National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery


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

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

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

June, 2014 - Week 1
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.

From ICE

57 convicted sex offenders arrested in Southland ICE enforcement surge

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested 57 foreign nationals with prior convictions for sex offenses during a three-day operation targeting criminal alien sex offenders in the Los Angeles area.

During the enforcement effort, which concluded late Wednesday, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers assigned to the agency's Fugitive Operations Teams sought to locate and take custody of deportable alien sex offenders in six Southland counties - Los Angeles (31), San Bernardino (11), Riverside (8), Orange (4), Ventura (2) and Santa Barbara (1). The majority of those arrested were Mexican citizens (38), but the group also included nationals of El Salvador (8), the Philippines (4), Honduras (2), Guatemala (2), Vietnam (1), Samoa (1) and Panama (1).

"One of ICE's top immigration enforcement priorities is arresting and removing individuals who pose a threat to public safety and, by any measure, convicted sex offenders fit that description," said David W. Jennings, field office director for ERO Los Angeles. "Everyone should rest easier knowing these individuals are off our streets. We will use every tool and resource at our disposal to help ensure they don't endanger our communities again."

Among those arrested during the three-day enforcement action was Victor Manuel Rodriguez, a previously deported convicted rapist from Mexico. ERO officers took Rodriguez into custody Monday in Hesperia. Convicted of rape in California in 1999, the 38-year-old was removed to Mexico following his prison term, but returned to the U.S. illegally. Rodriquez is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for felony re-entry after deportation, a violation that carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. He made his initial appearance in federal court Wednesday.

Also taken into custody during the operation was a Samoan man, now residing in Long Beach, who has a prior conviction for committing lewd acts upon a child. Arrested Tuesday, the 49-year-old is being held by ICE without bond pending the outcome of removal proceedings. Likewise, ERO officers located and detained a 24-year-old Filipino man in Oxnard Tuesday who was convicted last year of sending obscene material to a minor. He is being held in ICE custody without bond pending removal proceedings.

ERO has nine Fugitive Operations Teams deployed in the Los Angeles area – four in Los Angeles County, two in the Inland Empire, two based in Ventura County and one in Orange County. The teams are responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives. The teams give top priority to cases involving individuals who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.



Child welfare laws eliminate 'chain of command' reporting of suspected abuse

by Brian C. Rittmeyer

“I told my boss” will no longer fly when it comes to Pennsylvania teachers and other school employees reporting suspected cases of child abuse.

Educators will have to call the state's child abuse hotline first, rather than telling an administrator or superior.

Eliminating “chain of command” reporting is among numerous changes being made to the state's child abuse and child welfare laws in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

A total of 20 bills, including a complete rewrite of the definition of child abuse, have been signed into law since late 2013. Many of the changes, including those that directly affect schools, go into effect on Dec. 31.

“This is the first comprehensive improvement and update of the child protective services law in more than two decades,” said Greg Grasa, executive director of the Children and Youth Committee in the state House of Representatives.

Gov. Tom Corbett established a task force on child protection in early 2012. In November of that year, the task force gave the General Assembly a report with recommendations that have been the basis for the legislation that has been enacted as recently as early May.

“We were asking for a state-level task force before Jerry Sandusky was even on folks' radar,” said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice, a nonprofit based in Bernville, Bucks County. “We've known for a long time that Pennsylvania's laws and its practices were not as protective and not as child-focused as they could be.

“The level of energy and attention that has occurred in the last two years with the task force, I can't say anything but, wow, we are in a different place,” she said.

School districts will be required to update their policies, procedures and training to reflect the laws. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association will provide recommended policy updates to districts during the next couple of months, said Katherine Fitz-Patrick, deputy general counsel for the association.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association, a union representing teachers, took no position on the law changes, spokesman Wythe Keever said.

“We support all efforts to improve child safety in school environments,” he said. “We'll work with our members to help them understand their responsibilities under the law and help them comply.

“Keeping children safe in the school environment is a top priority for our members. We're going to tell them to comply with the law,” he said.

In addition to changing how teachers report abuse, the laws include ensuring that child abuse inside a school is handled no differently than it is outside of a school.

School employees will be held to uniform standards that exist for any other case of child abuse, Grasa said. The legal threshold of what constitutes child abuse will no longer be higher in schools than other settings.

“We had this nonsensical approach to suggesting that child abuse is somehow different based on the setting in which it happens or the person who is doing the abuse,” Palm said. “That's changing. We're now viewing it from a child's perspective. We're going to treat it the same.

“Abuse is abuse no matter the setting and no matter the perpetrator,” Palm said.

A one-year statute of limitations for the filing of misconduct complaints against educators will be eliminated.

The laws include protections for those reporting suspected child abuse, and stiffened penalties for those who fail to report it.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which provides training to all 42 suburban school districts in Allegheny County, is updating its trainers and the materials they use, said Diana Malone, who is certified in training “mandated reporters” — those whose jobs require them to notify authorities of possible abuse — in recognizing and reporting child abuse. New training will occur this fall, she said.

Cases of child abuse have likely gone unreported because of confusion over the reporting process, Malone said. Shielding those who report abuse from civil and criminal liability will give educators “all the more reason to report.”

“The kids are going to be safer. Reporting is going to be more efficient, swifter and more complete,” she said.

Anything erring on the side of protecting children is a plus, Allegheny Valley Superintendent Cheryl Griffith said.

“It's a topic that will be at the forefront more. We'll do what we have to do to be informed and prepared to provide training and follow up to the training,” she said.

Child abuse is something that happens “sporadically” in schools, Griffith said.

“It's definitely something that people have to be aware of just on a routine basis. That's all part of working with children and considering the whole child,” she said. “It's an unfortunate situation for staff to be involved with, but it is part of our jobs.”

Calling “ChildLine,” the state hotline, has always been the policy at Kiski Area School District for suspected abuse, Superintendent John Meighan said. “It is anonymous. You're doing the right thing. You don't have to worry about repercussions,” he said. “I'm 200 percent for anything that mandates that. Let's face it, there's situations out there when kids come to us from pretty risky environments.

“Everybody is part and parcel to protecting kids,” he said.

The Highlands School District reports suspected child abuse several times a week, said Karen King, director of pupil services and a school psychologist.

“If we have any suspicion, we're going to make the call,” she said. “It's better to have someone check it out than have a child be in danger.”

The laws put districts in stronger positions to keep children safe, King said.

“And for those who choose to turn the other way, it puts some strong muscle into things to punish them for ignoring when a child's at risk,” she said. “Our job here is to keep children safe, so that's what we do.”

Although promising, the benefits of Pennsylvania's new child abuse laws will be seen in how they are used, Palm said.

“This is a state that struggled for decades to get child protection on their radar. Will it be on the radar a year from now?” Palm said. “Passing laws is easy. Now we have to make sure we implement them in an effective way and make sure we're doing what we thought they'd do when we put words on paper.”



Proposed child abuse reporting law heads to State Senate

by Arin Mikailian

A proposed law aiming to train school employees to better identify signs of child abuse or neglect was approved by the California State Assembly last week and now heads to the State Senate.

The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), would require school workers to receive reporting training, which has never been mandatory.

The training would focus on picking up signs of physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse and how to go about reporting it to law enforcement.

“Our current system fails, if it prolongs a child's pain,” Gatto said in a statement. “AB 1432 is a straightforward means of making sure school personnel grasp the magnitude of their responsibilities for protecting our children from predators.”,0,1403195.story


United Kingdom

Web blackmail gangs use 'child abuse' virus to attack Britons: Fake messages accuse innocent internet users of watching child pornography

by Emily Kent Smith

Innocent internet users are being blackmailed by hackers who are infecting their computers with a virus that displays a fake message accusing them of watching child pornography.

The virus, known as ‘Kovter', uses imitation logos that appear to belong to authorities such as the Metropolitan Police and other forces.

It then holds the bewildered computer user to ransom and says that unless payments of £100 to £300 are made, legal action will be taken.

The National Crime Agency – Britain's FBI – last night urged victims not to pay the ransom and to contact Action Fraud, the UK's internet misuse reporting centre.

The virus, thought to have been developed by Eastern European gangs, is part of a new wave of ‘ransomware', in which hackers masquerade as authorities in order to extort money.

A typical fake warning reads: ‘Such actions, in whole or in part, violate Protection of Children Act 1978 Possession s160 Criminal Justice Act 1998.'

In extreme cases, the victim's screen freezes and becomes locked on the home page of a pornographic website, or indecent images of children appear on the screen.

Action Fraud said it had received 134 reports of viruses which reference child pornography in the past six months, but it is believed that many cases go unreported.

Many of those targeted have never visited illegal or pornographic sites and experts believe that because victims are so embarrassed by the warning, many do not report it.

One victim, targeted by hackers who used a Metropolitan Police logo, said he initially failed to report it because he was embarrassed, even though he had never downloaded any illegal material.

The lorry driver from Cheshire added: ‘It looked convincing. There was a big list of everything you could possibly do wrong on a computer and it said you have done one of these things, ranging from child porn to downloading music illegally.'

Researchers from security firm Damballa say that the number of cases seen globally each day has risen from an average of 9,783 in April 2014 to 24,825 per day in May but could not give UK figures.

Adrian Culley, a former cybercrime detective with the Met, said he had advised individuals and companies on porn ransom attacks.

He added: ‘Because so many people have at some time or other seen porn on their computer, an attack from this malware can make them think they have something to worry about. But in the vast majority of cases they don't and the cyber gangs are playing on the vulnerable psychology of the computer user.'

Mark Reckless MP, who sits on the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: ‘This sounds a particularly nasty computer crime. I'd like to congratulate The Mail on Sunday for bringing this to the attention of your readers. It is that exposure and public education as well as police enforcement which is needed.'

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Anyone who is a victim of this ransomware will not be in trouble.'




Teaching Kids To Fight Being Lifelong Victims


One law can rescue people from the spiral of self-hatred that adds them to the growing pile of prisoners in the country's correctional facilities.

And at the close of the Connecticut General Assembly's most recent session in May, our legislators passed that law, perhaps without fully understanding that it is the most comprehensive anti-crime law that Connecticut's citizens have seen in a long time. It's headed to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk and he should sign it into law.

They call this law "Erin's Law" after Erin Merryn, its champion. Merryn is a sexual abuse survivor from Illinois who noted that her elementary school's drills — tornado, bus, stop-drop-and-roll for fires and DARE's eight ways to say no to drugs — never included any training on how to escape a child molester or explained how to discern the difference between good and bad touches, or how to find a trusted adult to report abuse. Merryn could roll her way out of a burning bus during a tornado, but she had no idea how to stop two separate perpetrators from raping her before she turned 13.

Merryn has become a tireless advocate for her namesake law, a law that will implement recognized, age-specific curriculums in Connecticut's schools to teach children how to prevent being sexually victimized through classes including "How to Tell Today," "How to Get Away" and "My Body Belongs to Me."

Passing Erin's Law can chip away at the state's — and the country's — problem of over-incarceration by preventing the single most statistically significant precursor to criminal behavior: childhood sexual abuse.

A Department of Justice study showed 68 percent of adult male prisoners suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect before the age of 12. The data on female offenders are worse: 68 percent to 95 percent were sexually abused, according to various public health surveys. More than any other social problem — poverty, undereducation, mental illness, racism or social isolation — sexual abuse correlates so significantly with crime that it is no extreme stretch to assert that sexual abuse causes crime. It logically follows that to prevent crime and reduce prison populations, we must prevent childhood sexual abuse.

So far, society has convinced itself that the best way to prevent sexually based crimes against children, already at alarming rates — one in four girls and one in six boys experience molestation before age 18 — is to compile "stranger danger" directories, registries of sex offenders that we use to kick people out of our communities so that kids cannot interact with them.

Collectively called "Megan's Laws" after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old from New Jersey who was abducted, molested and killed by her convicted sex offender neighbor, the laws we expect to prevent childhood sexual abuse are residency restrictions and disclosures that amount to little more than human zoning regulations. Under the various forms of Megan's Law, ostracization is our protection. We think absence and distance neutralize any hazard if it's not allowed to live next door to us.

Megan's Laws neglect one central truth to the childhood sexual abuse epidemic that Erin's Law acknowledges: 90 percent of sexual abusers are someone whom the child victim knows. Megan's Laws do not save the initial victims from molestation in the first place as Erin's Law does.

Despite its undeniable logic and likelihood to curb not only childhood sexual abuse but later crimes committed by its victims, only 14 states have passed Erin's Law, with Connecticut poised to join them, if the governor signs the bill. Megan is much more popular than Erin, as 36 states lack any discernible childhood sexual abuse prevention strategy other than using registries to paste labels on offenders who have already hurt someone and to block them from living in certain places.

Because Erin's Law has the potential to stop childhood sexual abuse from happening in the first place, it is more likely to prevent crime — both the original molestation and a victim's later misbehavior if the abuse goes untreated — than Megan's Laws' stranger isolation strategies. Erin Merryn is more than a victims' advocate; she is a crime-fighter of superhero proportions.

Chandra Bozelko of Orange was formerly Inmate No. 330445 at York Correctional Institution and is the author of "Up The River Anthology."


World Cup 2014: On myths and reality of sex trafficking

Human rights violations in the context of the World Cup 2014 go beyond human trafficking and child sexual exploitation.

by Sonja Dolinsek

On June 12, the World Cup starts and millions of football fans will travel to Brazil for this mega event. Meanwhile, non-governmental organisations and the media have focused on social problems aggravated by preparations for the event.

