Uganda priest ostracized for publicizing sexual abuse
The Catholic Church suspends Anthony Musaala indefinitely for shining a light on what he calls an open secret: Sex abuse is a problem in Africa too.
by Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
KAMPALA, Uganda — He is a celebrity across eastern and central Africa, a gospel music star known to many as the "Dancing Priest." But for years he also was a keeper of painful secrets — his own and many others'.
In going public, Anthony Musaala has forced the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda to confront a problem it had insisted didn't exist. And he may stir a debate far beyond Africa's most Catholic of countries.
The Ugandan priest has been suspended indefinitely by the archbishop of Kampala for exposing what he calls an open secret: Sex abuse in the Catholic Church is a problem in Africa as well as in Western Europe and North America.
The African Catholic Church is fast-growing, pious and traditional. As the church elsewhere forks out billions of dollars to compensate the child sex abuse victims of priests, few African Catholics have questioned the assumption, voiced recently by Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, that the African church is purer than its counterpart in the West, which is regarded as secular and permissive.
It's not more pure, says Musaala. He says he has the evidence to prove it.
"The Vatican turns a blind eye because it doesn't want to be embarrassed about this blooming church. But I think it's time we had the truth," Musaala says.
In March, he wrote to the archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Lwanga, about priests who fathered children, kept secret wives or abused girls or boys, and called for a debate on marriage for priests.
One of the cases of abuse he cited involved himself. He was one of numerous boys sexually abused at 16, he says, by Catholic brothers at one of Uganda's best boarding schools. He also alleged several other cases of child sex abuse in his letter.
"Wherever you go, people know about this. It's like an open secret. People know. Nothing is ever done," said Musaala in an interview.
The letter was leaked to the news media. And in response, Lwanga suspended Musaala, saying his statements stirred up contempt for the Catholic Church and damaged the morale of believers.
Later in the month, Lwanga acknowledged that abuses had taken place, apologized to victims and set up an internal inquiry. But he did not backtrack on Musaala's unpaid suspension.
Lwanga's limited concession came after South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban said in a BBC interview that he had dealt with cases of child sex abuse, which were handled by the church internally, and not referred to the police. He suggested that the perpetrators weren't criminals and needed counseling.
"Some of the priests went, according to the wisdom of the time ... for treatment, came back and have been under — what we call it — personal surveillance and have functioned quite normally ever since," he said. Napier later apologized, but also accused the BBC of twisting his words in the radio interview.
For African Catholics, the revelations of child sex abuse in Western churches are shocking enough. But the idea that African priests might be sexually abusing boys had been unthinkable. Paradoxically, many believers in Africa are aware that some priests break their vows and father children, but talking about it is taboo.
Catholicism is the most popular religion in Uganda. In the center of the hilly capital, the faithful gather daily at Christ the King Church, and so many touch the foot of a large statue of Christ that its shiny toes gleam in the sunlight.
Parishioner Stephen Sanya, 68, a retired postal worker, said it was common knowledge that some Ugandan priests have sex, or, as he put it, "serve nature" instead of God.
"There are cases where [priests] indulge in these things. I have seen and heard of cases," said Sanya, dawdling in the warm afternoon sun after dropping in to pray. "It's scandalizing. I suggest that if a priest is not ready to be celibate, he can resign and get married. But I haven't seen that happening in Uganda. Here, it's secret."
Anyone who calls for these embarrassing secrets to be brought to light, placing the church in an awkward position, doesn't get much sympathy from Uganda's conservative churchgoers, even if the allegations are true. To traditionalists, what Musaala is doing is un-African.
But then, Musaala is the kind of man who doesn't exactly fit in, and perhaps it took an outsider like him to toss out the first allegations.
Educated in Britain for many years, he's a creature of two worlds, not completely at home in either. His clipped British accent and his quaint turn of phrase mark him as an outsider in his home country. His attitudes, and his soaring sense of individual freedom also are imports.
Indeed, after Musaala's letter became public, a Catholic government minister close to the archbishop advised him to apologize. "He said, 'You spent a lot of time in England and you have been here for 17 years, but you've never quite understood the kind of environment in which we live here,'" Musaala said in a telephone interview. "'And the kind of things you are trying to say just do not fit well in this kind of environment.'"
Musaala, born in Ireland, where his Ugandan parents were studying, did not move to Uganda until he was 9, when his parents returned home from London.
Musaala's mother worked as a dress designer and his father a state prosecutor, often away from home. They sent their son to a boarding school.
"I just felt unloved. My parents were absent. I didn't really experience deep love from my parents to make me feel valued. At school I had low self-esteem and acted out, always in need of attention. I think the abuse just complicated everything."
The Catholic brothers who he says abused him at boarding school were like parental figures. The sex abuse was confusing because, at last, he was getting adult attention and "love."
"At the same time I was hating it," he says. Soon, his life went off the rails; he was expelled from three schools in three years, once for stealing a watch.
He fled to London and worked as a travel agent while spending evenings in nightclubs. But feeling a profound lack of meaning, and even considering suicide, he eventually moved to Kenya, where he became a Benedictine monk.
When that didn't work out, he returned to London at 30 and joined a seminary there.
Ordained at 38, he returned to Uganda in 1996 and became a charismatic Catholic evangelist, traveling around East, Central and Southern Africa. Over time, he became well known for his gospel music, and was nicknamed "the Dancing Priest" by Ugandan media.
But information he received from some of his churchgoers proved troubling, he says.
"I do a lot of counseling and people share their stories with me. In almost every country I went to, I would hear these stories about priests with children and vulnerable women and young people who have interacted with priests," he said, referring to sexual intercourse. "And I was just thinking, how can this be possible on such a scale?"
The suspended priest says he spends hours each day sitting under a tree in his garden. He has no work. He thinks, prays, reads the Bible. He feels as if he is undergoing a test, like the biblical prophets "who said things that kings did not want to hear."
When he suggested to church colleagues that victims of child sex abuse should be compensated, they were horrified, suggesting that hundreds of people would file fraudulent claims.
"There are real victims who need to be compensated and who need psycho-social help. I think the church needs to set up a fund to deal with these cases," Musaala said.
At times, he fears for his safety and worries about the possibility of a mob attack. He's considering leaving Uganda, even though he loves his country.
The newspapers "have written that I'm masquerading as a Catholic priest but I am a devil worshiper who has to be stopped at all costs. I'm trying to take it day by day.
"Then again, I don't want to be some kind of martyr."
Child abuse hotline a closer reality
by Jace Larson
DENVER - A single statewide phone number that Coloradans can use to report child abuse is expected to clear a legislative committee Thursday.
The bill could be signed into law as early as next week if the Senate Health and Human Services committee approves it Thursday afternoon. It has already passed a final vote in the full House.
9NEWS showed how reporting child abuse currently can be confusing since non-emergency reports must be filed with each individual county's Department of Human Services. The information came to light in joint-project with The Denver Post called Failed To Death.
A statewide child abuse hotline was identified by child-abuse experts as a way to improve Colorado's child-welfare system. Experts have noted that sometimes those who report abuse don't know in which county the child lives.
The bill requires the Department of Human Services to create a steering committee to develop a plan for a statewide child abuse reporting hotline.
Details about how specifically the hotline will work have not been hammered out. The bill requires the hotline to be up and running by Jan. 1, 2015.
The costs for implementing the hotline are projected at $25,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Next fiscal year, costs are estimated at $704,800. The cost is projected to be between $1,228,066 and $2,620,995 in fiscal year 2014-2015, according to the revised fiscal impact note for House Bill 1271.
The costs including expenses for information technology, public relations, the call-management system, legal services and travel, among other expenses.
The hotline would provide one number that anyone could call statewide to report child abuse.
The committee vote is expected to happen after the committee meets at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
SECOND CHILD WELFARE RELATED BILL
A second bill will require the state to take a longer look at a child's history when a child dies, nearly dies or suffers egregious abuse due to child abuse or neglect.
Senate Bill 255 requires the state to review the past three years of a child's life instead of two.
It expands the time frame that the Department of Human Services has to complete child fatality reviews from 30 days to 55 days and allows the department to withhold information from the public if it is contrary to the best interests of the child.
The bill also requires the Department of Public Health and Environment monitor trends in child facilities and make recommendations on ways to prevent child fatalities.
Alabama bill puts attention on child abuse
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Legislature is expanding the types of occupations that are required to report cases of suspected child abuse.
Current law requires doctors, social workers, nurses, day care workers, teachers, and others to report suspected abuse. A bill by Republican Rep. Dickie Drake of Leeds adds physical therapists, all public and private K-12 employees, and employees of public and private institutions of postsecondary and higher education to the list of mandatory reporters. The House passed the bill in April and the Senate approved it Thursday without a dissenting vote. The bill now goes to the governor.
Democratic Sen. Vivian David Figures of Mobile says the bill is a great advance in protecting children.
The bill also provides misdemeanor penalties for employers who discipline or penalize employees for reporting suspected abuse.
Child abuse program takes new direction
by Tim Novotny
COOS BAY — The doors of the Child Abuse Intervention Center greeted 213 Coos County children in 2012. Experts say many more suffer abuse in this community and do not come forward.
To improve the odds, the center is changing its priorities.
This week Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier and Bay Area Hospital announced a transition from an advocacy model to a medical model. The hospital and its health district will be the center's program sponsor.
“We think this is an important asset in our community and we are grateful to the hospital for taking this over, and we are also grateful to the women's safety team for having run the center for so long,” Frasier said at a press conference in the hospital's new wing.
The Women's Safety and Resource Center has been the parent organization for several years.
The program lets children be interviewed in a “kid-friendly” environment. It has always been operating under the advocacy model, also sometimes referred to as the prosecution model. Frasier said he started to think about switching the focus in 2008, but the need heated up over the past 18 months.
“I've seen what the kids go through, I've seen what the parents go through,” Frasier said. “Can we help them deal with what has occurred to them? That ought to be more of a priority.”
Prosecution is still the goal, but the emphasis will be on caring for the victim first.
“Part of the problem was, the kids would come to the building, then have to go the North Bend Medical Center. Then, if they needed therapy, they'd have to go to mental health or to a private provider. They were going all over everywhere, and sometimes the kids, quite frankly, get lost in the cracks. Especially kids who don't have insurance, are not on the Oregon Health Plan, where do you get the therapy? The medical model will help fill in some of those cracks.”
Jon Richards, chairman of the Bay Area Health District Board, agrees that a shift in focus was needed.
“If you take that hierarchy of needs, it's taking care of the immediate medical needs and then working toward solving these other issues, always with the child in mind. And I would hope the hospital can keep that focus.”
Frasier said the change may help prosecutors strengthen their cases.
“With the medical model, obviously there's going to be medical checkups and things like that, that will be done routinely at the beginning of the investigation, and that may lead to forensic evidence that we might be able to use.”
The switch will take place July 1, with the start of new grant funding. A new name, as yet undetermined, will accompany the change.
For now the facility will stay in its current location on Woodland Drive in Coos Bay, although a future move to a larger facility is on the wish list.
More volunteers needed as child abuse numbers rise
by Julie Neal
With rising numbers of child abuse and neglect in Jim Wells County, Brush Country Court Appointed Special Advocates started training new volunteers Thursday night.
Volunteer Trainer Stefanie Perryman said CASA tries to hold training every one-to-two months but is more than happy to increase that as demand rises.
The eight-week class is from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday at First United Methodist Church in Alice through May 30. The class will cover 10 chapters that deal with child psychology, family dynamics, court proceeding and how to write court documents to present to a judge.
In an abusive or neglectful situation, advocates are appointed to children to help determine what is the best situation for their case. Advocates meet with family members, the child, the child's teacher and therapist, as well as other people involved in the child's life.
The advocate presents what they think is the best situation for the child, anything from foster care to adoption, to a judge. Child Protective Services also submits a report.
CASA has been active in Alice for the last 11 years and is also involved in Duval, Brooks, Kenedy and Kleberg counties.
Perryman said in the last two year, JWC has seen a spike in child abuse and neglect cases.
"That's why we're so desperate to get advocates over there," she said.
Centers Opening To Help Victims Of Child Sexual Abuse
by Rob Poindexter
Augusta - A new proposal gaining support among lawmakers would make life easier for victims of child sexual abuse.
The measure creates nine centers throughout Maine that would provide comprehensive care for children who are the victims of sexual abuse and their families.
Police and the district attorney of Kennebec and Somerset County joined lawmakers today to announce the measure.
"It's not mandatory, obviously. It does not have a fiscal note. The governor sent word last week that he would indeed provide some funding to set up some of the center and that he supported the bill," said the bill's sponsor Senator Margaret Craven of Lewiston.
Sibling sexual abuse on the rise
by Katie Gibas
Child advocates are worried about an increasing form of child abuse that many parents may not even be aware of. They say child on child abuse has been on the rise in recent years and education and awareness are key to preventing it. Our Katie Gibas spoke with advocates and one parent who's gone through the situation. That parent's name and voice have been changed to protect the family.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For "Kay," the pain was unimaginable.
