Saving Our Children - How to Prevent and Identify Sexual Abuse
by Kristina Jones
It is a parent's nightmare to find out his or her child has become a victim of sexual abuse. Not only does it scar a child for life, but it can make it hard for the parents to cope with. The best way to deal with sexual abuse is to become proactive in protecting your child from becoming a victim. This article will create a typical pedophile profile, tips for protecting your child, and how to identify the signs of sexual abuse.
Profile of a pedophile
Pedophiles, also known as child molesters, are very sick and twisted individuals. They usually have a preference for the types of children on which they prey. For example, one pedophile may prey on adolescent boys, while another prefers girls under the age of ten. Pedophiles are not easily identifiable, so you must be aware at all times.
Pedophiles are usually men, but some women may also become pedophiles. A great example of a woman pedophile would be Mary Kay Letourneau. Pedophiles can come in all shapes and sizes. They have a mentality that as long as they behave in a manner where there is no violence or open force, they are not being abusive. This mentality shows just how twisted pedophiles can be. Also, pedophiles have a strong believe that if a child does not resist their advances, the child must be consenting. The truth is children do not resist because they are scared.
More often than not, pedophiles are usually someone the child knows. This can be a friend's parent, a family friend, or a relative. If the pedophile cannot get his or her hands on a child they know, they will often befriend a family. By befriending a family with a child that meets their preferences, he or she is able to manipulate the parents and gain acceptance to the family prior to abusing the child.
In the eyes of the pedophile, their actions are not wrong, but they know the law has been broken once they engage in the abuse. Most child molesters have spent much of their lives abusing many children. Pedophiles may have an array of activities they use to abuse children. These activities include:
- Sexual suggestions
- Showing pornography
- Fondling and touching private parts
- Masturbation and sexual kissing
- Oral sex and penetration of genitals or anus with an object, penis, or other body parts.
When it comes to your children, always keep your guard up. Make special note of when any adult takes a special interest in your child. If an adult is showing favoritism to your child by buying him or her special toys it may be a sign of "grooming", or preparing your child to become his prey. If it ever gets out of hand, ask the adult to stop coming around or simply, remove your child from the situation.
When it comes to your child's caregiver, you cannot be too cautious about finding the best care. Ask for references and conduct your own background check. Look for any red flags, such as allegations or reviews of other parents who use the daycare center. Do not be afraid to ask your child if she or he enjoys staying with their caregiver. Ask your child at different times just to make sure she or he is comfortable enough in the environment.
Keep an open relationship with your child. Teach him or her about their body parts, including their private areas. If you are open with your child and have taught them about their body parts, the earlier and more likely they are to come and tell you about the abuse, if it should happen. You will also want to teach your child to never keep secrets which make them feel uncomfortable or worried. Let them know they can tell you anything at anytime.
Teach your child it is okay to be afraid of adults who make them feel uncomfortable or they do not know. Teach your child how to get away as quickly as possible from any person who may frighten them. Teach them that adults are not 100% right. By telling your child adults are not 100% correct will make them more likely to resist and tell a trusted adult. Never let your child go into public bathrooms alone. If your child needs to use the bathroom, make sure an older sibling or adult accompanies your child to the restroom, if you are unable to go with him or her. Teach your child not to go anywhere without telling you where he or she is going. Always have the name, phone number, and address of where your child will be and check on them periodically.
Signs of sexual abuse
You have always heard parents say "why didn't I know?" or "what did I miss?" when they discover their child has been abused. Maybe someone never told them what to look for or just dismissed their child's behavior as a "phase". There are several things a parent should look for in their child, if abuse is suspected.
Presence of unusual sexual behavior that normally does not arise at their age. This could be an interest in sex or masturbating, for example.
Redness or soreness around their private areas may be a good indicator that something is wrong. Remember that redness in these areas can be from diaper rashes, so you might want to have your child examined by a doctor as soon as possible.
Younger children can become withdrawn, aggressive, have nightmares, wet the bed, and act out.
Older children may be aggressive, have difficulty in school, lack concentration, and run away from home.
If a child has suicidal thoughts, hurt themselves, or participate in life threatening risks, such as drugs, sexual abuse may be the culprit and try to talk to them. If talking to your child is not working, take them to a psychologist to sort things out.
In conclusion, children are more likely to be abused by someone they know, rather than a stranger. Parents my find it hard to believe someone close to them could harm their child. Always make sure to have a close relationship with your child and to teach them how to be safe. Make time to listen to your child and never blame a child for becoming a victim. It is never their fault. Use parental controls on your internet and tell them to never give out personal information over the internet, regardless of the circumstances. I hope you find these tips helpful in saving your child from these sick monsters we call pedophiles.
Evidence shows numbers of sex-crime victims ‘staggeringly bad'
by Virginia Black
The women are gripping their pencils as they fill out a quiz meant to help them describe the festering wounds nobody else can spot.
One, checking answers to questions about her sexual behavior, sees she's programmed to bond with people who abuse her.
Another, during this recent therapy session for victims of sexual abuse at the YWCA of North Central Indiana, says she's decided she can no longer have sex because of past traumas.
"I started having flashbacks and nightmares of when I was a child, and I was upset the other night because it got so bad that I literally wet the bed," she told others around the table, voice filled with disgust. "I'm 41 years old ... I was literally crying because I wet the bed."
The therapist, Aleta Hurt, explains to her, "You weren't in your adult space. You were in that child space."
Hurt and others who work with victims of sexual violence — both adults and children — can often identify the hidden scars of that abuse in the form of stalled relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, risky behavior.
“When you are raped,” Hurt said, “... it takes every part of your soul.”
And experts say sexual violence here and around the country is an underreported epidemic that can no longer be avoided.
In Indiana, one in five women will be victims of sexual violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A 2009 survey reports that girls in Indiana high schools are the second-most likely to experience forced sex — second only to those in Wyoming.
Closer to home, a Tribune investigation found that during a six-month time period in 2011, 240 claims of sex-related crimes were reported to St. Joseph County's three main police agencies. Of those, far and away the greatest number of reported victims were younger than 18.
Statewide, child neglect cases comprise more than 70 percent of reports to child-protection officials, says Jennifer Pickering, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse St. Joseph County and a former Department of Child Services caseworker. In this county, it used to be that the next-largest type of cases were those of physical abuse, followed by sexual-abuse claims.
But in recent years, child sex-abuse reports have outnumbered claims of other types of physical abuse.
“I think it's interesting that it's potentially happening more here than nationally,” Pickering said.
Cheryl Arndt, quality assurance and safety compliance manager for the national organization KidsPeace, thinks the numbers are up nationally, too.
“It's definitely a problem,” she said of child sexual abuse. In the last 10 years, more awareness has been raised, and more states — including Indiana — have enacted laws to extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting child molesting cases and outlining the responsibilities of adults to report crimes against children.
“There's definitely been more attention paid,” Arndt said, “but I don't think the general public has an appreciation for how pervasive the problem is.”
An uncomfortable topic
A report issued last year by Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy and the Kinsey Institute reported that a sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the United States — and noted research suggesting that nearly half of such assaults go unreported.
The report says the majority of first rape reports for both women and men — 60 percent of females and 70 for males — are before their 18th birthdays. For males who report rape, 40 percent are assaulted before age 12.
But the numbers are especially dire for Hoosiers.
“It is especially pronounced at the high school and college levels, but the data make it clear that throughout an Indiana woman's life, this is a serious risk,” Jonathan Plucker, director for CEEP, told Bloomington public television station WTIU for a documentary that aired earlier this year. “It is a serious health issue. It is a serious safety issue. It is a serious family issue.”
Those numbers don't include unwanted touching or seemingly less heinous sex-related crimes.
“We are talking about serious sexual violence and, in many cases, with very young women-girls,” he said. “The numbers are just staggeringly bad.”
Indiana's Department of Health commissioned the study and in April issued a call to action.
“It is an uncomfortable topic that people often don't want to discuss,” state health officials wrote in a press release. “However, sexual violence affects many Hoosiers, and it's time to start the conversation about how to prevent it.”
How many victims?
The CEEP report acknowledges that nearly half of sexual assaults are not even reported.
Because the crimes have to do with sex — an uncomfortable topic for most of us — victims are uneasy to discuss them, Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Sex, Gender and Reproduction, told the Bloomington station.
“They feel like people won't believe them,” Heiman said. “Half, 50 percent of people, won't go to police because they feel that they will be talked to in a way that really will make them feel like they are to blame.”
About 75 percent of cases involve assaults by people the victim knows, she points out, and women are more likely than men to blame themselves.
“Did they not say no early enough? Did they not say no hard enough, strongly enough?” she ticks off the questions victims ask themselves. “Did they not struggle strong enough?”
Hurt, the YWCA therapist, says she supports victims whether or not they choose to report their sexual assault.
“It is a horrendous process. Going through a rape kit is very invasive,” Hurt said. “I encourage them to (report), but that's their choice.
“And then even when you do report, there's nothing that says you're going to get anything out of it,” Hurt said of the criminal justice system. “That's a lot for a victim to go through. You're robbed of your power and then you're stripped again by the system.”
Linda Baechle, CEO of the YWCA, acknowledges public avoidance.
“It's something the community wants to look away from,” Baechle said. “I think if you talk to the CASA workers, they get discouraged about what's happening to children. ...
“You're talking about horrible child abuse cases and child sexual abuse cases and rape cases and domestic violence cases,” she said. “The community doesn't want to think about that, doesn't want to acknowledge it exists. And it's not information that's readily available.”
‘Get upset about this'
Pickering of Prevent Child Abuse points out that even offenses considered less damaging — fondling, for example — should be addressed.
She and others describe the “grooming,” or progression of a violator breaking a child's boundaries, that will often begin with touching or sitting too close and later result in molesting.
And the stakes are high for ignoring sexual assaults, even though any physical wounds might have healed.
“A sexual abuse case is like an onion, almost, because you know it's not going to stop with one victim,” Pickering said. “Kids will show it to other children, and it goes out like waves.”
The data, according to Heiman, also show a childhood sexual abuse victim is more vulnerable to sexual violence in adulthood, for whatever reasons.
But grownup or child, male or female, Plucker insists the ramifications of sexual violence must be taken seriously.
“This is a crisis that cuts across every aspect of who we think we are,” he said. “Therefore, everyone has to get upset about this. Everyone has to think about this. Everyone has a role in fixing this problem.”
Amazon used to share images of child abuse - and it's increased 10 times in just two years
Perverts can view depraved images of children as young as two while remaining undetected
Paedophiles are using internet giant Amazon to share sex abuse images of kids as young as two.
Shocking new figures from the Internet Watch Foundation reveal that in just two years the number of pages on Amazon's web services hosting such images have increased TEN TIMES.
Perverts are able to view the depraved pictures while remaining undetected by taking advantage of software which provides storage online.
Amazon offers the service to store data, photographs and videos. But we can reveal that more and more paedophiles are taking advantage of the technology to trade vile images because it is difficult for them to be identified and prosecuted.
The total number of child sex abuse web pages hosted on Amazon has increased from 37 in 2011 to 372 in the first six months of this year.
Within any web page there can be thousands, or millions, of images. And yet more disturbing is that so far this year 90 per cent of the material on Amazon pages has involved victims aged between two and 10.
Of those, 32 per cent were recorded at the most serious levels of abuse – four and five.
Amazon, which was criticised for paying only £2.4million corporate tax on £4billion sales last year, yesterday came under pressure to provide more investment to combat online paedophiles.
Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart, who has sat on Parliament's child protection committee, demanded the multinational takes action.
She said: “Amazon should use some of that tax they aren't paying to make the internet a better, safer place for children.”
Online products by companies such as Amazon have revolutionised the storage of data. Families can now post pictures online so that relatives can access them wherever they are in the world. But paedophiles are seizing on the new technology for their own sick purposes.
The IWF, which helps its members to increase detection of such material, generally removes images within just 60 minutes. Online expert John Carr, of the Children's Charities' Coalition, urged Amazon to sign up to the IWF, saying: “There could be five million images on a web page. The benefit for the paedophiles is anonymity and it is free.”
Susie Hargreaves, IWF CEO, said: “The IWF is at the forefront of tackling child sexual abuse images on the internet.”
A spokesperson for Amazon Web Services said: “Our acceptable use policy clearly prohibits illegal content, and it is not tolerated. When we are notified of illegal content on our platform, we take action to remove it.”
You can report online child abuse images at www.iwf.org.uk
Final 2 in custody sentenced for largest child pornography case in US history
SHREVEPORT, La. — The final two defendants, of those arrested thus far, in the Dreamboard child exploitation and child pornography ring were sentenced to federal prison Monday. The prison sentences follow an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with dozens of other law enforcement agencies, as part of Operation Delego, an ongoing investigation launched in December 2009 targeting Dreamboard members around the world. This case represents the largest child pornography bulletin board prosecution in U.S. history.
Christopher Blackford, 28, of Charleston, S.C., was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison Monday before U.S. District Court Judge S. Maurice Hicks in the Western District of Louisiana. In addition to his prison sentence, Blackford faces a lifetime of supervised release. Blackford admitted in his April guilty plea that he joined Dreamboard in December 2009 and contributed 84 posts to the online bulletin board that contained child pornography.
William Davis, 39, of Bristol, N.H., was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison in addition to a lifetime of supervised release. Davis admitted in his April guilty plea that he posted advertisements offering to distribute child pornography to other members of the board.
"Investigating and apprehending the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes against children is one of our highest priorities," said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "HSI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to identify other predators and bring these criminals to justice."
Parmer oversees a five-state region including Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Forty-eight individuals have now been sentenced for their roles in Dreamboard, which produced and disseminated depictions of graphic child sexual abuse via the Internet. Thus far, Dreamboard members have been sentenced to a combined total of 983 years in prison in addition to three life sentences.
Dreamboard was a members-only, online bulletin board created and operated to promote pedophilia and encourage the sexual abuse of young children in an environment designed to avoid law enforcement detection.
According to court documents, Dreamboard members traded graphic images and videos of adults molesting children. Prospective members had to create and share child pornography to gain entry into the group and to maintain membership once accepted. Dreamboard members employed a variety of measures designed to conceal their criminal activity from detection by law enforcement. Members communicated using aliases rather than their actual names, and content posted on Dreamboard was encrypted with a password shared only with other members. Members also employed proxy servers to route the group's Internet traffic through other computers in an attempt prevent law enforcement from tracing Internet activity.
A total of 72 individuals, including Blackford and Davis, were charged as a result of Operation Delego. To date, 57 of the 72 indicted have been arrested in the United States and abroad, 47 defendants have pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy and an additional defendant was convicted after trial. Sentences for each convicted defendant range from five years to life in federal prison. Fifteen defendants remain at-large and are known only by their online identities. HSI continues to investigate the case in an effort to identify and apprehend these remaining individuals.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Waging War Against Sex Trafficking
Event date: 9/12/2013 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Thursday, September 12, 201312:00 – 1:30 pm Atherton Auditorium—Delta College Free to the Public: Groups Welcomed.
Facts about Human Trafficking
California is a hub for sex-trafficking. Three cities: LA, San Diego, and San Francisco are in the FBI's top 13 list for highest sex trafficking areas.
• An estimated 13 million children are enslaved around the world today, accounting for nearly half of trafficking victims in the world.
• The average age of a young woman being trafficked is 12-14 years old.
• More than 2/3 of sex trafficked children suffer additional abuse at the hands of their traffickers.
• There are anywhere between 600,000 and 800,000 victims trafficked through international borders every year, which does not include the millions trafficked domestically within their own countries.
• According to estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
• A relatively large percentage of women and children who have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation will become HIV positive, as they experience a tenfold risk of contracting HIV.
• Trafficked children are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems, abuse substances, engage in prostitution as adults, and either commit or be victimized by violent crimes later in life.
• Immigration agents estimate that 10,000 women are being held in Los Angeles' underground brothels; this does not include the thousands of victims in domestic work, sweatshops or other informal industries.
• Human trafficking has been identified as the largest human-rights violation in the history of humankind. • Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the 21st century – a 9 billion dollar industry.
• An estimated 27 million people are enslaved around the world this very moment.
• According to the 2008 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat; it deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, it increases global health risks, and it fuels the growth of organized crime. Statistics and information found at: Human Trafficking.org
TED Talk on Modern Day Slavery from 12:00 – 12:30 pm Speaker Leah Albright-Byrd from 12:30 – 1:30 pm
Leah Albright-Byrd is a known speaker, leader, and survivor-activist in the fight against child sex-trafficking. Her strong voice and unwavering commitment to “help victims become survivors and learn to dream again” inspires people to wage war against social injustice. Coming from a family life marked by abuse and addiction, dropping out of high school at the age of 14, and becoming a victim of sexual exploitation were obstacles that did not prevent her from becoming the vibrant woman she is today.Over the last 11 years Leah has served her community as a mental health counselor, youth leader, women's empowerment mentor, and motivational speaker. Leah's love for seeing people's lives transformed led to the development of Bridget's Dream, a non-profit organization founded in 2011 to fight sex-trafficking. The organization was named in memory of Leah's close friend who was a victim of child sex-trafficking and murdered in Las Vegas. In 2012 she co-signed and served as a highly influential political advocate for a California record-breaking proposition (Prop 35) to increase the penalties against human-traffickers. Ms. Albright-Byrd is on a mission to restore hope and inspiration in the lives of others; compelling them to take a strong stand for justice. Her message is one of enduring faith, a hope that does not disappoint, and most of all a LOVE that never fails...
Child sex trafficking: Woman recalls years of abuse after mom sold her for drugs at age 14
by Kym Klass
Nikki Steele remembers the first time her mother sold her for drugs.
She was 14 years old, at home, and a man told her, “Your mom sold you. So you're going to do what we tell you to do.”
Her mother sat quietly as her daughter was raped by two men.
Steele shared her story just days after 105 young people were rescued and 150 alleged pimps arrested in a three-day sweep in 76 cities — including Birmingham — for Operation Cross Country, a nationwide law enforcement sweep targeting child sex trafficking. The largest numbers of children were in the San Francisco Bay and Detroit areas, along with Milwaukee, Denver and New Orleans. The operation was conducted under the FBI's decade-old Innocence Lost National Initiative. The latest rescues and arrests were the largest such enforcement action to date.
The agency said it had been monitoring Backpage.com and other websites that make up a prominent online marketplace for sex for sale. The young people in the roundup, almost all of them girls, ranged in age from 13 to 17.
While Steele's story varies slightly, she fits much of the profile of the children rescued. Fourteen when the rapes began, Steele was 17 when she finally left her home in Lowndes County to move in with her great-great-grandmother in Montgomery. She suffered through depression, suicide attempts and a period of just being in a daze during the sexual assaults.
She now lives at the Friendship Mission's Women's Shelter and is expecting her first child Sept. 1.
“I seen all kinds of dudes come in and out of the house,” she remembers of life with her mother. “And I wouldn't see my mom for two or three days. When I do see her, it's (with) men coming. I remember one day, I was 14 years old. My mom came, and she was like, ‘Well, how was school?'
“There was two guys. I was like, ‘Who was these guys?' ... I was so scared. That was my first time, ever, in that situation. I don't know about sex. That was my first time. I was a virgin. These men took it away from me. And I was sad.”
The FBI states the Innocence Lost National Initiative has resulted in the rescue of 2,700 children since 2003. The investigations and convictions of 1,350 individuals have led to life imprisonment for 10 pimps and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.
In Alabama, there are two human trafficking task forces that meet, one in Huntsville and one in Montgomery, the Central Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.
“What we try to focus on is domestic sex slavery of juveniles,” said Steve Searcy, executive director of the One Place Family Justice Center. “The average age of children entering (national) databases is 13 years old. Once you leave the United States, the age drops considerably.”
Many of the girls are recruited from the Internet, including from Craigslist and Backpage. Many are runaways or “have other issues and get caught up in that,” said Jannah Bailey, executive director of Child Protect, a Montgomery agency that provides a multidisciplinary team to minimize trauma for child abuse victims.
Bailey doesn't know if Child Protect was involved in any of the recent cases, “but we have been involved in cases before. We have interviewed (children) who were here, or coming through here. They might not have been from Montgomery, but they were involved in human trafficking.”
Local sex trafficking numbers are hard to come by because the crimes are often not classified as sex trafficking, said Barry Spear, spokesman with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. It is not something the computer system tracks.
“Anybody who was involved, it would be in the narrative in their individual case,” he said. “But it would be categorized as ‘sex abuse.'”
Profile of victims
Usually, they are 13 years old, up to about 16 or 17 years old, Bailey said. About 90 percent of them come from abusive situations.
“A lot of times, they prostitute, then someone will see them and say, ‘I see you're hungry and I'll give you a place to stay,'” she said. “A lot of them will give them false hope if they are in this country. A lot come from other countries as well. We've interviewed one who was Asian. And one from Mexico.”
In one case, Bailey remembers, someone noticed a girl living in an abandoned house. They noticed men coming in and out of the neighboring house. The girl had run away and had hooked up with someone who had promised her things — to take care of her, to get her off the streets and give her food, maybe even a job.
“The girls are pretty desperate at this point and then become very dependent,” Bailey said. They are prostituted out to multiple men. They are stuck in hotels or moved around in abandoned homes.
The numbers of child victims in each town does not reflect the whole picture, said program director Marjorie Baker, who helps oversee the Family Sunshine Center, a program providing shelter for abuse victims in central Alabama.
