for social service agencies in Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Matanuska Valley. Grove said she was motivated to volunteer in part because of her own experiences as a survivor of sexual assault.
"It happened when I was a child," she said. "I don't want to say much else about it, except that I think that if you're a survivor of sexual assault, and you're in the right place in your healing process, there is a great deal of compassion and understanding and empathy you can bring to the (crisis) line."
Grove started taking calls three shifts a week in November. She took extra shifts throughout December. The holiday season is always a busy one for the line. Now Grove frequently works 5 p.m.-to-10 p.m. shifts, staying late at work to field calls in her office.
She also regularly takes overnight shifts from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Grove lives in Spenard with two housemates. She spends the nights when she's on the line in the house's downstairs common room, catnapping between calls.
"The biggest surprise so far has been the number of male callers," Grove said. "The common theme with most victims is a sense of isolation. When you survive the trauma of a car wreck, generally you have a lot of support around you. But for survivors of sexual assault, for a variety of reasons there's often a profound sense of loneliness. So if I can just simply assure one person a week or a month that he or she is not alone, it makes all the late nights and all the stress totally worth it."
Wood, the eight-year crisis line veteran, no longer has notes taped to her phone. Now she has a STAR-only mobile phone, and when she takes a call at home she goes into her bedroom and closes the door. "My kids know they can't disturb me when mom's on the line," she said. "They know I have to answer, no matter what else is happening in the house."
Before she volunteered for STAR, Wood was vaguely aware of Anchorage, and Alaska on the whole, having one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the U.S.
"Once you work the line, though, once you start hearing the stories, it really hits you just how pervasive a problem rape is in our community, because on the line it's not statistics. It's personal. So now that my eyes are wide open I don't see myself ever quitting. This is my home. I have to do something."
The preparation of this story was partially underwritten by the sponsors of the Pick.Click.Give program, including Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Alaska Children's Trust, Mat-Su Health Foundation and Rasmuson Foundation.
Alaskans helping Alaskans
You can support the work of Standing Together Against Rape with a donation through Pick.Click.Give. Just direct a portion of your Permanent Fund Dividend to it when you apply online. Even if you've already applied, you can go back and add a gift to this or any of the 471 eligible non-profits. You have until March 31. Visit pfd.state.ak.us
Where to turn for help
If you've been a victim of sexual assault, here's how STAR can help:
STAR provides a variety of services for victims of sexual assault, incest or child sexual abuse, whether the assault occurred today or in the distant past. Along with crisis intervention and support, the STAR crisis line offers: answers to questions about recovering from sexual assault; information about medical issues; explanations of the criminal justice system; and what to expect if you report the crime and information for family and friends of victims. In Anchorage call 276-RAPE (7273). The statewide toll-free number is 1-800-478-8999.
STAR also provides legal advocacy services for issues such as protective orders and referrals for help with family law matters, and offers ongoing support services for victims of sexual assault, including one-on-one advocacy sessions and referrals to support services, including counseling, statewide. All services are free and confidential.
For more information, call the crisis line or the STAR business line at 1-907-276-7279
How to volunteer at STAR
What to do if you're interested in becoming a crisis line volunteer: Crisis line training is offered twice a year, free of charge, to adults 18 and older with no violent criminal history. A one-year commitment of three shifts a month is required as well as access to the internet and email. Orientation nights for prospective trainees will be April 5 and 12, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.staralaska.com or call the STAR business line at 1-907-276-7279.
Schools need to do more to stop bullying
Pink Shirt Day waves a "sea of pink" support for students who are bullied, but are there still kids drowning in sorrow?
by Sian Thomson
Parents of bullied kids, and adult survivors say there needs to be more life rafts out there.
Loreena Ramm didn't realize how hard life was going to be for her bullied seven year old son and it made her look at being a parent in a whole new light. "Our children are a direct mirror of us and if your child is being a bully it's our job as parents to make sure your child is respectful of everyone and to be taught that if people are different it does not give you the right to treat them badly."
She also believes that schools need to have zero tolerance for this abuse. "Writing an apology letter doesn't cut it," said Ramm. "Make a sign that says 'Hey I'm a bully' and make them wear it for a day. Suspend them so it gets their parents' attention."
Lori Woodruff strongly believes that there must be harsh penalties for kids who bully in school, and education for teachers so that they can handle this issue properly and not, as was her experience, make the problem worse.
Sean Smith says that back in the 1970's schools and teachers really didn't do much about bullying. It was "just the way kids were".
As a parent, Smith said, "I do everything I can to let my kids know that they can come to me if they are ever bullied and that I have zero tolerance of bullies anywhere. I make sure that they know that they are loved and that no matter what anyone else says or does, they are good people who will grow up to be great people."
Smith says the key to stop this problem is to start educating parents and encouraging them to become more involved in their kids lives. "They need to be that safe place that their kids to go for comfort, protection and resolution."
"Parents also need to understand that it is possible for their children to be bullies, and not simply deny it based on their own views. I make sure that my children understand what a bully is and that I will never tolerate them being that way. Parents need to get a much better understanding of the technology their children use, or they will never be able to deal with Cyber-Bullying issues. As I speak on the subject, from being both bullied and having a detailed technology background, I always see the shocked faces of parents who have no idea what is happening in their kids online world," said Smith.
"More than anything else, I want kids to look at a person like me and know that I get it," said Smith. "I want them to know that I understand what it is like to not want to go to school, because you know what it is going to be like. I want them to know that I know what it is like to wish you were dead, so that the pain of it would go away. I also want them to know you can survive it and that it only takes one person to believe in you and support you. For me it was my mom and my high school drama teacher. For them, it can be anyone."
Barbara Swanston has compassion for the bully. "I think we need to be very mindful when we address the issue of bullying. Yes bullies must be dealt with, yes we must not tolerate children been bullied or terrorized, and we need to not become bullies when we deal with bullies," said Swanston. "When I looked closely at the logo on the pink T-shirts it seemed to me that the bully was being held up as 'bad' and being humiliated. What lesson are we modeling for everyone and how is that going to change the bully's behavior? I am not sure what the answer is although I think it lies in teaching kindness, compassion, including self-compasion and resilience
Child abuse bill would rightly toughen law
For many years, North Carolina lawmakers took a hands-off attitude regarding child abuse and neglect. Until the early 1980s, adults who abused and neglected children were punished only in the worst cases, and the punishment typically was not severe.
