National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


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EDITOR'S NOTE: Occasionally we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.

We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
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Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
Recent News - News from other times

September - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.


Royal commission's public hearings into child sexual abuse to begin in Sydney

by Philippa McDonald and Rebecca Armitage

Make no mistake, few institutions caring for children in Australia are likely to be spared the scrutiny of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Public hearings begin in Sydney tomorrow and the commission's chief Janette Dines says it will look "very broadly at institutions".

"We're looking at all sorts of institutions that have responsibility to look after children, and this week there are five institutions whose conduct will be examined," she said.

They include Scouts Australia, a New South Wales Government department, the Hunter Aboriginal Children's Service and its former head, Steven Larkins.

In coming months the Salvation Army, YMCA and Catholic Church could be among the institutions whose conduct will be examined by the commissioners.

Part of the royal commission's terms of reference is "to bear witness to the abuse and trauma inflicted on people who suffered sexual abuse as children in institutions".

Ms Dines says the public should prepare themselves for the shocking details.

"We believe the public will be shocked to begin to learn just how difficult life has been for people who have experienced child sexual abuse in an institution," she said.

"We also think people will be shocked to learn the broad range of institutions where child sexual abuse has occurred in the past, and I think the other thing that will shock people will be the severity of physical abuse that often accompanies sexual abuse."

She says victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have come forward in their thousands.

"We've had an overwhelming response - 5,000 have called the royal commission and at least 2,000 of those have expressed interest in coming forward and talking to the royal commissioner," Ms Dines said.

Thousands of victims come forward

Four hundred people have given evidence in private hearings, another 400 people have registered to give evidence in private and another 1,000 people are waiting to hear if they will get a hearing.

Twenty-three people are coming forward every day and on average 10 every day are under serious consideration for a private hearing.

Dr Cathy Kezelman from Adults Surviving Child Abuse says it is a very big undertaking.

"What we hear from people who have been engaged in private hearings, they’re feeling heard, they’re feeling respected and people are getting a chance to tell their story," she said.

"They've had their feelings validated. That's crucial for survivors.

"Survivors really struggle with trust so as they watch the commission unfold; more people will be coming forward. People who have worked in the industry are not shocked by the numbers sadly.

"It's an enormous number of Australians who have been impacted."

The start of the public hearings come exactly one year after whistleblower and New South Wales Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox spoke out about child sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy.

His and others allegations of institutional cover-ups were part of the momentum which led to the establishment of the royal commission.

"Twelve months is a long time but many, many people have been waiting much longer than that for this to actually underway so it is a huge relief and it is wonderful to see it starting," Detective Chief Inspector Fox said.

"I've spoken to a number of survivors, victims and family members, the response has been fantastic. A father and son who spoke to the commission came out feeling ecstatic.

"They'd been listened to, they'd been treated with courtesy and dignity and they're able to tell their full story.

"One analogy that was told to me was that it was a little like Vietnam veterans who felt left out for so long have now finally been embraced by the Australian people. Victims of abuse feel very similar, that their voices will be listened to and things done to change the way we deal with these crimes."

Teresa Scott from the peak child protection body NAPCAN sounds a word of warning.

"Last year alone, according to Australian statistics, nearly 6,000 children were sexually abused, but that only makes up 12 per cent of all of the child abuse in Australia in one year," she said.

"This is happening in family homes where children are meant to be safe so abuse is not just happening in institutions.

" It is happening in families and on a much bigger scale. So this is a community issue that all of us need to be aware of and all of us should look out for the wellbeing of children."

Ms Scott says she would like to think the level of institutional abuse has dropped over the past 20 years, simply because of the changes in the way residential placements, orphanages and the like are run.

"But we don't know until we open the doors on this sort of thing," she said.

'A nation-changing event'

The royal commission has held private sessions in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne, Darwin and Hobart.

Royal commissioners have also spoken to members of Indigenous communities in the Kimberly and Geraldton.

In each private session a counsellor is present and witnesses are offered ongoing support. Some have never told their story before, even to those closest to them.

As far as Detective Chief Inspector Fox is concerned it is a watershed in our history.

"I don't think a lot of people probably realise it yet. Certainly by the end of the royal commission everyone will acknowledge, as Julia Gillard said, this is going to be a nation-changing event," he said.

The royal commission has funding of $277.9 million over four years. An interim report is expected in June next year.



Northern Ireland hit by child sex abuse scandal

Police identify 22 young people who were in care homes but may have been abused outside the system

by Conal Urquhart

Police in Northern Ireland have begun a major investigation into long-term abuse of children and young adults who had been in care.

Edwin Poots, the health minister, said the allegations were on a scale with recent scandals in Rochdale and Oxford.

Police have identifed 22 young people they believe may have been at risk. The people were in care but the alleged abuse is understood to have taken place outside the care system.

The police said in a statement that officers had become "increasingly concerned about the issue of child sexual exploitation following an internal review".

"As part of this review, we have identified a group of 22 young people who may be at risk from child sexual exploitation and are seeking to identify those who may have committed crimes against them."

Paul Givan, the chairman of the justice committee, described the reports of child sexual exploitation as "gravely disturbing".

"The horrors of these crimes leave us only to pray for the victims and work towards ensuring the perpetrators are brought to justice," he told the BBC.

"The public will be deeply concerned at this development and need to hear from the relevant authorities as to what has happened."

The abuse investigation is due to be discussed at Stormont on Monday, in a joint meeting of the assembly's health and justice committees.

Poots and justice minister David Ford are due to attend the meeting which was called by Givan.

Givan said the meeting would provide "an opportunity to probe what actions are being taken to investigate and bring to justice those responsible".


United Kingdom

'Daniel Pelka' Law To Make It Mandatory To Report Child Abuse

by Jessica Elgot

The violent death of four-year-old Daniel Pelka means teachers and carers who spot bruising and extreme hunger in children should be obligated by law to report signs of abuse, according to a new campaign.

Around 50,000 people have signed a petition for Daniel Pelka's Law, named after the four-year-old murdered by his mother and step father, after years of beatings and starvation.

Paula Barrow, a Manchester-based mother-of-two, began the petition on, to call on the government to make it mandatory for those who spot abuse to report it to the police or social services.

Her petition is backed by five leading abuse charities, the National Association of People Abused In Childhood, Survivors UK, Respond, Innocence In Danger and the Survivors Trust.

Barrow said she was "deeply affected by Daniel's story and extremely concerned that many of the circumstances surrounding his death are all too reminiscent of other appalling cases of child abuse over recent years.

"Once again we learn how people in responsible positions were in regular contact with a child in distress, but failed to take the necessary action to save his life."

She pointed to the mandatory reporting laws in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, South Africa, Sweden, USA and New Zealand but there is currently no legal requirement of anyone working with children in the UK to report suspected or known abuse to either the appropriate local authority officer or to the police.

"Although child abuse is of course a crime, reporting it is – unbelievably - entirely discretionary.

"Along with many others, I find it incomprehensible that teachers, teaching assistants and other staff in Daniel's school did not do more to help him," Barrow said in the introduction to her petition.

Coventry couple Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek were found guilty of Daniel's murder last month and sentenced to 30 years in prison, but a court heard that doctors and teachers had seen Daniel with injuries, and school staff saw him fishing in bins and stealing from children's lunchboxes for scraps of food, there was no intervention by any of the agencies responsible for child protection.

Geoffrey Robinson, the MP for Coventry North West, publicly expressed his anger at Daniel's school and at social services, calling for the resignation of key individuals, saying: “bureaucracy triumphed over common sense, care, and compassion... people seeing a kid beaten, starved to death in our own country. You can't just say there is nothing we can do about it."

A serious case review into how education and social services systems failed Daniel is now underway.


ICE Launches Operation Predator Smartphone App

by James A. Dinkins, Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched a new smartphone app today, designed to seek the public's help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators. This app is the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement.

The Operation Predator App enables those who download it to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. Additionally, the app enables users to view news about arrests and prosecutions of child predators and additional resources about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.

ICE's Office of Public Affairs developed the app with special agents from HSI's Cyber Crimes Center (C3) and field offices across the country in order to seek the public's help with information about child predators wanted for criminal prosecution. Currently, the Operation Predator app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or iTunes. ICE is also planning to expand compatibility to other smartphones in the near future.

HSI's Victim Identification Program seeks to rescue child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation and bring the perpetrators to justice. These investigations are 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.

For more information from ICE on the Operation Predator App, you can watch this video, or visit here. (Video on site)


From ICE

ICE continues appeal for public's help to identify 'John Doe' and locate other fugitives on newly launched app

Download the app at
Photos and b-roll available at

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is continuing its public appeal for tips leading to the identification of an unknown man wanted for questioning about the production of child pornography involving a 10 to 12-year-old girl.

"John Doe" was profiled on a new app launched by ICE Thursday. The unidentified man is featured at the top of the list of suspected child predators wanted by HSI.

HSI is requesting that anyone with information about John Doe or the other fugitives profiled to contact the agency in one of two ways: Call the ICE Tip Line, which is staffed 24-hours a day: (866) 347-2423 from the U.S. & Canada or (802) 872-6199 from anywhere in the world, or complete an online tip form at:

The new Operation Predator smartphone app is the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement, designed to seek the public's help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators. All tips can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"John Doe" is believed to be living somewhere in the United States or Canada, but he could be anywhere in the world. The first video file was discovered by Interpol and submitted to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2006. The full series was last seen by HSI special agents in Los Angeles in 2013 during execution of a search warrant. The four videos show the prepubescent girl being sexually abused by an adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes. In the videos, the offender has a full beard and wears glasses. Both he and the child are seen in a room with wood paneled walls with framed photos, a black computer, desk with sewing machine and brown patterned curtains.

In addition to profiling John Doe cases like this, the new smartphone app contains photos and information about known fugitives in HSI criminal cases involving sexually abused and exploited children.

The Operation Predator App enables those who download it to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. Additionally, the app enables users to view news about arrests and prosecutions of child predators and additional resources about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.

Currently, the app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or iTunes. ICE is also planning to expand compatibility to other smartphones in the near future.

HSI's Victim Identification Program seeks to rescue child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

These investigations are 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.


From ICE

Michigan man profiled in HSI's Operation Predator app arrested

DETROIT – Less than 36 hours after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) rolled out a new Operation Predator smartphone app to solicit information from the public about wanted child predators, a Michigan man profiled in the app was arrested.

Mark Robert Austin was arrested Friday afternoon without incident by HSI and FBI special agents along with officers from the Michigan State Police in the Flint, Mich., area after numerous tips from the public were called in to the ICE tip line. Following the national and regional publicity generated by the app's announcement, several members of the public called in tips indicating known areas Austin frequented.

The criminal complaint and arrest warrant for Austin was signed April 30 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and unsealed Aug. 2. At that time, HSI had little information about his exact whereabouts, but he was believed to be living in southeastern Michigan. Austin was charged with allegedly downloading more than 100 images and nearly a dozen videos of child pornography.

He is currently being held on state charges of distribution of marijuana. Additional details about the arrest are being withheld pending his initial appearance in federal court to answer to the child pornography charges.

"One of the primary goals of this app was to make the world a very small place for suspected child predators to hide," said William Hayes, acting special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. "The arrest of Mr. Austin certainly proves that goal was accomplished."

This investigation is 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.


From ICE

Second man guilty of sex trafficking 4-year-old, producing child pornography

JACKSON, Miss. — An Atlanta man was convicted in U.S. District Court Wednesday on human trafficking and child pornography production charges for traveling to Mississippi where he had sex with a 4-year-old girl and videotaped the abuse. This conviction follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Massachusetts' Cambridge Police Department.

According to court documents, Marco Laquin Rogers, 27, of Atlanta, traveled to a Jackson hotel in May 2012 to have sex with the child and videotape the act. Rogers is scheduled to be sentenced in December before U.S. District Judge David Bramlette III. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison on the human trafficking charge and up to 30 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for production of child pornography.

"The horrific abuse inflicted upon a defenseless child in this case is unspeakable, and yet this individual went even further by recording and sharing the evidence of his sexual crimes," said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "Predators destroy lives, and HSI will continue to do everything it can to protect children by investigating and seeking prosecution wherever these criminals may be found."

Parmer oversees a five-state region including Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Co-defendant Jemery Atral Hodges, 26, of Cambridge, Mass., pleaded guilty to the same charges June 20 and is scheduled to be sentenced later this month. Both men were indicted in November for having sex with the child after Hodges showed another man child pornography images on his phone, and that man reported it to local law enforcement.

Cambridge police subsequently contacted HSI Atlanta and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who worked in coordination with HSI Jackson to investigate this case, which led to the identification and rescue of the child victim.

"The safety and well-being of young children is a high priority for the Department of Justice," said Southern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis. "Our office will continue to aggressively prosecute these cases to protect the vulnerable and innocent victims of such crimes."

"This particular case could have persisted over a period of time if it wasn't for how our investigators pursued what appeared to be a local crime. Working with our federal partners led to the resolution of this horrific act that seemingly has no jurisdictional restrictions. We have been fortunate to have such close ties with our federal partners, without which, this criminal may not have been brought to justice," said Commissioner Robert C. Haas of the Cambridge Police Department.

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.



Bill would target domestic human trafficking

by Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje

When Debbie was 6 years old, her mother began prostituting her, injecting her with heroin before she sold her to a parade of men. This abuse continued until she was 12.

“People think human trafficking only happens in (other countries), but it can be happening right next door,” Debbie, who didn't want her last name used, told a panel of child welfare, social service and law enforcement officials Friday.

The event served as the unveiling of proposed legislation that aims to increase support for the victims of domestic sex trafficking while it provides new tools to prosecute such crimes.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, co-sponsored with Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, will add to existing federal efforts to combat what he called the “scourge of human trafficking.”

“We have to make human trafficking unprofitable, and we have to make the consequences such that people simply don't want to risk it,” he said.

The bill would create a special fund that would finance human trafficking deterrence and victims' support programs through fines and penalties assessed on those convicted of child pornography, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and human smuggling offenses.

Currently, about $20 million to $30 million in federal money goes to domestic trafficking prevention and deterrence — far less than that dedicated to international trafficking deterrence programs, Cornyn said.

His bill would boost federal funding for domestic human trafficking victim support programs by an estimated $10 million to $20 million.

Other elements include enhanced tools to make it easier for prosecutors and others to go after those who ply the domestic sex trade and those who patronize it.

It increases maximum penalties for human trafficking-related offenses and requires states to report the number of such crimes, among other stipulations.

Cornyn's bill comes in the wake of the recent Texas legislative session, as well as prior sessions, when Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and other lawmakers were able to get numerous anti-human trafficking bills passed that target the problem at the state level, including stricter penalties, increased victim protections and more tools to aid investigations and prosecutions.

“What's so complicated about human trafficking is that victims don't necessarily consider themselves victims,” Cornyn said. “They've been abused in their homes, they're runaways. ... Treating them as victims instead of offenders is the beginning of wisdom.”

Debbie, 39, said she didn't get the help she needed until she was arrested for drugs. After serving five months in jail, she completed a Bexar County drug court 24-month rehabilitation program.

“I've been clean for two years now,” she said.

About 300,000 youths are at risk of entering the domestic sex trade nationwide each year, said Kirsta Melton, an attorney with the Bexar County district attorney's office.

She said the number of local human trafficking investigations tripled from 2011 to 2012 — from 55 to 15— largely due to increased training and awareness among local law enforcement.

“But we know that without long-term rehabilitation services, youth are more likely to go back” to trafficking after they've been rescued, she told the panel. “That's not a cycle we can afford. We have to provide services that help them turn their lives around.”


North Carolina


The more we learn about human trafficking, the greater the concern

Slavery has long been illegal in this country, but it still exists in an underworld that exploits desperate people for profit. Workers are moved from place to place and forced to labor in abhorrent conditions. Minors and young women are forced to trade sex for money, their handlers setting up makeshift brothels in different towns.

We shake our heads, shocked that such a thing still exists in the land of the free. Surely not here! We blame the victims, because we don't want to believe that this cruel business thrives in our community. After all, they wouldn't be victims if they hadn't put themselves in such a vulnerable position, right? But the evidence is irrefutable. Very likely as you read this, activity of this sort is occurring right here in our backyard.

Because they operate underground and through intimidation, the exploiters often escape detection. Until very recently, most law enforcement officers had little guidance in how to spot these illegal operations. And so the cycle continues.

The victims, too, are people who fail to gain our attention:

Runaways seeking … what? … acceptance, love, a better life, enticed by a seemingly sympathetic pimp who promises to take care of them, but who doesn't let on that once in, they cannot leave. Illegal immigrants looking for a new life in the land of plenty, only to find themselves toiling away for paltry wages and living in squalor.

Awareness is the first step in rooting out the exploiters. An ongoing effort to teach police officers and deputies how to spot the subtle signs of human trafficking – they can be as simple as a strategically placed tattoo that marks a young woman as the pimp's property – should keep law enforcement on alert. Port workers and motor vehicle inspectors should keep a sharp eye out for cargo containers that may contain people instead of products.

Most of all, law enforcement agencies must make uncovering trafficking a higher priority.

A conference in Raleigh last week that brought together a variety of law enforcement, government and advocacy groups is a good start. Often agencies don't talk to one another. Better cooperation and coordination are necessary, because the exploiters are very good at avoiding detection.

The director of an organization that has been working for years to fight sex trafficking was especially pleased to see federal officials participating so prominently. These activities cross state lines; state and local officials cannot make a dent in human trafficking operations without considerable federal support.

Here in North Carolina, however, the General Assembly has taken steps to impose tougher punishment on people convicted of sex trafficking. State Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, championed legislation that seeks to warn traffickers that they'll be harshly punished if caught here.

As with all illegal businesses, there would be no profit without a market. A greater focus is also needed on punishing those who pay the exploiters to provide slave labor or prostitutes. They are just as guilty as the pimp or labor trafficker in allowing this sordid business to prosper.



Rescued from sex trafficking, but then what?
Victims are sometimes on their own

by Joe Tarr

On July 29, the Federal Bureau of Investigation trumpeted the results of a three-day sting in 46 cities around the country combating sex trafficking. According to the FBI, law enforcement rescued 105 children who had been sexually exploited, arresting 150 pimps and others involved.

In Wisconsin, police rescued 10 children from trafficking, including two 17-year-old girls in Madison.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen was quick to praise the efforts, saying: "Children rescued as a result of these types of operations are often vulnerable and have been misled with promises of food, shelter and a future, and oftentimes, love, only to be ensnared into a life of isolation, intimidation, violence and sex trafficking."

But whether the victims swept up in the sting were actually rescued remains to be seen. One of the two girls found in Madison spent several days in the Dane County Jail, facing a felony charge for a related offense. Isthmus could not confirm details regarding the other victim with law enforcement or advocates. The situation underscores the fact that simply finding a trafficking victim does not guarantee he or she will be helped.

JoAnn Gruber-Hagen, founder of the advocacy group Slave Free Madison, says, "It would be more appropriate to say 'two people were removed from trafficking.' 'Rescue' would imply they are in a safe place, and unfortunately that's not the case."

It's happening here

The term "sex trafficking" is somewhat deceptive, conjuring images of people being kidnapped in developing countries and forced into slavery in a foreign land. Foreign victims do sometimes end up trafficked to Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism found in a 2011 report that people had been trafficked to Wisconsin from 17 countries. But for the most part, when authorities talk about trafficking victims, they're referring to people who already live here.

"When they created this term, they took it off arms and drug trafficking, so they called it 'human trafficking,'" says Gruber-Hagen. "What it connotes is you go from point A to point B. But movement is not a requirement for it to occur. You can be trafficked in your own home."