“They move the victims around so much, so really trying to get a true picture of how many victims are affected in a specific town is near impossible because they are very transient,” she said.
“And when they are discovered through the legal system, there becomes the challenge in knowing what to do with the children who are under the care of the perpetrators. Is foster care willing to take them? Are there families for them they can go to? What type of treatment is available? In Alabama, that is something that needs to be put on the table seriously.”
The human impact
The children often have trust issues. Fear and dealing with a lot of unknowns about their future and survival, Baker said. There are medical issues because the girls have had sexual contact multiple times without any medical care.
And emotionally, the victims are in a haze, Baker said.
“You are literally unsure and have no foundation of your daily well-being,” she said. “You are functioning on somebody else's guidelines and only having the opportunity to think and speak under someone else's rules. Your entire life is invaded by this operation, so you cannot think and function for yourself.”
Steele remembers that haze.
“When I got home and there were a house full of dudes ... this is not cool,” she said. “That was the scariest situation ever. But after a while, it didn't faze me.
“I didn't know who God was. At all. My momma never taught us. I didn't know who to turn to. I almost tried to kill myself, because I'm like, ‘I‘m not going to get out of this situation. This is how a girl is supposed to live?'”
Her mother died last year. Steele was told she was shot three times over a drug deal.
Steele didn't attend the funeral. But she remembers those nights. She still can't believe it happened at all. Those nights after the men left, when she was left crying.
She would think of her father and start singing the song he sang to her while she was growing up — “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
Why should I feel discouraged ... why should the shadows come ... why should my heart feel so lonely ...
“It continued going on and on and on,” she said of the abuse. “I didn't say nothing, because I just kept it all in. Out of all people ... your mom ... you're supposed to be able to go to her and talk to her about anything. But this? Really?”
Telephone counselling service ready to help more victims of childhood sexual abuse
AN unique Scotland-wide counselling service is preparing its counsellors for an upsurge in calls about child sexual abuse.
Trauma Counselling Line Scotland (TCLS) is run by Scottish charity Health in Mind and team leader, Eileen Hone, knows from experience how media coverage can affect the victims of abuse who have tried to bury the memories of their own horrific experiences; sometimes for decades.
“Last year, the media highlighted the experiences of Jimmy Savile's victims and for many people, the dreadful memories of their own childhood abuse came to the surface and they were finding them hard to deal with.
“Many called the TCLS telephone line, which is unique as it is the only case-managed telephone counselling service in Scotland for adult survivors of childhood abuse and means they will be allocated their own counsellor.
“As they always speak to the same person, they never have to repeat the details of what has happened to them and as the service is delivered by ‘phone, it means location is never a barrier to receiving help,” said Eileen.
TCLS was launched in January 2011 and is a unique Scotland-wide service which has an equalities and cultural awareness in its approach to helping adult survivors of childhood abuse. Childhood abuse can include sexual, emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual abuse or neglect.
Eileen continued: “There are many people who've never told anyone what happened to them as a child and the media coverage brings terrible memories back which cast a shadow over their lives.
“Our clients decide what time of day or evening is best for them and as it is telephone counselling, it does not matter where they live and they are able to choose a place where they feel safe.
“Telephone counselling is effective for clients who do not feel they could cope with face to face counselling, or may have mobility problems, live in a remote location or suffer from a fear of leaving their home,” said Eileen.
The service is free and sessions are anonymous, totally confidential and can be allocated within a week of the enquiry with counselling able to commence the following week.
TCLS is available to clients who speak Polish, Urdu, Punjabi and French as well as English.
The service was extended near the end of 2012 as a result of funding from the Scottish Government's National Strategy for survivors of childhood abuse, SurvivorScotland.
The two-year funding package from the SurvivorScotland Development Fund enabled the Trauma Counselling Line Scotland (TCLS) to increase the number of highly qualified and experienced counsellors it employs from four to ten.
Calling the TCLS number is free from both mobile ‘phones and landlines and the number is 08088 020406.
For further information contact Doreen Graham, Health in Mind Communications Manager on 0131 243 0137 or email email@example.com .
Notes for editors:
SurvivorScotland was developed by the Scottish Government with the aims of raising awareness of childhood abuse and its long-term consequences, improving services and enhancing the health and wellbeing of survivors.
SurvivorScotland oversees the National Strategy for survivors of childhood abuse. Childhood abuse happens to women and men from all backgrounds and walks of life and most of us know someone who has been abused whether we realise it or not.
Don't excuse female predators of children
BY LAUREN BOOK
Any parent can relate to the fear of a sexual predator lurking in the shadows near a playground, looking for the next victim. And while bad-intentioned strangers sometimes really do lurk in the shadows, the reality is that more than 90 percent of sexual-abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
Not only are perpetrators typically known by their victims, they usually hold a position of authority and trust over the unsuspecting child. Horrors like the Penn State scandal garner national media attention because of the repulsive and abhorrent acts involved. But when the roles are reversed and it is a woman who selfishly preys on a child's innocence, it seems that too often society is willing to hold these predators to a different standard.
A recent novel would have us believe that the rules of sexual abuse are different when a woman molests a child. Alissa Nutting's new novel, Tampa, describes the sexually explicit relationship an attractive female teacher has with one of her male middle-school students, in a way that some might say glorifies her. This storyline is reminiscent of Debra Lafave, the Florida teacher convicted of having sex with one of her 14-year-old students. It's no coincidence that Nutting went to high school with Lafave and used her as a reference for the book's main character.
This case — in which Lafave received a sentence of only three years of house arrest after her attorney essentially argued she was too pretty for prison — reinforces the grossly inaccurate idea that if a young boy is having sex with an attractive older woman, he should receive a high five rather than abuse counseling.
While I respect an author's creative license, I am concerned that this story and others like it lead the public to a dangerous conclusion: that female pedophiles do not pose a serious threat. My personal experience — and my contact with many male survivors of sexual abuse by female perpetrators — tells a different story.
My story of abuse began at the hands of my female nanny when I was 11 years old. The shame and guilt I felt kept me from telling anyone about it for almost six years. I was afraid that people wouldn't take my story seriously because it involved my trusted nanny, a seemingly sweet and affectionate woman who was a part of our family.
The trauma from that abuse is something I still deal with daily. Fortunately, I was able to make the transition from victim to survivor and started Lauren's Kids, an organization dedicated to protecting others from child sexual abuse through awareness and education. But there are many children still suffering the ongoing tragedy of sexual abuse, including boys abused by women.
A male victim featured recently in Intimate Crimes, a television program we produced in partnership with the Department of Children & Families, describes the years of anger, relationship dysfunction and strain produced by his abuse by his female babysitter. And yet, many of the friends to whom he disclosed the abuse considered him privileged to receive the sexual attention.
In fact, the advocacy organization, Male Survivor, reports that boys often suffer significant and unique effects of abuse, aggravated by the perception that men are not supposed to be victims.
Child sexual abuse robs children of their innocence. It steals an important and irreplaceable part of their childhood, whether the victim is a boy or girl and whether the perpetrator is male or female.
Novels that glorify abusers, even inadvertently, or gloss over the real pain and damage caused by child sexual abuse, do a disservice and set us back.
It is imperative that we change the way society views this issue and stand up for policies, laws and attitudes that refuse to tolerate adults who prey on children. It is up to us to speak up for those who cannot.
Lauren Book is the founder and CEO of Lauren's Kids, a nonprofit organization committed to preventing child abuse and healing survivors.
Northern Ireland searches for thousands of abuse survivors
Northern Ireland is searching for up to 6,000 people who were abused as children in work houses and church-run homes from 1922 to 1995.
by Tanya Talaga
BELFAST—For four years, Margaret McGuckin has been on a mission to seek justice for up to 6,000 people who suffered years of abuse and neglect in work houses and church-run homes for children in Northern Ireland.
There are thousands of them just like her throughout Northern Ireland and Canada, who hid their past — from husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, friends and children — out of fear no one would believe what they experienced in the country's state- or clergy-run homes, hospitals, orphanages, Borstals and training schools.
She has stood on street corners in front of Safeway grocers approaching strangers, looking for names. She has badgered politicians and police to begin investigations. She spends her days meeting abuse survivors in coffee houses or at her office, holding their hands and having a good cry.
In the Republic of Ireland, widespread Catholic and institutional abuse from the 1930s to the 1990s was the subject of a nine-year inquiry known as the Ryan Commission. But here in Northern Ireland, no one acknowledged the existence of potential victims, even though the same religious orders ran children's homes in the north, where tens of thousands of children were placed in institutions from 1922 to 1995.
“It was like the abuse stopped at the border,” McGuckin says.
No one knows how many children lived in these homes, places called Nazareth House, Termonbacca boys' home and Rubane House, because precise records are hard to find. It is unknown how many are dead or alive, or where they live.
“They were hoping this would go away and everybody would die,” McGuckin says.
In January the government of Northern Ireland formally began the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse, which will cover the 73 years from the time Northern Ireland was formed until 1995, when reforms were made to child welfare laws.
It has taken decades for attitudes to change, says Andrew Browne, the inquiry's secretary.
“In the 1950s and 1960s, people tended not to talk about it and children tended not to be believed,” he says from the inquiry's nondescript, austere office building in downtown Belfast.
The inquiry estimates there could be anywhere from 1,000 to 6,000 survivors.
“We don't have a standard definition of abuse,” Brown says. “People immediately think just of sexual abuse but we are looking very much at physical abuse, the fact that kids received severe beatings, the whole emotional side of things, the cruelty and neglect. Sometimes children weren't well fed or well clothed or humiliated in front of their peers.”
Hearings will be held until June 2015 and the probe has until January 2016 to report to the government.
The inquiry will be a two-stage process: First, there is an acknowledgement forum for people to come forward and tell their stories in front of a witness support officer.
Victims can end the process there or take their stories forward to the legal probe that is gathering evidence and interviewing potential witnesses.
At that time, decisions will be made on whether an apology should be issued and by whom, with recommendations on an appropriate memorial or tribute for the abused and the “requirement or desirability for redress.”
“Right now we are going out to investigate what happened. We aren't linking that to payments or compensation,” Browne says.
Investigators are hunting through national archives, trying to compile lists of names.
The net is cast wide. The probe is reaching out to victims who have emigrated to Canada, the United States and Australia. The inquiry will fly survivors to Belfast with a companion to testify and will pay for their accommodation. However, if there is a critical mass of survivors located in these countries, the probe will go to them.
‘All I remember is screaming'
Kate Walmsley was born in Glasgow, Scotland. She remembers her mother, her father, her two sisters and her brother and being happy going to primary school.
“Then mommy disappeared and we were on the boat to Belfast,” Walmsley said. It was 1964. Walmsley was 7 then and is 56 now.
Her father couldn't find a place to live, so he went to a men's hostel and her brother was sent to Termonbacca. She and her sister, who was 9, went to the all-girls Nazareth House.
“I remember standing at this big door. It was like a giant's door and this thing appeared — not a mommy or a daddy — but someone all in black, you could hardly see their face. All I remember is screaming, holding on to my daddy's trousers while being pulled into the door,” she says.
Their lives were changed irrevocably; her childhood was over.
Separated from her sister, Walmsley wet the bed every night. As punishment, she was forced to stand to eat her breakfast, and sometimes she'd catch a glimpse of her sister at the other end of the dining hall. “That was the only time I saw her,” she says.
The nuns refused to give Walmsley anything to drink, except at dinner, because of her incontinence. The only way she could quench her thirst was from the toilet bowl.
“They gave me a duty to do, every morning, to clean a corridor of toilets. There was no mops . . . I had to pick the excrement off with my fingernails,” Walmsley says.
If a toilet was blocked, the nuns would haul Walmsley out of class, no matter what time, and order her to fix it. “They made me kneel down and I'd had to put my hand up the toilet, with all the excrement . . . I'd have to carry (everything) out of the toilet and take it to the next . . . to flush it away,” she says, her voice breaking with emotion.
“By the time I got back to class, my hands were so wrinkled I could hardly hold my pencil in class. I could smell it. I always felt smelly and dirty and I never felt nice about myself,” she says.
One nun called her a “child of the devil” and would make her stay behind in the chapel after confession, when everyone else had left.
“She would hand me over to the priest. Today, I know she must have known what she was doing. I could never hand a child over to a man and walk away,” she says.
The priest would take her to an office and lock her inside. She sustained consistent sexual abuse at his hands from the time she was 8 to 12 years old. “It began by having me take my panties off, making me sit, he'd masturbate and then it went on.”
When Walmsley was 12, a nun gave her a little brown suitcase and sent her to the Sisters of Mercy, where she stayed for 18 months before moving again.
For decades, Walmsley has fought feelings of utter worthlessness and thoughts of suicide. Four years ago, she sat down her two adult sons and told them what happened to her.
She now tells her story — and there is so much more — to help find some peace. It is her therapy. She has testified at the abuse inquiry and she works with McGuckin, trying to help others face the past and get on with the future.
“I thought I would take this all to my grave. I have spent my life trying to commit suicide . . . I couldn't tell anybody,” she says.
“I can honestly say I have now come a long way. But it is victims helping victims here.”
‘We were treated like child slaves'
There is a picture of Margaret McGuckin as a chubby-cheeked 3-year-old, shortly after her father left her at Nazareth House.
She is standing with half a dozen girls her age, all in little white dresses with white ribbons in their hair. McGuckin is staring off to her left, a look of misery etched on her face.
“It hurts when I see how sad that little girl is,” says McGuckin, now 56.
“We were treated like child slaves, being made to scrub the floors, windows and walls. It was like something out of a Dickens book. We were just little children and we were on our hands and knees scrubbing floors. I can still remember the smell of that orange wax and carbolic soap,” says McGuckin.
She quickly lost her baby fat. She remembers meals of gruel, crusts of bread and rinds of fat and, if she was lucky, some jam.
“My whole life there was lived in fear — fear of the next beating, the next humiliation. I was made to feel worthless, that I was a bad person, and I kept those beliefs with me my whole life.”
After eight years, McGuckin fled from the home. It was the start of the Troubles, those tumultuous decades when Northern Ireland was rocked by political violence. McGuckin found herself at the centre of the storm, although she says she did not join the Irish Republican Army. “That was me — anger and rage — at the head of every riot.”
Then four years ago, she saw a television news story on institutional abuse victims in Northern Ireland. It was her story.
She started petitions and began the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse group. She wrote about her story on the survivors' network website . Her work has been instrumental in kick-starting the inquiry.
She also sees how other victims benefit when they get to tell her stories — including her brother. Kevin, now 58, was brutally sexually assaulted at Rubane House, run by the De La Salle order of priests.
“My God, what happened to my brother . . . ” she says, shaking her head. “But when he started to tell me, he started to grow. There is light coming into his eyes. He is waiting for his future.
“I used to doubt myself, but so many people have said I've helped them,” McGuckin says. “It has brought me to realize I am some use now. This has transformed me, doing this, believing in myself that I am a form of good. I never thought that.”
Walmsley believes McGuckin should be paid for her efforts. The survivors network has a small office above a bar in Belfast, but they are given nothing to help with rent or expenses.
Each December, Walmsley used to write to Santa Claus from the Nazareth House and ask for a doll. Every year, she was disappointed.
“I thought I was the worst child in the world,” Walmsley says. “We weren't allowed to be little girls.”
Last year, at Christmas, she bought McGuckin a doll.
Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center Makes Plans to Implement Erin's Law in Lake County Schools
by Jamie Somerville
GURNEE ILLINOIS (August 2013) The past few years have seen an insurgence in reports of child sexual abuse scandals and, as a result, we seem to finally be waking up to the fact that while well intentioned, the “stranger danger” scenarios that we so often employ with the children in our lives to try and keep them safe simply aren't enough. With 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys being sexually abused before the age of 18 ; with a child being sexually abused every 6 minutes ; with 90% of these crimes being committed by someone the child knows and trusts – we cannot afford to avoid the tough, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations needed to help ensure the children we care about live lives free of sexual assault and abuse. Here, Erin's Law can help.
Erin's Law is named after childhood sexual assault survivor turned child advocate and activist Erin Merryn, who is the founder and President of Erin's Law. It requires that all public schools implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse programs which teach:
|1. Students in grades preK – 12th grade, age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and to tell a trusted adult
2. School personnel about child sexual abuse and how to respond accordingly
3. Parents and guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families
Wendy Ivy, ZCenter's Director of Community Education insists that Erin Merryn's story is exactly why this law and sexual assault prevention reduction is important: “She said she likely would have told someone sooner had she had the information and it's our responsibility to figure out how to disseminate that information.” Indeed, Merryn writes that:
“Passing Erin's Law gives children in Illinois the voice I never had as a child … We will finally begin educating children to speak up and tell if someone ever abuses or tries to abuse them. That's a lesson that could have saved me years of molestation and rape.”
Now more than ever, Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee, IL wants to effect change through educating children and the community about sexual violence. With Erin's Law going into effect for the 2013-2014 school year, they look forward to the opportunity to reach more children, educators and parents than ever. To that end, ZCenter will be holding an Erin's Law Conference on Wednesday, October 23rd at the College of Lake County in Grayslake which will provide an overview of the law and give faculty and staff members in community schools the tools they need to provide this critical prevention education to Lake County youth.
Ivy states that ZCenter staff are “experts in the field and this conference gives us the chance to train other people to have that same level of comfort and expertise in talking to kids about sexual assault and abuse so that they're empowered to work in the curriculum in ways that make sense for their schools.” The conference will be open to all Illinois K-12 faculty and staff and will include the training and tools necessary for participants to implement ZCenter's Prevention & Education programs, including:
Child Sexual Assault Prevention Program (CAPP): Children will learn skills that they can use to reduce their vulnerability to assault and abduction.
Teen Assault Prevention Program Training (TAPP): Building upon many of the foundations of CAAP, TAPP provides age-appropriate curricula for Middle and High School Students that teach skills to identity and prevent bullying behavior and sexual violence. TAPP expands students' understanding of violence and objectification through interactive discussions.
Participants will leave with a toolkit of materials, including information for parents to use when talking to their own children. Additionally, various myths and facts will be identified and discussed, including:
Myth: Children are most likely to be sexually abused by a stranger.
Fact: Four out of five cases of child sexual abuse occur by someone known to the child. Statistically, 80% to 85% of the child sexual abuse in the United States is perpetrated by a familiar individual to the victim. The perpetrator is often related to the child. Less than 20% of abusers are strangers.
Myth: Sex abuse only happens in poor, uneducated socioeconomic groups.
Fact: Sexual abuse cuts across all boundaries - socioeconomic status, race, geographic area, gender, and educational level - equally.
Myth: A discussion of sexual abuse will just frighten children.
Fact: It is important for children to receive information about sexual assault for their own protection. Inaccurate or no information is more damaging to children.
Myth: Family sexual abuse is an isolated, one-time incident.
Fact: For most victims, the abuse continues for years. In most cases, the offender will not stop until there is an intervention.
Let's make this the year we move toward creating a world where our children and youth don't have to face the horror of sexual violence. Please join us on October 23rd as we move one step closer to that goal. Please contact Wendy Ivy at WIvy@zcenter.org or 847-244-1187 x 124 to register or for more information.
Pentagon fires 60 troops after finding violations of child abuse, sexual assault, more
by USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Sixty troops have been fired as sexual assault counselors, recruiters or drill instructors after the military investigators found they had committed violations ranging from alcohol-related offenses to child abuse and sexual assault, USA TODAY has learned.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered that the records of recruiters and sexual assault counselors be examined on May 17. That action came in light of the Pentagon's report in May that estimated 26,000 troops had been sexually assaulted in 2012, a 35% increase since 2010, with offenses ranging from groping to rape. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called sexual assault in the military a crisis.
The records of at least 35,000 troops have been screened or are under review, according to the services.
Each of the services appears to have interpreted Hagel's directive differently. The Marines screened recruiters, for example, against a public database, while the Army considered criminal records for sexual assault, child abuse and alcohol-related offenses.
The Army has suspended 55 soldiers, according to figures compiled through mid-July, said George Wright, an Army spokesman. In all, it is looking at 20,000 recruiters, sexual-assault counselors and drill instructors and expects to have completed its screening by Oct. 1. More suspensions could occur as the review continues.
It is unclear whether the suspended soldiers have been discharged, Wright said, or if they can be reassigned to other units.
"We only want the very best to be in these positions of special trust," Wright said. "The steps we are taking are in keeping with our commitment to maintaining the special bonds of trust and confidence between the leader and his or her soldiers."
The Navy disqualified three of 5,125 recruiters it reviewed, and two of 4,739 counselors. It reviewed records of 869 recruit instructors; none of them was disqualified.
"We are committed to this process and routinely screen personnel for any conduct that could warrant decertification," said Tammy O'Rourke, the Navy's sexual assault prevention and response program manager.
The Air Force reported no airmen were disqualified but did not report an overall number. The Marines screened its recruiters against the National Sex Offenders Public website, according to a memo, and found no matches. About 6,000 Marine recruiters were screened.
Several high-profile sex scandals have rocked the military this year. The Air Force relieved the lieutenant colonel in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office following his arrest in May after police said he drunkenly groped a woman outside a bar not far from the Pentagon.
Also in May: The Army announced that it was investigating a sergeant in charge of a battalion's sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood for suspicion of sexual assault. He is suspected of running a small-scale prostitution ring there, according to sources briefed on the case.