That's changed, and if a bill moving through the state House now becomes law, then North Carolina will demonstrate that it is really serious about punishing those who abuse children.
The old mentality centered on the concept that parents owned their children and, therefore, could do pretty much as they pleased when it came to discipline. Thirty years ago, legislators pushed by child advocacy organizations threw out that reasoning.
The bill under discussion, sponsored by Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover, has already passed a House judiciary committee. Now the budget committee must decide if the state can afford to get tougher on parents and caregivers who seriously injure a child under the age of 16.
We can't think of a better way to spend state tax dollars than in fighting child abuse and neglect.
The bill focuses on punishment, raising the maximum sentence in such cases to 125 months in prison, almost double the current maximum. That sounds appropriate to us.
But we'd also like to see a bigger state effort made to prevent child abuse, to prevent the injuries to children and the prison sentences for the perpetrators. Any abuse that is prevented is far more favorable an outcome to society than is the locking away of a parent or caretaker.
Social workers have a good idea of who is likely to abuse children. Those who were abused as children become adults, far too often, who take the same kind of action. So, we'd like to see counseling programs that are aimed to break this cycle of abuse. We'd like to see educational efforts made to reach parents and caregivers in ways that will help them identify their potential for harming children.
Tougher sentencing and better prevention programs are needed in this state. Here's hoping that legislators succeed on both approaches.
How next pope must tackle child sex abuse
by Jeff Anderson
Editor's note: Jeff Anderson is an attorney and the founder of Jeff Anderson and Associates in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has represented survivors of sexual abuse by clergy and other authority figures for 28 years.
(CNN) -- As Pope Benedict XVI steps down, the moral authority and future of the Roman Catholic Church depends on the next pope forcefully dealing with child sex abuse in its ranks.
Benedict had the power to effect fundamental, institutional change from the top that would have protected children of future generations. Benedict failed on child protection and the sexual abuse of children was allowed to continue, with thousands of more cases on his watch.
Before his installation as pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the keeper of the traditional papal secrecy around sexual abuse as the leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He issued orders directing cardinals, archbishops and bishops to keep credibly accused priests in ministry, to move them to a different parish or to keep them in the priesthood because they were too young, too infirm or their removal would cause too much scandal for the church.
As pope, he condemned the abuse more strongly than his predecessors, but he did nothing to act on his words.
What must the next pope do to regain trust and moral authority?
There are seven concrete measures the future pope can and must implement to bring about change within the clerical culture on child sexual abuse.
First, disclose the names of all the clerics credibly accused and known to the Vatican worldwide along with the country, state and parish or school where the offenses were allegedly committed. More than a dozen bishops have already created such lists and made them public.
Second, publicly disclose all of the documents within the Vatican's archives that pertain to reports of child sex abuse, the Vatican's response to it and the hierarchy's role in the abuse. The church must begin to make amends to survivors, and exposing the secrets and concealment contained in such documents is a critical step.
Third, revise church canon law and Vatican protocols so that no secrecy surrounds child sex abuse. Secrecy is toxic, and in it, child abuse flourishes.
Fourth, require each bishop and church official to report clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement.
Fifth, retain independent and outside professionals to conduct an audit to assure compliance and reliability. An example of a case where this independent investigation worked is the Louis Freeh Report regarding Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
Sixth, retain independent and outside professionals, nonclerics who do not have a requirement of obedience to the pope and bishops, to conduct investigations into child sex crimes by clergy.
Seventh, retain independent and outside professionals to train, educate and modernize child protection procedures and protocols in every diocese worldwide.
To move forward, the Roman Catholic Church and its leader, the next pope, ultimately must handle child sexual abuse among its clergy with transparency and honesty, rather than internally and secretly. Then and only then will the church and its leader regain any moral authority and move the Roman Catholic Church forward from the 16th century to the 21st on child protection.
Can any and all of these things be actually done? Of course. But if past is prologue, the Vatican will continue to operate above the law in denial, minimization and blame.
I do believe though that there is hope and promise for a better future with a transformative and transparent attitude at the top, with a new pope dedicated to openness and accountability for all clerics who have participated or been complicit in these crimes.
I represent thousands of survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy, and in two of those cases, I have named Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy See as defendants, because I truly believe that all roads lead to Rome and thus, responsibility is seated there.
Until and unless there is transformational change at the top, they will continue to be faced with worldwide and mounting global crises, external pressures and the continuing fall of a moral empire. Until there is change at the top, it is business as usual.
Be part of child abuse prevention efforts
Prevent Child Abuse Coweta (PCAC) continues its call for volunteers. The purpose of the group is to raise awareness and to provide education about child abuse and neglect. The public is very much needed by PCAC and is invited to the next meeting to be held at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Rutledge Center is the meeting site and is located at 61 Hospital Rd., just across from the old Piedmont Newnan Hospital.
Anyone who is interested in being on the email list for PCAC has only to send a response to email@example.com or call 770-252-0894. Persons responding will be added to the PCAC email list to be kept informed of future meetings and calls to action.
PCAC is needed as an advocate organization in our community. Child abuse is a problem that so often goes undetected, thereby leading to a child suffering irreparable damage.
The annual installation of pinwheels representing cases of child abuse in Coweta County will be held on April 2 at 10 a.m. Volunteers are needed and welcomed at the site in front of the Wadsworth Auditorium on Jefferson Street.
The Annual Candlelight Vigil for Prevent Child Abuse will held in Veterans Park on Jackson Street with date to be announced.
Plano firm on new mission after workers witness child abuse
by TERESA WOODARD
PLANO — There's hardly a moment when laughter doesn't fill the air at Motus Digital in Plano. They create video games and animated projects that wow people with their complexity and entertain them with their humor.
For Christmas, they came up with an animated Elf named Herby. Via Skype, Herby talked live with patients in hospitals and families at home, making even the sickest kids smile.
But what happened on December 6 sickened the entire studio.
"I stood there and froze, because I was a cartoon elf at the time," recalled Kyle Blietz, senior producer at Motus,
A little boy who was Skyping with Herby the Elf was screaming repeatedly as he was being hit. Blietz saw a man with a belt in his hand strike the young man.
Motus Digital did not regularly record its Skype sessions, but Blietz and his general manager and art director Michael Daubert grabbed their cell phones and recorded violent screams. The audio is difficult to hear.
