EHS graduate directs PSA on child abuse
by Suzanne Laurent
PORTSMOUTH — When Kevin Gendron watched a video by Sheldon Kennedy on child abuse, one statistic struck him so deeply he decided to write and direct his own public service announcement.
“I found out that a child will have to talk to as many as seven adults before they are taken seriously,” said Gendron, who graduated from Exeter High School last month. “That's a devastating statistic.”
Kennedy, a former National Hockey League player was abused as a child, and the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary, Canada, was recently renamed in his honor by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Gendron, 18, is headed to the prestigious Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in the fall.
He has been working on the PSA for about a month and on Saturday an impressive showing of crew and talent came together at Portsmouth High School to film the 30-second spot that takes place in a middle school classroom.
The PSA, “Stand Up, Step Forward,” seeks to compel adults to take that first step in leading children to the help they need. During the spot, a student, played by Elle Shaheen, 13, of Portsmouth (granddaughter of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen) stays behind after class is dismissed. She approaches her teacher, played by Constance Witman of Newfields, talking to her in confidence about being abused.
The PSA is produced by Peter Connors, who met Gendron last summer at Portsmouth Public Media, PPM-TV, where Gendron was doing an internship. “Kevin worked with me while I was producing three PSAs for the Child Advocacy Center,” Connors said.
It was at PPM-TV that Gendron was noticed by Executive Director Bill Humphreys. “Kevin very quickly made himself known as someone with an innate ability,” Humphreys said. “He was professional, mature and not afraid to risk asking questions.”
Humphreys asked Gendron if he would like to work with Connors on PSAs the TV station was producing for the Child Advocacy Center based in Portsmouth.
“Peter recognized something in Kevin,” Humphreys said. “He is strong, yet sweet, with an intelligent energy. He is a shining piece of gold that fell into the stream.”
Connors said a team of Seacoast filmmakers was recruited to make the PSA. “Kevin created a magical piece getting the best talent around,” he said.
They included Jonathon Millman, director of cinematography, Karlina Lyons, assistant director, and many other well-known professionals of lighting, sound and make-up.
Gendron also consulted Hollywood writer David McHugh and J.C. Wegman, a former animator for “The Simpsons” and “South Park,” for advice.
Brad Russ, founder and chairman of Child Advocacy's board of directors, said he was “excited to see Kevin take it to this level to inform the public about child abuse.”
“It's wonderful for me to watch a young man I've known since kindergarten as a friend of my son's, move into adulthood and take up a cause like this,” Russ said. “I'm very proud of him.
Russ said the key is to have this video seen by the public.
“It's a sad commentary when we see lovebirds needing a new home in the news for days,” he said. “We interview at least one child abuse victim every day at the center. This needs to be told.”
Russ thanked all the professionals who worked with Gendron pro bono on the project. Connors, too, had a list of people to thank. Financial supporters included George Venci Law PLLC, Dr. Shawn Shapiro of Port City Chiropractic, Sevigney Lyons Insurance, STREET restaurant, Ralph Martinese of Sanctuary Hair Studio, Christenson Plumbing & Heating, Progressive Electrical Services, BMCG Bookkeeping Services, Russ and Maureen Sullivan of the Child Advocacy Center, and attorney Raef J. Granger.
Film equipment supporters included Backlash Productions and Fast Lights.
The PSA will be pitched to various television stations after it is edited and no date of airing is known at this time.
Olens joins effort for more local authority in prosecuting child sex cases
by Rachel Miller
MARIETTA — A coalition of attorneys general wants to shut down one of the nation's most-profitable criminal enterprises by getting to the source of how child prostitution is marketed on the Internet.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announced this week he has joined the bipartisan effort to ask Congress to give local governments the authority to prosecute managers of websites that list classified ads offering underage sex.
Olens said it is time to stop shielding those who profit from child sex slaves by amending the federal Communication Decency Act. The act, authored in 1996, gives immunity to websites such as Craigslist and backpage.com that claim regulating ad content violates the First Amendment right to free speech.
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) discussed the proposed amendment with Olens Friday morning. Gingrey thanked Olens for his work with other attorneys general to identify the loophole protecting Internet predators.
“The buying and selling of anyone — but of children especially — is a violation so deplorable it is difficult to fathom. But only by shining a light on this depravity will we end this scourge and save untold victims,” Gingrey said.
The crime of distributing child sex over the Internet recently hit home in Cobb County.
On July 17, based on a lead by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which monitors online chat rooms and websites, Cobb County police arrested an east Cobb man on three counts of distributing child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child.
J. Todd Skrabanek, 46, who played piano with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus and gave music lessons to area children, was charged with distributing an image of a 1-year old girl being sexual assaulted by an adult man and other videos with minors performing sex acts on adult men.
This case adds to the 175 arrests made so far this year by Cobb County's Crimes Against Children Unit. That number exceeds arrests made in 2012, when the unit made 165 arrests.
The unit includes three supervisors and nine detectives, a level of staffing that has remained steady over the last five years. The unit investigates sexual offenses involving juveniles, including Internet crimes and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
The increase in child sex crimes has Cobb County Police Department thinking of ways to be proactive. The department will offer two seminars in August on Internet safety.
A presentation on the sexual exploitation of children is for teens, teachers and parents, said Lt. Everett Cebula, who heads the Crimes Against Children Unit.
A list of warning signs will be given to help educators be aware of when a child is part of the sex trade, including recurring absences from class and always being tired or hungry.
The seminars will give tips on how to warn children about the dangers of social media. “Parents are just floored by the amount of access predators have just through Internet contact,” Cebula said.
He cautioned that mobile devices and even game consoles connected online can be used to lure minors from home.
Hub for trafficking
More than 400 adolescent girls are prostituted every month in Georgia on the streets, through escort services, at major hotel chains and online, according to a 2009 research study by The Schapiro Group.
The report states, “each adolescent female is exploited an average of three times per day.”
“Human trafficking is a worldwide epidemic that must be fought and eradicated on every level, from the suppliers on down. Because of Atlanta's location, airport and infrastructure, the FBI identified it as one of the top sex trafficking hubs in the United States,” Gingrey said.
In 2005, the FBI established a Child Exploitation Task Force in Georgia. Five officers with the Cobb Police Department are assigned to the task force.
Although committing sex acts with children is a federal crime, the proposed amendment could open a channel for states to go after child sex rings by charging the operators of websites that aid prostitution, Olens said.
“Investigators regularly find links between the commercial sale of children and the ads,” Olens said.
Olens said managers of the sites are aware that words like “young” and “tender” are being used to encourage the buying and selling of children.
The attorneys' letter to Congress specifically points a finger to backpage.com. An ad listed in the “adult jobs” section on backpage.com states, “Blondes and Brunettes needed for adult work — $200/hr. and up,” with the location tagged as northwest Georgia.
An Atlanta posting from July 16 advertises for two positions that will completely change the women's lives. It adds “young only” and “must be loyal.”
Breaking the cycle
Cebula said the majority of child prostitutes are local girls from broken families with molestation or abuse in the home.
Once a minor decides to live on the streets, predators approach the girl within 48 hours, Cebula said, manipulating the victim through isolation, economic dependence, drug use and emotional abuse.
“A lot of them rely on their pimps for everything they could possibly need,” Cebula said.
The loyalty makes it hard for investigators to break through the bond in order to build a criminal case, which could take a year or two to reach a trial that requires the victim to testify.
The major focus, according to Cebula, is to help victims of sex slavery get out of the business by placing them in a safe housing situation, like Georgia Care Connection or Wellspring Living, an organization southwest of Atlanta that provides a place where survivors can heal from past sexual trauma and start a new life.
“We aren't so much trying to arrest the pimp, but get these girls off the street,” Cebula said.
Cebula said if beds are not available with these groups the only other option is to hold the minor in a juvenile detention center as a runaway.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN
The Cobb County Police Department is offering two upcoming seminars in August for parents, teachers and teens on how to protect families from Internet predators.
|• When: Aug. 22 and Aug. 26, 7-9 p.m.
• Where: Cobb County Safety Village, 1220 Al Bishop Drive, Marietta
• Cost: Free; registration is required
• To register or for more info: Email email@example.com or call (770) 852-3270
Crimes Against Children arrests in Cobb soar in first half of 2013
|2009 ------- 217
2010 ------- 197
2011 ------- 175
2012 ------- 165
2013 ------- 175 *
* As of June
Nun on mission to stop human trafficking
Sister Joan Krimm initially wanted to help the victims where she could find them, on street corners and in hotel rooms.
by John Faherty
CINCINNATI -- Sister Joan Krimm begs the question: Is it wrong to call a nun a tough old bird?
Sister Joan is 83 years old and she has not gone quietly into retirement. In fact, she has not gone quietly into anything, maybe ever.
From her convent in Reading, this Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur nun is now leading the fight against human trafficking and sexual slavery.
Initially, she walked the streets to help people, but eventually the FBI – yes, of course she works with the FBI – asked her to concentrate her efforts on education.
The men and women of law enforcement, with their guns and badges and handcuffs, are happy to be allied with a woman who is armed only with the belief that God wants her to help.
"Sister Krimm is a force to be reckoned with. She is determined and hard-working. She is trusted because it is understood that her strong religious beliefs and moral principles are behind her actions," said FBI Special Agent Pam Matson. "Her motives for being involved in the anti-trafficking movement are rightfully perceived as pure and loving, with no hidden agenda."
The U.S. Department of Justice defines human trafficking as the act of forcing a person to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud or coercion.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office has a Human Trafficking Commission to help fight the problem. The Salvation Army has an Anti-Human Trafficking Program.
Erin Meyer is the program manager. She said the scope of the problem is hard to define because law enforcement has only recently started to compile statistics. But she knows this: A year ago, the Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Hotline was receiving 10 to 15 calls a month. Last month, there were 40 calls.
The Justice Department says most victims of human trafficking are women, and many are children. The average "age of entry" for the sex industry is 13.
That was all Sister Joan needed to know to get involved. Her order began in France in 1804 to help those most in need.
"We were founded to be dedicated to the poor in the most abandoned places. Especially women and children," she said. "You cannot look away from this type of evil."
Sister Joan grew up in Dayton and went into the convent right out of high school. That was more than 60 years ago, and it would have been unimaginable to her then that she would be doing this now.
"I would not have even thought about it," she said. "We thought slavery was over."
She taught in Catholic schools for her entire career. When she stopped working in classrooms, she became more involved is justice and peace issues.
She is a strong proponent for environmental protection, and an advocate for the sensible regulation of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from the Earth.
She has also worked for comprehensive immigration reform. Her work with immigrants, she said, kept bringing her back to human trafficking.
Because it is fair to call her feisty and perhaps fearless, Sister Joan wanted to help the victims where she could find them, on street corners and in hotel rooms. She wanted to help build a safe house for victims.
But the FBI and leaders of a local anti-human trafficking coalition said that her working with victims directly could place them in even greater danger. "They said: 'Sister, why don't you do what you do best? Educate.'"
Sister Joan Krimm 83, walks on the campus at the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Reading, Ohio. (Photo: Glenn Hartong, The Cincinnati Enquirer)
Many of the victims of human trafficking feel alone. They believe they cannot turn to their families. Victims of sexual slavery might only see their pimps, their johns and, sometimes, hotel workers.
So Sister Joan and her friend, Sister Karen Hartman, wrote a letter to every hotel and motel in the Cincinnati area.
"Then we followed up with them to try to meet with them," Sister Joan said. "Some were interested, some were not."
But Sister Joan is not easily deterred. "Some of them, you had to follow them as they ran their sweepers up and down the hallways," she said. "These were little mom-and-pop places."
The idea was that hotel workers needed to know what to look for, so they might be better able to identify and help victims.
Now Sister Joan goes to schools and talks to teachers and students about trafficking and sexual slavery. She knows it is a difficult subject. But people have been responsive to the straight-talking nun.
"We were brought up that you don't talk about sex, so to openly talk about it is difficult," Sister Joan said. "I have to work on it, but I see a great need."
And people are willing to listen. The problem of human trafficking is slowly coming into the light.
At the end of the past school year, Sister Joan returned to Summit Country Day School, where she had taught from 1964-66. She was supposed to talk for five minutes, but she wanted to get in stuff about immigration, the environment and then human trafficking. Sister Joan was not sure if these students and their parents were ready for this conversation of slavery. She should have gone a little long.
"At least 10 parents came to me up right afterward and said thank you, that they were glad people were talking about this," Sister Joan said.
Perhaps, oddly enough, people are most willing to talk about difficult subjects when they are hearing about it from an 83-year-old nun with round glasses and curly gray hair and a crucifix around her neck.
"Sister Krimm has certainly opened some doors. Who can say no when she asks for a minute of their time to discuss human trafficking?" Agent Matson asked. "Whether it be out of respect for her age or her work as a nun, or just her passion about the issue, she has been able to talk to so many about human trafficking."
Group says ENC at risk for sex trafficking trade
by Bill Hand
When Robin Applewhite and Samantha Rivard were arrested for trafficking a woman for prostitution in a Jacksonville hotel this past Sunday, the women of Pearl Ministry in New Bern were not surprised.
“North Carolina is number 10 in sex trafficking in the United States,” said Heather French, director of intervention and prayer, citing the North Carolina Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NCCAHT). “Some sources put us at number eight.”
Pearl Ministry is a new ministry in New Bern — founded by its executive director, Sarah Tellis, in May 2012, but it is growing, its influence reaching into such states as Georgia, Colorado and South Carolina, and speaking engagements for director Tellis have her turning up in Europe — she has visited London and is currently in Greece.
“I would say (that trafficking in the New Bern area) is a very strong possibility,” Kathy Clark, director of operations, said.
The real numbers for just how large the problem is in Eastern North Carolina are not known, French noted, because the crime is notoriously under-reported. But there is circumstantial evidence that the problem exists locally, and cases where it has occurred.
French noted an intervention in Havelock earlier this year in which a woman was nearly lured into such a situation before intervention from churches and Pearl stopped it. Clark added that one website was found with a local phone number offering sex for sale. “You could go on the site and order any girl you wanted,” she said.
In Fayetteville, in 2009, Antoinette Davis was arrested after she sold her five-year-old daughter as a sex slave. The child was murdered.
Trafficking often takes the form of prostitution, but it can also turn up in the form of slave labor. Among the businesses where it can be found, Clark said, are nail salons, house servants and agriculture. Trafficking takes place in rural as well as urban areas, because of the ease of hiding crimes.
“When you live in the country with no neighbors,” French pointed out, “who's going to know what's going on?”
Eastern North Carolina is an ideal location for the crime to thrive, French said. She noted the easy access for trafficking via interstate highways 95 and 40, as well as Morehead City's port. The existence of so many military bases, she says, provides both a market and further opportunities for exploitation. The presence in this area of refugees also presents opportunities to traffickers, who prey heavily upon them.
Traffickers, French said, prey on the vulnerable. “You're talking about meeting the needs of people who are seeking a job, trying to help their families … girls who are looking for adventure or who are runaways or rebelling against their parents.”
Others include women who are seeking new adventures or access into the country, and who are thus enticed in.
Statistically, French said, 70 percent of women caught up in sex trafficking come from foster care; upwards of 95 percent went through sexual abuse as children. Those in foster programs are left to their own devices when they turn 18, she said, and are not as likely to be missed if they disappear.
Ninety-five percent of women in trafficking suffered sexual abuse as children, French said, and the average age of girls sent into the sex trade is 12 to 14 years old.
French said, “In China, children are actually groomed for trafficking in orphanages.” When they “age out” — that is, are sent out of the orphanages — they are just 14. Pearl has set up adoptions of these girls in America. “We consider that an intervention,” French said, “because we know what would happen to them on the streets.”
Other than this and financial donations to other organizations, Pearl is not currently organized to do direct counseling or intervention.
