Penn State director's mission: Heighten awareness of child abuse
by Jack Small
When Jennie Noll was growing up, she would sometimes wake up next to a child she had never seen before.
Noll's mother, a nurse, was part of the first-response team in Castle Rock, Colo., a small town about 30 miles south of Denver. Her mother would temporarily shelter children if their parents were taken into police custody.
Those children spent the night very close to Noll, sleeping on the lower mattress of the trundle bed where she slept.
“I would bond with children who were sometimes victims of serious maltreatment and neglect during those years,” Noll said.
“I saw firsthand what role adults could play in the development of children,” she said. “I saw that people like my mother could work to make a positive impact for children they didn't even know.”
Last summer, Noll was hired as part of a cluster of new faculty coming to Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The hiring will add 12 new faculty over three years.
Noll and Chad Shenk, who had worked with Noll on publications related to research on child development, were the first to be hired.
Noll is the director of the university's Network on Child Protection and Well-Being, which, like the cluster hires, was created because of the Sandusky scandal.
Before joining Penn State, Noll worked for 10 years at the University of Cincinnati in the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and was director of research for its Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology. She still holds an adjunct professor position there as she continues to do research.
She spent eight years at the National Institutes of Health in Washington before going to Cincinnati.
“Penn State made the cluster hire because they realized that they didn't have the child maltreatment experts necessary to make a real change,” Noll said. “Nothing like this has ever happened before in the child maltreatment field.
“Part of the reason I decided to join Penn State is because of the efforts I saw the school making after the scandal,” she said. “The only silver lining out of that terrible situation is that we now have a great opportunity to do some good.”
Nan Crouter, dean of the College of Health and Human Development, said that the university needed to make a positive statement.
“We knew we had to make an academic response to the scandal, and we felt the cluster hire would bring visibility to the mobilization efforts we're making,” Crouter said.
Noll said she is eager to make a positive impact on child abuse.
“We are working on connecting the brightest people in our field together to move child abuse prevention and treatment to the forefront of social sciences,” she said. “Penn State is really working to make sure something like this never happens again.”
Noll holds a doctorate in developmental psychology and statistical methodology from the University of Southern California, where she also obtained her bachelor's degree in psychology.
Growing up, however, Noll was not even sure she would attend college.
“College was something I never talked about with my parents,” she said. “They assumed I would go, but we had no money to pay for it. I never thought I would actually be able to go.”
Noll attended community college for two years before earning a full scholarship to the University of Southern California.
Now, Noll is focused on bringing the issue of child maltreatment into the spotlight.
“We can't recover as a community by having victims tell their stories and just saying sorry,” she said. “We need a sustained response so we make real change.”
“What we're currently focusing on is changing policy, training students and bringing a heightened awareness to the issue,” said Crouter.
Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute, which houses the child protection network, said she already has seen progress.
“Penn State has mandated training on child abuse reporting for officials who work with children,” she said. “Then you have student events like the Blue Out in which people in this community are doing great things to help the community recover.”
There is also progress on the academic side. According to Crouter, the College of Health and Human Development is developing a new minor that focuses on child maltreatment. Noll will teach a graduate course in the spring semester.
“I haven't taught in a long time, but I'm very excited for the opportunity,” Noll said. “A course like this has never been offered before. It's great that I'm able to be involved in so many new programs at Penn State.”
“Dr. Noll is a great hire,” McHale said, “because she has vast experience in moving science all the way from basic research to implementation that can make a real change.”
County Child Abuse Hotline Still Failing
by Jennifer Wadsworth
Despite calling it “a humanitarian issue,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said he doesn't want to assign blame for the county's failure to answer thousands of calls to the local child abuse hotline —the public's first point of contact with welfare services.
“We're on notice,” said Cortese at a hearing on the issue last week. “We need to move quickly because there are pure humanitarian issues here and that's the bottom line. Let's get the remedy in place quickly.”
But he refused to point fingers.
“I understand very clearly people are working very hard and we're steering clear of assigning blame or anything like that today,” Cortese said.
The hotline did improve its answer rate from 50 percent to 80 percent, according to Bruce Wagstaff, head of the Santa Clara County's Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS), which runs the call center. That's still not high enough, he admits.
“We want 100 percent of the calls answered and we will get there as soon as we can,” Wagstaff told the Finance and Government Operations Committee, which decided to discuss the issue at the first Board of Supervisors meeting in December.
The lack of responsiveness at the call center was first criticized in a county-ordered audit released last month. The report also found that the DFCS repeatedly left children for longer than a day at a 24-hour emergency shelter, in violation of state law, because it had trouble finding a home to place them.
Wagstaff chalked up the problems to staffing shortages and, like Cortese, repeatedly said that he doesn't want to blame his employees. The department went through a 25 percent staffing reduction since 2009, leaving it with 550 employees. The county is trying to hire new social workers, but the process is complicated and the positions hard to fill. In the meantime, he's adjusted employee hours and transferred some workers to respond to calls during peak hours.
At the same time, Wagstaff said, state and federal requirements have been made more stringent. The county sold its long-term children's shelter and switched to a placement model that required social workers to find children a home quickly instead of keeping them in the county's charge. The new Receiving, Assessment and Intake Center, a temporary site at the MediPlex on East Santa Clara Street, lies in a crime-addled neighborhood, where prostitution and drug deals are an everyday occurrence. The county wants to find a site for a permanent receiving center, but that may not happen for a few more years.
Cortese said the county should deal with the staffing issue sooner—next month—rather than in January, during the midyear budget adjustments.
“I think the question becomes how fast can we get the staffing in place before another kid, you know, or kids' issues falls through the cracks and don't get responded to [or], I hate to put it that way, slip through the cracks,” he said.
After years of budget cuts, the welfare agency will see additional funding soon, thanks to foster care “realignment” reform enacted by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011, Wagstaff said. That should help fill some of the vacant social worker positions.
Letter to the Editor
Reader's view: Don't blame media or lawyers for sexual abuse
by Steve Theisen
Let me preface my letter to the editor as did the Rev. Richard Partika in his Nov. 17 “A Priest's View” column (“Media and others are overly focused on sex scandals among some Catholic priests”) by saying: This letter is not about the Catholic faith nor any faiths that have seen their spiritual leaders commit crimes against children, teens or vulnerable adults.
Let's not call them scandals. Let's call them what they are: serious, vile crimes against children.
Let's not make excuses. Churches recruited these men and women, trained them, monitored them, assigned them and, as we have seen, released dangerous ones on unsuspecting kids and parents.
Let's not blame the newspapers. If bishops and religious leaders told the truth, there would have been no need for the media.
Let's not blame the lawyers. Why does a victim even have to go to an attorney if the bishops and religious leaders listened to victims and cared for the victims? What about the loved ones of the victims of these criminals who did not survive?
Let you not speak about the survivors if you did not walk in their shoes and presume what motivates them.
Let the church leaders be noble and tell the truth. That's what Jesus would do.
The writer is the Iowa director of SNAP, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (snapnetwork.org).
Group Forms to Combat Abuse at Child Care Facilities
A group of concerned parents, teachers, and child care professionals have organized to work with daycare providers and government regulators on preventing child abuse incidents.
Prince William County, Virginia (PRWEB) November 23, 2013 – Following reports by the Virginia Department of Social Services (Report no. 22VAC40-185-410-1) concerning recent child abuse incidents that were reported to have occurred at Minnieland Academy at The Glen, a group of concerned parents, teachers, and child care professionals have created Minnieland Watch, a new organization that will advocate for policy changes relating to daycare safety and staff training.
According to the complaint, in November, the Virginia Department of Social Services released a report that outlined serious abuses that were alleged to have occurred at Minnieland Academy's daycare facility that adjoins their corporate headquarters in Woodbridge, Virginia.
The report states that two staff members continually inflicted serious emotional and physical harm on children aged 17-24 months over a six-month period. Abuses included pushing and tripping the toddlers when they were walking, intentionally stepping on the toddlers' toes when their shoes were off to cause pain, encouraging the toddlers to fight and hit one another, holding blankets over the toddlers' faces when crying, holding their heads under water, verbal abuse, assaults that left marks on the children, and misreporting injuries caused by their abuses.
Concerned parents quickly formed a new group known as Minnieland Watch to track the development of this and other abuse cases, and to hold accountable corporate entities and state regulators for their responsibility to better protect children in their care.
The group plans to work with other child advocacy organizations to bring about bipartisan legislation that will carry low implementation costs for businesses and government agencies, and promote a safer environment for children in daycare programs.
The group's spokesman, Adam Meyer, said “In just one week of being operational we've attracted over 200 followers to our Facebook page, and have heard from dozens and dozens of families, teachers, and child care industry experts. We're beginning to form a clear picture of the common problems that contribute to daycare abuse incidents, and we're working to help form solutions.
For more information about Minnieland Watch, visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/minnielandwatch, or email email@example.com.
New unit to investigate child sex abuse
by Kevin Johnson
Pennsylvania's Child Predator Section, created after the scandal of the former Penn State coach, follows similar divisions in other states.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The legacy of Jerry Sandusky's conviction last year on 45 counts of child sex abuse is reaching beyond the prison cell where the former Penn State University assistant football coach is likely to spend the rest of his life.
State authorities have arrested 106 suspected predators involved in the distribution of child pornography and sexual abuse so far this year, more than five times the number from 2012.
The numbers, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said, are a reflection of the state's investment in a new investigative unit created in the aftermath of a scandal that continues to reverberate across the state.
"It shouldn't take an embarrassment on the commonwealth to shame us into taking care of our kids," Kane said.
In the past several months, Kane and other state officials have assembled a team of 15 investigators and five attorneys who focus exclusively on child sexual abuse cases.
Housed in a former storage room just down the hall from Kane's 16th-floor executive suite, authorities assigned to the new Child Predator Section are engaging potential suspects in Internet chat rooms and online networks, which are serving as active marketplaces for explicit images of children and child sex.
David Peifer, the unit's chief investigator, said a recent review of online activity involving the suspected transmission of child pornography and solicitations for sexual encounters estimated that as many as 2,800 individuals across the state could be involved in such activity.
The estimate was drawn from a review of online activity involving a string of chat rooms and online networks that are known to be involved in the exchange of explicit images and solicitations for sex.
And of the 106 arrests so far this year, Peifer said, at least 25% of the Pennsylvania suspects have allegedly attempted to arrange encounters with children or have engaged in actual abuse.
"Clearly, this is something that needed to be addressed," said Deputy Attorney General Ellen Granahan, who oversees the new unit's operations.
Granahan also happens to be Kane's identical twin sister, who, before Kane's 2012 election, had been working in the attorney general's office since 2008. Before that, she served as an assistant district attorney in the Scranton, Pa., area, prosecuting child sexual abuse cases.
Her promotion to direct the Child Predator Section earlier this year raised questions about a possible conflict of interest, but Kane spokesman Joe Peters said the appointment was made by the attorney general's top deputy to avoid such a conflict.
"This is the third attorney general for whom Ellen has worked," Peters said, referring to the administrations of now-Gov. Tom Corbett and former attorney general Linda Kelly. Kelly brought the sexual abuse charges against Sandusky and related perjury charges against three university administrators, who are now awaiting trial.
"Given her expertise in the prosecution of child abuse cases, (Granahan) was the logical choice," Peters said.
The Pennsylvania unit is among the latest in a series of efforts by state attorneys general to bolster child sexual abuse protections.
Similar programs have been running across the country, including in Illinois, New Mexico, Montana, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin.
In 2011, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine established the Crimes Against Children Unit, which in its first two full years of operation, has opened 230 cases. Among the investigations: 28 rapes, more than 100 child pornography cases and at least one murder.
Wisconsin's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, one of the first state-managed units of its kind, is now operating in five cities with 14 special agents detailed from the state Department of Justice, now headed by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Since the program's launch in 1998, Jenniffer Price, the unit's commander, said the crimes have evolved at the speed of technology — from trafficking through the mail to nearly instantaneous exchanges involving illicit images and solicitations on smartphones.
In Pennsylvania, Kane repeatedly invokes the Sandusky scandal to help shape the early part of her tenure following her election last year.
Shortly after taking office, she appointed a special counsel to review the initial handling of the Sandusky investigation by then-attorney general Corbett. That review is ongoing. She then moved to establish the child predator unit as a wholly separate entity.
Among the unit's most recent arrests, a 29-year-old Harrisburg suspect is the type of case suspected predator the unit was created to find, Peifer said. Matthew Baratucci was arrested last month as part of a sting operation while allegedly on his way to meet with children who he believed were as young as 5 years old, according to court documents.
A female associate of the suspect prompted the investigation after alerting authorities that Baratucci allegedly asked if she could arrange sexual encounters with young children. "She (the associate) was alarmed by that," Peifer said.
Kane said the unit is now an essential part of the state's law enforcement strategy, adding that she was "a bit shocked" when she first discovered that there was no separate division of the office reviewing crimes involving child sexual abuse.
"We had to do it," she said. "It was a no-brainer."
DA: We Will Arrest People Who Don't Report Sexual Abuse Of A Child
by Pat Hernandez and Jack Williams
The Harris County District Attorney's office says it's serious about prosecuting people who know about suspected sexual abuse but don't report it to authorities. The strong words today come after the arrest of a high school principal in Sharpstown for not contacting authorities after learning about alleged abuse involving a teacher and students.
Sharpstown High School principal Rob Gasparello was arrested along with two other school administrators and charged with a Class A misdemeanor for not reporting the alleged abuse.
Authorities say Gasparello and the two others knew about the abuse for several weeks, but didn't alert authorities.
Jane Waters is chief of the Special Victim's Bureau in the District Attorney's office.
"When the Houston Police Department found out about it on October 24th, they began an immediate investigation and it was determined that the two deans at the school and the principal had had that information for two weeks and had not done anything with that information as they are required to by law."
An arrest warrant has been issued for teacher Ysidoro Rolales Motola, who is on the lam.
Gasparello and the two assistant principals at Sharpstown have all posted bond and been released.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson says her office won't tolerate people not reporting suspected sexual abuse.
"I think it's pretty clear from the cases that we filed yesterday that it doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter if you're the principal of a high school, or a janitor at a high school, or a teacher, or a neighbor. If you fail to protect the children in your care, if you have reason to believe a child has been abused and you don't report it, we will prosecute you."
Sharpstown High has over 1300 students. The dean of students at the campus has been put in charge of the school while the investigation continues.
Sex trafficking victims found on social media outlets
by Ashley Moser
TOLEDO -- Sex trafficking is an ongoing battle in Toledo, but social media outlets have made it easier for children to become sex trafficking victims.
A local FBI task force has also harnessed its power to catch and stop criminals who prey on juvenile victims.
Officials say pimps and predators are moving from Facebook and Twitter onto Instagram to prey on victims who keep their profile public. They target social media profiles of troubled youth, offering girls a better life. The victims are hooked with the lure of having drugs or money, which creates a viscious cycle of physical, emotional and psychological abuse.
"We attempt to identify juvenile victims. Our job is to protect children and to find those individuals who are trafficking children into the sex trade," said Agent Dave Dustin.
This issue has become his life-long work. Dustin joined the federal task force called "Precious Cargo" in the Glass City. The movement formed when police arrested 18 men in 2004 for trafficking more than 100 juvenile victims at a truck stop in Harrisburg, Penn. Police say majority of the pimps and more than half the victims were from Toledo.
Social worker and advocate Jane Ginter said it is difficult for girls to bounce back from a life living from fears.
"They don't have any sense of stability or what a normal relationship is like. To them normal relationships are people that abuse them. It's about power and control," said Ginter.
Ginter works with The Daughter Project, a local organization that houses sex trafficking survivors. Advocate Jeff Wilbarger started the non-profit to help give girls a place to heal.
"We knew that from the moment they walked in, we wanted to be able to say 'you know this is a home that was built specifically for you'," said Wilbarger.
The Daughter Project relies on donations to keep the house functioning. They hope to have 1,000 people join their Adopt-A-Daughter program on-line.
The Daughter Project, along with the work of Toledo's FBI task force, stands as a beacon of hope for life after this tragic experience.
Our View: Human trafficking bill would spur talk on violence against women
The Legislature should take a broad look at exploitation and abuse that is all too common.
Legislators will consider a bill next session that would allow judges to vacate prostitution convictions for women forced into the act through human trafficking. Legislative leaders originally rejected the bill, sponsored by Rep. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, but that decision was reversed last week upon appeal.