"You're hearing what we saw," said Daubert. "It's a scream that's not just a scream of, 'Please, stop'; it's a scream of terror and pain."
The boy called the studio, asking to Skype several times within an hour, and each time the calls ended in screams. Daubert and Blietz didn't initially believe what they saw, and wondered if they were witnessing a parent just disciplining his child.
But when the belt appeared, they felt they were witnessing abuse.
Because parents have to fill out an online permission slip to interact with Herby, Motus Digital knew the boy's name and his town. They called 911 in Plano and were transferred to the city and state where the child lived.
Police there took a report and went to investigate, but filed no charges.
"They interviewed the gentleman," Daubert said. "He said, yes, he was disciplining the boy for being on the computer. The boy said he was on computer when he shouldn't have been, and said he deserved to be punished, and it was left at that."
But for Daubert, that wasn't enough.
The child in the cell phone video kept reaching out to Herby the Elf, and Daubert thinks that is a sign.
"What we saw with Herby the Elf is that the children can connect," he said. "They can connect with this cartoon elf faster than they did to an adult."
So Motus Digital is now brainstorming ideas, and talking to experts in the field of child abuse. They are considering creating a new character which agencies could use to comfort abused kids and educate all kids.
They brought in the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center for an eye-opening seminar in their office. The startling statistics — that abuse is reported within each zip code in Dallas County, and that only one in 10 children actually tell about abuse — made them mad enough to make a difference.
"That's the only way anything ever gets done," said Lynn Davis of the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center. "Somebody is finally tired of it and stands up and says, 'I am gonna do something about it.'"
Blietz and Daubert say they are both forever changed, and they hope people realize reporting abuse is always the right thing to do — even if it doesn't result in charges being filed.
"If you see something, say something," Daubert said.
"There's a lot that can be done, which means there's a lot we can do," Blietz added.
Proposed Pennsylvania bill would prevent rape victims from choosing between rapist's parental rights, child support
by Colin McEvoy
Under Pennsylvania law, if a woman bears a child from rape, she can ask a judge to end the rapist father's parental rights, such as custody or visitation.
But if she does so, under a loophole in the law, the woman would surrender her ability to collect child support from the father.
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, hopes to change that by introducing a bill that would let a rape victim terminate those parental rights and still receive child support.
"For a million painfully obvious reasons, we never want to give a rapist a legal advantage over a victim," Schlossberg said. "The law should protect the victim, not the rapist."
State law allows a parent to petition for involuntary termination of parental rights in several cases, including if the parent is the father of a child conceived from rape or incest.
But as the domestic relations law currently reads, if that father's parental rights are terminated, his child support obligations also end.
Schlossberg said being forced to choose between the two further victimizes a rape victim and is particularly burdensome for lower-income single women who depend on that child support.
"This creates a huge injustice for a woman who may be further traumatized by being forced into maintaining even a cursory relationship with her attacker," he said.
Schlossberg is seeking co-sponsors for his bill. Within the next month he plans to introduce it to the House Judiciary Committee, which would review it before making a recommendation to the full House.
Although 26 states allow rape victims to place their children for adoption without the father's consent, 31 states have no laws allowing them to terminate the father's parental rights if the victim keeps the child.
Thirteen states -- including Pennsylvania -- have laws allowing the termination of a rapist father's parental rights, according to a Duke University School of Law study.
Another six limit the father's visitation or custody rights, including New Jersey, which prevents custody or visitation to a rapist parent "unless it is in the best interest of the child," the study says.
Kristen Houser, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said proposed laws like Schlossberg's are "common sense," but aren't more widespread because cases of rapists pushing for parental rights aren't common or widely publicized.
"I really think this comes down to how frequently do you have an assailant who is so sadistic that they try to claim parental rights?" she said. "But it does happen, and it's just so off the charts of anything the average person can conceive of happening."
Houser said she believes more attention is being brought to the issue after last year's elections, when candidates received national attention for their comments about rape.
She cited Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, who famously said women rarely get pregnant from "legitimate rape," and Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said pregnancy from rape was "something that God intended." Both men lost their elections.
Past efforts unsuccessful
Nationwide, about 32,100 women become pregnant from rape each year, according to a widely cited 1996 study from the Medical University of South Carolina.
Pennsylvania lawmakers have made unsuccessful efforts in the past to ban custody or visitation for rapist fathers altogether, unless the child is of suitable age and consents to the father's rights.
State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Philadelphia, has proposed that bill twice in the last three years, although unlike Schlossberg's, it does not address child support.
Cruz drafted the bill after two of his constituents who had children from rape expressed that their rapist was getting out of jail and they were powerless to stop him from visiting with their children, according to Joseph Evangelista, Cruz's chief of staff.
Evangelista said both bills were defeated because the Republican party controls the state House, Senate and governor's office, and he believes they obstruct any legislation from the Democratic party.
He also said special interest groups objected to the legislation because it specifically targeted rapists who are men and they wanted language that was gender-neutral.
Raunchy Raps By Luie Rivera Jr., 9, Sign Of Possible Child Abuse, Police Say
BROCKTON, Mass. — A lawyer for the family of a 9-year-old Massachusetts rapper who appears in sexually suggestive videos is criticizing authorities' decision to investigate whether the boy is the victim of possible child abuse or neglect.
The boy who performs as "Lil Poopy," is a thriving, well-adjusted fourth-grader with a good home life, good grades and musical talent, attorney Joseph Krowski Jr. said Monday of client Luie Rivera Jr., who is of Puerto Rican descent.
"This is just what I would call a racially-tinged investigation because whoever watched it probably doesn't understand rap," Krowski said of his client's work. "...This isn't some child left alone that's not going to school. It all comes down to content in the videos, which is protected by the First Amendment."
On Sunday, Brockton police asked state child welfare officials to look into possible abuse after watching Lil Poopy videos following a feature story about him in local newspaper The Enterprise.
Police said Monday they haven't filed any criminal charges. A Department of Children and Families spokeswoman confirmed that officials are looking into concerns about the young Brockton rapper's welfare.
The investigation will include interviews with everyone who lives in the child's home and likely others who have contact with the 9-year-old, such as school officials, DCF spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen said. Child welfare officials can refer the case to the local district attorney's office if an investigation finds any criminal behavior.
"The filers of this report wanted to make sure the child is being properly cared for," Isaksen said. "...So the department will look into all aspects of this."