“The foundation of this ministry is prayer,” Clark said. “Praying for the abolishment of sex trafficking. Also in raising awareness.”
French said the ministry is trying to slowly grow in a direction where it can offer direct intervention, but that it will take help and cooperation city-wide, from police and medical to attorneys and government to achieve.
How to curb sex trafficking: make johns' names public
Supply and demand are basic economic concepts that haven't been lost on those engaging in the burgeoning sex-trafficking industry in Reno.
Last Sunday's RGJ investigation into sex trafficking in Reno paints a disturbing true-life story of girls and young women forced into the sex trade. The story is one that includes poverty, troubled home lives and hopelessness, days full of lasting pain — physical and emotional — and cruelty. Some girls are branded — or tattooed — with their pimp's name, a number or with the name of their group.
This seems like a far-away story, yet it's not. It's happening to girls from Reno, in our city — just miles from brothels where prostitution is legal. And it's a growing trend.
Authorities, community members and advocates must turn to curbing the demand for illegal prostitution in Reno in an effort to help limit the supply and stop the trafficking, which many call the modern-day equivalent to slavery.
That means focusing on those who solicit sex, referred to by law enforcement officers as johns. Curbing the demand for illegal sex workers will eventually allow the supply to dwindle.
We recognize that not all men who are illegally soliciting women for sex are soliciting women who are victims of human trafficking. But the fact that someone wouldn't know the difference at the time of the solicitation makes such an act part of the greater problem.
Cutting demand can be done two ways: making the penalties for soliciting a prostitute harsher or shedding light on those who solicit illegal sex by publicly naming them.
The penalties for solicitation are minimal in Nevada, where street solicitation is illegal everywhere. Some think prostitution is legal across all of Nevada. That's not true; it is only legal in licensed brothels in counties with fewer than 700,000 residents.
Most men caught soliciting are issued a citation that carries a $500 fine. Few are arrested, unless they have other outstanding legal troubles for which they are wanted.
Lawmakers should certainly address the demand side of the equation through increased penalties, but in our view, legislative changes as a sole course of action won't be enough of a disincentive. Further, any legislative change won't be in place for at least two years — and two years is a long wait for a girl who is a victim of trafficking right now.
In this case, our community needs to decide this is a serious enough problem to do something about it immediately, not two years down the road. We need to create a culture that doesn't condone illegal sex solicitation.
We believe that publicly naming those who illegally solicit women for sex will help shine a light on those who choose (knowingly or unknowingly) to further sex trafficking in our community.
Reno police Sgt. Ron Chalmers said the first two questions he's asked when arresting or ticketing those who solicit sex is whether the person will have to go to court and whether the newspaper will write about the arrest.
“Most of these guys want to write a check to the court and be done with it, and hide the newspaper from their wives the next day,” Chalmers, who is leading the effort to fight sex trafficking in Reno, said in last Sunday's report
Around the country, other cities and community organizations have chosen this approach. A recent Associated Press article cited examples from across the nation:
• Fresno, Calif., sponsors a website called “Operation Reveal” that features mug shots of suspected johns, while Oklahoma City has the vigilante-style “JohnTV.”
• In Arlington, Texas, a highway billboard declares “This could be you” under the picture of four suspects.
• Places including El Paso, Texas; Chicago; St. Paul, Minn.; and Chattanooga, Tenn., have been or are currently home to police- or community-sponsored shaming pages.
In the Reno area, those arrested for soliciting in anti-prostitution stings often are named in news releases by police, who note that sex trafficking increases during popular outdoor events such as the Reno Rodeo, Hot August Nights and the Rib Cook-off.
Chalmers told the editorial board that the goal is to have stings targeting prostitution in our community about once a month, give or take. They're an effort to make the demand side riskier for those who are illegally soliciting sex.
In an effort to demonstrate our commitment to help in curbing demand, the Reno Gazette-Journal will print the names, on our editorial pages, of those ticketed or arrested in Reno Police Department's anti-prostitution stings for the next year.
If charges are dropped against any of those whose names we print, we will cover that, too.
Solicitation is part of the greater story of sex trafficking. That's a fact we can no longer ignore as a community if we want to keep Northern Nevada's women and girls from becoming sex-trafficking victims.
Judge tacks on 50 years in NJ father rape case
PATERSON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man already in prison for sexually assaulting one of his daughters has been sentenced to an additional 50 years for raping and impregnating one of her siblings.
The man still faces three more trials — one for each of the remaining daughters he is accused of assaulting. The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault and is not reporting the man's name to protect the identity of his alleged victims.
In court Friday, the self-styled music producer faced a daughter who had testified she bore four of his children. The Record of Woodland Park (http://bit.ly/16ahr4r) reports that the man, shackled and in a prison jumpsuit, burst out at one point that the woman ‘‘should have told the truth.''
A jury convicted the man in March of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. He was already serving 40 years after being convicted in 2010 of sexually assaulting another daughter who testified she bore him a child.
A daughter and the man's former wife have testified that he spoke often of being a prophet who believed in keeping his bloodlines pure. The daughter testified in the first trial that her father told her at age 8, ‘‘If he has a child with one of his own children, then it will be a supreme being.''
They also testified he had insisted that most of his children be born at home so they wouldn't have birth certificates or social security numbers. The women also testified he kept the children from seeing doctors, home-schooled them, made them follow an extreme vegetarian diet and enforced his will with regular beatings.
At his sentencing, state Superior Court Judge Raymond Reddin described the man's actions as part of his ‘‘disgusting, revolting fantasies.''
Training device purchased to prevent child abuse
CORBIN — By Charlotte Underwood
In an effort to reduce child abuse in Laurel County, Saint Joseph London Volunteers have purchased a training device that teaches parents and caregivers about the dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), according to Director of Public Affairs Sharon Hershberger.
According to Hershberger, SBS is a common form of child abuse.
Volunteers at the hospital donated $890 to purchase a Shaken Baby Simulator that has sensors inside the head to detect excessive motion from shaking. When the child simulator is shaken, lights inside the head are illuminated to show where the damage is occurring. The simulator is being used to provide education to parents who deliver a child at Saint Joseph London hospital. Any parent that has a baby delivered at the hospital will receive education and spend time training on the simulator.
“In addition, it will be used in the community to provide education, awareness and prevention,” Hershberger said.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is a severe form of child abuse that results from the violent or excessive shaking of an infant by the arms, shoulders or legs. It can occur with as little as five seconds of shaking and can result in a whiplash effect that causes bleeding within the brain or eyes. Almost all victims of SBS end up with a lifelong health issue, such as hearing loss, brain damage, cerebral palsy, paralysis or blindness, according to Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2012 that one out of four SBS cases ended in death.
Almost all reported SBS cases are related to inconsolable crying by the infant. In many cases, the caregiver did not intend to harm the child, but reacted in frustration. In 2012, there were 415 calls to report child abuse in Laurel County.
“We believe that education can make a difference in the community and that is what we are trying to do with this simulator,” said June Rawlings, director of Healthy Community Outreach at the hospital.
“We are blessed to have such great volunteers who are willing to support programs to address the health education needs of our community,” Rawlings said, adding that she truly believed the simulator “will help us to raise awareness about the devastating results of Shaken Baby Syndrome and save lives in communities in Laurel and surrounding counties.”
Rawlings has been taking the simulator and providing education to civic groups and at daycares, and plans to provide education at other community events in the area.
Due to state mandates, all daycares will soon be required to have education courses on SBS.
According to Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, “it is impossible to know where the line is between safe and unsafe behavior for each individual child and situation. It is best to consider that all shaking is unsafe. A child that has been shaken may show symptoms of extreme irritability, difficulty in staying awake, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, seizures and tremors. If you suspect or know that a child has been shaken, then call 911 immediately or take your child to the nearest hospital.” Getting proper medical treatment immediately can make a difference and possibly save the child's life.
“Education really is key and we wanted to go out into the community and show people what Shaken Baby Syndrome is,” Rawlings said, adding that Laurel County had especially high rates of child abuse and that she felt the numbers were “on the rise.”
Rawlings said she believes it is a combination of factors that lead to higher rates of child abuse.
“I think it has a lot to do with drug abuse and a lack of education,” Rawlings said, adding that was what the simulator and classes were all about, “making a difference and educating people and preventing child abuse.”
For more information about SBS training for groups and civic organizations or for free confidential information and support, contact Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky at 1-800-CHILDREN.
Local leaders work to help child abuse victims with their faith
LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Local leaders are working to help child abuse victims who are questioning their faith.
On Friday, more than 100 faith and child protection leaders gathered at Viterbo University. They participated in group discussions on what can happen to a child spiritually when they are abused. Executive Director of the National Child Protection Training Center, Victor Vieth says everyone agrees after a child is abused, they suffer mentally and physical but sometimes people overlook how the child is effected spiritually.
"Research says that most children, not all but most children who are abused have a spiritual impact. It may come about because they just are wondering. A child may pray and pray and pray that God stops the sexual abuse but the prayer seems unanswered and so they start to question God."
Vieth hopes today's session will influence communities to develop programming that will train students and professionals on how to address the spiritual needs of abused children.
Microsoft's Bing introduces child abuse search pop-ups
Bing's warning is triggered by a search term "blacklist" compiled by experts
Microsoft's Bing search engine has become the first to introduce pop-up warnings for people in the UK who seek out online images of child abuse.
The notification will tell them the content is illegal and provide details of a counselling service.
It comes after the prime minister said internet companies needed to do more to block access to such images.
Yahoo, which uses Bing's technology on its search page, is also reported to be planning to introduce pop-up warnings.
Google is not planning to use pop-ups but said it would continue to report material and help experts combat the problem.
The debate about online images showing the sexual abuse of children has come to prominence after two high-profile murder trials heard how the killers searched for them.
Bing's pop-up warning, which applies to searches conducted in the UK, is triggered when people enter words on a "blacklist" compiled by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).
Microsoft said the notifications aimed "to stop those who may be drifting towards trying to find illegal child abuse content on the web via search engines".
A spokesman said: "This is in addition to Microsoft's existing and longstanding policy of removing any verified links to illegal content of this sort from Bing as quickly as possible."
"Microsoft has been, and remains, a strong proponent of proactive action in reasonable and scalable ways by the technology industry in the fight against technology-facilitated child exploitation... we have teams dedicated globally to abuse reporting on our services and the development of new innovations to combat child exploitation more broadly."
However, Bing's warning message does not seem to go as far as Prime Minister David Cameron's call for a message warning people of the consequences a criminal conviction for their actions could have "such as losing their job, their family, even access to their children".
He also called for the internet companies to block certain searches from even providing results.
"There are some searches which are so abhorrent and where there can be no doubt whatsoever about the sick and malevolent intent of the searcher," the prime minister said in a speech.
Google said it had a "zero tolerance attitude to child sexual abuse imagery".
A company spokesman said: "We use our own systems and work with child safety experts to find it, remove and report it. We recently donated $5m (£3.3m) to groups working to combat this problem and are committed to continuing the dialogue with the government on these issues."
It is a small, initial part of the solution to prevent child sexual abuse, protect children and pursue offenders.”
End Quote Andy Baker Ceop deputy chief executive
A Ceop report this year highlighted how the "hidden internet" helped distributers of child abuse images to evade detection by using encrypted networks and other secure methods.
Ceop deputy chief executive Andy Baker said: "This is a positive step in the right direction to deterring potential offenders from accessing indecent images of children on the internet. But it is a small, initial part of the solution to prevent child sexual abuse, protect children and pursue offenders.
"While the Bing project isn't the whole solution, I hope it goes some way to making those who are curious about searching for indecent images think again."
Ceop acknowledged its "blacklist" could not include every search term that might lead to images of abuse.
John Carr, from the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, told the BBC: "To hardened technology-sophisticated technology-literate paedophiles, these pop-ups will probably make very little difference.
"But there is a very large number of men who perhaps have a marginal interest in this type of material and we need to stop them getting any further engaged with it."
Mr Carr said the internet companies were all focusing on the problem of child abuse material.
In June, after a meeting chaired by the culture secretary, the government said Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Twitter and Facebook would allow the charity the Internet Watch Foundation actively to seek out abusive images, rather than just acting upon reports they received.
Crime Commission Considers Child Abuse Laws
by Tommie McNeil
Before the Virginia General Assembly adjourned this year, it took up the issue of child sexual abuse and whether Virginia laws effectively deter the crime or prosecute the offender.
Months later, members of the State Crime Commission are faced with the daunting task of reviewing the laws, and making recommendations, without weakening current law.
One of the major challenges is the coordination between Child Protective Services and Law Enforcement. Crime Commission members told stories about alleged perpetrators who were accidentally " tipped off" and eluded investigators because teachers, administrators, or other concerned parties contacted CPS before law enforcement was notified.
"What's happened for decades is that because caretaker abuse has been triaged to Social Services and they've been put in a first responder position with no authority to collect evidence and to use traditional law enforcement investigative techniques like polygraph, knock and talk, those types of things, that it really sets back almost half of all child sexual abuse investigations,” said Camille Cooper who works with the victims advocacy group PROTECT.
Cooper says each agency is simply following state mandates. The commission will now work to restructure the code so that the agencies are more collaborative.
Half of social workers 'struggle to recognise signs of online child sex grooming'
Survey by NSPCC and BASW finds that one-third are not confident about understanding language used on social networks
Many social workers find it difficult to cope with online grooming and the sexual abuse of the children they are meant to protect, new research has revealed.
A survey of social workers revealed that half of them said they did not know how to recognise the signs of online sexual abuse of children, while more than two-thirds of social workers felt they needed more support with child protection cases involving online abuse.
The survey, carried out by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and children's charity the NSPCC, questioned 327 social workers online in May about their experiences.
And although almost half (49%) said a quarter of their sexual abuse cases now involve some form of online abuse, 30% said they did not feel confident dealing with child protection sexual abuse cases using the internet.
A third (34%) of social workers surveyed said they did not feel confident about understanding the language used by young people online, and 47% said they did not know how young people communicate via social networking sites.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: "Keeping children safe from sexual abuse increasingly means protecting them from offenders who use technology to target their victims, such as grooming in chatrooms or online social networks.
"And vulnerable young people are now being coerced into sharing explicit images of themselves via mobile phone messages and apps. It's worrying that the majority of social workers surveyed by BASW are struggling to understand how online child abuse happens."
Wanless said the NSPCC had developed a training tool – 'Keeping children safe online' – to educate child protection professionals about the risks the internet can pose to children.
BASW professional officer Nushra Mansuri said: "The number of cases in which the internet plays a part in the grooming and abuse of children is rising, and social workers need to be equipped to recognise the warning signs.
"Social work educators and employers must keep pace with new technology, and training on the risks posed by social media should be an intrinsic part of learning."
Meanwhile, Microsoft announced that users of their Bing search engine in the UK who type in search terms related to child sex abuse will get a pop-up screen warning of the illegality of child abuse material.
Ransomware tricks child sex abuse image addict into turning self in to cops
by John Hawes
A US child abuse image collector turned himself in to local police earlier this month, after ransomware hit his PC and showed messages warning him that the FBI were on to his nasty activities.
Jay Matthew Riley, 21, of Woodbridge, Virginia, was apparently hit by the ransomware attack while surfing the web to add to his collection of unsavoury images.
As is usual with such malware , he was shown a warning demanding cash in return for keeping quiet about his suspicious activities.
Having spent his time on the seedier side of the web rather than educating himself about security, he believed the message really originated from the FBI as it claimed, and decided to head down to the police station to confess, taking his computer with him.
He handed his machine over to cops in Prince William County on July 1st, and they quickly found his stash of explicit pictures of underage girls. His home was then searched and several other devices gathered up, and he was arrested. He's now being held without bail.