Now the bill will get its day. There are questions about the mechanics of the bill as well as its constitutionality that will have to be ironed out in committee. But there is no question about the virtue of helping women turned criminal by force to erase that part of their public record and allow them a chance to move forward with their lives.
The bill also is an opportunity to talk about the deep-rooted, almost casual culture of violence that is an everyday reality for vulnerable women across the state.
Its victims may be most visible in the urban streets of a city like Portland, but they are everywhere, enduring dehumanizing acts just to get by, and accumulating physical and psychological damage at the hands of men.
“There are all kinds of ways that (the assailants) use coercion,” said Donna Strickler, executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center in Winthrop. The women trade their bodies for a place to stay, for drugs and food, and for the safety of themselves and the people they care about. “It comes down to things as simple as that. ... That is what they know about how to survive.”
There are no easy answers. The problem lies at the intersection of mental and physical illness, substance abuse, past exposure to violence and many other social ills that defy simple solutions.
But there is hope in the dedicated people and organizations who confront these issues in Maine, who with the right support and resources can make a difference.
To make it work, there has to be an understanding about the culture outside of social workers and advocacy groups. The simple fact is that violence against vulnerable women is normalized. A study by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence found that 92 percent of homeless mothers had experienced severe physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Almost 58 percent reported instances of violence in at least two of four age groups provided by the study. The violence, severe and cowing, starts when the women are young, and continues for years. The threat is always present.
This is happening to women who sleep on the street or in shelters. They may be couch-hopping, particularly in rural areas that lack a concentration of resources. They are short on money. They are dealing with addictions. They have mental and physical disabilities.
There is a connection, too, to the sex trafficking Volk's bill is trying to address. To a certain kind of man, these women are a walking bulls-eye. For a small amount of money or attention – or through the threat of violence – they can be brought under the control of traffickers.
Help is available. Victims of sexual violence can call a state hotline – (800) 871-7741 – and be connected to an organization in their part of the state. The hotline is operated by the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which offers support and services for victims.
There is also the Children's Advocacy Center of Kennebec & Somerset Counties, which has helped more than 300 child victims of sexual abuse since it opened in May 2012.
The first center of its kind in Maine, the Waterville facility places treatment, investigative and prosecutorial resources all in one place.
It is a good model for breaking the strong correlation between child sex abuse and both adult victimization and homelessness.
Just as Volk's bill aims to remove the stigma of a prostitution conviction, we have to work to treat the victims of a lifetime of sexual violence so that they can move past the shame that is not attached to victims of other crimes. And we have to reach victims earlier, before violence becomes an accepted part of their lives.
Scottish bishops' secret sex abuse file handed over to police
Former adviser hits back at Catholic church's 'pious words' on scandal
by Catherine Deveney
A confidential file of letters from Scottish bishops detailing more than 20 secret abuse cases has been handed to police by a former safeguarding adviser to the Catholic church.
The intervention by Alan Draper, a former adviser to the Motherwell diocese, comes as the church attempts to draw a line under unfolding sex-abuse scandals by announcing a series of measures to be read at all masses this weekend on behalf of the Scottish bishops. However, describing the initiatives as a "charade", Draper says it is time for criminal investigations and an independent Scottish government inquiry into sexual abuse in the church.
The letters, dating back to 1995, include every Scottish diocese. One bishop, who describes abuse against "two severely mentally-handicapped young female adults", asks Draper to destroy his letter after reading it. Another refers to an abused child as a "young female parishioner". while a 15-year-old boy is described as "sexually mature".
A Catholic media spokesman, Peter Kearney, said the church would co-operate fully with the police, but added: "If someone has been in possession of material which they felt showed criminal behaviour, they would be expected to explain why they had taken 18 years to hand it to the authorities."
"The letters were given to me in confidence, and for a long time I respected that," explains Draper. "But the church has failed to reach out to victims and I have felt increasingly frustrated with their inability to manage the situation. It's a matter of public interest that the file be revealed."
Draper, a former deputy director of social work and a retired senior lecturer in medical ethics, says that both the tone and substance of this weekend's church statement on abuse confirmed his conviction that he should release the file: "It's pious words. It says the church recognises the trauma and pain of survivors. How are they doing that? Where's the evidence of justice and healing? They talk about supporting those who have been harmed. Where's the support? If anyone attempts to sue the church, the attitude turns adversarial and the lawyers and insurance people say no."
The statement outlines three initiatives: the publication of a diocesan safeguarding audit between 2006 and 2012; an external review of safeguarding procedures by the Very Rev Andrew McLellan, former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and a former chief inspector of prisons; and a statistical review of all historic cases of abuse from 1947 to 2005.
"It's all statistics," says Draper. "It's not a forensic audit which would open up their files and look at cases. Most of it is to be done by appointees of the diocese who rely on the patronage of the bishop. The 'independent' bit is being done by Andrew McLellan and, while I'm sure he's a fine human being, how is he qualified? It should be conducted by three experts in the field, whose independence and integrity are beyond reproach."
The statement insists that McLellan's review will "be seen as an endorsement of our safeguarding service".
Kearney insists that the historic audit will look at how cases were dealt with and says McLellan is "an eminent and respected figure with an exemplary record of public service".
However, the bishops' statement has ignited debate about the gulf between the church's public statements and private actions.
"It's only words," says Father Gerry Magee of St Winin's in Kilwinning, Ayrshire. "Nothing is being done. I have an abuse victim in my parish and, despite being publicly named, not one person has contacted him." Another Scottish priest said: "It's disgraceful. Nowhere in that statement is the word 'sorry' used."
In August, Hugh Gilbert, bishop of Aberdeen, made a public apology for abuse suffered at Fort Augustus boarding school, saying: "We are anxious … that all that can be done should be done for victims."
Last month he wrote to David Greenwood, the solicitor for a Fort Augustus abuse victim, Andrew Lavery, saying: "The diocese of Aberdeen has no liability." In a stinging rebuke, Greenwood replied: "The tone of your letter … illustrates the callous nature in which the bishops of Scotland have treated victims of sexual abuse by their priests."
Survivors are still concerned by the lack of care and transparency in the church's approach. Pat McEwan, whose abuse case was highlighted by the Observer , received a letter from the church's national safeguarding co-ordinator, Tina Campbell, criticising him for talking to the media.
Last month, James McDermott wrote to the newly-appointed Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley, about abuse he suffered while at Sacred Heart primary school in Glasgow. Cushley's assistant replied: "While the archbishop sympathises with your situation, he regrets that he is unable to assist you."
"New face, same old song," says McDermott.
Draper says that this "un-Christian attitude" contrasts with the church's traditional protection of abusers, who have been given therapy and financial assistance, adding: "The latest statement makes no mention of assessing what support has been provided to survivors. It is window dressing yet again. They have learned nothing."
Who will protect the children?
The community of Madison – along with Long Hill Township, Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, Florham Park, East Hanover, Morris Township and Harding Township – can take pride in the leadership of Diane Mann, president and CEO of the Madison Area YMCA, in chairing a statewide task force that is bringing education for adults on the issue of child sexual abuse to the community level.
All eight towns are in the service area of the YMCA, where training is now available to adults on how to reduce the risks of child sexual abuse, recognize its signs, and react responsibly to this crime against children.
Mann has headed a partnership between the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, which includes the Madison Area YMCA, with the nationally respected Darkness to Light organization and its acclaimed “Stewards of Children” child sexual abuse prevention program.
Founded in 2000, Darkness to Light now has affiliates in all 50 states and 17 countries, providing individuals, organizations, and communities with the knowledge they need to help protect children from sexual abuse.
Darkness to Light's 6,000 authorized facilitators have trained more than 500,000 parents, professionals and volunteers who serve young people.
“We, as adults, need to take responsibility and protect children in our community,” Mann said. “By offering ‘Stewards of Children' training, the YMCA hopes to empower and mobilize adults to take action to prevent child sexual abuse.”
Why does Mann call child sexual abuse an “epidemic?” According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. That's 400,000 children each year.
Why does Mann call this epidemic “silent?” The CDC reports that 73 percent of children tell no one about sexual abuse for at least one year – and many of them never tell anyone. One reason: More than 90 percent of child victims have been abused by someone they knew.
Meanwhile, this horrible crime heightens the vulnerability of its young victims to teen pregnancy, depression, anxiety and suicide. They are three times more susceptible than their peers to turn to drug and alcohol abuse, two times more likely to drop out of school and are at greater risk for serious medical conditions.
It is up to adults to end “the silent epidemic,” and now through the YMCA and Darkness to Light, training is available in sessions led by facilitators and open to the public.
Groups considered particularly important in this initiative include parents, youth sports organizations, school districts, congregations, nonprofits, businesses and anyone who works with children, both volunteers and professionals.
Participants will learn how to minimize opportunities for sexual abuse, talk openly with children, and recognize the warning signs and take appropriate action.
The first step toward becoming an “agent of change” is as simple as contacting a YMCA facilitator:
Please take that first step. Help keep a young person from becoming one of the estimated 42-million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in America. It can be done, if individuals, and especially a community, step up to the commitment.
Other options for children suspected of being abused
by Sonia Moghe
ATLANTA -- When Emani Moss, 10, was found dead in a trash can after police say she was starved and possibly abused by her father and stepmother, a Department of Family and Children's Services report revealed that there had been a growing case file on the girl since the beginning of her life.
With six complaints about her care, her grandmother Robin Moss, said DFACS needed to do more to save the girl.
So, what else can adults do if they suspect a child is being abused?
Going to court to save a child suspected of being abused
Atlanta Child Abuse Attorney Jody Miller said the next best thing to do is to try to go to court. A family member can go to juvenile court to get temporary custody of a child, like Emani's grandmother did. Miller adds that it helps to collect evidence of abuse to help build your case.
"Pictures, audio recordings, video recordings, absolutely, all of that is very helpful and can make a big impact," Miller said.
But, she said, juvenile courts are "courts of reunification" and always try to put parents back with their children.
"Unless it's determined that it's in the child's best interest for non-reunification that's generally the goal," Miller said. "And there is a parenting plan for the parents to do. And the goal again is the reunite the parents with the child."
That's what may have happened with Emani - whose stepmother Tiffany Moss was charged with abusing her and was told to take parenting classes. Emani was not removed from the home because DFACS determined the "risk of harm had been reduced."
Miller said parenting plans are often prescribed but don't always work.
"Obviously if the abuse is so bad, I don't know that anybody of that character changes overnight," Miller said.
Instead, Miller said, another option that an adult can do if they suspect a child is being abused is to try to stay involved in that child's life.
"The best advice I can give that person is to try and stay in that child's life or talk to other people that are in the child's life so that if they see continued or new signs it can be addressed again," Miller said.
Educating children so they can save themselves
Another way to help children who you suspect may be victims of abuse, is to educate them about what abuse is and why it's OK to speak up.
Erin Merryn is a sexual abuse survivor who is pushing for Erin's Law to be approved across the country. It would require schools to give age-appropriate sexual abuse education to children.
But gone are the days of "good touch, bad touch" lessons, Merryn said. Instead, it's important to teach children about the "safe touch, unsafe touch" - to avoid confusing them when they are adults.
Most importantly, Merryn said it's crucial to teach children that they should speak up.
"Without teaching kids this, the only message they get comes from the perpetrators," Merryn said. "'This is our secret, no one will believe you I'll hurt your family, I'll hurt you.' So, with the threats and the brainwashing, kids stay silent."
Merryn suspects this may have been the case with Emani, too. In a DFACS report about Emani, she was quoted as saying when asked about being sexually abused, "If I tell anyone then I would not be able to see you anymore."
Merryn said that should have been a red flag to investigators.
"They need to investigate it more. Why? Why are you telling us this?" Merryn said. "Asking the kids to give more details, because obviously this kid - she's saying that because she has been told what will happen to her if she speaks up and tells."
Erin's Law has passed in Georgia and will be reviewed by a committee in December to see the best way to implement it, Merryn said.
Meanwhile Emani's father, Eman Moss, and stepmother, Tiffany Moss, are charged in her death.
Human trafficking: As awareness grows, calls triple to national hot line
Some 9,000 US cases between 2008 and 2012 are analyzed in a new report by the organization that operates the national hot line. Among the findings: Children were victims in 33 percent of sex trafficking cases and 20 percent of labor trafficking cases.
by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo
Awareness about human trafficking in the United States has grown extensively, with the annual number of calls to a national trafficking hot line more than tripling – from about 5,800 calls in 2008 to nearly 21,000 in 2012.
During those five years, calls as well as e-mails – ranging from labor trafficking victims seeking help to truckers calling in tips about young girls being prostituted – generated information on more than 9,000 cases of trafficking. (Some of these cases were later confirmed, while others met a series of criteria indicating trafficking.) Involving more than 19,000 possible victims, the cases were analyzed in a report released Thursday by the Polaris Project in Washington, which operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Hotline.
Among the cases, 64 percent involved sex trafficking, 22 percent involved labor trafficking, and nearly 3 percent involved both.
“Human trafficking is happening in every state, all across the United States ... and this report is just showing the tip of the iceberg,” says Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris Project. To bring resources to bear on the problem, the anti-trafficking field is “dependent on the community to be the eyes and ears and to tell us when they see something suspicious or ... know about a survivor." He adds, "It all starts with a call.”
Federal law includes in its definition of human trafficking: children in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and people forced into various forms of labor or services.
The Polaris report is considered one of the most extensive sources of information on human trafficking in the US. Many cases of domestic human trafficking go unreported, and “we are in the infancy of human-trafficking data collection,” says Bridgette Carr, director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor.
Among the cases analyzed in the report:
US citizens were victims in 41 percent of the sex trafficking cases and 20 percent of the labor trafficking cases.
Among sex trafficking cases, 42 percent involved pimp-controlled prostitution. In many of those cases, the victim initially thought the pimp was an intimate partner, a dynamic that pimps often exploit to recruit and control their victims.
Children were victims in 33 percent of sex trafficking cases and 20 percent of labor trafficking cases.
Among calls from survivors, 20 percent were seeking emergency help to escape or other crisis support.
The states with the highest number of reported cases were California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois.
Behind the numbers are people like Daniel – who came to the US on a temporary work visa and found himself and his co-workers unable to leave an abusive employer because of the remoteness of the farm. (He's an example offered in the report, with a pseudonym for confidentiality.)
Some of these farm workers' passports had been confiscated, Daniel said, and he worried that if he could get away, his visa, tied to his employment there, would become invalid. After calling the NHTRC and deciding he was willing to report it to federal law enforcement, he was able to leave safely and get help from an attorney. A large-scale investigation by the Department of Labor prompted the employer to pay back wages to many of the workers, Polaris reports.
In a recent Minnesota case reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, four out of five people tried so far have been convicted for operating a sex trafficking ring in St. Paul, Minn., targeting young girls and women, including some with cognitive disabilities. In addition to verbal threats, one of the men convicted used rape to maintain his control, the prosecutor said.
Among those who have grown more aware of sex trafficking are truckers like Larry (so-called in the Polaris report), who called the NHTRC when he saw young girls knocking on cab doors late at night at a busy truck stop. That prompted a call to local police, who were able to take the girls into protective custody. Later, another caller from the same truck stop provided information about people potentially controlling the sex trafficking there.
Since a Truckers Against Trafficking awareness campaign in 2009, more than 160 cases of potential sex trafficking have been reported by truck drivers to the NHTRC.
Trafficking survivors have been referred through the hot line to services ranging from emergency shelter to mental health treatment. Some have received back wages or been reunited with families after years of abuse, the report notes.
On the federal level, a bipartisan group of senators and representatives supports the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, a bill that would increase penalties and give more resources to help victims and law enforcement.
Many states and cities have boosted efforts in recent years to root out human trafficking and assist victims.
The increased calls reported by Polaris “reflect the reality happening on the ground,” Professor Carr says, with more action from state attorneys general and other state and local groups. “It's a wonderful trend, and I hope it continues because there's a lot of work to do,” she says.
Discussions in some states about setting up their own hot lines concern Carr, however. There's a possibility that a move in that direction would mean “we won't get comprehensive data about trafficking trends across the nation,” which are supplied through a national hot line like the one run by Polaris.
If you need help or want to report suspected trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 888-373-7888.
RECOMMENDED: 3 ways you can combat sex trafficking
Staggering report exposes US sex trafficking
by Trymaine Lee
When Kery Rodriguez was arrested earlier this year during a drug sting in Florida, law enforcement agents discovered that heroine wasn't the only thing that Rodriguez and his crew were trafficking.