"My first reaction, I bawled my eyes out crying. I felt helpless, like I can't protect my kids. I felt like I let my kids down," said Kay.
One of Kay's children sexually abused her younger child.
"Every time they play together, and that's all you think about. It's constantly on your mind. And it doesn't go away. Still to this day, if my kids wrestle around at all, it's on my mind," said Kay.
And Kay's not alone. The face of sexual abuse is changing.
"People always thought it was just the stranger. The guy lurking in the park. We had all the stereotypes around that and then we realized, no, it's people kids know. And so we started to deal with that in the appropriate way. And now, we're starting, not starting, we've been seeing for quite a while now where it's a kid on kid situation and that seems to be growing," said Christine Larkin, who is on the Child Resource Response Team.
It's a situation that poses serious problems for parents.
"They're completely torn because there's a natural tendency for parents to want to protect their children. And when one child is the one who is harming another, I think it becomes difficult to want to protect or help out that child," said Allison Young, the Elmcrest Children's Center Director of Residential and Community Based Services.
"I don't want my kids to grow up with the pain. I want them to get help. I have been working with my kids every single week and talking to the therapist and dealing with things and learning about why it happened and understanding it, changing it, fixing it," said Kay.
Through the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center and Family Transitions at Elmcrest, Kay has implemented a safety plan, including door alarms, a monitoring system and constant supervision.
"I've learned more structure since I've been here and going through this program. And I think before I had let my guard down more as a parent. And I've just learned more, a lot more," said Kay.
And that education, both for parents and children, is what advocates say is key to prevention.
"Secrecy is what maintains sexual abuse. Talk about our bodies. To talk about sexual abuse in general and that there's an open dialogue in the home makes it feel more comfortable, so if, in fact, something does happen, your kids are exposed that they know that there's already a conversation and discussion that's open and they can go to their parents," said Young.
While Kay and her family are on the road to recovery, it's not an easy one. She says what gets them through is knowing there's hope and healing is possible.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, you can report it by calling the state Child Abuse Hotline at is 1-(800) 342-3720.
(Extended video interviews on site)
Church sexual abuse just as likely for girls
Young girls are just as likely as young boys to be sexually abused by a member of the clergy, a new QUT study has shown.
The report, 'They Did Not Believe Me': Adult Survivors' Perspectives of Child Sexual Abuse by Personnel in Christian Institutions , is the first of its kind in Australia relying on personal experiences rather than church data.
Dr Jodi Death from QUT's Crime and Justice Research Centre said the results, published yesterday, contradicted previous studies showing young boys were more likely to be sexually assaulted in the church.
"Past studies, which have relied on the church's data, have shown that boys are represented in about 80 per cent of sexual abuse cases, but we saw an almost even split (49 percent male and 51 per cent female)," Dr Death said.
"It may be because traditionally women and girls had a lesser position and voice in the church so the abuse against girls is less likely to be recorded.
"Theologically, the responsibility for the abuse falls in a different area. With the boys there is the construction of the issue as homosexuality, which is then dealt with as a sin."
The report also shows that the majority of sexual abuse against females (54 per cent) occurred between the ages of 6 and 10, while abuse against males most commonly (48 per cent) took place when they were aged between 11 and 13.
"It also concerned me how deep the impact has been," she said.
"The comments from the participants show the depth of not just the abuse, but also the 're-abuse'- the way it was dealt with by authorities and the church."
Dr Death said her survey was also the first to look at 'non-denominational' abuse within Christian institutions, although 80 per cent of the 81 participants said their abuse was at the hands of clergy within the Catholic Church.
"In 60 per cent of the cases it was also found that the clergy were deliberately targeting vulnerable families where domestic violence or alcohol abuse were taking place. It appears there was a very deliberate guise of offering help and support to vulnerable mothers in order to get access to young children," she said.
"This number is alarming, but we know that sexual abuse in the wider society is also more likely to take place when there are issues within the family unit.
"It appears that in 40 per cent of these cases the vulnerability was, in fact, just being engaged with the church."
People 18 or older who suffered abuse by anyone employed by or who volunteered with a Christian organisation such as a church, school or children's home can still take part in confidential interviews. For more information email Dr Jodi Death at email@example.com
At a glance
|- The onset of abuse occurred at an earlier age for female participants than male participants
- Participants most commonly (41 per cent) waited 20+ years before disclosing their abuse.
- 54 per cent of people who officially reported the abuse did so with police. 53 per cent of these cases resulted in official investigations
- 71 per cent of single perpetrator abuse occurred between 1961 and 1985
- 37 percent of participants experienced occasional (16 per cent) or frequent (21 per cent) incidents of abuse over a long period of time. Only 17 per cent of participants recorded a single incident.
- The perpetrator of abuse was most commonly (40 per cent) identified as a priest
- 25 per cent of incidents of sexual abuse took place primarily at school, 19 per cent at the perpetrator's house and 14 per cent at the home of the survivor.
Kentucky Derby Triggers Spike in Human Trafficking
by Mark Martin
Human trafficking is on the rise in Louisville, Ky., this week. The reason? The Kentucky Derby.
Criminals try to take advantage of big events like the Derby that bring many potential customers to town seeking prostitutes.
"We have high rates. We have a serious problem," Gretchen Hunt, of the Louisville Metro Police Division of Child Abuse/Domestic Violence Services, told CBN News.
"These pimps or handlers look at it as a way of making fast money in a one-day or two-day event, and they are going to double or triple what they normally make, so they'll bring these girls in from all over," Sgt. Andre Bottoms said.
Louisville metro police and victims' rights groups monitor websites known for advertising adult escorts.
They estimate postings on these sites have tripled for Louisville this week leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
"And before Keeneland's Spring Meet and before the Derby, women—and what we believe to be are children—are advertised as 'fillies' and 'mustangs,'" Hunt said.
Bottoms says the prostitution and human-trafficking rings are set up in hotels and motels in every part of the Kentucky-Indiana area surrounding Louisville. He estimates about 10 percent of the hundreds of prostitutes in Louisville this week are being forced or coerced.
After each prostitution arrest, police look for signs of trafficking.
"Then we change course, and at that point, we treat them as a victim and not a criminal," Bottoms explained.
Therese Flores is a human-trafficking survivor. She found the organization TraffickFree, which helps build awareness through what's called the "SOAP Outreach." SOAP stands for "Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution."
At national events like the Kentucky Derby, the outreach program distributes thousands of bars of soap to high-risk motels in the area.
The soap is wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking hotline number, 1-888-3737-888, and asks questions like, "Are you being forced to do anything you do not want to do?"
Volunteers offer the soap free of charge to motel owners and explain what is happening to young girls in their motels.
Philly conference focuses on support for male survivors of sex abuse
by Maiken Scott
Child sexual abuse continues to be in the news, but for many victims the issue remains shrouded in shame and silence.
An all-day conference at Widener University Saturday will address childhood sexual abuse -- focusing specifically on male survivors.
The conference aims to spark conversation on this difficult topic by evaluating the impact of childhood abuse on men's lives or discussing how perceptions of masculinity shape survivors' shame and guilt.
It was organized by the Joseph J. Peters Institute and Widener University as the second annual conference in their "Deepening Men's Relationships" series.
The conference also aims to get men to open up about past abuse, to begin a healing process.
Another goal is to teach mental health professionals how to recognize signs of past abuse, which victims often do not disclose, said Dr. Robert Garfield, a psychiatrist who helped organize the conference.
"This happens so often with patients that I see that will come in with problems of depression, or marital problems," he said. "You begin to hear that there is a story behind the story."
Garfield says the information will also be important to physical health professionals because many survivors have health problems such as stomach issues.
"Problems are actually carried in the body of the persons themselves, so it behooves health professionals in general to be able to be tuned in when they take a history to be able to read behind the symptoms that sometimes other things are going on," he said.
For more information about the conference and to register, go online or contact JJPI's Peter Simonsson at 215-701-1560.
Boyhood Shadows: I Swore I'd Never Tell Gives Voice to Survivors of Childhood Abuse."
May 2, 2013
KQED presents the shattering new documentary Boyhood Shadows: I Swore I'd Never Tell
The silence is broken.
One in six boys is sexually molested by the age of 16. The statistic is staggering .
In the groundbreaking documentary Boyhood Shadows: I Swore I'd Never Tell, filmmakers Steve Rosen and Terri DeBono ( Accidental Hero and Beyond Barbed Wire ) explore the life-long emotional carnage of this epidemic. Brave and unflinching, Boyhood Shadows shines a light on the strength of the human spirit and brings a platform to those who thought they were voiceless.
Filmed in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Jersey, Boyhood Shadows chronicles the journey of five men whose lives were changed by childhood sexual assault. Seeking help through one of just a handful of support groups for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse (in fact, only forty or so groups exist worldwide), these survivors continued to suffer in secret while family and friends were kept in the dark and at a loss to understand the trauma they were going through. What they learn is there is no shame in recognizing and facing one's trauma, as child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
At the film's center is Glenn, a man who came under the power of a sexual predator as a young boy. Past and present are woven into the revelation of Glenn's story. Numbing his pain as a teen with alcohol and drugs, he held the secret and the shame from his family. His story is not much different from other men who have shared the same history. One in six boys is sexually molested by the age of 16. A difficult topic, but if we don't talk about it, who will?
Filmmakers Rosen and DeBono create an intimate, personal look into the lives of the survivors. They are joined by spouses, family members and friends, healthcare and law enforcement professionals, consultants, authors, actors and politicians. Created out of a need to support and help heal male survivors of childhood sexual abuse, Boyhood Shadows speaks out on the realities of childhood sexual abuse. Among the film's awards are the Bronze Award at WorldFest Houston 2009, Silver Place at the 2009 AAECT Film Festival and a prestigious nomination for Best Documentary at the 2010 Swansea Bay Film Festival in Wales. Organizations such as the Lackland AFB Sexual Assault Prevention Outreach, the MaleSurvivor Convention and the Prison University Project have screened the film as a learning tool. Both powerful and empowering, Boyhood Shadows builds awareness around the devastating effects of childhood sexual abuse.
The program is presented by KQED and distributed by NETA for public television.
El Centro man indicted for sexual exploitation of young girls
SAN DIEGO — Federal authorities are seeking the public's assistance to help identify potential juvenile victims as part of an ongoing child sexual exploitation probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Damian C. Mora, 30, of El Centro, was indicted April 10 by a federal grand jury for sexual exploitation of a minor. He was taken into custody April 9 after HSI special agents executed a search warrant at the El Centro home where he had resided since January. Prior to moving to the Imperial Valley, Mora was longtime resident of Mexicali, Mexico.
During the search, agents seized multiple videos of minors engaged in sexual acts with adults. Mora's collection of child pornography also included images showing the sexual exploitation of children as young as 2, which were found on his desktop computer.
"Combatting the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet will always be a top priority for HSI," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "The best way to protect innocent children from online sexual predators is for law enforcement, educators, parents and concerned citizens to join forces and fight back."
If convicted, Mora faces up to 10 years in prison and maximum lifetime supervised released. Mora's next court hearing is May 17 in San Diego District court.
According to the court records, suspicions about Mora's activities first arose during a probe targeting an online forum that encouraged users to post their sexual fantasies about young girls. Mora had joined the online forum in 2011 and posted numerous sexually explicit comments about his interest in young girls, often boasting about his collection of child pornography under the user name of girlover82.
HSI is asking anyone with information related to the defendant or the ongoing investigation to contact ICE's toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423).
This case is being conducted as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including Internet child pornographers. As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free tip line or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce , an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
In the first six months of fiscal year 2013, HSI child sexual exploitation investigations nationwide resulted in the arrest of more than 960 suspects and the rescue of more than 330 juvenile victims. Nineteen of the suspects were arrested in San Diego and Imperial counties.
Fighting child abuse an all-year effort
National Child Abuse Prevention Month concluded this week.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has seen recent significant growth in the number of reports of child maltreatment received by the Centralized Intake Child Abuse Hotline. The number of children placed in foster care has also increased to more than 2,000. Every day, DPHHS staff work tirelessly to carry out the mission of keeping children safe and families strong. However, responding after a report is received is not enough.
The work of preventing child abuse requires the efforts of all Montanans, and it starts long before a call is made to the Child Abuse Hotline.
The 2011 Legislature requested an interim study of ways to reduce childhood trauma and its long-term effect on children. The report emphasizes research that the human brain, which grows to 85 percent of its adult size by the time a child is 3 years old, is profoundly shaped by the child's experiences during those years, particularly by the safety, stability and nurturing that the child's primary caregivers do or do not provide. It stressed findings that unaddressed childhood trauma affects a child's behaviors later in life and can lead to problems such as poor physical health, addiction and mental illness.