The malware in question sounds like the common Reveton threat, and certainly didn't use cryptography complex enough to keep the local law enforcement out.
Whatever it was, it seems like a rare example of a cyber attack bringing about a morally happy ending.
On the other hand, it's clear that despite all the best efforts of the security community, the message about this kind of scam is still not fully hitting home.
So, one more time, if you see an alert claiming you've been rumbled for illicit downloading or other online infractions, it's not really from your local equivalent of the FBI, and the "fine" is not a fine, just another attempt by cybercrooks to get their hands on your cash.
Of course, if you are a paedophile, feel free to head down to the local police station, where they should be able to help.
Mia Farrow's Brother Pleads Guilty to Child Sex Abuse
John Charles Villiers-Farrow, the brother of movie star Mia Farrow, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of child abuse.
Villiers-Farrow had been charged with 39 counts of molestation of two 10-year-old boys who were his neighbors in 2002.
Villiers-Farrow was arrested in November after an investigation that began when two men came forward in August 2012. At the time, Anne Arundel County police had recently received information that several children were sexually abused in the Edgewater area.
Court documents claim that the boys were abused in Villiers-Farrow's home, and a few times in a nearby camper. The victims told police that Villiers-Farrow would show them pornographic movies. The encounters escalated to touching and then to oral sex, the documents said.
Testimony in Villiers-Farrow's trial was supposed to start Friday, but the trial was stopped by the plea.
Villiers-Farrow faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing Sept. 30. He could have been sentenced to 50 years if he had been found guilty on all 39 counts.
Villiers-Farrow made headlines in 1992 when he commented on the controversy surrounding sister Mia's custody battle with Woody Allen and Allen's relationship with Farrow's adopted daughter Soon-Yi. At the time, Villiers-Farrow told People magazine, Allen "is going to be indicted, and he's going to be ruined. I think when all of it comes out, he's going to go to jail."
People described John as "a sometime screenwriter and boat salesman outside Annapolis, Md." A Baltimore Sun article from 1998 described "John Farrow" as co-owner of Chesapeake Catamaran Center in Annapolis, though that business has since been sold.
Villiers-Farrow also had a brush with fame in 1968 when he accompanied Mia and their sister, Prudence, to visit Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. The Beatles arrived in India to meet with Maharishi while the Farrows were there.
He appeared as a teen in in the Robert Stack movie "John Paul Jones," which was written by his father, screenwriter and director John Farrow. Villiers-Farrow's mother was actress Maureen O'Sullivan.
The website IMDB says Villiers-Farrow also had an uncredited role in the 1954 Elizabeth Taylor movie, "The Last Time I Saw Paris." And a Brooklyn newspaper said Villiers-Farrow was scheduled to have a movie role at the young age of 5 months, playing a baby in his father's movie "Blaze of Noon" with Anne Baxter and William Holden.
Mia Farrow became famous for her roles in the TV show "Peyton Place" and in movies including "Rosemary's Baby," and Woody Allen movies including "Zelig," "Broadway Danny Rose" and "Hannah and Her Sisters."
More recently, she has served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and as an activist for humanitarian aid and political change in Sudan.
Children's Advocacy Center sees links between poverty, abuse
by Natalie Sherman
NEW BEDFORD — Children reporting sexual abuse in Bristol County are more likely to come from low-income families, a regional advocate said Thursday.
About 80 percent of the Children's Advocacy Center cases come from Bristol County's four urban centers: Fall River, New Bedford, Taunton and Attleboro, with 65 percent drawn from Greater Fall River and Greater New Bedford, said Michelle Loranger, executive director of the center, which has worked on more than 2,100 sexual abuse cases since its founding in 2007.
Bristol County's median household income is lower than the state average and its two most populous cities, Fall River and New Bedford, have double the percentage of people living below the poverty level than the rest of Massachusetts.
"There's an underlying theme for what we see in Bristol County around poverty that's associated with this," said Loranger, who met Thursday with The Standard-Times editorial board.
She said the center does not collect income information but the vast majority of its clients use the state's public insurance, MassHealth, to access medical services.
"We know that (abuse) can happen to anyone and it does happen to anyone; however, when statistically you look at the Bristol County numbers there is some association with the urban settings that we are serving and the socio-economic status of the consumers that are presenting to our center," she said.
Socio-economic status was identified in the 2010 National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, which tracked data from 122 counties, as a significant factor related to sexual abuse. It was also linked to other forms of child maltreatment, including neglect.
Neglected children often lack supervision, which can make them vulnerable to sexual abuse, Massachusetts Citizens for Children executive director Jetta Bernier said.
"Poverty does not cause child maltreatment but there are factors in place within poor communities that sometimes might support higher risk for children," Bernier said, adding that the statistics should be interpreted with caution.
"Overall, my message would just be that this is a problem that goes across every divide and that every parent has to be vigilant."
More than 80 percent of child sexual abuse cases go unreported, according to a 2010 Massachusetts Citizens for Children report. They accounted for just 2 percent of the roughly 1,570 supported maltreatment allegations handled by the New Bedford Department of Children and Families in 2010.
Bernier and other experts said low-income families are likely over-represented in sex abuse statistics due to the fact that they are more likely to be already in contact with social service agencies.
"I don't think there's really national data that supports the idea that it happens more often in low income families," National Children's Alliance executive director Teresa Huizar said.
New Bedford and Fall River are also disproportionately low-income communities.
"If New Bedford is a community with high poverty rates then it would stand to reason that the sexual abuse victims they're seeing are from poor families," Bernier said.
Agencies Address Realities Of Human Trafficking Among Teenage Victims
by Dennis Sadowski -- Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With an estimated 27 million people being trafficked around the world for sex and labor throughout the year, according to the State Department, it's not easy to crack down on the lucrative trade in people.
First off, it's profitable. Tens of billions of dollars are at stake and traffickers who operate modern-day slave networks are not likely to give up their lucrative ventures. Second, the people being victimized are on the margins of the world's cultures, largely ignored and forgotten.
In the U.S. the numbers are smaller, but still overwhelming. The State Department's 2013 Trafficking in Persons report finds 17,500 people from other countries being trafficked into the U.S. annually. Victim advocates and law enforcement officials estimate that an additional 300,000 American teenagers are trafficked yearly, almost exclusively for sex.
Statistics on adult victims are more fluid and harder to quantify.
Girls 14 to 16 years old are most in demand, the "gold standard," said Celia Williamson, professor of social work at the University of Toledo in Ohio, who has worked with trafficking victims for 20 years.
A 2012 survey of 33 sex-trafficking survivors -- all girls or young women -- by anti-trafficking groups Shared Hope International, ECPAT-USA and The Protection Project at Johns Hopkins University, found that 55 percent of respondents were younger than 18 when they were first trafficked. Just 12 percent of respondents were older than 25.
Astoundingly, 15 percent of respondents said they were 10 years old or younger when they were first trafficked.
Sex trafficking can occur anywhere and for a variety of reasons, said Mindi Kuebler, a forensic nurse at the Nord Center, which provides mental health services in Lorain, Ohio, 28 miles west of Cleveland.
"We're no different than any other, whether a big city or a little city," Kuebler told Catholic News Service. "Human trafficking exists because it's a form of money for these criminals. If they can easily access the vulnerability of a boy or a girl, then they're going to do it."
Kuebler is among the organizers of the Human Trafficking Collaborative of Lorain County, an effort that has emerged over the last year to complement the educational work of the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking, a six-year-old effort of a dozen congregations of women religious spanning northern Ohio from Youngstown to Toledo.
Both efforts focus on education and raising awareness of the dangers of trafficking. Many presentations occur in schools because children are the most vulnerable to exploitation.
Labor trafficking is another story and gets scant attention compared with the effort to expose sex trafficking. In one recent case, federal prosecutors in June charged four people from Ashland, Ohio, with forced labor. They are accused of keeping a disabled woman and her young daughter in captivity for two years to work for them. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said they also compelled the woman to beat the girl and threatened to show police a video of her carrying out the beating.
The trafficking organizations and the Toledo programs, which Williamson spearheaded, have kept Ohio in the forefront of the fight against human trafficking. The work of the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition and Second Chance, a program of Toledo Area Ministries that assists exploited women, have identified hundreds of victims since 1993.
The work in northwest Ohio has led to notoriety, of sorts, for Toledo. In 2011, the city ranked fourth in the numbers of arrests, investigations and rescues of children involved in sex trafficking, behind only Miami, Portland, Ore., and Las Vegas.
Williamson told CNS Toledo's reputation is a result of the community's intense effort to reach out to victims.
"The truth is we made noise. We told people about our family secret and we decided we were not going to keep the secret. We began asking for help, developing reports, doing research and bringing forth services for victims. And people started looking for victims and started finding them," Williamson said.
"If you believe victims are there, you will look. If they're really there, you'll find them."
The challenge for victim advocates, however, is finding adequate shelter once trafficking survivors are discovered. Nationally, few places exist that specifically focus on the needs of sexually exploited people.
One such place is The Daughter Project, a year-old program in suburban Toledo. Jeff Wilbarger, a mathematics teacher who felt God called him to start the program, said two girls were in the home in mid-July. Two other girls who moved in last fall eventually "ran," apparently returning to their exploiters, he said.
"The whole running thing was one of the most shocking things," Wilbarger said. "It's all that brainwashing, the attachment disorder. She gets connected to this guy."
Mary Schmidbauer, program director at Second Chance, said running is common. She said that in many cases a young woman has developed an attraction to her exploiter -- who has provided for her material needs -- to the point of overlooking the verbal and physical abuse, rapes or forced captivity that she may have endured.
Williamson said the best arrangement, especially for teenagers, is a return home, where family relationships can be rebuilt and the prospect for running is greatly reduced.
Nationwide, Catholic Charities agencies have begun to identify more trafficking victims among shelter residents and have started stepping up efforts to meet their needs, said Candy Hill, executive vice president for social policy and external affairs at Catholic Charities USA.
The challenge of maintaining a continuous flow of services, specifically designed for each individual trafficking victim, remains and the likelihood that a victim will run is always present, according to Hill.
She said the agency, in cooperation with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, surveyed diocesan agencies to determine what services are offered to trafficking victims. The goal is to identify victims' needs and develop solutions to help end the cycle of exploitation that has characterized so many lives.
Employees in Cumberland get new training on child sex abuse
by Brandon Herring
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Employees of the Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation department have received training aimed at stopping child sex abuse.
Every employee went through the training earlier this summer. Instructors covered information on how common child sex abuse is, how to recognize it, and how to respond appropriately when the abuse is suspected.
The Fayetteville branch of the Child Advocacy Center conducted the training using guidelines from the Darkness to Light (D2L) organization.
D2L is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in child sex abuse prevention and relate training.
"It's opened my eyes to a lot of things," commented Belinda Jackson, the supervisor at the Cliffdale Recreation Center. "It's kind of enhanced what I wasn't sure of. We're all unaware of the possibility of sexual abuse if anything. So it helped me tremendously."
Because the parks and recreation department also trained all volunteers for its afterschool program, that program is now designated as a "Partner in Prevention" by D2L.
"Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation is honored to be awarded a "Partner in Prevention" designation," said James McMillan, recreation division manager. "Child sex abuse is a horrible problem that plagues our society, and our organization is very happy to join in the fight to end this crime against children. Our staff will continue to be trained on how to prevent and recognize the signs of child sex abuse."
The training to help recognize and respond to child sex abuse is available to the general public, businesses and community organizations.
More information is available through the Child Advocacy Center in Fayetteville at 910-486-9700 or online at www.childadvocacycenter.com
People can even take training online through Darkness to Light. More information on D2L's training is available at www.d2l.org
Child sex offender sentenced to life for third conviction
by Star-Ledger Staff
BERGEN COUNTY — A Hackensack man who kidnapped and raped a 13-year-old girl while on parole for a prior child-sex conviction was sentenced to life in prison today, the Record reports.
It is the third time 40-year-old Ivan McKinney has preyed on young girls, Superior Court Judge James Guida said at the sentencing in Hackensack.
McKinney was sentenced to life plus 24 years.
After the sentencing he reportedly began screaming, “I am Trayvon Martin! I am Trayvon Martin!”
McKinney, who was convicted of sexual assault and child abuse in 2008 and 2010, had only been out of prison six months and was on lifelong parole when he befriended two Clifton girls, ages 13 and 15, according to prosecutors.
McKinney took the two teens back to his Hackensack apartment on two separate occasions in February 2011 and gave them drugs and alcohol until they passed out.
Prosecutors say the first time was just a “dry run,” but McKinney had sex with the girls during the second encounter, the Record reported.
A jury found him guilty of kdinapping and sexually assaulting the 13-year-old, but acquitted him of kidnapping and sexual assault of the older girl. He was also found guilty on several counts of child endangerment and possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, the Record reports.
Under the sentencing, it will be 54 years before McKinney is eligible for parole.
His attorney plans to appeal, saying DNA evidence pointed to another male. He also said the victims made inconsistent statements and some of the jurors sleeping during the trial, according to the Record.
Retired NBA star Kenny Anderson says he was sexually abused as a child
by DeAntae Prince
Retired NBA point Kenny Anderson has decided to open up about dark moments from his childhood years as part of his participation in a Broadway play called “ The Penis Monologues,” organized by longtime friend Joe Brown, Jr.
In the autobiographical play, Anderson reveals that he was molested as a child, in two difference instances by two different people, at ages eight and nine. He talked with SBNation.com about the experience of speaking to a subject on which he had remained silent for so long.
Anderson, who will release an autobiography entitled "Instructions Not Included" in March of next year, said he is only speaking about being sexually abused now because he believes he can help others.
“Let people know that this is me, this is what happened to me,” Anderson told SBNation.com. “The bottom line if I can help somebody. They see Kenny Anderson got molested and he's talking about it. Now people gone come out and maybe be able to tell their story.”
For a long time, Anderson didn't feel that he could speak with anyone about being sexually abused. He kept the details to himself and become a recluse, Anderson said, spending most of his time with, "Me and my basketball, in the park."
“It killed me like it killed some other kids that's been molested,” Anderson said. “You can really take a lot out of a kid for the rest of their lives.
“I think without the fame, without the basketball, celebrity, notoriety, might have been more difficult for me.”
Now, in a move that could prove to be as therapeutic as it is inspiring, Anderson is speaking his truth.
“I wasn't going to do it, but the trigger went off for me and this had to be done,” Anderson said.
Roman Polanski's Rape Victim Uses Striking Portrait Taken By Polanski As Memoir Cover
by Emma G. Gallegos
Cover of "The Girl" by Samantha Geimer (via The Hollywood Reporter) The Woodland Hills woman who was raped by Roman Polanski at the age of 13 is releasing a memoir telling her full story: "The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski."
The memoir that comes out in September features a striking portrait of the young Samantha Geimer (then known as Samantha Gailey) taken by Polanski himself just weeks before he sexually assaulted her at Jack Nicholson's home in 1977, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
At the time, Geimer was interested in getting into acting, so when Polanski asked her to do a photo shoot she thought it would be a good opportunity for her career. Polanski coaxed the 13-year-old into posing topless during one shoot and during another, he sexually assaulted her after giving her champagne and a quaalude. The photo being used for the cover of her memoir is her way of reclaiming her story, Geimer says.
Geimer was able to obtain the photos Polanski took through the civil suit she filed against him.
In 2003, Geimer said that she had no plans to write about the incident telling The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "I am not and never have thought about writing a book about this."
But her assault has continued to be rehashed every time Polanski's name comes up or he is threatened with extradition. (Most recently, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's pressed for his extradition when he went to Switzerland in 2009.)
When Geimer announced that she was working on the memoir last year, she said, "I am more than a 'Sex Victim Girl' [and] I offer my story now without rage, but with purpose -- to share a tale that will reclaim my identity."