The videos show the boy slapping a woman's buttocks, engaging in sexually suggestive dances and glorifying drug use and materialism.
The boy's father, Luis Rivera, told The Enterprise that his son is acting and not doing anything wrong.
The newspaper said Lil Poopy has performed alongside Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and was discovered in his father's music studio by the rapper known as French Montana, who founded Cocaine City Records.
Lil Poopy music that was posted to an online mix tape site last October has lyrics that include him singing about being a "bad boy" and a "cocaine cowboy."
It showed about 8,600 downloads and 195,000 views by Monday afternoon.
YouTube posts also feature the boy singing "Coke ain't a bad word," and show him with Coca-Cola.
Educating children to speak up about inappropriate behavior can help combat abuse, expert says
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sexual abuse of children in the United States has been declining, federal statistics indicate. In 2011, 61,472 cases of sexual abuse of children were reported, nearly 2,000 fewer than the previous year and continuing a drop from more than 150,000 in 1992, according to an annual report of child abuse statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
More public education efforts about the crime provide the main lines of defense, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
It's important to teach adults the seriousness of sexual abuse of children and the long-lasting damage it can do to the child, he said. And for children, use preventive education to teach them that if someone touches them inappropriately, or takes images of them, they shouldn't be afraid to speak up about it: "We will be there for you."
The effects of child abuse
by Lisa duTrieuille
Maureen Lowell, a licensed marriage and family therapist, defines child abuse as any treatment either a single incident or a pattern of any treatment over time that harms or potentially harms the physical, emotional or developmental needs of the child.
According to Jonee Donnelly, a licensed marriage and family therapist, there's a different categories of abuse. Donnelly says there's different categories of abuse. She says there's maltreatment, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Lowell says that it actually doesn't have to harm the child( sexual abuse) but its the incident that makes it sexual. She says its got the potential to harm the child and is thought to impact a child developmentally. Donnelly says when children witness domestic violence this is known as a form of maltreatment or emotional abuse. She also says there are different degrees. Donnelly says generally a betrayal of trust, a child is dependent upon, has the most impact because it changes the child's perception of what's safe in the world. She says that if a child is physically harmed in a sadistic way or malnourished its something the body may not recover from. Lowell says each one is subtlety different but all of them fit under the definition of harm or potential harm to a child physically, emotionally, spiritually and developmentally.
Donnelly says there are different ways to look at harm. She says there is a difference because for one thing one would look at the context. Donnelly says if the child who has been abused has been brought into treatment by the caregiver this means the caregiver of the child is:
|1) acknowledges something happened and
2) it needs treatment and is supportive of the child because treatment can be time consuming and expensive.
So she says a person who didn't get treatment as a child may think many people didn't acknowledge it, didn't think it was worthwhile to look at or minimized it. She says treatment deferred is similar to putting one's life on hold until the individual gets some valediction that wasn't good for the person and that must have hurt.
Lowell says the outcome is much better if the child is treated earlier. Lowell says the better outcome isn't necessarily therapy, it is the person who is going to help the child through a frightening event and to feel safe, get back on track in terms of being able to pay attention to whatever they may be learning- potty training or the alphabet. Just as Donnelly said earlier, Lowell also agrees that the real key impact is the context. She says that if a child is left to struggle with an abusive incident, that level of fear, despair and trauma they experience, they aren't likely to have good outcomes.
Lowell says if the context isn't very rich emotionally and relationship resources, it needs to be augmented with therapy. She says someone who does not get that as a child are at much higher risk. Lowell says if all those were deficits before a traumatic experience and no one is supporting the child to go through the event, if the individual waits until they are an adult to go through that experience is going to be embedded in memory that's not integrated, these adults are more likely to experience subsequent victimization in terms of risk factors.
Lowell says the age of the child when the trauma occurs matters. She goes on to say ages play a part in terms of outcome. Lowell says a very vulnerable time for a child is the first three years and the first five years of life. She also says adolescence is a very vulnerable time. Lowell says the key thing that's going on is what the brain is able to do with events.
Lowell says that the first eighteen months, what people would consider an infant, the brain structures are not online yet. So the child's got a memory system that is called implicit memory. Lowell goes on to say that it doesn't have the integration of the structure of the hippocampus that allows implicit memories to be integrated into autobiographical memories. So one's neurons are making an imprint of it. But a level where it can't encode time, place or self. Lowell says its just sitting there as an event. She goes on to say what's happening without the hippocampus to integrate, one is very vulnerable. Lowell says that its because it gets fired again so one lives like its happening now even if the person is 10 years old, 20 years old or so on.
Because of the child's non verbalism when they're an infant, they could be horribly abused and not be able to articulate it at all. Since layers of memory are tied together. She adds as they get older, what happens to them, they just know their body is not their friend and they spend a lot of time being scared, feeling vigilant. Donnelly says the earlier the abuse happens, the more it becomes part of the child's organic way of being in the world. She says they learn that adults aren't to be trusted and/or they hurt.
Donnelly says a child who has a caretaker who is sexually abusing them, the abuser is sort of training the child into a skewed version of human relationships. According to Donnelly, if that's what one has grown up with, its hard to change one's perception that adults will hurt them and love them at the same time. She says that all becomes convoluted in the way one sees what's appropriate, it messes with one's sense of boundaries. An Adult who is abused as a child, their reality is sex equals love or food or a lack of a beating. Donnelly has worked with very young children who were molested from infancy until it got detected at three or four years old. And. she says these are children who believe they're job is to sexually engage with adult males for instance. So the child will climb on a lap and try to fondle somebody. Donnelly says the child doesn't know that that's wrong. She says she tries not to make them think they are wrong or they've done something wrong.
So its a very delicate balance. She says the child is just doing what they thought was necessary to please someone in order to get some of their needs met. Donnelly says the young child learned these skewed lessons early. And then these children goes out into the world and acts in a way that gets them a lot of negative feedback and/or gets responses that are more abusive. Donnelly says if this individual goes out into the world and they act out sexually with an eight year old boy down the street, she doesn't know how the eight year old boy will respond. But the boy might respond in a way that continues the abuse, so it gets compounded. Donnelly says that then the individual is in school and might be the one who gets into trouble, acts out so they get constant messages that they're broken. According to Donnelly, by the time that person gets to be 16 or 17 years old, there have been so many "forks" along the way that took them to the dark side. They could be using drugs to self-medicate, they could be beaten up. Donnelly says they may run away a few times. She says they may also self-medicate by cutting and/or self-mutilation or sexual promiscuity or shop lifting. Donnelly says those are ways to distract one or seek some sort of gratification.