The report also noted these problems can be prevented through early intervention, especially through prenatal care, parent education, family support, and other efforts to prevent or mitigate childhood trauma.
Future generations are counting on us to find ways to help strengthen our families and communities. We can do this by helping to build protective factors in Montana families. There are six protective factors that can help families become self-sufficient and raise healthy, happy, and successful children:
• First, every parent must understand the importance of nurturing and attachment. The essential need for every young child to have a consistent and caring relationship with a parent cannot be overstated or underestimated.
• Every family must have the opportunity to learn about basic child development. Children do not come with instructions, but they probably should.
• Parents need to develop resilience to allow them to parent through the times of stress, and understand that all families have times of stress. This resilience can come from many sources, but it requires that families have the ability and knowledge needed to access outside resources and services in the community when that time comes — without stigma. We all need help sometimes.
• Families need social connections. As we think about the little things that each of us can do to prevent child abuse, think about making connections to families in your community who might not have them. Knowing the families in your neighborhood, and being a positive connection and support for those families with young children, has never been more important.
• All families need solid support. In our communities and our state, we must support those agencies and providers who work tirelessly to ensure that all families have access to food, clothing, housing and some form of transportation. More often than not, it is Montana's children who lack access to these basic supports.
• Last, the importance of social and emotional competence in children must be understood and promoted by each of us. The skills that our children need to be successful in their careers are built in day care centers, schools and on playgrounds and ball fields. There is no way to make up for lost opportunities in childhood.
As a parent, I know that it is not enough to provide my own children with the building blocks for a successful future. I know that their success, and the success of the generations to come, depends on how we treat all children. I hope that during and after Child Abuse Prevention Month, each of us will find a way to strengthen the protective factors of families in our Montana community.
Montana children need a safe, stable family environment.
Each individual in Montana can protect children being abused or neglected by reporting suspected abuse or neglect. To report concerns about a child's safety, call 1-866-820-KIDS (5437). Another way to help is by learning more about becoming a licensed foster parent.
To learn about becoming a foster parent, call 1-866-939-7837 (866-9FOSTER) or e-mail AskAboutFosterCare@mt.gov
Sarah Corbally is Child and Family Services Division administrator in the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services based in Helena.
Parents can reduce the chances of sexual abuse
by CURTIS PETERSON and JOSE AMPARO
April is child sexual abuse prevention and awareness month. Having a child sexually abused or physical hurt is often a parent's worst nightmare. However, many parents can turn their fear into action by understanding that they are the No. 1 protective factor in a child's life.
Most children are sexually abused by a family member or someone they know. Understanding this, parents can take proactive steps to reduce the chances of sexual abuse.
Proactive steps such as creating a structured and consistent home environment, taking time each day to sit as a family and talk about the day (this is best done at dinner time), knowing who children are hanging out with (especially adults), spending online time together and finding out where your child is surfing on the web, not leaving children with individuals just because they are family or because they have a child friendly title.
Finally, when it comes to prevention of child sexual abuse, parents should not fear talking to children about sex, and making sure children have appropriate sexual language and understand your family values when it comes to sexual behaviors. Always remember that in today's world if you don't educate your child, someone else will and it maybe someone who might take advantage of them.
While these are the best prevention strategies, sometimes we do all we can as parents to protect our children and bad things happen. Here are some things to look out for just in case the unthinkable act of child sexual abuse has occurred in your home:
|• Some children may have fear of undressing.
• Since many children in these situations are traumatized, they may engage in regressive behaviors, such as bed-wetting, thumb sucking, and/or hurting themselves.
• Masturbating excessively.
• Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members, friends, toys and pets.
• Complaining of pain while urinating or having a bowel movement, or exhibiting symptoms of genital infections such as offensive odors, or symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease.
• Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems, including unexplained gagging.
• Showing unusual fear of a certain place or location.
• Developing frequent unexplained health problems.
• Engaging in persistent sexual play with friends, toys or pets.
• Having unexplained periods of panic, which may be flashbacks from the abuse.
• Regressing to behaviors too young for the stage of development they already achieved.
• Initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors.
• Indicating a sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person.
• Engaging in self-mutilations, such as sticking themselves with pins or cutting themselves.
• Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities, like school or school performance change.
• Asking an unusual amount of questions about human sexuality.
It should be noted that these are just warning signs and may or may not indicate sexual abuse. When your child does have some or most of the signs, it would be wise to seek professional help through local agencies such as Amberly's Place. These professionals know how to talk to children and help guide families through what happens if a child is sexually abused.
Finally, we should always remember that we all have a role and responsibility for the children of our community. Never be afraid to stand up for a child who discloses that he or she has been sexually abused, report to authorities and become a child's hero.
Curtis Peterson is the violence prevention coordinator at Arizona Western College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org -- Jose Amparo is the child and family therapist at Easter Seals Blake Foundation. He can be reached at email@example.com
Child Victims Act passes Minn. House; still not done deal
by Madeleine Baran
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota House lawmakers on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that would allow victims of child sexual abuse more time to sue abusers and institutions that failed to protect them.
The final tally - 115 votes in favor and seven opposed - came as a surprise to the bill's author, Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-Hopkins.
"I'm really, really pleased and gratified, and the margin in particular was a pleasant surprise to me," Simon said. "I think it demonstrates that people know there's something wrong with current law."
State law says victims of child sexual abuse must file any civil lawsuits before age 24. Many victims of sexual abuse and their supporters say that's not enough time. Victims often keep abuse secret for decades, and it can take years to realize that other problems, such as intimacy issues, depression or drug addiction, stem from childhood sexual abuse.
The Child Victims Act, as passed in the House, would eliminate the civil statute of limitations for all new cases. For past cases, it would give victims three years to decide whether to file a lawsuit. At the end of the three-year window, no lawsuits for past abuse would be allowed.
The original version of the bill made no distinction between past and future child sexual abuse cases, but it was amended after objections from some lawmakers and lobbyists for Minnesota Religious Council. Opponents of the bill argued that removing deadlines for older cases would create too much financial risk for churches and other institutions.
The Senate version of the bill, authored by Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, would eliminate the civil statute of limitations for all child sexual abuse cases. It awaits a vote on the Senate floor. Any differences in the two bills would need to be reconciled by a conference committee and then signed by the governor.
"This is not the last stop, by any means," Simon said.
PTSD Research: Distinct Gene Activity Patterns from Childhood Abuse
Abuse during childhood is different.
A study of adult civilians with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) has shown that individuals with a history of childhood abuse have distinct, profound changes in gene activity patterns, compared to adults with PTSD but without a history of child abuse.
A team of researchers from Atlanta and Munich probed blood samples from 169 participants in the Grady Trauma Project, a study of more than 5000 Atlanta residents with high levels of exposure to violence, physical and sexual abuse and with high risk for civilian PTSD.
The results were published Monday, April 29 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition .
"These are some of the most robust findings to date showing that different biological pathways may describe different subtypes of a psychiatric disorder, which appear similar at the level of symptoms but may be very different at the level of underlying biology," says Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
"As these pathways become better understood, we expect that distinctly different biological treatments would be implicated for therapy and recovery from PTSD based on the presence or absence of past child abuse."
Ressler, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, is co-director of the Grady Trauma Project, along with co-author Bekh Bradley, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory and director of the Trauma Recovery Program at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The first author of the paper is Divya Mehta, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Munich. The senior author is Elisabeth Binder, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory and group leader at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany.
Mehta and her colleagues examined changes in the patterns of which genes were turned on and off in blood cells from patients. They also looked at patterns of methylation, a DNA modification on top of the four letters of the genetic code that causes genes to be 'silenced' or made inactive.
Study participants were divided into three groups: people who experienced trauma without developing PTSD, people with PTSD who were exposed to child abuse, and people with PTSD who were not exposed to child abuse.
The researchers were surprised to find that although hundreds of genes had significant changes in activity in the PTSD with and without child abuse groups, there was very little overlap in patterns between these groups. The two groups shared similar symptoms of PTSD, which include intrusive thoughts such as nightmares and flashbacks, avoidance of trauma reminders, and symptoms of hyperarousal and hypervigilance.
The PTSD with child abuse group displayed more changes in genes linked with development of the nervous system and regulation of the immune system, while the PTSD minus child abuse group displayed more changes in genes linked with apoptosis (cell death) and growth rate regulation. In addition, changes in methylation were more frequent in the PTSD with child abuse group. The authors believe that these biological pathways may lead to different mechanisms of PTSD symptom formation within the brain.
The Max Planck/Emory scientists were probing gene activity in blood cells, rather than brain tissue. Similar results have been obtained by researchers studying the influence of child abuse on the brains of people who had committed suicide.
"Traumatic events that happen in childhood are embedded in the cells for a long time," Binder says. "Not only the disease itself, but the individual's life experience is important in the biology of PTSD, and this should be to be reflected in the way we treat these disorders."
This work was supported by the Max-Planck Society, the Behrens-Weise Foundation, the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (MH071537 and MH085806) and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
Governor plans review of NM child abuse laws
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez says she's forming a group to recommend improvements in New Mexico's child abuse laws.
The Republican governor, who is a former prosecutor, made the announcement Wednesday to mark the end of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Martinez said law enforcement, child advocacy representatives and officials with the Children, Youth and Families Department will serve on the group that will consider how to strengthen state laws protecting children.
The governor has proposed expanding a law that allows for life in prison for child abuse resulting in the death of a child. That penalty is an option if the victim is under 12 years of age. Martinez wants to extend the law to all children, regardless of age.
Victims left to stop child abuse: study
by Paul Bibby, Court Reporter
The abuse of children by priests and church workers often begins between the ages of six and 10, and generally only stops when victims take action to stop it or avoid it, a new study has found.
The report, They Didn't Believe Me: Adult Survivors' Perspectives of Child Sexual Abuse by Personnel in Christian Institutions , is the first Australian research drawing on church abuse victims' experiences that doesn't rely on church data.
The majority of the 81 participants reported that they had been abused repeatedly, often over several years, and that they were ''re-victimised'' by the church and the criminal justice system when they reported the abuse.
Forty-four per cent of participants said their abuse began between age six and 10, with more than half of the women participants falling into this category.
Forty-eight per cent of male participants said they were abused between 11 and 13.
''I think it would be both a surprise and a shock to the public to learn that those who have experienced and survived abuse did so at such a young age,'' the author of the report, Dr Jodi Death from Queensland University of Technology, said.
Another key finding was that for the majority of participants, the abuse did not stop because of the intervention of a parent but because they had avoided or escaped the perpetrator.
''I refused to be home Friday afternoon to Saturday night from 14 years … would sleep over at friend's places and dropped all classes he taught,'' one participant said.
Another said: ''I made it aware to him that I now understood what was happening to me and was not going to allow it to continue by calling out to my elder brother when he came into my bedroom.''
The report found that when victims had reported what had happened to them, often after many years, it was primarily to protect others from the perpetrator and make the Christian institution accountable to an external agency.
However, they were often more traumatised by the dismissive reaction they received or the experience of the criminal justice system.
Fifty-two per cent of those who reported the abuse said they were ''very dissatisfied'' with the help offered by the Christian institution to whom they reported the abuse, with 56 per cent indicating they were ''very dissatisfied'' with the truthfulness of the organisation's response.
Nikki Wells, the co-founder of Project Kidsafe, which initiated the research, said there were significant lessons in the report for the ongoing Royal Commission into the abuse of children.
"I think the lesson here is that the only way to truly understand the impact of abuse is to talk to those who have survived it," Ms Wells said.
"Their is experience is varied and their needs are varied - but the common element is that they want to be acknowledged, both by the church and by government and the community."
20 Million People Are Trafficked in Modern Day Slavery – America is Leading the Fight to Stop It
by Alison Friedman
One in three. That's the number of women who will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, according to the United Nations. Depending on where they live, nearly three in five women will at some point endure physical violence. Of course, statistics don't do justice to how brutally commonplace the occurrence of violence against women and girls is, whether in public or private spaces. The sad reality is these stories are reported in the news every day, all over the world in great detail – from horrors in Delhi, India to Steubenville, Ohio. Unfortunately, these same news stories include messages of victim blaming, arguments of consent, and junk science meant to invalidate the seriousness of these crimes.
While these statistics and stories make efforts to curb gender-based violence seem futile, we still have cause for optimism: in the United States, our laws and justice system have evolved, even if we're still trying to catch up in practice. Not long ago, domestic violence was considered a family matter, and survivors were blamed for the abuse they suffered. Now, we place the survivor at the center of these cases, with a focus on his or her own experience and needs. We listen to their voices as we continue to shape our policies and practices. And as this knowledge helps us make progress to counter gender-based violence, these lessons can also guide our work to combat modern-day slavery, what we also call trafficking in persons.