National Children's Advocacy Center Touts Changes To State Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Law
by David Kumbroch
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The National Children's Advocacy Center is calling attention to changes in state law.
More people are now legally required to report evidence of child abuse if they see it.
Physical therapists are now on the list along with all employees of public and private schools.
The National Children's Advocacy Center pushes the power of reporting possible abuse.
The NCAC's Catherine Hereford says, “Obviously, the more people who are required to report it, the better for all of us, especially for our children.”
Calling in an abuse case could change the course of a child's life.
If dialing a few numbers and making a report is all it takes, then NCAC leaders believe it shouldn't take the law forcing you to do it.
Hereford adds, “We want every adult to understand, regardless of their occupation or their position in the community, we all have the social and ethical responsibility to report, whether it's the law or not.”
But whether you're a good Samaritan calling in or someone bound by law, you have to know what you're calling about, and at the NCAC has identified a wide range of symptoms.
Hereford lists, “A change in grades, a change in friends, if they're becoming more withdrawn, if they're becoming more attention-getting, any big change that you see in this child could be an indicator.”
And if you see those changes, pick up the phone and call the police or Department of Human Resources.
After all, the state legislature made a simple change to protect people who do report suspected child abuse.
The legislature voted to make it a crime to fire someone under those circumstances.
Still, Hereford believes the extra protection for those calling in a child abuse case serves a purpose, but shouldn't be necessary, “We think that you should always say something without fear of losing your job or anything else. Wouldn't you rather save the life of a child than worry about working for someone who may or may not let you go because you've done the right thing?”
Still if you're thinking about calling in a case of suspected abuse – it's one concern allayed.
Another concern for potential reporters – getting it wrong.
Hereford says not to worry so much about that, “We would talk to them. We would talk to the child. Children are inherently terrible liars, and we have highly trained forensic interviewers that discuss these cases with these children. And they're able to determine what if anything actually happened.”
So when weighing making the all-important phone call – there's a few weights off your mind.
Akron: From child abuse victim to beauty queen
by Jennifer Lindgren
AKRON -- Sharnae Lathan's story is one of hope and resilience.
At 31 years old, the Akron mother has been through more in her life than most people can imagine. Lathan was sexually abused for years by someone close to her.
While it's taken Lathan nearly her entire life to cope with the abuse she suffered as a child, she's turning that pain into helping others.
As Ohio's representative in the Triumph Over Tragedy: Ms. USA pageant, she has the chance to share her story on a national stage.
"I have nothing better that I could do with my life, than to turn the horrific events that took place in my childhood into a positive way that I can reach out to children," Lathan said.
Lathan says from the time she was four years old, she was abused by someone she knew well.
"I was lost for a long period of time. I experienced repressed memories. Sought therapy," Lathan said.
It took her decades of growing up and facing those memories to realize she was not to blame.
What began as a victory for herself quickly became a fight for others.
"When I'm at my weakest, I go do something for someone else," she said.
With her Akron-based organization, Through A Child's Eyes: Who Cares, Lathan now speaks in schools and churches and community meetings, to parents and kids.
"I have one simple message: No Secrets," she says of her effort to teach children that abuse is not something to keep to themselves.
This message won her the title of Triumph Over Tragedy: Ms. Ohio 2013.
The pageant promotes self confidence and social awareness.
In short, beauty within.
"Without these experiences that I've had, I would not be able to reach the children that I do," Lathan said of her program.
This weekend, she'll compete in the Triumph Over Tragedy national pageant.
Her goal is to become a national spokesperson for awareness of child sexual abuse.
Lathan says, after all she's been through, she already feels like a winner.
"The day I said I was a victim and now I'm a survivor--that's the most important title I could ever have," Lathan said.
To learn more about the Triumph Over Tragedy: Ms. USA pageant and to vote for Sharnae in the 'People's Choice' category, click on the link on this page.
You can also learn more about Through A Child's Eyes: Who Cares by clicking on the other link on this page.
Boone County combating child sex abuse cases, experts reveal alarming stats
by Scott Wegener
FLORENCE, Ky. -- Even before the Boone County Sheriff's Department arrested 25-year-old Matthew King and charged him with sodomizing a toddler, it wasn't difficult for a Florence childcare employee to figure out something was terribly wrong.
"The obvious tip off was the child said something that was prohibited in daycare,” Tom Scheben of the Boone County Sheriff's Department said.
When the employee told the child that wasn't appropriate, the child responded and tried to justify what he said, indicating something had happened to him.
But it isn't always so easy to spot the signs of child sexual abuse.
Sometimes it can look as if the child is merely having a bad day, experts said.
"[Some signs are] bedwetting, withdrawing, crying with no reason, anxiety or fear of certain people places or things" said Florence Family Nurturing Center Child Abuse Treatment Specialist Tabetha Marsh.
Other warning signs: If the child's sexual vocabulary or knowledge is well beyond his or her years, or they began acting out sexually with other children.
These signs shouldn't be ignored, Marsh said.
“Early detection is best, because the earlier you can find out if the child has been sexually abused, and get them the services they need," Marsh said.
The statistics are alarming, according Executive Director of Family Nurturing Center Jane Herms.
"One in four girls is sexually abused, one in six boys. If it hasn't happened to you personally, it likely has happened to someone that you know," she said.
The problem keeps the Boone County Sheriff's Department busy.
At least two full-time and two part-time employees are working on child sex abuse cases constantly, Scheben said.
Deputies arrested King, of Florence, on one count of first degree sodomy after an investigation revealed he sexually molested a four-year-old child on Tuesday, authorities said.
The sheriff's office reports the incident took place in June. King was a friend of the child's family, deputies report.
“Unless adults are willing to step up and protect kids, that cycle will really continue," she said.
Herms also added that only one in 10 sexually abused children will ever tell someone about it.
AG Bondi Asks Congress To Fight Prostitution and Child Sex Trafficking
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Attorney General Pam Bondi today joined a bi-partisan national coalition of 49 attorneys general calling on Congress to amend the law to help fight prostitution and child sex trafficking. In a letter to key members of Congress, the attorneys general advocated that Congress amend the Communications Decency Act to provide criminal jurisdiction to state and local prosecutors.
“By updating federal law, we can give prosecutors the tools they need to crack down on those who use technology to exploit children,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I am committed to making Florida a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking, and changing this law is just one more way we can work toward accomplishing that goal.”
The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was drafted when the Internet was in its infancy. The original purpose of the Act was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, but courts have interpreted certain provisions of the Act to provide immunity from state prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as Backpage.com, that promote and profit from human trafficking.
Prostitution is a local crime. Absent interstate travel, federal property, or the involvement of a minor, prostitution is not a federal crime. While the Communications Decency Act provides criminal authority to the federal government, the attorneys general believe that criminal jurisdiction needs to be extended to help combat these crimes.
Local prosecutors report that prostitution solicitations have largely moved online. Backpage.com, for example, generates an estimated $3 million to $4 million per month in revenue.
The letter can be found here: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MMFD-99WJCB/$file/Final+CDA+Sign+On+Letter.pdf
Human trafficking pipeline runs through NE Ohio
by Kim Wheeler
CLEVELAND -- Sadly, high-profile cases in our community are proof that young girls and women are being preyed upon.
Ohio is a major pipeline for human trafficking, taking young, lost girls and turning them into sex slaves.
"I was just 16," says "Rachel," a trafficking victim who finally escaped.
The average age is now 12 for entry into this dark world of human trafficking. It's happening in our cities, suburbs and schools.
Pimps can spot young girls who are vulnerable and want to feel loved.
"You can have kids trafficked and going to school everyday," says Renee Jones, who helps save victims of trafficking. She runs the Renee Jones Empowerment Center.
"Street outreach is very important," Jones says. "We need these women to know someone cares."
So, twice a month, Renee and her team go out and look for women who may need help. They give them bags with personal care items and the center's phone number.
"I would have done anything he wanted," says "Rachel."
She believed her pimp loved her and then he started peddling her at bars, truckstops and then in New York City. It took 10 years but she escaped.
Renee Jones is helping "Rachel" get her life back together, but it is a long process.
"It makes it all worthwhile, when you are able to help someone,"says Jones.
For a list of resources to help victims and to combat human slavery here in Ohio, click here.
Contact the Renee Jones Empowerment Center at www.rjecempower.org
It Happened To Me: I Was Forced Into Sexual Slavery By My "Modeling Manager"
Trafficking does not just happen in a far-away place. It's in our backyard.
by Jillian Mourning
I was the overachieving high school student who made straight As.
I knew I was intelligent, a good person, and capable of anything I set my mind to, but I wanted an adult to see that, particularly my mother, who was caught up in a black hole of alcohol and drugs. Desperately seeking caring and acceptance, I never received the love and affirmation I truly desired from her. Thus I set out to prove myself through grades and achievements.
I graduated high school with a 4.72 and was dissatisfied because that made me third in my graduating class. I needed to prove to myself (and others) that I could do anything and do it the best.
My freshman year of college started, and I began to get offers to model for local commercials, advertisements and clothing lines. I'd modeled as a younger child and that dream never went away. Suddenly, modeling was presented to me again, and I was ready to do whatever I needed to make that happen. I knew I needed representation, but didn't know where to start.
February of my second semester, a girl contacted me through a modeling website and said she could help me. Her pictures looked like they were straight out of Vogue, and I just wanted to do whatever she was doing because clearly it was working. She sent me a message saying her manager saw potential in me, loved my look, and would like to help me.
Help me? Wow really? I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw her message. She suggested she pass his information along to me and we meet for coffee. I couldn't agree fast enough.
When I met this man who would become my manager and later my trafficker, I was captivated.
He was dressed in a suit, spoke several languages, ran an enormous financial fund, and seemed to have the world at his fingertips.
Over a period of a few months, he served as a mentor, helping me meet those who could help me and grow my portfolio. He was an intimidating man and a great manipulator. I was always terrified to tell him no.
Right after the end of that semester he called and said he had a job for me with a big cigar company in Scottsdale, Arizona. If I were picked, it would be a national ad. I had traveled with him before on the East Coast and never felt unsafe. As intimidating as he was, I always felt like he could and would protect me if needed.
Upon arriving in Scottsdale, I had this overwhelming feeling that I was 19 and living the dream. I was about to stay in a 5-star hotel and I had a priceless opportunity in front of me. My overwhelming excitement and trust in my manager shadowed what judgment I did have at 19.
My manager and two other men entered my hotel room in the middle of the night. I had no clue what time it was, but often in modeling you get up at the crack of dawn (or before) for hair and makeup. I trusted this man so much I never dreamed what was in my immediate future.
As I lay there, silent, they began to set up a video camera. My stomach started to turn and my mind started to race. Suddenly the things I loved about my manager became threatening and scary. I knew what was going to happen and didn't have the courage to say anything. After all three men raped me, one after the other, recording it all on videotape and taking pictures simultaneously, I was told “This is just business.”
This was not the business I knew. I felt dirty, I was physically hurt but even more so I was emotionally broken. The denial, the hate, the shame, embarrassment, self-blame, the realization of vulnerability were all consuming my mind. I remember thinking, How does someone like me who is intelligent, accomplished, never tried a drug, never been in trouble, let something like this happen?
Returning home from Scottsdale, I had to face people, yet I didn't want anyone to know what happened to me. I thought if I told someone they would blame me, stop loving me, stop being my friends and stop seeing me as the same Jillian. I decided I would take that time in Scottsdale to my grave.
I had built a place in my childhood for all the abuse and trauma that I thought could hold this new trauma just the same. About two weeks later, I received a call from my manager saying he is in town and wanted to see me. I thought: Screw you, why in the name of God would I come see you? You've destroyed me, broken my spirit, and made me question who I am because I trusted you . He made it clear, with threats of knowing where I lived, my family, and threatening with me the rape video, that wanting to see me was not simply a request, but a demand.
When I met him, he had an envelope with photos that he told me no one would ever see if I did what he asked. He told me I was going to sleep with men at his request that would pay a lot of money for me, some over $10,000. In exchange, he wouldn't sell the videos and photographs to rape websites. Protecting my reputation (against something that wasn't my fault), friends, family, and just trying to continue on with a normal life cost me the next five months of my life.
At his beck and call, usually about once a month, I would meet a stranger who looked just like my manager, dressed to the nines, most likely successful, wearing a wedding ring, who took another piece of me. I would wonder: Do these men have daughters ? Do they not respect their wives?
Ultimately they didn't care. Their need to get off consumed any conscience they may have had.
In October that year, I found out the FBI was investigating my manager for financial crimes. He told me he would be out of touch for a bit, which turned into forever. He was sentenced to financial fraud of wire and mail fraud of millions of dollars.
I was emotionally still a wreck, but free.
I switched my focus in college to International Studies and German, concentrating on my minor of Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights. I wanted to understand how and why people could devalue human life in all circumstances. I completed a thesis titled “Human Trafficking -- Modern Day Slavery,” never once considering myself a victim.
Four years almost to the day of the night in Scottsdale someone was talking to me about their recent trip to Scottsdale and I decided to try to find out more about the sentencing of my manager. That Google search returned results I was not prepared to see.
I learned quickly that what happened to me was not just me but many other girls who voiced their stories anonymously on comment threads on articles about him. I learned simultaneously the footage of every girl was sold to rape and sexual violence websites. Suddenly four years of suppressed emotions came spewing up like I had severe food poisoning.
After an attempted suicide, which wasn't a desire to die, but more to find peace from the inability to close my eyes without seeing his face and hearing his voice, I decided I needed to heal properly. Besides which, when you spend a few days in a psych ward, everyone seems to know why when you get out.
I decided to stop being angry with God and start talking about what happened.
It was a relief. All of my friends and family still thought I was a talented woman with the world at her feet and most importantly still loved me. After another year of healing, I found myself in front of a woman who knew a lot about trafficking. She was from India and grew up seeing young girls sold on a daily basis.
At the end of our one-and-a-half-hour conversation, she told me, “I'll be very disappointed if you don't do something about it.”
Challenge accepted. A month later in church, I thought of the name of the organization I was going to create during a sermon on love. "All We Want Is LOVE" was perfect because all I ever wanted to be was loved. Love is the most unifying thing in the world that everyone wants and wants to give.
In just a couple weeks I had a legal corporation as a non-profit. People kept wanting me to speak on my experience to educate others. The more I talked and educated those around me, the more I healed and started to learn to love and trust again. Soon I was speaking at high schools and colleges even those outside of my community using my personal experience and my college studies to allow people to understand the many faces of human trafficking and how the business operates.
We also work on rescue campaigns, targeting hotels, gas stations, and truck stops. Often girls come through these establishments, and our campaign has resulted in seven reports in a two-month period.
Most people do not know about sex trafficking, and if you don't know you can't do anything about it. Our mission is to educate and inspire people to help end the injustice of sexual slavery. Our motto is educate to eradicate and so far it's working. The best thing is what happened to me is NOT in vain and I can use my education and experience to keep it from happening to others and help those who are victims.
No one can do everything but everyone can do one thing.
Trooper tells panel child abuse, neglect remains a major problem
by Mannix Porterfield
CHARLESTON — Any doubts that child abuse and neglect are not major offenses in West Virginia vanished Tuesday when 1st. Sgt. Danny Swiger stepped to the podium before a new legislative committee.
In the first six months of this year, the veteran trooper related, police arrested 107 people for 474 felony crimes.
“And those are the major cases we're looking at,” the officer told the Select Committee on Crimes Against Children, one born out of the Women's Caucus in the House of Delegates.
“There are many more out there. When you're talking about child pornography, these are people possessing thousands of images.”
Besides those actually formally charged, Swiger said members of the special State Police Crimes Against Children Unit interviewed 736 people, including 140 considered suspects, along with 255 child advocacy centers and 341 other interview sessions.