Slave Free Madison defines human trafficking as "recruiting, harboring, obtaining or transporting a person by means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation, commercial sex acts or labor exploitation."

It's hard to know how widespread the crime is. Says Gruber-Hagen, "No one really is required to keep track of this stuff."

Numbers vary greatly. The Polaris Project, a national anti-trafficking organization, reports that its National Human Trafficking Resource Center received 124 calls from Wisconsin in 2012 regarding trafficking, referencing four potential victims. The Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission recently reported that between Aug. 1, 2010, and Aug. 1, 2012, there were 77 youths sexually trafficked in the city, including 25 between the ages of 12 and 15.

Jan Miyasaki, director of Project Respect, the main advocacy and outreach group for prostitutes and trafficking victims in Madison, says her agency aided 34 human trafficking victims in 2012, of which six were juveniles.

Lt. June Groehler of the Madison Police Department says the crime is happening in Madison. "This was a problem once assumed only in developing nations, but it lurks on our street corners," she says. "It's a complex societal problem. Statistics on how many people are victimized vary widely."

Jeanne Schneider, clinical and program coordinator at Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin, or Briarpatch, says her agency only recently began addressing the issue of trafficking. "We're seeing more and more of it, and that's because we're asking more questions."

The agency expected to see one or two cases of sexually trafficked youth a year, Schneider says. But in the first three months of addressing the issue, it identified 10 victims.

Victims directed to services

Finding out how trafficking manifests itself locally is also difficult.

Groehler declines to give details about how the Madison Police Department identifies victims. "Some of that I don't want to release, because if we put that out there, people just change their ways and make it harder to identify," she says.

Leonard Peace, a spokesman for the FBI's office in Milwaukee, says victims in the July sting were identified during the sting itself, in a nationwide push to rescue minors called "Operation Cross Country." "With our law enforcement partners, we targeted online forums and conducted street-level operations," he says.

Schneider says Briarpatch doesn't press youths for details of how they are exploited.

"A lot of the youth are not being very forthcoming. The majority of them have not said 'I'm trading sex for a place to sleep,'" she says. "We don't want to scare youth off by demanding those answers. Briarpatch is a safe place, and we want kids to feel safe here."

In some situations, it's clear something is amiss. Schneider gives the example of a teenager who frequently runs away from home, only to appear days later with expensive clothing, jewelry or other items with no obvious explanation for how she got them.

"I can't say 'here's a kid who has been stuck in a house for a year providing sex to 10 men on a daily basis,'" Schneider says. "It's just clear that something is going on."

Peace says the FBI doesn't keep tabs on what happens to victims after they're rescued from trafficking. "The victims are directed to services that are able to help them get through their circumstances. There are a number of nongovernmental agencies that law enforcement works with, such as job training, housing and counseling," he says. "When we take the victims off the street, we direct them to these services."

In a follow-up email, Peace adds: "Victim specialists try working with all juveniles identified during the operation. Some juveniles are receptive, but others are not."

Juvenile code conflicts

In 1995, Wisconsin changed its juvenile code, requiring that anyone 17 or older who is charged with a crime must be treated as an adult. That change creates a conflict when it comes to dealing with 17-year-old victims. The term "child prostitute" is an oxymoron. Says Schneider: "Legally, in the state of Wisconsin, a youth cannot consent for sex under the age of 18."

Of the two 17-year-old girls who were swept up in the July sting, one spent several days in the Dane County Jail on a gun charge. Her attorney said her family declined to comment to the media or allow an interview with the girl. Isthmus could not determine the whereabouts of the other 17-year-old caught up in the sting.

"There was no place for those two kids to go," laments Gruber-Hagen.

Of the girl who was not put in the Dane County Jail, she says, "As far as we know, she is on her own. No one seems to know where she is right now. She had not broken a law."

The law creates a complicated situation for 17-year-olds who have been trafficked. Lynn Green, director of Dane County Human Services, says that when any 17-year-old is charged as an adult, he or she no longer qualifies for juvenile services related to that crime. "They're not served through the juvenile system anymore," she says. "They're under the supervision of the adult system."

Green says the county can be involved whenever someone younger than 17 is found to have been sexually exploited. Juvenile court can mandate services. Green says the county can also provide services to 17-year-olds who have been trafficked, placing them in foster homes or providing mental health services -- as long as they haven't been charged with a crime.

If the teenager is charged as an adult, human services doesn't get involved, Green says. "We have a lot more services for minors than potentially an adult."

Project Respect's Miyasaki says 17-year-olds charged as adults are put in a tough spot. "They're still too young for adult services. They're sort of in this nowhere land."

While she's never seen a 17-year-old charged with prostitution in Dane County, Miyasaki says many end up being charged with other crimes. "Sex trafficking victims [adults and minors] are frequently charged with crimes," she adds. "Victims could be coerced into committing crimes unrelated to prostitution under threat of being forced to prostitute if she doesn't cooperate. But this threat isn't disclosed to law enforcement by victims due to concern for their own safety."

When prosecutors are aware that girls have been trafficked, they might look for a charge, simply to get them off the streets, Gruber-Hagen says. "Oftentimes prosecutors will look for a violation of a law for the purpose of getting them out of that situation," she says. "The other option is to say, 'You're a victim, out the door you go.'"

Green says the county would "absolutely intervene" when it is made aware of situations involving trafficked children. But she adds, "It doesn't have to be referred to us, and we may never hear about it."

Legislators frequently attempt to change the law to return nonviolent 17-year-olds to the juvenile system, but the idea has yet to find broad support. Wisconsin is one of 11 states that treat 17-year-old offenders as adults. A new bill was introduced last week, but a Wisconsin State Journal article quotes Attorney General Van Hollen's office as being opposed to the idea.

Green would like to see 17-year-olds returned to the juvenile system but adds, "They took the resources away, so we'd need funding to be able to serve them again."

Shelter for minors needed

One of the main objectives of Slave Free Madison is to push for a homeless shelter where minors can go without needing parental consent or the permission of a judge.

In Wisconsin, minors are allowed to stay in a shelter for a night, but then must go to court to get permission to stay longer. "At least there are shelters that adults can go to that are safe," Gruber-Hagen says.

While Madison and other cities have shelters that can take in victims of trafficking, there are none here where minors can go for the long term.

"There are very few shelters for youth, mainly because there are laws that restrict how long a youth can be kept without a parent's approval," Gruber-Hagen says. "Usually they go into child protective services."

Gruber-Hagen would also like to see more funding for the issue. "Right now there are no state dollars devoted to actually helping victims after they have been removed from the trafficking situation."

Slave Free Madison's goal is to raise public awareness. "I've always thought of Madison as a pretty progressive city," Gruber-Hagen says. "But people will just say, 'oh, human trafficking, glad it doesn't happen here.'"

She adds: "There's a lack of readiness of the people of Madison as a whole to accept the fact that this goes on every day in Madison."


Syria's Traumatized Children: A National Security Concern?

by Cecily Hilleary

More than two million children have been displaced inside Syria, and one million more have fled the country as refugees, according to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Uprooted from home and school, many have lost parents and friends, witnessed atrocities and suffered rights violations no child should ever endure. Studies show that of all the consequences of war on societies, its impact on the mental health of children is among the most important. Some experts even say that helping see to the needs of Syria's traumatized children should rank high among U.S. national security priorities.

Psychological effects of war

In one of the few such studies undertaken in wartime, University of Missouri-Columbia researchers interviewed nearly 800 Bosnian children during the 1994 siege of Sarajevo. They found that more than 40 percent of the children were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a mental health disorder most commonly associated with soldiers, but which can affect anyone — though not everyone — who has gone through wartime, natural disasters or other terrifying life event. The symptoms can begin immediately after a traumatic event—or come much later, sometimes months or even years.
Symptoms may include fear, anxiety, depression, anger and aggression, self-destructive behavior, low self-esteem and difficulty in trusting others. Children with PTSD often “re-experience” the trauma, and that experience can be so strong that they may believe they are actually going through the trauma again: One Syrian resident describes how his daughter panics whenever she hears a door slam, believing it to be a bomb.

Children in war zones can become aggressive themselves and use violence to settle their problems. They might also try to act out the trauma they suffered in their drawings, play or conversation.

Twenty years after the start of the Balkan war, Bosnia is coping with serious juvenile delinquency. Hooliganism at football stadiums became so problematic that some stadiums banned attendance by fans of the away teams.

In Afghanistan, nearly one million youth are reported to be addicted to heroin, opium or other drugs. Many children in Iraq take drugs or sell them in order to cope with the after effects of wartime suffering. Girls may take up, or be kidnapped and forced, into prostitution.

Dr. Richard F. Mollica directs the Harvard University Refugee Trauma Program and has spent more than 30 years studying the effects of war-time trauma on survivors of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. Twenty-five years after the war ended, he conducted a study of Cambodian survivors of the war and compared them to a group of Cambodians living in Thailand who had never experienced the war.

Health consequences

“The differences were extraordinary in the sense that there were very high rates of depression—almost 50 percent of the people living in Cambodia 25 years after the genocide. Rates of depression were very high, as well as rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. This compared to the people in Thailand, where the rate of PTSD was just like in the United States—one, maybe two percent—it was really low.”

Individuals who suffer through trauma are more likely to turn take up smoking, drug or alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity to cope with their stress – all with the usual consequences.

“What studies show is that traumatic life experiences plant the seed of serious chronic disease in your life, 25, 30 years later,” Mollica said. “I think the bottom line here is that it's becoming clear that these kinds of life events in both adults and young people set you up for early death due to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic disease.”

Education Interrupted

UNICEF says only about 15 percent of Syrian children are still in school inside the country. Lebanon estimates it will be hosting more 550,000 school-aged Syrian refugees by the end of this year—that's far more than the number of Lebanese?children in the country's public school system. In Jordan, about two-thirds of Syrian school-aged children are out of school. Of the 30,000 school-aged children who live in the Za'atari Refugee Camp, only 12,000 have registered for school. And in Iraq, nine out of 10 refugee children are out of school.


Are Syria's children, then, doomed to a bleak future? Not necessarily and not at all of them, says assistant Professor Theresa Betancourt, who directs Harvard University's Research Program on Children and Global Adversity. But their recovery depends on a number of factors.

“We've been following a cohort of over 500 boys and girls since the end of the war in Sierra Leone in 2002 and we've now tracked them into young adulthood,” she said. “And one thing that's immediately important to consider is that it's really a multi-layered issue, and what comes into play are not just individual factors, but also who's available to the child in terms of attachment figures, what caregivers they've lost, provision of basic attachment relationships and guidance, and then also what the level of the stability and safety of the community, issues of tension between different ethnic groups.”

In other words, how kids fare ultimately depends on a few basics. Betancourt uses the acronym SAFE to describe the fundamental security needs of children.

“They need S afety, freedom from harm; they need A ccess to basic physiological needs—food, clean drinking water, shelter—and we know in the refugee camps now, these are very hard to meet, even in the current crisis; they need F amily and connections to others; and they need access to E ducation and economic security necessary to provide those basic needs," Betancourt said.

A U.S. National Security Concern

U.S. Senator John McCain recently argued in favor of U.S. intervention in Syria, saying, “We now have a million children who are refugees, by the way, who will grow up to hate us because they feel strongly that we have abandoned them…”

?Betancourt says that research shows that youth who relate to a particular ideology—even by identifying with extremist groups involved in violence—suffer less mental health distress.

“Being able to make sense of a very nonsensical situation--that is a basic human need sometimes, and that can often be manipulated,” she said.

And that is why trauma expert Richard Mollica says that the situation among refugees should be made a top national security concern for the United States.

“Until we can accept that the humiliation and degradation of millions of human beings are national security issues, we can't move forward on this,” Mollica said.



Girl's Suicide Points to Rise in Apps Used by Cyberbullies


MIAMI — The clues were buried in her bedroom. Before leaving for school on Monday morning, Rebecca Ann Sedwick had hidden her schoolbooks under a pile of clothes and left her cellphone behind, a rare lapse for a 12-year-old girl.

Rebecca's mother, Tricia Norman, said she had no idea that her daughter, who died this week, was being cyberbullied by about 15 middle-school children, a problem that first arose and was addressed last year.

Inside her phone's virtual world, she had changed her user name on Kik Messenger, a cellphone application, to “That Dead Girl” and delivered a message to two friends, saying goodbye forever. Then she climbed a platform at an abandoned cement plant near her home in the Central Florida city of Lakeland and leaped to the ground, the Polk County sheriff said.

In jumping, Rebecca became one of the youngest members of a growing list of children and teenagers apparently driven to suicide, at least in part, after being maligned, threatened and taunted online, mostly through a new collection of texting and photo-sharing cellphone applications. Her suicide raises new questions about the proliferation and popularity of these applications and Web sites among children and the ability of parents to keep up with their children's online relationships.

For more than a year, Rebecca, pretty and smart, was cyberbullied by a coterie of 15 middle-school children who urged her to kill herself, her mother said. The Polk County sheriff's office is investigating the role of cyberbullying in the suicide and considering filing charges against the middle-school students who apparently barraged Rebecca with hostile text messages. Florida passed a law this year making it easier to bring felony charges in online bullying cases.

Rebecca was “absolutely terrorized on social media,” Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County said at a news conference this week.

Along with her grief, Rebecca's mother, Tricia Norman, faces the frustration of wondering what else she could have done. She complained to school officials for several months about the bullying, and when little changed, she pulled Rebecca out of school. She closed down her daughter's Facebook page and took her cellphone away. She changed her number. Rebecca was so distraught in December that she began to cut herself, so her mother had her hospitalized and got her counseling. As best she could, Ms. Norman said, she kept tabs on Rebecca's social media footprint.

It all seemed to be working, she said. Rebecca appeared content at her new school as a seventh grader. She was gearing up to audition for chorus and was considering slipping into her cheerleading uniform once again. But unknown to her mother, Rebecca had recently signed on to new applications —, and Kik and Voxer — which kick-started the messaging and bullying once again.

“I had never even heard of them; I did go through her phone but didn't even know,” said Ms. Norman, 42, who works in customer service. “I had no reason to even think that anything was going on. She was laughing and joking.”

Sheriff Judd said Rebecca had been using these messaging applications to send and receive texts and photographs. His office showed Ms. Norman the messages and photos, including one of Rebecca with razor blades on her arms and cuts on her body. The texts were full of hate, her mother said: “Why are you still alive?” “You're ugly.”

One said, “Can u die please?” To which Rebecca responded, with a flash of resilience, “Nope but I can live.” Her family said the bullying began with a dispute over a boy Rebecca dated for a while. But Rebecca had stopped seeing him, they said.

Rebecca was not nearly as resilient as she was letting on. Not long before her death, she had clicked on questions online that explored suicide. “How many Advil do you have to take to die?”

In hindsight, Ms. Norman wonders whether Rebecca kept her distress from her family because she feared her mother might take away her cellphone again.

“Maybe she thought she could handle it on her own,” Ms. Norman said.

It is impossible to be certain what role the online abuse may have played in her death. But cyberbullying experts said cellphone messaging applications are proliferating so quickly that it is increasingly difficult for parents to keep pace with their children's complex digital lives.

“It's a whole new culture, and the thing is that as adults, we don't know anything about it because it's changing every single day,” said Denise Marzullo, the chief executive of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, who works with the schools there on bullying issues.

No sooner has a parent deciphered Facebook or Twitter or Instagram than his or her children have migrated to the latest frontier. “It's all of these small ones where all this is happening,” Ms. Marzullo said.

In Britain, a number of suicides by young people have been linked to, and online petitions have been started there and here to make the site more responsive to bullying. The company ultimately responded this year by introducing an easy-to-see button to report bullying and saying it would hire more moderators.

“You hear about this all the time,” Ms. Norman said of cyberbullying. “I never, ever thought it would happen to me or my daughter.”

Questions have also been raised about whether Rebecca's old school, Crystal Lake Middle School, did enough last year to help stop the bullying; some of it, including pushing and hitting, took place on school grounds. The same students also appear to be involved in sending out the hate-filled online messages away from school, something schools can also address.

Nancy Woolcock, the assistant superintendent in charge of antibullying programs for Polk County Schools, said the school received one bullying complaint from Rebecca and her mother in December about traditional bullying, not cyberbullying. After law enforcement investigated, Rebecca's class schedule was changed. Ms. Woolcock said the school also has an extensive antibullying campaign and takes reports seriously.

But Ms. Norman said the school should have done more. Officials told her that Rebecca would receive an escort as she switched classes, but that did not happen, she said.

Rebecca never boarded her school bus on Monday morning. She made her way to the abandoned Cemex plant about 10 minutes away from her modest mobile home; the plant was a place she had used as a getaway a few times when she wanted to vanish. Somehow, she got past the high chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, which is now a memorial, with teddy bears, candles and balloons. She climbed a tower and then jumped.

“Don't ignore your kids,” Ms. Norman said, “even if they seem fine.”



Trailblazing the continent on foot, raising awareness of child sex abuse

by Jessica Hanley

CBeebies actor Matthew McVarish, himself the victim of an abusive uncle, is taking a 16,000km trek to raise awareness of the problem.

Actor Matthew McVarish, who is known to millions as one of the stars of CBeebies series ‘Me Too!', won't stop walking until he has stopped the silence.

Scottish actor Matthew McVarish has decided to take a very long walk – a 16,000km walk in fact.

He walks up to 50km each day, sometimes through sun and often through rain, but always with the same mission: to raise awareness about child sex abuse.

Between this past May and February 2015, McVarish will visit 31 European capitals as part of a project called ‘Road to Change', which endeavours to prevent sex abuse cases by encouraging past victims to speak out. As part of his journey, McVarish stopped in Copenhagen last week after walking from Berlin.

A star of the BBC children's programme ‘Me Too!', McVarish also works as the European ambassador for the non-profit organisation Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse. He said he views his trip around Europe as one of the responsibilities of the position.

“I decided to visit all of the European capitals, but I decided to walk because that way people would be more interested,” he explained. “If I had just flown here, I don't think the cause would get as much attention.”

Connected to the cause

For McVarish, the project has a particularly personal significance. The youngest of seven siblings, McVarish and three of his older brothers were all sexually abused by their uncle as children.

“As quite often happens, we didn't talk about it,” he said. “About five years ago, three of my brothers were very depressed and struggling. I was looking for some help, and I found Stop the Silence.”

Inspired by the organisation, McVarish went on to write a play, ‘To Kill a Kelpie', about two brothers discussing their experiences with sex abuse. The production motivated his own brothers to speak out themselves, and the four later pressed charges against their uncle, who is now in prison.

“I think when my brothers saw the misery they were experiencing on stage, they realised how important it was that we do something,” he said.

McVarish pointed out, however, that his intentions weren't to drag out the past for him or for anyone he meets on the road. Instead, he hopes to help prevent cases of abuse in the future by encouraging victims to speak up.

“I've spoken to thousands of survivors on my walk, and I ask them if they've ever talked to the police. Many say that they don't feel strong enough to stand in the same courtroom as the person who abused them,” he said.

“I completely understand that, because it's very difficult,” he went on. “But I ask them: ‘Do you think you're stronger as an adult than the child that same person might abuse tonight, or tomorrow, or next week?' It's not about seeking revenge or compensation, it's about child protection right now.”

Stopping the silence

In each city he visits, McVarish meets with public officials to encourage policy change, particularly in regards to the respective country's statute of limitations for reporting cases of child sex abuse. While no statute exists in McVarish's home country, it is currently set at ten years in Denmark and varies throughout Europe.