Congress summoned the service chiefs to Capitol Hill to explain their response to sexual assault, and a number of measures to address the issue could become law. Among them is a proposal to enhance oversight of commanders who make decisions about prosecution and discipline in sex crimes.
What lies ahead for young victims of sexual assault?
By SUZANNE CASSIDY
The recent abduction and sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl in Lancaster Township left many parents shaken.
The little girl was returned to safety hours after her abduction, thanks to two teenagers who rode bikes in pursuit of her abductor's car. But she'd been taken from outside her grandmother's apartment building, threatened with death and sexually assaulted.
In the words of Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, it was "a nightmare case for parents and for everyone in the community."
It left people wondering how any child, any child's family, could recover from such a horrific experience.
"It's not easy," says Lisa R. White, director of counseling and empowerment services at YWCA Lancaster, "though children are the most magnificent and resilient creatures on earth."
It's difficult to think of a child being sexually assaulted at age 5, White says, but "there's so much hope, because kids are kids."
She and other experts who work with sexual assault victims say it's very possible for children to recover, and to live productive and happy lives.
Children, White observes, "don't know all of the things that we know."
Which is not to say that even a very young child is immune from the possible long-term effects of abuse.
Sexual abuse in childhood may lead to emotional problems and harmful behaviors: depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, cutting, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, sexual issues, an inability to trust.
If, as he or she moves through life, a child is going to be able to manage what has happened, he or she is generally going to need intensive counseling — and it should begin as soon as possible after the abuse comes to light.
A child also needs the support of his or her caregivers, who, White says, often benefit from counseling, too.
"If they have appropriate support, any child can heal from it," says Kari Stanley, program supervisor at Lancaster County Children's Alliance, a children's advocacy center.
Abduction and assault by stranger is very rare: In about 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the perpetrators are known to their victims.
Even when a child is assaulted by a relative or family friend, and even when the abuse is an everyday thing, "Abuse does not need to define a child's life," Stanley says.
White has seen youngsters who, even as they talk about the trauma they've endured, are "children who like to play and laugh, and play jokes. It's wonderful to see them being children, in spite of what has happened to them."
Mary Halye is a forensic interviewer with the Lancaster County Children's Alliance. She said parents often ask, "'How did I let this happen? ... How did I not protect them better?'"
Halye runs a 10-week program for nonoffending caregivers of sexually abused children (and for partners of sexual offenders). When caregivers wrestle with feelings of guilt and shame, the program makes it clear: The abuse is "always the offender's responsibility," Halye says.
In the wake of an abuse disclosure, parents often have to grapple with "a new normal," recognizing that "some things have changed, or will need to change," she says, noting, "This change is usually difficult and uncomfortable for everyone. ... It does not happen overnight."
In cases in which abuse is reported to the police — including that of the 5-year-old child who was abducted — the path toward healing may begin at the North Duke Street office of the Lancaster County Children's Alliance.
The alliance, which is under the umbrella of Lancaster General Health, brings together a multidisciplinary team consisting of law enforcement, prosecution, Children & Youth, Victim/Witness Services and medical and mental health professionals, to investigate, treat and prosecute cases of child sexual abuse.
"That team response can be more effective for the child and family because they are supported the whole way through," Stanley says.
At the alliance, a child undergoes a forensic interview in a child-focused environment. "We try to make sure that the child is not traumatized by the system that's there to help them," Stanley says.
After the forensic interview, a child generally is referred to another agency for counseling.
Lisa White says the counseling should be "led by someone who knows how to talk about trauma, work with trauma."
She and two other counselors at the YWCA's Sexual Assault Prevention & Counseling Center are training in an evidence-based therapy known as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (or TF-CBT).
In TF-CBT, children are encouraged to talk through the abuse they have endured and to identify and share the thoughts, behaviors and emotions triggered by the abuse.
Rather than ignore what happened to a child, the reality is faced squarely, by both the child and his or her caregivers.
"A huge component of this is that the child tells their trauma narrative," White says.
A younger child who has problems with verbal expression will be encouraged to draw, or act out, the story.
Before a child tells his or her story, a therapist has to educate the child about the value of telling the story, and build some trust, says Heidi Scott, of Morning Star Counseling in Quarryville, who's also trained in TF-CBT.
A child being assaulted likely feels "for a period of time ... completely out of control," Scott says. "There was a serious threat of harm in this moment and (he or she) didn't have any control over it."
So, in therapy, "it's a delicate balance," getting the child to the point of telling that trauma narrative, Scott says. The aim is that "by telling the story in a safe and comfortable environment," a child's trauma symptoms are minimized, she says.
And the relating of the narrative is meant to become less distressing — so the child retells it, rather than relives it.
As the child tells his or her trauma narrative, the therapist corrects "any cognitive distortions that may be present," White says.
So, for instance, if a child blames herself or himself for the abuse, the therapist will help the child to recognize that the blame lies with the abuser.
The therapist also seeks to address the child's affect and emotions in the aftermath of the abuse.
When a child experiences a sexually violent trauma, he or she may become hypervigilant, easily startled and scared. A young child may regress developmentally. He or she may tantrum, wet the bed. The child may develop a fear of the dark, and may not want to sleep alone at night.
Children feel what they feel. "But the way they react to it, that's what you can change," White says.
"We're not necessarily saying, 'You shouldn't be afraid of the dark.' We want to help those behaviors be a little more typical."
So instead of allowing, say, an 8-year-old to sleep with his or her parents, White would suggest that a night light be placed in the child's bedroom, or that a hallway light remain on.
"There's a lot of education that needs to take place, both with the child and the parent," White says, noting, of parents, "They have to be on board with this. If we're teaching things, showing kids different ways of thinking and reacting to situations, we need that backup at home."
Caregivers are counseled separately — "parents have their own process," White says — but participate in some joint sessions with their child.
Parents may feel overprotective, and may want to give in to a child's fears — allowing the child, for instance, to share a bed, so they know the child is safe.
"We ask parents, 'How are you setting this child up for when she's 17, or goes to college?'" White says.
"The aim is, you want the child to live as typical a life as possible ... to have better relationships and a more effective life, rather than being stuck in the traumatic episode."
White says "you can't put a timeline on recovery. Sometimes, it's very synonymous with grief — there are all these steps. ... It looks completely different in all of our clients."
Counselors say families need support, but not the attention of idle curiosity-seekers, in the aftermath of trauma.
And the children need privacy. Telling the trauma narrative in therapy doesn't equate to telling aunts, uncles, friends, the next-door neighbor, Scott says.
As painful as a revelation of sexual assault may be, the revelation means a child is "not going to suffer in silence like so many kids do," Scott says.
When children carry the secret of having been abused, "the shame and guilt just fester, because there's no one to counter that. ... They see themselves as damaged goods, and as contributing to the abuse."
It may be possible for someone to function without getting help, but at some point, the trauma of what he or she has experienced is likely to resurface.
Says Scott: "If they have just one person in their life who validates their experience and demonstrates compassion, it can help significantly."
Jacqueline Finch debuts ‘The Seedling' at special screenings
by WILLIAM WRIGHT
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, “As many as 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. However, because child sexual abuse is by its very nature secretive, many of these cases are never reported. Approximately three quarters of reported cases of child sexual abuse are committed by family members or other individuals who are considered part of the victim's ‘circle of trust.'”
Jacqueline Ann Finch, a survivor of child sexual abuse, is raising awareness about the repercussions of sexual molestation, and choosing between a destructive lifestyle and salvation, both for herself and the man she loves, in a riveting short film called, “The Seedling,” which she wrote, co-produced and stars in.
The British-born actress/producer said she is available for special screenings of her film with a Q-and-A session to follow and a discussion of the issues it highlights, including an open forum on the need to shed more light on sexual abuse, incest and healing. The film's running time is 16 minutes and 38 seconds. But her production company, Illumination Light Productions, is seeking funding to extend the short feature into a full-length film.
“My producing partner, Dwayne C. Ladd, felt strongly about making the full-length version of ‘The Seedling,' so hopefully thousands more could see the film in theaters,” Finch said. “We are about to launch ‘The Seedling' project on Kick-starter, (a new way to fund projects online) to raise the funding for the full-length version.”
“The Seedling” was inspired by the writer's own journey leading to healing and her desire to shed greater light on what she calls “the hidden world of generational incest and the abuse of minors.”
“I created the storyline and most of the script about 2 1/2 years ago,” Finch explained. “I am a member of the British Academy of Film and TV arts as well as the Screen Actor's Guild. I attended a short film workshop, which is where I initiated the concept for the film. Once I had chosen a director I worked with him to polish the script and add additional scenes. It is a fictional work and not based on anyone.
“Before its release we approached RAINN — (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) one of America's biggest charities supporting victims of sexual abuse, to see if they would endorse us, which they did. We have been contributing a portion of our proceeds from sales of DVDs or festival tickets to them and advocating their cause on our website. In a sense it took on a life of its own.”
Finch said her aim is to raise the topic of incest and sexual abuse to new heights, “which is still very taboo in our society,” she added. “Many people came up to me and shared their own personal stories. We were invited last summer to screen ‘The Seedling' at the Los Angeles-Indie Music/Film International Summit. Audiences told us they found the film powerful and moving.
“My own background is that I am a survivor of incest. As a little girl — growing up, like so many, I had a history of molestation, mostly by people I knew. The intense emotional and psychological damage, and the loss of innocence it causes in any girl or boy, affects their entire lives as well as their ability to have trusting, loving, healthy relationships.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey, “Victims of sexual assault are: 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
Although many children who have experienced sexual abuse show behavioral and emotional changes, many others do not. It is therefore critical to focus not only on detection, but also on prevention and communication — by teaching children about body safety and healthy body boundaries, and by encouraging open communication about sexual matters.
“I think its time for the conversation and I believe as we tried to tell in our film, these types of abuses are a doorway for demonic forces that would rip our loving families apart on a generational level, repeating the abuses from one generation to another,” Finch said. “But I also believe there needs to be a conversation with adult survivors and perpetrators.”
The Seedling, which was entered in the Cannes International Film Festival in 2010, has made it easier for some survivors of sexual abuse to continue a conversation about this delicate subject matter.
“Anyone can assist in our mission by donating to The Seedling, which, under the Filmmakers Alliance, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to raise funds for our endorsing charities and for the furthering of our mission,” Finch said. “Illumination Light Productions supports filmmaking that is both spiritual and revolutionary. We support films with meaningful content and pledge 10 percent of ILP profits to charities that help the human condition. We are dedicated to making films of a transforming and uplifting quality with the specific intention of contributing to the human condition in a positive manner.”
For further information visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1298557663/1331436854?token=e6ae3d90 or www.theseedlingmovie.com where the trailer can be viewed and the short film is available.
If you know or suspect that a child is being or has been sexually abused, call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. If you are a victim or survivor of sexual abuse and need support, call the RAINN hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
Three Caldwell ISD Employees Indicted For Failure To Report Child Abuse
by Clay Falls
CALDWELL, Texas -- A grand jury indicted three Caldwell ISD employees for failing to report an essay about abuse, written by a high school student.
This in relation to a standoff in Caldwell last year in which that student was sexually assaulted and her grandmother murdered.
The victim in this case was abused my a man who is serving a life sentence for murder and sexual assault.
The grand jury found enough evidence to move forward with pursuing misdemeanor charges.
The Caldwell High School Principal, an assistant principal and a middle school counselor are all on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues.
Caldwell Middle School Counselor Bliss Bednar, High School Assistant Principal Vance Skidmore and High School Principal Bradley Vestal have been indicted for not reporting that a student had written an essay about being abused.
It's the same victim who was sexually assaulted before a standoff in June of last year.
"She had been assaulted in the house and she finally escaped to notify an officer," said Senior Corporal Jimmy Morgan, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, during a June 29, 2012 interview.
The 15-year-old girl was attacked by 51-year-old Eddie Lee.
In April he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her and also murdering her grandmother, Jean Slovacek, who was his girlfriend.
"It's pretty disturbing. You don't want to think that something like that would happen or occur," said Captain Charles Darling of the Caldwell Police Department, during a July 2, 2012 interview.
Caldwell ISD Superintendent Dr. Janet Cummings declined an interview request but said in a statement:
"Caldwell ISD Superintendent and the CISD Board of Trustees want to assure our educational community that all appropriate action will be taken to continue to earn the trust of our parents and community," said Cummings.
The indictment says the educators failed to come forward with the essay on October 6, 2011.
That's more than eight months before the standoff and murder.
The Burleson County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney, County Attorney and school officials weren't available for an interview Friday afternoon.
It's unclear what was said in that English paper essay at this time.
The Caldwell Independent School District added in its statement that they are working with the District Attorney's office on this case.
Bliss Bednar and Vance Skidmore have been arrested and released from the Burleson County Jail.
Statement from Caldwell ISD Superintendent Dr. Janet Cummings
Caldwell ISD has been informed that three employees have been issued an indictment by the Burleson County Grand Jury for the offense of failure to report child abuse. The District has placed the employees on administrative leave at this time. The District has cooperated fully with the District Attorney's office and will take appropriate employment actions. The serious nature of the allegations must thoroughly be investigated and the educators given an opportunity to defend their actions. Caldwell ISD Superintendent and the CISD Board of Trustees want to assure our educational community that all appropriate action will be taken to continue to earn the trust of our parents and community. Due to the serious nature of these developments, the District will not be making further comments at this time.
Feds: Pot farmer confessed to keeping girl in box
The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO—Federal prosecutors say one of the two men accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl, keeping her captive in a metal box and forcing her to work on a large Northern California marijuana growing operation has confessed.
Court documents filed in the case against 30-year-old Ryan Balletto and 24-year-old Patrick Pearmain say prosecutors obtained a recorded confession from Balletto.
Both men are scheduled to enter pleas Friday in federal court in San Francisco. They have been charged with marijuana possession and using a minor in drug operations.
Authorities allege Balletto and Pearmain used the girl to cut marijuana buds at a Lake County property and had sex with her.
The girl from the Los Angeles area told investigators she was kept in a 4 by 2-foot box.
'I am not a monster' -- inside the mind of Ariel Castro
by Dr. Keith Ablow
I have written before that there is no original evil left in the world; everyone is just recycling pain.
Ariel Castro was, of course, wrong when he claimed, bizarrely, Thursday that there was “harmony” in the house where he kept three women hostage, repeatedly beating and raping them. But he was correct when he stated that he is not a monster.
Ariel Castro was not born a predator. He became one. I believe him when he says he himself was sexually abused. And, while most victims of sexual abuse harm no one later in life, Ariel Castro is an extreme example of what can happen in adulthood, when a child has been destroyed psychologically.
Based on my nearly two decades as an adult, adolescent and forensic psychiatrist, talking at the level of the soul and the gut about the human psyche with everyone from anxious kids, to abused women, to gang members, to men who have raped and killed, the origin of Castro's evil is the house of horrors in which he alludes to being raised.
I promise you that what Castro has been convicted of creating in Cleveland—a “home” where three women were allegedly held in ropes and chains, beaten and raped, where children were either enslaved or aborted—will turn out to be a magnified version (perhaps 2X, perhaps 100X) of the home in which he was raised.
Once someone no longer can appreciate the pain of others, that person is “free,” in a terrible and terrifying way, to perpetrate horrific acts.
There, Casto reportedly maintains in an alleged suicide note which may have been written in 2004 and was found inside his home, that he was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by relatives.
That is the reason why Ariel Castro can maintain that the house of horrors he created in Cleveland was a place of “harmony:” Because Ariel Castro needed to summon psychotic levels of denial to barely exist in the house in which he was raised. I would bet that calling that place “harmonious” wouldn't be much more of a reach than calling it “harmony” to be abducted and raped.
Castro's diagnosis may turn out to be psychopathy, but the real key to understanding him is that he lacked empathy. And once someone no longer can appreciate the pain of others, that person is “free,” in a terrible and terrifying way, to perpetrate horrific acts.
In fact, the torture that a person lives through that crushes his empathy, can be enough to create a house of mirrors, in which one reproduces his own suffering again, and again, and again, like the work of art by M.C. Escher of a hand drawing a hand, never quite being able to escape the dehumanized recreation of his own destruction.
Castro reportedly said as much in his suicide note. He cannot understand his addiction to taking women prisoner and knows, someplace deep inside him—which we may as well think of as the voice of God—that what he is doing is predatory and wrong and hellish. Yet, he cannot stop.
Perhaps, had Castro a little more intelligence or a spiritual guide or had been lucky enough to have been incarcerated early in life and introduced to a gifted prison psychiatrist, he might have noted that he is one of three brothers and he took three people hostage.
He might have noted that he and his brothers are all reportedly psychologically hobbled, chained to pathology of one kind or another (supposedly, including addiction). He might have noted that two of his adult brothers still live with their aging mother, like hulking, disempowered infants, like, one might wonder, prisoners.
You don't take three women hostage and make them abort repeatedly and beat them and humiliate them and sexually attack them if you have true, loving feelings for your mother.
But you might do that, if you deny all your primal, murderous rage toward that woman, because it is too psychologically threatening to feel it at 5 or 6 or 13 or 50-years-old, and it ends up erupting out of you—directed at every female you see, including your own wife and daughters.
It is popular to speak of children as resilient. It is a complete and utter myth.
Children are exquisitely emotionally sensitive. The seeds of major depression and panic disorder and PTSD and borderline personality disorder and, yes, antisocial (psychopathic) personality disorder are most often sown in childhood and adolescence. And while someone may be born gifted by God with a hardy brain chemistry, with serotonin and norepinephrine and dopamine aplenty, many are not, and are, therefore, even more vulnerable, from birth.
Ariel Castro is right about one thing, and maybe only one thing. He is no devil. He is no "monster."He's an abused, ruined decent boy made rancid by psychological dynamics that were at one time entirely beyond his control.
Does that mean he should not have been held responsible for failing to resist the dark forces that developed inside him? No, it does not.
Do lives sometimes tend unavoidably toward darkness? Yes, they do.
What does this imply for justice? That question is part of the human condition. We will debate it, forever.
I write these words because I just want to understand. I just want the truth. And I just told you the truth, too.
Make of it what you will. Do with it, what you want.
But now you know what I know having met men who killed their wives with bats and guns and knives, and women who beat their daughters and raped their sons, and teenagers who preyed viciously on other teenagers.
Every single case began at least a generation before—and, every time I have looked, more than one generation, and, sometimes, three or four.
I leave you with the words of philosopher Martin Buber and your own life story, to contemplate. Make of his words and your days all you can:
“Love ranges in its effect through the whole world. In the eyes of him who takes his stand in love, and gazes out of it . . . good people and evil people, wise and foolish, beautiful and ugly, become successively real to him; that is . . . they confront him as Thou... Love is the responsibility of an I for a Thou . In this lies the likeliness . . . of all who love, from the smallest to the greatest and from the blessedly protected man, whose life is rounded in that of a loved being, to him who is all his life nailed to a cross of the world, and who ventures to bring himself to the dreadful point—to love all men .”
Only a predator would fail to hate what Ariel Castro did. But only a heartless person would fail to grieve the loss of the potential for goodness he was born with, which was stolen from him, decades ago, in a house of horrors we still know almost nothing about.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ariel Castro victim Michelle Knight: 'Your hell is just beginning'
by Matthew DeLuca, Staff Writer, NBC News
Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole on two counts of aggravated murder plus 1,000 years on Thursday after a sentencing hearing filled with sordid details of his crimes – and tremendous perseverance and hope as victim Michelle Knight faced down her captor in court.
“I cried every night, I was so alone,” Knight said. “Years turned into an eternity.”
“I spent 11 years in hell, where your hell is just beginning,” she said to Castro, with her back turned to him at the defense table. “You deserve to spend life in prison.”
“After 11 years, I am finally being heard, and it is liberating,” Knight said.
Handcuffed and in an orange prison jumpsuit, a bearded Castro appeared to smile as he entered the courtroom where he came face to face with the terror he inflicted on the three women. Castro, who imprisoned them for a decade in his Cleveland home, seemed to laugh as the court took a brief recess around noon.
After Knight spoke and others gave statements for her fellow captives Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, Castro delivered a long, rambling statement.
“These people are trying to paint me as a monster. I'm not a monster, I'm sick,” Castro said. He described himself as addicted to masturbation and pornography, and claimed that he was “a victim of sex acts” when he was a child.
Of his young daughter who was born in captivity, Castro said: “She'll probably say, ‘My daddy is the best daddy in the world.' Because that's how I tried to raise her in those six years. So she wouldn't be traumatized or anything like that.”
Cleveland kidnapping victim Michelle Knight delivers an emotional statement to the courtroom, telling Ariel Castro, "I spent eleven years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning."
“I am not a violent person. I simply kept them there without them being able to leave,” Castro said.
“To this day I'm trying to answer my own questions. I don't know why a man that had everything going on for himself – I had a job, I had a house, I had vehicles, I had my musical talent,” the confessed kidnapper and rapist said.
“We had a lot of harmony going on in that home,” he said.
The victims other than Knight were represented by relatives at the hearing.
DeJesus was represented by her cousin Sylvia Colon, who said the young woman lives “not as a victim, but as a survivor.”
Berry's sister Beth Serrano said the family did not want to continue to talk about their ordeal, and even if she did, “it is impossible to put in words.” Berry is concerned that her daughter will hear versions of her story before she is ready.
“Amanda did not control anything for a long time,” Serrano said. “Please let her have control over this so she can protect her daughter.”