According to Lowell, attachment is the foundation of future relationships. Attachment theory is we have a biological propensity to bond. Donnelly says that basic biological bond happens with a primary caretaker. Lowell says if one doesn't get a secure attachment in the first three to five years, they can get that at any point of their life. The difference is that there aren't a lot of situations that we open ourselves up. We come into the world really literally dependent upon other people to regulate. Lowell says that as an adult its is going to be much more difficult to turn that around because they've set up their own pattern of relating. Lowell says because of the developmental opportunities, the risks, the vulnerabilities for a very young child, these are great opportunities because at that young age one still has so much developmental dependencies on relationships. And, a child is much more open. So one of the places we have it is in an intimate relationship if we really get close to somebody. Lowell says the problem is if you avoid or are ambivalent, you're not likely to open up to people.
Lowell says to have a secure attachment means the child experiences distress and they're unable to regulate themselves around that distress, the child turns to the caretaker and they send out signals of distress. According to Lowell the secure attachment is developed when the caretaker sees the distress and responds to the child and helps the child feel calm again and their neurons in the brain and mind see the world as a place they can find security. She says the child knows that to reach out works so they keep reaching out to people. So distress doesn't overwhelm them neurologically. Lowell says as they are in the process- 10 month old, three years to five years they're building pathways for self-regulation. If one doesn't get it then its not a secure attachment. The thing that is bad is that not only do kids, who aren't securely attached, have deficits in being able to accommodate distress but they're going to feel distress more often, they're going to get triggered for distress more often. Not only do they have less capacity to regulate but they will additionally feel it more often.
According to Dr. Stephanie Raney, abuse at the hands of an attachment figure puts the child in a really, really horrible situation because of what it means. Dr. Raney says if one's attachment figure is the person who is causing the distress, there's no way out of that situation for the child. From the child's perspective, they can't verbalize it. They're little body is overwhelmed with stress and distress. And the only place they can go to soothe themselves is the caregiver. It is the caregiver who is the cause of the distress. And according to Dr. Raney this dynamic is called disorganized attachment. She says disorganized attachment is the worst one you can have. When this occurs, the therapist will either work with that child and/or work with a safe caregiver and the child. The therapist will work with the safe caregiver to help the caregiver to help that child whenever they get stressed and their emotional system goes haywire.
According to Dr. Raney the safe caregiver is the one whose going to help the child turn to the attachment figure and know that they're going to be safe, that they're going to be okay. Dr. Raney says if a therapist is working with in which as a result of the abuse results in them having disorganized attachment, that child will early on if something distressful is happening, that child will pull away from the therapist. Dr. Raney says an adult will use what they're familiar coping strategy is. And the therapist will try to help them over time see that the way they're coping isn't really helping them. Some individuals will dissociate, to go away in their mind. Dr. Raney says the therapist will introduce ideas they can do to soothe themselves instead of dissociating.
Lowell says as an adult its going to be much more difficult to turn around because one has already has set up their pattern of relating. They've learned to survive. Lowell says the strategy may be avoidance in the attachment but they may have learned to avoid. She says they may learn to just get anxious. Any number of things has been layered on top of this as an adult. Lowell says its just more difficult to access and if you're talking about adults they're brains aren't doing the same kinds of things they use to do in conjunction.
According to Lowell certain types of abuse can trigger emotional illness. Lowell says that psychological abuse has a very high impact on depression. Constant character assassination of the child may lead to depression and anxiety. She says that sexual abuse is one of the worst outcomes for kids. Others will say that psychological abuse is more detrimental. According to Lowell psychological abuse is probably going to be the basis of any sexual abuse. She says that when one looks at people who have a sexual abuse history, they're most likely to dissociate. Lowell says psychological abuse has some very profound effects. Its associated with some of the most retractable depression. She says sexual abuse is right up there with having severe effects such as cutting and/or self-mutilation and suicidal ideation. Suicide attempts are much higher for survivors of sexual abuse.
Lowell says that a child who goes through distress and doesn't get a secure attachment will potentially have either one of the two other forms of insecure attachments. For example, one kid tried to reach out but didn't get the response of their caretaker. Lowell says some kids will be avoidance. She says they're going to stop trying to get help. They're experiencing stress, they're very distracted. Their not trying to get help anymore which is called avoidance attachment. Lowell says these include anxiety so they try, and they go to the parent who doesn't regulate them so they may push away. She says what one sees ultimately is that contact the caregiver doesn't help bring them back to a point where they feel secure. Lowell says those are kids who continue to struggle. They haven't internalized that self-regulation like a secure attachment.
Lowell says worst outcome occurs when a kid is raised in a chaotic environment when not only did they not get the responsiveness but they are frightened and overwhelmed too much of the time. Lowell says this is a very small group of kids that have disorganized attachment. She says these kids are going to be very distressed so something will set them off, they just can't regulate. Lowell says those kids are most likely to be aggressive because they get overwhelmed and extremely agitated and don't know what to do. They are just going to really become deregulated at a more extreme level.
What someone looks like when they are healed from abuse, according to Dr. Raney is that the person has integration of their implicit memories, implicit bodily memories. She says their narrative memory is coherent because this individual has integration and if they feel themselves getting triggered they understand what's happening, they have the ability to develop effective coping strategies so when they become aroused( not sexually) and triggered they know what to do with it. Dr. Raney says they have the capacity to have close inter-personal relationships that are not the ghosts of what they experienced before. So in other words- healthy attachments.
Rebuilding life after sexual abuse: Atlanta's Dave Moody speaks out
by Maria Saporta
For Atlanta builder Dave Moody, his life's biggest project has been rebuilding himself after having been sexually abused when he was only 10 years old.
Moody kept that secret buried for 26 years until 1992 when he finally told his wife, Karla.
But Moody wasn't prepared for what followed — repeated anxiety and panic attacks that left him unable to breathe. After undergoing countless medical tests, through therapy he finally realized that his attacks were connected to the abuse that he had tried so hard to ignore for most of his adult life.
Now Moody is on a mission. He wants to share his story so people can see that one can successfully survive sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress disorders as well as anxiety and panic attacks. If his story can help just one person, it will have been worthwhile.