The victim-centered approach used in gender-based violence cases has been effective in helping trafficking victims get their lives back on track. Gender-based violence and trafficking in persons are different crimes, though trafficking victims are often subjected to a range of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. Those trafficked are sometimes raped as children or adults, beaten as domestic servants, forced into war, scalded with boiling water, impaled with nails, starved, and threatened. In forced labor settings, women and girls are disproportionately subjected to violence, living in fear of the danger faced by themselves and their loved ones.
Female victims of trafficking are the single mothers in Texas coerced into prostitution by a human trafficking ring that targeted their children's daycare. They are Indonesian maids, sold in the classified sections of newspapers. They are women trapped on death row because they defended themselves against their traffickers. They languish in jails mistaken for criminals — “illegal immigrants” or “prostitutes” — instead of receiving the protection they need. They're in brothels in South Asia, forced to work in sweatshops in South America, beg in the city streets of New York, or labor in the cocoa plantations of West Africa. Their exploitation is fueled by our own consumer habits — mining mica for that eye shadow shimmer or sewing a cheap jacket; picking cotton or isolating the minerals for our jeans, jewelry, shirts, and smartphones. And while trafficking victims are disproportionately women and children, men are also at risk.
Our response to this crime must mirror what we've learned in responding to gender-based violence: first and foremost, helping the survivors get their lives back on track – through a multi-sectoral response including the legal, judicial, health, and housing sectors – and choosing for themselves their own way forward.
In the U.S. State Department's 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, we report that only about 40,000 trafficking victims are identified every year compared to an estimated 20 million in the world today. That means not nearly enough trafficking victims are even on the path toward recovery, let alone helping inform and guide global policy on this issue. Instead, too many survivors who are identified are then denied their basic freedoms again by the very systems that were created to protect them – locked in shelters, deported, disrespected, and written off.
So international obligations go ignored. Opportunities to get ahead of this crime are lost. And critical knowledge about the needs of survivors and the vulnerabilities of trafficking operations goes untapped. Our global response to human trafficking is not yet equal to scale and scope of this crime — not in understanding, not in funding, and not in the stakeholders with seats at the table.
We developed new approaches to help us deal with gender-based violence. We can do that again when it comes to modern slavery. We must. After all, as President Obama said, “Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time… The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past.” At the State Department, we're committed to that fight. As Secretary Kerry said, “Slavery, whether in the United States or abroad, must be recognized, rejected and eliminated.” And so informed by survivors and aware of all that we are not seeing, we must work to ensure that our conscience, purchases, votes and elected officials all recognize and respond to this critical call to action.
For more information on how you can help fight trafficking, please visit:
First Ever App for the 1 in 4 Adults who Have Been Sexually Abused
LEEDS, England -- Kay Toon, Chartered Psycologist author of the best selling Breaking Free books, has just released a pioneering App for smart phones "k2n The Journey Begins". This is the only App available which aims to help the one in four adults, who have suffered sexual abuse in childhood, overcome their problems.
"k2n The Journey Begins" (free) is the first App in the Breaking Free series. The Apps guide survivors step by step through the problems resulting from abuse. They are available now on the iTunes App store and for Android devices in the summer 2013.
Kay Toon says:
"The Apps are aimed at younger people and other people who are increasingly using their mobile phones to access information and support. They allow survivors who are embarrassed or ashamed about past abuse to access and work on the Apps in private and whenever they want to. Friends and families of survivors may find the Apps increase their understanding of the effects of abuse."
The exercises in the Apps are based on tried and tested exercises from the "Breaking Free" books (80,000 copies sold internationally):
"The exercises have helped me to feel more self-confident and in control of my life." Catherine
"Sometimes I used to wonder if I'd ever get over this feeling of guilt. Now I don't feel guilty about what happened - I can lay the blame at my stepfather's door." Jane
"I am not ashamed anymore and am no longer afraid of my abuser. I now enjoy life to the full." Anthony
"I was so frightened of anyone else finding out. Now I feel I want to tell more people." Claire
Other Apps available now in the Breaking Free series are " k2n Keeping Safe" and "k2n Feeling Guilty" ; with further Apps in development.
The emphasis in all the Apps is on keeping safe, and they stress that the responsibility for abuse always lies with the abuser and never with the abused child.
Kay Toon is a Clinical Psychologist and nationally acknowledged expert who spent over 20 years in the NHS working with survivors of sexual abuse and developing innovative therapies.
Further information available at http://www.kaytoon.co.uk
B.Sc., M.Phil., M.Sc., CPsychol., CSci, AFBPsS
EMDR (Europe) Accredited Consultant
The Orchard, Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5BL
Sex-offender registries: Should kids be listed?
NEW YORK (AP) — Government authorities should end the practice of placing juveniles' names on publicly accessible sex-offender registries, Human Rights Watch says in a report warning of lasting and unwarranted harm to some youths.
Some law enforcement officials and victims' rights advocates agree the current registry system is flawed and support steps to allow more discretion in juvenile offenders' cases. Offenses triggering inclusion on the registries can range widely — from rape to consensual sex between children to "sexting" of photos that depict nudity or sexual activity.
"You've got to create a system that keeps the public safe but does not stigmatize a young person for the rest of their life," said Mai Fernandez, a former prosecutor who is executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.
Human Rights Watch said its report, being released Wednesday, is the most comprehensive examination to date of the impact that registry laws have on juvenile sex offenders.
"Of course anyone responsible for a sexual assault should be held accountable," says lawyer Nicole Pittman, the report's author. "But punishment should fit both the offense and the offender, and placing children who commit sex offenses on a public registry — often for life — can cause more harm than good."
The report says the laws, which require placing offenders' photographs and personal information on online registries, often make them targets for harassment and violence.
In two cases cited in the report, youths were convicted of sex offenses at 12 and committed suicide at 17 due to what their mothers said was despair related to the registries. One of the boys, from Flint, Mich., killed himself even after being removed from the list.
"Everyone in the community knew he was on the sex offender registry; it didn't matter to them that he was removed," his mother, identified only as Elizabeth M., was quoted as saying. "The damage was already done."
The registry laws generally include restrictions that prohibit offenders from living within a designated distance of places where children gather, such as schools and playgrounds.
"They often struggle to continue their education," Human Rights Watch said. "Many have a hard time finding — and keeping — a job, or a home."
According to Human Rights Watch, 747,000 adult and youth sex offenders were registered nationwide as of 2011. The organization said it was unable to quantify how many were juveniles, but it interviewed 281 youth sex offenders while preparing the report, as well as defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials and victims of child-on-child sexual assault.
Among those interviewed was a former offender from Louisiana, identified only as Austin, who was placed on a registry at age 14. According to Pittman, Austin was found to have had sex with a 12-year-old, which was under the age of consent.
"Our mistake is forever available to the world to see," Austin is quoted as saying. "You are never done serving your time. There is never a chance for a fresh start. You are finished. I wish I was executed, because my life is basically over."
Under a federal law, the Adam Walsh Act, states are required to include certain juvenile sex offenders as young as 14 on their registries.
Some states have balked at complying with this requirement, even at the price of losing some federal criminal-justice funding. Other states have provisions tougher than the federal act, subjecting children younger than 14 to the possibility of 25-year or lifetime listings on public registries.
According to Pittman, it's fairly common in about 35 states for juveniles to be placed on public sex-offender registries. Other states take that step only for juveniles convicted of sex offenses in adult court, she said, while a few place juvenile sex offenders only on registries that are not accessible by the public.
The report recommends that all juveniles be exempted from the public registration laws, citing research suggesting they are less likely to reoffend than adult sex offenders.
Short of a full exemption, the report says, registration policies for juveniles should be tailored to account for the nature of their offense, the risk they pose to public safety and their potential for rehabilitation.
"Painting all sex offenders with the same broad brush stymies law enforcement's attempts to focus on the most dangerous offenders," Pittman said.
Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, said his organization would not support a blanket exemption of juveniles from the sex-offender registries. But he said prosecutors should have the discretion to require registration or not, based upon each case.
"If a 15-year-old 'sexted' a picture of him or herself, it is safe to say that prosecutors would take appropriate steps to ensure that person isn't required to become a registered sex offender for life," Burns said in an e-mail. "If a 17-year-old had committed multiple violent sex offenses against children, registration as a sex offender would most likely be recommended."
Problems with registry policies have attracted attention across the political spectrum, including at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank in Austin.
Marc Levin, director of the foundation's Center for Effective Justice, said Congress should provide for greater flexibility in the Adam Walsh Act so states can choose to place certain youths in a non-public registry that would be accessible to law enforcement.
Levin said Texas has only a public registry, and children as young as 10 can be placed on it. He said lawmakers should rethink this policy, given that inclusion in the registry "has many serious repercussions for a child's future."
Mai Fernandez, of the center for victims of crime, said the entire sex-offender system — covering both juveniles and adults — is flawed and needs an overhaul.
"If you know a young person living in your neighborhood has raped someone, there are things that should kick in — tighter supervision, more services — to be sure that child doesn't commit that crime again," Fernandez said. "That's more important than the registry."
Experts see increase in male sexual assault awareness
by Jillian Singh
A California man who, as a child, was sexually molested by his mother, said the trauma he endured has stayed with him well into his adult life and affected his ability to comprehend his emotions and be intimate with women.
The 50-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous, said he only came to the realization that his mother's behavior was inappropriate with him as a boy, within the last few years.
“I still battle with a voice that says I'm a baby,” he said, adding that coping is a continuous struggle. “A voice in me that says I'm making it up and I'm throwing my mother under the bus.”
This man is among the 10 percent of males of all sexual assault victims in the United States working toward recovery, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Howard Fradkin, who has a Ph.D in sexology and practices in Columbus, Ohio, is also a survivor of sexual assault. He recently published the book Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive, where he cited that in the United States, six boys are sexually victimized before age 16 and one in eight adult rape survivors are men.
“As high as 80 percent of sexual assaulters are known by the victim or the victim's family,” said Fradkin, who has counseled more than 1,000 male survivors. “The problem is most people abusing victims are known to them and not strangers at all.”
In Chicago, within the last two years, the 14 hospitals that are contracted with the Rape Victims Advocates have reported an increase in males coming forward about being sexually assaulted and requesting follow-up services such as counseling.
“A couple of years ago, it used to be every one or two months a man in these hospitals would report getting sexually assaulted,” said Stephen Adler, a prevention education specialist for the Rape Victims Advocates. “Now three or five men report it every month.”
This increase in men reporting sexual assault is related to an increased awareness about the issue as a whole, which involves the dismantling of stereotypes about men and sexual assault, Adler said.
“Male survivors are recognizing they aren't alone.," he said. "Our society is slowly but surely building awareness that sexual violence affects everyone.”
One of the most common misconceptions about males who have been sexually assaulted is that they enjoyed it and shouldn't consider it a crime, said Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist and author in Beverly Hills, Calif., who has treated men who have been sexually assaulted.
Fradkin said the most detrimental stereotype of all is that males, specifically men, can't even be victims at all.
Still, as with all sexual assault victims, immense feelings of anguish and guilt often consume males, both boys and men, who have been sexually assaulted, Fradkin said.
“Many males who have been abused think it's their fault,” Fradkin said. “They think they didn't protect themselves enough or they weren't strong enough. Men especially lose a sense of masculinity and control.
"One of the reasons boys, in particular, are victimized is because no one believes they can be, just look at Jerry Sandusky,” he said, referring to former assistant football coach at Penn State convicted in 2012 of child sexual abuse.
As far as helping males who have been sexually assaulted, Fradkin explained the importance of being aware of males acting out for seemingly no reason.
“Ask more questions and pay more attention,” Fradkin said. “Parent's need to let kids know they need to be vocal anytime they feel uncomfortable with an adult's touch.”
Lieberman also said parental education, particularly for boys, is key in terms of prevention.
“Parents need to teach young boys about how to protect their ‘private parts,' ” Lieberman said. “They need to explain that there are predators of both genders who they need to protect themselves from."
In terms of recovery for male survivors, the process is often arduous, but not impossible, Fradkin said.
“Survivors need to be reminded that recovery is achievable.” Fradkin said, “They feel very low hope and have much depression, but there is plenty of support out there. You are not alone.”
“I understand as well as anyone the inclination to blame yourself over the person who assaulted you,” the anonymous source said. “Men and women aren't that different emotionally. It upsets me that sexually abused males are a forgotten segment of society.”
Can the physically disabled be protected from sexual abuse?
Research reveals that as many as 10 percent of abuse reports in 2009 were from children with disabilities
by Cara Tabachnick
Silence both sheltered and shamed Erin Esposito when she endured sexual abuse that lasted for much of her childhood.
From the age of three until she was a teenager, said Esposito, who was born deaf, her father and two brothers abused her. Confused and scared, she said nothing until her adult life unraveled in a haze of drugs and alcohol.
Part of her recovery has been to recount her experiences.
“I can't change my past, but I decided and committed myself to make this world a better place so other deaf children don't go through what I did,” said Esposito, who is now 38 and serves as the Executive Director of Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Victims, a national non-profit based in Rochester, NY.