According to detectives and informants, Rodriguez also sold young women whom he referred to as “fresh meat.”
“If you want them young, normally those we have to take by force,” Rodriguez said, according to an affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. “The key is to keep them drugged, and locked up, and have [them] at gunpoint.”
Agents conducting a drug investigation in April were tipped off that Rodriguez was running a suspected human trafficking ring out of an Orlando apartment, where agents say several young women were being offered up for sale.
Earlier this week, authorities announced that 16 additional arrest warrants were issued for members of Rodriguez's crew. And by Thursday morning most of the suspected players in the case had been arrested, according to reports.
The Rodriguez case is not an isolated one, and according to organizations that fight human trafficking, Florida ranks among the states with the highest number of potential cases. Many of the victims are runaways, migrant workers and society's most vulnerable.
“Human trafficking is a crime that reaps high profits at low risk for traffickers,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris Project, which operates The National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Myles says human trafficking is nothing more than modern-day slavery.
On Thursday, the Polaris Projec t released a report that highlights just how staggering a problem human trafficking remains in the United States.
According to the report, the NHTRC has recorded more than 9,000 cases of potential human trafficking between 2007 and 2012. The suspected victims include women and men alike, many of whom are domestic, farm or sex workers. The top three victim nationalities are Mexican, Chinese and Filipino.
The NHTRC hotline has experienced a 259% increase in calls reporting trafficking cases since 2008.
“With hundreds of thousands of people forced to provide labor or commercial sex right here in the U.S., we are fundamentally working to preserve and restore freedom to exploited men, women, and children,” Myles said. “The information provided to the national human trafficking hotline by community members and victims is data that can then be used to make it harder for traffickers to operate. The more people understand they can be part of the solution, the more we are able to help victims reclaim their lives.”
The NHTRC received reports of 9,298 unique cases of human trafficking. Of those cases, 64% involved sex trafficking, 22% involved labor trafficking, nearly 3% involved both sex and labor trafficking. An additional 12% were unspecified.
More than 42% of reported sex trafficking cases were pimp-controlled prostitution, the most commonly referenced form of sex trafficking, occurring mostly in places like hotels, truck stops and street corners. And while more than 85% of sex trafficking cases involved women and girls, many involve men and transgender people.
The NHTRC report comes as lawmakers across the country are making the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation more of a political priority.
Several members of Congress have introduced a resolution titled, “Our Daughters Are Not For Sale.”
According to the FBI, the average girl becomes involved in sexual exploitation between 12 and 14, and that some 293,000 American youths are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking.
“This is slavery, pure and simple. We all know slavery is abhorrent to our basic democratic ideals and to our way of life. We fought a war 150 years ago to end this scourge in America for good, and yet it persists today — in many ways, because it can,” Reps. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida, wrote in a joint op-ed in The Hill.
“Those who buy children in this fashion are rarely arrested and charged with statutory rape, child endangerment or sexual assault of a minor. For all we talk of getting tough on crime and protecting our kids, it is rarely the buyer—and much more often the trafficked girl—who is punished for what is essentially child abuse and child rape.”
State and local authorities in states like California, Florida and in major cities across the country are dedicating resources to protecting victims and potential victims of human trafficking.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has called human trafficking “an unconscionable crime” and came out in support recently of an online training course for law enforcement officers that provides information on ways to identify suspected victims and information they might need to arrest perpetrators.
Earlier this year, when an undercover agent asked Rodriguez how he finds the girls he sells, Rodriguez laid it out plain: some he lures, some he takes by force.
“Well, I normally get working girls on the streets. Try to get them in the car, then I'll bring them to you, and you take them. There are some you can lure to come with you, and others you have to take by force,” Rodriguez told the detective, according to a Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation report analyzed by the Sentinel.
When asked how long he normally keeps the girls, Rodriguez was equally blunt.
“Well, as long as they want to stay, and as long as you keep them drugged,” he reportedly said. “The harder ones to control are the ones who are addicted to crack.”
After his arrest, Rodriguez changed his tune, saying that he was in the drug business and not the business of selling women. He told investigators that he was a compulsive liar and not a kidnapper.
Rodriguez is currently serving 2 ½ years in prison on drug and human trafficking charges at Florida's Walton Correctional Institution.
Myles, of the Polaris Project, said far too often human trafficking victims toil in the shadows and out of sight as many Americans assume the trade is a third-world issue. All the while, he says, a largely silent population of citizens is being exploited.
“Girls are forced by pimps to sell sex at truck stops. Domestic workers are abused by their employers. Men are isolated on farms with limited access to food and water,” he said. “We have identified potential cases of human trafficking in every state in the nation, and we are finding important trends that can help us stop this violence and exploitation.”
Cracking down on sex traffickers
For too long in this country, law enforcers have treated underage prostitutes as participants in a criminal enterprise instead of what they truly are — victims. The adults who recruit and exploit underage prostitutes are engaging in a form of human slavery, while their customers are committing nothing short of statutory rape.
Two Texas Republicans, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Ted Poe of the Houston area, are co-sponsoring a bill that would impose stiff penalties on these adult victimizers of up to life in prison. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which has bipartisan support in both houses, would supplement an existing law that focuses primarily on punishing sex-trafficking organizations abroad.
Poe and Cornyn estimate that one-quarter of U.S. sex-trafficking victims have Texas roots. Poe says our state's proximity to Mexico and high immigrant population give the state a particularly high profile. In Houston alone, about 300,000 sex trafficking cases are prosecuted each year. Tighter border controls and reduced profit margins from the drug trade are pushing organized crime groups to turn increasingly to sex trafficking, law enforcers say.
North Texas has an additional problem. Dallas is one of the co-headquarters for backpage.com, a popular advertising website that is cited often in federal prosecutions of sex-trafficking rings. Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña announced the conviction in Fort Worth of two women who used Backpage to advertise the services of a girl, “all in reckless disregard that [she] was under age 18.” One of the traffickers received a 121-month federal prison sentence, while the other received 72 months.
Katie Pedigo, of the victim recovery group New Friends New Life, wrote on our Viewpoints page last year that drugs and alcohol are typical ways that traffickers make their young victims compliant and a way in which the victims numb their own pain.
Addiction and the fear of violent retaliation prevent victims from breaking free of the adults controlling them. A vicious cycle develops that can ruin young lives and trap them in a life of crime while only a small percentage of the adult victimizers pay for the damage they inflict.
Cornyn, Poe and other co-sponsors not only want to increase the prison penalties for traffickers and their customers but also to ensure that local police file these crimes into a federal database. The bill also would ease the seizure of traffickers' assets to provide restitution to victims.
A key facet of this bill is punishment for johns — the patrons of sex trafficking and the real economic drivers behind the trade.
This is a proposed law with real teeth, designed to help young people recover after being caught in the trafficking network, while helping ensure their adult victimizers pay a steep price for what constitute truly heinous crimes.
Attorney General's Office prosecuting its first sex trafficking case under tougher law
by Bethany Barnes
The state Attorney General's Office announced it is prosecuting its first sex trafficking case since a bill toughening those laws took effect.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said today that a Clark County grand jury indicted a man accused of luring a 16-year-old Utah girl into a life of prostitution in Las Vegas.
Ian Lloyd, 32, is charged with first-degree kidnapping, sex trafficking, living with a prostitute and child abuse and neglect.
The child abuse and neglect charge stems from accusations that his 3-year-old daughter rode in a vehicle while it was being used to prostitute the 16-year-old girl, officials said.
The new law ups the penalty for sex trafficking to put it on the same level as the state's sexual assault laws, disallows probation for people convicted of sex trafficking, allows courts to order those convicted to pay restitution to victims and requires a person convicted of sex trafficking register as a Tier 1 sex offender, among other provisions.
The case is the result of an investigation by the Metro Police Child Exploitation Task Force.
“This is another example of state and local law enforcement combining skills and resources to keep our community safe,” Metro spokesman Bill Cassell said in a news release. “The sexual exploitation and trafficking of children is among the most heinous of crimes. It will be the continued focus of all law enforcement.”
Masto championed the bill while it was working its way through the Legislature.
The law went into effect in July.
In the news release about the indictment, Masto said her office will use every law enforcement tool available to prosecute sex trafficking cases to the fullest extent of the law.
It Wasn't Escapism. I Was Rescued.
by Dean Trippe -- Freelance Writer and Illustrator
(Good illustations on site)
Well, they say to make art for yourself.
I started writing Something Terrible a little over a year ago, after a conversation with my friend, Ben, in which I offered my own secret origin to explain my dislike of crazy/broken depictions of Batman. I feel like Bruce Wayne would've gone crazy if he hadn't become a bat. He needed an outlet for his pain. He had only a child's solution to an unsolvable problem: He became a superhero.
In 1986, my world was broken by two criminals, my biological father, who abandoned his family, like his father had, and a teenager who threatened me with a gun and raped me for three days. Luckily for me, and his six other victims, my incredible mom figured out what happened and made sure he was prosecuted. After the police, the confession, the psychologists, and being assured that my attacker couldn't follow through on his threats, I was sent back to school. I was in the darkness alone for years, until the last week of fifth grade, when the teachers let us watch the 1989 Batman movie.
I'd liked Batman as much as the next kid, watching Super Friends and the Adam West show whenever I could, but I'd never seen his origin story. When Michael Keaton flashed back to his childhood trauma, it struck a chord in me that I didn't fully understand at the time. But I think it was the simple message of all good superhero stories: You are who you choose to be. It's not what happens to you that makes you who you are, but what you choose to do with it. I bought my first Batman comic a few weeks later. It's hard to overstate the effect that classroom movie day had on my life.
As I grew older, always interested in criminal justice, I watched a ton of cop shows. I was especially interested in any episodes dealing with child molesters, but was horrified to hear, over and over again, that they were apparently just former victims inflicting the crimes of their own attackers upon newer, younger innocents. Like my father had, when he carried on the family tradition of leaving your son when he's five. I swore to take my own life if I ever had sexual thoughts about children.
My own history had made me someone who MUST protect children... even if that meant from myself.
It's horrible, living in fear that there's something terrible inside you, like you might be some secret monster, requiring constant vigilance lest the beast be unleashed. in the '90s, the misconception of the cycle of violence had infected public consciousness. Almost every police procedural I've ever seen deal with the subject, to this day, has perpetuated it.
I lived my entire life wanting to be a father, to break the chain of abandonment in my family tree, but also fear of having a son, in case I was hopelessly corrupted by my childhood experiences. I prayed for a daughter. Having two awesome sisters predisposed me to thinking that would be better. I ended up having the best and brightest son in the world, but I avoided changing diapers or helping with bath time. His mother knew about my history, but I don't think my precautions helped our already doomed relationship.
I drew the first version of the rescue scene in this story a few years ago, after getting over the fear that I might accidentally rewrite time by inviting the heroes of other universes into ours. Look, I don't mess with time travel. My son's the best thing to ever happen to me, and I wouldn't change a second of my life to not have him here. But the day I drew the first pencil sketch of Batman putting his arm around six-year-old me, I was changed. Of course he came to save me.
Superheroes don't let bad things happen to kids.
That night, I was reading about child sexual abuse on Wikipedia and was stunned to discover that not only didn't most victims become offenders (of course not, the stats are too horrifyingly high for that to be true), but most offenders weren't even victims ! I was set free. I was finally able to put down the invisible gun I'd kept aimed at my head since I was a child. If you're an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, I made this comic just to let you know there's not something terrible lurking inside you.
Over the last few years, I found out a lot of things I didn't know about the two crimes that defined my life. I found out my biological father was alive, with a history of abandoning families, spending his years in and out of jail. I found out my rapist's name, and that he's currently incarcerated for driving drunk the wrong way down a median road, with a kid in the car. I guess it's pretty ideal that he's behind bars.
I also learned that my mom had started dating my new dad when this happened, and it was all she could do to keep him from killing the guy. My mom's name is Sarah Trippe, and she's the strongest person I have ever met. My adoptive dad, Charlton Trippe, has always had my back and believed in me. The real heroes of my life are my parents. Batman was a good substitute for a kid to understand.
I was in the darkness. The story of Batman helped me realize I could wrap it around my arms like a security blanket. Or a cape. The yellow symbol on my chest was my light defended by a black creature more powerful than anything crime could throw at me. A creature of the night, something terrible. A bat. And eventually, I brought Batman to our world in a comic, and somehow it really did change my story.
Thanks for reading about it.
The full version of "Something Terrible" is available now as a DRM-free download for $0.99, and is running for free as a weekly webcomic at http://tencentticker.com/somethingterrible
NY teacher sent note complaining some pre-k kids are dirty, smell 'unpleasant'
BUFFALO, N.Y. – A New York teacher could be in hot water after sending a note home with her pre-kindergarten students saying some of them were showing up to school so dirty she didn't want to touch them.
Parents say the handwritten note was sent home by a teacher at the Buffalo School District's BUILD Academy. The Nov. 14 letter says several of the 3- and 4-year-old children "also give off unpleasant smells."
The letter also requests the signatures of parent and child to confirm it was received.
The Buffalo News reports the school board concluded the teacher should face disciplinary action.
Kimberly Wells says she was shocked by the letter her granddaughter brought home. She says it made the girl ask if her teacher thinks she stinks.
Arizona Child Abuse Reports Botched; Probe Urged
by BOB CHRISTIE
The revelation that about 6,000 cases of suspected child abuse reported to an Arizona hotline were never investigated has cast a disturbing spotlight on a state department in disarray as officials call for investigations and accountability.
Over the past four years, a team at Arizona's Child Protective Services agency improperly designated the cases "N.I." — meaning "Not Investigated" — to help manage their heavy workload and focus on the most severe cases, said Clarence Carter, chief of the state's child welfare system.
Under state law, all reports generated via the statewide hotline must be investigated, Carter said Thursday. He noted plans would be revealed Monday on how the state will catch up on the overlooked backlog.
At least 125 cases already have been identified in which children later were alleged to have been abused.
"I don't know of any fatalities," Gregory McKay, the agency's chief of child welfare investigations, said of the botched cases.
No one has been disciplined, but Arizona's Department of Public Safety will investigate.
"There must be accountability in this matter, and I will insist on further reforms to make sure that it cannot happen again," Gov. Jan Brewer said.
The practice of misclassifying the cases and essentially closing them started in 2009, and rapidly escalated in the past 20 months as caseloads increased, Carter said.
"The idea that there are 6,000 cases where we don't know whether or not children are safe, that's cause for grave alarm," said Carter, who as director of Arizona's Department of Economic Security oversees CPS and other social welfare agencies.
CPS has been one of the governor's major priorities and has suffered from understaffing and major increases in abuse reports and workloads in recent years. Brewer got approval from the Legislature in January for emergency funding for 50 new caseworkers and regular funding for 150 more in the budget year that began July 1.
The governor called the mishandling of the cases "absolutely unacceptable."
The head of an Arizona child advocacy organization said the problem is one of many at the agency.
"This reconfirms what we've already known about the system, which is that it is overwhelmed and can't function appropriately," said Dana Naimark the Children's Action Alliance. "It needs revamping and needs more resources."
Arizona has struggled in recent years with an increase in child abuse reports, a growing number of children in foster care, and turnover of child welfare workers. It also has been criticized by families who lost children, including relatives of a 5-year-old girl who police in a Phoenix suburb said was killed by her mother despite previous abuse reports.
In another case, a woman and her husband were charged with abuse in the July death of their severely malnourished 15-month-old daughter. CPS originally investigated the mother at the time of the child's 2012 birth after receiving a report of neglect.
She told hospital officials her six other children were delivered at home by their father and had never received medical care because of their religious beliefs, according to CPS records.
"There was concern that the baby would not get the follow-up care needed," the agency's records stated. However, a CPS investigation was completed, "and the children were determined to be safe," according to the records.
It's unclear if the agency checked up on the newborn. The Associated Press submitted a public records request in July for the investigative file, but the agency has yet to provide it.
The parents have since pleaded not guilty, and their other children are in temporary foster care.
The hotline problems were exposed after two police agencies inquired about the status of two abuse cases. Both cases had been marked N.I., McKay said. Further investigation found the practice was widespread.
The problems were blamed on a special unit that reviewed incoming hotline reports and decided, like a triage team, which ones were most serious.
Normally, incoming reports from police, family, doctors or neighbors would be sent to field offices for investigation, McKay said. But the specialized unit was reviewing them first and wrongly classifying some.
The average number of hotline reports generated each month is 3,649, according to the CPS' most recent semiannual report. Since January, one in 12 essentially was being closed without investigation.