Moody, 56, is no stranger in Atlanta's business and social circles. His firm is the second-largest minority contractor in Georgia (after H.J. Russell & Co.); and C.D. Moody Construction Co. ranks as No. 46 in Black Enterprise magazine's 2012 list of the nation's 100 largest black businesses.
Moody has been involved in the building of Underground Atlanta, Philips Arena, the Olympic Stadium and Turner Field, the new World of Coke, the recently opened Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal at the Atlanta airport, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Omni Hotel.
Moody Construction also has been the sole contractor on several other projects including buildings at his alma mater — Morehouse College, Atlanta Metropolitan State College and the restoration of the historic Tompkins Hall at Tuskegee University in Alabama.
“Even with the success I've had, I have had to push myself to gain self-esteem,” Moody said in a recent three-hour interview. “I'm still dealing with it. It's taken me up until now to be at peace.”
Moody's story goes back to when he was living in Chicago's South Side. Both his parents were teachers, and there was a woman who would take care of Moody and his two younger brothers when they came home after school.
When he was 10 years old, when his parents were going out at night and their regular baby sitter wasn't available, she sent over her teenage son to babysit the Moody boys.
The male babysitter first started showing Moody some pornographic cartoons, and then he made his move.
“It was sexual,” Moody said. “He did things to me that a man shouldn't do to a child.”
As best he can remember, the sexual abuse occurred at least twice.
“Pedophiles are good at what they do,” Moody said, adding that his abuser threatened to beat him up if he were ever to tell someone what had happened.
Fortunately, the teenager only babysat Moody a few times. But the abuser still lived in the neighborhood — a constant reminder of what had happened.
Then, in 1970, Moody's father got a job in Ann Arbor as vice provost of the University of Michigan — causing the family to leave Chicago's South Side.
“I was no longer there, so I was able to bury what had happened,” Moody said. “Ann Arbor was really paradise for me. It was what I needed at the time. It also gave me the ability to realize I could do whatever I wanted to do in life. It gave me the freedom to dream.”
Moody was a quarterback his senior year of high school. He enrolled in Morehouse College and received a degree in psychology in 1978. He then earned a bachelor of architecture degree from Howard University in 1981.
He then went to work for Bechtel Power Corp., working as a field architect on nuclear power plants. That's when Moody realized that his heart really was in construction rather than design.
So he began working for a couple of contractors in Atlanta. And then on April 1, 1988, C.D. Moody Construction was launched.
(In celebration of having been in business for 25 years, Moody has launched a website — www.moodyspeaks.com — where he has been sharing his business and personal experiences.)
Five years later, all of those experiences surfaced. The Moodys found out that a close family member on his wife's side had been an abuser. That was the trigger that led Moody to tell his wife what had happened.
Instead of that being a relief, Moody's life turned upside down. Soon after, while he was driving, Moody thought he was having a heart attack. He pulled over and called his wife to say goodbye. Then Moody was attending the Regional Leadership Institute in St. Simons, and it happened again, sending him to the hospital.
At the same time, the Moodys had two young children, and his mother-in-law was dying of a brain tumor — all adding more family stress.
“My wife's mother died in June, and I couldn't sit through the funeral,” Moody said. “I came as close to a breakdown as one can get. I didn't know what was going on.”
And there was the business. While he was crumbling inside, Moody was part of the team seeking to build the Olympic Stadium.
He remembered being part of presentations with builder Larry Gellerstedt, mustering all the strength he could.
“I could always get the stomach and courage to get the business done,” Moody said. “Construction is so therapeutic for me. Any time it got to be too much, I just could go to the job site. If I hadn't been in construction, I don't know if I could have recovered the way I did.”
Still, looking back, Moody said: “There's no way I should have survived 1992; 1992 was the toughest year of my life.”
Somehow Moody managed to live with his “tarnished” past, something he still had only shared with his family and closest friends.
Then came Penn State's sex abuse scandal, in which assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused and found guilty of sexual assault of at least eight underage boys.
“It was just so horrible that adults turned their backs on those kids,” Moody said. “It made me sick. When I saw their eyes, they were lifeless. I wanted to reach out to those boys to let them know that life can be OK.”
That was when Moody realized that he could no longer be silent and that God had a plan for him. He toured the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, which helps kids who have been victims of sexual abuse. At the end of tour, he broke down and cried.
“If I help just one person realize that life can be OK, it will be worth it,” Moody said. “I want to give hope to people who have suffered from sexual abuse, panic attacks, anxiety attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Moody also has realized that being a victim has impacted him in several ways. It was difficult for him to leave his children with babysitters. Until recently, he had a hard time hugging children. He worried if people would look at him differently if they knew about his past abuse. Moody also has been trying to forgive and not let his abuser “have control and power over me,” he said. “What bothers me the most is that I let him get away and allowed him to hurt others.”
Earlier on, Moody wanted to exercise revenge on his abuser (and he still doesn't ever mention his name). But over time, Moody has been able to move on — partly because of his faith in God as well as his love for his family and profession.
“With architecture or construction, you are either rebuilding or creating something,” Moody said. “That's what I like about my life — it's a continuing building process. I'm finally finding out who I am as a sexual abuse survivor.”
Rape of Adopted Ohio Kids Unusual, Haunting Case
by DAN SEWELL
The one-story, brick ranch-style home blends into the working-class neighborhood along Nutmeg Square in this western Ohio city, offering no signs of the terrible secrets it once concealed.
Its former owner will return to court in Dayton on Tuesday to be sentenced for guilty pleas to child rape and related charges in a haunting case that experts call unusual because the perpetrator was an adoptive father and the victims were three boys in his care. The pleas have all but ensured he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
The 40-year-old man, whom The Associated Press isn't naming to protect the children's identities, said in an interview that he had been a foster parent, youth basketball coach and substitute teacher for years without any problems. He said he didn't adopt the boys with bad intentions.
"I always wanted to protect kids," he said during one of two interviews at the Miami County Jail. "Somewhere along the line, things went wrong."
In an era of stunning cases of sexual abuse of young boys by respected authority figures — priests, Boy Scout leaders, an assistant coach at a famed college football program — the repeated rapes of boys by an adoptive father who also arranged for two other men to rape one adopted son shocked his unsuspecting neighbors, investigators and children's services officials.