“There will always be cases just outside of the bracket, no matter the amount of time,” McVarish said. “And the person who abused them could still be out walking the streets.”

But the main focus of his walk, McVarish pointed out, is to facilitate open discussions about abuse in communities where the topic is seldom addressed.

“There are an estimated 100 million abuse survivors in Europe, many of them in rural areas. So for their local paper to have a guy on the front page talking about sex abuse not as a scandal, but just trying to deal with it, can be very valuable.”

“People in smaller countries often find it more difficult to report because everyone in the community knows each other,” he went on. “Nobody wants to speak out against their neighbour.”

On the road

After a week-long stay, McVarish departed Copenhagen on the morning of Saturday, September 7 and headed towards Helsingør, accompanied for a short leg by the British ambassador, Vivien Life. He will next stop in Stockholm on September 28.

While issues like weather or a low mobile battery have occasionally made the trip uncomfortable, the road has been relatively smooth thus far.

“I was walking through a national park recently and walked right past a wild boar,” he chuckled. “Otherwise, I've seen lots of snakes, but none were a threat, and I've had no trouble with people.”

“Once a day while I've been walking through Denmark, someone would stop me on the highway and offer to give me a lift, but I always said: ‘No thanks'. They'd ask where I was headed and I'd say: ‘Copenhagen'. That inspired some strange looks.”


Divorcing My Biological Family

by Tara Miller

I challenged Tara to write about her father's funeral unfettered by worry and concern that her biological family would comment or be hurt by what she had to say. During my challenge I promised I would write about something I find difficult: my decision to divorce my biological family.

I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of years of physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of my biological family. As Tara, I try to live in the now and discourage interference in my current life . PTSD makes it difficult. Imagine a disease triggered by emotion. A disease that only emerges when you feel certain things. You have a near miss at an intersection and the consequential Fight, Flight or Freeze response causes you to flash back to a time in your life when Fight, Flight and Freeze were daily, hourly, minute by minute decisions made to protect you. Imagine a disease with no physical manifestation yet could accurately be diagnosed by professionals. Unlike other illnesses one can contract, your diagnosis is often refuted by those closest to you. Imagine having those who you love the most choose to believe you are a crazy, unstable, pathological liar versus believing that the real root of your disorder lies in the interactions of yourself and the perpetrator, a father, uncle or some close friend to the family. A family who is consciously choosing to believe you lie than to believe that the most horrendous acts can be caused by and are often caused by those men and women who appear as upstanding citizens. Imagine your childhood best friend asking you why you didn't stop her from being infected by the same person with the same disorder you have.

All of that has happened to me and the results of my trauma are something I live with daily. It took nearly thirty years for me to step up and separate me from the people who caused my disorder. Because healing takes twice as long as the time it takes to create the wound, I do not expect that I will recover from this life's trauma in this life-time.

My biological father's abuse was violent and explosive punctuated with periods of calm. It is called explosive abusive syndrome. A person who can be rational and easy to deal with will suddenly explode in fragments of violence that end as swiftly as they began. For children this causes an instability in their young lives that survives even after you remove them from the situation. For me it survives in a daily ritual I have with my partner and husband. I begin to feel anxious, scared because something in my life isn't just right. This fear leads me to worry that my mate will see this not quite right thing and then explode. I have been with my husband for over ten years and I am still waiting for him to explode around me in violence and unwarranted anger. So when this feeling comes upon me, as it often does in the evening after I have worked all day and am physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. I will say, “Do you love me?”

I hate it. My voice is shaky and wavers. Sometimes it cracks and my eyes leak out pain. My mate has worked to know what is best when I say these words so he always responds…

“Of course I love you. How could I not?”

His voice never wavers and is never shaky. He is absolute in his conviction and steadfast in his devotion. He is never going to blow up and never going to hit me. And every evening invariably I struggle with the fear that he will. A fear he did nothing to earn. A fear he does nothing to perpetuate.

My biological father is also a pedophile. I say “is” despite the fact that I do not know him and have not spoken with him in years. I have been educated and I know that pedophiles may offend less as they age but the psychological make of a pedophile never changes. I also say “is” because I know he has unfettered access to my biological nieces who have parents who have decided I am lying and risk those innocents with his evil. I often worry about a day I may open my door to find a young woman standing there saying, “I am your biological sister's daughter. He hurt me and they do not believe me. I found you and thought you would.”

This fear isn't just manufactured out of my imagination. My childhood best friend contacted me and revealed to me what my father had done to her. She held me responsible because I didn't warn her about him. Of course, it is ridiculous to blame a child, even the adult child survivor, for the sexual violations of the person who abused her. However, as an adult my decision to divorce my family came because I did feel a responsibility to warn others, namely my biological sister and brother, of the likelihood that my biological father might inflect severe and lasting trauma upon the beautiful nieces my siblings were producing.

Over a period of several weeks I tried to talk to my brother and sister. I wrote letters to each warning of what I knew and the statics and facts. I spoke to my biological brother on several occasions who finally told me that he just felt like there wasn't enough evidence to prove my case and therefore he had to respect our father. At the end of those gut wrenching weeks, I made the decisions to divorce, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, separate myself from my biological family. Fear of contact, fear of my biological father and mother, fear that one or the other would show up in person to beat me into submission had taken its toll. With my partner's encouragement, I cut them out of my life and I separated myself and my precious child from them. As it is with these things, it help to limit the overall daily impact my childhood has upon my life, not end it.

I still worry. I have changed my name and was spiritually adopted by a woman who taught me what motherhood was really about. Still the fear lingers that they will come and knock down my door and try to beat out of me a confession that I am a liar and a crazy human being. Why? I watched them emotionally and mentally do that to my aunt, my biological father's sister, when I was growing up. She was the one in her generation who tried to speak the truth and she was labeled crazy, insane by her siblings and eventually ostracized with the stipulation that if she would capitulate and renounce her previous claims then they would love her again.

I eventually did find myself inside the loony bin for three days and in outpatient care for six weeks. It was really good. I learned a lot about how to deal with the stresses that landed me there and did a lot of reconditioning so that my PTSD triggers were greatly diminished. I have also learned to defend my decision to cut my biological family out of my life. For a long time, it was thought that through reconciliation the survivor thrived. Times have changed and so have the schools of thought regarding survivors. I currently work bi-weekly with a cognitive counselor who believes that my separation from my biological family has helped me better deal, especially given the number of times I had tried resolution in the past.

The fact is, my resolution will only come if my biological family, my mother, my brother, my sister, all acknowledge that my father raped, beat, molested and terrorized me until I left home and continued to emotionally and mentally terrorize me after I left. I would only be satisfied if my mother divorced my father as a public renouncement of the man he was and is and my siblings would not permit their children in my biological father's care EVER. For me to accept anything less is to let down the child who suffered and survived so much. Everyone else abandoned her and I will not.

I do not know if this is the same action all adult survivors of incest should take. I have begun to tell others with similar histories that I cannot relate to the thought process of a survivor continuing to interact with their abuser. I don't have a desire to interact with mine and I don't understand the reasons to continue to interact with anyone who has abused you in the past. My choice, however, doesn't indicate the right choice for everyone. I do not know another human who made this choice and stuck by it for the long term. I know that my decision makes people believe I hold a grudge or do not love and honor my biological family. That is the furthest thing from the truth. My father, mother and siblings have my forgiveness. I take my cues from nature. I would not allow a rattlesnake unfettered access to my home and I will not let my biological family unfettered access into my life. For me the results could be the same, a sharp bite that can kill my spirit, my soul which is worse than a rattlesnake bite to my ankle. From experience, I know that bones mend and, sometimes, souls and spirits do not. I met plenty of the clinically insane who suffered similar abuse to mine and know I am lucky I can function without serious intervention and frequent trips to a mental health facility.

I do love and honor my biological family. I did that the day I begged my sister and my brother to protect my nieces. It caused an irrevocable rift between us and I sleep better knowing I can look those same girls in the eye someday and say, “I tried. I really did try.”

My biographical novel called, “Fragile Heart, Indomitable Spirit,” has been a work in progress for years. I go through periods where I work on it regularly then need to walk away. I will publish one day and the truth is it might be when I know my parents are dead. For me it isn't about retelling what happened to me that scares me most. It is the fear that a violent explosive abusive might read my work and see my exposure as a threat that needs to be addressed. It is the remembrance of the three other times he tried to take my life and failed, knowing that I shouldn't tempt fate continuously. It is the trauma that my partner and child might have to endure if that violence from another life tried to intersect with the healing I am accomplishing today.

Someday however, I hope to write my own letter excising my biological family from future incarnations with me and know that my spell of excisiment will protect some future incarnation of me, even though the past me found no protection.


Child Abuse in Nearly Every Home in America?

by Stasia Bliss

A strong statement for sure. But is it true? Is nearly every home in America providing an abusive atmosphere to their youngsters by allowing unmonitored television viewing to become ‘the norm?' Many parents are going to be up in arms at this last statement, but before you jump on the comments just yet, let me admit that I too am at some level at fault for using the television as a baby sitter of sorts over the years. Child abuse can take many forms. Studies are revealing how extremely high levels of television watching, especially in children under 6 years old, could fall into the category of abuse. How so?

Think back to a time before television, when wood toys and imagination were king. Many of us today have no reference point to an era before electronics, but let's use our creative minds to imagine what life was like before television was an option. See children sitting on parent's laps hearing stories of times past. Watch the little ones invent toys out of shoe boxes and string or collect bugs in an old peanut butter jar. Today's children seem to lack these inherent creative qualities when they spend too much time in front of the old electronic box. The nice thing is, it doesn't take long, when this device is removed, for the good old imagination to re-emerge.

According to The Sourcebook For Teaching Science by by Norman Herr Ph.D., parents spend, on average, 3.5 minutes of meaningful interaction with their children per week. Some classify emotional abuse as a coldness, an inattentiveness to a child's needs. Would spending only three and a half minutes connecting with your child per week fall into the category of ‘coldness?' Seems like it might.

Now don't get me wrong, this type of abuse may not be intentional, in fact, usually and in most cases, it is not. Parents are just trying to get things done, finish work, cook dinner, make a phone call, accomplish some shred of what we would like to call our ‘duties', while at the same time neglecting the very beings who we claim to be doing all of this for.

As a parent who tries not to stick my kid in front of a television program very often, I still struggle as he begs for my attention while I have articles to write, dinner to cook and a nap to take from being so tired at 7 months pregnant. I try to encourage him to find something creative to do that does not entail staring at a screen. I know as much as anyone else, this is not easy.

Did you know that according to stats, 54% of 4-6 year olds would rather watch a television show than spend time with their dads? Is this for real? Would these numbers exist if parents were spending quality time with their kids on a regular basis? Are children bonding to the television instead of to their folks? Reports have shown that excessive television watching – such as the 35 hours plus per week most youngsters engage in – contributes to attention deficit disorder, obesity and violent behavior. Children who watch a lot of t.v. may have a more difficult time interacting with other kids, be prone to health problems and experience a stunt in cognitive growth.

What could cause all of these problems? It certainly isn't the television's fault, it's an inanimate object.

Kids spend, on average, 900 hours in school per year and over 1500 hours watching television. In the eyes of some, this might be considered child abuse, happening in nearly every home in America every year. 66% of Americans have the television on during dinner time, taking away from valuable family communication and interaction time. Even learning shows still do not allow for certain functions of the brain to activate, leaving one crippled in the imagination and stopped in the tongue.

True, some kids get inspired by shows and then sit down with their toys to create something. Not all television experiences are negative and not all parents simply use the t.v. as an absent parent sitter. The statistics are frighteningly high for kids and television. It has to make a person who is consciously observing the scene, as if visiting from another planet, wonder is this child abuse taking place in nearly every home in America? Is time spent in front of the t.v. in over half of the homes in the US a substitute (and a poor one) for quality interaction and connection? Is the answer as simple as turning the t.v. off and finding out what else is possible? It is very well this simple. Only you will know by removing television from your home. Try it for a few weeks and see what happens. Withdrawal may happen at first, but then, something miraculous may occur for everyone in the house – and you may find yourself wondering why the television had ever been so greatly used before. Perhaps what was before unintentional abuse will turn into a lasting bond that makes all those shows seem more of a nuisance than a savior.

University of Health Michigan ; ;



Guarding young swimmers from sexual abuse

by Washington Post Editorial Board

THE HORRIFYING case of Kelley Currin — a teenage swimmer subjected to years of sexual abuse by her coach — focused attention on long-held concerns that organizations responsible for the well-being of America's young swimmers weren't paying sufficient attention. Some critics even charged that the sexual victimization of vulnerable athletes was enabled by officials who looked the other way but were never called to account for their failures. So it's a welcome development that Congress is taking interest in these issues and that swimming officials finally are responding with promising initiatives.

USA Swimming is the national governing body for competitive swimming that's charged with selecting teams to represent the country in events such as the Olympics. It announced in August that it was hiring an outside expert to evaluate the effectiveness of its sex abuse prevention program. Victor Vieth, executive director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, will examine the Safe Sport program that was established three years ago amid numerous reports of coaches having inappropriate relationships with underage athletes. Among the most notorious cases was that of star coach Rick Curl, sentenced in May by a Montgomery County judge to seven years in prison for his abuse of Ms. Currin in the 1980s.

The outside review, whose results officials said will be made public, will be “as independent as it can be,” according to Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming. He told us that Mr. Vieth will have access to all of the group's records and that anyone with an interest or complaint can contact him. While the emphasis will be on identifying weaknesses and strengthening protections of the prevention program, we hope investigators will also look at how some cases were handled and whether officials were complicit.

The decision to bring in an outside expert comes at a time of increased scrutiny from Congress, which created the sport governing bodies. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) asked the Government Accountability Office in June to investigate how child abuse allegations are handled by USA Swimming and other youth sports organizations. Last month his staff met with representatives from USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

USA Swimming also is adopting a more proactive media effort, closing loopholes in its code of conduct and possibly setting up an independent third party to adjudicate complaints about sexual abuse. Robert Allard, a California attorney who represented Ms. Currin and other swimmers who have been victimized, discounted the group's efforts as window-dressing aimed at convincing Congress to back off. Mr. Wielgus said the measures are not prompted by congressional scrutiny but have been under discussion for several years.

USA Swimming's record doesn't engender confidence, but the group's efforts hopefully reflect a new seriousness of purpose in tackling this pernicious problem. Congress, meanwhile, should pursue its own review, something that a group that says it has nothing to hide should welcome.


New York


Child sex abuse laws need reform

N.Y. should start with Assembly bill

She was 14 and a freshman at Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge in 1980. Now 47, the woman said others seemed to accept the male teacher's behavior, so back then, she kept quiet about the too-long hugs and inappropriate contact. (See Sunday's report on What made her speak out now? The aggressive response of Green Meadow when another former student, author Kate Christensen, recounted similar interactions with the same teacher. Christensen's accusations were contained in her memoir, published this summer; within weeks of the book's publication, the school banned the former teacher from campus and launched an investigation.

The approach taken by Green Meadow demonstrates a welcome shift in the way schools and organizations handle accusations of past child abuse — no longer covering up the past and adding to the stigma of secrecy, but admitting the need to help past victims heal and prevent future ones.

Now, New York needs to take the same approach in its laws, and give childhood victims of sex abuse a chance at justice, even decades later. The proposed “Child Sexual Abuse Reform Act,” which has been introduced in the Assembly, is a good place to start.

The Assembly bill — there is currently no matching Senate legislation — would amend criminal procedure law, penal law, social services law and civil practice law and rules to extend certain statutes of limitations on reporting sexual offenses against children. It would also expand who meets reporting requirements.

“This is a pretty far-reaching bill. The most important part, in my opinion, is extending the statute of limitations,” bill co-sponsor Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, told the Editorial Board. The crime is heinous no matter if someone reports it a day after or years after, and the (perpetrator) should be punished.”

The legislation draws from recommendations in a 2002 Suffolk County Supreme Court Special Grand Jury Report on the investigation into the Diocese of Rockville Center. The report states that prosecution was often stymied by New York statutes. “In some cases the Grand Jury finds that the Diocese procrastinated for the sole purpose of making sure that the civil and criminal statutes of limitation were no longer applicable in the cases,” the report states, later stating that “... The Grand Jury concludes that the conduct of certain Diocesan officials would have warranted criminal prosecution but for the fact that the existing statutes are inadequate needs significant modifications to address the many issues pertaining to child sexual assault.”

According to the bill's description, “This legislation will punish those who perpetrate this crime as well as those who would hinder its prosecution and provide a forum whereby survivors of these horrific crimes truly realize that the law is on their side by giving them an opportunity for justice and closure.”

The bill has lingered in committee for several years. The Legislature should thoroughly discuss the proposed Child Sexual Abuse Reform Act and find ways to make it better and modernize New York's laws, rather than shunt a tough topic to die in committee.

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told The Journal News that many institutions are now run by people with modern attitudes about the effects of abuse and who are not afraid to confront painful issues that were once hushed up. That's the stand Green Meadow has taken.

“To heal something, you have to look at it square. You have to look at it openly and honestly,” said Green Meadow co-administrator Eric Silber told staff writer Mareesa Nicosia. We can hope that other institutions will adopt a similar approach, to help victims heal and get justice. And we can craft legislation to ensure it.


From ICE

ICE launches smartphone app to locate predators, rescue children from sexual abuse and exploitation

Download the app at
Photos and b-roll available at

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is launching a new smartphone app – the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement – designed to seek the public's help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators. All tips can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The most urgent case involves an unidentified man wanted for producing child pornography involving the sexual abuse of a 10 to 12-year-old girl. This "John Doe" is an unknown suspect and is believed to be living somewhere in the United States or Canada, but he could be anywhere in the world. The first video file was discovered by Interpol and submitted to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2006. The full series was last seen by HSI special agents in Los Angeles in 2013 during execution of a search warrant. The four videos show the prepubescent girl being sexually abused by an adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes. In the videos, the offender has a full beard and wears glasses. Both he and the child are seen in a room with wood paneled walls with framed photos, a black computer, desk with sewing machine and brown patterned curtains.

In addition to profiling John Doe cases like this, the new smartphone app contains photos and information about known fugitives in HSI criminal cases involving sexually abused and exploited children.

"When children are being sexually abused and exploited, it's a race against the clock to rescue the child and bring the predator to justice," said ICE Acting Director John Sandweg. "These investigations are one of our highest priorities, and in today's world, we need to be technologically savvy and innovative in our approach."

ICE's Office of Public Affairs developed the app with special agents from HSI's Cyber Crimes Center (C3) and field offices across the country in order to seek the public's help with information about child predators wanted for criminal prosecution.

"The creation and launch of this application provides ICE another useful tool to reach the public," said ICE Director of Public Affairs Brian Hale. "We recognize that people receive a great deal of information on their mobile devices and we are hopeful that this app will encourage them to submit tips about suspects and to learn more about our work investigating child exploitation crimes."

The Operation Predator App enables those who download it to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. Additionally, the app enables users to view news about arrests and prosecutions of child predators and additional resources about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.

Currently, the app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or iTunes. ICE is also planning to expand compatibility to other smartphones in the near future.

HSI is requesting that anyone with information about John Doe or the other fugitives profiled to contact the agency in one of two ways: Call the ICE Tip Line, which is staffed 24-hours a day: (866) 347-2423 from the U.S. & Canada or (802) 872-6199 from anywhere in the world, or complete an online tip form at

Individuals should not attempt to apprehend the suspect personally.

HSI's Victim Identification Program seeks to rescue child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

These investigations are 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.