The 1,000 caseworkers assigned to child welfare investigations already have caseloads that are 77 percent above the standard, according to the agency. Carter is asking for an additional 350 workers in the coming budget.
Wartburg man admits using baby girl in child porn
A Morgan County man is facing federal child pornography charges after authorities rescued a baby girl in his care. Authorities say he sexually abused the child, recorded it, and shared the images over the internet.
According to Knoxville Police, Tommy Lee Waugh, 29, of Wartburg, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday morning to production of child pornography, distribution, and a Sorna violation because he is already a convicted sex offender.
KPD's Internet Crimes Unit got a tip in July that Waugh was sexually abusing the 5-6 week infant. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issued a Priority 1 cyber tip that means there is an eminent threat to a child.
"It's horrific. I can't even describe it," said Lt. Warren Hamlin of KPD's Internet Crimes Against Children unit.
KPD says when they saw the images, they knew they had to rescue the child as soon as possible to prevent any more abuse.
"This was probably newborn a victim as I've seen," said Lt. Hamlin, "Knowing that she was out there close to us really gives you a sense of urgency."
Within 24 hours, KPD and other agencies rescued the child and took her to East Tennessee Children's Hospital. The parent's rights were terminated, and the girl was placed in foster care and is doing well.
KPD spokesperson, Darrell DeBusk, said, "It took many people moving quickly and cautiously to save the child's life."
Waugh originally pleaded not guilty to these charges, but changed his plea this week. The recommended sentence is 40 years behind bars. A judge will determine his sentence on April 9.
According to TBI's Sexual Offender Registry, Waugh was convicted in 2010 on aggravated statutory rape charges, and in 2009 on sexual exploitation of a minor.
From January 2012 to Sept 2013, KPD's ICAC unit investigated 139 cases leading to 53 arrests.
Victim 9 files abuse claim against Sandusky, Penn State
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- A young man who testified last year at Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse trial sued the former coach and Penn State on Thursday over what he said was nearly four years of sexual assault while in his early teens.
The lawsuit by the man known as Victim 9 in criminal court records was filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court after talks with the university failed to reach a settlement.
The lawsuit claims the boy, now 20 years old, would not have been victimized if university officials had properly handled other complaints about Sandusky.
''Penn State provided Sandusky the tools with which to ply the craft of a pedophile long after Sandusky's formal ties with the university were supposed to have been severed,'' the lawsuit said.
Victim 9's lawyers wrote that ''it was the inviolable culture of financial and sporting success of Penn State football that made possible the horrific sexual abuse that forms the basis of this lawsuit.''
A university spokesman declined comment, and a message left for a lawyer who has represented Sandusky in other civil litigation was not immediately returned.
The young man's lawyers called him John Doe D and asked that his identity not be disclosed. The Associated Press does not generally publish the names of sexual abuse victims.
''It's now clear that Penn State enabled Sandusky to sexually abuse more than 20 other children before Sandusky preyed on this boy,'' wrote the plaintiff's lawyer, Stephen E. Raynes. ''Each of those tragic assaults provided Penn State with the opportunity to stop Sandusky, opportunities which Penn State squandered. We will learn through this lawsuit why that happened and what additional lessons Penn State should learn from this tragic episode in its history.''
The lawsuit claims that the university knew or should have known, after officials fielded complaints about Sandusky in 1998 and 2001, that children such as Victim 9 were ''endangered by Sandusky's predatory pedophilia.''
During testimony at Sandusky's trial in June 2012, Victim 9 said Sandusky began by fondling him and degenerated into forced oral sex before several instances of rape in Sandusky's State College home. The lawsuit said the abuse took place between summer 2005 and fall 2009, when he was 16 years old.
He testified that his muffled screams went unheard by Sandusky's wife, Dottie, upstairs.
''He got real aggressive, and just forced me into it,'' he testified. ''And I just went with it — there was no fighting against it.''
The lawsuit claims Sandusky's former boss, coach Joe Paterno, invited the boy and Sandusky to have lunch with him at Beaver Stadium and tour the stadium, despite the late coach ''being alerted years earlier to Sandusky's sexual assault of young boys.''
''Each time Sandusky and John Doe D encountered Paterno, Paterno greeted Sandusky, endorsing Sandusky's favored status with Penn State,'' the lawsuit stated.
Paterno was fired shortly after Sandusky's November 2011 arrest and died a few months later. A spokesman and lawyer for his family did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The lawsuit is the first filed against Sandusky and the university since Penn State announced last month it was paying nearly $60 million to settle abuse claims by 26 young men. It's not clear how many, if any, suits are still pending against the school following those settlements.
Victim 9's lawyers said he has suffered depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks of abuse at Sandusky's hands, sleep disturbance and other problems.
The lawsuit asserts an assault and battery claim against Sandusky. The university was sued for negligence and recklessness, tortious conduct, misrepresentation and infliction of emotional distress.
Six of the 45 counts for which Sandusky was convicted concerned Victim 9: two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and endangering a child's welfare.
Three former Penn State administrators currently await trial on charges they engaged in a criminal cover-up of complaints about Sandusky. Former president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley all deny the allegations.
Curley renewed his efforts to dismiss the charges Thursday, arguing that investigators improperly relied on privileged attorney-client information between Curley and former university lawyer Cynthia Baldwin, who accompanied him to the grand jury.
FREEH REPORT -- Read the complete Freeh report with findings regarding how much Penn State university leaders knew of Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse.
3 women held captive in UK home for 30 years rescued, say police
by Cassandra Vinograd
LONDON — Three women have been freed after spending 30 years held captive in a south London home, including one woman believed to have spent her entire life in domestic slavery, police announced Thursday.
London's Metropolitan Police spoke about the rescues after two people — a man and a woman, both 67 — were arrested early Thursday as part of an investigation into domestic servitude.
Scotland Yard's slavery investigation was launched after one of the captive women contacted a charity to say she was being held against her will and the charity went to the police, the force said. Those freed on Oct. 25 are a 69-year-old Malaysian woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 30-year-old British woman, police said.
Kevin Hyland, head of the Metropolitan Police's human trafficking unit, said all three women were “deeply traumatized.”
Police said they do not believe any of the victims are related and there was no evidence of sexual abuse. Hyland said he didn't know of any of the relationships between the women or their suspects, including whether the suspects were a couple.
The revelations raised numerous questions — all still unanswered — about how the women's ordeal began and why it endured for so long. What brought them to London? What freedoms — if any — did they have? What restrictions and conditions were they were subject to? Did neighbors ever see them, did they ever try to escape?
The women — whose names have not been released — are now safe at an undisclosed location in Britain and have been working with severe trauma experts since their rescue, Hyland said.
It is not known how the women ended up in the house — especially the 30-year-old, who would have had to either been born in the home in the Borough of Lambeth or enter it as an infant, given the police timeline. She appears to have been held in domestic servitude for her entire life, Scotland Yard said.
Hyland said police were contacted in October by Freedom Charity, who told them it had received a call from a woman who said she had been held against her will in London for more than 30 years.
The Irish woman called Freedom Charity from what appears to be an “ordinary house in an ordinary street,” said Aneeta Prem, founder of the charity that promotes awareness of child abuse, forced marriages and honor killings.
Police said the catalyst for the woman's call was a television documentary on forced marriages. What followed were secret, “in-depth” conversations with the women, Prem told Sky News.
“It had to be pre-arranged when they were able to make calls to us and it had to be done very secretly, because they felt they were in massive danger,” she said.
Police scrambled to track down the house in the borough of Lambeth, a large, mixed residential neighborhood south of the River Thames. Prem said the women were able to walk out of the property — with police on standby — after those repeated, tentative calls.
Hyland said there was a delay in arresting the two suspects — neither of whom are British — as police worked to establish the facts of the case and to ensure that the women who had escaped were not further traumatized.
“When we had established the facts, we conducted the arrests,” Hyland told reporters.
London police were keeping the exact location of the house secret and would not disclose the nationality of the suspects, who were being held in a south London police station.
Hyland said while the women had some “controlled freedom,” police were still working to establish how much and what sort of conditions they lived under for the past 30 years.
“For much of it, they would have been kept on the premises,” Hyland said.
He said his unit, which deals with many cases of servitude and forced labor, had seen previous cases of people held for up to ten years.
“But we've never seen anything of this magnitude before,” he said.
Abuse survivor praises sex guide he helped devolop
Shock that educational pamphlet wrongfully thought as promoting pedophilia
by Ryan Ross
Mike Avery knows what it's like to be a victim of sexual abuse.
He lived through it as a child and has been on the provincial Child Sexual Abuse Advisory Committee for several years to help raise public awareness of the issue.
So when he recently heard an educational pamphlet he helped develop was described as promoting pedophilia, he was taken aback by the comments.
“It's a real kick in the teeth for me,” he said.
Avery was part of the committee that created a guide to childhood sexual behaviour that was meant for parents to determine if what their kids are exhibiting is normal and to help them be aware if their child may have been sexually abused.
“We're doing the exact opposite of what we're being described of doing,” Avery said.
The pamphlet, which the government has been using since 2001 and recently updated, was described by the group REAL Women of Canada as an attempt to make children vulnerable to sexual activity.
Sun News personality Faith Goldy also recently took to the airwaves to criticize the pamphlet, going so far as to say it seemed to be an effort to legitimize pedophilia.
Avery is one of several volunteers on the Child Sexual Abuse Advisory Committee, which is made up of people who deal with child victimization.
That includes police officers, a Crown attorney, a child protection social worker, two adult survivors of sexual abuse and a representative from the P.E.I. Rape and Sexual Assault Centre.
Avery said he was insulted people would say the committee was encouraging victimization of children.
“We're quite proud of what we do,” he said.
With the negative attention the criticism brought to the pamphlet, Avery said the information was misinterpreted.
“Now, of course, who's going to read them?”
Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence accused of protecting sex abusers
by W. Zachary Malinowski
PROVIDENCE — Victims of sexual abuse gathered for a news conference on Wednesday to condemn the Catholic Diocese of Providence for allegedly failing to properly investigate more than 800 allegations of sexual abuse over the past 20 years.
Among those presenting in a downtown hotel conference room stories of abuse by local parish priests were Ann Hagan-Webb, a representative from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP; and Jeffrey Thomas, of Massachusetts, and Helen McGonigle, a lawyer from Connecticut.
Thomas and McGonigle said they were raped as children by the Rev. Brendan Smyth, an Irish priest who was at Our Lady of Mercy Church in East Greenwich from 1965 to 1968. Smyth returned to Ireland and pleaded guilty to 141 counts of sexual abuse there. He died in prison in Ireland in 1997.
Thomas and McGonigle had made similar allegations about Smyth at a news conference in December 2009.
The victims said Wednesday they want the office of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha to launch an in-depth investigation into what they said were 831 complaints of pedophilia and sexual abuse filed with the diocese. They also said many of the abusive priests continue to serve in parishes in Rhode Island and elsewhere.
“This has to change if we are going to protect the children of Rhode Island,” Hagan-Webb said.
Amy Kempe, Kilmartin's spokeswoman, said in an email that the matter will be taken seriously.
“The Office will accept and review any information the organization has regarding the allegations,” she wrote.
The Diocese of Providence issued a statement claiming they always forward allegations of sexual abuse to the state police or local law enforcement.
“It has been a consistent policy and practice of the Diocese of Providence to report many different issues including those of clergy abuse of minors to law enforcement,” the statement read. “The diocese is not aware of any priests currently in ministry, who have credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors against them.”
McGonigle, who said she was raped beginning at age 6 and continuing through age 9, referred to Smyth as “an international serial pedophile.” She said that, in June 2006, she met for about an hour with diocesan officials about Smyth and has since filed a lawsuit against the church. She also told them that her late sister, Kathleen, had been a victim of Smyth. She died of an a drug overdose in 2005, McGonigle said.
Hagan-Webb said that Monsignor Anthony DeAngelis repeatedly molested her in West Warwick from age 5 through 12. She said that she began recalling the crimes after she had children of her own in the early '90s.
She said that she met with Robert M. McCarthy, director of the diocesan Office of Education & Compliance. McCarthy is a former Massachusetts State Police lieutenant.
Hagan-Webb said that McCarthy “demanded all my therapy records,” and she reluctantly turned them over. She said that eventually the diocese reimbursed her $12,500, the price of her extensive therapy sessions.
She said that DeAngelis died in 1988.
While alleging that the diocese had not investigated hundreds of abuse claims, the victims, along with Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of bishopaccountability.org, of Waltham, Mass., provided reporters Wednesday with an inch-thick set of files they said that McCarthy had turned over to the state police. They all contained redacted information about priests allegedly molesting boys and men, girls and women from August 2003 through last February.
On Feb. 26, McCarthy sent a two-page memo to the state police that included a 19-page transcript from a man who said a former pastor sexually assaulted him when he was 15 years old. He said the pastor assaulted him “as many as 25 times” over 11/2 years at several locations including his private residence in Glocester.
McCarthy wrote that the clergyman admitted to the abuse and has resigned as the pastor of two parishes. He claimed that the victim did not wish to pursue “criminal or civil complaints” against him.
Barrett Doyle estimated that at least 500 of the more than 800 allegations of abuse involved victims under the age of 18. She also said that the abusers were priests and some lay employees of the church. Some of the abuse, she pointed out, was inflicted on adults.
One of the letters that McCarthy forwarded to the state police in August 2003 involved a 6-foot-7-inch tall pastor who a woman said sexually assaulted her. “On one occasion, I can recall he kept a door open while urinating and said to me, come and see what I got,” the report said.
McCarthy compiled a 21-page typewritten summary of the woman's allegations.
Child abuse pediatricians can help prevent tragedies
Regarding the review of Erie County Child Protective Services (“Panel on child abuse hears horror stories,” Nov. 15 News), one item seems missing from the review.
The review made it clear that there was tremendous overload of cases per worker and that this led to dangerous corner-cutting. However, nowhere in the article was there any mention of evaluation by a trained, experienced child abuse pediatrician in cases where such things as unusual bruising patterns appeared or other evidence of dangerous caregiver practices occurred.
I say a trained, experienced child abuse pediatrician because Child Abuse Pediatrics is now recognized as a legitimate subspecialty of pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics. Too often, a general pediatrician, family doctor or emergency physician may be asked to see and evaluate a child and make a decision without the proper experience and training.
A child abuse pediatrician not only recognizes patterns of abusive injury, but by his or her training is well-positioned to determine if apparent injury was accidental, (i.e. happened in the manner described by the caretaker), inflicted, or if it is the result of an illness masquerading as an injury. The role of the child abuse pediatrician is not limited to making diagnoses; it goes on to training child protection workers and supervisors to recognize patterns of abuse and setting up protocols for evaluation. This type of medical resource is necessary to prevent the “horror stories” heard by the panel.
I am no longer practicing, but have practiced as a child abuse pediatrician in New York, Connecticut and Kentucky.
Betty Spivack, M.D.
New Missouri legislation changes school rules on reporting child abuse, neglect
by Brittany Ruess
State legislation from the 2013 session has changed how schools report child abuse and neglect, and requires any school personnel to make reports to the Children's Division of Missouri Social Services through its hotline service.
Prior to the legislation, schools could designate a one “mandatory reporter” to call in suspicions of abuse. Rep. Marsha Haefer, R-St. Louis, sponsored the legislation (House Bill 505) and worked on the bill with specific interest as she is on the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children. She said for a school to have one person to report abuse is a major flaw that the new law fixes, because the mandatory reporter may choose to call or not to call in the suspected abuse. This same flaw, she added, led to the Penn State-Sandusky scandal. When news broke about the scandal, Haefer said she took a look at Missouri's abuse reporting process and realized it was similar to that of Pennsylvania. This was, in part, the beginning of House Bill 505.
Otto Fajen, Missouri National Education Association, said in cases he is aware of, teachers or school employees would be discouraged by higher-ups to report abuse.
“The law has a clear statement that people up the chain can't inhibit an employee,” Fajen said.
Iowa's differential response to child abuse allegations start Jan. 1System supported by federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
The Iowa Department of Human Services soon will have two options for the way it responds to child abuse allegations.
The new system — which creates two pathways for Iowa DHS to respond — is intended to help individual families while also keeping the child safe.
When abuse is suspected and reported to DHS under the current system, DHS investigates whether child abuse occurred and renders a decision on whether the perpetrator should be placed on an abuse registry. Though that investigation includes an assessment of the child and his or her family, Amy McCoy, public information officer for the Iowa DHS, said the process often doesn't work to support and strengthen the child and his or her family.