Three related topics have been receiving particular attention in the past weeks: human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and sex work. All three are supposed to increase during the upcoming weeks. But does research and the experience of other mega sport events actually substantiate the claims of an increase in trafficking and sex work? And what other issues should we be looking at from a human rights perspective?

Human trafficking and its connection to sports events have been discussed since the World Cup 2006 in Germany. Big and costly media campaigns warned of the rising problem of human trafficking of adult women in the sex industry. Since then, media and NGO campaigns became particularly visible before and around the World or European Cup, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. What can we learn from past experiences and research about this connection?

Sex trafficking and sports?

Looking back, we realise not only that media estimates of human trafficking victims for both South Africa and Germany before the event were exactly the same (40,000 people), but that after both events, there was no evidence proving this number.

In Germany, the Federal Criminal Office or Bundeskriminalamt found that only five cases of human trafficking were directly connected to the World Cup. At the same time, its official report said that many of the migrant sex workers who had arrived in Germany hoping to earn more money left earlier because business did not increase as they had expected.

The same was true for South Africa and "the prediction of increased human trafficking was a gross overestimation based on unsubstantiated evidence", as the documentary "Don't shout too loud" has shown.

In the report "What's the cost of a rumour?", the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) based in Bangkok pointed to common mistakes in anti-trafficking campaigns and criticised the surge in uncritical anti-trafficking reporting around sporting events as counter-productive and even harmful.

Not only is there no empirically proven link between sporting events and a rise in human trafficking, but furthermore: "Trafficking is not the same thing as sex work." The report points out: "There is a difference between women trafficked into prostitution and sex workers who migrate to other countries for work."

Furthermore, false rumours about human trafficking come at a cost. Not only are precious resources wasted in sensationalist campaigns rather than in social projects on the ground, but anti-sex work and anti-migration measures, including the increased policing of sex workers, are encouraged. These measures increase the vulnerability of migrant sex workers. Generally, the way human trafficking is represented resembles more a myth than the reality on the ground.

Another recent study pointed to the lack of empirical data concerning to connection between major sports events and child sexual exploitation. The report points out that "most attention is given to trafficking and sexual exploitation when labour and displacement are probably bigger problems". Child sexual exploitation is less connected to such events, but rather to "diverted services, family stress, poverty and domestic violence", i.e. structural factors that existed before sports events and will exist thereafter.

The fact that data does not support claims of a rising problem of human trafficking or child sexual exploitation does not mean, however, that we can just look away. It means that we should take a broader look at social problems and envisage more sustainable and long-term solutions, which go beyond short-term media hype.

The World Cup from a social and human rights perspective

A recent article on child sexual exploitation in Brazil began with the description of a sexual encounter between a sex worker who had been a former child prostitute and her client. While such a scene may encourage readers to read the full article, the authors not only unnecessarily sexualise the topic and produce a slightly titillating effect around a rather serious topic, but they also fail to investigate the violations of children's and human rights in the years leading up to the World Cup.

As the German Branch of Ecpat points out, commercial child sexual exploitation is already a huge problem, and even though the risk of exploitation is higher during the World Cup, there is no empirical data confirming such an increase during sports events. The focus should rather be directed to the social background of commercial sexual exploitation of children, which is partially due to poverty and lack of decent homes for children.

An overlooked, but essential aspect of the increased risk of children in child sexual exploitation is the forced displacement of people and families from their homes in the context of the so called "pacification" of the favelas or slums. "Pacification" is a police strategy carried out by military-style "Police Pacification Units", in order to reduce crime, improve the public image of Rio de Janeiro and to secure the areas close to event sites.

According to researchers and NGOs, this measure has not only led to an increased militarised policing of the favelas - the informal settlements that house roughly 22 percent of Rio's population - but also to the forced displacement of many inhabitants, including children. UN independent experts reported about "allegations of evictions without due process or in detriment of international human rights standards".

The "Shift" project has documented large-scale construction projects for the World Cup and its impact on the local population and the urban geography. It found that even reserves for some indigenous groups had been curtailed, with ensuing protests.

Sex workers' homes in Niteroi were violently raided by the police and some were forcibly evicted. Other residents, including elderly and children, were forced onto the streets. Given the public focus on Brazil, we should pressure the Brazilian government to stop its police actions against sex workers, rather than stepping them up. Similarly, the media should focus on a rights-based reporting on prostitution and sex work in Brazil, rather than presenting unrealistic numbers about an increase in migrant sex workers, which have proven unsubstantiated.

Last but not least, big sports events like the World Cup rely on a great variety of labour - from construction sites, gastronomy and other services on the local level to the supply chains catering to these services and the production of merchandise, sporting goods and uniforms. Human rights and labour rights violations can occur at every stage in this process, not just at the end-user sites.

To tackle these issues, we need a sustainable approach with a broader perspective on the connection between human rights violations in the contexts of mega sports events. This includes not only looking at human trafficking and sexual exploitation, but also at labour, human and children's rights. In particular, a stronger focus on the rights of trafficked persons and children as well as workers' and migrants' rights, including sex workers, should take priority over sensationalist reporting.

Sonja Dolinsek is a PhD student in Contemporary History at the University of Erfurt and a blogger and human rights activist focusing in particular on the rights of migrants, sex workers and trafficked persons.



Report claims FBI was investigating Josh Powell for child pornography in 2010

by Fox News

The FBI was investigating Josh Powell for child pornography at least 17 months before he killed himself and his children, according to a published report based on FBI documents.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the bureau was investigating Powell for possession of child pornography as well as for the death of his wife, Susan, who disappeared in 2009 and has never been found.

Anne Bremner, an attorney for Susan Powell's parents, said the family was never told the FBI was investigating Josh Powell for child pornography. If the state of Washington's Department of Social and Health Services had known about the suspected child pornography, it "never would have let him have those kids," she said.

Powell, who had visitation rights, died along with his two sons, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden, on February 5, 2012. After a Washington state worker dropped the boys off at Powell's rented home in the town of Graham, Powell locked the worker out and ignited a fatal fire.

Josh Powell had been previously linked to child pornography, the Tribune reported. At hearings in the state of Washington to determine custody of his children, then-Assistant Washington Attorney General John M. Long said Powell was under investigation for child pornography after cartoon images of incest between mothers and children were found on his computer in late 2009 or early 2010.

Long, who has since retired, told the Tribune that neither the FBI nor local law enforcement officials told him about any other images or any ongoing investigation. The documents seen by the Tribune do not specify any images or what they showed or depicted.



Families in Crisis: Part I, the problems

by Dr. Ralph E. Jones

Eddie, along with his brother and sisters, had endured a very unhappy childhood; Suffering from the effects of parental neglect and abuse which began scarring them at an early age. They were often left alone to fend for their needs, were emotionally abused by the berating and punishment they so often endured, which was even more devastating than the physical abuse they were subjected to.

They were subjected to the alcohol abuse of their mother and step-father, with their constant arguing and physical fights, and the children learned early on not to “get in the way of their parents,” especially during their drunken tirades. When sober, their Mother knew that it would be best to leave her husband, but then, what would become of her? The thought of that would frighten her, especially since her husband was extremely jealous and threatened her life when she spoke of leaving him.

The mother and step-father were very much narcissistic, into their own needs to the point that they always put them ahead of the children. All of the children knew that the only way to get out of the dysfunction brought upon them was to leave home; and they all did so at age 15. Eddie's older sister married into a dysfunctional relationship, suffering physical and emotional abuse from her husband; and 3 more dysfunctional marriages after that. Eddie's elder brother became alcoholic, with 7 failed marriages. Eddie's younger sister became chemically dependent, was sexually abused at the hands of a step-father, and had various relationships and many unwanted pregnancies. Eddie, a “hero child” developed strong values and became very successful; always vowing that he would never follow in the footsteps of his siblings and parents.

This true story illustrates the plight of thousands of families in our society, and the many thousands of children that are being raised in neglect and abuse; families in crisis. Statistics tell us that each year in our country between 3 and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence. Studies also tell us that over one-half of the children who live in families where there is domestic violence are physically abused, and sexual abuse is 6 times more likely to occur.

Abuse and violence in the family refers to bringing physical and emotional harm against family and other members of a household. It's a matter of wielding power and control over another.

With the approach of summertime there is an upswing in family violence and other issues related to genuine crisis in the family setting; most probably because families spend more non-quality time together, the children do not have the structure that schools afford, an increase in alcohol consumption and related problems, and for other reasons.

Children do not necessarily have to directly be physically or emotionally abused to suffer; just witnessing domestic violence may have a far reaching impact of their growth and development. There are a myriad of problems that children, and their adult victim parent, may present with; dependent on the extent of the violence, the degree of the violence, their ages and gender, and whether they have a supportive adults in their lives.

Children of crisis families often present with problems associated with low self-esteem, shame and guilt, depression and anxiety, worry, being blunt in affect (not showing feelings at all), angry, and fearful. These feelings may often lead to bullying and aggressive behaviors, difficulties in concentration, paying attention, and other learning problems; acting fearful and anxious around adults, and isolating themselves from other children.

Some physical clues often given to recognize abuse and neglect in children are frequent illnesses (also somatic complaints of headaches, stomachaches, etc.), problems with sleep (to include fear of falling asleep and nightmares), increase in aggressive behavior directed towards others, defiance to adult authority, drug and alcohol use, and bed-wetting.

Adults who suffer from the neglect and abuse most often than not mirror many of the same feelings and behavior of children in a crisis family; primarily as they themselves were raised in a dysfunctional family.

There are many forms of abuse and neglect. Examples are: physical abuse, intimate partner violence, child abduction, sexual abuse, Rape and sexual assault, and Elder abuse. Physical abuse includes hitting, shoving, hair pulling, slapping, punching, stabbing, kicking, and shooting with a firearm. Withholding medication, medical care, crutches or wheelchairs, food, and fluids are also examples of physical abuse. Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of coercive and assaultive behavior between intimate and dating partners. Most child abductions are carried out by a parent in an estranged or divorced relationship. Statistics tell us that 70% of child abductions are by the father, 30% by the mother. Sexual abuse entails rape (whether the victims are male or female), involvement in sexual activities with children, and other non-consenting sexual activities of adults. Elder abuse is any of the aforementioned activities involving geriatric, elderly individuals.

Being a perpetrator of abuse and neglect is usually a learned behavior, behaviors that are considered abhorrent and criminal in our society. As mentioned, the primary, motivating force behind Abuse and neglect is to exercise power and control over another person. The perpetrator attempts to isolate the family to keep the behaviors secret and avoid detection and punishment from authorities.

Next week: Families in Crisis, Part II: Helping Victims and Survivors of Abuse and Neglect



Part II: Helping victims, survivors of abuse, neglect

by Dr. Ralph E. Jones

In part one of this article, we discussed the nature of, and myriad of problems attributed to, abuse and neglect; crisis in the family system. Abuse and neglect, most often depicted as physical abuse and withholding care from others, goes well beyond our normal thinking of the problems; problems which are criminal in nature in our society and so often ignored and untreated.

Abuse and violence in the family, to include child abuse; child neglect, intimate partners abuse and violence, marital rape, and elder abuse and neglect; are most often than not learned behaviors. We also know that the learning most often occurs generationally; the perpetrators of abuse and neglect most often than not are victims and survivors of abuse and neglect themselves. We also know that many individuals raised in families where abuse and neglect were evident, often become adapted to the dysfunctional behaviors and accept the behaviors as being “normal.” This is especially noted with battered women and children of alcoholics.

Those suffering from the effects of family violence must realize that they are not the cause of the violence, that they need not blame themselves, that they need not live in fear. As their associated thoughts and feelings are what they have learned being in an abusive and neglectful setting, so they may “re-learn” new and healthy methods and techniques to overcome their dysfunctional thoughts and feelings. The survivors of family violence need to become empowered; to be helped to the point that they themselves can begin a new life based on their individual strengths, positive experience, and competence. The survivor must learn not to see themselves as a victim, but a survivor.

Survivors of abuse and neglect in dysfunctional relationships and family have minimal contact and interaction with their community. Yet we know that parents, children, the extended family, and the surrounding community all have an integral part in the prevention of abuse and neglect; as well as the healing process. Research has long suggested, and in most communities, put into practice, a social network to assist with the healing. The community needs always to address families and their community as a whole with the aim of restoring secure attachments, functional relationships, and family community resilience. Research and practice also tells us that this is most often acquired through family training and support programs, school based programs, and community awareness campaigns. For these reasons, communities nationwide have established telephone hot lines where individuals can seek assistance 24 hours a day; and crisis centers to assist individual with legal, social, and counseling assistance; and to provide awareness education to the community.

A while back I was invited by the Director of the Family Crisis Center in Harlingen, Mr. Blas Cantu, to visit the center, staff, and volunteers; and I did so this past Tuesday. I was welcomed into the warm and pleasant environment of the center, most conducive to offering a refuge of safety and security that clientele so direly need. I learned that the center was established in 1981, and provides a wide array of services to battered victims, their children and victims of sexual assault in Cameron and Willacy Counties. The Center also provides extensive educational and violence prevention programs. Services include a 24-hour hotline, accompaniment to the hospital, police interviews and court proceedings, counseling, support groups and temporary shelter. In addition, the center offers educational programs dealing with the dynamics of family violence and sexual assault as well as the Centers services to civic organizations, church groups, and professionals in appropriate service areas. Abuse programs are also presented to all aged students from elementary schools through college.