Prosecutors revealed photos from inside Castro's Seymour Avenue home, including some that showed the bedroom, stocked with stuffed animals and other brightly colored children's toys, where Berry and her daughter spent much of their time, FBI Special Agent Andrew Burke said. Others showed chains hanging from walls where two of the women endured their nightmarish captivity.
Witnesses including police officers and medical experts revealed the terrifying details – including that more than 90 pounds of chains, measuring nearly 100 feet, were recovered from the home.
The chains were not displayed in court.
Cleveland Police Department Patrolwoman Barb Johnson, one of the initial officers to arrive at Castro's house after Berry kicked through the front door on May 6, was the first witness on Thursday. The officer described entering the darkened house with a flashlight attached to her firearm.
She and another responding officer heard the “pitter-patter” of steps as they entered the house and went to the second level. Then, a woman who turned out to be Knight emerged from the darkness.
Knight “launched herself” into the other officer's arms, Johnson said.
Detective Andy Harasimchuk of the Cleveland Police Department's sex crimes unit described how the victims were physically restrained for periods by Castro, and were chained and locked in rooms of the house.
The doctor who saw the three women after they were first removed from the house, Dr. Gerald Maloney, said the women were “very much emotionally fragile” when they first arrived at the hospital.
Sheriff's deputies set in place a model of the house on Seymour Ave. where Ariel Castro held three women Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, in Cleveland. Three months after an Ohio woman kicked out part of a door to end nearly a decade of captivity, Castro, a onetime school bus driver faces sentencing for kidnapping three women and subjecting them to years of sexual and physical abuse.
“All three of them looked fairly gaunt, all three of them related that they had been allowed minimal time outside the house at all,” Maloney said. “They related information regarding sexual assaults to us and also to the sexual assault nurse examiner.”
The interior of the house featured modifications that enabled Castro to keep the women in and inquiring eyes out, FBI Special Agent Andrew Burke said, including modified doors, extra partitions and the conversion of the dining room into a bedroom. A porch swing was positioned at the base of the stairs going to the house's upper floors as an obstacle, he said.
“There were a number of modifications to the interior of the home to fortify certain areas,” Burke said. “There were divisions between spaces in the house that were again designed not only to make the house more secure for its occupants but also to hide, I think, the existence of additional rooms in the house.”
Other photos showed the cluttered basement with its white center pole where the women were restrained “in the early stages of captivity,” Burke said, as well as a laundry machine full of money. Investigators also found a note in which Castro wrote “I am a sexual predator,” according to the agent.
Castro's victims said he played a version of “Russian roulette” with them, giving the women a revolver he kept in the house, said Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Jacobs, who interviewed the man in the days after the women were freed. Castro told him he didn't specifically remember the incident, but said if the women said it happened, it probably had, according to Jacobs.
In opening remarks, Castro's defense attorneys objected to the presentation of any photographs or other exhibits to demonstrate the extent of their client's offenses. Attorney Craig Weintraub said that the highly unusual case has “facts that are incomprehensible” and that his client suffered from “significant, undiagnosed mental illness” that did not rise to the legal definition of insanity.
A sentencing memorandum filed by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty on Wednesday included accounts of how Castro abducted Berry, Knight, and DeJesus between August 2002 and April 2004.
Prosecutors ask FBI special agent Andrew Burke to describe the pictures from inside Ariel Castro's Cleveland home, particularly the chains used on the three women he kept captive for a decade.
Knight “was spotted by the Defendant in need of assistance in getting to an appointment regarding her son,” according to the sentencing memorandum. “The Defendant lured her into his vehicle with promises of a ride. The Defendant then took Ms. Knight to his home at 2207 Seymour Avenue and enticed her to go inside with promises of a puppy for her son.”
The women's daily life was recorded in diary entries, which were reflected in the more than 900-count indictment against Castro.
“The entries speak of forced sexual conduct, of being locked in a dark room, of anticipating the next session of abuse, of the dreams of someday escaping and being reunited with family, of being chained to a wall, of being held like a prisoner of war, of missing the lived they once enjoyed, of emotional abuse, of his threats to kill, of being treated like an animal, of continuous abuse, and of desiring freedom,” according to the memorandum.
At one point, from Aug. 23, 2005 to the end of October 2005, Castro "forced the three victims into the garage behind his house," the memorandum states. "For three days, they were kept physically restrained in a vehicle in the garage, while the Defendant had a visitor at his house."
If any of the three women tried to escape, the memo said, Castro would assault her and force the other two to watch. He sexually abused the women on a regular basis, according to the memo, and when one of these assaults resulted in Knight becoming pregnant, Castro starved and beat her in a successful attempt to terminate the pregnancy. That formed the basis of the aggravated murder charge to which Castro pleaded guilty.
Berry gave birth to her child in captivity without any medical care.
The women suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from their prolonged torment, Dr. Frank Ochberg, a clinical psychologist who is an expert on post-traumatic stress disorder, said on Thursday.
All three endured “repeated episodes that were terrifying, the kind of trauma that we meant when we define the post-traumatic stress disorder,” Ochberg said. “The kind of trauma that you don't escape for years and sometimes for a lifetime.”
“You are being infantilized, then little by little you're given what it takes to survive,” Ochberg said. “You deny that this is the person who did all of this to me, and you start to feel as you did as a little baby, with your mother.”
Michelle Knight, one of the Cleveland kidnapping victims, smiles widely as Judge Russo sentences her captor Ariel Castro to life in prison without parole.
The women survived in part because of extraordinary, and simple, acts of human kindness between them, the doctor said, even if they will never be entirely free of the damage done them by Castro.
Knight, he said, is “an extraordinary human being. She served as doctor, nurse, pediatrician midwife …. She's a very courageous and heroic individual.”
"Little by little, you are allowed 'the gifts of life,'" Ochberg wrote. "You are like an infant, totally dependent on your mother for survival. As you receive these gifts of life, without consciously realizing what is occurring, you feel some warmth — even love — toward that life giver."
Castro's son Anthony Castro told the TODAY show on Monday that he did not think he would visit his father in prison.
“I think that if he really can't control his impulses and he really doesn't have any value for human life, the way this case has shown, then behind bars is where he belongs for the rest of his life,” the son said. “I have nothing to say to him.”
Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts including rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder. Prosecutors dropped 40 more counts that were considered redundant.
"A person can only die in prison once," the judge noted on Thursday after imposing Castro's sentence.
Laura Whitehurst: 7 similar cases and punishments for teachers who had sex with students
Washington Mary Kay Letourneau
Served more than seven years in prison for a sexual relationship with her teenage student. The two eventually got married and had two children together. - Pennsylvania. Abbie Jane Swogger, 34-year-old teacher's aide suspected of having sex parties and admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old boy, accepted a 3- to 6-year jail term that included a 36-year probation.
Florida. Adrienne Laflamme, a 60-year-old science teacher.
Worked at a juvenile detention center, had an affair with a teen student. She was sentenced to two years in prison.
South Carolina. Allenna Ward, a 24-year-old middle school teacher.
Had sex with at least five boys that were 13 and 14 years old, was sentenced to six years in prison.
Massachusetts. Amber Jennings
She was initially charged with having sex with a 16-year-old but only admitted to e-mailing naked photos of herself to a former student. She received no jail time, only two years of probation after pleading guilty.
New Jersey. Christina Gallagher, 26.
She was ordered to pay more than $1,000 in fines and register as a sex offender but did not receive any jail time for having sex with a 17-year-old student.
Ohio. Christine Scarlett, a 36-year-old English teacher.
She had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student and eventually gave birth to the boy's son. Scarlett was fired from her job but was never charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
California. Joan Marie Sladky, 28.
She was sentenced to six months in county jail for having sex with a 16-year-old student. The Spanish teacher pleaded no contest to four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation and penetration with a foreign object.
I Loved a Paedophile
by Dr Lisa Turner
“I loved a Paedophile, the seduction, abduction and liberation of a life” is the story of how I was groomed by a paedophile from the age of 12, abducted at 15 and kept as a virtual house prisoner for 5 years until I finally found the strength to escape and start a new life.
The book shows in detail exactly how paedophiles groom their victims, and, contrary to what most people think, they don't target the vulnerable, it's much more subtle than that. I also show how relationships become abusive, slowly, over time. So what starts out feeling like love can result in you waking up one day, looking around at your life and wondering how it got to be like this.
It's the very intimate story of my experiences. But unlike many of the “misery lit” books, this is a more considered account. Rather than labelling myself as a victim or survivor, and my abuser as a monster, I explain the complexities of how such a situation could come about.
My intention was to show exactly how paedophiles really groom their victims. It's an essential read for parents, teachers and for anyone who has found themselves in an abusive relationship and wondered how they got there.
The book is available on amazon now.
What is your first recollection of the abuse?
That's a difficult question to answer because he did such a great job of grooming me and seducing me that at the time I was very willing and even thought I wanted it. I think many people assume that abuse happens with the abuser forcing the victim, but in many cases it just doesn't happen like that.
In my situation he didn't need to use force, instead he controlled my mind so I believed I was a willing participant. It wasn't until years later I realised just how manipulative it all was.
It wasn't until after he had been “seducing” and hypnotising me for months that the relationship became sexual. I was only 13 when he got me to masturbate him to orgasm. Later he attempted penetrative sex but it wasn't possible, so instead he trained me how to give him oral sex just how he liked it. He eventually managed to take my virginity when I was 14, but I didn't think of it as abuse at the time. I thought I was in love! It wasn't until much later I realised how abusive and damaging the relationship was.
At what point did you realise that you needed to escape the life you were living?
I had been living with him for over 4 years and under his influence for much longer than that. Being told how hateful and rubbish I was every day, I had begun to believe it. By now I was self-harming regularly, my self-esteem was shattered and I had no self-confidence.
One night he shut me in the spare room at the back of the flat. It was cold and I sat on the floor leaning, leaning against the wall. I was filled with emotional pain and torment. I could hardly breathe for the pain. In the pain of the self-hatred, the shame, the utter despair, the helplessness, I started to beg silently for help.
Please someone, anyone, help me. Please help me. Someone must come and help me. Someone must be able to see this.
Please someone help me. Please help me. Someone must come and help me.
Then I hear a voice. I'm alone in the room, yet clear as day I heard a voice.
It screamed at me, “NO ONE IS COMING!”
In that moment I felt utterly alone.
The words sink in.
I'm in this alone.
No one will ever come and help me escape.
But only seconds later I realised if no one is coming, then I need to get myself out. And I did.
Please tell us about some of the ways your teacher groomed your family.
He did it slowly, over a long time, over 2 years. He became a family friend who was at all our social events. He would help mum and dad out when they travelled and pick me up and drop me off from choir practice when they had work commitments.
Grooming is all about flattery and separation. They say and do things that make you feel special, and it was the same with my parents. He would tell them how talented I was, what a great kid I was, what amazing parents they were for me to turn out so amazing.
After years of this he won their complete trust. They believed he was good for me!
What is the most common question you get asked from people about your abuse?
There are a few really common ones which are…
How did it start?
What did your parents think?
Why didn't you just leave if it was so bad?
How did you get out?
Sometimes people ask me why I didn't prosecute, but once they've read the book they understand. If asked, I explain that it's not a good use of my energy. I would rather educate people so they know how to prevent it happening to anyone ever again, rather than chase one single person. Why chase a single fly in the room full of them, when it's better to shut the window so they can't get in?
Please tell us a bit about your emotional resilience programme.
I put this completely free online programme together to help anyone who is in emotional pain or has been in an abusive relationship.
Because I know that it is completely possible to recover and wanted to bust a few myths about what the best way to do that is, I decided to put this programme together to show what's possible and how to recover from abuse.
When you sign up you get an e-mail from me every few days. Each message has something valuable that will help, it might be an exercise to do, something to think about, a quiz, some useful tips and techniques on how to handle bullies, how to bounce back from emotional setbacks, you get knocked down, and most importantly what works and what doesn't work. We get fantastic feedback from it. Those who have gone through it have made big strides in taking back control over their life. It really does work!
What was your lowest point?
There are so many that it's hard to say what the lowest point was. Probably the most painful ones were the sexual and emotional abuse that I experienced.
Most people think that sexual abuse is rape or violent sex, and although he certainly did that, it's also much more subtle. As I grew older and looked less and less like a child and more and more like an adult he would refuse to have sex with me. He would say how disgusting I was. For me (and many other women I've worked with) that can almost be worse than being raped. When you're in an abusive relationship you crave their love. If you don't get their love, you'll settle for attention, even if it's abusive. Being rejected can be devastating. It's all part of complex abusive relationships that lead to something called “Stockholm syndrome” (which I was diagnosed as having). With Stockholm syndrome, the victim interprets “not being hurt” as being loved.
Constant emotional torture led to so much emotional pain. The worst of which was that time when I was shut in the spare room, I was in so much emotional pain that I was self-harming just so I could feel like I was in control of the pain.
It was when I hit rock bottom that I finally decided to climb out by myself. It was in that moment when I stopped waiting for someone else to rescue me that I took back control of my life.
What were your starting blocks to make a success of yourself when you had escaped your teacher?
Recovery doesn't end when you leave an abusive relationship. That's when it begins. In the years following my escape I was in so much emotional pain that everything was difficult. I was agoraphobic, terrified of men, I self-harmed and was bulimic. Life was hard, and it seemed like I had my own personal rain cloud sprinkling me with bad luck, bullies, and problems.
But everything starts with a decision. Following a car accident, where I was thrown from my bike, and broke most of the bones in the right side of my body, I made the decision that was going to figure out how to make my life work so that I could be happy again.
Once I'd made the decision I began a quest to recover and release the pain that I constantly felt. I tried numerous therapies and personal development programs. As a scientist I treated it like an experiment. I tried something and noted if it worked.
During my exploration I discovered the shocking truth that most mainstream therapies out there have almost no long term effects, and some can even make things worse. As a result I developed a process that enables anyone to release their emotional pain. It actually releases the problem and emotions from the neurology and uses the brains natural processes which install a problem in the first place to remove it. It works in 95% of cases.
What is a normal day like in your world now?
One of the best things about my life is that every day really is my “ideal day”
I get my daughter ready for school, go to the gym. I might deliver a group coaching call to clients all over the world, or speak to one to one to a client on my VIP programme. Some days I will have a call with my team. The business is entirely virtual so we meet on the phone or use an online meeting system. It's really cool.
Some days I'll be running a workshop and get to train my brilliant students who are learning how to work with clients and become professional coaches and therapists themselves. Some come on the course to train to help others, some just to heal themselves.
I usually finish work about 4.00 so I can spend time with my daughter. I love to cook and bake so we usually get together in the kitchen and make something, often a mess!
What is next for you?
I'm planning the launch of the paper copy which will be in November.
I've started writing the next book in the series, which will be on how to recover from abuse. The series will include a future book just for parents so they know what to look out for when your child is being groomed by a paedophile, how to prevent it, and how to get them free if they are already trapped in the relationship.
There will also be one for teachers as well. That one will help them handle situations where they find themselves being attracted to their students and give guidelines on what to do about it and how to help colleagues who have got into that situation too. The current training, guidelines and support for teachers is abysmal and not only doesn't help, but is actually making it worse.
Dr Lisa Turner, author of “I loved a Paedophile” is a certified Trainer of NLP, Time Line Therapy, Hypnosis and NLPCoaching. She has pioneered emotional release techniques which she trains coaches to use.
Malware alert while seeking child abuse images at work earns US man 5 years in jail
by John Hawes
A five-year jail term has been handed to a US man found downloading and watching child abuse imagery at work.
Investigators at the Seattle branch of the Social Security Administration where he worked were apparently alerted to his activities when his company computer was hit by a malware attack.
Thomas J. Barrett, 50, of Lynnwood, WA, seems to have been seriously addicted to grotesque photos and videos of underage girls being assaulted, with over 3,700 items found on his system.
In between browsing for fresh material for his collection, he also researched possible penalties for such activities, and alternated between porn and work time to keep his habits from his colleagues, indicating at least some awareness of just how wrong his behaviour was.
On one of his trawls through the seedier side of the web, a malware alert brought administrators' attention to what was going on, and subsequent investigations included setting up a spy camera monitoring his workstation.
The investigators were then exposed to the unedifying sight of Barrett "fondling himself" at his desk. He was arrested in January, but remains free on bail until his sentence comes into force.
Barrett's defense team claimed his time in the US Army sparked his addiction, with a visit to Europe opening an "evil door" in his delicate mind.
This is the second time in as many weeks that we've reported on malware playing a significant part in bringing paedophiles to book.
Before anyone gets the wrong idea, there's nothing noble about being a malware author or purveyor; it's still a nasty and criminal business, just perhaps not quite as nasty as these chaps.
City attorney resigns amid pressure to drop child case
by Mark Matthews
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- The city attorney of Walnut Creek says he resigned because he was being pressured by the council to drop a child abuse investigation. One of his top assistants has also stepped down. And now, the Walnut Creek City Council is ducking for cover.
Every member of the Walnut Creek City Council refused our request for an on the record interview Wednesday. They don't want to talk publicly about the resignation of city attorney Bryan Wenter. Wenter himself declined our request as did his assistant Katy Wisinski.
But we know their leaving is tied to the investigation into child sex abuse charges leveled against an employee of Walnut Creek's Lesher Center.
Jason Pedroza was charged in February with two felonies connected to text and Facebook messages he sent to teenaged girls.
Four city employees, including the human resources manager, were put on administrative leave while police and the city attorney looked into who knew about the suspected abuse and who might've failed to report it.
In an email to city staff, the city attorney wrote that he was pressured to drop the investigation when it appeared that it would reach up the chain at city hall.
Mayor Cindy Silva and Councilman Bob Simmons told the Contra Costa Times that the meeting took place but they denied trying to pressure the city attorney.
The four employees were allowed to return to their jobs. An investigation found that they acted appropriately over all.
But in a confidential report, an investigator found the four employees had not been trained that they were required to report suspected child abuse. The report also says the city manager knew of the abuse allegations but did not notify the police chief or other members of the Walnut Creek police.
"Anyone who supervises a program is required to report suspected child abuse," said Carol Carrillo, Executive Director of the Child Abuse Prevention Council.
Carrillo says her organization is now providing instruction to the city of Walnut Creek. News that the city attorney is resigning because he felt pressured to drop an investigation is troubling.
"This issue is frustrating for us in terms of raising awareness of the issue of child abuse and making sure that people report suspected child abuse," Carrillo said. "So every day we struggle with the issue yes."
On Wednesday, everyone directly involved in this case including the council, the chief of police, and the city attorney himself were all unwilling to talk publicly about it.
Next council meeting is set for Tuesday August 6.
Guest Commentary: There is help for victims of abuse, crime
The following guest commentary was written by Dena Sydow, marketing and communications director for the Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan.
Someone knowingly hurt you, chose to perpetrate a crime against you and victimize you. Those on the receiving end of a crime may experience new and confusing feelings and emotions such as fear, insecurity, vulnerability, humiliation, guilt, rage or despair.
Although survivors may also feel alone in the aftermath of crime, they are not.
During 2011, there were 5.8 million violent crime victimizations in the U.S., according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice . The study also indicates violent victimizations increased 18 percent from 2010 to 2011. The violent crimes measured include rape, sexual assault, domestic/intimate partner violence, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault; as well as burglary, theft and personal larceny.
The response to crime victimization is individualized. The Federal Bureau of Investigations website describes responses to trauma this way: "Being a victim of a crime can be a very difficult and stressful experience. While most people are naturally resilient and over time will find ways to cope and adjust, there can be a wide range of after effects to a trauma. One person may experience many of the effects, a few, or none at all. Not everyone has the same reaction. In some people the reaction may be delayed days, weeks, or even months."
Help is available for survivors of crime. Locally, the Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan provides free counseling and support for current and past survivors of any crime, regardless of gender. Master's level, trained and licensed therapists provide crisis counseling, individual counseling, support groups, trauma therapy, play therapy for children, advocacy, safety planning, resources and referrals.
Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan therapists have specialized training and experience in providing supportive services to survivors of crime. For example, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy helps alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress and provides a way to process distressing memories and their lingering effects.
Therapists provide advocacy and support to assist survivors and their families through the legal process that often follows violent crimes. They also provide assistance to crime victims with how to file for crime victim compensation.
Michigan's Crime Victim Compensation Program, which is overseen by the Michigan Department of Community Health, was established to provide financial assistance to innocent persons who receive bodily injury from the commission of a crime in Michigan and who incur un-reimbursable financial losses as a result of the injury.
Fund dollars come from criminal fines, forfeited bail, penalties, and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys' Offices, U.S. Federal Courts, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Free counseling and support services through the Women's Resource Center are provided to any crime victim, including survivors of robbery, hate crimes, elder abuse, economic exploitation/fraud, DUI/DWI crashes, domestic abuse, sexual assault, child abuse, child sexual assault and abuse and survivors of homicide victims. This free service is also extended to past survivors of crime, such as adults who were molested as children.
Women's Center counseling services are provided at four locations in Northern Lower Michigan: 423 Porter St., Petoskey; 825 South Huron St., Suite 2, Cheboygan; 95 Livingston Boulevard, Gaylord; and 205 Grove St., Mancelona.
Anyone can become a victim of a crime. If it happens to you, know you are not alone. To learn more about free counseling and support services, call the Women's Resource Center administrative office at (231) 347-0067.
Religious order files reveal decades of LA abuse
by GILLIAN FLACCUS
LOS ANGELES—Hundreds of pages of secret church files released Wednesday shed light on the troublesome careers of a dozen religious order priests, brothers and nuns accused of sexually abusing children while working in the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese.