"It was just devastating to hear about. It's really sad for the kids," said April Long, a mother of three who was their next-door neighbor. She and other neighbors say they didn't suspect anything; the children played outside, and the man did neighborly things like pick up their mail or mow their lawn when they were away.
"You think: 'What could I have done? Is there something we missed that we should have seen?'" Long said, gazing at the home from her front porch lined with children's bicycles.
The single man was a foster parent for six other children before he began adopting children in the past three years. He adopted a brother and sister and an unrelated boy, and was in the process of adopting another boy, all ages 9 to 12, when authorities arrested him a year ago Sunday following an undercover sting that began when a detective looked into an online posting about "taboo sex."
Ohio officials don't believe there has been a comparable case in the state in recent years, and media reports over the past five years show only a handful of reported cases nationally in which adoptive fathers sexually abused children in their care. Child abuse by adoptive fathers is much rarer than by biological fathers, or by other male relatives and non-relatives, federal studies have indicated.
"This isn't a typical situation. It certainly isn't typical of people seeking adoption," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. "Most abusers of this sort have an interest in a child during a certain period of their development. They are looking for opportunities where they can get access to the kids. They don't want to have custodial responsibility."
Fostering and adopting children meant passing background checks and other scrutiny, with home studies and follow-up visits by social workers.
"There can be terrible, horrific instances that no one at any level of government or the adoption system foresaw," Benjamin Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said of the case. "That can be a very difficult thing to reconcile ... and we think about that a lot."
The private adoption agency, Dayton-based Action Inc., has said little about the case other than to deny wrongdoing. The state reviewed its operations and noted some procedural violations but no reason to suspend or revoke the agency's license. All the children had been in Texas foster care before coming to Ohio through the agency, one of many that work through interstate agreements to find homes for some of the more than 100,000 children in foster care awaiting adoption at any given time in the United States.
The adoptive father said the three children appeared to be doing so well, he was asked by an agency employee to take a fourth.
The children were involved in sports, school and church and played with other children. They went trick-or-treating — snapshots from two Halloweens ago show the boys dressed as Green Lantern and Star Wars' Darth Maul and the girl as a princess. They had Xboxes, Wiis and other games and toys at home.
"I loved my kids and wanted the best for them," the man said.
He said he had been sexually abused as a child by a close family member and blames that for his feeling that he wasn't doing anything wrong when he began taking the boys into his bed in what he claimed was a way of showing love.
"I never forced the boys to do anything," he said. "That might not mean anything to anyone else, but it's important to me."
But his explanation doesn't account for subsequently inviting a man to their Troy home to rape one of the boys, and then taking the same boy to another man's home to be raped. He agreed that was wrong, although he stressed that he didn't prostitute the boy by getting anything in return.
Apparently, no child ever hinted at any problem when separated from him by case workers for interviews.
"I guess they just liked it there," the man said.
Police reported that when they interviewed the boy, then age 10, who had also been raped by the two other men, he began shaking, after initially refusing to confirm that anything wrong had happened.
He told police he "didn't want to be taken from this home and separated from his new brothers and sister," a police report stated.
After the man was arrested, the 9-year-old boy who hadn't been adopted yet was returned to Texas social services authorities, while the other three were placed in foster care in Ohio.
At a pretrial hearing last November, a child psychologist testified about some three dozen therapy sessions he had had with the 10-year-old boy, the Dayton Daily News reported.
"It is so traumatic within the security of my office, when he's laying on a sofa, hugging a bear, to talk about these things," said Gregory Ramey of The Children's Medical Center of Dayton.
The adoptive father has already been sentenced here to at least 60 years in prison. In Dayton, he is expected to be sentenced to at least 50 years, to run concurrently.
He said he agreed to plead guilty in hopes of sparing the children from having to testify, that it "was the last good thing I could do for them." In a jail interview, his eyes teared up and his voice choked as he said he was sorry for the pain he had caused them.
In a letter from jail, he wrote: "I've been able to protect my kids from everything and everyone, except myself."
Beaver County preparing to stave off human trafficking
by Kristen Doerschner
It sounds like a big-city problem. Or something that happens in other countries.
But human trafficking infiltrates small towns, hitting closer to home than one might think.
That's why Beaver County is forming an anti-human trafficking response team and coalition. The driving force behind the program to raise community awareness are the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden.
And just because no cases of human trafficking have been identified in Beaver County, that doesn't mean it hasn't happened, noted District Attorney Anthony Berosh.
“All too often we find out too late,” he said.
Beaver County Detective Lt. Kim Clements said the goal now is to build awareness of the problem and know that it may happen or can happen here.
“We have all the crime New York City has, it's just not, thank God, on such an epic scale,” Clements said.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Popovich said Beaver County may not have as much sex trade activity as larger cities, but it is an area where labor trafficking could be more prevalent.
“We do have an immigrant population that is growing,” Popovich said. Often times the people who are exploited are vulnerable because they come from a culture with a distrust for law enforcement and are often unable to speak the language.
Popovich said recognizing human trafficking on a local level requires people to change their perspective. Instead of dismissing repeat runaway teenagers as troublemakers, look at what they are running away from, she said.
There may not be a base for the sex trade in Beaver County, but that also doesn't mean that kind of activity isn't going on, Popovich said. There are websites where men can essentially order women to be delivered, and some of those advertisements are based in Pittsburgh.
Beaver County's project is modeled after the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape anti-human trafficking task force that was developed in the eastern part of the state, but Clements said the local effort will be adjusted to meet the needs of the area.
Involved in the response team will be the district attorney's office, county detectives, Beaver County Emergency Services, local police, the Beaver County Jail, adult and juvenile probation, Beaver County Children and Youth Services and the Women's Center.
The anti-human trafficking coalition will be made up of community members. The coalition will form subcommittees to address issues such as raising awareness and fundraising for the initiative. Popovich said several concerned community members already are involved.
The coalition's next meeting is at 3 p.m. March 6 at Villa St. Joseph in Baden. Any community members interested in attending should call (724) 869-2151, extension 6247, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A new law
A new law requires certain types of businesses to post a flier in their establishments regarding human trafficking.
However, many business owners likely aren't even aware of the law.
The law, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act, took effect Dec. 25. It requires a flier with the phone number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline to be posted in drinking establishments, personal service establishments, adult entertainment businesses that have live adult entertainment, airports, train stations or bus stations, hotels or motels that have been declared a nuisance, full-service truck stops and welcome centers and rest areas on highways.