Mr. Cantu providing me reports of the last two years detailing services provided to the community. During 2013, the center experienced over 1,500 hot-line calls, provided counseling and related services to over 2,000 individuals, and provided structured and community education to over 6,000 individuals. In further breakdown, the center provided services to 516 sexual assault clients; 108 of that number being children. I was most impressed with the mission statement of the center; “To empower adults and children experiencing domestic violence and/or sexual assault , and increase community awareness and responsiveness in Northern Cameron County and Willacy County through prevention, education, outreach and advocacy.” The vision of the Center is to: “Empower Survivors. Promote Healthy Relationships. Engage the Community. Stop the Violence.” I found that the Center is truly living up to their mission and vision.

I was most privileged to meet with Mr. Cantu, the resident Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor(LPC) Ms. Patsy Vela, and three of Ms. Vela's LPC Interns; Ms. Valerie Nelson, Ms. Gabriella Ortiz, and Ms. Leticia Cavazos; graduate students from UT-Brownsville, who will be completing their one-year internship towards LPC licensure this year and also graduating with their Master of Education Degrees this year. The interns related to seeing a wide variety of individual clients at the center, from children as young as 4 years to elderly adults; with a wide variety of abuse and neglect problems. From 80 to 90% of their clientele are Females. Males, who are also subjected to abuse issues, do not seek help for their abuse for a number of cognizant reasons. Services are provided to individuals of all walks of life as violence does not discriminate; whether the individual is poor or without economic problems, whether male or female, whether well-educated or no, etc.

I was attentive to the issues that Ms. Vela and her interns face, particularly in the types of violence, abuse, and neglect they have encountered. I listened to them tell me about abuse issues that are not generally considered by the populous; such as financial abuse, spiritual abuse, human trafficking, and the abuse of “silence.” The former, financial abuse involves not allowing a spouse to work, withholding or controlling the finances of the family…providing a measly “allowance” to a spouse…barely enough for her and children to survive. Spiritual abuse stems from keeping a mate from attending religious services, using biblical references as means of perpetuating and defending physical and psychological violence toward a mate, etc. Human trafficking may involve working individuals 14-16 hours a day with very little, or no remuneration. Silent Abuse, which Ms. Vela relates as perhaps the worst kind of abuse, entails holding grudges against another and being non-responsive toward the needs of another.

Ms. Vela and the interns have provided a very wide array of counseling services to clientele, and I was most pleased to discover that they are most capable and assertive in doing so. From providing expressive arts therapy and counseling therapies, to referral of clientele to various professionals and agencies…they provide a most viable and needed service to our communities…too much to detail in this article.

I have been most impressed with my meeting with these fine individuals at the Center; but mostly so in their efforts of clientele empowerment. To quote Ms. Vela is discussing this with a client, “Are you going to be satisfied with being a crow sitting on the ground, or are you going to take the high road like an eagle?” “What are you going to do to facilitate change?”

If you, a family member, or friend are suffering from the effects brought on by personal or family violence, call the Hot-Line of the Family Crisis Center at 1-866-423-9304. What are you waiting for? Stay Healthy My Friends.



Why Victims of Sexual Abuse Often Don't Come Forward

by Lindsay Nadrich

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Sexual abuse and sexual assault can be uncomfortable topics, but talking to your kids about it could help protect them and end up saving someone who is in an abusive situation.

Lutheran Community Services deals with thousands of cases of sexual assault and abuse every year, but there are still thousands more that never get reported.

“Sometimes people tell and nothing happens,” said Erin Williams the Director of Advocacy and Prevention at Lutheran Community Services. “Sometimes we need to trust survivors to know that if they're not telling, it's for a reason.”

Williams says there are many reasons people do not come forward. In cases where the abuse is happening at home between a child and a family member, it is usually the hardest for kids to speak up.

“First of all, often they love the person that's abusing them,” Williams said. “Outside of that, they may be a loving parent, they might be the only kind of parent they know.”

She says the abuser will even tell the child lies to keep them quiet.

“Nobody will believe you or you'll be homeless, you'll go into foster care, you know, I'm going to kill myself if this happens or I'm going to kill your mom or your pets,” Williams explains.

It can be scary for a victim to share their story, so the most important thing you can do if someone approaches you is listen, take them seriously, be kind to them, connect them with resources to get help, and then keep checking on them to make sure they are doing ok.

“Just start by believing their story,” Williams said. “You'd be surprised how often people aren't believed when they share about child sexual abuse or adult sexual assault.

Talking about this with your kids could end up helping a victim become a survivor.

“It's maybe not so comfortable to talk about with kids, but they might have a friend that shares with them too that something bad happened to them,” Williams said.

There are also warning signs to look for in a child if you think they are a victim of sexual abuse. Advocates say to look for behavior that is drastically different than before. For example, if a child starts isolating themselves, starts to have behavior issues, begins using alcohol or drugs at an early age, or all of the sudden is getting bad grades.

If you need help there are resources available. Advocates will help a victim from the beginning of the process until the very end.

For more information visit:

Or call: 24 Hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line: (509) 624-7273 or 24 Hour Crime Victim Crisis Line: (866) 751-7119


Where Do Bullies Come From?

by Elisabeth Corey

I don't write about my experiences with bullying very often. Maybe I have internalized society's beliefs that I should have stood up for myself in middle and high school, especially when my peers were doing the bullying. Maybe the shame is more significant because this time, the abusers were my age.

Maybe the messages about “asking for it” are still driving my interpretation of the situation. Sometimes it is even hard for me to believe that I could be subjected to so much cruelty by so many heartless people. I felt as though I was a magnet for abuse.

To be fair, I believe that everyone experiences some bullying. Everyone is called names. Everyone has at least one friend who talks behind their back, whether they know it or not.

Most experience boundary invasions from pushing, shoving and other physical experiences that seem harmless to school children. I certainly experienced this.

Many bullies stop there. Why? The subjects stand up for themselves. They say “no.” They get angry. They stop speaking to the “friend” who is not treating them well. They tell their parents or teachers, who get involved.

These are all perfectly acceptable answers to bullying. And most of the time, the bully moves on. It is too much trouble to target that kid.

I am sure my bullying started with name-calling, pushing and shoving. But there was a problem. I had been “trained” by my family to respond differently to abusive behavior. I had been taught that “no” was not a word I could utter unless I was willing to be severely beaten. I had been taught that expressing my anger would result in retaliation that might even accidentally cause my death.

I had been told to keep my mouth shut. Asking for help was out of the question. And anyone who has ever read a parenting magazine knows that our relationship with our parents guides our relationships with others as we grow older.

So I quickly became the subject of more sinister treatment. It grew over time. Those who I considered my closest friends betrayed me on a regular basis. I would confide in them only to find out they had shared my deepest secrets with others. Or they would randomly stop talking to me for periods of time with no real explanation as to what I did wrong.

I was always walking on eggshells with my friends because I didn't want to make them mad. It was a continuation of the chaos at home with no predictability or logical behavior. A healthy kid would have kicked that person to the curb, but I didn't know how to do that.

It didn't take long before the sexual boundaries were crossed. I had a couple of male friends who knew about my familial abuse for one reason or another. They threatened that they would tell everyone my secret if I did not fulfill their own sexual requests. In one extreme case, a teenage boy, one of my closest “friends,” started selling me at the school.

Looking back on it, it probably would have been perfect if they had divulged my family abuse. But by my teenage years, I had taken on the shame of my abuse. And nothing seemed worse that revealing it to the world. In my darker moments, I often wonder why nobody with a heart found out about my abuse.

It wasn't just boys who were taking advantage of me. During my junior and senior year of high school, I had a “girlfriend” who was a trafficker. She would arrange for groups of kids and adults to go out together. She would arrange parties in the woods or at the beaches, but she always made sure there were private places for people to disappear.

Somehow, I would always find myself alone with an adult man. And it always seemed like he knew about it ahead of time.

Had I been raised in a healthy family, I would have called the police or at least rejected her invitations. But my brilliant childhood defense mechanism stopped such a logical response.

By the next morning, I completely forgot about the night before. I never consciously remembered that I was being raped, so I never knew to stay away from those who were arranging it.

And so the abuse continued. And so did the memory loss. Even into adulthood, I remained connected to some of these abusive people (although mainly at a distance).

It scares me to know that many of these abusers have children of their own. It scares me to know that they may never have learned that this behavior is abusive and illegal. It scares me to know they may be handing down these disgusting beliefs to the next generation.

When someone is a bully or is being bullied, it is not by accident. They have learned this behavior. Either they learned to be a bully from their family's behavior or they learned not to stand up for themselves from their interaction with their family.

We have to reach out to these kids and teach them right from wrong. We need to ask the bullies why they are choosing to treat others in that way. We need to ask the victims why they don't stop it. We must teach children and teenagers that they can always say “no” to their bullies and their family. And if something seems wrong, it is.



Students learn sex trafficking can happen to victims from all walks of life


Onaway, Michigan -- When Onaway High School teacher Kim Wregglesworth took her women's studies class on a field trip this spring to Alma College to hear a guest speaker and author, it is no wonder they came away from the experience 'dumbfounded' with the subject matter and the impact it could have on them, even in a small, rural Northern Michigan town.

A graduate of Alma College, Wregglesworth learned that her alma mater was hosting author Theresa Flores, who was talking about the growing and widespread practice of human sex trafficking in the United States and sharing her personal experience as a victim while she was a teenager in an upscale suburb outside of Detroit.

“We had talked about human trafficking at the start of the semester and what it was doing to women,” said Wregglesworth, who took the opportunity to expose her 26 students to Flores' firsthand account.

According to recent estimates by the FBI, approximately 293,000 American youth are at risk of being trafficked in the nation's underground sex trade. Michigan is in the top 10 states in the nation for human sex trafficking, according to Laura Toy, chief of staff for Michigan Senator Judy Emmons, who has introduced legislation to remove the statue of limitations for crimes dealing with sex trafficking. Toy said statistics are based on calls registered at Polaris, the national call center for reporting human sex trafficking.

After the trip, Wregglesworth said her students were “dumbfounded” that something as awful as human sex trafficking could happen so close to home and not just in major cities or third-world countries. Flores offered statistics, which indicated that top cities in Michigan with the most calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center are Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Mackinac Island. Malls are popular locations where victims are lured along with any major gathering of people like the North American International Auto Show and the Super Bowl, according to the Michigan Rescue and Restore Coalition.

After hearing the speaker, Wregglesworth said the students continued to talk about the topic for days at school and shared it with other students who were not in attendance. A couple of girls even said they had been approached in a suspicious manner while at a mall.

Sophomore Elina Madison said hearing Flores speak changed her belief that human sex trafficking was something that only happened outside of the United States. She said an example was given that often men look for girls in groups of three and will not target the prettiest or least attractive, but the one in the middle — the average looking girl. “They are more likely to believe them,” said Madison. “Like if they say 'you have beautiful eyes' and she buys into it they know they can get to her. … It made me scared because I go to the mall often.”

“Yeah, it made me more cautious of when I walk somewhere. They even talked about how it happens on Mackinac Island; such a tiny place. I didn't know. It made me aware it could happen to me or somebody I know,” said Madison.

Based on her experience as a teen, decades later Flores is speaking out across the country on network and cable television, on college campuses, in a variety of speaking venues and through her book, “The Slave across the Street,” a USA Today and Wall Street Journal best seller, which is a personal account of her victimization. She also authored “The Sacred Bath: An American Teen's Story of Modern Day Slavery,” in which she discusses how she healed the wounds of sexual servitude and offers advice to parents and professionals on preventing this from occurring.

As Flores tells it, at 15 years of age, she was drugged, raped and tortured for two long years while living at home and attempting to keep her family safe. An avid track runner, older sister to three brothers with an all-American girl look, no one knew she was being trafficked for sex. She attended school during the day alongside her traffickers, only to be called into ‘service' late each night while her unknowing family slept. She endured this for two years, being trafficked to men in their 20s and 30s and given as a reward to men in an organized criminal ring when they did their job well.

In a 2009 interview with TODAY News, she said most people think it is only poor and underprivileged girls who are exploited. “People … think trafficking only happens in India and China. Just because you make $100,000 a year and live in a fancy house doesn't mean that it won't happen to your kids,” Flores told TODAY's Natalie Morales.

“I was an Irish-Catholic, middle-class girl that lived in the suburbs,” she said. “I had a nice family. I was a good kid, I didn't party and I wasn't loose. I was just a normal, everyday kid.”

In the interview, Flores explains her father was an executive who moved every two years. One of the moves took her to the Detroit suburb, where, as the new girl in a big high school, she was thrilled when a boy invited her to visit his house. He was older , and she was excited to be noticed.

“I thought he was amazing. And I jumped at the chance like any 15-year-old girl would do,” she said.

He took her to an upstairs bedroom and, she said, “one thing led to another. He kissed me and. I'd always known when to tell somebody to stop, and he didn't. I kept pushing him and trying to get him off me. And he wouldn't stop until it was too late.”

As a faithful Catholic, she said the rape was devastating.

“My religion was so important to me that the shame that carried with it was huge. There was no way I wanted my mom to know,” she said.

So she kept her secret and went back to school, where, a few days later, the older boy approached her and showed her pictures of the rape. The photos had been taken by his cousins, who were hiding in the room. He used the pictures to blackmail her into doing anything he demanded.

He drove her to a house where his cousins were waiting in the basement. “You'll do what we say, whenever we say, and when we're done, we'll take you home,” he told her.

TODAY's Morales reported: “For the next two years, the boys used and abused Flores, filling her with drugs, raping and beating her and selling her body to others. This happened three or four nights a week.”

Michigan Senator Judy Emmons, serving the 33rd district, introduced SB 584, the “Theresa Flores Law,” which would remove the statue of limitations for human trafficking survivors. At the urging of Flores, survivors would be allowed to pursue prosecution of their trafficker no matter how many years have passed.