“Traditionally there's been this emphasis on determining whether abuse occurred and that kind of overshadows being able to help the family meet their needs,” McCoy said.
“The new system has two tracks, where if a child is in eminent danger we focus on that the way we have in the past,” she said. “If the child is not in eminent danger, we are able to offer a wide variety of services and supports to strengthen that family and help keep that child safe.”
The states new Differential Response System — which goes into place Jan. 1, 2014 — is supported by the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. Child protective systems in 23 states include some form of differential response, McCoy said.
The change comes after Gov. Terry Branstad signed a law requiring a differential response system be put in place during the 2013 legislative session.
In situations where an abuse is reported but a child is not in imminent danger, DHS will evaluate the child's safety and assess the family in a way that does not lead to an abuse finding or putting a perpetrator's name on a registry. After the assessment, the family has the option to receive a state-funded, voluntary service called Community Care, which provides services designed to empower families.
“The child's safety is not compromised,” McCoy said. “If at any point it appears the child is in danger or in an unsafe environment, they'll go back to that traditional path of assessment.”
In situations when abuse is reported and a child is considered to be in imminent danger, the case is handled traditionally in a way that evaluates the child's safety, assesses the family to determine whether abuse has happened, and places the perpetrator's name on a registry in accordance with Iowa Code.
The alternative path
A traditional path — where the child is in imminent danger — would be taken in a situation when, for example, a child has signs of physical abuse, such as a black eye from a parent slapping him or her across the face, or a child was allowed to play outside unsupervised and was seriously injured after being hit by a car.
A family assessment path — the alternative path — would be taken in a situation when, say, a child is in a house infested with cockroaches, or was found by police to be unsupervised and a block or more from home.
McCoy said studies have shown a differential response method can increase the legal pursuit of perpetrators of some of the most serious types of child abuse and neglect cases.
“Really what it does is, rather than set up an adversarial relationship, it is a cooperative relationship, and if you think of that in terms of any other situation, there's more success when you can cooperate,” McCoy said.
Charges dropped against girls in Florida cyberbullying case
by Barbara Liston
Florida prosecutors dropped charges on Wednesday against two girls accused of stalking a 12-year-old classmate who killed herself after complaining she was bullied online for months, a police official said.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters the two girls, aged 12 and 14, would no longer face charges of aggravated stalking and are undergoing counseling.
The two were arrested last month. Police said the girls repeatedly cyberbullied Rebecca Ann Sedwick, who became so despondent she climbed a tower at an abandoned cement plant and jumped to her death in September.
Sedwick was targeted because she had dated the 14-year-old girl's boyfriend, police said.
When the girls were charged, Judd publicly identified them and showed their mugshots.
On Wednesday, he told reporters the cases against both girls were resolved in juvenile court by placing them in diversion programs, and that both girls are receiving counseling.
Judd said the resolution of the cases was confirmed through the girls' lawyers. He said prosecutors cannot comment because the girls are juveniles.
"Arguably we could have gone to court with it but would that have been in the best interests of the children? I don't think so," Judd said. "I think the right outcome occurred."
"The 14-year-old who was the primary bullier, the one who was more aggressive, she is going to receive the services she needs hopefully to make her a productive citizen in our community in future years," he said.
The girls sent online messages via Facebook and other sites calling Sedwick "ugly" and telling her: "You should drink bleach and die," "Nobody likes you," and "You should go kill yourself," police said.
The 12-year-old girl's lawyer, Jose Baez, demanded an apology from Judd, whose handling of the case he said was "reckless." Baez has said his client was also a victim after her picture was shown to the media.
"They dropped these charges because they simply didn't have the evidence, and they felt it was the right thing to do," Baez said on Orlando's WESH television's website.
A spokesman for the State Attorney's Office in Polk County could not be immediately reached for comment.
Mayor Garcetti Announces Teddy Bear Drive To Provide Comfort To Children Who Experience Tragedy & Loss
Mayor's Crisis Response Team and the Los Angeles Police Department Launch Drive to Collect Donations of New Stuffed Animals. Donation Boxes will be at all Mayor's Office Locations and LAPD stations.
LOS ANGELES – Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles Police Department today launched a Teddy Bear Drive to collect new stuffed animals that will be given to children at emergency scenes. The drive is being led by the Mayor's Crisis Response Team, the LAPD, and CRT's volunteer members. Officers will provide stuffed animals when comforting children who have experienced loss or witnessed a traumatic event.
“When children experience a tragedy, they can feel as if everything has been taken away from them,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The simple act of giving a child a teddy bear allows them something to hold onto during a turbulent time. During this holiday season, I ask Angelenos to consider donating a new stuffed animal to help comfort a child.”
While it is called a Teddy Bear Drive, all new stuffed animals are welcome and appreciated. The Teddy Bear Drive begins today and will continue through the end of the year. Brightly colored collection boxes will be displayed at all LAPD stations as well as the Mayor's Help Desk at City Hall and his two field offices in Van Nuys and South L.A. Please visit lamayor.org/teddybear for locations. Donations may also be mailed to: Teddy Bear Drive, c/o Mayor's Crisis Response Team, 200 N. Spring Street, Room 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
The Mayor's Crisis Response Team is composed of more than 200 community civilian volunteers who respond to traumatic incidents at the request of the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments. CRT volunteers provide immediate on-scene crisis intervention, attend to survival and comfort needs, act as a liaison between victims and emergency personnel, and provide referrals to victims and their families affected by a death, a serious injury, a violent crime, or other traumatic incidents. These include homicides, suicides, serious traffic accidents, natural deaths, and multi-casualty incidents. Last week, 40 new volunteers graduated from the seven week, forty-two hour training program at a ceremony attended by Mayor Garcetti, Chief Beck, and representatives of the Fire Department,
Speak up: Student stands against child abuse, creates PSA aired on Comedy Central
by Madysan Foltz
In the summer before his senior year of high school, Kevin Gendron was inspired by a former National Hockey League player to prevent child abuse.
As part of a film festival screening committee, Gendron viewed the film “Pursuit of Truth: Adult Survivors of Child Abuse Seeking Justice.” In it, Sheldon Kennedy, the NHL player and an abuse victim, said, “on average, a child has to ask seven adults before their [abuse] case is taken seriously.”
Gendron was immediately compelled to act.
“You felt like you had to do something about it right then and there,” Gendron said. “They can't defend themselves, so I wanted to defend them.”
As part of his action, Gendron, now a freshman advertising major, created a 60-second public service announcement. The piece was the result of an internship capstone for his producer Peter Connors and all work on the PSA was completed pro bono. His project first aired in his hometown of Portsmouth, N.H., and was eventually picked up by Comedy Central for a commercial spot during Tuesday night's “The Colbert Report.”
Connors said they were lucky Comedy Central was the channel that picked it up because of the type of audience the Colbert Report attracts.
“I think you would be hard-pressed to find a more socially active and influential audience, especially in the media sphere, than you'd find on ‘The Colbert Report,'” Connors said.
Gendron served as director and editor of the PSA, and co-wrote it with David McHugh, the screenwriter for “Bad Teacher.” McHugh said his main job was to be a “backbone for the overall goal” of the project and that Gendron had all the ideas; all he did was help find the right way to craft it. Because of the high caliber of everyone involved, Gendron said the film exceeded his highest expectations.
The 60-second PSA, aptly titled “Stand Up and Step Forward,” follows a young girl suffering from child abuse. After sitting in a classroom full of students, the young girl gets up, walks across the room and whispers into the teacher's ear. The teacher then takes the student by the hand, leading her out of the room. Words appear on the screen saying, “She found the courage to report her abuse. So can you.”
Gendron said his idea was brought to life because of the aesthetic style of Jonathon Millman, the director of photography. His visuals, paired with German composer Nils Frahm's music, tied the entire package together, he said.
As for finding actors to portray such a strong message, Gendron said the search wasn't so easy. But once they found Elle Shaheen, granddaughter of New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, everything came together.
Not a novice to the small screen, Shaheen, who played the PSA's victim, has been on national television a few times before, but said she has never experienced an atmosphere quite like this. She said the cast and crew set themselves apart from others she has worked with by being exceedingly professional and caring. It was even more of a surprise for Shaheen, she said, because she didn't realize how young Gendron, the heart and soul of the project, was at the time of the shoot.
“I honestly didn't know he was 18 at the time we shot because of how mature and professional he was,” she said.
Gendron certainly noticed Shaheen's acting abilities and said that she “rocked” her performance.
The other starring role — the teacher — was performed by an actress from Newfields, N.H.: Constance Witman. She said it wasn't hard to conjure up the emotion the role required.
“You just have to really put yourself in the situation. What if it was me?” she said. “If somebody tells you that they're being abused, that's got to hit you somewhere. Otherwise, I think you'd have to be a robot to just ignore something like that, especially when it's a child.”
The simple film lets the emotion speak louder than words, and because of its content, the PSA's team has started working with the National Children's Alliance, a nonprofit organization that oversees more than 700 child advocacy centers across the country. The organization's work has been adopted across the United States. Each state chapter has its own website created by Fishnet Media that offers resources, hotlines, testimonials and articles that are local to each state.
As for the overall message of the campaign, co-writer David McHugh hopes it helps child victims of abuse gain the confidence necessary to reach out to someone they can trust.
Said McHugh: “There are too many kids that have to suffer through a whole lot of terrible things. It takes courage to reach out for help. If we can help even a couple more kids gain the confidence to do so, it will be worth it.”
Mass. child abuse suspect proposes castration
WOBURN, Mass. (AP) — The lawyer for a Wakefield man charged with sexually abusing multiple children at his wife's unlicensed day care center says his client is willing to undergo ‘‘physical castration'' in exchange for a ‘‘massive'' reduction in his sentence.
Prosecutors allege that between August 2010 and August 2012, 49-year-old John Burbine molested children ranging from 8 days to 3 1/2 years old.
Burbine's lawyer, William Barabino, tells the Boston Herald the procedure is effective in producing ‘‘a drastic reduction or complete discontinuation in sexual urges and sexual function, due to the inability to produce testosterone.''
In exchange, Barabino wants the judge to cap his client's sentence at 15 years, instead of life.
Barabino is scheduled to formally make his proposal to prosecutors and the judge on Wednesday. Prosecutors are expected to respond.
Fearing the imminent removal of its children, the hassidic Lev Tahor cult is reportedly heading to the Deep South, and ultimately, Iran
by Hannah Katsman
ong dogged by accusations of severe child abuse and neglect, the 40 families of insular hassidic group Lev Tahor fled their homes Tuesday in Ste. Agathe, Quebec, fearing imminent removal of the children by Canadian welfare authorities.
According to Oded Twik, an Israeli whose sister and eight children have lived with Lev Tahor for the last eight years, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and police worked through the night Tuesday to get information about the safety of the children.
About 200 people traveled in three hired buses to Ontario, where they rented a small number of hotel rooms. “The Canadian police have confirmed that the group planned to go to Iran,” said Twik.
Lev Tahor is led by charismatic convicted kidnapper Shlomo Helbrans. The group, mainly native Israelis and their Canadian-born children, lived in the resort town of Ste. Agathe-du-Mont, Quebec. Only five members have legal status in Canada and the children do not hold passports.
Born to a secular family as Erez Albaranes, the Lev Tahor leader currently calls himself Shlomo Helbrans, the Admor (hasidic rebbe) of Riminov.
He studied in Jerusalem yeshivas in his youth. In the mid-1980s, despite lacking rabbinic ordination, he opened the Lev Tahor yeshiva in Jerusalem at age 23.
In 1990, after an Israeli investigation for ties with what was then the Islamic Movement in Israel, Helbrans fled to the United States with about 20 followers.
In 1994 Helbrans was imprisoned for two years in the US for kidnapping Shai Fima, whose secular parents had sent him to Helbrans for bar mitzvah lessons.
Post-release, Helbrans and his followers moved to Ste. Agathe, about 100 kilometers north of Montreal. There, Helbrans successfully petitioned the Canadian government for refugee status, claiming persecution in Israel for his anti-Zionist opinions.
Oded Twik has urged the Canadian authorities to remove all 137 children from the community. Dozens of family members and supporters attended a demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv on October 14. Many family members have not communicated with their relatives for eight years.
In a similar case, earlier this year, Canadian Child and Family Services removed all 40 children of a Mennonite community in Manitoba from their homes in response to allegations of corporal punishment, withholding food, and moving children between families. The parents are cooperating with authorities and a few children have since been returned to their homes.
Reports of the neglect and abuse of the Lev Tahor children have circulated for years. The Israeli Center for Victims of Cults regularly sends testimony to the Canadian authorities.
Members who have left the group described a diet of dough, goose eggs and goat's milk, but no fruits and vegetable. There are regular beatings, long prayers, and for the girls, dark clothing covering all but the face, and household servitude. Children, including babies and toddlers, are removed from their parents to live with other families, often repeatedly. Girls are routinely married off at 14, in some cases to men more than twice their age.
In October, 2011, two girls aged 13 and 15 from Beit Shemesh attempted to travel to join the Lev Tahor community via Jordan. The girls' aunt, Orit Cohen, filed a petition via the family court, and the girls were intercepted at the Montreal airport and returned to Israel.
According to Twik, children in Lev Tahor get moved from family to family as punishment for their parents' violation of Helbrans's rules.
Tahor's written regulations describe women as disgusting and deserving of isolation and a subsistence diet. A husband may hit his wife for disobeying the “rebbe's” teachings.
According to Cohen, “Women who have grown up in Lev Tahor believe that constant humiliation and punishment is necessary for their own education. Even those who have left see themselves, their thoughts, and opinions as worthless.”
The girls get the barest minimum of education.
Helbrans's son Nathan recently fled Lev Tahor after a dispute with his father, leaving his wife and children behind.
According to Twik and others familiar with the case, Nathan's split with the group began as a small child when he witnessed his father's disciples beating up Nathan's mother, Malka, in her bedroom.
In January, 2012, Nathan bought a tape of Hasidic music for one of his sons who had trouble falling asleep. As punishment, Helbrans ordered that Nathan's four children be housed with other families. The children would live with twenty different families over the course of two years.
When Nathan refused to accept this decision, Helbrans ordered him beaten up by two disciples who threw him into the snow and twisted his legs until they broke. Nathan lay in bed for four months, remaining loyal to Lev Tahor. He lied to the hospital about the cause of his injuries and refused an operation, for fear it would lead to an investigation.
But in April 2012, Nathan left the community and returned to Israel in June after death threats by Helbrans and his followers. He returned to Montreal and reported the abuse of his children to Canadian authorities with the support of Ometz (“Bravery” in Hebrew), a Montreal Jewish social services agency.
In early October, the Canadian authorities, accompanied by the police, removed the five children including an infant born while Nathan was in Israel. The children were placed in the Montreal home of an Orthodox social worker and his wife.
The Canadian Director of Youth Protection has since ruled that the children would not be returned to Lev Tahor. Lev Tahor appealed, claiming the evidence heard by the court is not reliable.
The situation of the children remaining in the group is complex.
“Before intervening, the authorities need proof that the children are at risk,” says Michael Kropveld, executive director of Info-Secte, a Canadian organization that works with victims of fringe groups. Then they have to ensure that a plan is in place that will benefit the children, with the added difficulty of finding the families to house them.
“Ideally, says Kropveld, “the authorities will work with the parents to improve the conditions so that the children can stay in the home.”
According to Kropveld, the worst-case scenario is a poorly planned removal. Not only could people get hurt, a failed attempt could ultimately make the leader stronger.
“People who have doubts will see a failed attempt as further proof of the leader's powers,” he says.
Tainted confessions derail Stephen Conrad's child sexual abuse case
Tallassee police investigators allegedly coerced claimants
by Scott Johnson and Matt Okarmus
A Tallassee child sexual abuse case has come apart amid allegations that a police investigator used physical force to coerce confessions.
Former Tallassee Police Department Assistant Chief Chris Miles was the chief investigator in the child sexual abuse case against Stephen Conrad, who was facing a total of 109 charges of sexual abuse.
The former investigator is suspected of “using physical coercion to obtain a confession,” District Attorney Randall Houston said.
C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney for Elmore County, said Miles is under investigation from state and federal authorities on allegations of theft, ethics violations and civil rights violations.
Tallassee Police Chief Jimmy Rodgers said Miles resigned at the end of October when the investigation began. He said the situation was “really difficult to understand.”