According to the law, the flier must be posted in a conspicuous place.
If required businesses do not post the flier, they will be given a warning. If the owners still do not post the flier, they can be charged with a summary offense or a misdemeanor and face fines of up to $500.
A copy of the flier can be downloaded through the Polaris Project website at www.polarisproject.org
The complete legislation can be found at the website legis.state.pa.us
Help and resources
The following is a list of hotline numbers and resources in you suspect someone is the victim of human trafficking:
- Beaver County Detective Lt. Kim Clements: (724) 773-8576
- The Polaris Project National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888) 373-7888
- DHS Human Trafficking Hotline: (866) 347-2423
- Pennsylvania State Police Terrorism/Fugitive Tip Line: (888) 292-1919
Fracking and trafficking
- Pennsylvania Immigration Recourse Center: (717) 600-8099
Beaver County could become a hotbed of human trafficking if the gas drilling boom arrives in the future.
Krista Hoffman, a criminal justice training specialist with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, warned a group of law enforcement, human service agents and citizens at a recent anti-human trafficking training seminar in Beaver County to be prepared for a problem.
Hoffman said a drilling boom means an influx of a large population of transient men. She said other areas have seen an increase in human trafficking with the increase of drilling.
Traffickers watch for areas where there will be a lot of potential business, Hoffman said. “That's a lot of money to be made,” she said. “They're going to be bringing victims.”
District Attorney Anthony Berosh also noted his concern when speaking to the group.
Authorities in Beaver County are hoping to launch a preemptive strike against human trafficking before sex trafficking becomes a real problem here, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Popovich said.
“Our job is to keep our eyes open,” Berosh said.
Workshop about sex trafficking in SD next month
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson is one of several speakers scheduled to discuss sex trafficking in South Dakota during a workshop next month in Rapid City.
The Rapid City Journal reports (http://bit.ly/YOMTiP) the South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence and Native Women of the Great Plains Society are sponsoring the free workshop. It's scheduled for March 5-6 at the Adoda Eco Hotel.
Other speaks include the executive director of a crime-victims center in Owego, New York and representatives from the Minnesota Indian Woman's Sexual Assault Coalition, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and a women's shelter.
Kentucky, other states try to protect sex-trade victims
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky may soon join a small but growing number of states enacting laws to protect juvenile victims of the sex trade.
House Bill 3 would restrict authorities' ability to charge minors with offenses related to prostitution and require that minors suspected to be involved in prostitution receive social services.
If the bill passes, the state will join 11 others with "safe harbor" protections, according to the Polaris Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that pushes for stronger anti-trafficking laws.
"Across the country there's been this awakening that children shouldn't be prosecuted for prostitution-related offenses," said James Dold, senior policy counsel at the Polaris Project.
Florida passed legislation last year that treats trafficked children as dependents rather than delinquents. New Jersey's 2011 law creates a presumption that a prostitution defendant younger than 18 is a "severely trafficked person," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York was the first state to approve safe harbor protections in 2008.
Kentucky passed its first human trafficking law in 2007, making it a felony to force someone into labor or commercial sexual activity. But state authorities have prosecuted fewer than 20 cases since 2008, even though an organization such as Catholic Charities of Louisville has helped at least 150 victims, state officials said.
The state's safe harbor proposal is part of a larger bill that would strengthen the 2007 statute and expand services. For instance, the measure would allow victims to sue labor traffickers for unpaid wages and receive punitive damages.
The bill also would create a fund to pay for more law enforcement training to identify victims. It would be financed through a requirement in the bill that convicted traffickers forfeit property and pay a $10,000 fine.
Advocates for a stronger law say juvenile victims sometimes end up in detention unrecognized, without any services. The minors have been charged with child prostitution or are more likely to be arrested for related offenses, such as repeatedly running away or skipping school. Children also can end up in adult jails on prostitution charges because they've lied about their age and carry a fake ID.
Kentucky's legislation, sponsored in the House by state Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, has bipartisan support and more than 80 co-sponsors. It passed the House last week and awaits action in the Senate.
Marissa Castellanos, manager of Catholic Charities' human trafficking services, said more training can help police identify child victims.
"If it's not their parents (selling them into the sex trade), it's their older boyfriend, sometimes advertising them online," Castellanos said. "And right now if you have a 13-year-old who's being pimped out by her boyfriend, she doesn't qualify for services."
The Louisville Metropolitan Police Department already trains officers to crack down on trafficking. An undercover sting in 2011 led to the first indictment under the 2007 law in Jefferson County. Police arrested Justin Ritter, 22 and Rebecca Goodwin, 36, on charges of coercing a 17-year-old girl into prostitution and giving her heroin. Goodwin pleaded guilty and got a 10-year prison sentence. Ritter's case is still pending.
Despite such cases, data on unrecognized child victims in Kentucky's juvenile justice system are hard to find.
Stacy Floden, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, said her agency is unaware of having detained trafficking victims. The department supports the bill, Floden said, and already has doctors, nurses and psychiatrists who screen for abuse at detention centers.
"If there were any concerns, they would definitely be addressed," she said.
Castellanos said teens often lie about their age and carry fake identification, landing them in adult jails on prostitution charges. The juveniles often don't seek help because they've formed such a strong bond with their "boyfriends."
An exploited girl doesn't consider herself a victim, said Gretchen Hunt, with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs. "She is mouthing off to the judge and wanting to go back to her boyfriend," Hunt said. "Trauma is messy."
Hunt said advocates are trying to find out exactly how many unrecognized victims are in the system.
"Two years ago there was only one child charged with prostitution in this state," she said. "But that data is very misleading because we know it to be true that they are often forced by a pimp to use a fake ID or to lie about their age."
Hunt said a strong indicator of the problem is Kentucky's large number of runaways, who are at high risk for being trafficked, and the number of kids incarcerated each year for "status offenses" such as running away or truancy.
Kentucky Youth Advocates, a Jeffersontown-based nonprofit, reported in May that more than 1,300 juveniles were locked up in 2011 for status offenses. The number fell from its peak in 2007 of more than 2,200 incarcerations.
"Up to fairly recently, these kids have been considered delinquents because they're committing crimes," said Kimberly Mitchell, a psychology professor at the University of New Hampshire's Crimes against Children Research Center. "There's been more and more of a push for this kind of change in the understanding of why (victims) are doing what they're doing."