The files include one case of a priest who later admitted to having sexual contact with more than 100 boys while serving in several Southern California parishes for years.
The papers, which were released under the terms of a $660 million settlement agreement reached in 2007, are the first glimpse at what religious orders knew about the envoys they posted in Roman Catholic schools and parishes around the Los Angeles area. The archdiocese itself released thousands of pages under court order this year for its own priests who were accused of sexual abuse, but the full picture of sex abuse in Los Angeles remained elusive without the religious orders' records.
Several dozen more files are expected to be released by the fall.
The files cover five different religious orders that employed 10 priests or religious brothers and two nuns who were all accused in civil lawsuits of molesting children while working within the Los Angeles archdiocese. Among them, the accused had 21 alleged victims who alleged abuse between the 1950s and the 1980s.
The files include more than 500 pages on a priest named Ruben Martinez who belonged to a religious order called the U.S. Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a nearly 200-year-old Catholic organization with roots in France. The Los Angeles archdiocese settled eight lawsuits over Martinez's actions in 2007, but had little documentation on him in its own files even though the priest worked in its parishes for years in the 1970s and 1980s.
For those who allege abuse by Martinez, the documents provide validation and reveal the years of effort his order spent trying to cure him of his pedophilia as it shuttled him between programs, including inpatient treatment, and paid for decades of therapy. Martinez also marched in a gay pride parade while serving as a priest and enrolled in a counseling program for people with sexual compulsions.
Some of the other files unsealed Wednesday, including those of the nuns, don't mention sexual abuse at all and others appear to have large gaps in time and missing documents. The release included files from the Oblates, the Marianists, the Benedictines and two orders for religious sisters.
One nun, Sister Mary Joseph, belonged to a small Catholic order called the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Joseph was accused after her death and the order found nothing to substantiate the claims, said Sister Barbara Anne Stowasser, a spokeswoman for the order.
The fact that the files don't reflect the abuse reported in civil lawsuits doesn't mean it didn't happen, said Ray Boucher, the lead plaintiff attorney coordinating the release.
"Much of this went unreported. You're talking about kids that were terrorized and frightened in so many different ways, with no place and no one to turn to," he said.
Martinez's file is among the most complete and paints a devastating picture of a troubled and repressed child who later joined the priesthood to satisfy a domineering and devout father. Martinez, a twin and one of nine children, grew up in the same working-class city south of Los Angeles where he is accused of later molesting children when he was posted there as a priest. Martinez also admitted in therapy to molesting his younger brother as a child, the documents show.
When he arrived in his hometown parish in 1972, he immediately began molesting children, recalled one man who sued over Martinez's abuse. The man, now 50, requested anonymity because he is well-known in his professional life and has not spoken publicly about his case before. The AP does not publish the names of victims of sexual abuse without their consent.
"We were into wrestling characters on television and what he would do is he would have us wrestle each other and then wrestle with him, which means we'd get down into our skivvies and he'd take pictures of us. He was always taking pictures," the man said. "I just remember the smell of the old Polaroid flash cubes. He would go through them like crazy."
The man received a settlement in 2007, and Martinez was never charged criminally, in part because his alleged abuses weren't reported until years later.
The man said Martinez always had a group of young boys around him and would take them to see R-rated movies and on group trips. One summer day, he recalled, the priest took six boys to a local amusement park, but stopped on the way at an apartment where another man lived. Martinez and the man went inside with one of the boys and left the other five in a hot car for several hours. When the trio came back, the boy was sobbing and didn't stop for hours.
"A lot of us kind of knew what had happened to him," he recalled.
Martinez, now 72, was removed from active parish ministry in 1993 and has a most recent address at the Oblate Mission House in Oakland. No one answered the door there and a call was not returned. His file, however, shows he was sent to a Missouri retreat home for priests in 2005. A receptionist there said Wednesday she could not confirm or deny his presence there and he did not return a message left with her.
Calls to the U.S. Province of the Oblates and emails to two attorneys representing Martinez and the three other Oblate priests whose files were released were also not returned.
Attorneys for the Benedictines and Marianists and a representative from the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus also did not return calls.
Carolina Guevara, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles archdiocese, did not address the current file release specifically but said religious orders are expected to make sure the priests they present for ministry in the archdiocese don't have any history of sex abuse.
In a 2005 psychiatric assessment, done after Martinez was caught looking at suggestive photos of boys on the Internet, the priest said he hadn't had sexual contact with a child in 23 years and had learned to control his impulses.
"It has not been easy to face what I did, to admit it and to talk about it with others," he wrote to his superior the following year. "I have had to deal with depression, self-hatred, the inability and unwillingness to forgive myself, and the desire and tendency to isolate."
But Martinez's file reveals that church authorities had cause to doubt the priest's self-control.
In psychological reports, the priest admits to molesting children beginning almost with his first assignment in 1970, when he began playing "giddy up" games with young boys on his lap. He stopped "direct sexual contact" with boys after a mother complained to his pastor in 1982 and stopped touching boys altogether after another complaint in 1986.
It's unclear whether his religious order or the archdiocese was aware of those complaints, but around that time Martinez began weekly therapy sessions. He entered a counseling program for people with sexual compulsions in 1986 and joined a gay pride group.
He later received inpatient treatment and was enrolled in a sex offender program after another complaint surfaced from his past. In 2003, he was moved to the Oblates' offices in Washington, D.C. where he worked at the switchboard answering phones and in the archives.
Yet even there, Martinez ran into trouble: Within months, he was reprimanded for making off-color, sexual jokes that offended several women and, later, for looking at sexually suggestive pictures of young boys on the Internet and downloading a disk filled with "references to topics dealing with the gay lifestyle," according to the file.
"I don't know who else has time to monitor him, or to what 'safe' place we could assign him," the Rev. Charles Banks, the vicar provincial and director of personnel for the Oblates wrote in an exasperated memo.
Child abuse linked to thyroid disorders in women
U. TORONTO (CAN) — Even after adjusting for 14 potential explanatory factors, including daily stress, smoking, and alcohol abuse, women who had been physically abused in childhood had 40 percent higher odds of thyroid disorders than women who were not abused.
Being physically abused as a child raises a woman's odds of developing a thyroid disorder by as much as 40 percent.
“We found a significant association with thyroid disorders for women, who were abused during childhood,” says Esme Fuller Thomson, professor of social work at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study that details the findings.
“We originally thought the link would be explained by factors such as daily stress, smoking, or alcohol abuse—characteristics associated with both childhood physical abuse and thyroid disorders.
“But even after adjusting for 14 potential explanatory factors, women who had been physically abused in childhood had 40 percent higher odds of thyroid disorders than their non-abused peers.”
“Earlier research had established that childhood sexual abuse is associated with thyroid disorders, our work suggests that another early life stressor, childhood physical abuse, is also related to thyroid dysfunction,” says co-author Farrah Kao, a graduate of the masters of social work program.
For the study, published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma, researchers used data from a representative community sample of 13,070 adult Canadians.
More than 1,000 reported being physically abused by someone close to them before they turned 18 and 906 said they had been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder by a health professional.
“The enduring effects of childhood maltreatment may be due to the way early traumas change the way an individual reacts to stress throughout life,” says co-author Loriena Yancura, associate professor of family and consumer sciences at the University of Hawaii.
“One important avenue for future research is to investigate potential dysfunctions in the production of the ‘fight or flight' hormone, cortisol, among survivors of abuse.”
Straight from the Source -- Read the original study
Kentucky officials justify withholding details of child-abuse cases
Some of the children were killed, while others were left severely injured — shaken, beaten, neglected at the hands of parents or others charged with their care.
Their deaths or injuries are reported in detail in files kept by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which investigated the abuse or neglect they suffered. And for the past three days, officials with the cabinet, including social workers, testified about why some of the details, including in some cases the name of the abuser, should be kept from the public.
The hearing in Frankfort Circuit Court was the latest in an on-going legal battle between the Cabinet, which has fought releasing the case files, and the state's two largest newspapers. The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald Leader both filed open-records requests seeking the files of those children killed or severely injured by abuse or neglect.
The Cabinet denied the records and the case ended up in court. Last year, the Cabinet began releasing files, but redacted information officials argue protects the privacy of those involved, including in some cases people charged criminally or found to have perpetrated abuse.
Since Monday, Cabinet officials have argued that protecting the children and families involved in the case should be the primary concern.
“These aren't just cases,” said Teresa James, commissioner of the Department of Community Based Services, which oversees abuse investigations. “These are little bitty vulnerable people.”
James explained that the Cabinet developed a protocol on what to take out of files released to the public and applied it to each of the 140 cases involved in the lawsuit. Those redactions include the names of all children mentioned, all adults who were not involved in the abuse, all unsubstantiated prior reports of abuse and other details.
In many cases, the files contain documents, such as court records, newspaper articles, and police reports, that are available to the public. Attorneys for the newspapers argued that since information is already out there in the public, they should not be protected by the Cabinet.
Jon Fleischaker, an attorney for The Courier-Journal, said he believes that the newspapers illustrated their point in the three-day hearing and feel confident Judge Phillip Shepherd understands that the files were “severely over-redacted.”
Fleischaker said the newspapers want to ensure that “there is enough information made public so that the public can make a determination on what went wrong ... where we could do better” in protecting children.
Throughout the hearing Judge Phillip Shepherd, who had previously ordered the Cabinet to release the records, asked questions of the Cabinet, asking officials how they strike a balance between protecting children and the public's right to know what a public agency is doing in response to abuse.
Shepherd will now take written arguments from the parties to consider before issuing a ruling on whether the Cabinet has removed too much information from the files.
Before court concluded Wednesday, he told Cabinet attorneys that he was struggling to understand how they could make some of the redactions to public documents found in its files.
“That could be interpreted as an effort to obstruct public access to information that's publicly available,” Shepherd said, saying that he did not believe it showed “good faith.”
Shepherd did not give a time table for making his decision in the case.
Attorneys for the newspapers asked James questions all day Wednesday about specific cases, asking about why information was removed.
In one case, the 2010 death of 4-month-old Rafe Calvert, James acknowledged that there were errors made in investigating the case. She also said that just last week, the case was reclassified based on the autopsy, which had never been obtained by the Cabinet until preparation for this hearing.
Rafe, who had been born premature, died while sleeping at home in Jefferson County, and the cause of death was never determined. The Cabinet had substantiated medical neglect by Rafe's parents, both of whose names were taken out of the file. Rafe had missed several medical appointments, prompting a healthcare worker to report suspected neglect to the Cabinet.
But records show the Cabinet did not respond to the report until several days later and then learned that Rafe had died. And it wasn't until last week that the Cabinet got the autopsy report and changed the finding in Rafe's death, saying while there was medical neglect there was no neglect tied to the baby's death.
Shepherd raised questions about that situation, because now the case would not be considered a death due to neglect and would no longer be considered an open record under Shepherd's ruling.
“I don't understand that the Cabinet doesn't take the position to assume that it's connected,“" Shepherd said.
Neeson fronts child abuse campaign
Liam Neeson has helped highlight what he calls the largely "invisible" global scourge of violence against children.
The UNICEF video shows scenes that hint at a child's suffering - a fallen bicycle in an alleyway, a broken glass in a kitchen.
The Irish actor says in the video: "This is a 15-year-old girl being gang raped... And here a toddler is being hit by his mother for breaking a glass."
The Schindler's List star, 61, is the goodwill ambassador for the United Nations' children's agency.
Unicef said its initiative "builds on growing popular outrage" over the fatal shooting of 26 children and teaching staff in Newtown, Connecticut, the 2012 shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan and gang rapes of girls in India and South Africa.
New Guidelines for Evaluating Suspected Child Sexual Abuse
by Jenni Laidman
Child sexual abuse is common, and pediatricians must know how to respond to it, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The guidelines, published online July 29 in Pediatrics , reiterate the physician's legal obligation to report abuse to the proper law enforcement or child protection agency.
They also provide recommendations on how to talk to parents, how to interview children, what to include in the medical record, and what to cover during a physical examination of the child, as well as when tests should be ordered and, what tests to order, and how to protect the child's mental and emotional well-being. In addition, the guidelines emphasize the need for physicians to know what expert help is available in the community.
Pediatricians should approach every concern about possible child sexual abuse "objectively, thoughtfully, and with an open mind," write authors Carole Jenny, MD, MBA, professor of pediatrics at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues on the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.
When the issue of possible child sexual abuse arises during an office visit, physicians need to resolve 5 important issues, the authors write:
The pediatrician must determine whether the child is at any risk for additional harm if he or she returns home. If the child may be put at risk, this constitutes a child protection emergency, and child protective services or law enforcement should be contacted at once.
In the absence of imminent risk, the physician needs to determine if there is evidence of suspected abuse that would require him or her to contact law enforcement or child protection. "The threshold for reporting is low," the authors write. "The pediatrician should report when there is a reasonable suspicion the child was abused." It is up to the child protective agencies to conduct a thorough investigation to make a final determination of abuse.
The pediatrician should also assess the child for possible mental health problems and seek emergency mental healthcare for the child, who may suffer posttraumatic stress disorder and depression or who may be the focus of family anger because of the disclosure.
Pediatricians need to perform a thorough physical examination to determine whether the child has been injured, although an exam may be deferred if the suspected abuse was in the distant past and the child is without symptoms.
Finally, if the abuse was recent and involved exchange of bodily fluids, the child should be immediately referred to those capable of gathering forensic evidence, such as a specialty clinic or an emergency department. Many states require such evidence be collected if the suspected abuse occurred in the last 72 hours, although the rise of DNA testing may extend the value of forensic evidence even beyond 72 hours.
Of Homosexuals, Pedophiles, and Differences
by Harry Maryles
I was just sent a link to a blog called Together We Heal (TWH). This is a website whose stated purpose ‘is for any who suffered the trauma of Child Sexual Abuse. Provide a safe forum, educate any seeking info and expose the predators methods' .
What I read there was both shocking and yet hard to dispute. And yet I'm sure it will anger, survivors of abuse, their advocates, and the homosexual community.
The thrust of this article is that there is a movement among professional psychologists to stop calling pedophilia an illness, and to refer to it as simply a sexual orientation. We are after all dealing with a sexual orientation that is virtually impossible to change. Just like same sex attraction (SSA). SSA was once considered a mental disorder. That changed in the 70s when the APA redefined it. Which of course change the entire culture of homosexuality from one of shame to one of pride. Homosexuals who once hid their orientation are now so accepted that gay marriages are being performed by some clergy.
Now before anyone wants to come over here and shoot me, I am not saying that there aren't very important differences. Leaving religious issues aside, homosexual sex between two consenting adults is a lot different from sex between an adult and a minor. By definition there is no such thing consenting adults when it comes to pedophilia. When an adult has sex with a minor it has been amply demonstrated that the effects on the minor will have lifelong devastating consequences.
For Orthodox Jews, more often than not that includes going OTD. But even worse - many victims drop out of society completely, some end up in the streets; some as alcoholics or drug users; and some even commit suicide. How many times have I read a survivor story about how well adjusted, productive, and studious he (or she) was prior to the abuse, only to become rebellious, unproductive scholastically, and eventually drop out of everything afterwards. There seems to be an almost endless stream of reports from survivors with stories like that.
Which makes something I wasn't aware of quite shocking. From the article:
In 1998 The APA issued a report claiming “that the ‘negative potential' of adult sex with children was ‘overstated' and that ‘the vast majority of both men and women reported no negative sexual effects from childhood sexual abuse experiences.”
Does this not fly in the face of everything we know about child sexual abuse?! This report is not a layman's report. It is not Satmar, Agudah, or Lakewood saying this. It is the report of a professional organization that studies these things. The same one that changed homosexuality from a mental illness into a sexual orientation; an organization whose many members treat victims of sex abuse successfully! And it came out 15 years ago! I have never seen it quoted until now. I am unaware of any APA report to the contrary. And yet every professional and every survivor I have ever spoken to or seen quoted on this subject says the exact opposite! I tend to agree with the survivors and the experts I've spoken to. What is going on here?
Getting back to pedophilia as a sexual orientation – just like heterosexuality or homosexuality, I can obviously see the danger in equating pedophiles to homosexuals to heterosexuals. Whatever one may say about these three groups of people religiously, I don't think there can be any doubt that their sexual orientation cannot be changed. Nor can there be any doubt about the vastly different consequences of sex between 2 consenting adults - and the consequences of sex between a child and an adult.
The question becomes how we judge people whose sexual orientation is different from the vast majority of us that are heterosexual… and whose sexual orientation cannot be changed? Do we say judge the sin and not the sinner? That is certainly the religious way to look at it. Pope Francis just yesterday said basically that about homosexuals to a shocked media. They shouldn't be shocked. That was always the view of the Catholic Church. But it is the view of Judaism too. Who are we to judge others by who - or what - they are sexually attracted to?
At the same time, the effects of succumbing to one type of predilection are the polar opposite of the effects of succumbing to another predilection. It is also virtually impossible to live a life of complete celibacy. When homosexuals have sex in biblically forbidden ways, we can condemn the behavior from a religious perspective. But we can also understand that from a humanistic perspective, there is no psychological harm being done to anyone.
But a non celibate pedophile is a horse of an entirely different color. How can we judge only the sin and not the sinner in that case? Even if he can't help himself? And view him as just having an alternative sexual orientation?
Here are the things for us to consider. Does saying that pedophiles should no longer to be considered mentally ill change anything? Does the 1998 APA report saying that the vast majority of victims report no negative sexual effects from child sex abuse change anything? How does this impact the original APA decision to redefine homosexuality from a mental disorder into an alternative lifestyle? And finally, how do homosexuals and survivors of child sex abuse and their advocates feel about all of this?
More child sex charges for West Chester foster dad
WEST CHESTER, Pa. - July 31, 2013 (WPVI) -- A West Chester man who served as a foster father to dozens of children over the years, and was charged with child sex assault back in June, now faces more charges.
Leroy Mitchell, 60, formerly of West Strasburg Road in West Bradford Township and Brandywine Drive in Newlin Township, was charged with abusing five additional children, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced on Wednesday.
Of the new victims, one dates back to 1966, when the victim was five years old and Mitchell was in his teens.
Three of the victims are Mitchell's former foster children, Hogan said, and their ages ranges from three to ten years old.
Hogan went on to say that, for one victim, Mitchell gave lollipops to "reward" her after the sexual abuse. For another victim, Mitchell allegedly gave a milkshake as part of the sexual abuse, and promised to take the victim to McDonald's on other occasions.
Mitchell is charged with multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, and related charges.
Mitchell was previously charged with sexually abusing two children. Those victims were between the ages of seven and nine at the time of the assaults.
Mitchell and his wife were foster parents to over 50 children throughout the years, Hogan said, served as a girls' softball coach for the Unionville Recreation Association and was a former prison lieutenant.
"For the last 40 years, the defendant built his life around getting access to children in order to sexually abuse them. His job, his family life, and his coaching activities were part of an act to lure children to him," Hogan said in a written statement. "The defendant was a wolf in sheep's clothing."
As the investigation continues, police are looking for more victims in this case. Photos of Mitchell from his current age and from when he was 18 years younger were released to help jog the memories of anyone who might be involved.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Brodeur at (610) 486-6280 or Chester County Detective James Ciliberto at (610) 344-6866.
What to do if your child has been sexually abused
by China Hill
In our highly-sexualized society, children are being exposed to sex and sexual contact at an early age. Although the media is saturated with sexual content, peers and adults around children also influence how long they maintain their innocence. Sadly, some peers and adults make sexually suggestive comments and perform sexual gestures and acts toward children for their own stimulation.
Such incidents define child sexual molestation and abuse. If you think it is highly unlikely for your child to become a victim of child sexual abuse, meditate on the statistics reported by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Research shows that one of four girls and one of six boys will be sexually abused in some form by the age of 18. Statistics also show that most child sexual abuse incidents are perpetrated by an acquaintance, such as an uncle or aunt, stepfather or stepmother, and 23 percent of reported child sexual abuse is committed by individuals under the age of 18, such as the older brother or sister of your child's best friend.
Experiencing sexual abuse can be extremely traumatic for any child, and the trauma can lead to effects, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Other symptoms include eating irregularities, fear of being alone with particular individuals or those of a certain gender, and self-destructive and risk-taking behaviors. For some children, signs and symptoms of sexual abuse never manifest. That is why it is important to talk with your children about sexual abuse. And if your child discloses abuse, use the tips below to help you help your child get through it.
The most important thing you can do when your child discloses that he or she has been sexually assaulted is react—calmly. Admitting being sexually abused takes a great deal of courage, desperation, and/or trust on the child's part, so you must be able to meet your child with the sense of calm that they expect after carrying around such a weighty ordeal. After your child discloses, remember to mitigate your own outrage by focusing on your child. First make affirming statements, such as "You did the right thing by telling me," and "I believe you." If you want to hear all the facts, say, "Tell me as much as you can remember." instead of something like "What did you do before your uncle…" Many children fear telling because they do not think anyone will believe them, so asking such questions will cause your child to think that he or she did something wrong. Children also may not disclose because they do not want the perpetrator to get hurt (especially if it is a close friend or family member), so be sure to keep your questions non-judgmental and your comments violence-free.