Effects of child abuse can carry over, study finds

Mental torment has risen over past two decades

by Brigid Schulte

WASHINGTON — In the first major study of child abuse and neglect in 20 years, researchers with the National Academy of Sciences reported Thursday that the damaging consequences of abuse can not only reshape a child's brain, but can last a lifetime.

Untreated, the effects of child abuse and neglect, the researchers found, can profoundly influence a child's physical and mental health, their ability to control emotions and impulses, their achievement in school, and the relationships they form as children and as adults.

The researchers recommend an ‘‘immediate, coordinated'' national strategy to better understand, treat, and prevent child abuse and neglect, noting that each year, abuse and neglect costs an estimated $80 billion in both the direct costs of hospitalization, law enforcement, and child welfare, and the indirect costs of special education, juvenile and adult criminal justice costs, adult homelessness, and lost work productivity.

‘‘Child abuse and neglect is a serious public health problem which requires immediate, urgent attention,'' said Anne Petersen, a professor at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan who chaired the research committee for the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the National Academies. ‘‘The consequences can last into adulthood with significant costs to the individual, to families, and to society.''

The report, produced at the request of the US Department of Health and Human Services, found that while rates of physical and sexual child abuse have declined in the past 20 years, rates of emotional and psychological abuse, the kind that can produce the most serious long-lasting effects, have increased. Rates of neglect have held fairly steady. Researchers say they don't know why.

‘‘That's why we make that a research priority in our recommendations, said Lucy Berliner, a professor at the University of Washington's School of Social Work and a committee member. ‘‘We need to understand better the reasons behind these trends.''

Berliner said the committee is proposing a coordinated strategy because they found so much variation among states, both in how abuse and neglect are defined and how local officials are trained to respond to it. ‘‘Some states had dramatic, 100 percent increases in cases of neglect,'' she said. ‘‘And others had 100 percent decreases. That speaks to the complexity of the problem.''

Every year, child protective services receive 3 million referrals for child abuse and neglect involving about 6 million children, the report found, although the researchers say that, with unreported instances, the number is likely much higher.

And, contrary to popular belief, the report notes, about 80 percent of the children in investigated abuse and neglect cases are not removed from the home.

Angela Diaz, director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York and another committee member, said the report found three risk factors that increased the likelihood of child abuse: parental depression, parental substance abuse, and whether the parents had been abused or neglected as children.

The researchers did not find an association between rates of abuse and times of economic hardship like the recent Great Recession.

‘‘Researchers found relationships that were hard to make sense of: increases in child abuse in relationship to mortgage foreclosure but not to unemployment rates,'' Berliner said. ‘‘It's not all that straightforward. After welfare reform in the 1990s, there was a concern that as people lost their benefits, that would cause a spike in child abuse referrals. Instead, that was a period of the greatest reduction in child abuse referrals.''

But while so much remains a mystery about the causes of abuse, and why some children respond to treatment and recover and others do not, the researchers said what has become clear, with the advances in brain science in the past 20 years, is just how devastating and long-lasting the effects of abuse can be on the structure and the function of the brain.

Research has found that abuse and neglect can influence the amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates emotions, particularly fear and anxiety. Abuse has also been shown to change how the prefrontal cortex functions, the part of the brain responsible for thinking, planning, reasoning, and decision-making, which can lead to behavioral and academic problems.


South Carolina

Protective family dog sniffs out child-abusing baby sitter

by Jessica Chasmar

Police have arrested a child-abusing babysitter in Charleston, S.C., and one couple says it's their intuitive dog that helped sniff her out.

After a background check came back clean, Benjamin and Hope Jordan hired 22-year-old Alexis Khan to babysit their son Finn last year after they moved to Charleston, a local television station reported.

“We felt like Alexis was a good fit at the time,” Mr. Jordan told WCSC. “About five months into her being our baby sitter, we started to notice that our dog was very protective of our son when she would come in the door. He was very aggressive towards her and a few times we actually had to physically restrain our dog from going towards her.”

Growing suspicious, the parents hid an iPhone under a couch in their home and hit record.

“It started with cussing,” Mr. Jordan said of the recording. “Then you hear slap noises and his crying changes from a distress cry to a pain cry. I just wanted to reach through the audio tape, go back in time and just grab him up.”

“To know that five months I had handed my child to a monster, not knowing what was going on in my house for that day,” he added.

Charleston City Police arrested Kahn a few weeks later, and she pleaded guilty to assault and battery Monday afternoon in Charleston County Circuit Court, WCSC reported.

She was ordered to serve one to three years in prison and will be placed on a child abuse registry.

“That is fantastic news to us. To know that maybe Finn's ordeal has possibly saved another child's life in the future,” Mr. Jordan told the station. “Had our dog not alerted us to the trouble, had my wife's instincts not said we need to make something happen, it could have been Finn that was killed by the baby sitter. You never know.”



Scathing obit about abusive NV mother goes viral


RENO, Nev. (AP) — Anyone expecting a sweet remembrance of the life and times of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick was in for a surprise if they opened the obituary pages this week in the local newspaper.

"On behalf of her children who she abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame that she delivered on her children," the scathing obituary begins.

Now circling the globe on the Internet, the obit was written by Johnson-Reddick's adult children, whose horror stories prompted Nevada to become one of the first states to allow children to sever parental ties back in the 1980s.

Johnson-Reddick died at a Reno nursing home Aug. 30 at the age of 79, according to her daughter, Katherine Reddick, 58, now a psychology consultant for a school district outside Austin, Texas.

Katherine Reddick said she decided to share the story of their painful physical and mental abuse after consulting with her brother, Patrick Reddick, 58, who lives in Minden south of Carson City. They said they grew up with four siblings in a Carson City orphanage after they were removed from their mother's home and had been estranged from her for more than 30 years.

"Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit," the obit said. "Our greatest wish now is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America."

Six of Johnson-Reddick's eight children were admitted to the Nevada Children's Home from 1963 to 1964 after they endured regular beatings, sometimes with a metal-tipped belt, and other abuse at the hands of their mother, Patrick Reddick said. He said he's had phone calls from "all over the world" about the obituary.

"Everything in there was completely true," he told The Associated Press on Thursday, describing her as a "wicked, wicked witch."

He said they wanted to "shame her a little bit" but that the "main purpose for putting it in there was to bring awareness to child abuse ... shame child abuse overall."

"People doing that right now, they can read that obit and think," said Patrick Reddick, who last saw his mother more than three decades ago.

"I'm a survivor," he said. "I count my blessings every day. Especially for my wife."

Reddick and his sister, now 57, testified before the 1987 Legislature on bills to make courts give equal consideration to the best interest of a child when terminating parental rights.

Former state Sen. Sue Wagner, who authored the legislation that ultimately was signed into law, remembers meeting with them at the time. She told KOLO-TV in Reno that it was one of the reasons Nevada became one of few states to address the issue at the time.

"I'm very happy that they now are free of their mother," Wagner said.

The obituary was printed in Tuesday's editions of the Reno Gazette-Journal and appeared on after it was submitted through a self-service online portal.

John Maher, president and publisher of the newspaper, said in a "note to readers" that the paper had "removed the online listing of this obituary as we continue our review of the circumstances surrounding its placement."

Little else is known about the woman. The Reno newspaper reported that she lived in a mobile home with 15 cats up until she was hospitalized in May for treatment of bladder cancer.



Mom, dad planned child sex abuse before kids were born

Jonathan and Sarah Adleta were convicted in Orlando; he faces life in prison.

by Amy Pavuk

Jonathan and Sarah Adleta's children were doomed to a life of perverse cruelty before they were even born.

Jonathan Adleta, a former Marine officer, dreamed of the day he could have "daddy-daughter sex." After Sarah Adleta became pregnant with a daughter, he said he would marry her only if she agreed to let him carry out that desire. When the couple had a son, Sarah Adleta was expected to have sexual encounters with him.

In an Orlando federal courtroom this week, prosecutors and witnesses described, in disturbing and graphic detail, the heinous exploitation and abuse the couple's toddlers endured at the hands of their parents — even after they divorced.

Jonathan Adleta lived his dream until March, when the FBI received a tip that his 29-year-old former wife was communicating with a North Carolina man who was arrested on charges of having sex with a child.

That's when federal authorities began unraveling a cross-country web of sexual abuse that culminated in convictions for both parents — and could land 25-year-old Jonathan Adleta in prison for life.

Sarah Adleta, a University of Central Florida student, pleaded guilty in May to two charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. She faces 15 to 30 years in federal prison and will be sentenced next month. On Thursday, jurors found Jonathan Adleta guilty of two child-sex charges. He'll be sentenced in December and faces 10 years to life in prison.

The charges against him stem from abuse that occurred in December, when Sarah Adleta and the couple's two children traveled to his home in Oklahoma so he could have sexual contact with his daughter.

But to tell the Adletas' story, prosecutors had to take jurors to the beginning.

In opening statements, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gable characterized Adleta as a father who had a "sexual appetite" for his own daughter.

Sarah Adleta testified that when she began dating Jonathan in 2008 — she was living with her family in Oviedo and he in an apartment in the Goldenrod area — he began showing her stories about fathers and daughters having sex, to gauge her interest in the possibility.

Their daughter was born in March 2009, and Sarah Adleta became pregnant with their son not long after.

Sarah Adleta, who testified for several hours this week wearing Orange County Jail garb, said she initially struggled with the concept and thought Jonathan Adleta would lose interest in it.

But she loved him, needed his financial security and said she would do whatever it took to not lose him, she told jurors.

Gable told jurors the couple made sex with their children "part of their parenting plan."

They married in 2010.

The marine was deployed to Afghanistan, and when he returned, the family moved to California, where he was stationed. There, his ex-wife said, he had more sexual contact with the children.

In late 2011, Jonathan Adleta filed for divorce, and Sarah Adleta later returned to Central Florida. But even with thousands of miles between them, she allowed her former husband to continue to prey on his daughter electronically through the videoconference program Skype.

By the spring of 2012, Jonathan Adleta had found a new girlfriend who agreed to let him victimize her daughter.

The girlfriend, 23-year-old Samantha Bryant — a Texas mother he met on a dating website — testified this week that she watched as Jonathan Adleta molested her daughter. On at least one occasion, she took pictures of the assault.

Bryant, who was visibly shaken and cried throughout much of her testimony, said Jonathan Adleta asked her to write fantasy-type stories about him having sex with his daughter and her daughter. She did. She also complied when he asked Bryant to perform sex acts on her own daughter.

Bryant was eventually charged with and pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her daughter and allowing Jonathan Adleta to sexually abuse the girl.

In December, Bryant and her two children spent Christmas in Oklahoma with Jonathan and Sarah Adleta and their two children. Sarah Adleta told jurors that there, her former husband sexually abused their daughter in his bedroom and called her in to watch.

Sarah Adleta, who was emotionless during much of her testimony, began to choke up as she explained what she witnessed.

"She seemed very resistant," she said of her toddler, adding that the child was "really upset" and "frightened."

But Sarah rendered no aid to her crying girl.

Weeks later, after she and the children returned to Oviedo, Jonathan Adleta suggested that his former wife should find another man to abuse their daughter so she would become comfortable with the sex acts, to prevent her from 'freaking out" in the future.

During that time, Sarah Adleta was communicating with Aaron Dixon, a North Carolina man who was later arrested on child-sex charges in an unrelated case. She told jurors she performed sex acts on the children while Dixon watched via Skype.

In her closing argument Thursday, Gable told jurors that the last time the Adletas spoke, they discussed Sarah Adleta's taking their daughter to Dixon so he could sexually abuse the girl.

Jonathan Adleta, the prosecutor said, liked the idea.



Woman shares her story of survival and battle with sex trafficking

by Kevin Parrish

STOCKTON - Leah Albright-Byrd long ago escaped the grip of guilt, shame and sexual exploitation. But periodic nightmares persist.

In the past 12 years, she has gone from victim to advocate, from confused child to focused adult, from someone forced to walk the streets to someone who pounds the pavement against those who would abuse children.

Albright-Byrd brought a powerful message of redemption, love and courage to several hundred students and other community members Thursday inside San Joaquin Delta College's Atherton Auditorium.

"This is a revolutionary time for those of us trying to change human trafficking," she said. "I will die fighting this. I will take my last breath fighting it. Purchasers don't get to rape our children."

Albright-Byrd is the 29-year-old founder of Sacramento-based Bridget's Dream, a nonprofit organization dedicated to battling sex trafficking. She also is a noted motivational speaker and public-policy activist.

She worked to secure passage last year of Proposition 35, which stiffened the penalties for those convicted of human trafficking.

Her first words Thursday were aimed at San Joaquin County.

"There are victims within Stockton," she said. "They were exploited and never left the city."

Albright-Byrd has made it her life's mission to address the issues surrounding human trafficking, particularly as they relate to children lured into the sex trade. She is a survivor of that victimization, having grown up in a home marked by addiction and molestation and then running away at 14. She met a man who pulled her into nearly four years of exploitation on the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento. Albright-Byrd experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well drug addiction and multiple arrests.

At 18, she became a Christian after meeting Deanna Hurn, who she calls her "spiritual mommy." The encounter gave her the courage to walk away.

Albright-Byrd went back to school, eventually earning a degree in theology and counseling psychology from William Jessup University, a small Christian college in Rocklin.

In 2011, she founded Bridget's Dream to honor Bridget Gray, a close friend and a victim of sex-trafficking who was murdered in Las Vegas in 2006.

"I do what I do because of Bridget," Albright-Byrd said. Her organization provides intervention, prevention and training. Its website motto reads: "One died so millions can live."

Benjamin Saffold, in charge of special events and outreach at Stockton's Gospel Center Rescue Mission, was in the audience Thursday.

"I am shocked to know that this global phenomenon connects to our neighborhood and has landed at our doorstep," Saffold said.

He said the mission and its staff frequently discuss new ways to improve their service to the community.

Residents of San Joaquin County are no strangers to human trafficking.

In May, a five-city Northern California "sex-trade organization" was busted when Stockton police detectives raided a North San Joaquin Street brothel.

In July, a $10,000 grant from the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael helped launch the county's first anti-human trafficking program.

For three years, Temple Baptist Church in Lodi has hosted a Stop Human Trafficking workshop sponsored by a coalition of community groups.

The Stockton-based Women's Center-Youth & Family Services has been at the forefront of raising local awareness of sex trafficking.

Albright-Byrd's talk delivered a human face - and a voice of authenticity - to the issue.

"California is a hub for sex trafficking," she said. "Child exploitation is the most hidden form of child abuse in North America.

"And my heart is invested in what happens in my community. Light up your corner. Hope is the antidote."

Unfolding tragedy

• Big business: Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion a year in the United States.

• Most vulnerable victims: In the U.S., 300,000 children are at risk annually of being prostituted.

• Too young: The average age of entry into the U.S. sex trade is 13 to 14 years old.

• The pimp: Those who exploit girls can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year; the average pimp has four to six girls.

• Ugly truth: The average victim may be forced to have sex 20 to 40 times a day.

• Top 20: The leading cities for human trafficking are Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; El Paso, Texas; Houston; Las Vegas; Long Island, N.Y.; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; New York; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Richmond, Va.; St. Louis; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; Tampa, Fla.; and Washington.

• Don't blink: One in three teen runaways will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.

Sources: U.S. Department of Justice, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Polaris Project and the National Runaway Hotline



Judge sentences Delhi rapists to die for 'gruesome crime'

by Sruthi Gottipati and Sanjeev Miglani

All four Indian men convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi were sentenced to death on Friday, a decision the judge said sent a message to society that there can be no tolerance for such a savage crime.

Cheers went up from a crowd outside the Delhi court when lawyers rushed out to announce the sentence handed down for last December's assault, which triggered furious protest across India and rare national debate about violence against women.

"This has shocked the collective conscience of society," Judge Yogesh Khanna said, condemning the men to death by hanging.

"In these times when crime against women is on the rise, courts cannot turn a blind eye towards such gruesome crime. There cannot be any tolerance ... This crime in every way falls within the rarest of rare category warranting a death sentence."

The sentencing was one of the biggest tests in years of India's paradoxical attitude towards the death penalty.

The country's judges hand down, on average, 130 death sentences every year but India has executed just three people in the past 17 years. Despite its apparent reluctance to carry out the sentences, last year India voted against a U.N. draft resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions.

Lawyers for all four convicts said they would appeal, which means their execution could still be years away. The case will go to the High Court and then Supreme Court. If they confirm the sentences, the final decision will lie with the president, who has the power to grant clemency.

One of the four, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, wept as he was dragged out of the court, where police with riot gear had formed a barricade to keep crowds back.

The victim, who was raped for an hour and tortured with an iron rod on a moving bus, became a symbol of the dangers women face in a country where a rape is reported on average every 21 minutes and acid attacks and cases of molestation are common.

The woman, who came from a lower-middle class family and worked in a call center while she studied, can not be named for legal reasons, but Indian media have dubbed her Nirbhaya, a Hindi word meaning fearless.

"Today we can breathe a little easier," said the victim's mother, who hugged a police officer outside the court after the sentence was read. "I hope the conviction will deter people from committing such crimes in future."

Defense lawyers had urged the court to ignore what they said was popular and political pressure for the harshest penalty.

"This is not the victory of truth. But it is the defeat of justice," defense lawyer A.P. Singh shouted at the judge when the sentence was read out.

"The judge has taken the decision under political pressure without considering facts," he told reporters later.

The country's interior minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, denied that there had been any political interference, telling a TV news channel: "No judicial authority can be influenced by the government."

The sentencing capped a seven-month trial, often held behind closed doors, that was punctuated dramatically by a fifth defendant hanging himself in his jail cell. A sixth, who was under 18 at the time of the attack, was earlier sentenced to three years detention, the maximum allowed under juvenile law.

In November, India ended what many human rights groups had interpreted as an undeclared moratorium on capital punishment when it executed a man convicted for the 2008 militant attack on the city of Mumbai. Three months later, it hanged a Kashmiri separatist for a 2001 militant attack on parliament.

"In the past year, India has made a full-scale retreat from its previous principled rejection of the death penalty," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.


Prosecutors had called for the "harshest punishment" to be given to Sharma, bus cleaner Akshay Kumar Singh, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta, and unemployed Mukesh Singh for last December's murder to signal that such attacks cannot be tolerated.

The four men were found guilty of luring the woman onto a bus, raping and torturing her with a metal bar and then throwing her naked and bleeding onto the road. She died two weeks later.

Violent protests exploded in several cities after the crime, a reaction commentators and sociologists said reflected a deep well of frustration that many urban Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues.

The government, seen as out of touch with the aspirations of the burgeoning urban middle class, was caught off guard by the protests.

The case led to the introduction of tougher rape laws in March, and for the first time open conversation about gender crime in television debates, social media and even Bollywood.

Still, sex crimes remain commonplace in India, and social commentators say patriarchal attitudes towards women have not been diluted by more than a decade of rapid economic growth.

Comments on social media websites and elsewhere ahead of the sentencing suggested that popular opinion favored executing the men, although a survey by CNN-IBN-The Hindu newspaper in July showed Indians were divided on the merits of capital punishment.

Although the Supreme Court ruled in the 1980s that the death penalty should be imposed only in the "rarest of rare" cases, opponents say the reality is quite different.

Indian courts sentenced 1,455 prisoners to death between 2001 and 2011, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

There are 477 people on death row. Many have been there for years. Human rights groups have been alarmed, however, by the vigor with which President Pranab Mukherjee, who took office in July 2012, has acted in clearing the backlog of clemency pleas. He has rejected 11, confirming the death penalty for 17 people.