“Any time you have a law enforcement officer that does something to bring discredit to the department, it is disheartening,” Rodgers said.
Attempts to locate a current phone number for Miles were unsuccessful Tuesday, and it was not known whether he had an attorney.
The Alabama Bureau of Investigation independently investigated the Conrad case and was able to obtain evidence and victim statements independent of Miles' investigation, Robinson said.
Conrad has a court hearing scheduled for Friday, and the district attorney's office hopes to obtain a plea deal based on five charges by then, Robinson said.
Otherwise, all charges will be dismissed and the entire process will have to start over.
Either way, the case against Conrad is going forward, Robinson said.
“There is not going to be a time that he doesn't have charges,” he said, adding that the state will file its own charges if there is no agreement reached.
Robyn Bradley Litchfield, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Public Safety, confirmed Tuesday that the ABI is working with Houston's office on the investigation.
Calls and emails to Spence Singleton and Heather Dixon, who have been listed as Conrad's attorney in the past, were not returned Tuesday.
The district attorney's office also Tuesday dismissed all charges against Conrad's wife, Brandy Conrad, who was accused of failing to report the abuse.
The charges against Conrad that are based on the investigation by Miles are now unusable, but the evidence obtained in the independent investigation by the ABI is expected to hold up in court, Houston said.
Conrad initially was accused of child sexual abuse dating back to 1999 of eight children ranging from 3 months to 8 years old at the time of the abuse.
Further investigation has called into question the legitimacy of some of those counts initially brought against Conrad, Houston said.
The evidence about alleged victims that the ABI obtained is based mainly on statements from victims who are now adults, he said.
Experts tackle child sex abuse problem
by Scott O'Connell
FRAMINGHAM — Sex abuse prevention experts on Tuesday called for systemic changes to the way educators, youth service workers and others fight the scourge of child molestation.
Speakers at the Massachusetts Citizens for Children's prevention summit at the Framingham Sheraton specifically advocated for more effective ways of reporting suspected abuse.
While the obstacles in the way of the effort to prevent the pervasive crimes can be discouraging, "we believe we're nearing a tipping point," said Jetta Bernier, the organization's Executive Director.
"My message to you this morning is let's make history today," she said to the approximately 100 attendees, many of whom work in schools, youth programs, or other child service roles.
The day-long summit, presented as an opportunity for professionals to network and discuss ways to fight child sex abuse, kicked off with a short video that provided statistics showing the magnitude of the problem, including the fact that there are 39 million people in the country who are victims of childhood sexual mistreatment.
A major contributor to that number are the inadequacies in the system established to address the issue, said keynote speaker Robert Shoop, co-founder of the School of Leadership Studies and Director of the Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership at Kansas State University.
"Agencies and organizations have not been set up in a way to systemically change," he said, adding that everything from teacher training to a culture of looking the other way has failed to instill in professionals a sense of responsibility to the children they serve.
Part of the problem, Shoop said, is that existing prevention measures may give a false sense of security. Background checks, for instance, can only identify employees who have been caught before. And policies against abuse and harassment, while intended to educate workers and students, often are too dense and inaccessible to be useful, and are not sufficiently taught.
Participants in a panel discussion immediately after Shoop's speech said there needs to be more done to encourage people to come forward with information about child mistreatment.
"I think we have to start thinking about how we can create a culture of disclosure," said Malia Arrington, Director of Ethics and Safe Sport for the U.S. Olympic Committee, who added children, not just adults, also need to be taught to report what they know is suspicious behavior.
More resources also must be dedicated to child sex abuse prevention, rather than the legal process that occurs after the crime has already been committed, panel members said.
"If we took a fraction of the money spent on litigation and spent it on prevention efforts instead, we'd be doing a much better service to children," said John Patterson, former Senior Program Director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center.
One of the potential solutions, said school administrator and education consultant Chester Kent, is for lawmakers to make abuse prevention more of a legislative priority, like it has been in Pennsylvania in the wake of the Penn State scandal.
"You need more of a blueprint from your state legislators that you can fit your actions into," he said.
Many speakers on Tuesday also said continued collaboration between professionals like the ones at that morning's summit is also a critical ingredient.
"This is an opportunity to form coalitions, because I don't think any one agency alone can do this," Shoop said.
Seminar being held Thursday to raise awareness about human trafficking as Super Bowl draws closer
by Jonathan Lin
What does Super Bowl 2014 have to do with human trafficking? As it turns out, a lot.
A seminar hosted by the NJ Office of the Attorney General and sponsored by CarePoint Health Foundation will be held on Thursday in Jersey City to raise awareness about human trafficking, especially in anticipation of the large throngs of people that the Super Bowl will bring to the area in February, according to assistant attorney general and chairman of the NJ Human Trafficking Task Force Tracy Thompson.
The large number of people will provide opportunities for human traffickers to do more business, Thompson said.
"(Human traffickers) think that they can get away with it and they think they'll make a lot of money," she said. "They know they're going to be around people who have a lot of money to spend. (Super Bowl tickets) aren't cheap."
Thompson went to great pains to emphasize that sex trafficking was only part of human trafficking - which also includes various forms of forced labor - and that stopping or preventing human trafficking was not about "arresting prostitutes," which she said could be considered "blaming the victim."
"This whole issue is about rescuing people who may be trafficked," she said, adding that many people are "on the verge" of becoming victims of human trafficking, especially those who are young, runaways, poor, or suffering from depression or low self-esteem.
Thompson said almost 200 victims of human trafficking have been identified in New Jersey since 2007, most of them women in the sex trafficking industry.
In May this past year, Gov. Chris Christie signed the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act into law, which among other measures, made persons who solicit sex from minors liable for a crime of the first degree, regardless of whether they knew the person they had sex with was a minor, according to the website of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
The seminar on Thursday will include a session of "Human Trafficking 101," which will detail what human trafficking is, what it looks like, why victims tend not to self-identify, and what strategies should be used to rescue victims of human trafficking, Thompson said.
The seminar is sold out.
It will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Duncan Family Sky Room at St. Peter's University at 2641 JFK Boulevard in Jersey City. Free parking will be available in the Armory Lot.
Agencies Say Child Sex Trafficking Has Grown Online
by Clark Fouraker
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Law enforcement agencies across South Carolina say the days of stop light street corners are gone, and that the child sex trafficking industry has grown online.
"Human trafficking is alive and well," said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson. "Modern day slavery exists in South Carolina. There are people right now who are being trafficked like a commodity and are being sold like cattle."
Pimps have been arrested at Midlands hotels in two recent cases for using online ads to traffick underage girls.
"Anyone can go to a website now and click and they can see pictures and there's services being offered," said Special Agent David Thomas "Then trying to figure out who those people are and tracking things down, it's not as simple as it used to be."
Thomas is the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's field office in Columbia. He says now, agents often have to run undercover operations to find human traffickers and that when they do, many times they find children are involved.
"If we find adult prostitutes there, we're going to ask if they know any children that are involved in this," Thomas said. "Historically, if there are, they'll tell you because they don't want to see kids exploited and doing that same thing they're doing."
In one of those cases, undercover agents used a Craigslist like website to arrange a meeting with a prostitute. When they arrived at the hotel room on Two Notch Road, they learned the girl was underage.
Months later, Richland County deputies used the same website to arrange a meeting at a different hotel on Two Notch Road. When they arrived, there was a 15 year old girl inside.
"What makes it one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world is: a drug trafficker gives you a drug and you give that trafficker money and then the drug trafficker has to find another drug to sell," Wilson said. "A human trafficker gives you a human, you give money, and they get the human back."
Wilson has pulled together a human trafficking task force to help combat the problem in South Carolina. He says they've brought in the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to strip a license from a business suspected of housing a trafficking ring.
"We've brought in civic groups. We've brought in non governmental groups. We've brought in members of the federal governments," Wilson said. "We're going to be developing techniques and tactics and procedures in a holistic way that's going to tackle not just the symptoms of the crime but the root cause of the crime."
FBI: Minn. Among Top 13 States for Sex Trafficking of Minors
by Todd Wilson
A hidden crime is growing in Minnesota. The FBI ranks Minnesota in the top 13 states for sex trafficking of minors. So why is this illicit business rampant here? Jeff Bauer of the Twin Cities based family Partnership Organization says, it's geography.
In 2011, the Minnesota State Court Administrator's Office reported 614 trafficking related charges and 390 trafficking related convictions.
It happens in cities from Minneapolis and St. Paul to Mankato and up to Duluth.
Joy Friedman says as a teenager she was forced into sex trafficking. "I was taken at the age of 15 by a pimp and two of his friends, and held captive in the basement and raped repeatedly," she said.
Friedman says for the next 22 years she lived every woman's nightmare, from here to Canada.
"I've been beaten by 2x4's, metal pipes, baseball bats, gasoline thrown on me, surrounded by 15 guys and left for dead," said Friedman.
The FBI ranks Minnesota in the top 13 states for sex trafficking of minors. So why is this illicit business rampant here? Jeff Bauer of Twin Cities based family Partnership Organization says it is geography.
"We've got the 94 corridor running up east to west through our state. You've got the 35 corridor running north and south through our state and so a lot of traffic comes through here," said Bauer.
Bauer says the traffickers are on a Midwest loop. The circuit is from Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee to Minneapolis, and since the oil boom, North Dakota.
Bauer's organization, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office and the Ambassador for the State Department's Anti-Human Trafficking Office were at The Women's Foundation of Minnesota Conference at the Minnesota History Museum to break down barriers to work together.
"The first step is to recognize that these are victims, they need help. And I think that's one of the things that's going to make this fight successful," Ambassador Luis CdeBaca said.
Friedman says by the grace of God she was able to break free. She wants other women to know there is a life beyond all that pain.
"I've regained everything, my family, my self respect, my self worth," she said.
Click here to learn more about the growing problem of sex trafficking in Minnesota.
Double standard: Society views female predators and their male victims differently (video)
Society views female predators and their male victims differently
by Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy
The exuberant comments were left on a story about a 27-year-old Catholic school teacher accused of raping a 14-year-old.
“Boy, did I go to the wrong schools!” said one. “I wish I had just ONE teacher like this!!!” said another. “I wish it happened to me when I was a teen in grade school,” said a third.
It's a sentiment unlikely to be expressed when the perpetrator is a man and the victim a teen or preteen girl. In this case, though, the roles were flipped: the former Archbishop Stepinac religion teacher in court was a woman, Amanda Iles, and her accuser a male student at the school.
It's a double standard brought by society, experts say, to female sex offenders — one that not only minimizes the victimization of young boys, who are left with lifelong emotional scars, but contributes to lighter sentences for the women involved.
In 2005, for example, Florida teacher Debra Lafave, who had a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old boy, received a sentence of house arrest for three years plus seven years' probation.
Locally in 2010, Beth Modica, a former Rockland County prosecutor who had sex with two underage boys, was released from state prison after spending 21 months behind bars.
“The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart touched on the sexual zeitgeist when he mocked a Washington state school teacher who, after seven years in prison for raping a 12-year-old student, married him. “I don't know his name,” Stewart said. “I'll call him ‘Lucky.' ”
According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, a project of the U.S. Department of Justice, in 1994, less than 1 percent of all incarcerated rape and sexual assault offenders were females — adult and juvenile, or fewer than 800 women.
By 1997, however, that number had climbed to 8 percent, with 6,292 females being arrested for forcible rape or other sex offenses for that year. By 2006, the FBI reported that females accounted for nearly 10 percent of sex crimes.
The Lower Hudson Valley has seen its share of female sexual predators.
Marisa Anton, a former New Rochelle school librarian, was sentenced to three years' probation earlier this year after pleading guilty to trying to seduce a 16-year-old student. Beth Modica's actions included having intercourse in her bed with a 16-year-old boy who was dating her daughter in 2007.
Hendrick Hudson High School teacher Marci Stein was found guilty of felony charges for having sex with a 16-year-old student and two others during tutoring sessions at her Montrose home between April 1999 and January 2000. She pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a minor, a misdemeanor, in 2005, but denied any sexual contact with the three boys. She was sentenced to a year in jail, but had already served that time by her sentencing.
Stephanie Gross of Mohegan Lake, a Lakeland High School teacher, was accused of having sex with a 16-year-old boy in May 2007. She pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation, and agreed to pay a $300 fine and serve one year of probation.
Still, such incidents are “severely underreported,” says Curtis St. John, a spokesman for MaleSurvivor, a support organization.
“It's hard enough for a boy or a man to come forward when the offender is a male,” said St. John, who was sexually abused as a 10-year-old boy by his male math tutor, a middle school teacher. “When it is a woman, society doesn't even let them (the boys) think of themselves as victims. There is this assumption that the boys were asking for it.”
High profile cases such as the one involving Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football assistant coach, have gone a long way in helping men come to terms with their experiences, said Richard Gartner, a New York-based psychotherapist and author of the book “Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse.”
Gartner said his private practice saw an uptick in male patients who had been sexually abused as children.
The online traffic to the website Malesurvivor.com, which has more than 11,000 registered users, doubled overnight after the Sandusky story broke, and doubled again the month of the trial, said St. John
With stories of illegal sexual contact between women and teens — particularly female high school teachers and students — getting media attention lately, more people are likely to come forward and report these cases, experts say.
“Boys are socialized to think of the abuse as sexual initiation,” said Gartner. But, “these cases have contributed to an increase in awareness of females as sex offenders.”
As for what drives the behavior among female offenders, particularly the frequently reported cases involving school teachers, both Walsh and Gartner theorize that it is a combination of low self-esteem, a desire for power and a chance for a high school do-over.
“Maybe she wasn't very popular in high school, and she's still stuck in that same place developmentally,” said Gartner.
Wendy Walsh, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist and relationship expert, and host of the Investigation Discovery series “Happily Never After,” said many of the women, who are still in their 20s, start seeing themselves as teenagers.
“It's not to rationalize their behavior, but it's the dynamics of hanging out all day in school, around lots of raging hormones,” said Walsh. “And add to that the notion that all men and boys want sex all the time.”
“They tend to minimize the crime and rationalize their behavior saying all boys want sex and it's a gift for them,” she said. “ It's the whole culture of ‘he scored.' ”
For the victims, the effects can be traumatic and devastating. From growing up with anger, depression, relationship issues and addiction, most never even relate their emotional issues with the abuse they endured.
It took St. John, now a Somers resident, two decades and many therapy sessions to finally see himself as a victim.
“I always thought, “It happened a long time ago, I am fine,” said St. John. “Meanwhile, I am on my second marriage, with two kids, and deeply unhappy. It was my second wife who encouraged me to talk about my experience with a therapist.”
In the Stepinac case, it was the boy's parents who alerted law enforcement officials. Investigators say they have photo and video evidence of the intimate nature of Iles' relationship with the boy. The case is pending.
“That was the right thing to do,” said St. John. “Listen to your children and believe your children. Perpetrators count on shame to help keep victims silent. As a male survivor you are not alone. Happiness and recovery is possible.”
“The parents need to convey to their children that they will not be judgmental or blame the kids for it,” said Gartner. “The earlier the victim discloses the abuse in a supportive environment, the more likely he will not have a bad outcome.”
Google, Microsoft Block Child Abuse Search Results
by SYLVIA HUI
Google and Microsoft have introduced software that makes it harder for users to search for child abuse material online, the companies said in a joint announcement Monday.
Writing ahead of a British summit on Internet safety, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt said his company has fine-tuned Google Search to clean up results for over 100,000 search terms. When users type in queries that may be related to child sexual abuse, they will find no results that link to illegal content.
"We will soon roll out these changes in more than 150 languages, so the impact will be truly global," Schmidt wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper.
The restrictions are being launched in Britain and other English-speaking countries first. Similar changes are being brought out on Microsoft's Bing search engine.
The two companies are sharing picture detection technology to identify child abuse photographs whenever they appear on their systems, and Google is also testing technology to identify and remove illegal videos.
Other measures include warnings at the top of Google search for more than 13,000 queries to make it clear that child abuse is illegal.
Schmidt acknowledged that no algorithm is perfect and Google cannot prevent pedophiles adding new images to the web.
Campaigners welcomed the move but doubted how much impact the changes would bring. Pedophiles tend to share images away from public search engines, they say.
"They don't go on to Google to search for images," said Jim Gamble, the former chief of Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center. "They go on to the dark corners of the Internet on peer-to-peer websites."
British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed there is more to be done, and said the next step was to go after the "dark net," where people secretly share images away from the public search engines.
His government announced Monday that its National Crime Agency is joining forces with the FBI to target pedophiles who use encrypted networks online.