Remember to protect your child. For example, don't ever have the perpetrator in the same room to confirm or deny your child's accusations. Not only will it make your child think his or her story in unbelievable, it will also re-torment your child, who may have been threatened by the perpetrator not to tell. Also, remember to enlist the help of more knowledgeable and experienced professionals when helping your child recover. You do not have to handle this alone. You may enlist the help of a hospital, the police (call 911), or community service agency to deal with such an ordeal. Protective authorities might ask that you take your child to a hospital for an examination, depending upon the severity of the incident or how current the incident took place, or they may provide you with resources that will help you and your child with the incident.
Be proactive (against future abuse)
Finally, be proactive by finding ways to prevent the abuse from happening again. For example, create a safety plan for your abused child, a plan that you and your child can use to prevent abuse from reoccurring. It is important that your child have input on this plan, especially since their control and trust has been weakened due to the sexual abuse. Ask for your child's opinions in all future decision-making regarding their safety.
Social workers say releasing full details of child-abuse deaths would harm families
by Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Child-protection workers told a Franklin Circuit Court judge Tuesday they feared people would not report child abuse and children would be psychologically scarred if uncensored social-worker case files were released to the public.
Angela Taylor, a 19-year social work veteran, testified Tuesday about documents regarding the August 2009 death of Gaige Pyles, a 7-month-old Kenton County boy whose father was convicted in his death. Gaige had several half-siblings who may not know all of the details of his death, Taylor said.
"I am worried about them reading about this case in the news," Taylor said.
Taylor was one of a half dozen state social workers who testified Tuesday during a multi-day hearing about what information can be redacted from the state's files on children who were killed or nearly killed as a result of abuse and neglect.
The Lexington Herald-Leader and The Courier-Journal of Louisville have been in a three-year legal fight with the state over what can be released when a child has been killed or critically injured as a result of abuse and neglect.
Judge Phillip Shepherd has previously ruled that child-protection records are closed, with the sole exception of child deaths and near deaths. In those cases, Shepherd ruled that the public has an overriding interest in knowing how the state performed its job of protecting vulnerable children.
He said information removed from the files should be limited to names of child victims who are hurt but don't die, the names of private citizens who report suspected abuse, the names of minor siblings of victims and the names of minor perpetrators.
However, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services redacted far more information from the 140 case files sought by the newspapers, including the names of every adult interviewed by the cabinet, all people who reported abuse, the names of parents who had been charged or convicted of abuse, and addresses of their own offices.
Lawyers for the media on Tuesday questioned why the cabinet had removed critical information from Gaige's file when some of the information that was redacted has been publicly released elsewhere.
Mike Abate, a lawyer for the Courier-Journal, showed Taylor several published news reports about Matthew Pyles' charges and subsequent trial. Abate also showed Taylor a published obituary that listed all of the relatives that the cabinet had removed from the case file that was turned over to the media.
In the version of the obituary contained in the cabinet's case file, names were whited out.
"Why would you redact a public document?" Abate asked.
Taylor was a supervisor that helped investigate Gaige's case and got Matthew Pyles to confess that he had injured Gaige. Taylor said some of Gaige's siblings have been teased because of the incident and another child had to receive psychological counseling.
Matthew Pyles was convicted in May 2010 of second-degree manslaughter and was given a 10-year prison sentence. However, he is scheduled to be released on Thursday after serving fewer than four years for Gaige's death.
"Don't you think it would be in the public's interest to know that an individual who has inflicted this type of injury on a seven-month-old baby ... is going to be set free within just a few years of killing that child?" asked Kif Skidmore, a lawyer for the Herald-Leader.
"I think the public should want to know that, but I don't know if they should know that," Taylor said of the fact that few people convicted of serious crimes against children serve their full sentence.
Child-protection workers also told Shepherd Tuesday that much of social work is based on confidentiality. Releasing information about who reported the abuse or who social workers interviewed to determine if abuse occurred could have a chilling effect on future reporting of abuse and neglect.
Social workers also said that many of the relatives of abused children have volatile and fluid family situations. Releasing detailed information about a child's death could stoke long-simmering tensions and put people in danger, they testified.
Marlene McKenzie, a social worker from Laurel County, said she was concerned that releasing a case file regarding the death of Stephen Troy would jeopardize the adults that she interviewed during her investigation of the 23-month-old's October 2009 beating death. Troy was hurt so badly that his bowel was perforated.
Amanda Johnson, Stephen Troy's mother, was convicted in that case, but the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the mother's murder conviction and ordered a new trial.
The cabinet has refused to release the case file to the media, saying that doing so could hurt an ongoing criminal prosecution.
Skidmore pointed out that many of the people who McKenzie said she was concerned about protecting, including a neighbor, testified publicly during Johnson's trial. Their names also are published online in the state Supreme Court ruling regarding Johnson's case, Skidmore said.
Progress in child abuse prevention requires full participation of all partners
by T. WAYNE DAVIS
We all know it. Leading the Florida Department of Children and Families is a difficult and thankless job. The front-line jobs in the state's child welfare system are even tougher.
The learning curve is steep, every lesson is hard, and failure, as we are tragically reminded, is far too painful and costly.
In the wake of recent tragedies, everyone is searching for answers, trying to figure out what went wrong. From county sheriffs and local and community-based care providers to religious and community leaders, everyone wants to, and should, do whatever is necessary to prevent the loss of another vulnerable child.
Getting all of these partners to work together toward this worthy goal isn't easy, but it is essential. Time and again we see that protecting vulnerable children is too big of a job for one person, or even one agency. We all have a part to play in solving this problem that is impacting our state - a philosophy that DCF Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo has already embraced.
Complex social problems such as child abuse involve multiple interrelated risk factors that sometimes develop over generations of family dysfunction, generally rooted in poverty and lack of education.
There is no simple, quick-fix solution to these issues, and drastic over corrections in our policies and practices following tragedies have historically made matters even worse.
Although it is true that more must be done to recruit, train, supervise and retain qualified front-line staff responsible for responding to allegations of abuse, we will never achieve sustainable change in child protection services without a significant increase in prevention efforts that strengthen vulnerable families before abuse ever begins.
Strengthening parenting skills and improving family stability, sometimes even before the baby arrives, is paramount to eliminating many of the situations we have read so glaringly about over the past few months. Most at-risk expectant and new parents realize they need help, but help isn't always available before tragedy strikes.
Ensuring children are safe and nurtured at home, while stemming the tide of kids coming into state care, has been the work of Healthy Families Florida since its legislative inception in 1998.
Administered by the private, nonprofit Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida through a network of local providers, Healthy Families is the state's preeminent child abuse prevention program. A rigorous independent evaluation revealed that Healthy Families is an effective prevention measure.
Healthy Families is proven to prevent abuse and neglect in 98 percent of the children in high-risk families served. Recent analysis shows that 95 percent of children served also remained free from abuse and neglect three years following program services.
For the past 15 years, the Department of Children and Families has been an able and supportive partner. Thanks to an additional $3 million legislative allocation this year, the blessing of Gov. Rick Scott and the support of local partners, Healthy Families' reach has been extended to serve additional families in parts or all of 58 of Florida's 67 counties, which is a big step in the right direction.
Bringing these proven prevention services to scale, so every at-risk family has access to the help it needs, will require additional investment; but it is still far less costly than failure.
Healthy Families saves taxpayers millions of dollars in child welfare and other services needed to deal with the consequences of abuse, and even more importantly, it saves lives. Other changes to the child welfare system may certainly help to prevent more tragic deaths, but we know Healthy Families is a proven and effective up-front prevention program that helps lead us toward that important goal.
T. Wayne Davis is the board chairman of the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida.
Child abuse hotline available
Recently, the committee for Aging Children and Youth and Military affairs received the annual report on Crimes Against Children from Arkansas State Police.
The subject matter is difficult for anyone to review, but the report provides valuable information to our legislators in helping to draft laws to protect our children.
The report revealed that in 2012 there were 62,052 calls made to the Child Abuse Hotline in Arkansas. Of those calls 38,368 were accepted as valid allegations of abuse or neglect and case workers were assigned.
This is a sharp increase from just 4 years ago. In 2008, 51,592 calls were made to the hotline and just under 30,000 were accepted as valid allegations.
Abuse can be physical or sexual. It includes non-accidental physical injury, shaking a baby, tying a child up, and giving or exposing a child to alcohol or other drugs.
Reasonable and moderate discipline (such as spanking) is generally not considered abuse as long as it does not cause injury more serious than transient pain or minor temporary marks and is administered by a parent or guardian.
Neglect is failing to provide for appropriate food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for a child. It is also failing to provide an education for a child. Neglect also includes failing to prevent abuse of a child. Leaving a child in a situation that puts the juvenile at risk of harm, such as leaving a young child alone at home or in a vehicle, is also considered neglect.
It could be easy to look at the recent report and say that child abuse is increasing in our state, but that may not necessarily be the case.
Captain Ron Stayton, who is the Crimes Against Children Division Commander explained that the increase is largely due to more reporting. Over the years, the legislature has worked to increase mandated reporting in the state.
In 2009, the legislature added rape crisis advocates or volunteers, child abuse advocates or volunteers and victim/witness coordinators to the growing list of mandated reporters.
We continued to strengthen our reporting laws this previous session by passing Act 784. This requires the Child Abuse Hotline to accept reports of injury to a child's intellectual, emotional, or psychological development from a guidance counselor licensed as a teacher.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services has extensive tools and tips designed to help parents prevent abuse and help others to look for the warning signs. You can find that information at www.stoparchildabuse.com.
And if you suspect a child is being abused, you can call the hotline at 1-800-482-5964. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Human trafficking investigators play catchup as criminals go hi-tech
Police are having to learn new techniques to keep up with the criminals using smartphones for sex and labour trafficking
In June, law enforcement authorities in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, received an email from a parent reporting that their child had been kidnapped. Police and prosecutors traced the message to the kidnapper, a skill that is becoming essential in an increasingly digital age.
Thankfully, it was only a training exercise. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) visited Moldova , the poorest country in Europe, at the request of authorities there, who were ill-equipped to deal with an increase in cybercrime and internet-based human trafficking .
UNODC provided three days of training in basic forensic techniques, such as tracing a criminal across the internet and finding images and other information on a locked computer.
"[It's] old-fashioned detective work in a digital age," Adam Palmer, a senior expert in cybercrime and emerging crimes at UNODC, told IPS.
Though official figures on human trafficking are notoriously hard to come by due to the crime's secretive nature, the International Labour Organisation estimates that 21 million people worldwide are forced into labour, including 4.5 million victims of forced sexual exploitation.
With the pressure of emerging technologies, anti-trafficking organisations, as well as law enforcement agencies, need to adapt their knowledge of new techniques and devices used by criminals. Smartphones are a new phenomenon; a couple of years ago the majority of crimes were being committed on desktop computers, Palmer said. "Now, nearly every crime seems to have some kind of phone involved in it."
For authorities in Moldova, a tier two-ranked country in the US state department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, many of the training exercises were new. Before the ubiquity of electronic devices, vital information might have been written in a notebook, Palmer said. Now, police are more likely to have to crack codes, with information saved on password-protected devices.
But the problem of internet-based sex trafficking – the use of the web for the recruitment, advertisement and sale of people, overwhelmingly women – is not confined to Moldova. It is also an issue in developed countries including the US.
Amy Fleischauer, director of victim services at the International Institute of Buffalo, a group that helps immigrants and refugees settle in western New York state, has found survivors of sex and labour trafficking being recruited and advertised via the internet. The institute spends time with survivors so they know how easily they can be tracked through Facebook, GPS on their phones and their internet history.
It is important to realise the relationship between sex and labour trafficking, Fleischauer said. She described a number of cases involving agricultural workers in the US, where brothels were established on farms to "satisfy workers". "Sex trafficking almost always involves labour trafficking," Fleischauer said, "focusing on just sex trafficking does a disservice to victims."
Increased awareness of trafficking through the internet has caught the attention of companies that run the web, and whose products are being used to facilitate the crime. "The most effective way to investigate cybercrime is … to work with private sector companies," Palmer said, pointing out that companies were willing to help, as traffickers were abusing their technology.
Jacquelline Fuller, director of giving at Google, said the company had a "longstanding interest" in helping to combat child exploitation and trafficking over the internet. "More recently, we took a deep dive to see … how we could help," she said.
Google has provided several grants, including one for $11.5m (£7.5m), to help three anti-trafficking organisations – Polaris Project, La Strada International and Liberty Asia – work together to more effectively combat the crime.
In April, Google gave $3m to help fund the Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network , and two internet companies, Salesforce and Palantir Technologies, and provided technology that allows the organisations to share data. "[These groups can] use technology to get ahead of the bad guys," Fuller said.
Bradley Myles has seen first hand the changing face of sex trafficking. The chief executive of Polaris Project, a US-based non-profit that works directly with survivors of human trafficking, Myles told IPS that from 2005 to 2008, Craigslist was one of the worst channels for internet-based sex trafficking. After Craigslist removed many of the advertisements that led to women and girls being exploited.
The extent of internet-based trafficking is unknown, according to Fleischauer, but increased awareness and getting police better educated on types of cases, recruitment and strategies could help. "I think we have no idea what's out there," she said.
Evolving Our Image of Human Trafficking
by Cameron Conaway -- Social Justice Editor, The Good Men Project
Images influence movements. They shape human consciousness. Think of what you felt when you first saw the 9/11 image of The Falling Man. Look at how Amnesty International has, since the 1960s, employed posters to effectively and brilliantly create awareness. Recall how nearly every country ever, at war, has fueled their jingoistic drumbeats. Consider the rise of the meme.
What image just came to mind? Considering that human trafficking is a crime often described as the world's most complex, a crime that creates survivors who are among the most complex of crime victims, our collective image is painstakingly primitive. It's a sex crime. It's a sex crime that men do to women. Corresponding images ensue. Movies reinforce this. As do most books. And too many prominent groups whose mission statement says something about how they work to "combat modern-day slavery" or "fight human trafficking" release television commercials that only and always tie back to the overly primitive. It's a sex crime. It's a sex crime that men do to women.
Let's get a few things straight.
1. Sex trafficking is a type of human trafficking and the image of it carries tremendous weight in a way that, say, a young boy trafficked from Myanmar to work at a shrimp processing factory in Thailand simply cannot.
2. While men are the predominant leaders in the crime of human trafficking and, especially as it relates to sex trafficking, girls and women are the predominant victims, women also participate in the crime and have even initiated trafficking rings.
3. When considering the entire web of human trafficking -- a web that includes slave labor -- some of the lowest estimates say that boys and men make up 20 percent of the victims.
The images of girls trapped in cages and strapped to beds certainly contain brutal truths, but the truth is that for us to effectively combat human trafficking we desperately need to find ways to help all the various anti-slavery agencies, in all the various sectors of this crime, strike up meaningful collaborations, and we desperately need to evolve the images we use. The alternative is a dangerous stagnation, a time when more people than ever may be familiar with the term "human trafficking", but not associate it with where the shirts on their back or the food in their shelves came from. Sex sells, I get it, but how can we embrace this fact while moving progressively forward?
When I spoke with a major film director about this he said, "Our literary masters need to round out the public's perception of this crime. Our filmmakers need to do the same. Unfortunately, I don't think the public is ready for a movie about sex trafficking where young boys are the victims. Even with the church scandals and the Sandusky drama... I just don't think a movie like that would get backed."
Notice how even he brought the crime back to sex?
It's easy to embrace a definition of a crime that invokes the guttural emotion of a young child being taken advantage of for sex, especially when a more nuanced alternative is looking at ourselves and the labels we wear and the costs of our goods. We like our shrimp cheap. We reach for the lower priced cocoa. There's often a cost for cheap goods, and to truly get to the heart of human trafficking we must evolve our ingrained survival instinct for bargain shopping. This involves looking at ourselves -- not just some imagined bearded man in a hotel room in Thailand -- as possible participants in a crime.
But what else might be holding "the public" back? According to an article in The Guardian titled "The Truth About Trafficking: It's Not Just About Sexual Exploitation", it's the radical feminists and passionate, though often, misguided faith groups. The piece states that our contemporary understanding of trafficking first took hold, "... in significant part by the advocacy of women's rights groups who sought 'to redefine trafficking' specifically as the 'sexual exploitation' of women and children." The article went on to say that the powerful faith-based groups bought into the definition, and helped bring it to where we are today.
So what are we left with if the invisible passive sponge called "the public," isn't ready or is, perhaps, uncaring? What are we left with when the stories that need to be told can't get the funding or the backing? I don't know. But what I do know is that we need to support those in the anti-trafficking sector who at once have influence and know the true complexity of the crime. Christiaan Bosman, a South African who founded Open Hand Café in India, gets it. Lys Anzia, founder of the award-winning Women News Network, gets it. Pastor Eddie Byun, a South Korean who leads the Onnuri English Ministry in Seoul, gets it. And there are so many more.
We owe it to ourselves and to those who need us to support those who get it, to go into but also beyond the emotional stir of an image.
Child sex trafficking: schools could help stop it
Educators can identify and aid troubled kids, Depts. of Education and Homeland Security say
by Susan Ferriss
The plight of foster kids and other vulnerable youth came into painful relief this week when the FBI announced raids in 76 U.S. cities to break up prostitution rings exploiting more than 100 teens.
The minors were between 13 and 17 years old.
In addition to the FBI's ongoing efforts to stop these criminal enterprises, the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Homeland Security also have special programs to help educators identify at-risk children before they are lured into more trouble, as the Center for Public Integrity reported last February.
Schools are in a position to serve as the front lines of detection efforts, according to federal officials who attended a forum on child sex trafficking held in February at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.
A California educator who spoke about her experiences at the forum was Jenee Littrell, director of guidance and wellness at the Grossmont Union High School District in San Diego County.
She said recruiters for pimps — boys and girls the same age of victims — befriend candidates at school or at parties, or online. They often zero in on kids in foster care and who have special needs, or who are suffering from troubled home lives.
Littrell said educators should take note if they start seeing kids talking about traveling to other cities, or flashing around money they didn't have before, and buying their friends presents and lunch.
She also said her district was looking closely at how common disciplinary practices at schools have inadvertently increased the risk that troubled kids will hit the streets.
Littrell recounted how two girls at a school had become increasingly aggressive toward staff members who had no idea that both teens had become involved in child prostitution. When one of the girls was suspended for poor behavior, Littrell said, the student was discovered roaming a race track an hour later.
Alice Hill, a Homeland Security senior counselor, also attended the forum in February. She said that her department considers human trafficking, including the smuggling of minors, a “national-security threat.”
In 2011, a Center for Public Integrity report about minors caught along the U.S.-Mexico border highlighted cases of girls smuggled into the United States from Mexico and later forced into prostitution.
This week, when FBI officials announced the raids, they said that some vulnerable children were recruited into prostitution right out of foster homes.
In the San Francisco Bay Area — where 12 children were rescued this past week — Oakland Police Department Lt. Kevin Wiley spoke about how it takes more than police to help kids stay clear of those who will exploit them.
“They usually get into this because they are running away from something else,” said Wiley. “You're trying to find out what brought them into this lifestyle in the first place. It goes way beyond law enforcement to solve this epidemic.”
Child abuse specialist offers training in Hutch
Horizons Mental Health Center's Child Advocacy Center will offer health care professionals an opportunity to attend Dr. Kerri L. Weeks' training titled, "Medical Perspective of Child Maltreatment" from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.
Horizons Mental Health Center's Child Advocacy Center will offer health care professionals an opportunity to attend Dr. Kerri L. Weeks' training titled, "Medical Perspective of Child Maltreatment" from 8:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.
Weeks is a Pediatrician and Child Abuse Specialist serving as Director of Pediatric Sexual Assault at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. She received her B.S. from Kansas State University, and Doctor of Medicine from the University Of Kansas School Of Medicine.
The target audiences for the training are Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and pediatric professionals from around the area. The training has been pre-approved for five CNE credits, and the registration fee is $50 per person.
Participants can expect:
a review of anatomy and examination techniques in pediatric patients of various ages and developmental stages
to learn how to differentiate findings of sexual abuse from other common pediatric medical diagnoses
a review of guidelines for testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
to learn how to identify signs and symptoms of physical abuse and neglect in pediatric patients
"We are fortunate to have Dr. Weeks serve as our speaker," Jane Holzrichter, director of the child advocacy center at Horizons, said. "She is one of two certified specialists in the state of Kansas who received her board certification in Child Abuse Pediatrics. Her expertise and experience on a wide range of issues related to child abuse will take us to a new level and help prepare the medical team to meet the criteria for the Child Advocacy Center's 2014 Re-accreditation."
To register for the training, contact Jane Holzrichter or Nikkee Byard at 620-663-7595.
Horizons Mental Health Center provides comprehensive mental and behavior health care services to people living in Barber, Harper, Kingman, Pratt and Reno counties. Its mission is to provide affordable rehabilitative and preventative mental health services.
Horizons Child Advocacy Center strives to restore the innocence of the community's children by focusing on intervention, investigation, prosecution efforts and resources in cases involving child abuse and neglect.
Cuomo signs Jay J.'s Law, closing child abuse loophole
Area boy beaten by dad inspired new legislation
by Tom Precious
ALBANY – A year ago, relatives of Jay J. Bolvin, a young North Tonawanda boy severely injured at the hands of his father, were huddled in a third-floor office at the state Capitol trying to convince Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver why the state's child abuse laws needed strengthening.
It was not to be in 2012.
“We thanked him, and I told him we would not give up and we will be back,” recalled Kevin Retzer, the boy's uncle.