On her website,, Emmons states human sex trafficking occurs in Michigan, adding that the state's proximity to the Canadian border and waterways increases its likelihood of happening here. Michigan has had cases of traffickers prostituting minors at truck stops and then taken to hotels in Toledo. Toledo has been ranked as the fourth largest city in the country for sex trafficking.

Her website states that “pimps” target victims as young as 12 through social media, in clubs, on the street through friends, at malls and by using girls to recruit other girls at school and in after-school programs.

Her website also lists ways to identify victims and states that sex trafficking victims are working in many venues in the country including clothing manufacturing, commercial agriculture settings, ordinary neighborhoods as babysitters and maids, on construction sites, in restaurants, as custodial workers or in massage and nail parlors, escort services, adult bookstores, modeling studios, nightclubs and strip bars.

Cheboygan Salvation Army Business Manager George Olson said the Salvation Army works to help victims of human sex trafficking and to increase awareness.

“A couple of years ago we had keynote speakers at an event in Indian River. They were two officers from Detroit who specialized in that and they talked about the topic helping us to learn information we did not know,” said Olson.

Olson added often human sex trafficking starts in hometowns with runaways who are disenchanted with their home life and think life in a big city would be better. A lot of large sex trafficking rings, he said, are found in border states like Florida, Texas, California and New Mexico and that many of the girls in those rings have been traced to states in the Midwest.

The Salvation Army opened Anne's House in 2010. It is the first long-term, residential program in the Chicago area for young women and girls who were victims of sex trafficking. The program offers comprehensive residential services to sex trafficking victims and was designed to address the limited number of shelters and services available for this unique population.

Anne's House is part of a larger Salvation Army initiative, the Partnership to Rescue our Minors from Sexual Exploitation (PROMISE). PROMISE focuses on awareness, prevention, intervention, and service delivery for sexually exploited children.

The number of Polaris, to report human sex trafficking crimes, is 888-373-7888.



KCSL: Child abuse is "preventable"

by Jade DeGood

WICHITA, Kan. -- Thousands of people in Wichita, Kansas and across the U.S. turned on their porch lights Friday night to remember Emma Krueger.

Emma is the 3-year-old Wichita girl who died Wednesday after being taken to the hospital with bruising to her body and swelling in her brain.

Charges are expected to be filed next week against two adults accused of killing Emma. The girl's mother and her mother's boyfriend were arrested on suspicion of child abuse.

While many wonder how this could happen, statistics on child abuse show it isn't uncommon. Four kids in America are killed every day from child abuse, according to the Child Help.

In Kansas, state reports show 65,421 allegations of child abuse and neglect were made in 2013. Of those, 24,801 showed a need for further investigation on the grounds of abuse and neglect.

"We know that our numbers have been going up for reports and for cases being investigated," said Vicky Rober, the Prevent Child Abuse Kansas Director for Kansas Children's Service League (KCSL). "It gives us an opportunity to remind the community to support our young families and do what we can do to bring protective factors to their lives so that this tragedy doesn't happen to anyone else."

She said the state has seen a 14% increase in reports of child abuse, a 22% increase in cases screened in for investigation and a 31% increase in substantiations in cases.

"Our agency has taken about a 10% cut in 2013 to prevention services. So wee have fewer services and more barriers to access for those services in our community and we are seeing those abuse reports go up."

There are still many services in Sedgwick County and in Kansas to help prevent child abuse:

•  Fatherhood: Training and technical assistance to support a community model focusing on father engagement, services and support and community awareness.

•  Parent Helpline: Anonymous, statewide, free, information, referral and phone counseling services available anytime, any day to parents, relatives, caregivers and professionals. Cal 1-800-CHILDREN

•  Parents Helping Parents: Statewide network of parent, grandparent, and kinship-care support groups facilitated by trained volunteers who are parent leaders in the state

•  Period of PURPLE Crying: Prevention program offered by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. KCSL coordinates the effort to bring this program to communities across Kansas

•  Wichita Crisis Nursery: Short-term day care services for children of families experiencing a crisis. There is no cost to the family. Available Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information on any of these services or other services not mentioned you can also go to the Kansas Children's Service League website here. The Junior League of Wichita also has created a website on child abuse, you can find that here.



Wichita organization sets sights on helping to prevent child abuse

by Jason Tarr

WICHITA, Kan. -- As a mother of four children, Emily Thengvall has an especially hard time hearing about cases of child abuse.

"My heart strings are pulled. It's absolutely disgusting," Thengvall said. "The worst case scenario is what we've just experienced in this city with a young baby girl."

It's cases like this week's news of Baby Emma that Thengvall, the President of the Junior League of Wichita, says her organization is dedicated to help to prevent.

"It's definitely something we all feel intensely about and that we want to see families get the support they need," Thengvall said.

The organization, which is made up of 800 local women, has spent the past several years meeting with community leaders and educating its members about the growing issue of child abuse in Wichita.

All that preparation has led them in the past couple months to launch a smart-phone friendly web site. They say is essentially a one-stop-shop for people seeking resources when it comes to child abuse.

"It'll tell you what to do if you are suspicious of abuse. It will help educate you. But if you are one of those community members who just want to get behind this effort, it'll help you understand the best places you can go to serve the community along with us," Thengvall said.

The website went live at the beginning of April. Thengvall said they will continue to add to it with more information.

In addition to the website, the Junior League of Wichita has been working with USD 259 to bring an educational puppet show to third and fourth graders. They've partnered with the organization CLASS to help mentor young women. And, Thengvall says they're funding the training wing of the new Child Advocacy Center that will soon be built.

But the website is probably their most biggest project in scope. Thhere's one key theme about child abuse that Thengvall and Junior League of Wichita hope you'll take away from the site as you explore the links:

"If you are suspicious (that child abuse is going on), do not hesitate. Call 911," Thengvall said. "Be that person in a child's life for the betterment of the child's future."

To visit please Click here

To learn more about the Junior League of Wichita, please Click here



Indiana DCS releases latest child abuse/neglect numbers

by WSBT-TV Report

The Indiana Department of Child Services says 34 children died of abuse or neglect in Indiana in 2012, down from 40 the year before.

DCS released the latest numbers today.

Of the children who died from abuse, the state says 60 percent were one or younger. And 63 percent of deaths from neglect were one or younger.

DCS says there was a pattern of stress factors, including unemployment, low income, and substance abuse.

DCS issued the following release Friday:

INDIANAPOLIS (June 6, 2014) – Today, the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) released the state's latest child-fatality data. DCS reviewed 295 child deaths from state-fiscal year 2012, varying in causes ranging from gunshot wounds, to drownings, to physical abuse and neglect.

In addition, a report was compiled specifically regarding 34 child deaths directly resulting from abuse or neglect. DCS had prior history with seven of the children. Among the children that died from abuse or neglect, a pattern of one or more significant stress factors were found in many cases, such as unemployment, low income, substance abuse, or domestic violence. In some cases, multiple stress factors were present in a single home.

The report also shows a pattern of children one year or younger, who died as a result of abuse or neglect, which is a trend that has continued year to year.

“One child fatality is too many,” said Mary Beth Bonaventura, director, Indiana Department of ChildServices. “We take this report very seriously, and will use it to help us continue to improve our services to Hoosier children and families. The multiple stress factors that lead to child fatalities are something we will look to address through collaboration with our community based partners.”

Of the children who died from abuse, 60 percent were one year of age or younger. Of the neglect deaths, 63 percent of the children were one year of age or younger as well.

“Our infants and toddlers are the most vulnerable of all our children,” said Bonaventura. “And smaller children take a lot of supervision, care and patience—which may be difficult to give if someone has low or poor parenting skills, or is dealing with multiple stress factors.”

Bonaventura added this is an issue that DCS cannot handle alone, and reminds all Hoosiers to call the IndianaChild Abuse Hotline at 800.800.5556, if they suspect any child is being abused or neglected.

A copy of the full SFY 2012 fatality report specific to child abuse and neglect can be found at:



Committee hears ideas to decrease child abuse


SAN ANTONIO — The number of Texas children who die because of abuse or neglect has dropped considerably in recent years, but a lot more needs to be done to prevent such tragedies, the members of a federal commission were told.

“In Texas, our caseloads are too high,” Scott McCown, director of the Children's Rights Clinic at the University of Texas Law School, said Tuesday during an all-morning session, the second day of a two-day conference in San Antonio.

“We have tiny prevention,” said McCown, a former state district judge. “We need to call for fundamental reform.”

McCown and more than a dozen other witnesses testified before the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. The 12-member panel was created in 2012 “to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities across the country resulting from child abuse and neglect.”

“The meeting in San Antonio was the first opportunity for commission members to gather detailed information and insight related to federal policy, research, and practice associated with child abuse and neglect fatalities, with a practice focus on Texas,” the panel said in a news release.

The commission defines child abuse and neglect as follows: “At a minimum, any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

Data that Children's Hospital of San Antonio Center for Miracles Director Dr. James Lukefahr presented to the panel showed that in 2013 there were 156 child abuse and neglect deaths in Texas. In 2011, there were 231. There were 280 in 2009.

Some of the key recommendations the commission heard included educating the public about the gravity of child abuse and neglect and about the consequences of teenage pregnancies.

“Public education, public awareness are the key in reporting child abuse,” said William McManus, chief of San Antonio Police Department.

“It is important to report child abuse,” McManus said. “We encourage the public to call the police when they see or suspect child abuse.”

Kirsta Melton, Bexar County assistant criminal district attorney, said teen pregnancies are a huge part of the child abuse and neglect problem.

Teen mothers and the fathers of their children usually cannot manage their emotions or control their anger, Melton said. Many of them also lack common sense.

In an interview after her presentation, Melton said though she couldn't give a precise number, many of the child abuse cases she prosecutes are teenagers or young adults, usually between the ages of 15 and 22, and they include some fathers of the abused children.

Melton gave the example of a mother of five — all younger than 7 — who locked the children indoors one night so she could go out drinking.

In addition, at least one speaker criticized Child Protective Services for not responding adequately to reports of possible child abuse or neglect, mainly because of work overload.

Commission chairman David Sanders said the panel came to Texas because, though the number of child deaths has decreased in recent years, the state leads the nation in the number of child abuse and neglect deaths.

“What do we have here and does it work?” he said. “We heard about education, but the question is whether it's effective.”

The panel's next meeting is July 10 in Tampa, Fla., followed by a meeting Aug. 28 in Detroit.The panel could draft its first report by year's end.

The commission's work is available online at

“We welcome public comment on our website,” Sanders said.


1 in 8 U.S. children will become victim of serious abuse or neglect

by Karen Kaplan

About 1 in 8 American children will experience some form of maltreatment serious enough to be confirmed by government authorities, new research shows.

Slightly more than 2% of kids are victimized during their first year of life, 5.8% are mistreated before their fifth birthday, and 12.5% experience some form of abuse or neglect before they turn 18, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

"Confirmed child maltreatment is common, on the scale of other major public health concerns that affect child health and well-being," the study authors wrote.

The estimates are based on data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child Files, which identified nearly 5.7 million children who suffered documented cases of neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse between 2004 and 2011. (The true count of victims is believed to be much higher, since most cases never make it to government officials.)

Researchers from Yale University, USC, UC Berkeley, Columbia University and the University of Washington used that data to extrapolate the cumulative risk that American children would become victims of these types of maltreatment before they reached adulthood.

African American children were found to be the most at risk, with 20.9% of them projected to suffer abuse or neglect by the time they turned 18. The study authors offered a vivid way to put that 1-in-5 risk into perspective: "Black children are about as likely to have a confirmed report of maltreatment during childhood as they are to complete college," they wrote.

Next on the list of vulnerability were Native American children, with a 14.5% cumulative risk of abuse or neglect. They were followed by Latino kids, with a 13% cumulative risk, the researchers found.

An estimated 10.7% of white children will suffer maltreatment before reaching adulthood – slightly below the nationwide average. Children of Asian or Pacific Islander descent were found to have the lowest risk, at 3.8%, the study authors reported.

Gender also seems to play a role. By a margin of 13% to 12.1%, girls are more likely than boys to suffer abuse or neglect during their childhood, the researchers found. Though the difference was small, it was statistically significant, they reported.

Abuse and neglect are bad enough on their own, but they're also linked to other serious physical and mental health problems, the researchers noted. Studies have found that people who were victimized during childhood go on to have higher rates of obesity and HIV infection. They're also more likely to attempt suicide and to die prematurely.

Over a lifetime, the costs stemming from childhood abuse or neglect add up to $124 billion per year in the United States alone. That's in the same ballpark as what the country spends to treat stroke victims or patients with Type 2 diabetes, according to a 2012 study in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect.


New York


We know how to prevent child abuse deaths, but we have to act on the knowledge

by Melanie Blow

If we do nothing more than focus our outrage at Jacob Noe's tragic murder on Child Protective Services reform and reshuffling, we sentence more children to death, and to lives marred by abuse. While we don't like seeing children die from abuse, we also don't like paying its financial costs, dedicating money and political capital to preventing it.

It's easy to identify new parents who are at a high risk of abusing or neglecting their children. Programs like Healthy Families NY provide these new families with intensive emotional support and skill-building. Participating parents are much less likely to abuse their children, which causes an immediate reduction in taxpayer expenses. But despite its success, the program is not available to more than 10 percent of high-risk families statewide. Six years of flat funding have decreased the number of families it helps.

A history of sexual abuse increases someone's odds of suffering from mental illness, drug addiction, poverty and becoming a teen parent – all things that increase the likelihood of child abuse.