One obstacle, according to Esposito who communicated with The Crime Report through a video relay service that uses a translator to communicate in real time, was that “people tend to think deaf and disabled people are stupid and can't communicate.”
“That,” she added, “makes us a very vulnerable population.”
Reports to child welfare
About 11 percent of the more than 300,000 sexual abuse reports made to child welfare officials in 2009 were from a child with a disability according to the Administration on Children Youth and Families (ACYF), part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
A 2012 study from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that worldwide children with disabilities are almost three times more likely to be sexually abused than non-disabled peers. The study also found that children with cognitive or mental health disabilities are nearly five times more likely to suffer such abuse.
“The results of these reviews prove that people with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to violence,” Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO's Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, said in a 2012 press release relating to the study.
“Their needs have been neglected for far too long.”
Editors Note: While many in the deaf community reject the ‘disabled' label, preferring to be classified as a cultural community, most reports follow medical and legal practice in classifying them as disabled.
Reliable national figures are not available, but in Vermont's Bennington County for example, the proportion of disabled child sex abuse cases to other child sex abuse cases has risen from almost zero to more than 50 percent in the last seven years, according to Christina Rainville, Chief Deputy State's Attorney.
There were 151 child sexual abuse investigations in 2011 in Bennington County, and, of those, 35 were substantiated, according to the Vermont report from the Department of Children and Families.
Normally, the State Attorney office prosecutes all substantiated cases, although there are rare exceptions when they do not, and the office sometimes will litigate cases outside of the state agency recommendations, said Rainville.
“I think predators target children with disabilities because these children have a hard time communicating what happens to them,” said Rainville, who has written extensively on the challenges of interviewing disabled young sex abuse victims and prosecuting their cases for the American Bar Association's (ABA) Center on Children and the Law.
To address what they consider a lack of attention to this issue, deaf community advocates such as Esposito have launched a national task force. The group, comprising representatives from the law enforcement, legal and research communities, held its first meeting in Washington DC last month.
It expects to issue a report with full recommendations in two years.
“People with disabilities are largely invisible in our society,” says Nancy Smith, Director
of the Center on Victimization and Safety at the Vera Institute of Justice, a national non-profit based in New York, which convened the task force.
Monique Hoeflinger, Senior Program Officer at Ms. Foundation for Women, which is funding the two-year study, adds that child sex abuse victims generally encounter difficulties in dealing with courts and law enforcement.
“The criminal justice system…. is set up to re- victimize kids,” she claims. “And when it comes to the disabled community, it almost completely fails.
“There are very few services and support for kids with disabilities.”
Difficult to detect and intervene
The daily realities of caring for children with disabilities mean that it can be difficult to detect, report or intervene in cases of abuse.
Numerous helpers and caregivers cycle in out of their lives— From the aides who change, feed and dress children, to physical therapists and bus drivers who transport the children.
Several of the most notorious cases have been widely covered in the press.
In 2013, a suburban Illinois man was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman. In 2011, an upstate New York man was sentenced to 40 years for molesting a severely autistic boy that he was supposed to be caring for while working for the Central New York Developmental Disabilities Services.
The New York Times detailed systematic abuse taking place in homes for disabled persons in a 2011 series.
At the same time, those who care for children with disabilities feel they don't have the tools or relationships to educate their clients about sexual abuse.
“We would love to get someone in from the outside (law enforcement) to speak to us,” said Tracey Hoffman, a social worker coordinator at United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County Inc., in Roosevelt, NY. Association Staff has been working to address sexual abuse issues for over a decade, but with limited success in reaching the students and families, Hoffman said.
Their school-based program, Children Learning Center, which serves young people from 2 to 21 years old, runs two workshops to educate them on unwanted sexual behavior.
One program for younger children, “No, Go, Tell” goes over stranger danger, inappropriate touching and asks them to identify immediately whatever seems uncomfortable for them. A technique called “Circles” helps them identify the people they trust most, with the most trustworthy (such as family numbers) in the first circle, and aides and caregivers are placed in a third or fourth circle.
Nevertheless, students often put caretakers in the first circle.
“It's so difficult to get the concepts across,” said Hoffman. “The kids don't get that aides and social workers are not their family. “
She also said that programs are only in place for the children that have more cognitive awareness and ability. The more developmentally disabled kids don't attend programs.
Julie Ann Petty, project trainer for Partners for Inclusive Communities at the Arkansas University Center on Disabilities at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and a member of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities hopes to close the gap between law enforcement and the disable community.
She counsels disabled adults who have been abused as children, and also works to educate the larger community about interacting with persons with a disability.
Petty, a married mother of two with cerebral palsy, believes law enforcement training is key to helping the disabled community report more crime and abuse to official channels.
“Law enforcement (authorities) are not comfortable with people who have disabilities,” said Petty. “(For example) I have no control of my body and people might be scared of that.”
Massachusetts recognized the barriers to communication between the disability community and law enforcement in the late 1990s when a high profile sexual and physical abuse case against two individuals with a disability forced the state to change its procedures, said Elizabeth D. Scheibel, former District Attorney for the Northwestern District.
Scheibel chaired the statewide task force that eventually formed in 1999: “Building Partnerships for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities.”
“if we are not allowing disabled people equal access to the criminal justice system then shame on us,” said Scheibel.
The partnership, which Scheibel deems a best practice, formalized a memorandum of understanding between all the district attorneys in the state and adult and child protective services that typically investigate cases.
Law enforcement authorities are also trained how to work with the disabled community—in particular, with children reporting a crime.
Rainville, whose forthcoming book, Justice for Juveniles with Disabilities, will be released by the ABA's Center on Children and the Law later this year, likes to tell the story vstory of her first client—a young girl with cerebral palsy—as a way of illustrating how authorities can address the challenges of working with disabled child victims.
The girl let investigators know she was molested by drawing graphic pictures and words of what happened to her in the sand. The technique allowed investigators to identify 11 different people, many of whom turned out to be known sexual offenders.
“It made us realize that we can communicate in ways that we're able to hold up in court,“ Rainville said.
Abuse hurts both children and community
by KIM PLEASANTS
It's tragic. Heartwrenching. Unthinkable. And it's closer to home than you may think. It may have happened to the little girl in your child's class when her innocence was stolen behind closed doors. Child abuse occurs in our community. It occurs everywhere.
Many child victims suffer in silence. They know the abuse is wrong. They also know it's a dark secret. But what happens when the silence is broken and children are finally rescued from their abusers? Who helps those children heal?
Every year, tens of thousands of children are victimized. They feel alone. Hurt. Desperate for security. Many of these children, with tear-stained cheeks and heavy hearts, count on Children's Home Society of Florida for hope, support and safety.
Children's Home Society of Florida has an ambitious goal to prevent more children from ever experiencing the tragedies of abuse or neglect. But when these senseless acts do happen, we're there for children to help dry their tears and provide them with the love they need — the love they deserve.
Often, these children are unable to safely live at home, at least for a while — sometimes forever. Children's Home Society of Florida helps ensure our local children have so much more than just an empty bed to sleep in — we're committed to helping them heal. We create stability where there once was only turbulence. And hope where there once was only emptiness.
Some children find protection and security in our local group homes, where they are embraced with love, counseling and safety. Many others join loving foster families, who open their hearts and home, for a month, a year or sometimes longer. All children receive the guidance and hope they need to begin the journey rebuilding their lives.
We help these young victims to find the strength they need to overcome the tragedies they've endured. It's not an easy process. Emotional scars linger long after physical scars have healed. And healing the scars below the surface doesn't happen overnight. But we don't give up on these kids. They need us — and they need you.
In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which ended yesterday, please take a moment to remember the children in our community who are suffering. There are far too many.
Pleasants is associate executive director for Children's Home Society of Florida, serving children and families in Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties.
By the numbers
Foster care in Volusia, Flagler and Putnam counties is overseen by the Community Partnership for Children, which reports a slight, but steady, decrease in the number of children in foster care over the last year. The following figures are from its most recent report of April 9:
906 children currently in out-of-home care, including placements with relatives.
- 6,165 reports of child abuse or neglect to date since July 2012.
- 157 adoptions finalized since July 2012 through April 30 — putting the region on track to exceed its goal of 166 adoptions in the fiscal year that will end June 31.
Child sex crime cases on the rise; victim speaks out about impact
by STEPHANIE BEECKEN
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The number of people convicted of sexually abusing children is on the rise in Knox County and across the state.
Statewide around 150 people are added to the sex offender registry each month. The number of child sex offender cases in Knox County has more than tripled in the last four years.
Regina Shelton came from what appeared to be the perfect home and privileged life, but from the age of two to nine she was sexually abused by a family member. The abuse has impacted almost every day of her life.
"The overwhelming amount of guilt and shame and low self-esteem, thinking that you're never going to be good enough," said Shelton.
Shelton never reported the incidents growing up because the abuser manipulated her, saying no one would believe her and that the behavior was normal.
According to Knox County Assistant District Attorney Charme Knight, child sex offenders often use these tactics.
In the past four years, Knight has seen the number of child sex crimes increase from 60 to more than 200 cases a year. These are contact crimes against children, not statutory rape offenses.
Knight says the increase may be due to additional detectives investigating child sex abuse cases or an increase in education.
"There's more of a push now to educate children. There's more of a push to tell them to report, so reporting may have gone up," said Knight.
TBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Margie Quin says the internet may play a role in more child sex offenses.
"Child pornography and sexual exploitation of children has spread like wildfire in an anonymous way across the internet and that is probably partially to blame," said Quin.
She says statewide, sex offenses are increasing.
6 News took a look at the sex offender registry. 211 sex offenders live in a five-mile radius around the 6 News studio. Across the state, there are 19,400 registered sex offenders. Quin say 74 percent have committed a sex crime against a child.
"This is not boyfriend-girlfriend. This is not something casual. These offenders are hardcore sex offenders. 12,000 are classified as violent offenders," said Quin.
The registry tracks where a sex offender lives and works. Offenders are tested to see how they physically react to pictures of children.
"If a person scores really high when they see pictures of children, then we know that that person is more than likely going to reoffend on children," said Knight.
Those who score high are monitored closely by law enforcement. The offenders are also taught to exit a situation where they may want to abuse a child.
After 10 years, a person can apply to be taken off the registry. Quin says even though a sex offender may complete therapy and be taken off the registry, they may still have the urges to reoffend.
"I can tell you as a parent I'm not sure I'm willing to take the risk putting my child with an individual that I know has perped on other kids," said Quin.
"Each person that we were locking up for touching one child in reality was telling us, 'We've touched 15 to 20 children a piece' before they were caught," said Knight.
After being abused, Shelton hit rock bottom, self-medicating to numb the mental anguish. She's now clean and in therapy and is speaking out about her abuse in hopes of helping others who have been or are being sexually abused.
"It doesn't have to continue and it doesn't have to ruin your life or define the person you are," said Shelton.
Quin says parent need to talk to their kids and make sure they know inappropriate behavior and when it occurs they must tell. Quin says to check the sex offender registry on the TBI's website.
She recommends signing up for email alerts so you will be notified when a sex offender moves into your neighborhood.
If you are or have been a victim and need help, call the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee at (865)
Prominent businessman finds ‘internal peace' speaking out about sexual abuse
by Shelia M. Poole, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — C. David Moody was at the top of his game.
His Lithonia, Ga.-based C. David Moody Construction Co. had grown into one of the nation's largest black-owned businesses and a top general contracting and construction management firm in the Atlanta region.
But something dark gnawed at him. This thing crawled into his thoughts at night. It robbed him of sleep. One time he had a panic attack so bad he called his wife of 30 years, Karla, to say goodbye.
After a second attack, he realized it was time to confront something that had plagued him for decades.
He had been sexually abused as a child.
And he had kept the secret hidden for 26 years.
But acknowledging it to himself and going public were two different things. Moody decided last year the only way to truly silence his demon and help others was to speak out.
“I decided I was going to find the internal peace that has eluded me for decades,” Moody, 56, wrote in a blog in October.
There were two incidents that provided that extra push.
In 2010, he and his wife were touring the offices of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy when he suddenly broke down in tears as he remembered his own abuse.
Then there was the firestorm that surrounded revelations that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had abused young boys.
“There was no one to protect those boys,” Moody said. “It bothered me how adults left kids in that environment with that guy.”
Since he's started the blog, Moody said he's gotten a number of telephone calls from people who start crying or say he has given them the courage to speak out.
Many others felt the same way as the Penn State scandal came to light. The online hotline of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network saw a huge increase in people reporting they had been sexually abused as children, said Jennifer Marsh, the network's vice president of victim services. A large percentage of them are men, she said.
Nancy Chandler, the CEO of the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, said that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18.
“People think men and boys aren't victimized,” Chandler said, “and when they are, it is so difficult for them to come forward.” She said Moody's blog, which combines his thoughts about building a business, his travels with Karla and his struggles as a survivor of sexual abuse, has been enlightening.