Use sheriff's departments to investigate child abuse
by Roy Miller
During my four decades as an advocate and watchdog for children, I have seen the Legislature address problems facing the state's child welfare system time and again. And yet children continue to die under the watch of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Child protection investigators, or CPIs, are the heart of the current problem in child welfare. In Florida, CPIs are for the most part well-meaning, but they face an extremely difficult job. Unfortunately for the well-trained CPIs who are really good at what they do, there are high turnover rates because few incentives exist for them to continue in their job. In fact, at best CPIs have to view their job as a career path to a better position where they will not be underpaid and overworked with impossible case loads.
A new model is desperately needed. It needs to be based on what works — not mired in how things have always been done. Fortunately, there is such a model: Ask sheriff's departments to investigate reports of child abuse.
Child abuse investigations are conducted by sheriff's departments in six Florida counties: Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Seminole and Broward.
Recently, former Pinellas County Commissioner Sally Parks and I met with Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri to discuss what can be done to make the case for more sheriff's departments to assume child abuse investigations. We discussed the need for the governor, Legislature and Department of Children and Families to make the funding streams more realistic in amount and more predictable in annual distribution. I'm following up on his recommendation to reach out to other leaders in the Florida Sheriff's Association and have met with many of its representatives.
Sheriffs would provide more overall stability, and the quality and depth of investigations would improve because of the vast expertise in investigatory functions handled by sheriffs across the areas of their responsibility for ensuring public safety. The expansion of sheriffs' willing to take on child protective investigations is not the cure-all for child welfare, but it would address one of the main issues driving the system toward a breaking point.
To successfully transform the damaged system, other equally insistent needs must be addressed, including: access to mental health and substance abuse treatment for families involved with DCF, and services for children with disabilities.
Again, it is a problem of resources. Failure to provide services that can help families cope with mental health, substance abuse and disability issues will only perpetuate the cycle that leads to DCF intervention in the first place. If the state does not devote the resources and funding to protect children while they are at their most vulnerable, tragedies will continue to rock the state's child welfare system and more young lives will be devastated or lost.
Roy Miller, who lives in Seminole, is president and founder of The Children's Campaign, an advocacy and watchdog group in Tallahassee, now celebrating 20 years of service to children. He wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.
New approach to child abuse cases discussed
Clark County played key role in study.Short-term costs may put pressure on program believed to provide long-term benefits.
by Tom Stafford
SPRINGFIELD — A new, less confrontational approach to working with families on child neglect and abuse cases may help build stronger families and avoid expensive out-of-family placements in the long run.
But a preliminary report presented here Monday also indicates short-term costs might be higher, a reality that could put budget pressure on the emerging approach that soon will be practiced in all 88 Ohio counties.
Two representatives from the Oregon-based Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) reported their findings of Ohio's Six County Alternative Response Project during a meeting a the Courtyard by Marriott.
Their presence in Springfield recognized the lead role Clark County's human services community has played in the past five years in advancing national research and development of the the so-called Differential Response program.
Nancy Mahoney, whose local career has spanned 40 years, was individually recognized for her role.
The study discussed Monday was one of three conducted nationwide. In it, Clark County took the lead in working with Champaign, Madison and Montgomery counties. The study also included Richland and Summit counties.
HSRI's Linda Newton-Curtis said the so-called Differential Response model consists of two approaches.
The first, called the Traditional Response, is to view child welfare cases as investigations in which social workers “really go out to see who the perpetrator was (and) who the victim was.”
The second, termed the Alternative Response, focuses instead on what services social workers can provide to families “so the partnership between the worker and the family might be helpful to the families.”
A Traditional Response is legally required in more serious cases involving allegations of suspected fatalities, homicides, sexual abuse or other serious harm to the child.
For the purposes of the 18-month study, counties added their own criteria for deciding which cases should be handled traditionally and which were low risk enough to qualify for the Alternative Response.
The ones qualifying for Alternative Response then were randomly treated in the traditional or alternative and researchers tried to look at any differences in the final outcome.
HSRI found no statistical difference in the family's reports of how they were treated nor a difference in the protection given a child.
The one significant difference the study found was that families said they'd be more likely to call a social worker for help in the future if a need arose.
“As you spend more time with families, they're opening up,” suggested Stefania Falke, intake supervisor in Clark County.
The study reported specific costs of the traditional and alternative approaches for just two counties, rural Champaign and urban Stark, where Akron is located.
Although the Champaign County costs actually were lower for the alternative than traditional cases, the Stark results showed the opposite.
HSRI's Julie Murphy warned the results should be “viewed with caution,” and it's presumed that longer case times reported in the combined results of the six counties will result in higher costs for the alternative approach.
The median average showed that alternative cases last 59 days to the 40 of traditional cases, a result that was statistically significant.
Clark County was the outlier in the study. Perhaps because of its greater experience with the new approach, its case workers spent essentially the same time on either kind.
Jennifer Justice, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' Office of Families and Children, said longer studies show what the shorter study does not: “Costs up front may be slightly higher, but over the long term, there's a cost savings. It's not a ton, but it's a cost savings.”
She said that follow up studies also showed “statistically significant lower levels” of serious problems and “significantly fewer” reports of new problems of any kind.
“That's huge for us,” she said.
In addition, she said, “The removals (of children from families) and out of home placements were lower.”
That's important because those are the most costly methods of treatment.
The Differential Response model will be in place in all 88 Ohio counties by June.
Members propose resolution for university to change child abuse policy directions
by Brett Samuels
A resolution was introduced during Monday's Student Association meeting that would urge Syracuse University employees to change its policy directions for reporting suspected child abuse.
SA Recorder Nick Bonafilia and Nedda Sarshar, a freshman English and textual studies major, presented the resolution to the assembly. The resolution would suggest that SU employees face disciplinary action, including termination, if they didn't report signs of child abuse.
Bonafilia added that several universities re-examined their policies on reporting child abuse after the Pennsylvania State University sexual abuse scandal.
Assembly members discussed the possibility of changing the proposal to include those 17 and older because it would include the majority of SU students. But Bonafilia said there are privacy issues that come along with raising the age, with 17 being chosen because it is the age of consent in New York state. The assembly will vote on the resolution at the next meeting.
In addition, the Academic Affairs Committee discussed several of its current initiatives with the assembly.
Taylor Bold, the committee chair, told the assembly that his proposal to create an Arabic minor was rejected but he said he was planning on getting students who are in favor of the minor together to show the committee how much support there is for the idea.
Sarshar informed the assembly on the progress of the Information Technology and Services Advisory Board, and said university representatives had been very receptive to SA's ideas. She added they currently meet once a month, but are looking to meet more frequently.
She also talked about the possibility of implementing grammar components into WRT 105: “Practices of Academic Writing” and WRT 205: “Critical Research and Writing.”
One final concern brought up was the fact that there is no undergraduate student representation on the University Senate Academic Affairs Committee. Bold said Parliamentarian Ben Jones applied to be on the committee, but was rejected because undergraduate students aren't allowed on the committee.
“It's a clear violation of student voice on campus,” Bold said. “Ben is absolutely qualified and I think it's ridiculous.”
Finally, SA will be providing buses at the end of the week from campus to the regional transportation center and airport, as well as to several major cities including Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.
Child Advocacy Center making a difference for victims of sexual abuse
by Tim Goff
WATERVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- In the year and a half the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) of Kennebec and Somerset Counties has been in operation, they have helped more than 300 victims of sexual abuse and their families seek justice, as well as services and support.
Now the center has become the first nationally accredited CAC in Maine.
"Maine, prior to now, was the only state in the nation that didn't have an accredited Child Advocacy Center," stated Donna Strickler, Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center. "Today certainly marks a new day in the beginning of enhancing these services for children and families."
The CAC gives law enforcement, staff from the District Attorney's Office, mental health and social workers and Child Protective Services a place where they can work together to interview a victim, gather information and collaborate on their investigation into the child's allegations while only needing to conduct one interview.
"The mission of our Children's Advocacy Center is to provide a safe, neutral, and child centered place for this coordinated evaluation of children following an allegation of sexual abuse," she explained.
A victim is brought into the center and interviewed by an expert in the field while representatives from a variety of agencies watch on a closed circuit monitor in an adjacent room. This process helps reduce the additional trauma that can be inflicted by having a child recount their abuse numerous times and allows these groups to work together to provide the support the child needs.
"This program has streamlined and strengthened the relationships between law enforcement, child protective services, mental health and sexual assault crisis services and the District Attorney's Office around the investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse cases," said Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey of the Waterville Police Department.
Advocates for victims of sexual assaults say more centers like this one are needed and are optimistic that the groundwork has been laid to create them.
The Children's Advocacy Center of Kennebec and Somerset Counties is in the midst of raising money to support its mission, and has been the beneficiary of a matching grant that will match dollar for dollar up to the first $10,000 the center is able to raise.
Parents should read their children's mobile phones more often to prevent sexual abuse, report warns
Parents are leaving their children at risk of sexual abuse because they don't check the messages they receive on their mobile phones, a report has warned.
More than half of parents - 56 per cent - thought it was 'most intrusive' to check on texts youngsters aged between nine and 14 had received.
But the study into child sex exploitation found that paedophiles often try to contact children through their mobile phones rather than their computers.
Smartphones are now a 'key tool' used by sex offenders targeting children, according to Parents Against Child Exploitation, which commissioned the study along with Virtual College's Safeguarding Children e-academy.
Seven out of 10 professionals believed a lack of knowledge and engagement among parents was the most significant barrier in the fight against child sexual exploitation, the report found.
The study was based on two YouGov surveys of 945 professional staff, including more than 200 police officers, 226 social workers and 510 teachers, and 750 parents with at least one child aged nine to 17.
It follows a crackdown announced by Microsoft and Google on internet searches for horrific photographs and videos, which Prime Minister David Cameron hailed as 'real progress against the absolute evil of child abuse'.
Half of professionals - 51 per cent - believed parents do not have the right information needed to keep their children safe from sexual exploitation, while 53 per cent thought families did not understand what child sexual exploitation entails.
Nearly nine out of 10 parents - 87 per cent - said that there had been no education about sex abuse at their children's school.
One in 10 parents admitted they did not know enough about child sexual exploitation, while four out of 10 said they were not confident they would recognise the difference between normal adolescent behaviour and key indicators that a child is being sexually exploited.
Pace chief executive Gill Gibbons said: 'It's time to bring parents out of the shadows and into the centre of the picture. We need to build more awareness across all communities, with a stronger statutory focus on working with parents.'
Former children's minister Tim Loughton said: 'It is particularly crucial that parents are better educated and better engaged in protecting their own children.
'The huge attention given to the prolific crimes of celebrities such as Jimmy Savile should not detract from the fact that most child sexual exploitation happens at the hands of ordinary criminals targeting ordinary children from all sorts of backgrounds and mostly living at home.
'Schools must redouble their efforts to include parents in the battle against the perpetrators of CSE at an early stage and no one must be under any illusion that this could never happen to their children.'
Yesterday Mr Cameron said the expertise of eavesdropping agency GCHQ will be used to 'go after' paedophiles that exploit hidden parts of the internet.
New software will be introduced to automatically block 100,000 'unambiguous' search terms which lead to illegal content on the two search engines, and Britain's National Crime Agency will join forces with America's FBI in a new transatlantic task force to target paedophiles who use encrypted networks online.
Stigma impacts sexual assault reports
by Elpin Keshishzadeh
One in 10 young adults between the ages of 14 and 21 have been a perpetrator to an act of sexual violence at least once, according to a recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association .
Although someone in the U.S. experiences sexual violence every 2 minutes, about 60 percent of these assaults are often left unreported, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network.
“We live in a society in which gendered violence is so normalized and sometimes even glorified,” Women's Studies Assistant professor Anh Hua said. “Much healing is needed for the perpetrators as well as the survivors of gendered violence. We have failed to revere, honor, value and respect women, elders and even children at the local, national and global levels.”
Last year, 21 forcible sexual offense cases were reported to the San Diego State Police Department, according to the annual SDSUPD crime report. Twelve of these cases took place on campus.
Considering these statistics, French sophomore Alicia Winokur said violence may be an understated problem on campus.
“It is a huge problem on campus, but it is underreported,” Winokur said. “With the number that the university has reported, there is no way that's accurate on a campus with 30,000 students.”
The majority of sexually violent cases occur between people with a preexisting relationship, and most of these cases involve the consumption of alcohol, the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities Director Lee Mintz said.
“If students choose to consume alcohol, they should make sure that they are not consuming so much that their awareness, judgment, or ability to give proper consent is hindered,” Mintz said. “All students should be wary of accepting drinks that are handed to them … incidents where students have been given an impairing substance in their drink have occurred.”
The misconception that sexual violence occurs in a dark alley with a stranger instead of with someone you know, care about and trust makes the situation harder to accept and even more difficult to report, Winokur said.
Hua explains that the stigma surrounding sexual violence stemmed from negative connotations regarding the victimization of the survivor.
“No one wants to be perceived as a victim. It is important to break that silence around gendered violence and create a collective public space of healing, in particular for women and young girls, to share their stories and experiences,” Hua said.
As for the definition of consent, Hua said that “no” does not have a double meaning, as it is often perceived in sexual violence cases.
“The biggest part is being able to define rape much better because most people on campus don't know,” Andrea O'Donnell Womyn's Outreach Association president and sociology junior Kaia Los Huertos said. ”Someone talking you into having sex, someone asking numerous times and you said ‘no,' except the last time you said ‘yes,' that's not consent. It is really important to have conversations about consent, because the biggest problem is that consent isn't a black-and-white thing.”
SDSUPD and the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities partnered up to spread education about sexual violence on campus, but given its size and location, precautionary actions were advised.
“We recognize the importance of engaging the community through proactive education in an effort to reduce the chances of victimization in these cases,” SDSUPD Lt. Joshua Mays said. ”The campus is in the middle of an active, urban area and we encourage all students to take the necessary precautions such as reporting suspicious activity to police, utilizing the safety escort service, not engaging in alcohol or drug use, attending parties with friends and developing a plan before going out.”
In the event of a sexual violence act, it's encouraged to report the occurrence to either SDSUPD or Mintz, in the case that the survivor does not wish to press criminal charges.
“Any survivor of sexual misconduct is not alone. There are many people at the university, myself included, that care greatly for any and all students and wish to help navigate the process of reporting, counseling, living arrangements, classes and other issues that may arise,” Mintz said.
Do you believe in rehabilitation? I do.
Rehabilitation has been a theme in both my work and personal life lately. Rehabilitation has to do with the belief that a habitual human being can make a change in their life. They can break the mold of their past: genes, family, friends, vices, culture, etc.
In case you didn't know, we can literally change our genes. A simple example of this is… let's say you are born with the gene that gives you lung cancer but you choose not to smoke, you can turn off that gene or keep it from turning on with your decision not to smoke (one of several decisions that could affect this gene). We not only have our own unique genetic code, we also have switches for each set of genes. We can switch our genes on and off depending on our choices and experiences.
The whole nature vs. nurture debate is dumped on its head when we consider this. Not that we can magically have a gene we were never born with, but we can reinvent ourselves by our actions and experiences. This is why I believe that scientists have found that genes have a lot more to do with criminal behavior than culture or upbringing. What they may be failing to recognize is that our experiences can change our genes, switching them on or off. We can also rewire our brains by breaking and reconnecting neurons based on our experiences and how we choose to respond to them.
This is why some children that are victims of molestation can become child molesters in adulthood, while others become fearful of sexual intimacy and/or sexualizing a child. This is why some boys who are exposed to violence during their upbringing can become violent when dealing with difficult situations, while others become passive or depressed when confronted with a conflict. These are just two extreme responses one can have to those traumatic experiences.
Imagine the trillions of sets of genes on the planet that make up each individual and the multitude of experiences and reactions those individuals can have… The possibilities are endless.
But there are patterns, because we are social creatures with many similarities. We are also creatures of habit. We are pattern seeking as well. That is why we have the social sciences to try to better understand the confusion we have about human behavior.
There is a lot of misinformation about this topic. It is not easy to “change our genes” or to “rewire our brains.” I know from personal experience and from reading sociological journals – where study after study discusses the complexity of social problems and how we can fix them – that it is an internal battle with external obstacles.
Where is our compassion for the human condition? It is easy to be on the outside looking in. It is easy to say what you would do in a situation if you have not experienced it. It is even easier to assume that you would know how the individual felt in that situation if you did experience it.