A statute of limitations on the crime renders laws against it largely unenforceable. It takes an average of more than 21 years before victims can talk about their abuse, and the current statute of limitations bars victims from court on their 23rd birthday. The Child Victims Act would fix this glaring problem, but has not been signed into law in the last nine years.

There is a strong correlation between domestic violence and child abuse. Child protection workers often have little knowledge of the dynamics of domestic violence, and Family Court judges often have little knowledge of child or domestic abuse. Certain partners abuse their children to control or punish their partner. Ensuring that everyone involved in custody cases involving domestic violence or child abuse has a certain level of training on the subject ensures these cases are recognized early and the abusive partner can't harm his or her child. This keeps messy, complicated cases out of CPS, thus reducing their case loads.

If we tolerate child abuse, we will need to endure its consequences, the most tragic of them being child fatalities. If we respond to tragedy by doing nothing but punishing and regulating CPS, more children will enter the system. Child abuse isn't cheap, in short-term or long-term costs. CPS isn't cheap. The financial price tag that comes with every murdered child is horrifyingly high, and the financial costs are perhaps the smallest that we all have to bear.

We know how to prevent a huge amount of child abuse. We know the consequences for not doing so. We have chosen not to do it for years. We are now faced with a decision: Keep paying these staggering costs, or make a change.

Melanie Blow runs the Stop Abuse Campaign's New York operations.




Child Abuse and Secrecy

by Margaret Lutze

Child abuse and the secrecy surrounding the children who become “cases” in the hands of child welfare agencies are in the spotlight in the State of Vermont due to an investigation into the state's laws and policies on child abuse. The investigation is charged with learning about the activities of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) in Vermont.

The investigation was prompted by the death of two young children who were in the custody of the DCF and then were returned home to their families. One child is suspected to have been murdered by her mother and the other child is suspected to have been murdered by a stepfather. The question about these cases revolves around the choices mady by DCF to return the children to their homes, even though they were not safe places for the children.

The two cases that instigated the investigation have raised the issue of child abuse and secrecy. It has been suggested that the DCF activities that result in children becoming harmed rather than protected are hidden by the cloak of confidentiality. Because of concern for protecting the privacy of children, no information about the child's welfare is provided to anyone other than the parents of the child. Even though the parents might be the perpetrators of child abuse, they are the only people allowed to have information from the DCF about the child. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, or brothers and sisters are barred from obtaining information about the child, even though they may be the best advocates for the child's welfare.

The cloak of confidentiality may put the child in a worse situation because someone who is not the biological mother or father could be a safer place for a particular child or could be the conduit for the child to ask for help, but they are kept in the dark and the child is separated from them. The isolation of the child, which is touted to be for its benefit, is actually what is perpetuating the harm.

Protests against the Vermont DCF were held shortly after the death of one of the toddlers. Reports from the protests have indicated that family members of the little girl knew of instances of abuse and feared for the child's well-being. Friends and family members were reported to have begged the courts to remove the girl from her mother's home but their allegations of abuse were ignored.

There is a need for confidentiality about child abuse in order to protect a child from undue publicity as well as prying and meddling people. It must be recognized, however, that isolating a child from those who know their situation and could advocate for them will only serve to increase the chances that the child will be harmed. Keeping relatives and friends in the dark and using blanket rules to separate the child from all others besides the mother and father has been shown to be harmful to children that have abusive parents. Certainly the DCF of Vermont and similar child welfare agencies have the ability to determine who is a good advocate for the child, or at least make the effort. The investigation In Vermont is a step in the direction of removing the cloak of secrecy that surrounds child abuse.



Lauren Book speaks on sexual abuse at The Hague

Lauren Book, founder of the sexual abuse advocacy group Lauren's Kids, delivered the keynote address on May 28 at the Dutch National Rapporteur's Symposium on Sexual Violence Against Children in The Hague, Netherlands.

Book's speech corresponded with the release of the Netherlands' first-ever national study on child sexual abuse.

According to the report, as many as 1 in 3 Dutch children are victims of sexual violence, while most do not disclose their abuse; those that do are discouraged from pressing charges. Often the adults who offend against children receive punishments ranging from community service to light prison sentences.

As the opening speaker at last week's symposium, Book addressed nearly 500 government officials, advocates, experts, survivors and community members, urging them to use the study to help prevent abuse, track offenders and better serve survivors.

“Now is the time to act, to shine light where there was once darkness,” Book said. “To protect those most innocent among us.”

For six years, Book was a target of childhood abuse at the hands of a nanny in South Florida. Since then, she turned her experiences into an educational movement to help prevent child sexual abuse. Book believes that education can stop as much as 95 percent of abuse, launching Lauren's Kids in December 2007 to help victims “shine a light in dark places” and “shed the shame.”

Judge Corinne Dettmeijer, the Dutch National Rapporteur, invited Book after seeing her speak at the Crime Stoppers International Conference in Barbados last year. She then asked Book to bring her story to The Hague to help influence policy change.

The Rapporteur's responsibility is to report independently to the Dutch government on the extent of sexual violence against children in the Netherlands, as well as suggesting ways to pursue government policy to address the nationwide problem.


Child Abuse Prevention: Who Is Responsible

by Mark Politi

The responsibility for preventing children from being abused can arguably rest with anyone who interacts with them. However, recognizing child abuse is not as simple as one might imagine. True, there are the obvious cases such as a child who always seems to have an inexplicable bruise somewhere, but there are many other instances of physical abuse that are not as obvious. Federal, state, and local agencies work to provide information to raise levels of awareness through public service programs.

Laws have been enacted nationwide that identify certain professionals who regularly work with children and have designated these individuals “mandatory reporters.” Among these professions are teachers, law enforcement officers, social workers, health care professionals, child care providers, counselors and other mental health care providers. There are laws in 18 states and Puerto Rico that make it a requirement for any person to report suspected child abuse regardless of their profession. The statutory procedure to be followed in the case of institutional reporting makes it the responsibility of any staff member who witnesses the alleged child abuse to notify the head of that institution. It is then the duty of the institution head to make an official report to the authorities.

The criteria for identifying incidents of abuse are nonspecific. The wording in the law typically requires that a report be made when the reporter suspects or has reason to suspect that a child has been abused. However, one of the difficulties preventing many reports from being made is the reluctance to report without proof that the suspicious injuries were caused by abuse and not as a result of an accident. Other examples of why reports are not as forthcoming are choosing to intervene without involving the authorities; fear of getting involved; fear that filing a report will make matters worse; fear of retaliation from the family; and belief that someone else will make a report. According to the American Humane Association, all states have laws that are designed to protect reporters from liability when the report is made in good faith.

Conversely, civil and criminal penalties are imposed by 48 States against mandatory reporters of child abuse who fail to make the obligatory report. Additionally, there are also penalties in 29 States against anyone who knowingly makes a false report of child abuse. A January 9, 2014 Courier News article reported that a South Elgin, Illinois woman was convicted of making a false report of child abuse. The woman reportedly told her son to tell police that her ex-husband's new wife physically abused him. Actions such as these impede the effectiveness of law enforcement to investigate bona fide cases of child abuse, according to Kane County Illionis Assistant State's Attorneys Andrew Whitfield and Debra Bree.

There are federal, state and local government agencies with statutory responsibility for the prevention and investigation of national problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has committed personnel who are responsible for developing programs designed to stop child abuse before it starts. They have made available and Essentials for Childhood initiative, which is a package that proposes different strategies that communities can utilize to promote healthy relationships and environments for children to thrive. Also offered by the CDC is the Essentials for Childhood technical package, which is for communities that are committed to the positive development of children and families with the specific objective to prevent child abuse.




Child Abuse and Secrecy

by Margaret Lutze

Child abuse and the secrecy surrounding the children who become “cases” in the hands of child welfare agencies are in the spotlight in the State of Vermont due to an investigation into the state's laws and policies on child abuse. The investigation is charged with learning about the activities of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) in Vermont.

The investigation was prompted by the death of two young children who were in the custody of the DCF and then were returned home to their families. One child is suspected to have been murdered by her mother and the other child is suspected to have been murdered by a stepfather. The question about these cases revolves around the choices mady by DCF to return the children to their homes, even though they were not safe places for the children.

The two cases that instigated the investigation have raised the issue of child abuse and secrecy. It has been suggested that the DCF activities that result in children becoming harmed rather than protected are hidden by the cloak of confidentiality. Because of concern for protecting the privacy of children, no information about the child's welfare is provided to anyone other than the parents of the child. Even though the parents might be the perpetrators of child abuse, they are the only people allowed to have information from the DCF about the child. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, or brothers and sisters are barred from obtaining information about the child, even though they may be the best advocates for the child's welfare.

The cloak of confidentiality may put the child in a worse situation because someone who is not the biological mother or father could be a safer place for a particular child or could be the conduit for the child to ask for help, but they are kept in the dark and the child is separated from them. The isolation of the child, which is touted to be for its benefit, is actually what is perpetuating the harm.

Protests against the Vermont DCF were held shortly after the death of one of the toddlers. Reports from the protests have indicated that family members of the little girl knew of instances of abuse and feared for the child's well-being. Friends and family members were reported to have begged the courts to remove the girl from her mother's home but their allegations of abuse were ignored.

There is a need for confidentiality about child abuse in order to protect a child from undue publicity as well as prying and meddling people. It must be recognized, however, that isolating a child from those who know their situation and could advocate for them will only serve to increase the chances that the child will be harmed. Keeping relatives and friends in the dark and using blanket rules to separate the child from all others besides the mother and father has been shown to be harmful to children that have abusive parents. Certainly the DCF of Vermont and similar child welfare agencies have the ability to determine who is a good advocate for the child, or at least make the effort. The investigation in Vermont is a step in the direction of removing the cloak of secrecy that surrounds child abuse.



UF team will take over local child abuse cases

by Lacey McLaughlin

The University of Florida's Child Protection Team in Jacksonville will investigate local child abuse cases when the Children's Advocacy Center of Volusia and Flagler ends those services July 1.

The Florida Department of Health confirmed the new provider Wednesday after terminating $2.5 million in long-standing contracts with the CAC last month. The termination followed failed negotiations with the CAC to repay $304,000 in misappropriated state funds revealed in a 2013 independent audit reviewed by the state after the nonprofit reported the error in 2009.

Dr. Randell Alexander, chief of Child Protection and Forensic Pediatrics at UF Health Jacksonville, said his team will likely remain in the CAC's building on International Speedway Boulevard while they establish a permanent location in Volusia County. He assured victims they would not be negatively affected by the transition.

“Nothing changes on July 1 as far as services go,” Alexander said. “We will be providing the same scope of services for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.”

UF also provides child protection teams for six other counties. Alexander said current CAC staff members are encouraged to apply for positions with UF and his staff has several meetings planned with CAC over the next few weeks.

The child protection team is one portion of services that CAC will no longer provide as a result of losing its state contract. The Florida Department of Health is selecting new providers for Early Steps, an early-intervention program for at risk-children as well as its Sexual Assault Treatment Program, which provides counseling for child victims of sexual assault. UF's contract for child protective team services for Volusia and Flagler counties for 2014 totals $369,633.

“The Florida Department of Health is committed to providing access to quality services in a timely manner for the residents of Volusia and Flagler counties,” Dr. Celeste Philip, deputy secretary for health, said in a statement. “It is important for community members to know these services will continue to be available locally and there will be no gap in services to their families.”

Reggie Williams, CEO for the Children's Advocacy Center of Volusia and Flagler, said he would work with UF to ensure that child-abuse investigations are not interrupted. “The UF First Coast Child Protection Team is a good organization that has the backing of the university and the capacity to offer resources the CAC was not able to secure as a nonprofit organization,” said Williams, who joined the CAC in 2012. “The CAC will work with them to ensure a smooth transition of services.”

The future of CAC has yet to be determined. Williams said board members are looking at options for downsizing the organization and providing counseling services with the remainder of the nonprofit's budget. CAC will also discontinue services for its Rape Crisis Center on June 30, which provides a 24-hour hot line, advocacy and counseling services for adult sexual assault victims.

In three separate proposals to the state, CAC outlined plans to repay funds that had been redirected to other services in 2008 from the Early Steps program.

The proposals included increased fundraising efforts and a reduction in state funds in 2014, but the state rejected those plans, stating concerns about the nonprofit's financial health. For fiscal year 2013/2014, CAC reported a projected budget of $3.6 million with an operating deficit of $88,710 for two programs, according to financial documents provided by the nonprofit.



Workshop to address childhood abuse


Talking about childhood sexual abuse can be scary and intimidating, but a workshop designed for parents and caregivers aims to provide concrete tips for educating and protecting.

“Parenting Safe Children,” a workshop taught by licensed clinical social worker Feather Berkower, is set for noon-4 p.m. Aug. 16 at First Christian Church, 2130 E. Garfield. The registration deadline is June 15.

Katie Frick, who is organizing the workshop, said she attended one led by Berkower in northern Colorado and thought the topic was important enough to bring to Laramie.

Frick said she was overwhelmed thinking about the topic prior to the workshop and didn't know how to address it with her own children, one of whom is entering kindergarten this fall.

She emerged with a changed attitude and new confidence.

“It changed my whole thought process,” she said.

Berkower, who has also written a book called “Off Limits” that covers the same issues, has presented her workshop to more than 100,000 people around the country. She said every child everywhere is at risk, and statistics show that one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18.

“It's a public health issue. Most people don't know how prevalent it is,” Berkower said.

However, addressing abuse doesn't have to be fear-based, she said, and prevention is possible.

Just like children learn to wear bike helmets and seatbelts, they can learn rules for protecting themselves from abuse.

“What that takes is educated adults surrounding children with environments that are safe — environments where a sexual abuser can't cross the barrier,” she said.