Some women's rights groups and legal experts had opposed executing the Delhi attackers. Others have invoked the Gandhian principle that "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

"Sending these four men to the gallows will accomplish nothing except short-term revenge," Tara Rao, director of Amnesty International India said in a statement.

"While the widespread anger over this case is understandable, authorities must avoid using the death penalty as a 'quick-fix' solution. There is no evidence that the death penalty is a particular deterrent to crime, and its use will not eradicate violence against women in India."



Silly fun for a serious cause

by Wayne Bryan

There is a silly event planned for Friday in Hot Springs. That's not unusual for the Spa City, but in this case, there is a serious reason behind it.

Committed to Freedom, an organization based in the Spa City, is celebrating 11 years of helping adults who are still dealing with the abuse they endured as children.

The evening at Low Key Arts, a dark-teal building with a bright-red door on Arbor Street just off Central Avenue, is planned as a joyful event for the triumph of human spirit, by getting more than a little silly.

“Both adults and children have the right to reclaim a happy childhood,” said Ann Quinn, co-director of Committed to Freedom Abuse Recovery Solutions. “Eat Dessert First is about celebrating that feeling of living outside the darkness and enjoying life.”

The event is also designed to raise funds for the nonprofit organization and to let people know help is available for those who “carry the invisible scars” of abuse.

But of those serious endeavors on Friday night will feature people robed in capes and outrageous costumes, and even wearing hand puppets.

“It is so childlike to want to eat dessert first,” Quinn said. “Cupcakes from Ambrosia Bakery and Fat Bottom Girls Cupcakes in Hot Springs will be served first, followed by tacos from Tacos Mi Casita. There will be a variety show and even a movie we made.”

“The night has a theme of a campy science-fiction movie,” Committed to Freedom founder Sallie Culbreth said. She was dressed as the Queen of the Universe, a character in the low-budget, sci-fi short Beyond the Lunar Crater that the two women and their friends made featuring hand puppets.

“The film is only nine minutes long, but the stop-action video seemed to take forever,” she said. “See what using the mouse to edit did to my hand?”

Culbreth laughed, showing a craw with long, pointed fingernails she called “Martian fingernails,” plastic fingertips placed on her hand as part of her costume.

“We have to be committed to dress and act this silly,” she said.

But there was no laughing when Culbreth told the story of the creation of Committed to Freedom.

“I was abused, and in the late '70s and early '80s, there was a lack of recovery services for the adults,” she said. “My husband runs Teen Challenge in Hot Springs, and working with him, I found there was really nothing for adult males who had been abused as children. I started looking for spiritual tools to help people move beyond abuse and sexual trauma.”

Quinn, who is Culbreth's daughter, said she, too, was abused by a family friend and has been raped.

“You can see that our passion for this cause is very personal,” Culbreth said.

Long after the abuse ends, the effects

remain, she said. Survivors feel stalked and unsafe.

“There is a lot of tension, and the tools we have developed are a pressure valve for releasing that tension and really moving on,” Culbreth said.

While the group's work is centered in Hot Springs, Culbreth and Quinn use the Internet and meetings all over the country to relate their message internationally.

“We focus on those who have been sexually abused as a child and help with their recovery,” Quinn said. “We are now turning to a broader audience. We want to help where we see sexual trauma and rape being used as a weapon of war, as in Africa, and we want to start a treatment program for those who have been sexually assaulted in the military.”

Later this year, the team will visit the maximum-security unit at the Tucker Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction.

“We will modify our work for the population,” Culbreth said. “We will try to teach strategic tools for the men to have a sanctuary of empowerment in a place were they have almost no control.”

However, both women said the Eat Dessert First event will “showcase life beyond the bad stuff.”

“This is about celebrating the fun of childhood,” said Quinn, who was wearing a silver dress, leggings and a green cape. “That is why you eat dessert first and have these costumes.”

She said that as a nonprofit organization, Committed to Freedom is funded by donations.

“Our donor base includes many of our former clients,” Quinn said. “They want what was given to them to be available in the future.”

Friday's event has several company sponsors and is offering a prize-packed silent auction.

“You know this is a good cause to get us to dress this way and be seen in public, ” Culbreth said.

For more information about about Committed to Freedom and Friday's Eat Dessert First, call (501) 545-0791.



Inquiry call for ideas to stop child abuse

The national Royal Commission into child sexual abuse wants people to contribute ideas and expertise on the best ways to prevent children living in out-of-home care from being abused.

Out-of-home care includes arrangements by an agency for foster care, relative or kinship care, family group homes, residential care and independent living arrangements.

The fourth issues paper was published by the commission on Wednesday and organisations and individuals have until November 8 to lodge submissions.

The commission is investigating how institutions responded to child sex abuse allegations. It is holding its first public hearing in Sydney on Monday.

Other issues papers published since April include one on the working with children check and another on the Catholic Church's Towards Healing process.

The Royal Commission intends to hold a public forum into the matters raised in the issues papers in the first quarter of 2014.

The submissions received will help determine the agenda.

Referring to the out-of-home care paper commission, CEO Janette Dines said it was important to determine whether current practices and regulation adequately protected children from sexual abuse in this type of care.

"The Royal Commission is interested in strategies that will keep children in care safe from sexual abuse and in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of current models of oversight of out-of-home care practices," she said in a statement.



A Hub For Sex Trafficking

by Anne Kramer

Prosecutors and police in Maryland are trying to figure out why Baltimore has become a big hub for sex traffickers and their victims. Some prostitutes tell WBAL Radio it is the money than can get from working here. Police think one reason is the obvious proximity of Maryland to D.C. and New York. Victim advocates hear that it is considered easy in Maryland and there are not as many arrests as on the West Coast.

During a recent police operation to find minors who might be victims of sex trafficking, troopers with the Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit met three female prostitutes who were all from California. Sgt. Debbie Flory with the CRU says when you talk to some of the girls who here to make money they say "this is the place to be."

Human sex trafficking is happening everywhere and in every hotel in Maryland and across the country, according to police. Anne Arundel County Detective Dan Dickey says it could be happening in a house, apartment or five star hotel. “It is run like a business. The more money they (traffickers) put out for a room, takes off their profit,” Dickey says. The traffickers will recruit their potential victims by telling them they can see the world and travel. Internet ads have meant the “the track” or street where prostitutes solicit clients are drying up.

Another reason pimps or traffickers use hotels is because they offer a sense of safety and protection for the prostitutes. State Police Sgt. Ron Riggin says the pimps can be near or around the hotel without being spotted.

A 23-year-old prostitute from California came to Maryland recently with another prostitute. The two were meeting a “date” at the La Quinta Inn & Suites off Route 1 in Jessup. The dates ended up being undercover officers who are part of the Child Recovery Unit. She told WBAL Radio that she can make a good amount of money in a big city. The reason she was travelling with another prostitute was for protection in case something would go wrong.

Those who work with organizations that help victims want to know more about why Maryland has seen so many cases of human sex trafficking. Amelia Rubenstein, case manager for the Anti-Trafficking Unit of TurnAround believes the access to BWI Airport has allowed pimps to send their victims back and forth from the West Coast or other states. She says many times the women will send the money they receive back to California.

WBAL Radio tried over the last several months to get responses from hotels, some in the BWI Airport Corridor and others located in the surrounding area regarding cases of sex trafficking at their properties. The Red Roof Inn at BWI Airport had no comment. And our calls were not returned from the manager of the Motel Six on Old Annapolis Road or the LaQuinta Inn & Suites Jessup.

A law on the books in Anne Arundel County allows police to look over the hotel occupancy logs if there is an investigation. Booking reservations or rooms through third-party internet sites can create even more challenges for police. In most cases the hotel would only be able to provide a name to the police and no other information because those details are not passed along to the hotel where the person is staying.

Some general managers and staff members of hotels in the Linthicum area have been trained by police to look for clues regarding prostitution or sex trafficking taking place at their property.

Sgt. Flory with the Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit which frequently looks for minors who might be sex trafficking victims believes that some of the managers or staff may not know what is going on there. She says the traffickers can be really smart about picking rooms in the back of the motel for example.

The Executive Director of TurnAround says she is not seeing local hotels or their operators step up and try to make decisions on how their properties are being used. “No one rents two rooms and brings in ten girls for no reason. They use the same hotels over and over and over again,” says Roz Branson.

Listen each day to the investigative series “The Game” Change on WBAL Radio at 7:20 a.m. and 3:20 p.m.


The Domestic Labor and Sex Trafficking of Homeless Youth

by Mark Horvath -- Founder, Invisible People

The only thing that gets me more upset about the domestic labor and sex trafficking of homeless youth in America, is the fact that most people don't even care that homeless boys and girls in this country are being bought and then forced to do horrible things. As many of you know, I have been working with homeless people in some form for the last 19 years, but it wasn't until my trip in 2010 that I learned about labor trafficking and how rampant domestic sex trafficking is.

To me, this is a crisis and should be front page news, but I bet for most of you, this is the first time you've even heard about the trafficking of homeless youth. Most of the attention and the resources go to fight international trafficking, and all human trafficking is horrible, but domestic trafficking is our kids. OUR KIDS!

What happens to trafficked children in the U.S. when they are discovered by the police? Often they are arrested on prostitution charges, thrown into jail and treated like criminals, even though they are minors. But not in Kansas anymore thanks to Karen Countryman-Roswurm, who is near the top on my hero list.

Dr Karen Countryman-Roswurm worked hard to get the words "prostitution" removed from state laws. This change made it now possible for trafficking victims to get the proper help they need. Other states have also made changes to help minors who have been caught up in trafficking, but it should be every state!

I first interviewed Karen Countryman-Roswurm in 2010 and you can watch that interview here. I have mad respect for Karen and consider her a close friend, although we rarely find time to connect. Karen was also a homeless youth, beating impossible odds, and is now a Ph.D. and the director of the Center for Combating Human Trafficking at Wichita State University Karen likes to call those of us that came up from the streets "survivor/leaders" I like that!

Every time I talk to Karen I learn so much, and this video interview with her is filled with information that you need to hear. I really like how Karen shares about the fight against human trafficking starts at home. Words every parent needs to hear!


New Jersey

The HEAAT Foundation fights human trafficking in South Jersey

by Holly Smith

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ , September 9, 2013 — The HEAAT Foundation is committed to the support and advocacy of victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, and domestic servitude. HEAAT, which stands for Helping to Educate and Advocate Against Trafficking, is based in Atlantic County, New Jersey and serves all of southern New Jersey.

President and CEO Tina Minnis earned her Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from the College of New Jersey. After more than 35 years of state service, Ms. Minnis retired from the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services; at which time, she was the manager of the Atlantic East Local Office in Atlantic City. Ms. Minnis is an active member of the Anti-Trafficking Task Force of Atlantic County (ATTAC) and the New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force. In the following interview, Ms. Minnis shares the story and mission of HEAAT.

Holly Smith: Ms. Minnis, what inspired the creation of HEAAT?

Tina Minnis: This private non-profit organization is an extension of the Anti-Trafficking Task Force of Atlantic County (ATTAC), which has been in existence since 2005. ATTAC was spearheaded and mobilized by the US Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which identified Atlantic City as a high-risk location for the presence of both sex and labor trafficking in the State of New Jersey.

H.S.: Can you tell us about HEAAT's board members?

T.M.: Our Board of Trustees includes

Vice-President/Treasurer: Brandy Smith holds a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) from Fordham University with a specialization in Children and Their Families and a Concentration in Child Welfare, and is licensed by the State of New Jersey. She specializes in at-risk youth and child welfare issues. Ms. Smith has been working with at-risk youth since 1998 and is an active member of ATTAC.

Founding Board Member: Joni Whelan is a Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Counselor and Certified Social Worker. Ms. Whelan began the first program in the State of New Jersey for Children of Substance Abusers. She has been awarded the NJ Child Abuse Prevention Award, the Skippy Award for her lifetime of work in the Addiction Field, and the Addiction Pioneer Award from Rowan University for her pioneering work in all areas of substance abuse treatment, prevention, and education, among other achievements.

Secretary: Doreen DeFeo-Gilroy holds a Master of Arts in Child Advocacy from Montclair State University. She has experience working with at-risk youth and understands their need for protection and permanency. Ms. DeFeo-Gilroy was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society while earning her Bachelor of Arts in Special Education.

H.S.: Ms. Minnis, please tell us about HEAAT's mission.

T.M.: Our mission is to build a community-coordinated response that will combat the perpetrators of this form of modern-day slavery; and to prevent all forms of human trafficking by raising awareness, educating, and empowering the community to take a proactive stance against these crimes. While the majority of our effort continues to be awareness, advocacy, and education; we are committed to improving and adding to the minimal resources available.

H.S.: What services are you currently offering to victims and victim advocates?

T.M.: We are providing basic and emergency needs to survivors, as well as addiction services through trained volunteers in addiction facilities. Empowerment and support groups are provided in correctional facilities where women also receive resource directories and information for when they leave the facilities. HEAAT also assisted and helped to plan and carry out a campaign to pass the “Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection, and Treatment Act of 2013” in New Jersey that included provisions to protect commercially sexually exploited children.

HEAAT serves as a resource directory and first response for law enforcement and victim specialists when needed. HEAAT collaborates with statewide goals and other anti-human trafficking agencies across New Jersey; and we work very hard to collaborate with law enforcement and maintain positive relationships with those entities. Key law enforcement officials have access to HEAAT members 24-7 and are aware how to get in touch. Local law enforcement officers have also been trained to call the child abuse hotline in New Jersey and those staff are currently being trained on how to respond.

H.S. : In what ways does HEAAT raise awareness and educate community members?

T.M.: In our capacity-building efforts, HEAAT provides extensive outreach trainings. The core training team has created an iRespect campaign that has been presented in many area schools to raise awareness and educate young people about the issue of human trafficking. HEAAT also partnered with the New Jersey Human Trafficking Taskforce on many trainings and awareness events including Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Additional key presentations included Dining for Dignity, the Camden County Violence Prevention Coalition, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Soroptimist International of Cumberland County, and HHS Region II Administration for Children and Families Training Institute on Human Trafficking Prevention. HEAAT has also conducted training workshops at the NJ Alliance for Children Youth and Families as well as the Student Assistance Counselor's Statewide Conference. Members of HEAAT were also invited to speak at the Child Welfare Congressional Briefing: Building a Strong Response to Child Trafficking (hosted by Representative Karen Bass).

H.S.: Where do you hope to see HEAAT in the future?

T.M.: It is our objective to establish a safe house with an internal program of therapy, education, job training, and placement for the women, children, and men who are victims of the human trafficking trade. We plan to continue to raise awareness in the community in order to have seamless responses and services for victims and survivors.

H.S.: Is there anything else you'd like to add about HEAAT?

T.M.: We are having our 4 th annual gala fundraiser on Friday, September 27 th , 2013. To purchase tickets or to make a tax deductible donation to our basket auction, please contact us. It is our policy that 100% of proceeds raised goes directly to victim services; all HEAAT staff and board members are volunteers. To continue this work, the HEAAT Foundation needs your help! Monetary donations can be made through PayPal on our website. Gift certificates for services or other in-kind donations are always appreciated.

For questions or more information; please contact us at:

The HEAAT Foundation, Inc.

PO Box 402

Port Republic, NJ 08241

Phone: 609-277-3050




Los Angeles

The Model Residential Program for America's Sex Trafficked Children - The First Step - The 'Critical Figure'

by Dr. Lois Lee -- Founder and President, Children of the Night

A successful residential program for America's child sex trafficking victims requires an appropriate adult role model, a critical figure to whom the child may attach. Perhaps for the first time in his/her life, the child may feel safe enough to experiment with new behaviors that are based on friendship and trust instead of hatred and fear. Attachment to this critical figure, usually female, mother figure in a residential setting is essential to engaging the sex trafficking victim in attempts to try a new way of life

Throughout the last 35 years, the most successful residential programs for sex trafficked children were led and operated by women who these children referred to as "Mom" - not because the leader required this title, but because the children needed to define the role of someone they could turn to when in need and who would accept them regardless of their behavior.

It did not seem to matter whether the residential program offered three beds or 24 beds, was faith based, government funded, privately funded, well-funded or financially struggling - what stood out was the single critical figure who these children learned to trust, on whom they could depend, and in whom they could confide.

This should not be surprising to the knowledgeable professional who works with child sex trafficking victims. The pimp organizes his victims according to familial roles - he himself plays the "daddy" role and frequently demands the victim call him "Daddy." The pimp family, which consists of a pimp "daddy" and female victims, has been referred to as "a stable" or "my folks." Child sex trafficking victims refer to one another as "wifey," "wife in-laws," "and stable sisters." This grouping together or feeling of belonging is similar to the substitute family provided by today's street gangs.

The critical figure who sets out to prepare the sex trafficking victim for a "normal" life must be strong and well versed in the varying roles of the sex trafficking subculture. They must not be fearful of the subculture or that fear transfers to the child creating chaos and an imbalance familiar to the child, reinforcing the child's belief there is "no way out."

During this process of attachment to the critical figure, the child confides closely guarded "family secrets" that she has kept private and out of shame and humility. It is in this relationship that the child will share early childhood experiences of sexual abuse, family relationships, stories about the pimp and his activities and other closely guarded information not shared on television talk shows or with researchers, police or detention officers. While the critical figure provides nurturing, lifesaving resources such as food, shelter and safety, the child attaches to this figure and defines her as "mom" in an attempt to make sense of her skewed social world.

Most importantly, the critical figure must be attentive and available to these children. She must hear them out and direct staff to assure their needs are met. They need to feel that one central character cares for them and assumes responsibility for their well-being.

Most social service programs and residential care for children is staff-centered and characterized by the primary goal of retaining staff. These children have a keen sense of awareness of who really cares for them and who they can trust versus who is "on the job."

Oftentimes they will demean support staff who they feel are merely collecting a paycheck - the result is staff turnover and the battle of whose needs come first. If the child wins the "battle of the needs" the reward is a voluntary commitment by the child sex trafficking victim to work hard at learning educational skills, counseling and program participation - programs designed to change their lives.

If America's child sex trafficking victim does not win this "battle of the needs," - he/she runs to the streets because he/she has options to meet these needs. The pimp and his makeshift family create a sense of belonging this child has been denied in his/her desperate efforts to be noticed and "be somebody."

We must remember that the "square world" is not something necessarily respected or desirous of the child sex trafficking victim because this child frequently interacts with the "square world." She/he trades sex for money in cars, motels and hotels with members of society most of us have learned to trust or admire - doctors, lawyers, politicians, movie stars, musicians, etc. This child knows the "dirty little secrets" of the "square world."

While there is recognition in the residential care community that this "critical adult figure" is required in residential care, most efforts to provide this critical figure have the underlying goal of saving money in that they provide "live in staff" room and board as part of their compensation.

Again there is the "battle of the needs" in a more basic form than previously discussed because the issues are rooted in the daily living such as who gets to decide what to eat for dinner, what to watch on television and the convenient development of rules that apply only to the residents when they meet the changing needs of the "live in staff."

In this system of care, one of two results occur - either "live in staff" boundaries loosen and he/she becomes so needy that resources for the child are coveted by the staff, or in a desperate attempt to protect one's personal boundaries the caregiver takes on the characteristics of a guard or detention warden which is evident in body language - crossed arms and stiff posture.

The "live in staff" model fails miserably in providing appropriate supervision or care for this special group of children because these children are experts in violating personal boundaries - their survival depends on it when they are forced to earn money in exchange for sex.

The critical figure and support staff must be relieved of the constant routine of meeting America's child sex trafficking victim's needs. Frequently residential programs structure child care supervision around 3 shifts a day which gives staff time to meet their personal and social needs away from the residential program.