“Those are huge numbers,” Swiger said.
Swiger and the unit chief, Lt. Donnie Frye, plugged for additional manpower to expand the work.
A 21-year trooper, Swiger called his work within the unit “the most gratifying” assignment since he has been in law enforcement, saying this is reinforced when police can bring to justice someone who has victimized a child.
“Everyone, when they become a trooper, you have a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you put that guy in prison who has victimized a child,” Swiger said.
One handicap is that much of the unit's work is reactive, he told the legislators.
“When you start creating cases, you can't take a proactive approach without more troopers,” he said.
Evidence of abuse and neglect is obvious when police find a home that doubles as a meth lab and know for certain that a child lives there, he said.
“Hundreds kids that we are missing are truly being neglected and abused that are in drug environments at home,” he said.
In this vein, Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh, recalled a visit to a hospital by the Women's Caucus in the last session and saw newborns addicted to drugs.
“That's one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen,” Sumner said.
“To see those infants struggle in incubators and terrible things that have happened was very difficult to witness. That is a definite sign of child neglect.”
Sumner wondered if parents of such children can be charged with neglect.
Swiger wasn't certain, saying at one point this could boil down “to a political argument,” and adding he doesn't believe this is covered under West Virginia law.
“I don't think there is anything specific in law that says if you take this drug pregnant, and the child is addicted, that you have committed a crime,” the first sergeant told Sumner.
“Will you convince a prosecutor of that? I think you'll have a difficult time.”
A technology explosion has led to multiple means of exploiting children sexually -- cell phones, laptops, home computers, X-boxes, the officer said.
When child pornography is mentioned, Swiger said some people have an image of teenagers, but in one graphic case, he referred to a 3-month-old being raped.
“If you look at that multiple times over a period of time, it affects you,” Swiger said.
“When you talk about child pornography, these are people possessing thousands of images.”
Delegate Kelli Soboyna, R-Cabell, told fellow panelists of joining other lawmakers a few sessions ago when they were allowed to observe a sting operation the unit conducted.
During the exercise, one man, assuming, falsely, the undercover trooper he was chatting with via computer was a juvenile, transmitted a photo of his genitals.
“It was horrible,” she said.
When police conduct raids where child exploitation is suspected, Swiger said it is not uncommon to find “hundreds, if not thousands” of such images and often they are shared at different areas of the country.
“It's a nationwide problem,” Swiger told Delegate Carol Miller, R-Cabell.
The special panel is headed by Delegate Linda Phillips, D-Wyoming, while Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, serves as vice chair. All 21 women serving in the House are members, along with Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, the only woman in the Senate.
State Police Superintendent Jay Smithers commended the work of the special unit, created in 2009 originally as the Child Protection Unit with half a dozen officers. Today, it has grown to 18 after merging with a technical unit.
“Their task is overwhelming,” Smithers told the committee.
“They do a magnificent job with the resources they have.”
Sexually Abused Children In LA Can Turn To Stuart House, Which Is Fundraising To Expand
Rape of children is shockingly common in Los Angeles: one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they are 18 years old, according to The Rape Foundation, a nonprofit based in Santa Monica, Calif.
In response, the foundation has launched a fundraising campaign for a larger facility for sexually-abused children, the foundation said in a press release to The Huffington Post Monday.
The foundation will build a new, larger building for Stuart House, which was founded in 1988 by the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center to improve the treatment of sexually-abused children.
Between April 2011 and March 2012, 16,717 children were referred to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services for sexual abuse.
With the new building, Stuart House will better meet that demand by doubling the number of child victims who receive free care. Stuart House brings police, prosecutors and Department of Child and Family Services workers together to expedite criminal investigations and child protection actions. The facility also provides free, 24-hour emergency medical care, evidentiary examinations and specialized therapy services.
The Rape Foundation has raised more than $6 million of the $10 million needed by December 31, 2013, so construction can begin in the first quarter of 2014. UCLA is providing the land for the new building. Click here to find ways you can help.
Online child abuse addict: 'I was curious about images of teenage girls on the internet – a bit like car crashes. There's a fatal fascination'
Campaigners say much more needs to be done to combating paedophilia as the Government announces plans to redact search engine results to people trying to access images of child pornography online
by Paul Cahalan
Redacting search engine results and sending warnings to people trying to access images of child pornography online are two approaches the Government has announced to combating paedophilia. But with more than 50,000 people in the UK looking at or downloading underage porn each year, child campaigners say much more needs to be done.
Tom, a married father of three in his 40s, started looking at porn late at night, often after a few glasses of wine, and quickly became interested in images of younger girls. Police tracked down Tom (not his real name) and in court he admitted he had downloaded about 5,000 illegal images. He received a two-year probation order and had to sign on the sex offenders register. But going to court was only the beginning of his sentence. Speaking to Paul Cahalan , Tom describes losing his job and being shunned by friends while his children faced chants of “Your dad's a paedo” – and argues internet controls would have stopped him offending.
I looked at adult pornography for some time and I found it easy to go across from that to younger teenage girls.
I went through a period where I was a bit depressed, a bit lonely and stressed at work and I was hooked on it for a year or so, downloading images. I was under the impression there were a lot of people doing it. I would binge, fuelled by loneliness and a few glasses of wine. Then I would think this was disgusting, but three or four weeks would go by and I would be looking at images again and thinking I shouldn't be doing this.
There are two lines, legal and moral. You know it's an illegal image, but I thought, a bit like doing 35mph in a 30mph zone, that it was tolerated and understood. You can marry and have a family with a 16-year old but a lot of people don't realise that looking at images of a 17-year-old is illegal.
It is easy – on Google you are within a couple of clicks away from crossing a boundary. It is a fantasy world you lock yourself into, often late at night. I was divorced from reality. I wasn't in touch with anyone else or paying for images and I never spoke about it. It never transferred into real life.
There was escapism but it was curiosity, loneliness and anger – some suppressed from issues with my parents – that drove me on.
I was looking for something, I think trying to recapture my lost youth, perhaps through images of girls I would have gone after as a teenager. It is the idea of just one more click – let's see what's in this file.
A lot of the teenage stuff I did find stimulating. I was curious, a bit like car crashes and deaths on the internet. There's a fatal fascination.
I got hooked on collecting images; it was almost a hobby.
There's a satisfaction in hunting images down and collecting them. Sometimes there would be encrypted files and you had to wait three days for the password. It's like a detective hunt. The pictures were there; a lot of them I deleted, but they were still there.
Ninety-five per cent of my stuff was level one, images of erotic posing, with no sexual activity. We all have our own moral boundaries, and they don't always accord with the moral boundaries we think we have.
The internet has the same sense of detachment as TV for me – it is called disinhibition, acting differently on your own – like picking your nose. When on your own, on the internet at night, you do things you shouldn't do. But on the computer you can find yourself doing something illegal quite quickly.
When I was out there on the street looking at children it never occurred to me to look at them the same way. I am good with children and never had a problem with my three. I was pleased I didn't have any feelings for children. I didn't like seeing children being upset. I feel bad when I see a child being smacked in a supermarket.
One day the police turned up and said, ‘We have come to seize your computer and you'. They left me some leaflets and the next day I phoned up the Stop It Now! hotline in acute distress. I expected to be read the riot act and told what a beast I had been. They said things that were enormously helpful. ‘You have done a bad thing but you are not a bad person', is something I have clung on to. They also said that I wasn't alone. They run a course and I enrolled on that – I'm quite intelligent and introverted and I wanted to know why I had done what I had done. I have had therapy for the last two years and have completed an internet sex offenders' programme.
The court case and the sentence were only a small part of it. If I could have gone to jail for six months and then been Mr Joe Normal again – all forgiven and forgotten – I would have happily done that. It is the stigma, people pointing at you, wondering if people know about it. Some people don't know, some do, and I worry about those who don't know and I think about if I should tell them or not.
Telling my children was the hardest thing I have ever done. They were shocked – it is not nice to think about your parents and anything to do with sex – but eventually understanding.
They understood, deep down, that men look at pornography. My marriage struggled, my wife was very shocked but stood by me. I am very lucky.
The shame is absolutely awful. It is dreadful. The popular media is convinced the country is swamped by dirty perverts who are going to rape and kill children and stick them in their lofts. You get tarred with that brush. Some people and friends still won't talk to me any more. I'm excluded from things. My story was in the local paper, I left my job and my children have the stigma of ‘your dad's a paedo'. However much people tell you that ‘today's papers are tomorrow's chip wrappers', that is not the case with the internet – it is there forever. I have to live with it for the rest of my life.
I think the public is struggling to find ways to express the disgust they feel they ought to be expressing.
I have a lot of shame and a lot of guilt and anything I say to mitigate it just seems like a pathetic excuse to people. I have told you the truth as I see it.
It feels terrible, I am shaking now, but I am determined to get over it. Research has shown that increasing people's shame just makes them go inside themselves and shut off from the world, and sometimes reoffend. My guilt waxes and wanes. Sometimes I feel really disgusted with myself but then I just think: I have done something wrong, I have been punished, it is some time ago, I have learnt, and I'm not going to do it again.
Occasionally it is a bit tricky. With Google you are literally a couple of clicks away from those images. If warning signs, like they have in Sweden saying you are entering an illegal site, had come up I wouldn't have gone there. If there had been a warning that police were going to track me down, there is no way I would have done it. If there had been more publicity, there is no way I would have done it – and if the internet hadn't have been there, there is no way I would have done it.
The internet engenders curiosity, that is what it is for – it is ‘See what you can find'. Porn is one avenue that's easy to go down and harder to turn back from.”
If you are affected by the issues raised by Tom's story call the Stop it Now! helpline on 0808 1000 900
Government will pursue religious orders over €1.46bn victims compensation
The Government has vowed to pursue religious orders for half the €1.46 billion cost of compensating their victims.
The congregations which were responsible for horrific child abuse in schools, orphanages, borstals and other institutions will now be under deepening pressure to stump up the €250 million shortfall.
Four orders have already indicated they are willing to consider transferring more school buildings and other educational infrastructure on top of what has been offered.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said some properties will be used in the public and voluntary sectors and others sold with the proceeds used to pay for support services for survivors.
"The Government is obviously disappointed that the congregations have not agreed to a 50:50 share of the very considerable cost for redress," Mr Quinn said.
"Today's decision represents the most pragmatic way to maximise the level of contributions to be made by the congregations and the management bodies so that the taxpayer does not bear an unreasonable burden of the costs."
Eighteen religious orders were identified by the Ryan inquiry over the decades of abuse suffered by youngsters.
The final compensation costs includes €1.25 billion on the redress scheme and associated litigation and €88.6m for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.
Another €110m has been spent on the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund; 10m euro on the Faoiseamh Counselling service; and €12.7m to educate former residents.
The congregations of priests and nuns initially offered just €128m euro in cash, property and counselling services as part of a controversial indemnity deal dating back to 2002. Only €106m of this was ever realised.
This offer was increased in 2009 to €348.5 million after the Ryan report called for the 50:50 split between state and church.
A cash offer of €113m was boosted by property which the orders valued at €235.5 million.
But only €70m has been realised - €68m of the cash and just € 2m euro of the property.
The Government complained at the time that the State would only make use of a quarter of the properties offered - 12 sites, valued at €60m.
It had been looking at taking ownership of schools, nursing homes, playing fields and land to make up the shortfall.
The offers of property included 49 Christian Brothers' playing fields; Presentation Sisters' St Bernard's Group Home, Fethard, Tipperary; Sisters of Our Lady of Charity childcare facility at Gracepark Rd, Drumcondra, Dublin; and Sisters of St Clare primary school, Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.
The Sisters of Mercy offered several schools: St Joseph's VEC College, Carrick on Suir; the Adult Education Centre, Waterford; land at Convent Road, Cahir; Seamount Convent and College, Kinvara, Galway; Scoil Mhuire Secondary and Mercy Primary School, Ennistymon, Clare; and the Old Primary School and Hall, Trim, Meath.
The order also put forward the McAuley Centre, Kells, Meath; Beaumont Convalescent Home and grounds, north Dublin; 33 acres at the National Rehabilitation Hospital Dun Laoghaire; and St Anne's Lenaboy Castle, Taylor's Hill, Galway.
The Government said it will propose long-term option on further Sisters of Mercy properties including two convents in Cork, two primary schools in Mayo, and schools in Longford, Leitrim and Meath.
Calls to rape crisis centre increase 23% from 2010
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre says there has been a 23% increase in the number of first-time callers to its helpline since 2010.
The centre claims this represents proof that sexual violence increases during recession.
In the centre's annual report for 2012, the centre reports that it dealt with over 12,000 calls last year and that it accompanied 260 victims of recent rape and assault to hospital for treatment.
The organisation also said that 54% of calls related to adult sexual violence, and 54% of clients were grown survivors of child sexual abuse.
Speaking at the launch of the report, the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said new legislation on a DNA Database will be published in September, which will play an important role in solving sex crimes.
Minister Shatter says the database will be operational next year and will include the DNA profile of every person convicted of a crime that attracts a sentence of five years or more.
"I think we would all agree that rape and sexual assault are abhorrences that blight out country," he said.
"Your report gives interesting insights into the numbers you are dealing with, yet this remains an area of great concern and importance."
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has a 24-hour helpline number: 1800 77 8888
Cops, clubs join to fight sex trafficking
by Crystal Gutierrez
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - If the world of illegal sex trafficking had a highway it would run right through New Mexico, which is why local and federal officials are working with neighboring states and the adult sex industry to track that circuit down.
Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin Abar said more eyes are watching the circuit of the illegal sex industry.
Local operations are starting at truck stops.
"We're looking at truck stops," Abar said. "We're looking at various areas where individuals may be forced into prostitution."
Abar said other state agencies are then keeping a close eye on the interstates and now law enforcement in Texas is joining in.
Maj. Shane Byrd, with the Criminal Investigation Division in El Paso, said the teamwork is critical for his area where he deals with human smuggling. He said once female immigrants get into the U.S. illegally some are forced into the sex industry.
Those victims can and do make their way into New Mexico.
"We know that I-25 is a corridor, a large corridor, so it's got to be a huge corridor for human trafficking," Byrd said.
But law enforcement can only see so much.
This week strip club owners from across the country, including an Albuquerque strip club, will train side-by-side law enforcement.
The organization is called COAST, Club Operators Against Sex Trafficking.
"They've helped us to understand the adult industry, given us access," Abar said. "Hopefully we don't have young children getting involved and individuals that are out there that were trafficked in."
Just like the two underage dancers police said were baring it all earlier this month at an all-nude strip club in Albuquerque. Two arrests were made, and the club was closed.
"That particular club that was closed down was not a COAST member," Abar said.
Nine other Albuquerque strip clubs are, and there about 70 are members in Texas.
The organization's chairman, Michael Ocello, who also runs several clubs in the Southwest, said adult businesses with COAST are willing to turn in other businesses for doing wrong.
"I would be happy to join those people and put the handcuffs on," Ocello said.
Ocello said he's called federal agents on a possible human trafficking case before.
HSI said with that organization's help they've saved a number of women and girls.
Strip clubs against sex trafficking
by Farrah Fazal
SAUGET, Ill. (KSDK) - Strip club owners maybe aren't the first people you think of when you hear of anti-sex trafficking advocates. They may not even be the last. But they may be among the first people to see a sex trafficking victim.
They've become the eyes and ears of federal agents on both sides of the Missouri river. St. Louis is on the sex trafficking highway between Kansas City and Chicago.
A strip club owner in Sauget, Illinois is leading the fight to stop the selling of women and children in the St. Louis area and around the country. His army of people, the workers in his clubs, is on the frontlines of a mission to save a life. It's a place where sexy sells that serves as the home of a movement called Club Owners Against Sex Trafficking (COAST).