Her model includes learning facts about abuse, screening caregivers and teaching children body-safety skills. She has a list of rules parents might teach children regarding issues such as privacy, secrecy and touching.

Other topics include characteristics of safe homes and schools, age-appropriate behavior and finding teachable moments.

“A child who walks in the world with a concept that they are in charge of their own body, that's a kid that a sexual abuser isn't very attracted to,” she said.

Frick said she's already started implementing tips she learned in the workshop in her home, and she hopes to engage others in making Laramie safer for children of all ages.

“The more we talk about it and the more we educate our kids, our communities and the groups our kids attend, the bigger a defense we put up against predators,” she said.

Frick said at least 40 people need to register by the June 15 deadline in order for the workshop to happen. Go to for more information or to register.


What: Parenting Safe Children

When: Noon-4 p.m. Aug. 16; the registration deadline is June 15

Where: First Christian Church, 2130 Garfield St.

Cost: $53.74 per person, which includes materials and snacks

More info: Contact Katie Frick at 760-4002 or , or go to



Concerns voiced on kid-abuse list

Removal plan said too strict

by Jeannie Roberts

Requirements are too restrictive under a proposal meant to ease the way for people accused of abuse to request removal from the state's Child Maltreatment Central Registry, some legislators said Wednesday at a Senate Committee on Children and Youth hearing.

Currently, those accused of child abuse stay on the list, in some cases permanently, even if they are found innocent in a criminal court or the charges are dropped. Additionally, some people accused of certain kinds of sexual abuse cannot request hearings to seek removal from the list.

In December, the Arkansas Department of Human Services had proposed that only those accused of abuses that led to the death of a child be disqualified from requesting removal from the registry.

After public hearings in which some participants said they were concerned that the name-removal process would be made too easy, the department joined forces with the Commission on Child Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence; the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Arkansas Children's Hospital and other stakeholders to revise and strengthen the proposal.

The final version of the proposal submitted to the legislative committee -- which came after months of conversations and compromise between the department and concerned stakeholders -- included numerous changes, such as the addition of about 18 offenses that, if coupled with removal of a child from the home, would prohibit those accused from requesting removal from the registry.

The committee reviewed the proposal Wednesday but took no action to hold it up.

However, Rep. Charlene Fite, R-Van Buren, took issue with the changes in the proposal, saying there was no recourse for people accused of some abuses, regardless of whether they were prosecuted.

She spoke of a constituent who lost parental rights after a child was injured in what he claimed was a fall. The constituent was never prosecuted, Fite said.

"Are you saying he has no recourse at this point, even though he still insists that he was innocent of this?" Fite said.

Christin Harper, policy unit manager with the Division of Children and Family Services, told Fite and the committee that indeed the man would not be able to request removal if the type of abuse he was accused of was listed on the proposal.

The offenses include: abuse with a deadly weapon, bone fractures, brain damage/skull fracture, burns/scalding, immersion, inadequate supervision of children less than 6 years old, interfering with a child's breathing, internal injuries, malnutrition, poison/noxious substances, presence of illegal substances in a child at birth, sexual exploitation, oral sex, sexual penetration, shaking a child 3 years old or younger, striking a child with a closed fist, subdural hematoma and suffocation.

"I would respectfully say that they should be able to challenge this," said Fite, a long-time volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, whose advocates represent abused and neglected children in the court system.

"Believe me, no one can hate child abuse more than I do," Fite said after the session. "But then I also understand that things can happen, and they're not exactly as they appear to be. I think children are still being protected by this proposal, but I think we need to be able to look at things on a case-by-case basis."

Committee Chairman Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, said the rules and regulations were too difficult to find on the Human Services Department's website.

"Somebody should be entitled to know where to go and notice all these rules. We're talking about, you know, depriving somebody of their liberty, their rights," Flowers said.

Flowers added that it was frustrating to have to deal with Arkansas Code, as well as the additional regulations from the department.

Under the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act, 25-15-201 et seq., the director of the Human Services Department has the authority to change regulations as long as they are reviewed by legislative committees.

"The only thing I would suggest is that maybe we need to incorporate that into the Arkansas Code -- not all the rules, but at least a reference to the rules," Flowers said.

The Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry was established after a 1974 federal mandate required all states to maintain child-abuse records. It differs from the Sex Offender Registry maintained by the Arkansas Crime Information Center to track sexual abusers convicted in criminal court.

The Child Maltreatment Central Registry covers people accused of various types of child abuse, ranging from neglect to physical abuse, regardless of whether the accused were prosecuted. The Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry is used in pre-employment screenings by school districts, day-care centers, hospitals and other organizations that have children in their care.

Harper emphasized to the legislative committee on Wednesday that simply being able to request removal does not mean that the accused will be automatically removed. The process includes an in-depth application for removal that could include documentation that certifies the offender has been rehabilitated, clear background checks and the absence of any open cases with the agency.

People can also be denied removal from the registry based on any pending criminal charges surrounding allegations of abuse.

The requests are reviewed each month by a five-member team made up of a Human Services Department attorney, an area director, a supervisor and a program administrator with the Office of Community Services, as well as a representative from the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline.

From December 2012 to November 2013, the registry review team processed 159 requests for removal. Of those requests, 88 names were approved for removal from the list.

The proposal will go for a final review by the Arkansas Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations on July 9 before it goes into effect.



House advances child sex abuse lawsuit bill

by Matt Murphy

BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – House leaders sprung a proposal on Wednesday to extend the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits brought by victims of alleged child sexual abuse, reengaging with a controversial topic that has been debated for years on Beacon Hill but has eluded compromise.

The House gave initial approval to a bill (H 4126) recommended last week by the Committee on the Judiciary, co-chaired by Belmont Sen. William Brownsberger who has taken the lead on this issue in the Senate in recent years.

The committee does not currently have a House chair, but Rep. John Lawn, of Watertown, has taken the lead on the issue for House leadership.

“We think we've crafted a bill that we can put forward that people feel comfortable with that gives people who've been abused a chance to face their accusers in a timeline that they're able to. It's complicated,” Lawn told the News Service.

Lawn said he became involved with the issue after he was approached by a constituent from Waltham who had been repeatedly raped, and impregnated, by her godfather over the span of a decade from the time she was 5 years old until she turned 15.

Unlike many other crime victims, Lawn said those who are sexually abused as children may need years to understand and come to terms with the abuse, but sometimes when that happens it's too late to pursue legal action. That was the case with his constituent.

The bill would extend the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits to be brought against the perpetrator of abuse or any person or institution who failed to prevent the abuse from three years after the alleged victim turns 18 to 35 years, or until the victim turns 53. The new statute of limitations would be applied retroactively to cases against the alleged perpetrator of the abuse, but not for defendants who may have “negligently supervised” the abuser.

The bill would also extend from three years to seven years the limit for a civil lawsuit to be brought against either class of defendant from the time the victim “discovered or reasonably should have discovered that an emotional or psychological injury or condition was caused” by the sexual abuse.

Both the House and Senate advanced bills late in 2012 to a conference committee, but lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise before the legislative session ended. Until today, the bill had not moved in their branch during the 2013-2014 session.

Much of the controversy in the 2012 debate centered around proposed changes to the legal standard of negligence and a House proposal to open up a one-year window for a victim of any age to file a civil claim of abuse, regardless of the person's age. The new bill does not address either issue.

Several House lawmakers said Wednesday that their renewed hope in the prospects for the bill stems, in part, from a “change of attitude” from the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston toward the legislation.

The Roman Catholic Church has fought similar legislative efforts in other states around the country, arguing that an extension or elimination of the statute of limitations could expose the church to enormous liabilities that force the institution to defend itself against claims that might be decades old instead of focusing on how to protect children.

Lawn said after the 2012 defeat he went “back to the drawing board,” and has worked with lawyers and stakeholders, including Massachusetts bishops, to refine the proposal that he is “hopeful” will pass this year.

“With this crime and as more states around the country and around the world deal with this issue it's major progress and I think it's a good step. Because this is such a complicated crime, it needs to be looked at differently,” Lawn said.

House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano, a Quincy Democrat, has filed versions of the statute of limitations bill in the past before turning the reins over to Lawn, and feels the timing this year might be right. “I will say there has been a change of attitude from the Church and a sense of cooperation, which is good to see,” Mariano said.

Pope Francis, elected in March 2013, recently declared a “zero tolerance” approach to dealing with sexual abuse within the church as he announced plans to meet at the Vatican as soon as this month with eight victims of clergy abuse. Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who is the head of a commission set up by the Pope to study ways of dealing with sexual abuse cases in the Catholic church, is helping to organize the meeting. O'Malley last year met with dozens of Beacon Hill lawmakers at the Union Club in Boston during a gathering that church officials said was intended to reopen communications.


Gov. Chris Christie signs 'Jessica Lunsford' sex offender bill into law

New Jersey has become the 46th state to enact a law toughening penalties for sex offenders who prey on children.

Gov. Chris Christie today signed the law known as the "Jessica Lunsford Act," which imposes mandatory 25-year terms without parole for anyone convicted of assaulting a child younger than 13.

Prosecutors would be permitted to negotiate a 15-year sentence to keep some victims from having to testify.

The bill is named after a 9-year-old Florida girl who was kidnapped, raped and buried alive by a convicted sex offender in 2005. Similar laws around the country are intended to keep child sex offenders locked up longer to reduce their ability to re-offend.

The girl's father, Mark Lunsford, has pushed hard for such laws.

He flew to Trenton to attend today's bill signing.

Primary sponsors for the Jessica Lunsford Act included state Sens. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex/Warren/Morris; Diane Allen, R-Burlington; and Tom Kean Jr., R-Union; and Assembly members Alison Littell McHose, R-Sussex/Warren/Morris; Nancy Munoz, R-Union/Morris/Somerset; and Mary Pat Angelini, R-Monmouth.

Littell McHose in a statement said: "The physical and emotional harm done to children, as well as the trauma suffered by their families and communities, deserves the strongest possible response by the justice system. Justice has now been served. The new law will equip law enforcement with the tools it needs to make sure sexual predators receive the punishment they deserve."



Pre-teen girls accused of stabbing slumber party friend 19 times to please mythological creature

by Lindsey Bever

The prosecutor asked: “Isn't that the worst kind of killer, the cold-blooded killer?”

“Most of the time in a crime like this, with such violence like this, there's spur of the moment, there's the heat of passion,” Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel told reporters, describing the weekend's slumber party stabbing. “It's troubling when a person lashes out in anger. It's more troubling when they lash out in cold blood.”

He was talking about a months-long murder plot involving three 12-year-old girls — two of them the alleged attackers and one of them the victim with 19 stab wounds.

One of the 12-year-old suspects told police the two girls decided to kill their friend to honor a mythological character they read about online, the criminal complaint stated.

So, after a slumber party, the two took their friend into a wooded park in southeastern Wisconsin and distracted her with a game of hide-and-seek. One girl told the other, “go ballistic, go crazy,” the complaint said. And they allegedly stabbed the friend 19 times.

One jab missed a major artery near her heart by a millimeter, doctors told police. The victim, a girl who goes to school with the other two, was in stable condition on Monday.

The two girls were charged as adults with first-degree attempted homicide on Monday in Waukesha County Circuit Court, the Associated Press reported. If convicted, each faces up to 60 years in prison. A court commissioner set bail at $500,000 cash each.

The Washington Post is not naming them because at least one of their attorneys reportedly plans to try to move her case to juvenile court, where records are private.

If either one of the girls is moved to and convicted in juvenile court, she could be held at most until she is 25 years old, Schimel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“It's extremely disturbing as a parent and as chief of police,” Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack told reporters at a news conference before the court appearances.

The girls' attorneys did not immediately return calls seeking comment early Tuesday.

The girls invited their friend to a slumber party on Friday evening, according to news reports of the allegations. They planned to kill her during the night so they wouldn't have to look into her eyes, one girl told police. They would duct tape her mouth, stab her in the neck and pull the covers over her to make it appear she was sleeping — and then run away, the Journal Sentinel reported. But, later that night their plans changed.

The girls allegedly decided to kill her in a park bathroom on Saturday morning. One girl told police she knew of a drain in the floor for the blood to go down. But once in the bathroom, one girl allegedly had a “nervous breakdown.” The other suggested a game.

During hide-and-seek, one girl reportedly tackled the victim and started stabbing. The Journal Sentinel reported the victim screamed: “I hate you. I trusted you.”

One girl told the victim they were going to get help — but they weren't, the paper said.

After they left, the victim crawled out of the woods and onto a road, where a bicyclist found her, CNN reported. The complaint states the victim said: “Please help me. I've been stabbed.” She could only answer questions by saying “yes” or “no.”

One of the girls told a detective they were trying to become “proxies” of Slender Man, a mythological demon-like creature they read about on, a Web site about horror stories and legends. One of the girls told police the character is the “leader” of Creepypasta, and in the hierarchy of that world, one must kill to prove dedication, the Journal Sentinel reported. After the slaying, the girls planned to run away to the demon's mansion in the Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin, the complaint said.

One girl said she sees him in her dreams. She said he can read her mind and teleport.

“Creepypasta” comes from the Internet slang term “copypasta,” a block of text that is copied and pasted on numerous sites. Its stories often include anecdotes, rituals or lost episodes of TV shows, USA Today reported. Rituals include a “list of instructions for the reader, claiming that if they go to a certain place at a certain time, and perform specific actions, something remarkable and/or horrifying will happen,” the site states.

Schimel stressed that the two suspects are innocent until proven guilty, but he told the Journal Sentinel he has never encountered allegations like this as a prosecutor.