“He's very out front about the demons he had to fight,” Chandler said. “The demons stay with people if they don't get treatment early on. He carried that burden by himself all those years.”
Moody won't discuss details of the abuse, which he says happened twice at the hands of a male teenage baby sitter when he was 10 years old. His response, though, was pretty typical of victims — especially young ones. He felt shame and guilt. He didn't trust people. Sometimes his anger seeped to the surface and he questioned himself.
Was it his fault? Why couldn't he fight off his attacker? And, as he got older: What if, by not speaking out, Moody enabled his abuser to hurt someone else? He didn't tell a soul until 1992.
He and his wife told their two children, now adults, when they felt they were old enough to understand.
“I couldn't make them live in my fear,” he said.
Moody said he sought counseling and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I was shocked,” Karla said about hearing of the abuse for the first time. “And as a nurse my shock meter is a bit high.”
Moody only saw his abuser once about four years after the incidents. But by then Moody was an older and, at 6 feet tall, much bigger person.
“I gave him that look that said, ‘I'm not that kid anymore,'” said Moody, who later excelled in football, basketball and baseball. “It's best that you don't come near me.”
When his family moved from Chicago to Michigan, Moody believed he had buried the incident. Occasionally, it returned, triggered sometimes by smells.
Longtime friends and colleagues were stunned by the revelation.
“Construction is a high-stress business and I saw that stress in Dave, but I did not think anything was out of the ordinary,” said Larry Gellerstedt, the president and CEO of Cousins Properties.
Gellerstedt said he's noticed a change in his friend since he spoke out.
“I think speaking out has also brought a calmness and balance to Dave as his perspective of life and family has matured,” he said. “David's courage has made me admire him even more than I already did, and I'm lucky to have him as a friend.”
Moody eventually started to tell more people about his abuse. He first spoke publicly in 2012 during an Operation PUSH event. He was on a panel and noticed several young women in the audience looking like they had lost hope. “Something just came over me,” he said. “I told them we've all been through a lot in life. I'm a sexual abuse survivor.” Moody said it took years for him to come to grips with what happened and to be able to forgive his abuser.
Do people think he's crazy for going public? Perhaps.
“I know God has a plan for me,” said Moody, who wants to give others hope. “We have a choice. I decided that that person was not going to control my life and take away my joy. Happiness feels a lot better than pain and sadness.” His wife notices the difference as well.
“A lot of things you don't get over, but you can get through,” Karla said.
“It doesn't change how I feel about him. Having a secret, no matter what the secret is, can tear you up. I think it freed him.”
U.S. Army Major from NJ, Wife Accused of Breaking Foster Kids' Bones, Denying Food, Water
A U.S. Army major and his wife are accused of torturing their three foster children for years, breaking their bones, force-feeding them hot sauce, denying them water and using one of their biological kids to guard the toilet bowls so the foster children couldn't try to quench their thirst, authorities said.
Carolyn Jackson, 35, was arrested Tuesday morning at the New Jersey home she shares with her husband; John Jackson, 37, who was based at the Picatinny Arsenal Installation in Morris County, surrendered to federal agents shortly after his wife's arrest, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
Both are charged in a 17-count indictment that includes conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child, assault and more than a dozen counts of endangering the welfare of a child. The case is being prosecuted federally because the offenses were allegedly committed on a military base.
According to the indictment, the Jacksons engaged in a constant course of neglect and cruelty toward the three children they fostered and then adopted from August 2005 through April 2010 while they lived at Picatinny Arsenal. One of those children died in May 2008; the Jacksons are not charged in that child's death.
During the five years of abuse, the Jacksons allegedly told their three biological children not to report the physical assaults, saying the punishments and disciplinary techniques were meant to "train" the adopted children to behave.
Prosecutors say the Jacksons allegedly physically assaulted their children with various objects, giving two of them broken bones. The couple then allegedly denied the injured children medical attention.
On other occasions, the couple allegedly withheld food and water from their foster children, at times denying them water altogether, and beat the children when they were caught trying to sneak something to eat or drink.
In one case, the couple allegedly tasked one of their biological children with guarding the sinks and toilet bowls in their home on the military base to prevent one child from drinking water.
The Jacksons are also accused of using food as punishment, allegedly forcing their foster children to consume large amounts of red pepper flakes, hot sauce or raw onion. They also allegedly forced one child to ingest substances with excessive amounts of salt while being deprived of water, which caused a life-threatening condition.
At one point, prosecutors say a family friend told John Jackson that one of the children had reported the abuse in the household. Jackson then told his wife, who allegedly beat the child with a belt.
Authorities say the Jacksons gave officials false medical histories or blamed the injuries on the adoptive children's biological mother when questioned.
The Jacksons appeared in federal court in Newark Tuesday and were temporarily denied bail. Attorney information wasn't immediately available for the husband and a lawyer for the wife did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
All of the children are in the custody of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
“Carolyn and John Jackson are charged with unimaginable cruelty to children they were trusted to protect," Fishman said in a statement. “The crimes alleged should not happen to any child, anywhere, and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation. Along with the FBI, we will continue to seek justice for our communities' most vulnerable victims.”
We must talk to kids about sexual abuse
by Dr. Martin A. Finkel
Pediatricians are very good at preventing illness or injury. We give vaccines to help children avoid diseases, and routinely dispense warnings about seat belts, bicycle and water safety. We do so because we are convinced that these are real dangers and our consistent reminders help parents to keep their children safe from harm.
But there is another threat to children — one that has can cause serious long-term physical and mental health consequences — that is rarely mentioned by pediatricians or parents. Our failure to warn young children of child sexual abuse may be because we find the topic unpalatable or don't know how to address it.
We need to develop that dialogue with our children if we are going to protect them from the real-life risks of child sexual abuse.
Let's reflect on some basic facts.
Child sexual abuse occurs in our neighborhoods and in our families. It is not limited by religion, education, ethnicity or social or economic status. Approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will experience sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18. In fact, about 40 percent of child sexual abuse victims are under six years old.
“Stranger danger” is real, but rare. Relatively few children are molested by strangers or registered sex offenders. Most children who experience sexual abuse do so at the hands of someone they know and trust, usually a family member or someone with easy access to the child. Most perpetrators do not intend to physically harm their child victims and rarely use force or restraint. About one-third of perpetrators are themselves juveniles.
Admittedly, we don't know for sure that talking to children about personal space and privacy will be the magic bullet of prevention. But we do know that children armed with information about personal space and privacy are six to seven times more likely to develop protective behaviors and to feel empowered to disclose abuse.
Our reminders about personal space and privacy should begin early and be repeated often. That begins with teaching children the appropriate names for their private parts. Any child over the age of 3 can easily say vagina or penis. In one case, a mom taught her five-year-old daughter to call her private parts “diamonds” and to tell an adult if anyone touched them. When the girl later told her teacher that someone had touched her “diamonds,” the teacher didn't recognize what the girl was trying to say, so the girl's protection from further abuse was delayed.
We need to teach all young children the difference between “OK” and “not OK” touching, by explaining that the only people allowed to touch their private parts are themselves, their parents or caregivers when helping with washing or a wiping problem, or a doctor during an examination when Mom or Dad is in the room.
We also need to explain to children the difference between surprises, which can be fun when we find out, and secrets, which are never allowed. Children should know that anytime someone tells them to keep a secret, they should immediately tell two other adults.
Most kids who are abused never disclose — or delay disclosure — because they fear shame or embarrassment or because they doubt they will be believed. They also lack the language to communicate the abuse and that is where pediatricians and parents can help.
Child sexual abuse thrives in silence. Our discomfort can't be reason enough to keep us from talking to children about it.
Dr. Martin A. Finkel is the medical director of the Child Abuse Research and Education Services (CARES) Institute at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford.
OPS board members support strengthening the district's child abuse reporting policy
by Jonathon Braden
Omaha school board members voiced support Monday for strengthening the district's child abuse reporting policy.
At least three members attending a special meeting appeared to back an informal recommendation from Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and Chief Deputy County Attorney Brenda Beadle that OPS require employees to report suspected sexual harassment to law enforcement officials immediately, rather than within 24 hours, as board policy currently states.
“Keep it simple,” Kleine said. “Just report it immediately.”
Board President Marian Fey called the special meeting to talk about the district's harassment policy, which includes when staff should report a student complaint of sexual harassment. Six board members had asked her to do so, she said.
Kleine and Beadle explained that Nebraska state law does not specify a time period in which people have to report such abuse; it says only “shall report.”
OPS board policy, approved last year, states that employees should report allegations of sexual harassment within 24 hours of hearing it.
Board member Jennifer Tompkins Kirshenbaum said the 24-hour clause in the OPS policy bothered her. Board members Nancy Kratky and Justin Wayne said OPS employees should report suspected abuse immediately.
“There's no reason to wait once you're aware of the situation,” Kleine said.
The board took no action Monday on the policy.
In an interview, Kleine also provided an update on a recent OPS sexual assault case. In February, three 8-year-old boys were arrested after they allegedly tried to sexually assault a female classmate on the playground at Belvedere Elementary School, 3775 Curtis Ave.
The three boys are enrolled in the juvenile assessment system, Kleine said, where they will undergo evaluations and get behavioral help.
Police said the boys pinned down the girl, removed her coat and unbuttoned her shirt.
Two of the boys sat on the girl's arms, and the third sat on her stomach as he unbuttoned her shirt, the attorney retained by the girl's family has said.
Prosecutors chose the assessment route to get the boys help immediately rather than have their cases possibly languish in the juvenile court system for months, Kleine said.
Something must be going on with the boys, he said, speculating that they must have seen that behavior exhibited somewhere.
“That's not something 8-year-olds are doing,” he said.
The girl has since been transferred to another school.
The boys' school placement is unclear. OPS spokesman David Patton said he could not comment on specific disciplinary cases.
Bay Area Hospital to head Child Abuse Intervention Center
by Katie LaSalle
COOS BAY, Ore. -- A new medical model will be used to help abused children in Coos County.
Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier announced on Monday that Bay Area Hospital will be the new parent agency to the Child Abuse Intervention Center in the county.
The hospital plans to increase emergency response services and the prevention and education of child abuse.
Donna Rabin is on the Bay Area Hospital's district board, and says that they strive to make children's lives better in our area. "The biggest concern is, number one, to keep children safe," said Rabin. "Number two, to make sure they receive the care they need, and that includes both medical care and emotional care."
In the past year, more than 200 kids were served at the intervention center.
The change begins on July 1.
Court of Appeals eases burden of proof for severe child abuse
by Daniel Wiessner
ALBANY, N.Y. (Reuters) - The Court of Appeals has clarified the standard for establishing severe child abuse in family court, and the ruling could make it easier for social service agencies to prove these cases, according to attorneys.
Under Social Services Law 384-b, it must be shown that a parent acted with "depraved indifference" to a child's life for a court to make a finding of severe child abuse.
Under the state Penal Law, depraved indifference means an utter disregard for the value of human life. It applies only to reckless acts, and not intentional crimes such as murder.
On Thursday, the Court of Appeals found that under the Social Services Law, which is used in family court cases, depraved indifference was more broadly defined to include both reckless and intentional acts of abuse.
"In short, our depraved indifference jurisprudence under the Penal Law has no bearing on whether a child is severely abused within the meaning of Social Services Law § 384-b," Judge Susan Read wrote for the unanimous panel.
The case concerned Antoine N. of Manhattan, whose two young sons in 2007 were taken from his home after doctors found signs of abuse. He argued that the New York City Administration of Children's Services was required to meet the Penal Law standard for depraved indifference, and had failed.
The court disagreed. It also held that under the state's Family Court Law, judges may waive the requirement that social service agencies make "diligent efforts" to encourage parents and children to mend their relationships before initiating abuse or neglect proceedings.
Family court properly waived the requirement in Antoine N.'s case, the court said, since he had been found to have abused an older son in 1994 and was accused of excessive abuse in the more recent case, including repeatedly hitting his 5-year-old son with a wire.
LOWER BURDEN OF PROOF
Attorneys involved in Thursday's case, as well as two outside attorneys who handle family court cases, said that proving abuse was reckless, and not intentional, was notoriously difficult, and the ruling effectively lowered the burden of proof on agencies and attorneys for children in severe abuse cases.
"In some cases it was impossible to obtain (a severe abuse finding), and now the findings can be made," said Claire Merkine of the Legal Aid Society, who represented Antoine N.'s children.
Barry Abbott, a partner at Mayerson Abramowitz & Kahn who was not involved in the Court of Appeals case, said a severe abuse finding can be critical in cases agencies wish to expedite in order to find an adoptive family for an abused child.
Waiving the diligent effort requirement "allows the agency to get the child into a family that will take care of him, so he's not on this rollercoaster back to family court," he said.