"From the first person they meet in the parking lot, to the floor host inside, the person who collects the identification, the manager, the bartender, the waitress, have been trained to know what human trafficking looks like," said Mike Ocello, owner of the Penthouse nightclub and five others in the area. His company owns 18 more across the country.
"If a girl everyday says, 'Oh, my God, I need to make this much' or 'I don't want to go home,' then that's a warning sign," said a dancer who performs under the stage name "Cashmere." She strips at the Penthouse four days a week.
"People generally believe human trafficking is going on and it's widespread in the adult nightclubs. I believe they are mistaken," Ocello said. He started fighting the perception a few years ago.
"There's a perception that as a business owner I would want prostitution in my club, that's going to bring more people in my business. We make our money from selling admission, selling drinks, food; the girls do dances. If the guy comes in and encounters a prostitute, and has the happy ending, he's not staying for that second bottle of beer. He's going home. That's bad for business," he said.
Ocello said it's impossible for legitimate business owners to traffic in people. Trafficking requires force, coercion and fraud.
"These women, they decide when they're going to come to work, how long they're going to work, who they're going to dance for," he said.
Ocello became an advocate after one of the dancers in his clubs had an expired visa.
"Her and her boyfriend get into a fight and he turns her into immigration saying she's here illegally and she's working. An agent came in and thought we were involved in human trafficking and importing girls, it became a mess," he said.
Agents cleared Ocello's nightclubs of any wrong doing, but it was a turning point for him. He could not stop thinking about what could happen if undocumented women were sold into his clubs. He came up with a plan. He was able to arrange a meeting with former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations for ICE John Torres, who was admittedly skeptical when Ocello walked into his Washington, DC office.
"You could count me as part of the main stream of people who had the perception that a lot of illegal activity takes place in those types of clubs," Torres said.
Ocello convinced Torres and the federal government to work with him.
"We could provide training to his employees so they could recognize the signs of human trafficking and refer those cases back to us" said Torres. "I see a program that is successful in preventing human trafficking from taking place and protecting victims."
Three thousand strip club workers in 200 adult nightclubs from coast to coast learned what a sex trafficking victim looked like. They gave ICE agents enough ammunition to investigate several cases.
"This is about saving a life," Ocello said.
Saving lives is what Ocello is trying to do. He does it every day when he puts on the uniform and patrols the streets as a certified and commissioned police officer in the state of Illinois. He works for the Centreville Police Department.
Torres believes Ocello's plan could be a model for other companies.
Kentucky Child Abuse Panel Considers Drug-Testing Parents
by Kentucky Public Radio
A group of professionals ranging from doctors to state lawmakers is reviewing cases of child abuse and neglect in an effort to improve Kentucky's child protection system. The Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Committee met Monday for the first time since a new state law took effect.
Dr. Tracey Corey said she would like to see mandatory drug and alcohol screening.
“I've noticed that over the years, many times when there is an accidental death of a child, it is reported that the parents have been intoxicated," said Corey.
Joel Griffith with Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky agrees, but wants to be deliberate in how they approach collecting data.
“We don't exactly know many cases of unexpected child deaths involve drugs so what we need to do is get some baseline data and then move forward from a data informed approach before we just make a jump that could be hard received for people who are going through the death of a child," remarked Griffith.
The group also discussed the need for more education, especially in hospital ERs so that signs of child abuse can be identified and treated more quickly.
A report with recommendations is scheduled to be submitted to lawmakers and the Governor by the end of the year.
Dallas agency to host event on fighting child abuse
by Robert Miller
The Dallas Children's Advocacy Center is hosting a community event featuring Aaron Fisher, who was known for more than a year simply as Victim 1 of Jerry Sandusky.
Fisher will speak at the Hour to Empower event at 2 p.m. Aug. 11 at 5351 Samuell Blvd. His mother, Dawn Daniels Hennessy, and psychologist Michael Gillum will also speak.
Gillum co-wrote a best-seller, Silent No More, Victim 1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky, with Fisher and Hennessy.
The event is open to the public and is designed for parents and children 9 and older. Admission is $50 each for adults and children, and tickets are available at dcad.org.
Sandusky is a former assistant football coach at Penn State University who was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving 30 to 60 years in prison. Fisher stayed anonymous until October 2012, when he did an interview on ABC's 20/20 before his book came out.
Lynn M. Davis, president and CEO of the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center, will also speak at the session.
“One in six boys will be abused before their 18th birthday; Aaron Fisher was one of those boys,” Davis said. “Fisher was the first of Sandusky's victims to come forward, paving the way for other victims to tell their stories.”
“More than 90 percent of the time, our children are abused by people they know, people they love, people they trust,” he said.
During the Sandusky trial, one of the victims said: “He made me feel like I was part of something, like a family. He gave me things that I had never had before. I loved him.”
Davis said: “Complex feelings such as these are often difficult for parents to understand. Emotions such as embarrassment, fear and shame are common for children who have endured abuse.
“We want to empower children to understand how to respond if they are approached for potential grooming by a sexual predator,” he said.
“Join us Aug. 11 for an opportunity to empower your family and your children, hearing first-hand from one who empowered himself and others. Fisher is no longer known as Victim 1 but as a hero.”
Fisher will be in Dallas to speak at the 25th annual Crimes Against Children Conference, which begins Aug. 12. The conference at the Sheraton Hotel downtown is for professionals in law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, social work, children's advocacy, therapy and medicine who work directly with child victims of crime.
The Dallas Children's Advocacy Center works to improve the lives of abused children in Dallas County and provide national leadership on child abuse issues. The center coordinates the investigation and prosecution of the most severe cases of child abuse in our community. To learn more, visit dcac.org.
My Safe Page, Greenz and Lial's are the sponsors of the Aug. 11 event.
Twitter to introduce PhotoDNA system to block child abuse images
by Charles Arthur
Microsoft-developed system may be introduced this year once complication of handling pictures posted alongside billions of tweets can be overcome
Twitter is to introduce a tagging system to prevent child abuse images being posted on its service, which now sees millions of pictures posted among the 2bn tweets every five days.
The intention is to introduce the system, which uses a Microsoft-developed industry standard called “PhotoDNA”, later this year if possible.
The move was revealed exclusively to the Guardian as the prime minister, David Cameron, steps up pressure on internet providers and particularly on search engines to block access to images of child abuse online.
Twitter's move has come independently of UK pressure. Microsoft and Facebook already use PhotoDNA to monitor images posted to the social network, Microsoft's Skydrive service and accessible via its Bing search engine.
PhotoDNA works by producing a “hash” – a single number generated from the binary data of a picture or video, and some biometric information in the picture. The method still works even if the image is resized or altered.
When an image is posted, its hash is compared against known images of child abuse which have been flagged by operations such as the UK's Internet Watch Foundation and the US's National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's (NCMEC) Child Victim Identification Program. The latter found 17.3m images of abuse in 2011 – and since 2002 has reviewed more than 65m images and videos of child sexual exploitation reported by the authorities. However, the “hash” database is reckoned to be much smaller.
Microsoft developed the system in 2009 with Dartmouth College in the US, and donated the technology to the NCMEC. Facebook began using it in 2011.
“One of the most exciting things that we're working on is implementing PhotoDNA,” said Del Harvey, senior director of Twitter's Trust & Safety team. “It's really fantastic that we're making progress on getting that in place. And it's good that others in the industry are working on it, or on implementing it, because this is one of those areas which is not about competition, it's about co-operation. We're trying to keep the user safe.”
Harvey worked on preventing child abuse before joining Twitter in 2008. She said that there are complications to implementing PhotoDNA on Twitter, based on the sheer scale and speed of the service. It is also complicated by the involvement of outside companies called Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which store copies of data posted online at locations closer to users, so they can be downloaded more quickly.
“You think ‘we'll just delete the image', but then you face the question of whether it's hosted on a CDN. In that case, how do you make sure it gets flushed out? What if there's a backlog of requests for images to delete? You start to wonder if these things really have to be this complicated just to delete an image – and the answer turns out to be yes, it really does have to be this complicated.”
Google said in June that it has used a “hashing” technology to identify child abuse images online since 2008. It does not use PhotoDNA, but its system is compatible with it.
Team 10 obtains video of admitted child molester in Jehovah's Witnesses
Some people say group covered up abuse for years
by Mitch Blacher
SAN DIEGO - Team 10 has obtained a video that some people say helps to prove Jehovah's Witnesses covered up child abuse for years.
In a video deposition taken in 2011 during a civil lawsuit, admitted serial pedophile Gonzalo Campos said he abused several children in his San Diego congregation from the early 1980's through the mid 90's.
"I did abuse him," said Campos in the video. "I touched his private parts."
His on-camera admissions and a confidential settlement worth millions, may have to be enough for his victims. The Jehovah's Witnesses never told police about Campos, who was a church elder. He's never been charged with a crime and he may never see the inside of a prison cell. He has fled the country and now is in Mexico. He also still is a member of Jehovah's Witnesses.
An attorney questions Campos on the video, "Were you allowed to continue to give bible study to children after you attempted to touch (the victim) inappropriately?"
"Yes," Campos said.
Irwin Zalkin represents the seven victims who have come forward.
"He is a serial pedophile," Zalkin said. "It's about accountability. It's about taking responsibility. It's about protection of children. It's about changing the way they operate."
Zalkin claims child abuse continues inside the Jehovah's Witness community. He claims church leaders, known as elders, and Jehovah's Witness' headquarters, known as The Watchtower, treat child abuse like a sin instead of a crime.
"The elders are instructed that they are to report that up the chain to The Watchtower, before or not to authorities," Zalkin said. "It is The Watchtower who will decide what happens."
Team 10 found The Watchtower has sent each congregation and its elders several confidential memos about how to handle child abuse starting in 1989.
The original memo warns to "be careful not to divulge information about personal matters, quoting scripture which says there is 'a time to keep quiet."
Another memo from October 2012 outlines the current church policy.
It tells elders to "call the legal department" and "contact your ... Overseer." It says, "loving elders should take steps to protect children, especially when ... the one who has sexually abused a child ... will be allowed to remain a member ..."
Jim McCabe is the attorney for the Jehovah's Witnesses. He explained how the church now handles abuse allegations.
"Today whenever there's an allegation of child abuse and a local congregation hears about it they call headquarters and get instructions," McCabe said.
Team 10 learned Campos is still a member of the Jehovah's Witness church as he lives in Mexico, but McCabe says he is not allowed to hold a leadership position.
Team 10 also learned Campos is just one of thousands of alleged abusers the Jehovah's Witnesses know about.
A database detailing more than 23,000 allegations of abuse was discovered in church headquarters and revealed to the public in 2002.
When Team 10 asked McCabe if the church always reports allegations of abuse to police, he answered no.
"Under biblical law a man can only be convicted on the testimony of two or more witnesses," McCabe said.
McCabe is a Jehovah's Witness and elder of his La Jolla church. He said the Jehovah's Witnesses have always reported abuse allegations to police when required by law. It became law in California in 1997.
"Our problem is that there are some bad men that sneak into organizations," McCabe said. "They snuck into our organization, they snuck into other organizations."
Team 10 asked if Zalkin believed it's widely known that there are sexual abuse problems inside Jehovah's Witnesses.
"No, no and it needs to be brought to the public's attention," Zalkin said. "They have been operating in secrecy and at will for decades."
"We wish we could undo what has been done, but it can't be," McCabe said.
Zalkin said he plans to file more lawsuits against Jehovah's Witnesses soon.
Some of those cases stem from other alleged abuse in San Diego.
McCabe issued this statement to Team 10:
"The letter that you refer to that you received from Zalkin Law Firm is six pages long and this was the only literal and intended reference having anything to do with Child Sex Abuse (click http://bit.ly/1301TiR for the letter; refer to page 3, Section B). I also gave you dozen of published articles in the Awake! and Watchtower magazines that constitute Jehovah's Witnesses policy on child abuse -- we abhor it and do not condone it or cover it up."
(*Editor's note: Due to an editing error, a quote was incorrectly attributed to the wrong person in an earlier version of this story. Zalkin, the attorney who plans to file lawsuits against Jehovah's Witnesses, said this issue needs to be brought to the public's attention.)
Brits will have to ask their Internet provider for porn
by Robert Hutton
LONDON — Britain Internet suppliers will have to block access to pornography unless customers opt to receive it, an effort to help parents stop children viewing unsuitable material, Prime Minister David Cameron announced.
The premier said all new customers will automatically have family-friendly filters installed, and existing customers will be contacted and told they must say whether they want to turn those filters on or off. Those who don't reply will have the filters activated.
Cameron urged search-engine providers such as Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc. to "step up to the plate" and stop providing results when people search for images of child abuse.
"There needs to be a list of terms, a blacklist, which offer up no direct search returns," Cameron said in a speech in London Monday. "There are some searches which are so abhorrent and where they can be no doubt whatsoever about the sick and malevolent intent of the searcher. I have a very clear message for Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest. You have a duty to act on this — and it is a moral duty."
He said he wants search engines to report to him by October on their progress.
"There's lots of complicated and difficult questions that have to be answered and that's why we have to work with the companies," Cameron said on BBC Radio 2's "Jeremy Vine Show." "I know it's hard but that's not a reason for doing nothing."
Girls forced into prostitution face a harsh reality on Reno streets
by Tracie Douglas
By the age of 14, Leah Albright-Byrd said she had spent most of her life with an abusive and violent father, and a mother who went from relationship to relationship. The last straw for her was a screaming match with her father in the car. She claims he stopped the car, pulled her out, and choked her until she almost blacked out.
“That was it, I wasn't going to stay around for any more of that,” Albright-Byrd said.
So she called her best friend, who was also 14 and living in a tough family situation, and the two of them ran away. They spent the next several weeks living with different friends and sleeping on floors in strangers' homes.
“The guys are watching for girls who are vulnerable, and when you don't have any money, a home or anyone watching out for you, you like the attention they start giving you,” she said.
It wasn't long before Albright-Byrd was put into the Game—as illegal prostitution is known among its practitioners. For the next four years, she worked the streets, living with the same pimp for most of that time. She believed her pimp when he told her that “once a ho, always a ho,” and she became embroiled in a life of sex, drugs and physical abuse.
“Pimps use a lot of psychology to keep you with them,” Albright-Byrd said. “At first they tell you they love you and that they will take care of you. Then they will beat you, and they won't give you any of the money you earned, but you look for those moments when they are nice to you, and you do everything you can to please them, so they will be good to you.”
During those four years, Albright-Byrd worked in Sacramento and Reno, as well as other cities in California. She cruised the casinos and walked the streets, looking to make eye contact with interested men.
“Downtown Reno was pretty disgusting,” she said. “There were a lot of drugs being sold on the streets and plenty of johns willing to pick you up.”
At 18, Albright-Byrd finally had enough. She started taking classes at a community college in Sacramento. Her pimp followed her and started taking classes as well, which was hard on her. One day, a classmate found her crying and asked what was wrong. Albright-Byrd decided to trust her and eventually told her story. The friend invited her to church, and she began a journey that she described as “an encounter with a divine power higher than herself.”
Albright-Byrd eventually received a dual degree in theology and psychiatry. She spent time as a drug and alcohol counselor and is now the executive director of a non-profit that reaches out to young prostitutes to help get them off the streets and educates the community about the crime and its victims. But some of her own psychological scars will never heal. When Albright-Byrd was 15, she and her cousin brought 14-year-old Bridget Gray into the Game.
“Bridget had lived in about 10 foster homes, and she wanted to belong to something, so it was easy to talk her into joining the life,” Albright-Byrd said.
Several years after getting out, Albright-Byrd was still in touch with Gray, who had also gotten out of the game. The last time she spoke with Gray was January 2006, when Gray was in Las Vegas.
“I don't know how she ended up in Las Vegas, but when I talked with her, she said she was making some money and that she would be home soon,” Albright-Byrd said. “I told her to call me when she got back, but she never did.”