Training aims to help prevent child abuse

by News Sentinel staff

The Tennessee chapter for Children's Advocacy Centers (TNCAC) will hold a Stewards of Children training event Tuesday, June 10, to educate the public on methods to recognize and prevent child sexual abuse.

“The organization Darkness to Light created this training in 2006 to fight child sex abuse,” said Ambler Brown, East Tennessee prevention specialist for TNCAC.

“It's the only evidence-based training on this subject that focuses on different statistics and studies. It focuses on adult survivors and brings in professionals from the medical field, FBI, law enforcement and pastors and therapists.”

The event is free and open to the public. It will be at South College's west campus at 400 Goody's Lane from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the building's auditorium.

The training will consist of two sessions where attendees will receive a workbook, watch a training segment and then discuss what they saw.

“I will facilitate some discussion on the shared data, and participants will talk about what they have learned so far and how they will use it,” said Brown.

“If you're an adult, and you have children in your life, it's your job to protect them,” said Brown. “Nothing derails a child's ability to reach their potential more than being a victim of child sexual abuse.

“Every time we train someone, it has the potential to help a child,” he said. “We want more and more people to be aware of this.”

Brown said he plans to hold these training sessions on a monthly basis at South College's west campus and will plan them based on the school's class schedule. He said it is preferred that attendees RSVP before coming to the sessions.

For more information on the event or to reserve a spot, contact Ambler Brown at



Su Casa cares for a growing number of abused women in Long Beach

by Joe Segura

LONG BEACH >> To Vicki Doolittle, executive director of Su Casa in Long Beach, the woman with facial bruises and an arm in a sling exemplified the nonprofit organization's mission.

“She reminded me of why we're doing the work we do,” Doolittle said. And the work is growing. The number of abuse cases has mushroomed since the recession. We're keeping the shelter full all the time.”

The shelter has seen a 36 percent increase in residents, rising from 133 adults and children housed at the facility from July 2012 through April 2013 to 181 in the same time period ending in April of this year.

The number of hotline calls during that period also jumped, from 1,072 to 2,265.

The battered woman with the sprained armed and bruised face had been abused numerous times before she sought help, Doolittle said.

“She felt stuck because she loved him a lot but also knew deep down that what he was doing to her was not right,” Doolittle said. “She struggled with those emotions for quite some time and endured the abuse for two long years.”

Most victims do not have other resources that can help them out of their crisis, Doolittle said.

The majority are ethnic minorities: 53 percent are Latino, 34 percent are African-American and 13 percent are Caucasian.

Doolittle said the annual income for 84 percent of the clients is less than $9,000 a year.

Nearly two-thirds report that they were abused as children, Doolittle said.

Su Casa has been serving victims of domestic violence for 35 years.

The organization was founded in 1979 by Petra Medelez, herself an abuse survivor, who answered crisis calls and housed women and their children at her own Hawaiian Gardens home.

Su Casa's core programs includes a 24-hour crisis hotline, an emergency shelter with 22 beds, a transitional shelter with 24 beds and a walk-in resource center.

A three-unit permanent housing is rented to three families at low rates. There are also community education programs.

“Every person has the right to live free from violence and the threat of violence,” Doolittle said.

There also is extensive intervention crisis counseling.

“It's important to let the victims know they are not alone,” she said.



Los Angeles authorities investigating Willow Smith photo

by Tony Hicks

Authorities are investigating Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, after a photo surfaced earlier this month of their fully-clothed 13-year-old daughter, Willow, lying on a bed with the shirtless, 20-year-old former "Hannah Montana" actor Moises Arias, according to RadarOnline.

"The investigation was formally opened last week (by Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services) and is being taken very seriously by the department," a source told Radar. "Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have been extremely cooperative with officials. Of course, they aren't happy that their parenting skills are under scrutiny, but they understand."

The source also said, "Social workers will also be talking separately with Willow, and they also want to talk to the young man in the picture with her as well."

It's a good thing the authorities in the great city of Los Angeles have nothing better to do than spend time investigating famous people's seemingly-innocent online photos.

Then again, if that was my daughter ...

Willow's mother Jada defended the picture shortly after it went viral, saying there was "nothing sexual about it."

Radar reported the source said, "This won't just be one or two visits with the family, and it will likely be an open investigation for at least a month, out of an abundance of caution."

Right. Well, at least they aren't using their names to push their kids into the film business.

Photographers asked Pinkett Smith about the photo on May 7 after she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport.

"Here's the deal," she said, in a video shown on TMZ. "There was nothing sexual about that picture or that situation. You guys are projecting your trash onto it ... and you're acting like covert pedophiles and that's not cool."

But having a shirtless 20-year-old guy in bed with your 13-year-old daughter is cool, apparently.

TMZ reported a source saying Willow's parents had "no issue" with the photo, and that Willow is "very mature." The couple say the photo was "an expression of art" and "innocent fun."




PTSD goes far beyond shell-shock, affects more than just survivors of war

June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Month, a designation that draws attention to the mental health disorder that can occur after you have been through a trauma.

Normally when you're in danger, and feel afraid, your body triggers a natural "fight-or-flight" response. "But when you have PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they're no longer in danger," states the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Events that might lead someone to develop PTSD include: Combat or war exposure; sexual or physical abuse as a child or as an adult; terrorist attacks; serious accidents; and natural disasters, such as a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake, according to the National Center for PTSD.

That's a wide-ranging list of possibilities. And those affected can be of any age or background.

PTSD affects roughly 7.7 million American adults, but it can occur at any age, including childhood, according to NIMH.

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics found that 11 percent of children surveyed who were at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, during the bombings suffered from PTSD. That rate is about six times higher than the PTSD rate in kids who weren't at the site of the attack that killed three people and injured 264, per the study.

The Connecticut General Assembly is considering legislation that would include mental health treatments paid for under the state workers' compensation law for public employees experiencing PTSD after witnessing violent events like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

The instances grow more numerous and alarming with regard to our military.

According to a congressionally-mandated study released last year by the Institute of Medicine, as many as 20 percent of veterans returning from service (often numerous deployments) in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, the study found that up to 45 percent of female troops experienced sexual trauma in the military, driving their PTSD beyond what they experienced in combat alone.

Closer to home, the number with PTSD seems to be even higher -- an estimated 25 percent of 3,000 Vermont Army National Guard soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 are dealing with PTSD symptoms, the state surgeon for the Guard announced in May.

"A significant amount of our soldiers do require some additional behavioral health support to reintegrate after deployments, obviously more with each subsequent deployment," Col. Martin Lucenti, the Guard's top medical officer, told the Burlington Free Press.

After returning home, there is for many of our military another battle to be fought -- the battle against PTSD.

A May 29 article in the Atlantic said it well: "It's an existential dilemma for many of us but for the military, the ability to treat anxiety, depression, memory loss and the symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder has become one of the most important battles of the post-war period."

So what can we do to help those who suffer from it?

A good start would be trying understanding what PTSD is and recognizing its symptoms, which may include flashbacks, bad dreams, frightening thoughts, feeling numb or depressed, feeling on-edge, having difficulty sleeping or having angry outbursts, according to NIMH.

Those with PTSD re-live their trauma over and over again, sometimes with periods of respite.

Ways we can help include simply there to lend an ear and offer support, as well as encourage a loved one with PTSD symptoms to seek professional help. Thankfully, there are treatment options for PTSD sufferers. These include specialized counseling and medicinal therapy.

The term "shell-shock," meaning battle fatigue, was coined after World War II to describe what veterans were going through after they returned from battle. What we know today as PTSD goes far beyond shell-shock, and affects more than just survivors of war.

Our bravest citizens, and our most troubled, need our help and support.

Visit the National Center for PTSD's website at for resources, links, and stories about PTSD.



Local groups reap Penn State bowl revenue to fund child abuse awareness programs

by Matt Carroll

Two local causes that work to protect children from abuse will again get a boost this year from Penn State's football bowl revenues, the university said in a statement.

The Children's Advocacy Center, a victims services agency that opened this year, and the Stewards of Children, an education and prevention program, will share $229,367 from the university, on top of the $188,000 they split last year.

Penn State had to forfeit $2.75 million in bowl revenue-sharing it would have received for the past season as part of the NCAA and Big Ten sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.

Instead, the money was split among the 12 universities in the conference. Penn State decided to donate its share, as it did last year, and worked with the Centre County United Way to channel the funds.

Through the United Way, Penn State has given the two child advocacy groups $417,367 to split over the past two years. Last year, the bowl revenue pot was lower, $2.26 million, and the university's share came to $188,000.

Local officials have praised the donations, with Tammy Gentzel, the local United Way director, previously calling them “transformational.”

“The Stewards of Children program is an important resource in the fight against child sexual abuse,” Gentzel said in a statement. “Under the leadership of the YMCA of Centre County, Centre County Women's Resource Center and Centre County Youth Service Bureau, thousands of adults have been provided with the information they need to keep our children safe. This significant funding will ensure that Stewards of Children training continues in Centre County.”

The Children's Advocacy Center of Centre County opened this year in Bellefonte. The facility was created to make the reporting experience as easy as possible for young victims, in a welcoming and protected environment where they only have to tell their story once.

“As a growing organization, this generous donation will aid our mission of providing a compassionate approach to the prevention, identification, intervention and treatment of child abuse or neglect, and help us offer more services to victims and their families,” Executive Director Kristina Taylor-Porter said in a statement. “Meeting the needs of children and their families is our primary concern. Penn State's contribution will go far in our region's fight against child abuse.”



Is Lancaster County bucking U.S. trend of decreased child sex abuse?


Despite seemingly endless recent reports of children being sexually abused in Lancaster County and across Pennsylvania, national statistics show a decline in the crime from 1992 through 2012.

“I think we have a virtuous cycle, rather than a vicious cycle,” said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

The sexual abuse of children declined 60 percent across the United States and 46 percent in Pennsylvania from 1992 through 2012, Finkelhor said.

Kari Stanley, program supervisor for the Lancaster County Children's Alliance, has her doubts.

“I don't believe it to be true, not in Lancaster County,” Stanley said.

The alliance — a children's advocacy center under the umbrella of Lancaster General Health — brings together a multidisciplinary team to investigate, treat and prosecute cases of child sexual abuse.

“Since we opened in 2006, our numbers have progressively increased each year with reports of allegations of abuse,” Stanley said.

Finkelhor is confident in the national numbers because they come from a variety of sources. And, given that they include surveys of women and girls about their sexual pasts, they should for unreported cases as well.

The data Finkelhor relied upon that show a decrease in child sexual abuse are:

•  Reports by child protective services.

•  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect.

•  FBI data from police departments.

•  Surveys of crime victims, school children in Minnesota and women ages 15-25 about their first sexual encounters; and

•  National vital statistics concerning behaviors often associated with child sexual abuse, such as running away from home, suicidal behavior and teen pregnancy.

All of the above point to a reduction.

The only indicator not showing a significant decline was the National Survey of Adolescents' 1995 and 2005 findings on the lifetime sexual assault of girls, which fell to 11.5 percent from 13.2 percent over that decade.

While child abuse reports in Lancaster County hit new highs in both 2012 and 2013, reports of sexual abuse against children to the Lancaster County Children & Youth Social Service Agency — which is limited to investigating abuse within a household — have been up and down over the past seven years.

One of the reasons Stanley believes child sexual abuse continues to be a problem in conservative areas like Lancaster County is that children are often discouraged from even talking about their genitals. That makes it hard to report sexual abuse, and therefore easier to get away with it.

“They don't talk about sexuality, just don't talk about it,” she said.

Frederika Schmitt, a sociologist and criminologist at Millersville University, agrees that teaching children to know and not be ashamed of their bodies is important to preventing abuse.

“We need to educate children at a very young age about their own bodies,” Schmitt said, “about ‘good touch and bad touch,' that if anyone touches their private parts that's inappropriate; they need to report that.”

Once we start talking about, and being able to talk about our genitals by name, more people can come forward with reports of abuse, Stanley said.

“As a society, when we start talking about it, we take away the stigma,” she said.

Abuse victims then “realize they are not alone,” she said. “And we have support systems in place in case someone is being abused.”

What about false reports?

Mary Halye, a forensic interviewer with the alliance, said the percentage of false allegations of child sexual abuse is “extremely low, like 2 percent.”

And that's because the things that happen to a child who is sexually abused would be difficult to describe unless the child was abused.

“There are some things that you have to experience to be able to verbalize,” she said.


New York

Study shows child abuse is prevalent


NEW YORK - More than 12 percent of American kids will experience neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse by age 18, suggesting that such maltreatment is more prevalent than current estimates, Yale University researchers said.

Researchers used the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File to estimate that about 1 in 8 children will suffer such mistreatment by age 18. The Department of Health and Human Services finds that about 1 in 100 children annually experience abuse and neglect.

The research, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, drew from confirmed cases of neglect and abuse as reported by child protective services agencies across the country, showing that more than 5.6 million children had suffered maltreatment from 2004 to 2011. Children who are black, Native American and Hispanic suffer the highest rates compared with kids who are white or Asian/Pacific Islander, the research found.

“Child maltreatment is common,” Christopher Wildeman, an associate professor of sociology at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., said in a telephone interview. “It's unequally distributed and if we don't think about public policies that seek to diminish child maltreatment, we're not only leading ourselves to have a less healthy generation of children, we're also potentially allowing racial disparities in childhood maltreatment to grow.”

Maltreatment in childhood is associated with higher rates of death, obesity, mental health issues, including suicide, and criminal behavior, the authors said. It costs $124 billion in the U.S. a year and lifetime per-person costs are higher than or comparable with those of diseases like stroke and diabetes, they said.