Long after residential care America's child sex trafficking victim will maintain communication with the critical figure in a residential program. The critical figure, like "Mom," provides for her children unconditionally independent of the child's compliant behavior.

There is no "quick fix" for a child who has been sex trafficked. The emotional and physical trauma occurred years prior to sex trafficking and will continue for years beyond residential care.

Leading and operating a residential program for America's child sex trafficking victims requires a life commitment. It is not a job.

So the question we must ask the non-profit community is whether we are willing to make this commitment to America's child sex trafficking victim? Will nonprofit leadership produce these "critical figures" required to lead a new kind of residential care to address the needs of America's child sex trafficking victim?


Child Abuse Financially Supports Organized Crime Hidden Within the Government

by Lisa Graziano

With the recent chemical weapon attack in Syria, stories of Foster Homes around the world torturing children, child trafficking and the epidemic number of child abuse cases anointing the system our children are in danger.

But while the upcoming generation suffers at the hands of their abusive caregivers and society alike, child abuse is financially benefiting organized crime hidden within the government system.

The U.S. statistics on child abuse show that the every five hours a child dies from abuse with America having the worst child abuse record in the world. In the U.S., 66 children under the age of 15 die every week because of abuse. And more horrifying is that 80 percent of these fatalities are kids under the age of four.

In this intelligent, industrial time, the United States has the highest rate of abuse around the world with the State of Texas having the worst child abuse record in the nation.

These statistics only provide figures for the children who have died due to abuse and neglect and does not account for the children who still living each day of their tortured lives with more abusive horrors to come.

Although Dallas Children Hospital cares for a range of illnesses from cancer to kids with heart defects, child abuse accounts for 37 percent of hospital deaths, and this statistic is continuing to rise. The hospital sees about five abused patients a day.

What a dismal light this sheds on America's future generation. And unlike diseases such as cancer or heart disease, the worst part of this growing epidemic is that it can be prevented.

These innocent, trusting children are put into the hands of people to care of them. What is happening in America and who is to blame for breeding this army of future abusers?

Firstly, the blame lies with the perpetrator who is responsible for caring for our children. But once the abuse is identified Child Protective Services (CPS) steps in, and hidden within the government's financial bureaucracy organized crime raises its ugly head.

James Brown director of Sociological Center in Little Rock Arkansas advises that in 1973 the social work and mental health professions devised an organized crime operation exploiting children through the secrecy of the Child Protection Service, Juvenile court and mental health systems. The result being employees within the judicial system such as judges, attorneys, CPS caseworkers and mediators would supply fraud-based evaluations, falsifying testimony and records. If these deceptive methods were not adopted by the employees, they would be terminated from their position.

In Arkansas it was discovered that an Arkansas bill was drafted that required DHS employees, if subpoenaed, to lie about facts and records. Which is what happened in the Florida case wherein CPS falsified records in the Rilya Wilson case, wherein the little girl has never been found. The story can be found at

To maintain organized crime within the child protection system, policies and procedures were written and put in place so that the components of criminal activity would not be detected within the system.

This truth is detected in the bureaucracy's financial statistics. The number of children taken into the system will be enough to generate agency payroll. Also, everyone in the agency system will stay employed if the numbers of child abuse cases and children taken in always increases. Federal funding and blind political support is fashioning the criminal activity by means of financial gain.

Although Health and Human Services (HHS) stated in a press release that there will be no toleration for the abuse of even one child. HHS's budget depends on abused children and the Federal Government is a major funder for child abuse.

In the State of Kentucky the quick trigger adoption method a great financial gain for the state. The non-profit organization Kentucky Youth Advocates noticed a spike in complaints against CPS and did some investigation. The caseworkers were said to be rude and hostile to the families they were working with. Adoptions were expedited too quickly with premature removal of children from their homes. The CPS caseworkers were setting unrealistic goal plans for the families to meet in order to keep their child.

Adoption proceedings were on a 17-day fast track wherein without substantial evidence or witnesses and based only on the caseworkers falsified testimony, the adoption of the child was authorized by the judge. And when defendant family appealed the decision, CPS removed the other children from the home along with removing the attorney who filed the appeal's children. The more children being brought into the system, the more financial aid to be had. In 2004, the State of Kentucky received from the federal government $1,074,000 for adopting out children compared to the previous year's government payout of $57,052. The more children being adopted, the more money is given to the state.

And not only is the government using adoption methods to increase its state revenue, child trafficking is another option for added income. As such the case in Austin, Texas where a Department of Human Services (DHS) supervisor, James Bunch committed suicide after being caught running a foster care prostitution ring from his office computer for two-years. Police confirmed that a state legislator was among the 400 clients listed.

But criminal financial gain does not just end at the physical and sexual abuse levels. The pharmaceutical and medical industries are also involved in the exploitation of children. At an alarming rate, children in foster care custody are being prescribed an enormous amount of medications.

A report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) states that children in foster care are 4.5 times more likely in being given multiple psychotropic drugs. And worse yet, doctors who are not specialized in the care of children are prescribing these drugs. As in the case of a radiologist prescribing the drugs Prozac, Thorazine, Paxil and Xanax to a 15-year old child who was taking up to 13 pills a day.

67 percent of foster care children are taking at least one prescription drug. Foster care parents receive $17 per day for caring for the child, but if the foster child is on any type of psychotropic drug, the foster care parent receives $1,000 per day per child. And social security pays for these prescriptions.

Everyone is hopping on the criminal money train, the temporary caregivers, the doctors and pharmaceutical industry while the taxpayer is footing the bill.

Psychologist Dr. John Breeding warns this practice is “institutionalized child abuse.” Medicating our children as such is damaging their minds, personalities and souls.

Activists are calling for change. And in Texas along with a few other states, legal changes regarding the medication of children has begun to decline.

But true change will not happen unless the practice of saving our children from abuse is placed in the forefront of America's priorities and organized crime is extinguished within the financial means controlling our governmental laws.



Taming the trauma

Center supports families rocked by child sexual abuse


ST. JOSEPH - The disclosure by Ann's 7-year-old son that he had been sexually abused by a relative came as a devastating shock to her.

Within a short time the Berrien County woman's teenage daughter also revealed that she had been sexually assaulted for years.

The children's father, Ann's ex-husband, was later charged with abusing both, found guilty in a trial and sentenced in December to a long prison term.

"Looking back now, I can see the signs that were there," Ann said. "It was more devastating because I didn't ask my children a lot of questions."

Initially afraid and uncertain of the legal process after the sexual assault revelations were made, Ann came to count on support and counseling from the Children's Assessment Center of Berrien County.

The center in Royalton Township played an important role during the police investigation, doing forensic interviews with the children to help authorities determine if the sexual assaults had occurred.

Later, the center's therapists provided free counseling to Ann and her children, helping them work through the traumatic events and bring normalcy to their lives.

Ann said she got an important bit of encouragement from a therapist at a terrible moment early in the process - immediately after her son disclosed facts to an interviewer about the sexual abuse he had endured.

"She said someday this won't be the only thing you think about," Ann said. "This won't dominate."

"I was thinking there's no way, I'd never get past this."

But after a few months, with support and counseling, the trauma subsided.

"I thought, OK, we can think about soccer practice," she said.

And after six months, Ann said, "it wasn't consuming us anymore," though she feels there's still a way to go.

"They were incredibly kind to me," she said.

Abuse investigators

The case is one of more than 500 in 2012 in which the CAC interviewed children to determine if they were sexual assault victims.

Operated by the Berrien County Council for Children, the center coordinates the work of police, the prosecutor's office, the Michigan Department of Human Services and others responsible for investigating child sexual abuse.

The facility, a remodeled school along M-139, serves children ages 2-18. The aim is to assist law enforcement while reducing the trauma on children.

Crisis and ongoing counseling are provided to young victims and members of their families who are not abusers. The CAC coordinates case reviews of every child seen at the center. Cases are tracked through an investigation and prosecution until final disposition.

The National Children's Alliance has accredited the center and does periodic reviews.

One of the most important parts of the work is doing forensic interviewing with children who may have been sexually abused. The interviewing technique, which requires training, poses questions in a friendly but unemotional way, one that does not suggest answers.

The interview is one on one and conducted in a pleasant room with decorations appropriate for the child's age.

While the interview takes place, a police officer, prosecutor and DHS employee watch through one-way glass. They can communicate with the interviewer, who wears a small headset, sometimes suggesting a question.

"We're looking for a lot of detail," said Barbara Welke, recently retired CAC director and a forensic interviewer. "You're not supporting anything but encouraging to give detail."

Typically, 90 minutes is set aside for the interview. Afterward, the police officer, prosecutor and DHS worker who were present meet with the child's parent.

Children disclose that they were sexually abused in about half of the cases, and the majority of those result in prosecution.

In some cases abuse may have occurred, although a child does not disclose what happened or tells only some of it, not enough information to bring charges.

In other cases, suspicions of abuse are shown to be unfounded, occasionally initiated by a vindictive spouse in the context of divorce or custody proceedings.

The forensic interview process has come into use to replace a problem-prone method that relied on multiple interviews.

Under that system, a child would sometimes be interviewed three or four times as a case proceeded from police to the prosecutor's office and through the court system.

Interviews might take place in a police station or in the home where the suspected perpetrator was nearby. The multiple interviews tended to add to a child's trauma or leave the impression that nobody believed him or her.

In the forensic interview the child is encouraged to do most of the talking.

"It may be the first time an adult has listened to them," Welke said.

With the police and others watching and listening from another room, all get the same information at the same time, and rarely there is a need for a second interview.

Therapy is another key element of the Council for Children's program, said Brooke Rospierski, a forensic interviewer and therapist. The service may continue for a long period of time.

"There's no fee, no time line, no insurance companies to deal with," she said, which can relieve some of the family stress.

During 2012, the CAC conducted 526 forensic interviews, up from 476 in 2011 and 463 in 2010. The numbers were 372 in 2009; 330 in 2008; and 338 in 2007.

Therapy sessions also are on the increase. There were 552 in 2012, compared with 398 in 2011; 384 in 2010; 292 in 2009; 244 in 2008; and 326 in 2007.

The center sometimes interviews children who may be victims of physical abuse or neglect.

Child sex abuse victims come from all ethnic groups and economic backgrounds. In 2012 a large percentage of the suspected abusers were parents, stepparents, boyfriends or girlfriends of a parent, other relatives or others known to the victim.

About 26 children's assessment centers operate in Michigan, which means not every county has one. The Berrien County CAC also serves children in Van Buren and Cass counties.

A step forward

Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic said development of the CAC, which opened in a different building in 2002, has meant better outcomes in investigations of child sexual abuse.

But the incidence of such abuse does not seem to be declining.

"I think we're getting better at prosecuting them," Sepic said. "I don't think it's stopping."

Accurately determining the number of cases is not possible because so many sexual assaults on children go unreported.

The nonprofit organization Darkness to Light says studies suggest that 10.7 percent to 17.4 percent of girls are sexually abused, while the rate for boys is 3.8 percent to 4.6 percent. The organization's goal is to reduce the incidences of child sexual abuse through awareness and education.

Nationally, about one in 10 children are abused before they turn 18, according to Darkness to Light.

A 2005 study by London, Bruck and Cici found that 60-70 percent of adult survivors of child sexual abuse do not recall ever disclosing to anyone about the abuse when they were children. Of those who did tell as a child, only 10-18 percent remember their cases ever being reported to authorities. "We only see the tip of the iceberg," Welke said.

Studies by David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, maintain that one in five girls, and one in 20 boys, have been sexually abused.

Over a one-year period in the U.S., 16 percent of children ages 14-17 had been sexually abused, one of the center's studies shows.

Assistant Berrien County Prosecutor Patricia Ceresa says children who have been abused sometimes come forward to prevent the same thing from happening to a sibling.

In one case, a 13-year-old girl reported how she had been abused only when it seemed to her that a younger sister was about to become a target. A family member was prosecuted, convicted and sent to prison.

A new approach

The Children's Assessment Center of Berrien County went into operation as the result of a committee's work to find better ways to investigate and prosecute child sex abuse cases. The CAC moved into its present building in 2005.

Sepic, who helped get the ball rolling, said changes were sorely needed in the interview process - which was not child-friendly - to help victims.

The committee decided to set up a center using forensic interviewing, a technique which had been around for almost 15 years at the time, Sepic said.

At first, some police officers who had training in victim interviewing were skeptical. Then, the Benton Harbor and Benton Township police departments started using the professional interviewers and liked the results.

From that point on, Sepic said, "it just sort of blossomed."

A protocol on child sex abuse investigations developed by law enforcement, the Michigan Department of Human Services and the prosecutor's office requires that the CAC interview alleged victims who are under 13.

Lincoln Township Chief of Police Dan Sullivan, who worked as a detective when the center opened, said it has solid support among law enforcement agencies.

"This allows us to have an independent, professional person with no bias in the case, other than concern for the children, to do the interview," he said.

That way, police investigators do not inadvertently cause mistakes that could affect the outcome of a case.

"We don't want to mislead or ask leading questions of children," Sullivan said. "They are trained to do it. They're trained interviewers."

Defense lawyers also support the center, Ceresa said, because the forensic interview process reveals cases that are groundless.

"It really filters those out," she said.

Growing pains

After eight years of operation in its current building, the CAC has run out of room.

"It's getting crowded in there," said Ceresa, also president of the Council for Children.

The CAC is the council's largest program. The council is an umbrella organization that works to reduce child sexual abuse through prevention, assessment and intervention.

Plans are being developed to provide additional space for therapists and to have separate waiting rooms for people whose children are there for interviews and others getting counseling.

The building now being used has one waiting room, and it can be a busy, confusing place. There is no debriefing area for parents waiting for the outcome of a child's interview.

"We tell the parent the worst thing that's ever happened to their kid," Executive Director Jamie Rossow said, then send them back to the waiting room.

The nine staff members work in tight quarters, cubicles with no locked space for records and other documents. The employees include two interviewers, two therapists, two family advocates and a front-desk, child-care person.

Officials are developing plans for expansion, either an addition to the current building or, if need be, a building somewhere else.

Ceresa said the organization has managed its finances well over the years and should be able to expand.

The center's annual budget is $425,000. In addition to government support, the center receives funding from several foundations and other organizations.

Funding sources are: Crime Victims Services, through the state Victims of Crime Act; the Michigan Department of Human Services; Berrien County prosecutor's office; United Way of Southwest Michigan; Children's Trust Fund; National Children's Alliance; Upton Foundation; Berrien Community Foundation and individual donors.


United Kingdom

Child protection expert: Don't target Google to stop abuse

A government policy to tackle the growing problem of online child abuse is nonsensical and based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how paedophiles target their victims, according to the former head of Britain's online child protection agency.

Jim Gamble suggested David Cameron targeted Google – when the Prime Minister demanded in July that internet companies take action to block images of abuse – because the company had paid too little tax in the UK.

Mr Gamble, who resigned as head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in 2010, said the Prime Minister had been badly briefed before his intervention and called for new thinking.

Mr Gamble also called for the expansion of lie detector tests for those arrested for downloading child porn, in order to establish whether they have committed further offences, amid concerns of low reporting rates and failings by authorities in identifying serial abusers.

Mandatory polygraph testing will be introduced for the most serious child sex offenders after their release from prison next year to establish whether they present continued risks. But Mr Gamble said an opportunity had been missed following the convictions of Mark Bridger, who killed April Jones in Wales in October last year, and Stuart Hazell, who murdered Tia Sharp, to invest in research on paedophiles.

“Rather than having a debate about predatory paedophiles and how we can stop them earlier, we have had a debate about Google and blocking search terms,” Mr Gamble said at a conference in Belfast. “Mark Bridger or Stuart Hazell weren't made paedophiles because they searched for something on Google.

“It's nonsensical. The advice to the Prime Minster is bad from people who clearly don't understand the first thing about the internet and child protection. We are now focusing on Google rather than investing in greater research: why they do it, when they do it. Why? Google don't pay enough tax.”

Mr Cameron announced in July that people should be confronted with a pop-up warning if they put in phrases like “child porn” into a search engine, but was immediately criticised by experts who said it was impractical and would not stop abusers sharing images. The companies are due to report back in October.

“There's a fundamental lack of understanding about the people who commit these offences,” said Mr Gamble.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Child sexual abuse is a sickening crime that we are determined to eradicate both on and offline, and encouraging the industry to play its part is just one route to tackling this issue.”



Blue Knot Day – October 28th 2013

Show your support adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse

by Kerrod Trott

Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) invites community members, churches, religious groups and leaders to organise and host events in support of Blue Knot Day, this October 28th and the week to follow until November 3rd 2013. With the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse well under away, ASCA is calling for people to take action and show their support.

Blue Knot Day is an annual initiative run by ASCA, the national peak body, advancing the needs of Australian adults who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma. In Australia there are an estimated 4-5 million adult survivors of childhood trauma[i].

President of ASCA, Dr Cathy Kezelman, said that the day is important not only for survivors of childhood trauma, but for all Australians.

“The social impact of child abuse can extend well beyond survivors – affecting families, partners and entire communities,” she said. “It is imperative that we address this issue and ensure that adult survivors have access to community support alongside that of professionals to help facilitate their full and ongoing recovery.

“Blue Knot Day is an open invitation to Australians to come together to show support for survivors of childhood trauma. While October 28th is the official Blue Knot Day, in the week that follows we encourage communities nationwide to host their own events and activities with the aim of offering support, and promoting hope and optimism.

“The Royal Commission has put the issue of child abuse firmly on the national agenda this year, causing widespread concern in the community. From our work and research, we know that, with the right help, people can recover. Raising community awareness and starting a discussion are essential steps towards de-stigmatising the issue and helping those affected.”

Some suggested ideas for activities and events include:

· Host a breakfast or morning tea

· Hold a faith-based service

· Ceremonially unwrap a building or object in recognition of survivors

· Create a Blue Knot Day themed display

· Engage in an activity to help raise funds through sponsorship and donations

· All Blue Knot Day donations can be made at

· Buy and wear a blue knot pin and/or friendship bracelet – available from under ‘Shop'

To register an event or activity please contact ASCA via email on

All public Blue Knot events will be registered online so that people across Australia who want to attend an event can easily access information or choose to host their own event if none is listed in their area.

For the full calendar of activities and details being held during Blue Knot week (October 28th – November 3rd), please visit or you can check out ASCA's Blue Knot Day blog:

People needing support are encouraged to call ASCA's professional support line on 1300 657 380 Monday to Sunday, 9am – 5pm or visit the website.

About ASCA:

ASCA is the national peak body that focuses exclusively on advancing the needs of the estimated 4-5 million Australian adults who are survivors of childhood trauma. ASCA was formed in 1995 and provides a range of services: professional phone support, a referral database, workshops for survivors and their supporters, education and training programs for health care professionals and workers, newsletters for survivors and health professionals, advocacy, research and health promotion in the areas of complex trauma and trauma informed care and practice. ASCA is also a founding member of the national Trauma Informed Care and Practice Advisory Working Group – advocating for a national agenda around trauma informed care and practice. ASCA is the key Australian organization providing hope, optimism and pathways to recovery for adults with complex needs who have experienced all forms of childhood trauma.

Childhood trauma:

As defined by ASCA, childhood trauma includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, witnessing and experiencing the impacts of family and community violence and a range of other adverse childhood events.

Twitter: @BlueKnotDay and @ASCAORG


United Kingdom

The 'stranger danger' message isn't protecting our children from abuse

We need to teach children how to differentiate between threatening situations and threatening people, whether those people are familiar or not.