I have been to many counselors. Many of them would say, “Wow, you have experienced a lot. You had two parents that were physically abusive. A father you watched physically and verbally abuse your mother. You were molested. You were indoctrinated. You were psychologically and verbally abused. You moved all over the country. You taught yourself at times, because your mother was too depressed to homeschool you. You were in private schools, public schools. New schools every year. You were bullied in elementary school for being different and being the new girl. You were sexually harassed by boys from middle school into adulthood. Your mom was an alcoholic when you were 12 years old, after years of being severely depressed. Your mom left without saying good-bye at age 14 years old. You had to leave your father's house because he neglected you by staying out all hours with different women and stalking your mother. He also became more physically abusive to you after your mother left. You moved in with your grandmother who was also psychologically and verbally abusive. You moved out at age 17 and struggled financially. You were raped by a close friend when you were 20 years old. Etc… You have done so well and have such a good head on your shoulders, in spite of it all.”
What most people do not understand is that I struggled every day as a child to keep my sanity. I still struggle. I am scarred by my experiences. It takes me reaching inside and outside of myself for help every day to move forward. I had many opportunities to make the wrong decisions and sometimes I did. I broke the law. I drank too much. I acted out. During a period of time, I stopped being responsible. I skipped school in high school. I ran away. I changed my hair, my identity and sometimes even my personality to get away from the pain.
I was born lucky though. I was given a strong-will, an unconditional love for people, the ability to forgive, a survivor instinct, the ability to learn and adapt easily, verbal and written communication skills and an intellect that could see things objectively. Most of all, I was given hope and the ability to visualize what could be, instead of focusing on what was. I did not earn these. They were gifts I was given. I was suicidal at times, and I almost gave up many times. But my will to live and have my life mean something always won. I had good friends and mentors. I had access to knowledge that encouraged me. While there was abuse in my family, there was a lot of intelligence and resources. I had faith in something beyond myself.
Am I special because I am not a high school dropout? Because I could have been… Am I special because I did not go to prison? Because I could have… Am I special because I never became an addict? Because I could have… Am I special because I never got violent? Because I could have…
I almost married a Mormon when I was younger, and I converted for him. I had known him since I was 14 years old, and he supported me during the trials in my youth. I did not make a great Mormon, so we parted ways. But there is a Mormon scripture that has stuck with me since that time in my life, which I think applies to what I am writing here:
“For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being , even God, for all the substance which we have …” (Mosiah 4:19)
Early in the scripture it talks about loving one another and giving to those in need. It says that we should not withhold from those in need because they are at fault for the condition they are in. According to the scripture, it is a sin to judge others and not help them because we think they deserve what they are going through or that it is justice. We are supposed to help them anyway.
Whether or not you believe in God or have a religion or spirituality is not important. Sometimes nature, experiences or other people can be god to us. We are not always responsible for the punishments or rewards we receive. We are not always in control of what happens to us. We are not always in control of our brains or our genes and how they react to what life throws us. We can do our best to use the resources we were given to overcome our challenges, but at some point in our lives, we all need help.
I am not saying you should help others to the detriment of yourself. I am saying that you should help others, because you were or will be helped. Whether you were born with good genes, had a teacher that inspired you, a loving parent or friend, a God that gave you comfort in prayer, a brain that wouldn't quit, a heart that persevered, etc. You overcame because of what you were given. I am not saying it did not take an effort on your part or that it was not difficult. But you could not have done it without the gifts that were given to you.
In my mind, rehabilitation depends on how much help you have, inside you and outside of you, in spite of the obstacles that get in your way. You have no control over what you are given. You can only work with what you have. Control is the only thing we never have. We can only act to the best of our abilities within the context we are bound by.
Next time you think… “He won't ever change. I went through that or my friend went through that and they never acted like him.” The next time you think… “She is getting what she deserves. She doesn't deserve sympathy or a second chance.” The next time you think… “I would have never done what they did.” Think about what you have and what they have. Think about the times you failed because of the lack of internal skill or external support.
Think of what you would give, because are we not all beggars? I believe we can change by being grateful for what we are given and giving what we have. Rehabilitation is difficult, but possible, and it takes a society willing to love and help one another to make it real.
Evil exists. But it's love that prevails.
Arrests shine light into murky world of child pornography
by Michael Salter
The arrest of 348 suspected members of a child pornography network has garnered headlines around the world, especially in countries where mass arrests have been made. In Australia, the Federal Police have described the three-year international police investigation, codenamed Operation Spade, as one of the largest of its kind ever conducted.
The swoop netted 108 people in Canada, 76 in the United States and 164 in other countries from Spain to Australia, where 65 people were arrested. In the UK, newspapers reported that “hundreds” of men suspected of accessing child pornography had been missed despite Canadian police having reported them to the British authorities two years ago.
The abuse network was based in Canada where film company and website Azvofilms.com advertised supposedly “naturalist” or “artistic” videos and photos of boys. The company sold material that involved the sexual exploitation of boys, primarily from Romania and Ukraine. Canadian police have stated that the site made more than A$4 million and received more than three million hits before it was shut down in 2011.
Those arrested in Australia include teachers, serving and former priests, and a former police officer. They have been charged with 399 offences including accessing, possessing, producing and distributing online child abuse material. In the course of the investigation, authorities uncovered other abuse material that was manufactured by men in Australia.
It has been reported that six Australian children were abused in the production of the material and they have now been removed from harm, along with 380 other children around the world.
The international distribution of child abuse material has been a topic of public concern since at least the 1970s. Russia and ex-Soviet states have commonly been identified as the source of abuse images of caucasian-looking children. The absence of legal protections and enforcement against child sexual exploitation is a serious issue in a number of countries.
However there has been a lack of recognition of the link between child abuse and images of child abuse in Western countries. The stereotype of the “child pornography collector” was very influential in the 1980s and 1990s and led many to assume that men viewing such material were driven by an obssessive desire to “collect” and “possess” it.
These “collectors” were placed in a category distinct from men who commit “contact” (that is, physical) sexual offences against children. Hence the possibility that men viewing child abuse material might also be manufacturing it has at times gone unexamined by investigators.
More than 30 years ago, police records noted the reports of some abused children that photos and videos were made of their abuse. This material was not necessarily produced to be circulated but instead for other purposes, such as blackmailing and controlling the child.
However, since the abuse material of the time involved physical copies of photos or video, production was harder to track and the material was easier to hide. A man first charged with sexual offences was in effect forewarned and could dispose of abuse material prior to any subsequent police search.
As a result, reports of victimisation through child abuse material were often difficult to substantiate but easy to disbelieve. In the 1980s and 1990s, sociologist Philip Jenkins was one of a number of academic commentators claiming that concern about “child pornography” was an overblown moral panic, and that demand for child abuse material was a minor social issue.
However, when Jenkins began a research project in the late 1990s to debunk public concern about child abuse material on the internet, he was forced to reverse his position when confronted with the widespread availability and severity of online abuse material.
The internet makes child abuse material more accessible but also more visible. It also opens up new opportunities to investigate the crime. As we search the internet we leave trails of data behind that can be logged and tracked. Those with the technical knowledge can of course mask their online activities but very few internet users have those skills. The internet has come to serve as a record of individual and collective sexual interests, legal and illegal.
But as some forms of sexual abuse become more visible, others remain in the shadows. I've interviewed adult Australians who report that their abuse as a child was recorded through video or photos, often by an abusive parent or relative. Some told me that these images were still being used to keep them silent.
Such material is unlikely to make its way onto the internet, but instead has been manufactured with the apparent intention of ensuring the lifelong compliance of the victim. The survivors who spoke to me were at times intensely worried about the safety of children in their extended families but faced ongoing challenges in bringing these concerns to the attention of the authorities.
The intersection of child abuse and child abuse material is now much better acknowledged, and forms of abuse once considered rare or unlikely are firmly on the law enforcement agenda. This stronger consensus in turn has enabled increased law enforcement co-operation of the kind seen in Operation Spade. However, for two decades prior to the rise of the internet, victim reports of child abuse material were easily marginalised and even dismissed.
This raises questions about those forms of abuse that haven't made it to public awareness yet and how receptive we are as a community to those survivors.
Author's books detail human trafficking
by Amanda Hopkins
Carol Knuth knows everyone has a story to tell.
“Memories and ideas for structuring the story come to me on long walks. I learned to carry paper and pencil wherever I went, ready for inspiration to strike,” she said.
After attending a conference in Cincinnati on human trafficking, the Kenton County resident noticed that many people who were working as victim's advocates did not know much about the victims themselves.
“I found I was spending a great deal of my time explaining the victims they were trying to help so the victims/survivors would be better served. Writing the heart of a victim of abuse is more far reaching,” Knuth said.
To better serve the victims of human trafficking, Knuth wrote her first book “The Garbage Bag Girl” in 2012 and wrote the follow up “Rhodes Home” published this past August; both books follow foster teen Emma Snow as she struggles with homelessness and other troubles.
“The limited knowledge of the victims they are helping surprised me. It was then I knew I was to write this story, inspired by some of the events in my childhood, to help not only those in advocacy fields such as the FBI, but all fields, teachers, and the community understand the heart of these children – the sadness, fear, hope, and anger they use to protect their bruised hearts,” Knuth said.
According to Knuth, human trafficking is considered a form of modern-day slavery.
The Kentucky Rescue and Restore publishes a quarterly report on the human trafficking identified in Kentucky. According to the report 52 percent of the cases were of sex trafficking and half of the victims were minors. The average age for a child forced, or coerced, into human trafficking is 13 years of age.
“It is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and generates billions of dollars annually. Victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of labor or services, such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will,” Knuth said.
She said traffickers typically use violence to control their victims and may have bruises from restraints on their necks, wrists or ankles.
“Modern day slavery is a concern for an entire community and requires a community wide effort eliminate it.”
Knuth said her books will shed light on who traffickers really are and that most of the time they are not strangers but rather a neighbor, a trusted friend or even a family member.
Her next project is a book that will be considered the prequel to her first book “The Garbage Bag Girl.” She is also working on a book that she describes as a coming of age for women.
“Women are more alike than they realize professionally and in matters of the heart. The story is a journey of finding oneself by finding a place of stillness and trusting in ones' own inner voice,” Knuth said. “A journey of self, of facing fears, and learning to trust oneself enough to embrace life, and perhaps even love again”
To learn more about Carol Knuth and her work, visit http://carolknuthauthor.wordpress.com/
Her latest book, “Rhodes Home” and her first book “The Garbage Bag Girl” are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Glenn Beck Radio show
Glenn explains how an undercover federal agent opened his eyes to the horrors of child sex trafficking
2 videos on site
Glenn began the radio program this morning with a startling story about child sex trafficking. There are nearly 2 million children trapped in sex slavery worldwide, and Glenn encouraged his listeners to become a part of the “new abolitionist” movement by supporting Operation Underground Railroad – a group of former CIA, FBI, Navy SEALs, and Green Berets who travel the globe freeing children from an inconceivable fate.
Glenn first learned of the Operation Underground Railroad when a longtime friend of his revealed the truth about his identity: He is a federal agent who works to free children from international trafficking rings. While his friend explained that the United States government is leading the global fight against such atrocities, resources are still limited. Operation Underground Railroad is a private organization that devotes 100% of its resources to “liberate enslaved children and dismantle the criminal networks.”
One harrowing example involved a 5-year-old boy and his 10-year old sister who were smuggled across the U.S./Mexico border each weekend. They were forced to attend “drug cartel parties,” where they were “horribly abused” and used as “sex toys.” Fortunately, these children were saved.
“A miracle did happen because my friend was onto this ring… He goes to these parties. He goes to these different countries, and he poses as a rich American that is buying children to bring them back into the United States to sell them into slavery here. And so he was at this party and he said, ‘I want that one and that one and that one and that one.' And as soon as the money changed hands, [federal agents] drop out of the ceiling and they save the children,” Glenn explained. “The little boy was confused. As my friend went to go grab him, he thought he was one of the monsters then he ran to the [agents]. When [they] explained to him that he was the guy who led the team, the little boy ran to my friend and grabbed onto his neck and [my friend] said, ‘Glenn, he wouldn't let go.'”
One of the most vulnerable areas in the world for these crimes is actually in the Unite States. A stretch of the border between Arizona and Mexico is virtually lawless and seldom policed by either country, allowing an easy access point for traffickers.
“Phoenix is now the kidnap capital of the world. Do you know that? More than Bogota, Colombia. Phoenix, Arizona. What do you think happens to these children,” Glenn asked somberly. “The evil that is on our border is not just on our border. It's all around the country and all around the world… These kids are kidnapped from our country and they are shipped all around the world.”
Glenn explained that his friend showed him a file filled with photos of American citizens who are missing. Incredibly, the man explained that the U.S. government actually knows where most of these people are.
One of the reasons Glenn's friend opened up to him about his identity is because he needs help. He attempted to pitch a major television network a show that would focus on the stories and rescues of some of these children. The network was only concerned with telling the story – not saving the children – so Glenn's friend picked up his things and walked out of the meeting. Given Glenn's platform with TheBlaze TV, his friend came to him. Unfortunately, Glenn simply does not have the money or resources to produce a show – a reality that has been hard to swallow.
“He came to me and I said to him, ‘I don't have that kind of money.' And so we have gone back and forth in my own company this summer trying to figure out exactly how we could do this, and we can't,” Glenn said emotionally. “And maybe someday we will be able to do it, but the important thing is that we rescue the children, as many as we possibly can.”
Instead, Glenn called on his audience to help get the message out about the work of this organization. “I would like to introduce you to a website called OperationUndergroundRailroad.org, and I would like you to bring this to your churches and I would like you to inform yourself and others, as many as you can,” he said. “I'd like you to put this on your Facebook and I'd like you to tweet this… I think there are great and powerful blessings to anybody who can help free these children.”
“Operation Underground Railroad will show you exactly how they are going to rescue these children and what it will take, but we need your tax-free dollars… If you are looking for something that is important and you believe you can help, would you please, a dollar, or anything you can, or at least just spread the word,” Glenn said emphatically. “I don't think there is anything more important than this… It may be one of the reasons why you were born.”
Learn more about Operation Underground Railroad HERE.
Boyle Heights Girl, 3, Rescued From Alleged Kidnapper ‘In The Nick Of Time'
BOYLE HEIGHTS (CBSLA.com) — Neighbors of a 3-year-old alleged kidnap victim say she was rescued “in the nick of time” Saturday evening in Boyle Heights. Police found the girl nearly naked and being held by a man believed to be in his mid to late 40s. The man was nude at the time of his arrest. The little girl was held for nearly three hours but after being examined at a hospital, officials determined she was not sexually molested.
The alleged kidnapping occurred in the 3200 block of Malabar Street. CBS2's Art Barron, reporting from the scene, spoke to neighbors who said the little girl was rescued “in the nick of time.” “It's shocking and heartless,” said one neighbor, “You can imagine what every parent feels.”
Barron found many neighbors shaking their head in disgust. The girl was being held in a small workshop/garage across the street from where she had last been seen Saturday evening.Neighbors told Barron the little girl was playing with other children at a baby shower.Edwin Bojas and his wife hosted the baby shower at their house. After the girl turned up missing, a frantic search was begun.“After about two hours and 45 minutes, they opened the garage and found the baby there and the guy, too,” said Bojas.
When a man found out his daughter was missing, he literally went crazy, one neighbor said. “He started socking the ground.” “I'm sad for the little girl, and worried about my kids, all the kids,” said Ayde Angulano, a mother of three. Police did not reveal the suspect's name but said he was a handyman familiar with the location. The suspect had visible bruising and cuts to his face.
LAPD Detective Stan Young explained that the suspect resisted arrest and that he was not cooperative.The girl's mother told friends that she was relieved her daughter is okay. Barron quotes what she told her friends, “Thanks God, nothing happened to her.”
LAPD Asking For Public's Help To Find Missing 24-Year-Old Man
(picture on site)
RESEDA (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Police Department is asking for the public's help to find a missing 24-year-old.
Brian Anderson is described as bipolar and depressed. Anderson takes various medications and is in need of on-going medical care, says his family.
The missing man was last seen Tuesday around 9:30 p.m. in the 7800 block of Chimineas Avenue in Reseda, officials said.
Anderson is white with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a blue V-neck T-shirt, blue shorts and black sandals.
A photo of missing Brian Anderson. (credit: LAPD)
He was last seen driving a black 2008 Honda Element with California license 6BRR961.
Anyone who has seen Anderson is asked to call the LAPD's West Valley Division at (818) 374-7611.