On March 3, 2006, Gray's naked body was found dumped in the hallway of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. James David Flansburg had strangled her during a sex act. Flansburg is serving time in the Nevada State Prison on charges of second degree murder, doing 10 years to life with the possibility of parole. He is currently not up for parole. Albright-Byrd thought a lot about her friend because she had sold her the dream of a better life through prostitution, and in 2011, Albright-Byrd started her nonprofit, Bridget's Dream. Reno's mean streets
It may be that legal prostitution in Nevada has skewed Nevadans' ideas of what illegal prostitution is, what it looks like, and especially where it happens. Right this minute, it's happening downtown, and while there are many traditional streetwalkers, the face of prostitution also includes girls as young as 12. According to FBI's Uniform Crime Report, in the United States in 2011, there were 763 children under the age of 18 arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice.
Sgt. Ron Chalmers, supervisor of the Street Enforcement Team (SET) for the Reno Police Department, said that the business of prostitution has dramatically changed with the use of the internet and cell phones. Chalmers and his team are charged with stopping prostitution—among the crimes that used to be known as “vice”—as well as handling all street-level issues with drugs, underage drinking and helping other jurisdictions when drugs come through our area. It's a job that keeps Chalmers and his associates busy.
Across the country, gangs have found that selling sex is much more lucrative than selling drugs. After all, a gram of meth or an ounce of marijuana can only be sold once, while a girl can be sold for sex over and over again. Usually, a pimp will drive a few girls in from another state or city, ads will be run on adult internet sites like My Red Book or Backpage, the john will call for a date, and then he'll meet the prostitute in a local hotel room.
“We constantly search these sites to see who's advertising in Reno, and if we think the girl is underage, we'll call her and set up a sting,” Chalmers said.
Reno is on the map for many large events, like Hot August Nights, the balloon and air races, and others. Special events bring in lots of tourists, as well as lots of prostitutes, and the SET team prioritizes finding prostitutes before and during these events.
“We want visitors to have a good experience when they come to Reno,” Chalmers said. “We don't want them to see underage prostitutes or drug deals on every street corner, so we do a lot of work before these big events.”
While it's impossible to know the exact number of girls working in Reno, there are underage girls working every single night. In its first year of existence, Awaken Reno—a non-profit group that works with girls trying to get out of the Game—had contact with 40 girls under the age of 18. Although some of the girls are locals, Chalmers said that most of the underage girls are brought in from other places. Thus, there's no exact method to determine how long the girls stay in the area, or if they come and go on a regular basis. It is clear, however, that many aspects of the Reno business and tourism economy benefit from the illegal activity.
Prostitutes—particularly underage ones—are treated as victims and not as criminals. Law enforcement didn't always handle it that way.
“Chances are that these girls left abusive home lives, only to be abused by their pimp,” Chalmers said. “The pimps keep them close, keeping all of their identification and not giving them any money. The pimp does tell his girls that he loves them, he tells them that only he cares about them, and he tells them they have nothing else they can do because once they become a whore, they will always be a whore . So when we get to them, we want them to know they have been abused, they are a victim of this pimp and not a criminal, and that we really want to help them.”
When a girl and her pimp are arrested, Chalmers said it is imperative to separate the girl from her pimp, to try to reach out to the girl and to provide services that will help her get out of the Game. Chalmers said that this isn't an easy accomplishment.
“It's like Stockholm Syndrome in that the girl believes her pimp loves her, and she wants to get back to him as quickly as possible because he needs her,” he said. “So we keep the girl in jail for several days in order to break the pattern she's been living.”
In jail, the girls are provided with clothes and personal hygiene products, and they meet with people from the community who understand their plight and offer a way out of prostitution. They also get regular meals and sleep, which they likely have not been getting on the streets. Once they've been away from their pimps for a while, they are more open to seeing that they are indeed victims.A twisted world of supply and demand
It's been said time and time again that prostitution is the oldest profession. As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. In Nevada's small county brothels, the legal “supply” is considered safe for both the girls and the johns. Laws require the use of condoms, girls receive regular medical testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and rooms have panic buttons that can be pushed if the john becomes violent. The women are old enough to work legally in brothels, and society sees it as their choice.
On the streets, there are variables. Pimps run the girls—STD checks are few and far between, both johns and prostitutes get beaten up or robbed—and the girls are sometimes under the age of 18, not legally competent to make a choice to go into prostitution. If a john is picked up for solicitation, he receives a misdemeanor citation, which means he could go to jail and pay a fine up to $1,000. Usually, he just pays a fine and goes on his way. Pimps take a bigger risk. Just recently, an alleged pimp from Reno was indicted by the federal grand jury on a sex trafficking charge for transporting a 15-year-old girl from Bakersfield, Calif., to Reno.
Vernon McCullum, III, a.k.a “Fifth,” 20, of Reno, was indicted on one count of illegal transportation of a minor for prostitution or other illegal sexual activity. McCullum faces a minimum of 10 years to life in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. He pled not guilty.
“The community needs to really look at this situation,” said Carla Higginbotham, assistant United States attorney for the state of Nevada. “These are men who are paying for sex with a teenage girl. If they were doing that in their home with a neighborhood child, they would be prosecuted and rightly shunned as pedophiles and sex offenders.”
Higginbotham works in the division that deals with all forms of human trafficking and is part of the community team working to stop underage prostitution. She said that the community's sensitivity and awareness to sex trafficking have to be intensified.
Other agencies support Higginbotham's assertions.
Melissa Holland is the executive director for Awaken Reno. She explained that surveys, which included men from the University of Nevada, Reno, show that most men look at prostitution as a good thing, something that actually deter men from raping women.
“That just proves we have a long way to go in educating people about sex crimes, especially that rape and prostitution are entirely different crimes,” Holland said.
Chalmers said that tough laws must be written to break the “demand” part of the equation, and there must be harsh punishments to deter pimps and johns from the crime. He said that opportunity will arise when Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto presents A.B. 67 to the Nevada State Legislature this month. That law makes big changes in how sex traffickers will be prosecuted by increasing penalties and widening the definition of human and sex trafficking.
“A criminal knows that if he uses a gun when he commits a crime, the penalties will be harsher—we need for the same thing to happen in sex crimes, in that if a john has sex with a minor, he's going to pay a heavy price,” Chalmers said.
Michon Martin, assistant attorney general for Nevada, said the changes broaden and modernize existing laws and brings them into alignment with other states. The attorney general's office has been working with a variety of players from law enforcement, public defenders, prosecutors and advocacy groups to target specific changes that will make it more difficult to traffic young girls in Nevada.
“The other side of this is that we have to educate the public that this is happening to our children,” Martin said. “This is our problem.”Places to turn
Holland has worked to educate the residents of Washoe County about what is happening right under their noses. She and FBI agent Tiffany Short collaborate with local law enforcement and are usually called in as soon as a girl is arrested. Together they help provide some basic necessities, and they work with local agencies to get the girl home or to a safe location.
“We provide whatever they need, like bus tickets and housing, so they can get away from their pimp and hopefully back into a supportive environment,” said Holland.
Awaken Reno has a network of professionals who donate services to the girls, such as medical care, counseling and dental services. Even local tattoo artists have donated their services to cover brands and tattoos that the pimp may have forced a girl to get.
“Just like slavery, some of these pimps brand their girls so that others will know who the girl belongs to,” said Holland. “Having that brand gone makes a big difference in helping the girls feel free from that life.”
Advocates say that education also needs to happen in the schools, just like drug and alcohol programs and sex education programs. Children need to understand how they can be lured into being trafficked for sex. Short has spoken with school counselors, and has been asked to speak at some local high schools. Short and Holland hope that junior high schools will call on them for information. Police sergeant Chalmers said that school education is necessary, but the father of two also has some concerns about what is age-appropriate.
“I try to teach my kids about bad things and how to avoid them, and while I know this is happening all the time because I see it happen, I really don't know what is a good age to try to explain this to them,” Chalmers said.
A summit has been planned in Carson City on Feb. 11, which has been proclaimed Nevada Advocacy Day by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Several people and agencies expect to develop ways to inform Nevadans about sex trafficking.
Albright-Byrd spends her days speaking to service organizations, churches and law enforcement about her life in the Game, how she got out and how she became a survivor. Twice a month, she and a team of volunteers hit the streets of Sacramento armed with cookies, brownies and information, in hopes of taking even one girl off the streets. She knows about 80 percent of the girls who leave go back to the Game.
“I know from when I was a drug and alcohol counselor that there is a big difference in being sober and being in recovery—you can be sober and not be in recovery,” Albright-Byrd said. “So many of these girls might leave for a while, but they find the pain and struggle of the real world to be too much, so they go back to their pimps, and they lose touch with reality.”
Through Bridget's Dream, she hopes to build a transition house where girls can get away from their pimps while learning how to go from being a victim to being a survivor.
Though most victims come from broken homes and bad living situations. Albright-Byrd has also seen girls from caring homes get trafficked. She wants to educate parents about what signs to look for, as well as educate girls about not becoming victims.
“When I have my own kids, I'll be watching everything they do and making sure they do what's right,” Albright-Byrd said. “My mother knew where I was and what I was doing because I told her, and even though she would come visit me, she did nothing to help get me out. I won't let that happen to my kids.”
Human trafficking will not end until it ends in India
by Brent Martz
For generations, 300 million Dalits—the poorest of the poor in India—have been taught that they are worthless.
Less than human.
Excluded from society, they have limited access to education or justice.
They are used, cheated, and abused freely by others.
They are given no protection by law enforcement; no access to the courts; no political voice; no hope of upward mobility.
With no resources and no hope, many Dalit women and children succumb to India's thriving human-trafficking industry.
But with 27 million modern-day slaves around the world, 100,000 of which are child prostitutes in the United States, why do the Dalits matter?
By bringing an end to human trafficking in the number one source and destination for human trafficking victims in the world, we can end trafficking across the globe.
The Dalits matter because human trafficking will not come to an end around the world, until it comes to an end in India.
Didn't the End It Movement already raise enough awareness of human trafficking to make a mark for 2013? Do we really need another organization shouting their anti-trafficking cause from the rooftops?
Yes, we do. And here's why:
- Buying and selling human beings is larger now than any other time in history, and it includes a global industry built on forcing children into sex.
- India is the epicenter of human trafficking—including 100 million people, with 1.2 million child prostitutes. It tops the list of countries when it comes to transit, destination and source of human trafficking victims. According to the United Nations, the most dangerous place in the world to a girl or woman is India.
- Two hundred thousand Indian children a year are sold into slavery, many by their parents for a mere $17 dollars.
- Dalits are uneducated and illiterate, and have been taught for hundreds of years that they are worthless. They have no idea the caste system, in which they are the bottom of the proverbial food chain, has beenoutlawed. They have no idea they have rights. They have no idea they are human.
The Indian government prefers it this way. Elected officials and local police are members of the “outlawed” upper caste, so why would they want to protect the Dalits and eliminate India's slave labor force? They don't.
Awareness is huge, and great progress has been made on that front. But in addition to shouting, we need people doing .
But what can be done to end such a massive problem? What can be done to reverse the endless generations living life as Dalits with no self worth?
And by education, I don't mean scholarships. I mean holistic education: the purchase of land, construction of a permanent facility and the employment of permanent teachers.
Dalits need schools where they can learn. Where they can exercise the brain they don't know they have. Where they can discover self worth. Where their hunger to be known, to learn, to grow and to live can be fed.
Dalits need teachers who believe in them. Teachers who show them love, patience, kindness, and tenderness they've never experienced. Teachers who make sure their students feel valued and worthy of life.
Dalits need community. A community budding with hope and pride, stemming from the newfound self worth children are discovering each day in school. A village transformed into a community by sports, arts and community events held at school.
The Dalits desperately need another organization committed to the prevention of human trafficking through education.
Born out of more than 10 years of work by the members Friends Church in Yorba Linda, Calif., Not Today Coalition is working to prevent the exploitation of the Dalits of India by transforming lives through education and restoration for Dalit families and villages.
Hundreds of Friends Church members have travelled to India to see and experience the work first hand, built 40 schools, funded many adult vocational training centers, and sponsored 1,500 children.
But now it's time to grow. Now it's time to show the Dalits they're not forgotten. Now it's time for you to act.
By educating the Dalits, we can help bring an end to human trafficking in India. By bringing an end to human trafficking in the number one source and destination for human trafficking victims in the world, we can end trafficking across the globe.
It is our goal to fund 1,000 schools, affecting 25,000 Dalit communities, impacting 500,000 Dalit children per year.
And we can't do it without you.
App developed by KC doctor is a virtual voice for abused children
by MARÁ ROSE WILLIAMS
The diapered baby on the iPad screen falls from a couch onto its knees, and the impact fractures the child's femur. The viewer sees the break highlighted in red.
As the accident happens, a voice explains in everyday language the specific fracture possible from such a fall and then how that injury compares to a femur broken when a person has grabbed and twisted the child's chubby leg, snapping the bone.
The display is a new way some medical professionals, law enforcement officers and child protection investigators across the country are identifying child abuse cases.
It's an app for the iPad and mobile phones designed and developed by Jim Anderst, a Kansas City pediatrician.
Anderst, 39, director of the Section on Child Abuse and Neglect clinic at Children's Mercy Hospital, said about 3,000 cases are referred to the clinic each year. About two-thirds of them turn out to be injuries a child suffered at the hands of an adult.
The app was born out of frustration caused by a language disconnect between medical personnel, social workers and child abuse investigators.
Too many times, Anderst said, when child abuse was suspected and medical personnel tried to tell investigators in the field about an injury, investigators really didn't understand the medical terminology. They also didn't understand the mechanisms of severe injuries suffered by infants and young children.
What doctors were trying to tell investigators about the injury was “lost in translation,” Anderst said.
“For example, if a medical report says a child has a supracondylar fracture (just above the elbow), someone who isn't a medical professional might not know what that means,” he said. The field worker or investigating officer might not know “whether it is likely the injury resulted from an accident or from abuse.”
Determining what happened can save a child from an abusive home or save a caregiver from losing a child and going to jail.
With such complicated concepts involved, Anderst figured “it's a lot easier to show using animation and narration than it is trying to explain with words alone.”
It makes sense that investigators, visiting homes and interviewing caregivers, must see exactly how a certain fall might result in a particular injury but might not cause another type of injury.
Having the information at their finger tips would make it easier and quicker to tell abuse from accident on the spot and to ask the right questions during the investigation, Anderst said.
The Mechanisms of Injury in Childhood app hit the market three years ago. Individual investigators can get it on their phones or iPads for $19. An organization can pay a higher fee to use the app throughout its system.
Anderst said several states have acquired the app.
“It's now being used by about 250 child protection teams across the country,” he said. Missouri Department of Social Services investigators have used it since 2011. Kansas does not use the app.
It took three years to get just the right animation and wording. Anderst had help, even in its conception.
Six years ago, he was doing a fellowship in San Antonio, Texas, and working with Nancy Kellogg, a child abuse pediatrician at the University of Texas in San Antonio.
“One day her child, a teenager at the time, was watching an animated movie. ... He turned to her and said, ‘Mom, why can't you use this (pointing to the animated movie) to tell people what is happening to these children?'” Anderst said.
App development was funded by a grant in Texas on the condition of free distribution to Texas law enforcement and child protective services investigators.
Kellogg said she knows from her experience as a child abuse pediatrician that the app is “impacting the quality and completeness of the information investigators gather at the scene.”
“This helps child abuse pediatricians assess the likelihood of abuse more completely and (effectively),” she said.
In the Kansas City area, police officers who often are among the first responders to a suspected child abuse scene don't have the app but rely heavily on the Children's Mercy clinic to get quick injury diagnosis and cause determinations made by the physicians there.