Recently, Daybreak performed an 'experiment' to see if children would leave a public park with someone they don't know. We have a clean link to the Daily Mail piece here. We have removed photographs from this link, as we are concerned about the ethical nature of an experiment that pixelates the adult 'stranger' but not the children who were involved.

Some of the children offered to help the ‘stranger' in finding his lost dog - he was no doubt plausible, and will have been able to relate to the children in order to engage them in this experiment. Some of the children went with him, some started to and then changed their minds, and some were called back by their mothers before they were out of sight.

Children are compliant by nature. We tell children that they should listen to adults, that they must do what adults tell them to do, and they must respond promptly to instructions.

Unless they are a ‘stranger'.

Now, I don't know about you, but I taught my child about stranger danger when she was quite small. When she was three years old, we went to see Father Christmas, and when he asked, “Have you been good this year?”, she responded by looking at me and whispering, “You said I shouldn't talk to strangers.” Cue much embarrassment by the jolly man in the red suit, and motherly pride that my teaching was having an impact.

How wrong I was.

Not long after that, I attended some training for my job called Protective Behaviours (PB). Now, as far as I'm concerned, PB should form the basis of all supportive work with children. Unfortunately, although schools teach about safety, not all of them discuss the intricacies of those physiological responses that can alert us; not just to danger, but to something ‘not quite right'.

Protective Behaviours has two themes, both simple and self-explanatory but needing a little expansion:

? We all have the right to feel safe, all of the time.

Do most children know what feeling 'safe' feels like? Not in my experience. I've worked with many children (schools, children's services, women's services) and often, they have no idea what feeling safe means, as no-one taught them.

Children don't know what it means to feel safe. Have we absolved ourselves of the responsibility for teaching our children what it is to feel safe?

Children need to be taught about risk, managing risk and being safe. Teaching them about safety means talking about feelings and emotions, and how those affect our physiological responses – something as simple as ‘tummy butterflies' indicating that we are excited, nervous or anxious, for instance. Indeed, ignoring our physiological responses when we are unsafe is an issue for both children and adults. We ignore those 'early warning signs' for many reasons, one of them being mistrust in our body responses because we don't understand them. We don't understand them, in turn, because nobody teaches us to.

Once a child understands what it is to feel safe, we can then talk about what to do when they don't.

? Nothing is too awful, or too small, that we cannot talk to someone about it.

We all understand the 'awful'. We know that children are physically, sexually and emotionally abused (most often by those close to them) and neglected by adults who should care for them.

The 'too small' relates to minor issues that adults often dismiss: name-calling in the playground, feeling that they haven't got any friends, worrying about homework - all of which can cause children to feel anxious, worried or scared and therefore unsafe.

Protective Behaviours works on the basis that a child can talk to someone who makes them feel safe. Because without knowing what 'safe' is, children may not talk to anyone.

Once children understand how their physiology helps them understand their emotions, they can get help to be safe. Arbitrary decisions based on 'strangers' or people close to them are useless - in fact, they could be dangerous. This is because strangers are often those people who can help: a voice on a helpline, a social worker, a police officer, a support worker. How do we teach children to differentiate between 'adults who will help keep them safe' and 'strangers'? Without giving them the skills to understand their own right to safety and what it feels like, we can't.

This post isn't to say that we shouldn't teach children about stranger danger because the risk is low. Teaching children to differentiate between 'unsafe' and 'safe' adults gives them a space to talk, to be believed, and protects them more than any blanket 'don't talk to strangers' message ever will.

Children are not responsible for keeping themselves safe; that is the job of adults. Persisting with the notion that we can keep children safe by repeating the ‘don't talk to strangers' line is misleading and unhelpful.

We need to be having open and honest conversations with our children about their ‘early warning signs', what it means to feel safe, who they can trust and where to get help from - and at the same time, we should be talking about those who do abuse children, as that is our responsibility too.

The biggest concern is that those conversations seem curiously lacking.

End Victimisation & Abuse are a women's collective. As survivors of stalking and domestic abuse, they prefer to remain anonymous. Find out more at


(Part One)

Adopted children being abandoned by parents over internet into abuse, ‘nightmare' homes

by Megan Twohey

KIEL, Wisconsin — Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled more than two years to raise Quita, the troubled teenager they'd adopted from Liberia. When they decided to give up the 16-year-old, they found new parents to take her in less than two days — by posting an ad on the Internet.

Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, responded quickly. In emails, Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl. “People that are around me think I am awesome with kids,” Eason wrote.

A few weeks later, on Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Illinois. The handoff took place at the Country Aire Mobile Home Park, where the Easons lived.

No attorneys or child welfare officials were present. The Puchallas simply signed a notarized statement declaring these virtual strangers to be Quita's guardians. The visit lasted a few hours. It was the first and the last time the couples would meet.

To Melissa Puchalla, the Easons “seemed wonderful.” Had she vetted them more closely, she might have discovered what Reuters would learn:

* Child welfare authorities had taken away both Nicole Eason's biological children years earlier. A sheriff's deputy wrote that the couple had “violent tendencies.”

* The only official document attesting to their parenting skills — one purportedly drafted by a social worker who had inspected the Easons' home — was fake, created by the Easons themselves.

* Nicole Eason and another man, Randy Winslow, had taken in a 10-year-old boy advertised online in 2006. Later, Winslow was arrested and is now serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison for sending and receiving child pornography.

On Quita's first night with the Easons, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed, Quita says today. The Easons say they never shared their bed with any child they took in, but Quita remembers it vividly; Nicole, she says, slept naked.

Within a few days of dropping Quita there, Melissa Puchalla couldn't reach the Easons and had no idea what had become of the girl. About two weeks passed before authorities located her, took her from the Easons and sent her back to Wisconsin — alone, on a bus.

No further action was taken by authorities in Illinois, Wisconsin or New York.

An underground market

When she arrived in the United States, Quita thought she was “coming to a nicer place, a safer place. It didn't turn out that way,” she says today. “It turned into a nightmare.”

The teenager had been tossed into America's underground market for adopted children, a loose Internet network where desperate parents seek new homes for kids they regret adopting. Like Quita, now 21, these discarded children are often the casualties of international adoptions gone sour.

Through Yahoo and Facebook groups, parents and others advertise unwanted children and then pass them to strangers with little or no government scrutiny, sometimes illegally, a Reuters investigation has found.

It is a largely lawless marketplace where the needs of parents are often put ahead of the welfare of the orphans they brought to America. One government official alerted child protection workers across the United States that the practice is “placing children in grave danger.” Even so, no laws specifically address it, and no government agency monitors the bulletin boards.

The practice is called “private re-homing,” a term typically used by owners seeking new homes for their pets. Based on solicitations posted on one of eight similar online bulletin boards, the parallels are striking.

“Born in October of 2000 — this handsome boy, ‘Rick' was placed from India a year ago and is obedient and eager to please,” one ad for a child read.

A woman who said she is from Nebraska offered an 11-year-old boy she had adopted from Guatemala. “I am totally ashamed to say it, but we do truly hate this boy!” she wrote in a July 2012 post.

Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from a five-year period on one Internet message board, a Yahoo group. On average, a child was advertised for re-homing there once a week. Most of the children ranged in age from 6 to 14 and had been adopted from abroad — from countries such as Russia and China, Ethiopia and Ukraine. The youngest was 10 months old. One participant referred to the re-homing forums as “‘farms' in which to select children.”

A 10-year-old boy from the Philippines and a 13-year-old boy from Brazil each were advertised three times. So was a girl from Haiti. She was offered for re-homing when she was 14, 15 and 16 years old.

“I would have given her away to a serial killer, I was so desperate,” one mother wrote in a March 2012 post about her 12-year-old daughter.

After learning what Reuters found, Yahoo took down Adopting-from-Disruption, the six-year-old bulletin board. A spokeswoman said the activity in the group violated the company's terms-of-service agreement. The company subsequently took down five other groups that Reuters brought to its attention.

A similar forum on Facebook, Way Stations of Love, remains active but private. A Facebook spokeswoman says the page shows “that the Internet is a reflection of society.”

Some re-homed children have endured severe abuse. One girl adopted from China and later sent to a second home said she was made to dig her own grave. Another re-homed child, a Russian girl, recounted how a boy in one house urinated on her after the two had sex; she was 13 at the time and was re-homed three times in six months.

“There's hundreds of people looking for new homes for kids,” says Glenna Mueller, an adoptive mother who advertised her 10-year-old son online.

Parents who offer their children on the Internet say they have limited options. On the bulletin boards, parents talk of children becoming abusive and violent, terrorizing them and other kids in the household. “People get in over their heads,” says Tim Stowell, an adoptive parent who created the Facebook group last year.

Unknown dangers

Because private re-homings often bypass the government, the only vetting of prospective families is done by parents who want to get rid of children. That increases the risk that kids could fall into the hands of dangerous people. In the group Reuters analyzed, more than half of the children were described as having some sort of special need. About 18 percent were said to have a history that included sexual or physical abuse.

“If you advertise details of things like their substance abuse or sexually acting out, that's waving a red flag” for predators, says Michael Seto, an expert on the sexual abuse of children at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group in Canada.

In July 2006 — within hours of posting an ad for the 10-year-old boy she had adopted out of the U.S. foster care system — Glenna Mueller met Nicole Eason and Eason's friend Winslow outside a hotel near Mueller's home in Appleton, Wisconsin. There, Mueller gave them the boy, along with a note saying they could care for him. “I wanted this child gone,” says Mueller, a former daycare provider.

A few months later, she took the boy back after a Wisconsin child welfare worker told Mueller she could be arrested for not involving state authorities in the custody transfer, she says. The boy later told her he had spent most of his time in Illinois with Winslow.

Court documents show Winslow, then 41, had been trading child pornography during the boy's time with him in Illinois. In the months after the boy left, Winslow spent time in a chat room where he graphically boasted of molesting boys and explained how to keep the abuse quiet: “Just have to raise them to think its fine and not to tell anyone,” he wrote in a chat with an undercover federal agent.

Now in federal prison in Elkton, Ohio, Winslow declined requests for an interview. The boy turned 18 a few days ago. His foster parents declined to make him available for an interview.

Meager safeguards

There is one potential safeguard for children: an agreement among states called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or ICPC. It requires that if a child is to be transferred to a different state, parents who take in and give away the child must notify authorities in both states. That way, the prospective parents can be vetted.

Not until January 2011 did an official responsible for overseeing the U.S. child protection compact call attention to the “grave danger” of the online network. In a nationwide alert, an administrator for the ICPC warned that adoptive parents were sending children to live with people they met on the Internet. The practice, the official wrote, “puts children at substantial risk.”

Despite the urgency, the official, Stephen Pennypacker, says states still cannot account for such custody transfers.

International adoptees are especially susceptible to being re-homed. Reuters found that at least 70 percent of children offered on the Yahoo bulletin board were advertised as foreign-born. Americans have adopted about 243,000 children from abroad since the late 1990s, but no authorities systematically track what happens to those children after they arrive in the United States.

Transfers such as those involving Nicole Eason — the woman who disappeared with Quita and took the 10-year-old boy in the hotel parking lot — might never be recorded.

Eason has succeeded in taking in at least six children through the Internet, despite her troubled history. In 2000, a report by Massachusetts officials shows, Eason's biological daughter was taken away after the 9 month old was admitted to the hospital with a broken femur “for which the parents had no explanation.”

In 2002, about a week after Nicole's second child was born, South Carolina authorities removed the newborn boy from the Eason home, sheriff's records show. Authorities cited the neglect investigation of the Easons in Massachusetts and the “deplorable” conditions in the couple's South Carolina home. “Parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies,” a deputy wrote in a March 2002 report.

In interviews with Reuters, the Easons said Nicole's two children again live with them. In truth, the couple never got them back, South Carolina and Massachusetts officials confirmed.

Eason described her parenting style this way: “Dude, just be a little mean, OK? … I'll threaten to throw a knife at your ass, I will. I'll chase you with a hose.”

Asked to explain why officials in two states say her children had been permanently removed, Nicole Eason said someone was lying.

“I haven't had problems with social services,” she said. “That's what I'm claiming.”


(Part Two)

Unwanted adopted children brokered online without legal safeguards, background checks

by Megan Twohey

(This is the second in a two-part series of Reuters Special Reports, “The Child Exchange: Inside America's underground market for adopted children.”)

HICKORY, North Carolina — When Megan Exon began moderating an Internet bulletin board in 2007, she viewed her effort as a way to help kids find better homes.

The group was called adoption_disruption, and it drew parents who were struggling to raise children they had adopted.

The North Carolina woman wasn't a licensed social worker or an adoption specialist. She was a 41-year-old mother who had taken in a child herself less than two years before. Her husband had noticed a Taiwanese boy advertised on the Internet, in one of the online forums that support America's underground market for unwanted adopted children.

The parents who were giving up the boy told Exon that the 4-year-old's feet were too big and his ears looked funny. If parents could discard their adopted kids so callously, she reasoned, maybe she could help children find new families by moderating one of the Internet sites.

“We were just introducing people,” Exon says of the online group, where parents sought new homes for unwanted children in a practice known as “private re-homing.”

Well-intentioned as that seemed, Exon would come to regret her role in the re-homing network, a collection of Internet forums where people seeking children can find one quickly. They are able to do so without involving the government and sometimes with the help of middlemen whose activities can be naive, reckless or illegal, a Reuters investigation has found.

For Exon, the perils of the re-homing network became clear shortly after she referred two sets of parents to a couple who were living in Illinois, Nicole and Calvin Eason. The Easons subsequently took in two children, a Russian boy and an American girl.

Like moderators on other re-homing sites, Exon didn't consider vetting prospective parents to be her responsibility. After initial connections were made on her bulletin board, it was up to the two families to do due diligence. “We always reminded people, ‘Get an attorney,'” Exon says. “And obviously people didn't always do that.”

To legally take custody of a child through the U.S. foster care system, prospective parents undergo criminal background checks, home inspections, and in most states, dozens of hours of training. After placement, social workers visit the family regularly to ensure the child is safe.

In informal private re-homings, none of that happens. The online bulletin boards have emerged as a do-it-yourself way for parents to quietly end adoptions, which often involve foreign children. By not involving child welfare authorities in the custody transfers, parents can bypass some of the most basic but time-consuming government safeguards meant to protect children.

Making matches

On one bulletin board, Adopting-from-Disruption, Reuters found dozens of other middlemen who were advertising children. Few were licensed child welfare workers. Some had taken in or re-homed children themselves. Many appeared to be do-gooders like Exon who try to help needy children find new families.

In some cases, the advertisements for unwanted children skirt a patchwork of state laws that define who can place children and how. In some form, 29 U.S. states have laws that govern how children can be advertised for adoption. In many of those states, those helping to arrange an adoption must be licensed to do so.

Yahoo took down Adopting-from-Disruption after Reuters informed it of what was going on there. The company later took down five other groups that Reuters brought to its attention.

A relatively new re-homing group is a Facebook page called Way Stations of Love. It was founded last year by Tim Stowell, a 60-year-old father of four adopted children who works at a Tennessee boarding school for boys. Facebook says activity on the page is “a reflection of society.”

Stowell says Way Stations serves a dual purpose: to support distressed parents to avert re-homings, and to help find new families for children if necessary. Today, the group has about 275 members. Its Facebook classification is “secret,” meaning only members can see it; others need Stowell's permission to join.

Like most go-betweens, Stowell says he leaves the checking of prospective parents to families offering a child. In some cases, he says, parents meet on the site and exchange private emails to arrange custody transfers. “And then I never know what happens to them,” Stowell says of the children.

In Tennessee, no law prevents Stowell from advertising children for adoption, or from helping parents find available children. But Stowell says he isn't certain whether other middlemen who facilitate such transfers online are breaking the law. “They may be,” he says. “I don't know that state laws have kept up with the way the Internet is. I'm hoping that people will obey the laws of their different states, whatever they may be.”

Idaho is a state that does restrict who can advertise adoptions. There, a statute prohibits those without a state license from advertising children for adoption or from conveying “the ability to place, locate, dispose or receive a child or children for adoption.”

‘Just trying to help'

One online roster of available children is kept by an Idaho-based non-profit organization named Christian Homes and Special Kids, or CHASK. The group has been helping match children with new parents for almost a decade. It has no state license.

“We're just trying to help families,” says Tom Bushnell, a lawyer who founded the group with his wife, Sherry.

Most of the children listed by the group for re-homing come from failed international adoptions, and a disclaimer on its website reads: “CHASK should be considered a ‘last resort' avenue for finding a new adoptive home for a previously adopted child.”

Initially, regulators were unfamiliar with CHASK. After Reuters inquired more recently about the organization, a spokesman with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said late last month that the state attorney general has begun a review. At issue, the spokesman said, is “the scope of CHASK's activities and if they are complying with Idaho law.”

Tom Bushnell says CHASK isn't violating Idaho's law on advertising children for adoption, in part because the computer server the group uses is located in another state.

However the children are advertised, the custody transfers themselves may violate the law — an agreement between U.S. states called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).

Although the ICPC has been adopted by each state, some states attach no penalties to violations of the pact. In others, violations are considered misdemeanors, but even then officials almost never prosecute offenders. Illinois says it hasn't brought charges in 15 years.

Many police are unfamiliar with the ICPC. Authorities who do understand the compact say they are focused on helping children rather than enforcing the law.

“Speaking honestly, we wouldn't be that concerned about the penalty for the person who violated the compact,” says Harry Gilmore, deputy administrator of the ICPC in Oregon.

‘Violent tendencies'

When Megan Exon heard more about the Easons from another woman who monitored the bulletin boards, she says she became terrified. A woman whom Exon knew from the bulletin boards said she suspected that the Easons were lying to persuade parents to give them children.

Even then, Exon had no idea what sort of parents the Easons had been. Child welfare officials had taken away Nicole Eason's two biological children, a son and a daughter, years earlier. A report by authorities who removed the Easons' newborn son characterized the couple as having “severe psychiatric problems” and “violent tendencies.” And a man who once took in a child with Nicole had been trading pictures of naked children online. He's now serving 20 years in federal prison.

Exon ended up driving 10 hours from her North Carolina home to the Eason place in Danville, Illinois, to try to retrieve the girl and boy she had helped re-home there. Calvin Eason acquiesced, and she left with the children that day.

She's close to adopting the girl, now 14; the boy, Dmitri Stewart, is now 20 and living on his own.

Today, Dmitri relates his experience living at the Eason house. Strangely, none of the bedrooms had doors. Dmitri asked Nicole why. “I like to watch you sleep,” Dmitri says she told him. Her answer, he says, made him feel “really weird.”

Dmitri had no idea how long the 8-year-old girl, with shaggy brown hair and a wide smile, had been living there. He didn't know where she had come from, either. He says that she slept in the Easons' bed.

The Easons never made him go to school, he says, so he sat home and smoked cigarettes they gave him. A picture taken in Danville shows Dmitri perched on the front steps of the house, a cigarette and a water bottle in his left hand. He wears a striped soccer jersey, dark pants and a blank expression.

In an interview, Nicole Eason took issue with Dmitri's account. She said his bedroom had an accordion-style door, that she never bought him cigarettes, and that the girl living there never shared the Easons' bed. Eason also said child welfare officials never removed her biological children and that they still live with her. Officials in Massachusetts and South Carolina confirmed to Reuters that the children were removed from Eason more than a decade ago and were never returned.

‘The adoption world'

The experience with the Easons persuaded Exon to stop moderating the re-homing bulletin board immediately. “I felt like maybe we were doing something wrong,” she says. “I didn't want to be a part of it anymore.”

More than most people — and certainly more than the U.S. government — the Easons understand the risks of the Internet child exchange: how children can be handed over without any oversight, and how easy it is for parents to deceive and be deceived.