Elisa Barnes, who represented Antoine N., did not return a request for comment.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Judges Victoria Graffeo, Eugene Pigott, Jenny Rivera and Robert Smith concurred with Read.
The case is the Matter of Dashawn W., New York State Court of Appeals, No. 71.
Is PA Improving Child Abuse Awareness?
by Jim Madalinsky
ALTOONA - Blair County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Bernard is one of 11 people who was part of a statewide task force for child protection. Recently the group put out a 400 page report outlining ways to help keep kids safe.
"Out of that report came suggested pieces of legislation that we believed needed to be considered in order to make the court system, police officers and judges the best to protect kids," Blair County Deputy District Attorney Jackie Bernard says.
Bernard has testified in front of the house and other committees supporting new legislation to improve child protection here.
The Jerry Sandusky sex scandal opened the eyes of many in the state and Bernard says local leaders have taken notice.
"I know that overall our legislature is attempting to look at this broadly and act quickly, but we do know there is a process for legislation to be passed," Bernard says.
New ways to assist police in collecting information and stricter punishments for child abusers are just a few of the groups suggestions.
Another key focus is accountability for people who witness abuse in their own home.
"Right now there's nothing in Pennsylvania that requires someone who's living in a home that may not themselves be actively physically or sexually abusing a child, but knows that someone else is, there's nothing that requires them to report that abuse," Bernard says.
Bernard says the work is just beginning for the state and she hopes people realize how long the road is.
"These things were absolutely necessary to move from one of the state's with the least ability to take care of kids to one of the best," Bernard says.
Bernard will outline more of the groups plan tomorrow when she speaks at the 33rd Annual Child Abuse Prevention Workshop in Johnstown.
Kern County child abuse report card shows over 4k children victims
Report shows infants are most vulnerable
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - In a report regarding child abuse in Kern County, officials said that 18,329 children were reported as allegedly suffering from child abuse and neglect.
On April 29, at about 10:00 a.m., the Kern County Network for Children released the 2013 Kern County Report Card.
The 15th annual edition updates more than 150 data indicators on child and family well-being including: family economics, education, child/adolescent health, child safety and at-risk youth behavior.
This year's report card also raises the visibility of key issues affecting the safety of the community's children, specifically child abuse and neglect.
"For many, the maltreatment of children can be very difficult to talk about," said Tom Corson, Executive Director for KCNC. "It may be more difficult to acknowledge that children regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic status, are abused and neglected every day in Kern County."
The 2013 report card also showed:
4,073 Kern County children-11 children each day- were confirmed as victims of child abuse and neglect
Younger children, particularly infants younger than one-year-old, are the most vulnerable to abuse an neglect at a rate nearly three times the county's overall rate
During 2012, five Kern County children died, nine nearly died, and 18 suffered severe injuries as a result of child abuse or neglect--31 of these 32 children were under the age of four years
To read the full Kern County Report Card of 2013, click here: http://bit.ly/18fO3aQ
For facts about Child Abuse in Kern County, click here: http://bit.ly/12Kd9Oi
To read about the Kern County Network for Children (KCNC), click here: http://bit.ly/11xgG0H
To read a letter from the President of the KCNC regarding child abuse, click here: http://bit.ly/ZZmhdH
Child maltreatment high in Shasta County
by Jenny Espino
Shasta County adults experienced maltreatment as children at higher rates than in other parts of the country, according to a survey evaluated by a coalition of local advocacy groups and agencies.
The survey was conducted last spring in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Tennessee and Washington. Shasta County Strengthening Families Collaborative released the report this month after careful analysis of the data.
Robin Schurig, Strengthening Families coordinator, took no comfort that the findings on childhood adverse experiences were not part of a national survey and only amplified among a few states.
“It's still pretty clear there is a problem in our community, and it is consistent with other data that we've looked at,” she said.
More than half of those surveyed were exposed to substance abuse and verbal abuse in the home. Parent separation or divorce, mental illness and physical abuse also were common responses.
The connections can have troubling, long-term effects, leading to illness, risky behavior, early death and lower quality of life.
At least 281 residents were interviewed in Shasta County for the survey. Nearly a third, or 28.9 percent, reported being exposed to five or more adverse childhood experiences, compared to 8.7 in other parts of the country.
In contrast, 40.6 percent of those living elsewhere reported no maltreatment, while that was the case for only 16.1 percent of Shasta residents.
The coalition is calling for a region-wide response to tackle the area's high unemployment and poverty, deemed as risk factors to child abuse.
“Taking care of children is a community-wide response,” said Rachelle Modena, deputy director of Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council of Shasta County.
Other measures of child maltreatment in the county found that in 2012 the rate of:
Substantiated cases was 18.2 per 1,000 children, more than twice the California rate of 8.9 per 1,000. The highest number of cases involved children under 1 year old. The most common type of maltreatment was general neglect (65.1 percent), with emotional abuse a distant second (12.7 percent), according to a council report.
Children placed in foster care were 9 per 1,000, also more than twice the statewide rate of 3.3 per 1,000.
The rates are discouraging, but better than the previous years when the rate of substantiated allegations was 21.8 per 1,000 children.
Regarding substance abuse, the county in 2008-10 had a rate of 54.6 women with a prenatal alcohol or drug use diagnosis on their labor and delivery hospital discharge record per 1,000 discharges. That is more than 4.5 times the 2009 statewide rate of 11.9 per 1,000 and the second highest of all counties in the state, the council report said.
The report shows the rate of domestic violence-related calls in the county is 1.6 times higher than the state's, while rapes, three times higher.
The report also notes more than two-thirds, or 69.6 percent, of county births in 2011 were to women who received services from the Women, Infants and Children nutrition-supplement program, paid for prenatal care with Medi-Cal and listed the assistance program as their principal source of payment for delivery.
Strengthening Families plans to launch a website that links parents to community resources and shows them how to cope with stress, Schuring said.
Just this month, the group launched an ad campaign that targets parents primarily at grocery stores.
The idea, in partnership with stores, restaurants and other businesses, is to reinforce good parenting skills out in public.
That can take the form of praise for a mother who is with four children and gets through the checkout lane with few difficulties. Or if a parent is trying to calm a child throwing a tantrum in an aisle, showing support by saying something like, “I love the way you're talking to your child,” Modena said.
As part of the campaign, the group is training staff and making available about 400 kits. Each contains a book, bingo cards, coloring book, crayons and snack for children and a tip sheet for parents on how to plan an outing with children.
The kits will be distributed to as many as 10 businesses that sign up.
Child sex abuse 'as important as any other act of terrorism,' crowd told at Mendham church
MENDHAM — The next person who tries destroying a memorial at St. Joseph's Church honoring victims of clergy child sex abuse will be in for a big surprise, according to The Rev. Joseph Angiolini.
"They're going to get scared out of their wits," he said.
Security cameras now overlook the 400-pound millstone statue that was vandalized in early March — the second time it was attacked in two years — Angiolini said. He also said a motion-activated light will flip on when someone approaches the memorial at night.
Angiolini's remarks came at a rededication of the memorial Sunday afternoon. About 75 people attended the ceremony, which featured speeches from Assistant District Attorney of New York Jill Starishevsky and Angel Rose, founder of nonprofit Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, or PAVE.
Starishevsky wrote a children's book, "My Body Belongs to Me," which has been adapted into an animated movie.
"Our resolve is strong," Starishevsky said. "As strong as this millstone. Some may try to fracture us. But we will continue to speak out, and speak up, so that all children are safe."
Rose's PAVE works to raise sexual violence awareness.
"Today as we look at this statue, I feel like I have such an incredibly profound illustration of the damage that's done to survivors by the lack of support, by the lack of accountability, by the shame," Rose said. "And it's up to all of us to stand together and cultivate those communities of support."
The statue still hasn't been fully rehabilitated. A badly damaged girl statue has yet to be rebuilt following the March attack. All that remains are a boy, shoes and a megaphone.
Authorities are still trying to learn who destroyed the monument. Morris County Crimestoppers is offering $2,000 to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest or indictment of the responsible person or people; anyone with any information can call CrimeStoppers at 973-Cop-Call or 1-800-Sheriff.
Organizer Bill Crane, who couldn't attend the ceremony, was one of several children the former Rev. James Hanley abused at the church. He has said the symbolism of the shattered girl statue could be powerful, since the third dedication centered around female victims of clergy abuse.
Crane helped spearhead the push to create the memorial after James Kelly, another of Hanley's victims, committed suicide at age 37.
Borough resident Gordon Ellis allegedly smashed the monument with a sledgehammer in 2011, after which Crane led a drive to have it rebuilt. Ellis is currently pursing a mental health defense in relation to the vandalism.
Pat Serrano, part of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the crowd her son, Mark, was also sexually abused by Hanley.
"With the dedication of this memorial, it has become hallowed ground," Pat Serrano said.
The Rev. Kenneth Lasch was particularly emotional when he stood behind the lectern.
"One of the burdens I have as a priest is that I carry in my head and in my heart stories that I will never be able to report publicly. Never. … And every time I pass certain churches, certain religious institutions, I know there's a story attached behind those walls," he said.
Child sexual abuse is an issue "as important as any other act of terrorism," Lasch said.
"A little different, to be sure," he said. "But its physical, and it's mental. And it's spiritual. And it continues."
Detectives quiz sex offenders in hunt for California girl's killer
by Lateef Mungin and Paul Vercammen
Valley Springs, California (CNN) -- Investigators interviewed registered sex offenders in the Northern California community where an 8-year-old girl was stabbed to death, but officials won't say if sexual assault is part of the unsolved crime.
"They have been interviewed and in some cases they have been photographed and in some cases they have been searched," Calaveras County Sheriff's Capt. Jim Macedo said late Monday night.
So far, despite an extensive manhunt and beefed-up security at schools in Valley Springs, authorities don't have enough information to name a suspect or even create a composite sketch in the death of Leila Fowler.
"This is a sad time," said Calaveras County Sheriff Gary Kuntz. "We will not rest until we capture the responsible person."
Leila, an 8-year-old known for her bubbly personality, was stabbed to death at her home over the weekend.
Her 12-year-old brother says he saw an intruder in the family's home before finding his sister suffering from stab wounds.
All police have to go with is a sketchy description: a white or Hispanic male with a muscular build, about 6 feet tall, wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and blue pants.
The thought of a killer on the loose in Valley Springs, a small town about 60 miles southeast of Sacramento, has many on edge.
"When your husband is walking around with a pistol on his hip to protect his family you get a little scared," one shaken woman told CNN affiliate KRON.
Police say Leila and her brother were home alone on Saturday when he saw an intruder leaving the house.
He then found his sister stabbed and severely wounded. She died minutes after arriving at the hospital, authorities said.
Since then, police have been running down leads, searching in attics, storage sheds in the mountainous, rural community.
Authorities have also combed the home and the neighborhood for evidence.
"We did collect fingerprints during that search," Macedo said, "and we did collect what we believe to be DNA. Those prints and DNA will hopefully be processed within the next week."
All around Valley Springs, purple ribbons, Leila's favorite color, are tied to stop signs and at schools as the small community tries to find a way to support her crestfallen parents.
The couple was at a Monday evening news conference listening intently as authorities said they would do everything they could to catch the killer.
The mother cried throughout the briefing and gasped as a detective read the results of the young girl's autopsy.
She died, authorities said, of shock and hemorrhages caused by multiple stab wounds.
The parents were too overwhelmed to speak at the news conference.
But earlier Monday, the mother spoke to CNN via her Facebook page.
"We are devastated," Crystal Walters said. "She didn't deserve this. ... She was so full of life."
DCF child-abuse hotline: How to report
by Desiree Stennett
An 11-year-old girl is safe after state officials say she was routinely beaten, starved and deprived of sleep in the home she shared with her caretakers.
But according to the Department of Children and Families, that young Lake County girl — who weighed only about 40 pounds when authorities learned of her torment — is one of thousands of children abused in Florida every year.
Many children like her live in terror and pain, DCF authorities say. But a call to the Florida abuse hotline to report the suspicion of abuse — everyone's legal obligation — could be the first step in saving kids from torture, or even death.
More than 24,000 reports of child abuse are made to the Florida Abuse Hotline (1-800-962-2873) each month, said hotline Director Kim Barrett.
In a phone interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Barrett detailed exactly what anyone who suspects child abuse should do to potentially save a life.
Who can report abuse?
Anyone with the suspicion of abuse can make a report to the abuse hotline, regardless of the relationship with the child. If fact, a Florida law passed in 2012 requires any person with knowledge of abuse to make a report to the Florida abuse hotline.
Will the suspected abusers know who filed the report?
Reporter information is "100 percent confidential," Barrett said. The identities of the reporters will never be given to the accused abuser or published in any public document, Barrett said. In some cases, however, when the reporter is the only person who would have had knowledge of the abuse or neglect, it becomes more difficult to ensure that the accused parent or guardian will not know who called authorities.
What information will I need before I call?