“But I can see where this tool would be incredibly valuable for child protective service workers and law enforcement in the field in the rural areas in determining how to direct their case,” said Lisa Mizell, CEO of the Child Protection Center in Kansas City.
“This would help them with on-the-spot decision-making,” Mizell said. “They could make a more informed decision about whether a child needs to go to the hospital. They don't have to rely solely on their wits to determine if a child has to leave the house.”
Sexual Abuse & Addiction
by Jim LaPierre
Lesser known fact about Sigmund Freud – early in his career he was all but laughed out of his field for suggesting that sexual abuse within families was a significant social problem. To remain respected he recanted his findings. Toward the end of his career he went back to his original claims and backed them up, demonstrating that this ugliness was indeed not simply at the fringes of society.
We've known for many decades now that sexual abuse is a significant social problem. We've made gains in our efforts to create awareness and reduce other forms of sexual assault, but we remain largely at a loss with regard to what happens within a family unit. Our laws treat children as property and we continue to maintain startlingly underfunded and overworked Child Protective Services as our primary form of intervention.
Our discomfort acknowledging the prevalence of sexual abuse is evident in the language we use. Media reports tend to minimize its significance and impact. One rarely reads of a child being raped. One reads of a child being “molested.” I'm repulsed every time I read about a child of 12 or 13 who engaged in “sex” or “sexual acts”, when in fact a child of this age is incapable of consent.
We water down and minimize because we are sickened to imagine what so many children experience. We cannot expect to make significant gains with social problems we're uncomfortable discussing. It's additionally problematic that our social problems are intimately connected to each other. As we struggle to make progress in prevention and intervention of substance abuse; we overlook the frequently underlying dynamics of surviving childhood sexual abuse.
We have language for “gateway drugs” but fail to identify gateway experiences. There's little or no shame in admitting to alcohol or marijuana use. There are a myriad of obstacles to discussing a history of sexual abuse. The degree to which surviving traumatic experiences in childhood lead us toward addiction and alcoholism cannot be overstated.
We need to re-conceptualize “dual diagnosis treatment” as existing within a social context that perpetuates shame. We have language for disgrace but not for transformation. I have the honor of serving what our society labels as: drunks, junkies, druggies, whores, and welfare cases, who are characterized as immoral, weak, lazy, and crazy.
What I often see professionally are the combined effects of residual grooming, (the molding processes that manipulate a child's understanding of their abuse), the excessive loyalty of being an Adult Child Of An Alcoholic/Addict (ACOA) and the social stigmas of living with addiction(s), mental health conditions, and being a survivor of what remain unspeakable acts. Each of these individually can be debilitating. Their combined impact requires that the survivor progressively claim personal power and develop a new identity.
Children who survive abuse and neglect learn shame from their earliest days. Every one of us was placed at greater risk of abusing substances because we survived traumatic losses at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and nurture us. Yet we live in a world that does not grasp the disease of addiction and are afraid to hear our stories.
We search for those with similar experiences. We find people we relate to in self help programs and group therapy. We seek out clinicians who get us. Bit by bit, we come to understand ourselves and we cease our self destruction, hiding, and hopelessness. We learn to speak the unspeakable. We accept that we need not be ashamed of what was inflicted upon us. We learn to live one day at a time.
We come to take pride in what we incrementally overcome and refuse to allow anyone but ourselves the right to define us. We come to accept that we are forever works in progress and that “failure” only occurs when we stop trying.
The outside world rarely learns of our successes. Our milestones occur privately in therapists offices, in AA, and NA. We are supported by kindred spirits and we celebrate with only the closest and most trusted of loved ones.
The average person will never experience the joy of witnessing transformation, much less achieve it for themselves. They cannot grasp the heroism of maintaining sobriety, overcoming the feeling of never being clean, or the guts it takes to break free of unhealthy loyalties. We remain marginalized and misunderstood. Mores the pity, for we are the very best of people.
When at last we are no longer stigmatized, we will revolutionize. Too many of our brothers and sisters become forever buried under the shame of judgment. What we survived does not define us. Our resilience and determination to achieve the lives we want does.
Human trafficking survivors in TN need more help, report finds
Advocate says aid plan looks 'comprehensive'
by Tony Gonzalez
Tennessee ramped up its criminal penalties for human traffickers this year with an unprecedented slate of law changes, but rehabilitative services for survivors remain disjointed and reliable incident data remain elusive, a new state study finds.
A year in the making, the new 97-page report puts on paper what advocates have been observing for years: that Tennessee communities don't have sufficient services designed specifically for trafficking survivors. They often need housing, relocation assistance, transportation and legal aid.
Officials recommend that victims receive face-to-face visits from a trained counselor within four hours of the discovery of an incident. And, for the first time, the study says specifically that two state agencies — the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children's Services — will be responsible for assigning staff members to coordinate help for adults and children, respectively.
Nongovernmental organizations also will be chosen across Tennessee to keep up regular face-to-face contact with survivors.
“If it comes to pass, it will make a major difference in the survivor arena,” said Yvonne Williams, president of the Brentwood-based Trafficking In America Task Force. “(The plan) looks extremely comprehensive.”
The study arrived this month as 12 new anti-trafficking laws took effect, creating harsher penalties and extending the time period when prosecutors can charge traffickers. Awareness has grown since a 2011 survey documented a surprising number of incidents of sex trafficking — which officials define as coercive adult prostitution and any sexual exploitation of children.
Yet that count, which propelled lawmakers, came under questioning by some police departments, where leaders said incident counts appeared inflated. Identifying victims has been difficult because of pressure from their abusers and a lack of awareness by investigators.
The latest report pushes for officials to create a consistent way to track trafficking, even suggesting a mandatory reporting law similar to the requirement that suspected child abuse be reported to authorities.
“Without concrete numbers of children/youth and adult victims … it is practically impossible to determine the level of services that will be required,” researchers wrote.
A state task force will collect data from police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, DHS and DCS. Those groups will be asked to funnel all reports through the state's trafficking hotline at 1-855-55-TNHTH.
The report tasks DHS and DCS with creating four staff positions focused on trafficking.
Williams said those departments will need to undergo “extreme training” if the staffers want to make a difference.
“They need to hire people that really understand the entire issue and not just make it another paid government position,” she said.
Meanwhile, the study notes a groundswell of attention on trafficking, from local and national advocacy groups.
The state wants to help grass-roots groups work together.
That effort would include even individuals, such as Kaitlyn Crocker, a Middle Tennessee State University senior who took a trafficking course at the college and then formed an awareness group now working on a documentary.
“I've met so many people, still, who are incredibly shocked to hear it goes on locally and in town, in Murfreesboro and Nashville,” Crocker said. “I think a lot more people are aware of it, but they don't know what to do about it. For everyone to get together is something we haven't really seen before.”
Face of child sex abuse may be closer than we think
by Melissa Pretorius
A HOODED man offering treats as he peers through the dark-tinted window of a conspicuous van.
A sick-minded stranger lurking behind a school gate, or in the bushes near the park.
The word paedophile conjures many images, but the problem with society's morphed perception of the typical child sex offender - is that we have got it wrong.
That's the view of Carol Ronken, the senior criminologist for Bravehearts.
“People need to know the facts about child sexual assault and the continued focus on stranger danger does not help,” Ms Ronken said.
In most cases, offenders are the people meant to serve as the strong pillars of a child's fragile, formative years.
Parents, uncles, nephews and neighbours. These should be the poster-figures for child sexual assault.
The truth may be confronting, but Ms Ronken maintained statistics show 90 per cent of cases involve someone known, loved or trusted by the child.
Bravehearts, as one of Australia's leading anti-child abuse organisations is behind a new campaign to raise awareness of the alarming numbers.
1in5, is the name of their campaign which says one in five children will be sexually harmed before their eighteenth birthday.
The aim is to halve that figure by 2020, through a very public mission to raise awareness and funds.
For a local mother, greater awareness about the nature of child sexual abuse and its perpetrators could have prevented years of trauma.
Innocent and unaware - like most girls at the age of seven - she had her trust violated in the most despicable way.
Her parents weren't to suspect anything untoward about the friendly neighbour and their daughter's visits to the workshop next door.
No-one could fathom the little girl was harbouring a secret so dark.
“I just didn't know it was wrong,” she said. “I had no idea what was happening, because I was being told that there was nothing wrong with it.
“He was a friend, a trusted neighbour, and I was manipulated.”
Years of sexual abuse, has not made this woman a victim.
Her resilience and inner-strength, has made her a survivor.
She exudes positivity and is driven by a passion to be a vocal advocate for child safety. While working to protect Australia's children has become an integral part of her life as a Bravehearts volunteer. Education and awareness, she said, are the most important tools when it comes to tackling the problem.
“Parents need to be taught how to read the signs, and children need to know there are good secrets and bad secrets.”
The alarming truth about child sexual abuse should not send parents into a frantic state of paranoia and over-protective second glances at loved ones.
Instead, Ms Ronken said, the focus should be on subtle teachings that help children identify appropriate or inappropriate behaviour.
“We need to educate adults to respond appropriately to concerns about sexual harm, its not about creating an environment of hyper-awareness and over-reporting, but about educating them about; what to do if you have a concern, and what might actually be a red flag.” she said.
Basic rules of personal safety to decrease vulnerability are essential,” she said.
These age-appropriate lessons, do not even need to mention sexual harm.
“It is about building confidence, teaching kids what to do if they do not feel safe, and letting them know they will be believed and supported.”
Hastings Mid North Coast Bravehearts will be raising awareness and funds for child safety at a special breakfast at Panthers Port Macquarie on Friday August 30.
Speakers will include the founder and executive director of Bravehearts, Hetty Johnston and Kylie Biltris owner of Childish Photography.
The group encourages businesses to get involved with tables of 10 priced at $300 or individual tickets at $30 each.
Tickets are available from Panthers and St George Bank.
For more information contact Louise on 6581 0518 or 0414 485 502 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daddy: A Mad Incestuous Dance
Incest in this country has probably been always spoken about, albeit in hushed, almost reverent whispers. Curiosity has probably always led to incestuous acts among children, but then, is that something we can say out loud? It is universally accepted that Adults who engage in incestuous acts are despicable. Filthy. Sick. There is a joke about a Hillbilly family that suggests however, that we like to nervously giggle at the fact that it might be far more common than we allow ourselves to imagine. Far more common than what we admit to, is what we know though, we're just too afraid to say it out loud and hear the truth. So, the joke:
A Hillbilly son comes home and sits down with his father on their wooden porch, plucks at a banjo, and tells his aging dad that he can't marry the girl next door because neither her father or brothers had copulated with her. To which the Hillbilly dad replies, “That's a damn fine decision son, if she ain't good enough for her family, she ain't good enough for ours.”
What is funny is that report after report of incestuous fathers and adult older brothers appear in our newspapers. And we placate ourselves by believing that this person, this perpetrator of incest, is as far removed for me and mine as can be. ‘Alleged' becomes a popular word. Also, if it did happen, it must be an isolated incident. And you're right – incest happens so often as isolated incidents. The isolation of a woman, a girl, who has no escape from her situation, because who would believe her, who would want to believe her. As for the little girls and boys, the ones who are four, what can they say to make you believe they've been violated?
In 2009, the Sunday Leader did a piece on incest - ” In 254 out of the 1,126 cases of abuse for which the Ministry has detailed information, the abuser was a relative of the victim. In 89 of the cases, the abuser was the victim's father, in 14 it was the victim's stepfather, and in five cases it was the victim's grandfather. The other 146 cases of incest were committed by members of the victim's extended family. Rapes constituted most of the cases, followed by sexual abuse, cruelty, and kidnapping. 206 of the victims were under 10 years old and 878 were between 10 and 16.”
Have the numbers changed you reckon? Would you like to find out? Or, are these numbers just vindication of the fact that these are all isolated incidents? In 2010, when we were doing a project up in Vavuniya, with Sarvodaya and UNFPA, on training young people to be peer leaders on sexual and reproductive health and rights, we encountered multiple stories of incest. Fathers had either offered the excuse, or the excuse was made on their behalf, that their wives were abroad working as housemaids. The numerous frustrations of being left behind had led to incest. Yes, their wives had a much better life, probably having better sex than they ever did before.
“Migration can also open the door for new vulnerabilities as a result of precarious employment and legal status, exclusion and isolation. It can take women down roads of violence and abuse (whether verbal, physical or sexual), entrapping them in sex-segregated jobs with difficult working conditions (long hours and low wages). Migrant women might also have to deal with broken marriages and scattered families, poverty and illness upon return. Migration can result in ‘success stories' but it can also lead to fragmented and even shattered lives (Jolly & Reeves 2005)”
“Sri Lankan Housemaids in Lebanon: A Case of ‘Symbolic Violence' and ‘Everyday Forms of Resistance' by Nayla Moukarbel is an engaging read on what are some surprising, yet almost always painful experiences of our Lankan women. Women who have left their homes to be tended to by their husbands and daughters; girls that take on this responsibility, sometimes at the cost of their own education, and, if unlucky, at the cost of the thrill one feels during their first sexual encounters. If unlucky… fated are they instead? Could being raped by her father really be her fate, something that some higher power intended? Is this God testing her faith? Why would he or she do that? Yet, mustn't this girl retain the hope of an afterlife in heaven, a reward for her temporal suffering?
In Vavuniya we also heard of a grandfather that inserted shaving blades into his granddaughter's vagina, in a village not too far from Vavuniya town. They said the girl was around eight. Hearsay, of course. We never went looking for the newspaper report. We chose to believe the stories. The time that we spent in Vavuniya with those young people, and the adults, whom we had to meet to inform of what exactly we were going to train their young people on, meant that we heard echo after echo of incest. The team we trained in Anuradhapura on the same project was absolutely no different. The housemaid excuse emerged time and time again here too.
Sarvodaya also run homes, where it is not uncommon for some young girls to be carrying their father's child. Her brother and her son. Anuruddha's line in the play about the right to eat from the “Jambu” tree he had planted, was an actual comment by a drunk father outside the home protecting his daughter from him, as ordered by the court. Speak to the administrators of these homes, and you will understand how isolated these incidents really are…
In 2012 we did peer education training for YWCA. A project aptly called, Young Women Lead Change. UNFPA was our partner again. Everyone hears the stories. Everyone knows. The YWCA girls, from Baddegama, Batticoloa, Colombo, Galle, Jaffna, Kurunegala, Mannar, Negombo, and Trincomalee, all echoed incest.
And then, we have Emerge Global. They work with victims and survivors of incest. They know how isolated these incidents are too.
When will the rest of us accept the cliche that change begins with me? Don't focus on the cliche. Start thinking. Start looking around you. Stop ignoring the signs.
Molest is such an ugly word. Much uglier than abuse. But strangely, molest also carries with the connotation of less harm. Molest is not rape, for many. The Oxford Dictionary definition is suitably vague.
1 assault or abuse (a person, especially a woman or child) sexually: he was charged with molesting and taking obscene photographs of a ten-year-old boy
2 dated pester or harass (someone) in an aggressive or persistent manner: the crowd were shouting abuse and molesting the two police officers
Perhaps we need to rediscover Molest. Molester sounds so much like Monster, that we shouldn't give up on the word. Let's reclaim it to be as reviling as it sounds.
But then, perhaps we're being too judgmental. Perhaps we need to think about therapy, psychoanalysis even, to identify the clumpy roots of the problem. Perhaps we need to forgive the childhood experiences that have perpetuated this cycle of molestation. Perhaps we must be patient, without being stupid, forgiving without forgetting to protect. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
Perhaps then, we must remember that when we're looking for the despicable you, we should not forget to look for the despicable me. He maybe closer that you allow yourself to imagine. He maybe closer than you allow yourself to admit. You know though. You always know.