After employing social media, Web pages, press appeals, personal contacts with lawmakers across the state, trips to the Capitol, a rally and help from a Cheektowaga high school government affairs class, the boy's relatives saw their work fulfilled Monday with the signing of a law that closes a loophole on individuals who repeatedly abuse children.
“Obviously, we're 100 percent thrilled. I'm dismayed it took this long considering the level of abused children who are suffering every day in this state,” said Retzer, one of a team of family lobbyists who have traveled to the state Capitol the past couple legislative sessions pressing for the change in law.
“It's not going to deter everyone, but if there are those individuals who are going to hurt children, we're happy they're going to be more properly punished,” Retzer said in an interview Monday.
The new law was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and takes effect immediately.
Jay J., an infant at the time of his 2011 beating by his father, today suffers from a variety of developmental issues and still does not speak, has difficulty walking and spends up to 20 hours a week in a variety of physical, occupational, speech, special education and aquatic therapy sessions.
His case exposed problems that let repeat child offenders get by with lesser sentences because of a loophole that did not allow the courts to look back beyond a three-year conviction window. The new law increases the “look back” period for assaults on children younger than 11 years old from the present three years to 10 years.
In the case of the young North Tonawanda boy, his father, Jeremy Bolvin, was given a maximum four-year prison sentence; he had previously been convicted of third-degree assault for breaking the arm of another one of his sons in 2006.
In signing the bill, Cuomo said the new law named after Jay J. is important for “immediately ensuring that repeat offenders are met with heightened penalties that match the seriousness of their actions.”
The measure was sponsored by Sen. Timothy Kennedy and Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, both Erie County Democrats.
Jay J. suffered 11 separate fractures from beatings by his father, now an inmate in a state prison in Franklin County. Bolvin has faced a coordinated campaign by Jay J.'s family members whenever he tries to seek early release before his maximum sentence is served.
Victims or their family members have created grass-roots legislative campaigns to enact laws on issues ranging from prescription drug sales and how the state treats mentally ill individuals who commit crimes to crackdowns on drunken driving and texting-while-driving laws.
Among those personally lobbying for the new repeat child offender law were Retzer and his wife Christine, who live in Cheektowaga, and his brother Joseph Retzer and his wife Tabitha of Kenmore, the boy's grandparents who today have legal custody of the 3-year-old.
“It was the passion,” Kevin Retzer said Monday of the family's personal lobbying campaign.
“As the family, it was our relative who did it, so we were willing to rearrange our lives for Jay J. On a personal note for me, I'd see stories on TV and say, ‘How sad.' Then when it became Jay J, it dawned on me that the somebody who had to get involved was me.”
In 2012, most members of the Legislature signed up as sponsors of the bill. It passed the Senate but died in the Assembly, a house with a liberal tradition where criminal sentencing laws generally receive more scrutiny than in the Senate.
The two Retzer brothers this year learned the key to passage of most bills in Albany: compromise. So out went their campaign for one of the bill's provisions: an automatic 25-year prison sentence for someone convicted three times of abusing a child. “There were things I thought were common sense and how could people be against this,” Kevin Retzer said.
The family returned to Albany three times this session, with the young boy accompanying them. “We wanted to physically stand in front of them with the message that this isn't an abstract. Somebody got hurt, and here he is,” Kevin Retzer said.
“Jay J. was somebody that, by being there in Albany and being out in the media, he himself told his story, which is a tragic and horrific one, but with the passage of this law will at least have a silver lining,” said Kennedy, the Buffalo Democrat who pushed the bill through the Senate both years.
Demands for more facts about the situation led the family to state records, which led them to information they presented to lawmakers about more than 200 children being abused each day in New York state. Requests for information about prison incarceration costs associated with the stronger penalties led the family to present the soaring medical bills the state has been paying to treat the boy. Adding to their efforts was an advance-placement government class at John F. Kennedy High School in Cheektowaga, whose students wrote letters, made ribbons and placed appeals on their social media sites encouraging people to spread the word about the legislation.
“I give all the credit in the world to the family … They would not take no for an answer,” said Kennedy.
FBI Arrests 150 Pimps and Rescues 105 Children from Forced Prostitution
by Nick Chiles
A massive effort by federal authorities over the weekend resulted in the rescue of 105 children who were forced into prostitution. A total of 150 pimps and others were arrested by authorities in a mind-boggling, three-day law enforcement sweep that took place simultaneously in 76 American cities, the FBI said Monday.
The victims, almost all girls, were aged 13 to 17 and the largest number of children rescued were in the cities of San Francisco, Detroit, Milwaukee, Denver and New Orleans. Called Operation Cross Country, the complex campaign was conducted under the FBI's Innocence Lost initiative.
“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across the country,” Ron Hosko, assistant director of the bureau's criminal investigative division, said at a press conference.“We are trying to take this crime out of the shadows and put a spotlight on it,” Hosko said, since the victims are “under-the-radar, below-the-horizon kids” who are largely ignored by the public.The campaign has resulted in the rescue of 2,700 children since 2003, according to the FBI. Investigations and convictions of 1,350 have led to life imprisonment for 10 pimps and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.The FBI has been working alongside the non-profit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the past decade.John Ryan, the head of the center, called the problem “an escalating threat against America's children.”He said many of them are being recruited right out of the foster care system.“We are finding a very disturbing trend,” Ryan said. “They leave foster care and they literally fall off the radar. That's something that needs to be addressed…With no way to survive on their own, they are lured into a life of being trafficked for sex. When these children are recovered, typically their only possessions are the clothes that they are wearing.”Nearly 450,000 children run away from home each year and one-third of teens living on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home, according to Justice Department estimates.
Legislation has been introduced into Congress that would require state law enforcement, foster care and child welfare programs to identify children lured into sex trafficking as victims of abuse and neglect—deeming them eligible for the appropriate protections and services.
“In much of the country today if a girl is found in the custody of a so-called pimp she is not considered to be a victim of abuse, and that's just wrong and defies common sense,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing last month.
Oregon and Southwest Washington Law Enforcement Partners Recover Two Young Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Just a week after a Multnomah County Circuit Judge sentenced Sirgiorgio Clardy, a pimp, to 100 years in prison for compelling prostitution and related charges, law enforcement and social service providers have launched a two-day sting targeting those who profit from sex trafficking of children. This year, the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF), working with more than a dozen other local, state, and federal agencies in the Portland/Vancouver metro area, recovered two children who were being trafficked as part of the national Operation Cross Country VII event. Law enforcement and social service providers worked with each child—and when appropriate, the child's family—to provide counseling, mental health services, medical assistance, housing, and advocacy resources to them. Authorities arrested four pimps and identified a suspected fifth pimp.
They also picked up 13 adult women who will likely face local prostitution charges. All the adult women were offered the opportunity to access help through victim services and the social service partners. In addition, authorities recovered one baby who was placed in state custody. Due to the sensitive nature of these cases and the victims involved, there will be no further details released about the child sex trafficking victims or the baby.
“Children—some barely into middle school—are finding themselves forced to sell their bodies on the streets, our streets, every day. They deserve a childhood free of the abuse and violence,” said Greg Fowler, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “The Child Exploitation Task Force has made great progress in recent years by targeting the pimps and putting them in prison for some very long prison sentences. We couldn't do this work without the fantastic partnerships that have developed between all the law enforcement agencies and social service providers in this area.
We thank them all for their continued service to these child victims.” “The commercial sexual exploitation of our children is an affront to our community, and it must be stopped. To this end, my office is working with federal, state, and local officials, along with community and service organizations to find ways to meet the needs of these children for housing, security, and treatment while we hold pimps and johns accountable,” said United States Attorney Amanda Marshall. “We have also expanded the resources and focus of our Anti-Gang prosecution unit to target the commercial sexual exploitation of children. With these combined efforts in place, we will be able to hold more traffickers accountable while helping more victims become survivors.” Beaverton Police arrested Sirgiorgio Clardy, the pimp recently sentenced to 100 years in prison, in June 2012 during the Operation Cross Country VI sting.
Earlier this month, the court found that Clardy was a “dangerous offender” based on the seriousness of his crimes and other factors. A jury found him guilty of beating an 18-year-old woman and forcing her to work as a prostitute. He also was found guilty of beating a john so severely the man required surgery. The FBI coordinates these Cross Country stings as part of its effort to combat child exploitation.
Across the United States, Operation Cross Country VII stings recovered 105 children, and it included enforcement actions involving more than 3,900 local, state, and federal officers representing 230 separate agencies in 76 cities. Locally, the FBI would like to thank the following agencies and departments for taking part in the law enforcement portion of the sting: Beaverton Police Department Clark County Juvenile Detention Hillsboro Police Department Metro Gang Task Force Multnomah County District Attorney's Office Oregon Department of Justice Portland Police Bureau Port of Portland Police Department Tigard Police Department United States Attorney's Office United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Vancouver Police Department Task force operations such as this one usually begin as local actions—targeting such places as truck stops, casinos, street “tracks,” and Internet websites—based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. (We will not release the specific locations or methods utilized in this local operation due to ongoing investigative interests.) As is the case in the Portland/Vancouver area, initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws related to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested often uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states.
As the FBI is able to develop this information into a broader criminal investigation, it works with the United States Attorney's Office to file federal charges where appropriate at a later time. Social service and non-profit agencies who provided assistance during Operation Cross Country VII locally include: Beaverton Police Department Victim Services Clackamas County Department of Human Services/Child Protective Services LifeWorks NW New Options for Women Program LifeWorks NW Intensive Community Based Treatment Services Multnomah County Department of Human Service/Child Protective Services Multnomah County Department of Community Justice Multnomah County District Attorney's Office Victim Services Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) Washington County Department of Human Services/Child Protective Services Washington County District Attorney's Office Victim Services The FBI would like to thank all law enforcement and social service provider agencies for taking part in Operation Cross Country VII and for their ongoing work with the Child Exploitation Task Force. The charges filed in this operation are merely accusations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law. If you suspect that a child is being sexually exploited, please call your nearest FBI office or local law enforcement agency immediately.
For more information on the law enforcement and social service provider partnerships providing assistance to these victims, please visit: Protecting Our Children: Child Exploitation Task Force Making an Impact Related FBI Portland story Operation Cross Country VII national press release Operation Cross Country VII video Operation Cross Country VII podcast Multnomah County Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children web page Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) of Oregon web page Janus Youth Program web page Lifeworks NW web page
Reported by: FBI
The Hidden Impact of Child Sex Trafficking
by Amanda Ashley
SPRINGFIELD -- In a major crackdown on child prostitution, the FBI announced Monday that 150 arrests have been made in Operation Cross Country, and 105 children have been rescued nationwide.
Closer to home, a group of professionals is working to train others to spot danger, in an effort to protect children from sex trafficking, abuse and drug endangered lives.
The focus of the Hidden Impact conference is identifying and stopping the trauma that happens to children in many forms. The program was put on by Community Partnership of the Ozarks and attended by child care professionals, social workers, law enforcement, teachers and mental health professionals.
The average age of entry into prostitution in the united states is between twelve and fourteen years old according to one national report.
Another, more common problem, children being born into families with drug issues where the child suffers the consequences.
These professionals are working to make sure these children are thrown a lifeline.
It's a shock for many to hear of girls as young as eleven being trafficked for sex. Equally as shocking, why they are forced to do it.
"For drugs, for money. Survival sex that would just be a roof over their heads, food, just basic necessities being met." said Dr. Rachael Harrington.
Drury University Professor and Psychologist Dr. Rachael Harrington is working to train people who come in contact with children in their work to spot the signs of child sex trafficking.
One case of a fourteen-year-old Springfield girl being trafficked was traced to a site called Backpages.com. Another mentally disabled girl was groomed for years by a Lebanon man to be tortured as a sex slave.
Harrington said sex trafficking data is difficult to come by because the crime itself is often mis-categorized.
"A lot of people are being mislabeled as rape victims, domestic violence victims or just victims of child sexual abuse." says Harrington. "If law enforcement, healthcare providers and people from the various agencies that interact with these people if they are not asking the right questions they might not realize they are victims of commercial sex and so victims of trafficking."
Another issue addressed during the Hidden Impact conference is "drug endangered children."
"Across the state of Missouri there are 180,000 children that live in a home where they affected by drug or alcohol exposure." said Steve Miller of Community Partnership of the Ozarks. "The drug we hear the most about is the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine."
Miller said the goal of his talk is to create a unifying force to help drug endangered children.
"But, these children grow up to be adults and they do have an impact on our society, everybody is affected by the methamphetamine epidemic in our area," says Miller.
And whether a child is dealing with abuse, drug endangerment or sex trafficking Miller says the community must ask one question.
"How can we all play a role in decreasing this or minimizing the risk to children," says Miller.
There are many telltale signs a child may being trafficked including a much older boyfriend or girlfriend, traveling with an older male or female or having sums of money a teen wouldn't usually have.
The information below form the National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: America's Prostituted Children may be helpful in identifying and helping victims.
|Signs of DMST:
Presence of an older boyfriend
Signs of violence and/or psychological trauma
Masking charges such as curfew violations, truancy, and other status offenses
Travel with an older male who is not a guardian
Chronic running away (3 or more times)
Tattoos that mark a victim as property
Access to material things the youth cannot afford
Who is vulnerable:
Age (primary factor of vulnerability)
Past history of abuse
Drug use by parents
Lack of family support (runaways, homeless)
History with Child Protective Services (or similar state agency)
How victim's are controlled:
Using Coercion and Threats
Coercion and Threats
Final 2 Defendants Arrested in Dreamboard Child Sex Exploitation
SHREVEPORT, La. - United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that the last two defendants in U.S. custody arrested so far in the Dreamboard child sex exploitation and child pornography site case were sentenced by U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks.
Christopher Blackford, 28, of Charleston, S.C., was sentenced to 265 months in prison with a lifetime of supervised release for participating in a child exploitation operation. According to the evidence presented at the guilty plea, Blackford joined Dreamboard Dec. 29, 2009, and placed 84 online bulletin board posts containing child
William Davis, 39, of Bristol, N.H., was sentenced to 210 months in prison with a lifetime of supervised release for his part in the Dreamboard child exploitation operation. According to the evidence presented at his guilty plea, during his time on Dreamboard, Davis posted advertisements offering to distribute child pornography to other members of the board.
Blackford and Davis were charged in an indictment unsealed on Aug. 3, 2011. The charges were the result of Operation Delego, an investigation launched in December 2009 that targeted individuals around the world for their participation in Dreamboard. The board was a private, members-only, online bulletin board that was created and operated to promote pedophilia and encourage the sexual abuse of very young children in an environment designed to avoid law enforcement detection.
A total of 72 individuals, including Blackford and Davis, were charged as a result of Operation Delego. To date, 57 of the 72 charged defendants have been arrested in the United States and abroad. Nine of the 57 are in the process of being extradited to the United States. Forty-seven individuals have pleaded guilty, and one was convicted after trial. The 48 individuals who have pleaded guilty or found guilty for their roles in the conspiracy have been sentenced to prison and have received sentences ranging between five years to life in prison. Three defendants have received life sentences, including the one who was convicted at trial. Fifteen of the 72 charged individuals remain at large and are known only by their online identities. Efforts to identify and apprehend these individuals continue. Operation Delego represents the largest prosecution to date in the United States of individuals who have participated in an online bulletin board conceived and operated for the sole purpose of promoting child sexual abuse, disseminating child pornography and evading law enforcement.
"There is a lot of work to be done before most, if not all, online operations like this one can be stopped," Finley stated. "It took the work of many agencies, both domestic and international, to find and bring these defendants to justice. I want to thank all of the prosecutors and law enforcement agencies who were involved from the beginning and those who have seen this case through until now. We hope to make more arrests in the case and bring to justice all of the individuals who perpetrate such vile schemes that endanger children."
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker of the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Keith Becker of CEOS. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance. The investigation was conducted by ICE-Homeland Security Investigations, the Child Exploitation Section of ICE's Cyber Crime Center, CEOS, CEOS's High Technology Investigative Unit and 35 ICE offices in the United States and 11 ICE attaches offices in 13 countries around the world, with assistance provided by numerous local and international law enforcement agencies across the United States and throughout the world.
The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative international sex tourists, Internet pornographers and foreign-national predators whose
crimes make them deportable. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Tips or other information can also be submitted to ICE online at www.ice.gov/exec/forms/hsi-tips/tips.asp . Tips may be reported anonymously.
Grieving My Lost Childhood
by Elisabeth Corey
I have been in recovery for a while now. Most days, I feel pretty good. Most days, I can keep my anxiety from paralyzing me. Most days, I function well.
However, I don't have to look far to see my pain. All I have to do is think about my parents.
Last night, I was watching a TV show, and a woman was grieving the loss of her mother to cancer. It had been about nine months since her death, but since the woman was planning her wedding, she was particularly upset. I could feel the intolerance building up inside of me. I may have even rolled my eyes.
I thought to myself, “at least you had a mother.” This doesn't happen every time. My compassion has come a long way. But last night, the feelings were there.
I have several primary emotions associated with my parents. First, there is the anger. Several years ago, it was rage. In therapy, I could scream at the top of my lungs. I could plot their deaths. I could beat a couch cushion with a bat until my arms wouldn't work anymore. It was the first major emotion I reconnected with. There was a lot of it, and I was fairly comfortable expressing it. I can even say it was easy. I don't have an issue with anger because to me, it isn't vulnerable. It feels powerful.
Unfortunately, there was some intense grief behind the anger. I am not OK with expressing that. I don't “do” sadness. Sadness is vulnerable. To me, vulnerability was the same as death when I was a child. In my family, you didn't show weakness. It was always used against you. I didn't cry… ever.
It took a while to get to the point where I could grieve as an adult. Honestly, I have only grieved substantively in the past two years. I hate it. It still feels weak to me (and clearly I still judge others who do it). There's one problem… it's the only way for me to heal. It is critical to my recovery.
Grieving is different for me than for those who have lost parents through death. My parents are still alive. I grieve the fact that they were never “real” parents. I grieve what I always wanted them to be. Like Little Orphan Annie, I grieve the little house hidden by a hill with the piano-playing and bill-paying parents.
That never happened for me. As a child, I remember looking at houses in my neighborhood and wondering if they had a real, loving family. I wondered if I could go live with them. I wondered if I could get someone else to adopt me. Obviously, these were not the most realistic musings on my part, but I was a child.
I also grieve their reaction to me in recovery. Some part of me still wants them to apologize. I want to hear them acknowledge that they were wrong. Of course, I know this won't happen. If they acknowledge it, they are admitting to a federal crime, and they won't do that. They just tell people I am lying. They continue to weave their web of deception and hope they can hold it all together. So I grieve for that acknowledgment that won't happen.
Grief is bad, but fear is the worst.
Fear was the primary motivator in my family. “Do everything right or else.” There were plenty of nasty consequences. My parents were willing to use any form of abuse. Nothing was consistent, either. One day, something small could spark a rage-filled attack by a parent. The next day, I could burn down the house and they wouldn't notice.
Today, the fear is bad because it feels the most justified. It is the hardest emotion to attribute solely to my childhood experiences. As I speak out about my abuse, which was considered the worst offense in my childhood home, some consequences still seem realistic today. If someone is capable of the atrocities that my parents committed in my childhood, who is going to stop them from committing a crime now? There are some days that I am sure my father is standing outside of my house with a gun. Logically, I know that people who abuse children are cowards, but I still know what they did 30 years ago, and that is hard to ignore.
It may sound like I spend my days inundated with anger, sadness and fear, but that is not true. In the past few years, I have recovered enough to experience true happiness and even joy at times. I know that the worst part of my journey is behind me. I know that I can build that family that I longed for as a child. I know that it is up to me now… that I have the power to make my dreams come true. I know that I am no longer reliant on others to do the right thing. I am back in the driver's seat — and that is something I can be happy about.
Elisabeth Corey is a survivor of family-controlled child sex trafficking and ritual sex abuse. Her education in social work and her personal experiences as a survivor inform her intimate discussion about the biological, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of trauma recovery, which she discusses on her blog at www.stolenchildhood.wordpress.com . She writes about breaking the cycle of abuse through conscious parenting, navigating intimate relationships as a survivor, balancing the memory recovery process with daily life, coping with self-doubt, and overcoming the physical symptoms of a traumatic childhood.
In Montgomery child abuse case, a mother looks for answers
by Dan Morse
Montgomery County detectives investigating allegations of child abuse have painted a picture of a monster. Adderli Cruz-Rosario, they said, sexually abused five young children and threw one of them, a toddler, across a bedroom into a wall — a child later shown to have nine healing rib fractures inside her 18-pound body.
But there are other pictures of Cruz-Rosario. They are stored as videos and photographs in the smartphone of the children's mother. They show the 20-year-old suspect laughing and playing with her smiling kids.
“They look so happy,” the 27-year-old mom said from her apartment in Silver Spring recently, looking at her phone during one of several extended interviews about the case.
She wants to know the truth about Cruz-Rosario, who lived in her apartment and decorated the kids' rooms with fresh paint — adding glitter for the girls and the number 95 for the boys, a reference to the animated movie “Cars.” He took care of the children for long stretches while she worked as an office manager at an accounting firm.
“Every minute, every day, I'm always thinking about what happened,” she said. “If it did happen, why?”
The Washington Post is not naming the woman to protect the identity of her children. She has doubts about the case, mostly because her children never told her of abuse. Cruz-Rosario has yet to give his version of the events in court. He remains locked up on $1 million bond.