Before DCF can step in, specific information regarding the identity and location of the child is required:
•The names of the abused child and others in the household.
•The child's home address.
•The child's date of birth and Social Security number if you have access to that information.
•Clear, concise and complete reason for concern.
If you don't have all this information, file the report anyway.
What happens to the child after the report is filed?
By the end of the phone call, the abuse counselor will be able to say whether you have provided enough information to warrant a DCF investigation. If there is no investigation at that time, don't be discouraged. Counselors will still start a file based on your report. If you or anyone else ever has more information, an investigation could come later.
What if I'm wrong? Can I be sued or arrested for filing a false report?
No. Any person who, in good faith, files an allegation of abuse is protected by law, Barrett said. It is up to DCF and law enforcement to determine whether a child is truly in danger.
How is the Florida abuse hotline different from 911?
The abuse hotline should be used to report the suspicion of abuse or neglect when there is not an imminent threat to the child. An abuse counselor will then determine whether DCF involvement is necessary.
Release child abuse records in Missouri
Attempts by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's administration to avoid releasing records involving child abuse incidents are amateurish and deceptive, and must stop.
For months, both the governor's office and the Department of Social Services have responded to records requests from The Kansas City Star and the Springfield News-Leader with silence, or statements that say nothing, or inexplicable delays.
In other words, stonewalling.
The state did release two sets of records to the Springfield newspaper this week, after months of delay. The Star is still seeking the files on the state's involvement with LP, a child found locked in a closet last summer, and Lucas Webb, a 4-year-old from Holt, Mo., who died of child abuse injuries allegedly inflicted by his stepmother in October.
The obfuscation began after the rescue of LP in June. It marks a departure from the openness the Department of Social Services has exhibited in recent years, when it promptly released records on high-profile child death and injury cases to news organizations. That's as it should be. When a child is harmed, the public deserves to know whether the harm could have been prevented.
It's possible that legitimate privacy or legal concerns may justify withholding some records, though it's difficult to see how such a rationale would apply to entire files. But even in those cases, the administration needs to be much more forthright about its thinking.
Republican leaders in Missouri's legislature are pressuring the administration to release the records. Part of their eagerness is politically motivated, of course. But their stance is correct. As House Speaker Tim Jones and Rep. Jay Barnes, chairman of a government oversight committee, said in a statement: “Missourians deserve a more transparent and responsive government.”
Child sex abuse: The horror show stats and signs to watch out for
As the country reels under the sheer number of cases of child sexual abuse and brutal sexual attacks on little children, it bears repeating that India has a history of violence towards children and girls (of all ages). Child sex abuse is not a new phenomenon. And the statistics here in the country are particularly grim. A 2007 landmark report by the govt found that 53.4 per cent of children surveyed had suffered some form of sexual abuse.
What experts across the board tell us is that the perpetrators are often known to the child, to the family. A lot of child abuse is going on within the four walls of our homes.
From Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, to the media reports coming to light every day, the only glimmer of hope, seems to be that we're starting to acknowledge the scale of the problem. And yet, the big concern is how do we protect our children? How do we learn that something is going on? And how do we get them help?
We've been speaking to psychiatrists and survivors alike, and as we all struggle to find the answers, I want to bring to your attention a couple of interviews I did a few years ago.
Starting with the horrifying research -
Anuja Gupta of the Delhi-based RAHI (a group that has been set up to counsel survivors of child sex abuse - RAHI stands for Recovering and Healing from Incest) told me their own research found "76 per cent of respondents were sexually abused, 40 per cent were cases incest."
"All over the world, given statistics of CSA, the majority is incest. Children are sexually abused primarily at home, by family members -- across class, across culture -- that's something that's very important to know." She also explained by incest they mean family members or those in positions of authority known to the child/ family.
Signs to watch out for:
"We call these silent ways of telling...Children for example don't normally come and say they're being sexually abused. People need to be aware and pick them up. One is a medical category, you may find blood in genital areas, or torn genital areas, sores in body, STDs in a young person, a very clear sign of sexual abuse.
The other category is sexualised behaviour of a child -- does the child seem to have sexual knowledge inappropriate to that age group? Not from a moral point of view, but compared to today's kids. Are there sexualised drawings? Children who are sexually abused tend to draw a certain way, genitals are enlarged, or a person who's larger than life, something like that... That's an indicator. Then you come to general behavioural indicators. People think children who are sexually abused get withdrawn. That's true, but children who are sexually abused also can actually as a way of covering up become very social, can do very well in school, or badly, or bed-wetting, eating issues... The child's behaviour at school or home are very imp indicators of child sexual abuse."
So how does counseling work? Anuja Gupta of Rahi says, "We take people through talking about what happened to them, what meaning did they give that abuse, what did they take - a lot of abusers think themselves dirty and molestors give direct and indirect messages to the child, you asked for it. (So the child thinks) I'm at fault for being abused, I should have spoken about it, the abuse continued so I allowed it to continue. These are some of the issues we deal with in therapy, shame, self-blame, guilt, how she looks at relationship."
"Healing is absolutely possible, one big message I want to give out. RAHI's core message -- It's important that people talk to the right person, who doesn't judge them or blame them...If you start on the process of recovery, it's long, sometimes painful, sometimes joyful... You'll get there, there's light at the end of the tunnel, it's possible to recover."
"There's certain common things that run across survivors, permutations combinations... one is relationships, the typical thing that gets affected in child sex abuse. The ability to trust is compromised -- either trust a lot or no one at all. Intimacy -- ppl want to get into intimate relationships, but are afraid. People struggle a lot with relationships, with sex as adult survivors both in terms of having a lot, or not being able to. A lot of times women, while they want to have sex, even with supportive partners, memories of abusers or physical images of abusers come back. Sexuality is affected across the board," Anuja tells us.
I spoke to a child abuse survivor at the time as well. Here's what she told me.
"Well it started when I was six, and it was my tuition teacher who started molesting me. It all happened in silence -- my parents didn't know and I was very scared of telling anyone about it. It went on for 7 years. I was completely in pain, devastated. Somehow my conditions took me to Delhi, through one of my friends I came to know about RAHI, where I met Anuja and I started counselling with her. It completely changed my life. After that I could see a complete transformation. I was a scared kid growing up, and now I'm a confident professional, working with a big corporate in Delhi.
Q: How old were when you started talking about this?
A: It took me a long time. When I was 14 I shared it with my friend. I could not talk about it to too many people - there was a sense of shame attached.
Q: Were you able to tell your parents at any point?
A: At a point I was undergoing counselling. I could not, a sense of shame, I was afraid if my parents would really understand me.
Q: The numbers are very high... (is there a message you have?)
A: Yes, my message to people would be that there is hope out there. Break your silence and talk about it -- you will be helped.
Q: Any signs (for parents or others to notice)?
A: I was a confused child, my grades were all over place, they kept focusing on how to improve academic performance and take me out self-esteem issues. They didn't know, they couldn't help me with anything.
I knew this was not happening with everyone around, but at the same time, even as a child, i had a hope of getting out the mess.
Q: Have you met anyone else (going through the same thing)?
A: Not really. I would want to reach out to people, meet people going through the same kind of pain. Recovery is possible, there is help out there...
It helps people to start talking about facts. What I've seen is we do talk about issues like rape, but child molestation is not something we've really spoken about in our society even though people know about it. Child incest is happening, it's an issue that is there... We need to bring it out now...Let people know... at least parents and relatives should know what their kids could be going through
It's v important... it helped me a lot, talking about it with close friends, does help. Counselling and treatment -- it went on for around 2 and a half years. I could see a complete transformation after I joined RAHI. In the beginning i had questions like how could just counselling help me, how could that help? I had tried talking to my friends, I felt that was not helping me at all, the pain was there, I was going through the same pain every day.
After coming to RAHI and meeting Anuja (Gupta), I feel going through the proper channel, talking to the right people, a counsellor could really help.
After counseling the situation of life remains the same - you might be facing the same kind of stress...but you learn how to handle life situations, you become more confident."
Those are strong words - of hope and survival strategies, and overcoming a trauma that is affecting way too many of our children.
If you want to share your story, or be part of the conversation, and be part of the Agenda for Change, tweet the team @amritat or @ibnlive
Fla. police: Man aimed to raise child sex slaves
Man from England arrested after Internet investigation
by Stacey Barchenger
BREVARD, Fla. -- Sheriff's deputies have arrested a man they said came to the United States intending to have sex with a minor girl and have children they said he planned to exploit as sex slaves.
Shuhel Mahboob Ali, 39, is a citizen of Britain who was arrested following an undercover investigation that has been ongoing since January, sheriff's officials said.
"It is truly unimaginable that monsters exist and walk among us with the purpose of victimizing our most precious citizens," Sheriff Wayne Ivey said. "I want this message to be absolutely crystal clear: We will use every lawful resource we have in our possession to find and remove you from society if you try to harm a child, no matter where you may be on this planet."
The investigation began when Ali contacted an undercover sheriff's agent and said he wanted to "have a relationship with an underage female," officials said. Most of the alleged interaction occurred via the Internet.
"As part of the relationship, the suspect allegedly wanted to impregnate the victim, whereupon he would be able to groom the children to be abused by the suspect from the time of birth," officials said.
Ali came to Brevard County on Saturday and was arrested in the Titusville area.
He faces a charge of using a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce to attempt to persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity. If Ali is convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and fine up to $250,000. He could face life in prison.
Deputies collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Attorney's Office.
"I am so proud of the tireless efforts by this partnership and our investigative team that removed this vile suspect from harming children," Ivey said.
Anonymous Shuts Down Access To Pedophile Website – North American ‘Man-Boy-Love Association'
by Leslie Salzillo
Three days ago was Alice Day, presumably the unofficial day when pedophiles celebrate their sickness. (It gets worse.)
In protest of that day, the group Anonymous shut down and hacked into one of the world's leading pedophilia advocate websites called NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association). (Leading? Where have I been? I had neither heard of Alice Day or NAMBLA prior to this day.)
Anonymous targeted the website with DDoS attacks, leaking suspects' personal information and defacing their websites. I'm good with that. I imagine most anyone would be good with that, yes? –unless you're a member of NAMBLA
If you searched the site that day, this is what you would have seen: PROXY ERROR
Since I had never heard of NAMBLA until today, I decided to research. I googled the name of the organization. Sadly there were many NAMBLA pages to be found. I opened the Wikipedia site first, as they often gives a quick (unofficial) view of people, places and things. In the Wikipedia description I read:
|“NAMBLA's website states that it is a political, civil rights, and educational organization whose goal is to end ”the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships”
That took a bit of my breath away. There are so many things wrong with that statement, I don't know where to begin. Then I did a search for the actual website. I was stunned to see how easy it was to find NAMBLA.org online and, as most would imagine, it felt very unsettling and disturbing to be in there. On their main page they have an artistic sketch of a young boy who looks to be anywhere from 5-9 years old. They have music and poetry links. I couldn't stomach the thought of opening them. Finally, I came across “Why NAMBLA Matters” and found these statements among the NAMBLA mission:
- For 30 years, NAMBLA has been the primary voice testifying to the benevolent aspects of man/boy love.
- NAMBLA has been, and continues to be, a beacon of moral support for all individuals who feel a natural love for boys.
- Through our web site and publications, NAMBLA provides a public forum for a diverse range of viewpoints supporting sexual liberation and youth liberation.
- NAMBLA is the only organization that specifically supports incarcerated individuals who identify as boy lovers or who otherwise agree with our aims.
Again, I'm stunned. Last I remember pedophilia was/is illegal. NAMBLA even has a Facebook community page.
Also on that same Anonymous To Do list that day:
|Target No. 1 is a Russian-hosted imageboard filled with password-protected albums such as “boy Self pics” and “girls in the bathroom.”
Target No. 2 is a “free bookmarking & blogging platform” with “sex” in the URL.
Target No. 3 is a popular porn-streaming site with the tagline “where anything legal stays” and the unfortunate reputation for lax security measures against user-submitted underage content.
(From a The Daily Dot report)
Good on Anonymous. If you're unfamiliar with the truth-seeking group, don't feel bad. I was unaware of NAMBLA. Anonymous is a worldwide group that seeks out injustice, takes action, and exposes the information to the world. They are quite gifted at this. Some of Anonymous' most recent deeds include promoting an internet blackout in protest of CISPA, hacking the Westboro Baptist Church‘s Facebook page, and re-booting the judicial systems of the Steubenville and Rehtaeh Parsons rape cases. I am grateful to Anonymous for seeking out the lowest. Much of what they expose is truly unpleasant to discover. But without the information, such evil people/practices will continue to fester below the surface, taking in our most innocent. This is how we create change.
I am fascinated and inspired by Anonymous. And I'm grateful they exist.
(The author, Leslie Salzillo, is an activist, political commentator, diarist and visual artist. Salzillo often writes diaries in Daily Kos, and began contributing to AddictingInfo.org in March 2013.)