“You want to know what's wrong (in) the adoption world?” Nicole asked. “You don't get information. You get lied to.”

In interviews with Reuters, the Easons discussed the children they had taken through re-homing. Most stayed with them only a short time.

Nicole recited their names and talked about how much it means to be a parent. “It makes me feel important,” she explained. “I guess maybe that's my psychological problem, you know… It's like, what would I be without them?”

Last month, the Easons were staying in a hotel room in Tucson, Arizona. They had just moved out of a house; the landlord said the couple had failed to pay rent for two months.

Outside the hotel, Nicole was asked if the Easons might be taking in other children.

“Yes,” she said. “I have kids in my room.”


United Nations

Childhood abuse of men associated with rape perpetration, says UN survey

A United Nations survey of 10,000 men in south and east Asia for the first time gives some insight into why it is that men commit rape.

Men were interviewed across nine sites in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea for the study, entitled ‘Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It? Quantitative Findings from the UN Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific' conducted by Partners for Prevention, a regional joint programme of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women and United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Asia and the Pacific. It asked men about “their use and experiences of violence, gendered attitudes and practices, childhood, sexuality, family life and health”.

By far the most common reason, given by 70-80% of men, for committing a rape was sexual entitlement – “men's belief that they have the right to sex, regardless of consent”. The second most common reasons for ‘fun' or due to ‘boredom' followed by anger or ‘as a punishment'. Alcohol was the least common response given by men.

Rape perpetration by men was strongly associated with having more sexual partners, having paid for sex in the past, and having used physical violence against female partners. “These behaviours are interpreted as not merely expressing sex seeking but more so as ideas of masculinity that emphasize heterosexual performance and dominance over women,” the report said. “The study shows that rape is about the exertion of power but it can also be the performance of a certain type of masculinity.” Some men also expressed frustration with the dominant notions of what it means to be a man.

Many men who admitted to committing rape had been physically or sexually abused as children or neglected by their families. Low socioeconomic status, food insecurity, low educational attainment, alcohol abuse and drug use were also associated with rape perpetration. A large proportion of men reported very high symptoms of depression, stress and suicidal thoughts.

Those who used sexual violence against their partners were more likely to have experienced gender inequality in the home and child abuse, while non-partner rape was correlated more strongly with “notions of manhood that promote heterosexual dominance and participation in violence outside the home”.

“Violence against women is never acceptable or justifiable. But, we do need to understand men's lives for prevention, and that was the central premise of our research,” Emma Fulu, Research Specialist at Partners for Prevention and lead author of the report, told The Hindu in an email. “While individual men must be held accountable, we need to work to address broader social and structural issues that enable violence against women to exist in the first place. The findings of the study highlight the need to address gender inequality alongside men's own experiences of violence, especially as children, as well as other characteristics that may exacerbate violence, such as depression, alcohol abuse, and low levels of education,” Ms. Fulu said.

While a large majority of men supported the “abstract idea” of gender equality, many believed domestic violence was acceptable, and that household work was the woman's job. In Bangladesh, dowry taking was strongly correlated with violence against women.



Church Sex Abuse Victims Cheer Bill Heading To Gov. Brown's Desk

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Victims of church sex abuse may get more time to sue religious organizations and those who abused them under a bill heading to the governor's desk.

“It's very exciting and we are very hopeful.”

Kathleen Conti is pleased the senate passed SB131. The Stockton woman says she was abused by a Jehovah's Witness leader when she was a teenager, and a family member also became a victim.

“The only way you are going to stop pedophiles is to identify them and warn people—allow us as parents to know who they are within our congregations. Otherwise, how do we know? How can we protect other children.”

Lawmakers say the bill corrects a Supreme Court case that, because the statute of limitations had been reached, denied a narrow group of child sex-abuse victims the right sue religious organizations, private and nonprofit groups that employed their abusers.

“If we didn't do it, the law would still be invalid and the people would waiting on the legislature to see if we wanted to correct the law,” said Sen. Jim Beall.

Under the proposed law, victims over the age of 26 in 2003 will have a chance to file lawsuits during a one-year period.

In a statement, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said, “Institutions should and must be held accountable when they know about abuse, do nothing to stop it, and allow abusers to move on and target other innocent children. The passage of SB 131 is the first step in a long civil rights battle for all victims of child sexual abuse.”

It's not clear how the proposed bill would affect the Diocese of Stockton, which is considering bankruptcy after paying out millions of dollars to settle child sex-abuse lawsuits.

The bill passed the Senate on Friday and it's on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.



Court Dogs For Abused and Neglected AR Children? Public News Service

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Organizers hope one thing to come out of a conference next week will be that service dogs will accompany Arkansas children who have to testify about abuse and neglect.

Molly B won't be a keynote speaker at the MidSOUTH Training Academy's child abuse conference – maybe a keynote barker.

But Joylyn Humphrey, a trainer and writer with MidSOUTH, says the conference will feature Molly and the humans she's bringing along. Humphrey says they'll talk about how service dogs could help make the legal system a little less awful for children who have to go through it.

"It's very therapeutic for them to have that unconditional acceptance and love, because there is a lot of shame with abuse, and there's no judgment from an animal," she explains.

The 10th annual Arkansas Child Abuse and Neglect Conference – Reaping the Harvest – will run Wednesday through Friday in Little Rock.

Molly B is a service dog from the Courthouse Dogs Foundation based in Washington state. Humphrey says Arkansas doesn't have a program that provides service dogs for children going though the courts. But she says MidSOUTH hopes folks here might be able to start one.

"Bringing affection and comfort, being a calming presence is an incredible boon to children,” she says. “And we don't currently have something like that."

Humphrey adds the conference also will have sessions on other important topics, including online safety, human trafficking in Arkansas and the large proportion of negligence cases compared to abuse. One session will be on how poverty can put children at risk.

Humphrey points out it is an excellent event for people in the helping professions – difficult, demanding jobs with little money or recognition. And she says mistreated children are always vulnerable when governments write their budgets.

"They are often the first to be overlooked,” she explains. “And whenever we need to find money, it's usually the children who suffer first."




Ontario allowed decades of child abuse

Class action lawsuit pitting survivors of an inhumane psychiatric institution against their tormentors finally goes to court.

by Carol Goar

There can be no turning back. The trial date is set. Courtroom 5 in the old Canada Life building is booked for two months. The two sides have agreed in writing to be there. The witnesses are ready to testify.

“We're going ahead no matter what,” said Kirk Baert, the lead lawyer in a historic class action suit against the government of Ontario.

He never doubted this moment would come. His clients were less sure. For three years, the province used every tactic in the book — withheld documents, missed meetings, deadline extensions — to delay the case. Baert's greatest concern was that hundreds would die waiting.

Approximately 3,900 former residents of the Huronia Centre, a provincial facility for developmentally disabled children, are still alive. There were 4,500 when Baert launched the $1-billion lawsuit in 2010.

He intends to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Ontario government knew about the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of these vulnerable youngsters and did nothing to stop it. “Even convicted murderers got better treatment,” he maintains, rehearsing one of the lines he will use in court.

The trial begins on Sept. 16. Baert will deliver a three-hour opening statement chronicling the tragic history of the Huronia Regional Centre, once known as the Orillia Asylum for Idiots. He will then call on the two lead plaintiffs, Patricia Seth and Marie Slark, to recount what happened to them at Huronia, what they saw, how they survived and how they are scarred by the discipline meted out by sadistic provincial employees. Both women are in their late 50s

Seth, diagnosed as “mildly retarded,” was surrendered by her family at the age of 7. She spent 14 years in Huronia. She remembers being hit with a radiator brush for misbehaving and held upside down by her heels in ice-cube-filled water for refusing to eat.

Slark, similarly labelled, was committed to Huronia at 6 years of age. She spent nine miserable years there, then was sent to an “approved home” under Huronia's supervision, where she was drugged and sexually molested.

Others were more savagely beaten but they have lost their memories, they can't communicate or they are among the 2,000 children buried in Huronia's cemetery.

One of those victims was Richard, an 8-year-old boy with Down syndrome. His sister, Marilyn Dolmage, was so upset by his death that she trained to be social worker and got a job at Huronia. She will describe children locked in caged cots, being punished for bodily functions they could not control, cowering from the staff.

Compelling as his witnesses' testimony will be — and Baert expects to call 10 more former residents, 10 former employees of Huronia, doctors, child development specialists, historians, demographers and managers of similar institutions o the stand — he regards the government's own paper trail the most incriminating piece of evidence.

“I don't need to win this case with witnesses. It will prove itself on the documents. They (provincial officials) kept recording that there was a problem, but they never did anything to fix it.”

Huronia closed in 2009. The abused children became its “forgotten victims.”

The legal team has amassed 65,000 records — letters from distraught parents, bureaucratic memos, ministerial directives, police reports, eyewitness accounts, coroners' reports, inspectors' reports, newspaper exposés and the findings of three provincial commissions of inquiry. They tell the story in graphic detail.

Baert, a partner at Koskie Minsky, specializes in David-vs.-Goliath class-action suits. In 2007, he won a $4-billion judgment on behalf of aboriginal students sent to government-approved residential schools. In 2010, he won $36 million in damages for homeowners in Port Colborne whose properties were contaminated by Vale Inco's nickel operations.

He is confident he will win this case. “They underfunded this institution because they could. They knew the people held there couldn't fight back.”

Every so often Baert's professional mien slips. He detests bullies. He is disgusted by public officials who refuse to accept responsibility for mistreating vulnerable children.

“Huronia has no excuse for doing a crappy job” He catches himself. “I won't say crappy in court.” Then Baert pauses. “Maybe I will. What they did stank.”


United Kingdom

Lancashire Police launch major crackdown on child sex abuse

by Hannah Al-Othman

POLICE will be visiting hotels, taxi firms, parks and takeaways across East Lancashire as part of a major crackdown on child grooming which starts today.

It comes as detectives revealed there had been a 32.3 per cent increase in reported cases of child sexual exploitation (CSE) – where youngsters are groomed and then abused, either by older boyfriends, gangs, online groomers or people in positions of trust.

There were 467 reports across Lancashire between April and August, compared to 353 during the same period last year.

Experts believe the Jimmy Savile scandal has encouraged more victims to come forward, particularly to report historic cases.

Lancashire's Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Ibrahim Master said: “The Jimmy Savile scandal has given victims more confidence to come forward, hence you see increased reporting of CSE, which is a good sign.

“This tells me that it's giving the victims, and the community, more confidence to come forward so the police can tackle these issues.”

And Det Supt Ian Critchley, from Lancashire Police, said: “I think the Jimmy Savile operation has had a huge impact on society, and also on professionals, around the profile of CSE and what we know about offenders, but also about how we deal with victims, and recognising vulnerabilities.

“There is not a significant rise in crimes of CSE occurring. It's a case of more people being confident to come forward to us, as well as the fact that we are proactively seeking to identify those offenders who commit this type of crime. The more we look, the more we will find.”

The week-long campaign, which aims to deliver the message: ‘The More You Know, The More You See', will see police carrying out ‘disruption work' at hotspots, where children Officers will be visiting schools, foster carers, and faith leaders, to talk about grooming, and working with other agencies.

It will include a dedicated poster campaign, and internet safety advice, and follows the success of last year's child sexual exploitation awareness week, the first of its kind in Lancashire.

Det Supt Critchley said: “The impact of child abuse can have lifetime consequences, and we want children, or people who are now in adulthood, to come forward. There's no time limit, and that's a message for victims, but it's also a message for offenders.

“No matter when, or where, the abuse of children takes place, we will always seek to bring offenders to justice for what are horrendously-abusive and abhorrent crimes.”

In 2006, the Lancashire Telegraph launched the ‘Keep Them Safe' campaign, which aimed to bring vital help to children who were being lured by sexual predators. The campaign was backed by police, MPs, social services, children's charities, community leaders, and victims' parents, and a new Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) was launched in the wake of the campaign.

Shortly afterwards, Blackburn with Darwen set up its pioneering Engage Team.

It has since been extended to cover Hyndburn and Ribble Valley, led to the creation of a similar Freedom Team in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, and been used as a template nationwide.

A Home Affairs select committee report into child sexual exploitation, and localised grooming, praised Lancashire Police, saying the force was ‘considered a leader in innovative policing of child sexual exploitation'.

The report also revealed that, in 2012, Lancashire Police secured 100 successful prosecutions relating to child sexual exploitation, whereas South Yorkshire had none in the same period.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “I'm absolutely delighted that action is being taken. It is a big issue in Burnley, and 99 per cent of people in the town will be pleased to see strong police action.

“Following the high-publicity cases we have seen this year, I think people are more aware of these types of crimes, and more and more are being reported. I don't think people are frightened of threats any more, and they know support will be out there.

“The more it gets reported, the more publicity it gets, and hopefully that will encourage even more people to come forward.”

Earlier this year, a Brierfield man was jailed for four years and three months for abusing a 12-year-old girl. His brother was jailed for 15 months after admitting perverting the course of justice. He was said to have bombarded the youngster with 350 text messages.


JACK, 13, met Daniel through Facebook when he came up as a suggested friend. Daniel told Jack he was 18, but he was actually much older...

Jack said: “I added him as a friend and we started chatting, just having normal conversations. I started to like him more and more as we got talking, and the conversations became quite sexual and we arranged to meet up.

“I thought I knew a bit about him because he had told me his age, and where he lived, and sent me a picture, but I know now this was all lies as he was much older than he said, and had used a photo of somebody else.

“I was usually really careful online as I have seen all the warnings about internet safety, but just thought nothing would happen to me. We arranged to meet at a hotel, and when we met I realised straight away that something wasn't right.

“I went along with things at the start because I really wanted to be in a relationship. We started having sex and, although by that stage I knew he was a much older man, I felt confused and trapped. Eventually, I told my mum what was happening and it was she who called the police. I didn't want to tell the truth at first, but then I realised he could do the same thing to other people like me.”


JESS, 15, got involved with an older man who preyed on her vulnerabilities, and posed as her boyfriend...

She said: “My dad wasn't around any more and I never really got on with my mum, so I started spending as much time as I could out of the house. I was 15, but my friends and I looked older, so we bought alcohol quite easily. I thought it was cool to be out drinking, and we'd spend most nights out on the streets together drinking cider.

“Sometimes guys would come and join us. They were a lot older, but I liked the attention. There was one guy who'd come over quite a lot, and his friends told me he fancied me. I liked that someone so much older was interested me.

“Then one night three of us were out. The guy pulled up in his car, and asked us to come back to his house.

“Another friend and I jumped at the chance. He had a flash car, so I figured his house would be pretty nice too. He drove us around for a bit, playing music and we were pretty drunk, then he pulled up outside a terraced house.

“He took me into the living room with one of his mates, and he made me sleep with him. I was drunk and he told me I had to. I was frightened, but I didn't stop seeing him. I kept sleeping with him, and sometimes his friends too.

“It was only afterwards I realised I'd been used.”


LUCY, 12, fell in with a ‘bad crowd' and started abusing drugs and alcohol when she was just 11. She was often reported missing from home – one of the key signs of child sexual exploitation...

Lucy said: “I started high school and instantly fell in with the wrong crowd. I met a lad who was two years older and started a relationship with him. Soon after, I started smoking cigarettes, and I began trying cannabis, and then cocaine and ecstasy. By the time I was 12, bubble had come out and, within six weeks, I was taking it every day, and getting into a really big mess.

"I spiralled out of control really fast. My mum left when I was little, so I was just living with my dad, but I wouldn't go home and see him for days. He kept reporting me missing, the police would find me, and then I'd leave again. The people I was hanging around with were in their 20s.

"I was 12 and I ended up owing a £5,000 drugs debt, and I stole thousands off my dad. Without the police, I would be dead in a gutter. They target these horrible people and lock them up, and it can be stopped. They don't deserve to be walking the streets because they target young, vulnerable girls, and it's awful. I want to try and warn girls who think these people are their friends, they are not.”



Sex-traffic victims have quick refuge

Salvation Army opens shelter for short-term use

by Alan Johnson

The Salvation Army, a longtime foe of sex trafficking, is coming to the aid of victims in need of emergency shelter.

The Salvation Army of Central Ohio recently began providing shelter for six adult women for as long as 14 days at a location that will remain unidentified for security reasons. The Salvation Army is the only agency in a 14-county area to provide short-term, emergency shelter for sex-trafficking victims.

“One of the biggest gaps has been that moment when victims are identified and there's a scramble for, ‘Where do I go tonight?'??” said Michelle Hannan, director of professional and community services for the Salvation Army. Some women were placed in homeless or domestic-violence shelters outside Franklin County as a stopgap measure.

“There's such a tremendous need. It's surprised us, really,” Hannan said.

Women forced into the sex-for-sale business are often threatened by their traffickers if they break free, and thus they need a secure, temporary shelter, she said. She said 3 in every 4 women rescued from traffickers need a place to go on a short-term basis.

Gracehaven, a faith-based group, was scheduled to open a residential program for juvenile victims of trafficking, but the plan stalled. Rahab's Hideaway, another central Ohio anti-trafficking group, has focused on longer-term housing.

The Guest House, as the Salvation Army is calling the shelter, will have on-site professional support from the organization's anti-human-trafficking team. After the short stay, a woman can transition into residential treatment programs, move in with a relative or find other long-term housing, Hannan said.

The Salvation Army manages the Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, a group of 90 organizations formed in response to the human-trafficking problem.

Hannan said the coalition's caseload totals

63 trafficking survivors; some are served on an emergency basis, while others need long-term help to deal with physical injuries and past trauma.

The Salvation Army began helping prostitutes in England more than 125 years ago. A decade ago, the organization began focusing on sex and labor trafficking in the U.S.

For help or to report human trafficking, call the Ohio hot line, 614-285-4357. Outside Ohio, call the national hot line at 1-888-373-7888.



Operation Hope, Sulphur teen takes on human trafficking

by Erica Bivens

SULPHUR, LA -- Operation Hope is a local foundation geared to raising awareness about human trafficking. An ambitious goal for anyone, but this organizer is a teen.

Bryttani MacNamara, Operation Hope's founder, says, "We actually have 27 million people enslaved around the world today and there are 200 thousand in the U.S. alone."

Armed with knowledge and a handful of flyers, 14-year-old Bryttani MacNamara got to work Saturday morning, trying to raise awareness on human trafficking.

"Last year I was researching social studies fair projects and I came across statistics about human trafficking and the one that really hit close to home was that girls my age were being sold to sex slavery on a daily basis," explained Bryttani.

And that's when Bryttani founded Operation Hope. Members of the group range from ages 9 to 18.

The group is visiting local bus stops, hotels and truck stops, because according to the research Bryttani's done, they're the most frequent locations victims pass through.

"We're gonna hang up posters with the national hotline so that if anyone sees it and they are a victim, they can call the hotline and be rescued. Or if someone sees it and they think they know a victim they can call the hotline and it could save people's lives," said Bryttani.

And her ambition is rubbing off on others.

"I'm involved because I think human trafficking is a huge problem but it's a huge solvable problem. And I'm excited for this event and for today because I'm seeing all these young kids get involved, and that inspires me to do more," said Rusty Havens.

Although Operation Hope is a local organization, Bryttani says they also raise funds for other groups working towards the same goal, "On April 13, 2013 we had a walk at Sulfur High School, and we raised $500 to send to the indent movement which is an organization that is a coalition of 7 other coalitions that work on other aspects of fighting human trafficking."

Overall, Bryttani hopes people are receptive.

For more information on Operation Hope or to volunteer, you can visit their Facebook page here:!/Operation.Hope.LA?fref=ts