But if the accusations against Cruz-Rosario are true, the woman's experience — along with her questions and replaying what she might have missed — offer insight into what experts say is an all-too-common phenomenon.
Sheri Rettew, the board chairman of a group called Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, said abusers can groom a child not only to keep the abuse a secret but to smile later as if nothing is wrong. “They're really good at this,” she said. “This is what they're best at.”
In the Silver Spring case, the mother's worries are compounded by the fact that her children have been taken from her — sent to foster homes and, in the case of her oldest three, to their biological father. The mother sees her kids once a week, at a county-supervised house designed for such visits.
“Mommy! Mommy!” two of them could be heard greeting her as she approached.
She is not allowed to speak with them about the case. She wants to ask them what happened, tell them they did nothing wrong, take them home.
“If he did this, I'm their mother — I need to be the one to talk with them,” she said.
By her own frank admission, the woman has had her share of struggles. She became a mother as a teen and has given birth to eight children; seven of the births were Caesarian sections. Her family has been on food stamps. And for a brief period last year, she and her kids were homeless, and the county put them up at a hotel.
But the woman has been employed, earning nearly $1,000 a week during tax season. She has tried to push her kids to succeed — to get a college degree, to find a spouse who will stay forever. “To me, each one is a blessing,” she said.
In 2011, she met Cruz-Rosario through a family member. A year later, he moved in and was immediately attentive to the children in ways that she said she'd never seen from their biological fathers. He cooked. He cleaned up after the kids. He combed their hair, taught them how to walk, took them to a community swimming pool. “It was different,” she said.
Cruz-Rosario was extremely playful with the kids, on occasion tickling them and pretending he was going to bite. “I told him I didn't like that,” she recalled. A daughter told police that she had alerted her mom about the biting, but she didn't take it seriously, according to court records.
One day late last year, the woman and Cruz-Rosario noticed that her youngest daughter had a problem with her leg. “Look at how she's limping,” she said Cruz-Rosario told her. “Let's take her to the hospital.”
The child had a fractured tibia, and her leg was placed in a cast. Cruz-Rosario said he didn't know what happened. To the mother's thinking, he was the one leading the effort to get medical care. She attributed the injury to a fall or the girl's many siblings playing around her in their tight, three-bedroom apartment.
On April 10, the mother arrived home from work to see bruises on the same girl's cheek. She asked Cruz-Rosario, who told her to ask the other children. One of them said the girl had fallen from a bed. Two days later, the bruises had become more pronounced and the girl was running a fever. Her mother took her to their pediatrician.
The doctor thought the bruises resembled bite marks. She called county social workers, and the system swung into action.
The child was taken the Children's National Medical Center for tests. Among the findings: the healing rib fractures and possible damage to her pancreas and brain. “The overall picture is indicative of a battered child,” concluded one physician, according to police affidavits in the case. A separate examination uncovered evidence of sexual abuse, according to affidavits.
Detectives questioned three of the girl's siblings. The investigators used open-ended questions, letting the children guide the discussion, said Capt. Bob Carter, director of the family crimes unit at the Montgomery County Police Department. The 8-year-old girl said Cruz-Rosario had hit her in the face, legs, chest and shoulders, according to the investigators. The 10-year-old boy said Cruz-Rosario had “constantly” hit his siblings with his hands and belts. This boy told investigators that he saw Cruz-Rosario pin the toddler under fitness weights to try to get her to sleep and that a short time later the boy freed her, according to police affidavits. Another child, an 11-year-old girl, told detectives: Cruz-Rosario “likes to bite us.”
In June, the detectives spoke with the children again, according to arrest records. The kids began to say that Cruz-Rosario had also abused them sexually. Detectives concluded that five children were sexually abused.
The accusations are spelled out in the affidavits, which the mother has read. With each detail, she has another round of competing thoughts: If it's true, Cruz-Rosario should pay. But how could it be true if the children never told her?
“I go back and forth,” she said.
She visits Cruz-Rosario at the jail and speaks with him on the phone. “It's not anything like they're saying. It's all lies,” she recalls him saying. “Ask the kids.”
The detectives have told her to stop talking with Cruz-Rosario, she said, but she is looking for answers. “If I can get it out of him, I will,” she said. “That's why I keep talking to him.”
The Army's hidden child abuse epidemic
30,000 kids abused, 118 killed; Army saw 40 percent increase in cases from 2009 to 2012
by Richard Sandza
“She kept crying and I … slapped her across the head, which in turn, made her more upset, and then I lost control … I began to shake her; I threw her onto the bed, where she rolled toward the window hitting her head against the windowsill … I then lifted her up … threw her into her crib … she began crying even more … I dropp(ed) her to the floor and I sat on her then I got up and laid on top of her releasing the full weight of my body on her … (she) kept crying, so then I picked her up off the floor, placing both of her arms at her side and ‘bear hugged' her very tightly, where her cry became faint.”
Those words are part of a written confession by former Sgt. Kevin Randal Hill.
Hill's daughter, Liyah, was a healthy 5-month-old baby. Now, because of the multiple serious injuries inflicted by her father, she is disabled and requires care for life. Medical experts say she probably will live until age 15 or so. Until then, her mother, also a soldier stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., will care for her.
Hill is serving a 12-year sentence in a federal prison in Texas.
While the Army's intense public attention has been focused on suicides, domestic violence and sex assaults in the ranks, Liyah is part of an epidemic of child abuse inside the Army so under the radar that even top brass were unaware of its scope and an alarming spike in cases. Nearly 30,000 children have suffered abuse or neglect in Army homes over the past decade, an Army Times investigation shows.
Beatings, torture and starvation claimed the lives of 118 Army children.
More than 1,400 children were subjected to sexual abuse.
“The Army put a lot of focus on domestic violence because there's been a lot of political pressure,” said Dr. Rene Robichaux, social work programs manager at Army Medical Command. “There hasn't been a concurrent interest in child abuse.”
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Campbell said he was not aware of the extent of the epidemic.
When the Army suspects child abuse or neglect, Campbell said, “we'll investigate and prosecute and try to make sure we have the right program in place to take care of the soldiers and their families and do what's right there.”
Of the 29,552 cases of child abuse and neglect in active-duty Army families from 2003 through 2012, according to Army Central Registry data, 15,557 were committed by soldiers, the others by civilians — mostly spouses.
The Army's rate of child abuse was 4.5 cases per 1,000 children for 2011. The civilian rate was 27.4 per 1,000 children, according to the Children's Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services.
But the number of Army cases has spiked 28 percent between 2008 and 2011, while the number of civilian cases has increased by 1.1 percent.
These cases represent the neglect and abuse taking place throughout the Army, on every post, in families that live on and off the installation:
• Fort Campbell, Ky.: Spc. Joshua Ryan Starner, 25, and his wife, Caitlyn Metz, await trial on charges in connection with the rape and murder of their 23-month-old son, Keegan.
• Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.: Maj. John Jackson and his wife were indicted in April on 17 counts of child abuse for allegedly depriving their three foster children of food and water.
• Fort Carson, Colo.: Pfc. Roderick Elam was sentenced in March to 32 years in prison for beating his 2-month-old daughter Harmone'e to death in December 2011.
• Schofield Barracks, Hawaii: Spc. Naeem Williams is charged in connection with the torture death of his daughter, Talia. His wife, Delilah, has pleaded guilty to murder and will testify against her husband, who faces the death penalty. Trial is scheduled for next year.
War and waivers
The Army's child abuse and neglect epidemic is tragic and rapidly getting worse: Last year's 3,698 reported cases of abuse and neglect represented a 40 percent increase over the 2,626 in 2009.
The causes are not fully explained or understood anywhere, but the spike in abuse and neglect cases dovetails with the grind of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a policy of allowing people with criminal backgrounds into the ranks.
The Army offers a number of programs providing support resources to Army parents under stress, but officials concede difficulties in preventing abuse cases.
“We have problems identifying them before it becomes a tragedy,” Robichaux said.
Officials, troops and others in the community missed significant evidence that children were in danger in several cases reviewed by Army Times. Two of those cases resulted in the death of the child.
In one case, a child was starved to death over a five-month period while he, his mother and sister were living illegally in Army family housing at Fort Sill.
In a second case at Schofield Barracks, day care employees called military police to report that a 5-year-old girl had marks on her body that looked like abuse. But an Army doctor who examined her told police he was “98 to 99 percent” sure it wasn't abuse. No one was notified, the child was returned to her parents. She was beaten to death by her soldier father four months later.
The 2009-12 spike coincides with the end of combat in Iraq, a drawdown in Afghanistan and the return of tens of thousands of troops to their homes. Some soldiers who harmed children may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress.
But child abuse cases plagued the Army even as the wars were at their peaks and stateside posts were practically ghost towns. The stress on spouses left to deal alone with domestic issues often was at the root of child abuse cases.
Some of the problem of abusive troops in the ranks owes to the fact that the Army sometimes either does a poor job vetting those seeking to join or is denied access to criminal histories that would help weed out undesirables.
Spc. Joseph Allsop entered the Army despite a juvenile record for child molestation, a record the Army didn't learn about until years later, after he abused several kids. According to Army Recruiting Command, about 10 to 15 states will not allow access to juvenile records during routine background checks of recruits.
Recruiters are forced to rely on their questioning of potential recruits about previous scrapes with the law. Allsop apparently lied about his past, and Army officials were not allowed to review his criminal record as a juvenile.
A spokesman for Recruiting Command said a person with a sex offender conviction would not have been allowed to enter the Army.
Allsop is now serving two life sentencesin a Texas prison for sexually assaulting and murdering his 5-month-old daughter, Jade.
In congressional testimony in June, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno acknowledged that the Army's background checks are often incomplete.
“Background checks are done,” Odierno said in response to a Senate Armed Services Committee question June 4 about preventing sexual assault. “But the ability to identify sexual offenders is certainly not 100 percent right now. We have to do a better job of doing that.“
Although his testimony was about sexual assault, it also applies to child abuse.
In some cases, the Army knew the soldiers' troubled backgrounds and still allowed them into the Army.
From 2003 to 2008, the Army enrolled 75,197 soldiers on waivers, more than half of them related to illegal conduct in civilian life. Of those, 34,338 soldiers were allowed into the ranks in spite of records that included felony arrests and convictions, or serious misdemeanor violations, according to Army statistics.
Army officials refuse to say whether any of the soldiers involved in child abuse and neglect cases were admitted on waivers.
Support from the Army
In 2005, the Army began establishing child and behavioral health centers at major installations. They are now at five bases; the plan is to establish them at all large bases by 2017.
“The Army has a number of programs aimed at helping soldiers at home,” said Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler. “Military family life consultants don't just focus on post-traumatic stress and individual soldiers, they also have opportunities for family members. We've also got child and family assistance centers, and new parents support programs that are available for soldiers.”
The Army has also started the School Behavioral Health Program, operating at Army schools at eight major Army installations. The Army has also created a parenting course, providing specialists who will teach young families how to cope with newborns.
R.I. investigators find 8 cases of child abuse, neglect in state-licensed homes
by Katherine Gregg
PROVIDENCE — State investigators have documented more than a half-dozen cases of alleged abuse and neglect in the last two years in Rhode Island's $13.6-million home-based child-care system.
The signing by Governor Chafee of a new law allowing upward of 580 child-care providers to unionize — and requiring the state to negotiate terms with them — has put the spotlight on the state-licensed care of more than 2,170 children in other people's homes.
It has also raised questions about the level of state responsibility if something goes awry after the state, the union and the daycare workers forge their new contractual relationship.
Between July 1, 2011, and June 30, the Department of Children, Youth and Families investigated eight home-based daycare providers over alleged abuse and neglect, including one whose husband is currently facing trial for alleged child molestation and another who left the care of the children to an “unauthorized caregiver.”
Some were less serious than others.
For example: An eight-month-old child was hit by a 2-year-old in child care. Among the DCYF investigator's findings were “physical neglect/cut, welt, bruising … lack of supervision.”
The agency approved a “corrective action plan to address supervision in the home.”
Kevin Savage, DCYF's administrator of licensing and regulation, said the documented problems at eight of the 582 licensed child-care homes reflect on little more than 1 percent of the providers, showing “it is a safe environment for children to be cared [for] in.”
But some of the cases were serious, according to a summary the DCYF provided in response to a Journal inquiry:
In July 2011, David L. Lyons, 69, of Coventry, was “accused of sexually molesting children” in the state-licensed, home child care that his wife, Lynda, operated at 59 Hopkins Hill Rd. The criminal case is still pending, with Lyons facing four counts of second-degree child molestation.
In February 2012, an unnamed home child-care provider “allowed [an] unauthorized caregiver to watch children while she did an errand.”
In September 2012, a 2-year-old “left the home and walked across the street.”
In April 2013, a doctor confirmed that a child had “been the victim of inflicted injury.” The injury was attributed to “institutional abuse and neglect/corporal punishment.” But “the perpetrator could not be determined” and the suspended license was reinstated.
Only in the Lyons case, which began when a mother told the police that Lyons had molested her 6-year-old daughter — was a child-care license revoked because of something that happened during the child-care day.
According to a Coventry police statement on the day of Lyons' arrest: “It was later determined that David Lyons also molested the victim's 9-year-old sister and an unrelated 11-year-old girl.”
The Lyons' daycare license was suspended July 18, three days after the mother reported the incident to the Coventry police. The license was revoked the day after his arrest on Oct. 25, 2011.
Lyons was initially charged with three counts of second-degree child molestation; a fourth count was added after a fourth victim was identified. It is alleged that Lyons molested four girls, from 5 to 11 years old, between October 2008 and December 2010, according to the attorney general's office.
A second home child-care license was revoked, but it was after a “family investigation” that “did not involve children in daycare.”
In other cases, the investigations resulted in a “corrective action plan,” the lifting of a suspension after an inconclusive investigation or the denial of a license renewal for a previously licensed child-care provider, in the face of sexual abuse allegations that “did not involve children in daycare.”
Savage said there were 11 other investigations that involved families of people who had home child-care licenses but no longer do.
Savage was responding to a broad Journal inquiry about how the state's home-based child-care system works. The request was made after Rhode Island lawmakers approved — and Chafee signed — the new law allowing the home child-care workers to unionize.
“Any time there is a major allegation, we are concerned about it,” Savage said. “You look at the Lyons case, in particular, it is alarming.
“It is not completely problem-free, but the department responds to each complaint, to every allegation, and to every case that rises to the need of investigation.”
Savage also noted his agency's decision in March to increase the frequency of its child-care home inspections, conducted by six caseworkers and two curriculum advisers. Under the new policy, they all must be inspected once a year.
There were 319 “monitoring visits” in 2012, which began with 678 homes, and 407 visits by DCYF home inspectors in the 2013 budget year, which began with 633 homes.
Another agency, the Department of Administration, will be responsible, however, for negotiating pay, benefits and other contractual arrangements with the home-daycare providers.
Asked last week if he had any concerns about the potential implications for the state if a child is sexually molested or injured after state and the child-care providers forge their new legal relationship, Administration Director Richard Licht said: “DOA does not believe the statute expands the liability of the state.”
Added Beryl Kenyon, spokeswoman for the state's Office of Health and Human Services: “A change in the contractual relationship does not affect our ongoing concern for the safety, health and well-being of our children.
“However, the unionization of home-based child-care providers does not impact the state's liability, since they are not state workers.”
DCYF, DHS and OHHS are not the only arms of state government involved.
While the new law does not bestow state employee status on the home-based workers, it provides them with bargaining rights previously reserved for state employees — such as mediation and, if that doesn't work, arbitration.
It also requires the Labor Relations Board to step outside its familiar role as a decision-maker in cases involving public employees.
On its website, the labor relations board describes its jurisdiction this way: “State law does not expressly limit the Board's jurisdiction over employers; however … As a practical matter, for many years, the Board's cases have been limited to municipal, state and quasi-state” employers.
Administrator Robyn Golden said the new law requires the board, “upon the filing of a proper petition for representation of [the child-care] providers,” to conduct a secret-ballot election.
The union leading the drive — the Service Employees International Union 1199 — has not responded to inquiries, but is already billing itself on its website as: “Rhode Island's Family Child Care Union.”
At this point, Golden is unsure who would be authorized to verify the names on the petition, but says: “Once the petition and the cards of interest have been submitted, the Board … will inquire.”
Subsidized child-care is available in Rhode Island for children under age 13 in families with incomes below 180 percent of the federal poverty level, which currently stands at $23,550 for a family of four.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the overall taxpayer cost for subsidized child-care in Rhode Island was $53.2 million, with $13.6 million going to the home-daycare providers. The licensed homes were approved for up to 3,772 children.
The reimbursement rates range from $49 to $155 a week for home-based child care, depending on the age of the child and who is providing the care — a certified provider or a family friend, relative or neighbor. That could include a grandmother taking care of as many as six of her own grandchildren.
The vast majority of the licensed home-daycare providers — 555 of the 579, as of July 17 — were receiving state subsidies. The number with licenses has since grown to 582.
Bing To Add Alerts For Child Abuse On Pedophile Related Queries; But Google Rejects The Idea
by Barry Schwartz
Bing has confirmed they will be adding a new pop-up alert of some sorts for those who search for images of child abuse, according to the BBC. This is to be launched in the UK after the UK Prime Minister attacked Google, Bing & Yahoo over not doing enough to stop child pornography.
Google has reportedly rejected the idea of news alert pop ups in an effort to prevent pedophiles from finding or looking for images of children through their search engine.
Microsoft told the BBC that the notifications aimed “to stop those who may be drifting towards trying to find illegal child abuse content on the web via search engines”. “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 added.
A Google spokesperson told the Daily Mail, “We use purpose-built technology and work with child safety organisations to find, remove and report child abuse imagery, because we never want this material to appear in our search results.”
Funding Spared to Help Victims of Child Abuse Public News Service
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - People who run the dozen Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) in Arkansas celebrated this month - but only briefly - as both the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees kept their federal funding in the budget.
It's one step in a longer process. The centers coordinate child abuse investigation and treatment, and they piece together funding from a variety of sources.
They were stunned when, for the second year, President Obama didn't include any money for CACs in his budget. Congress has now disagreed with him, although according to Denise Edwards, senior government affairs officer for the National Children's Alliance, the federal dollars are still not a sure thing.
"The next step is for each of these bills in the House and Senate to go to their respective floors," she said. "At each level, there is the potential that the money could be stripped out, because until a bill is 'gaveled' and signed into law, you honestly can't take anything for granted."
Arkansas' CACs handled 3,900 cases last year. They provide a safe place for children who have been abused to get medical and mental health care, and to talk with specially-trained forensic interviewers without having to recount their stories at multiple steps in the legal process.
The National Children's Alliance is the membership and accrediting organization for more than 850 Children's Advocacy Centers around the nation.
Edwards said she's been on Capitol Hill a lot in recent weeks, stressing the fact that handling child abuse cases through a CAC saves communities about $1000 per case by coordinating services.
"You remind them of why they would want to fight for you, because, I mean, the budget numbers are just so tough that you've just got to have as many people fighting for you as possible, so that you ultimately end up staying in the budget," Edwards said. "And the Arkansas delegation, the entire delegation, is very supportive."
The federal funding proposed for the Victims of Child Abuse Act is $19 million, the same as in the previous budget year. CACs also receive some state funding and private donations.
Child abuse most often perpetrated by immediate family
by Ben Grubb
New research shows that the majority of adults who were abused as children were harmed by those in their immediate family rather than by those in religious, educational or health institutions.
The research, based on statistics from over 3500 incoming calls to the Adults Surviving Child Abuse helpline over the past four years, quashes the perception that most abuse happens inside institutions.
The findings show that 63 per cent of callers said they were abused by someone from their immediate family, compared to 18 per cent who said they were abused by perpetrators from institutions.
They also show that 20 per cent said they were abused by a member of their extended family, 10 per cent by family friends, and 2 per cent by strangers. There were also 19 per cent who said they were abused by multiple perpetrators.
“It is confronting to learn about the high numbers of people who are abused by those who are close to them – in positions of care, nurture and trust," Adults Surviving Child Abuse president, Dr Cathy Kezelman, said.
"However it's a harsh reality that needs to be addressed."
Francis Sullivan, head of the Australian Catholic Church's Truth, Justice and Healing Council, said the statistics did not "remove the obligation of the religious bodies to come forward with the truth".
Although there was a "heavy emphasis" at the moment on child sex abuse in churches, thanks to a Royal Commission, Mr Sullivan cautioned people against using the statistics as a defence.
"I think it's generally been known that child sex abuse has largely always occurred in domestic settings," he said.
"[But] it's imperative that the Church atones for its behaviour and demonstrates to the community that it will have a zero tolerance approach to child abuse and will work overtime to eradicate it."
Dr Kezelman said the Royal Commission had brought to light the horrors of child sex abuse in Australian institutions.
"The government is to be commended on its leadership and support for Australians who've been impacted in this way," she said.
"However, it is important to remember that childhood trauma occurs in a diversity of settings and by a range of perpetrators – not solely within our institutions."
Dr Kezelman revealed the data as the organisation opened new premises for its national office and an expanded call centre on Monday in Neutral Bay, NSW, after securing $1.5 million in funding from the Federal Government.
The funding will mean the organisation can expand its online services and referral database, and its telephone counselling line (1300 657 380) from four hours a day, Monday to Friday, to a full seven days from 9am to 5pm.
The Federal minister for mental health and ageing, Jacinta Collins, said these services would help survivors of childhood complex trauma, their carers and the health professionals who work with them.