Girls had a higher risk for maltreatment than boys. Black children had a 21 percent likelihood of maltreatment by age 18 compared with 15 percent for Native Americans, 13 percent for Hispanics, 11 percent for whites and 3.8 percent for Asian/Pacific Islander children.

The majority of the confirmed maltreatment is considered neglect, which includes inadequate supervision, Wildeman said.



Advocates say prevention is the key to keeping children safe from abuse

by Carlos Correa

BAKERSFIELD, Caif. - Recent cases of alleged child abuse around Kern County continues to push the need for prevention.

Advocates say reporting neglect isn't always easy, but it does save lives.

Young people are getting a second chance and learning about opportunity after a life growing up in foster care Elijah Harris, 18, is set on making something of his life, after his mother's drug addiction left him without family.

"When I was younger I really didn't understand it, as I got older through the process I started to hate her. Hate who she was," he said.

He grew up in foster care and in the past few years has worked here at covenant coffee getting job training, life skills and preparing for college this fall.

"It helped me grow up. It was hard through the process but now that I look back at it, it was definitely need to happen because I don't know where I would be if people didn't help me out," said Harris.

General neglect accounts for 83 percent of entries into child care around the state, and close to 88 percent in Kern County.

"The cases are increasing and they are not going away just because eof the increase of drug use in our community,” said Randy Martin, CEO of Covenant Community Services

Advocates say keeping children safe in any circumstance involving abuse is their top priority and account on the community for help.

"Of course in your neighborhood, it's going to feel awkward to make a report or say there is a suspected child abuse or neglect going on, but that's the right thing to do," he said.

It's what's helping save lives. Lindsey Rieke was removed from her home at the age of 16 and through covenant is preparing for a better life.

"I knew how it affected me, growing up without parents is really challenging and growing up around alcohol abuse or drug abuse, it's also very trying, but it's also for me it gives me the passions that I have today, and it makes me want to see other kids have better than I did," she said.

This month, the group is teaming up with a Bakersfield church and hosting a Kids Camp, providing love and education to foster youth in our community.


National Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse

SAN ANTONIO -- The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities is a federal agency made up of appointed commissioners from all over the country.

The goal of the commission is to study and make recommendations on eliminating child abuse and neglect fatalities.

Commissioners held their first public hearings in San Antonio at UTSA's downtown campus.

Local Congressman Llyod Doggett passed a bill in congress to form the commission. "I thought we needed a support of a commission that did a national study to show how extensive this problem is," Congressman Doggett went on to say. The bill authored by Congressman Doggett is entitled the Protect Our Kids Act.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services says last fiscal year 66,000 Texas children were abused or neglected. The agency reports 156 children died last fiscal year from abuse or neglect.

"That's down from 229 the year before," added Judge John Specia, Commissioner for agency.

Judge Specia went on to say children under three are at high risk. "Children under one are actually higher".

The majority of abuse or neglect cases the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigates involves, "Things like safe sleep, drowning's, fire arms, failure to provide medical care", Judge Specia
went on to say.

The national commission plans to hold hearings throughout the country over the next two years to learn more about how to help combat child abuse and neglect. Once the hearings are completed the commission will make recommendations to Congress.


North Carolina


If you suspect child abuse, report it

The phrase “battered child syndrome” entered our language in 1962. It was the title of an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association whose authors wrote they coined it “to characterize a clinical condition in young children who have received serious physical abuse, generally from a parent or foster parent.”

It's a gut-wrenching collection of words — and a sad thought that we need such a phrase — but it gave medical examiners a succinct and clinical way to describe how 15-month-old Malaya Heun died Jan. 21. They could just as accurately have said she was beaten to death.

An autopsy listed the ultimate cause of Malaya's death as “septic shock due to complications of inflicted blunt force trauma to the abdomen.” But the report also said the toddler had suffered abuse over time — authorities say at least a month — and that some injuries, including broken ribs, had already begun healing.

After a deliberate investigation, Kannapolis police say they know who killed Malaya. On Monday, they charged her aunt, Alisha Carlisle, and Carlisle's boyfriend, John Turner, with first-degree murder. Though not parents or foster parents, Chief Woody Chavis said they were Malaya's “sole caretakers.”

But how could no one else have known? Malaya's mother, Christy Heun, told investigators that her sister, Carlisle, called her at work the night the toddler was hospitalized. Had she not noticed previous injuries? Had neighbors not heard Malaya crying in pain?

More than 1,500 children die every year in the U.S as a result of abuse. Across North Carolina in 2012, 28 children died at the hands of people who were supposed to be taking care of them. Some, like Malaya, were too young to tell anyone. Others were too scared.

Surely some of those deaths could have been prevented. Children who have been abused exhibit signs. Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina has a guide to recognizing those signs, and more information, on its website, The National Child Abuse hotline has counselors available 24 hours a day at 1-800-422-4453.

And North Carolina law requires “any person or institution” who suspects child abuse to report it to local authorities. You're not required to have proof, just “cause to suspect.” To report suspected abuse in Rowan County, call the Department of Social Services at 704-216-8498. After hours, call 911.

Malaya's suffering is over. But it continues for many more children. Too many, even if it's just one. And you may know that one. You may that child's best hope for survival.



Couple charged with video recording sexual abuse of 1-year-old to receive mental health exams

by Barton Deiters

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The couple accused of video recording their sexual abuse of a 1-year-old child are seeking psychiatric evaluations to see if they should be held criminally responsible for their acts.

A Kent County Circuit Court trial was scheduled to begin Monday, June 2 for Stevie Marie Foehl, 23, and Michael Justin Emory, 26, but will be delayed until a mental health exam is completed.

This type of exam is meant to determine if a defendant lacks the capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her conduct, or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law.

The Comstock Park pair is charged with multiple counts of child sexual abuse and computer crimes resulting from the alleged events that occurred in an Alpine Township apartment in 2012.

Police say they found videos and photographs of child pornography featuring the unidentified baby after searching the couple's York Creek apartment in August.

The couple took turns recording one another assaulting the child sometime around Oct. 25, 2012, according to court records. Emory is accused of committing at least three sexual acts with the baby.

If one or both of the defendants are found not competent, the Kent County Prosecutor's Office will have to decide whether to proceed to trial on the current charges.

No new date has been set for trial, slated to be take place before Judge Dennis Leiber.



Officials plan course, 'Child Sexual Abuse: Signs, Symptoms and Reporting Methods'

by Staff Report

Former state Senator Bill Diamond has partnered with St. Joseph's College in Standish to offer a special training symposium for teachers, health care professionals, social service workers and day care operators on the subject of child sexual abuse.

Titled, "Child Sexual Abuse: Signs, Symptoms and Reporting Methods," the one-week course — the first of its kind in Maine — will be held from July 14-18. It promises to help professionals understand child sexual behaviors, the grooming process used by offenders, the cultural impact of sexual abuse, and child sexual abuse investigating and reporting, according to a press release on the event.

This symposium is a one-week course divided into two distinct sessions. Half of the day will be devoted to presentations by qualified experts in the field of child sexual abuse, including Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, Lt. Glenn Lang of the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit, and Cara Courchesne, communications director for the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Abuse.

The remainder of the day will be devoted to the development of special projects based on the information learned in the presentations, which the participants can take back to their workplace to inform their colleagues about the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse.
The symposium will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 14-18 at St. Joseph's College, 278 Whites Bridge Road Standish. For more information and to register, go to



Data reveals allegations of children sexually abusing peers at school, experts call for action

by Lorna Knowles and Alison Branley

Australian schools recorded almost 1,000 cases of children sexually abusing other children last year, but experts warn that figure is the tip of the iceberg.

The ABC has obtained data under Freedom of Information laws that shows education departments around Australia received at least 940 reports of serious sexual assaults among children in 2013.

But criminologist Dr Wendy O'Brien says the problem is under-reported in Australia because of a culture of denial and non-disclosure.

"I do think we do have a problem with data collection in Australia," Dr O'Brien said.

"That stems, in my mind, from the denial that is quite entrenched, the misunderstanding that this is innocent, and that if it's left alone it might go away."

The figures obtained by the ABC varied wildly between the states, sparking calls for national reporting rules and management guidelines.

For example Victoria reported 757 students were involved in such incidents, New South Wales reported 145 incidents, while Tasmania had none.

Many education departments told the ABC they did not keep specific records on the problem, and said that to get statistics they would have to examine each individual report in their system.

Children being 'groomed' and 'blackmailed'

The released information reveals the troubling nature of some of the alleged incidents among children in schools.

The data is based on serious incident reports from schools.

Incident reports from South Australia detail children engaging in "sexual language, innuendo, and inappropriate touching".

One reported a child "grooming" another child while another detailed how one child was blackmailed over incidents.

Many reports cited histories of problem sexualised behaviour, interest in younger children, and victims and perpetrators remaining in schools together.

One educator wrote: "I believe [the victim] and her family have been let down by other supporting agencies."

In the ACT there were verbal threats of sexual assault.

Victoria has its own classification of "problem sexual behaviour under 10".

The NSW Education Department said it had recorded 66 cases of indecent assault, 33 cases of sexual assault, 19 cases of sexting, and 27 involving social networking sites.

Principal dismissed claims as 'normal'

The problem is not confined to public schools, with one mother telling the ABC that she withdrew her six-year-old son from an exclusive private primary school in New South Wales after the headmaster dismissed her concerns about sexual abuse among boys in the school toilets.

The mother, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, says her son was sexually abused by a classmate and told her boys were being forced to perform oral sex on other boys in the school toilets.

"I went in to see the headmaster and I expected him to be horrified," she said.

"On numerous times throughout the conversation he said to me, 'well there are activities that boys do that are within the realms of normal behaviour and this could possibly be the same thing, normal behaviour'.

"I said to him, 'are you saying to me that fellatio between six-year-olds is normal?' And he kept saying 'well I'm not saying it is, but it could be'."

The mother says she expected the school would have protocols in place to deal with the problem.

"I just think people need to be more aware that can happen. I think that you put a lot of respect and a lot of trust in the people who teach your children," she said.

"You think that they're doing a good job with them, and you trust that they're there for six hours a day and the right thing is happening.

"And you also trust that if something goes wrong that they will know what to do."

National agreement needed, says expert

Dr O'Brien was a senior research fellow with the Australian Crime Commission and wrote a report on sexualised behaviours in young children in 2010.

She said the discrepancies in figures between the states indicated child-on-child sexual abuse in schools was not being properly monitored and recorded.

"I don't think it's feasible for us to consider that there would be more than 700 instances in one state and none in another,'' she said.

"I think that we need to work towards an agreement across the country as to the seriousness of this issue, the terminology that might be used to record data when any given instance is observed, the requirements that that be mandatory and be fully understood, and also the options then for referral for those children."

Shortage of services to treat children

Dr Joe Tucci from the Australian Childhood Foundation runs one of the few programs for children with sexualised behaviour.

He has told the ABC that since his Melbourne-based programs began 10 years ago, referrals have jumped from 10 per year to 200.

Dr Tucci said early intervention was crucial, but said those living in regional areas of Australia were not able to access the support they needed.

"It really depends on where you live as to whether you can access a program like ours, and that's not right," he said.

"You should have access to the same level of intervention in a regional area as you do in a metropolitan area.

"There are places around Australia that don't have any services at all.

"I think that's a problem that will continue to reverberate in the community. Because if these kids aren't supported when they're young, then the behaviour just becomes more entrenched and they do end up being those adults who offend against children."



Local man tells horrifying tales of child sex slavery

A local man is sharing his horriffic stoires of sexual abuse to try and help others.

by Heather Crawford

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Human sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States according the Department of Justice, and it's happening right here on the First Coast. Some of the victims are young children forced to have sex dozens of times a day.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says in 2013 working with the FBI two individuals were indicted on federal charges for human trafficking, and an additional 40 arrests were made for other charges related to human trafficking. JSO says last year case it worked on resulted in 50 victims of human trafficking being recovered or identified including seven juveniles.


Jerome Elam was a defenseless child, only 5-years-old, when he says a relative forced him to be a sex slave in Florida.

"It began because I was a child desperate for affection. The relative who was a predator took advantage of that., and basically coerced me into trafficking using drugs and alcohol and threats of violence," recounted Elam.

Sexually abused over and over again Elam says he was also coerced into child pornography. To outsiders though, he says he appeared to be a normal child. He even attended school.

"I would be pulled out of school at times and what they would do is they would set up a list of clients and this would take place in hotels, in campers, in store rooms, whatever location they chose we would be forced to go to.," said Elam. "There was no depth of depravity these people had, so it was a very lucrative business."

The pedophiles buying his services according to Elam were often trusted members of society.

"They looked like the people you would see in church on Sunday. These were doctors and lawyers and people who were well respected but the darker side of them were never exposed until they got into the after hours trafficking part of it," said Elam.

Controlled not by chains but by fear he says he ultimately escaped at the age of 12 after seven excruciating years of hell. He found freedom after a suicide attempt landed him in the emergency room.

He's now sharing his story to raise awareness about what's happening in small towns, larges towns and everywhere in between and to empower other victims.

"You can reclaim your life. Just because somebody tries to make you feel like you are worthless doesn't mean you are. There is a light inside of us that we never lose touch with. You can find that. Just look for it and find a way out," Elam said.


According to the Florida Department of Children and Families children who have endured past sexual abuse, have unaddressed trauma and are runaways are at a heightened risk for becoming a victim of human trafficking. DCF says two-thirds of all children who run away from home are approached within 48 hours to get involved in sex trafficking. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates a pimp can make $150,000 to $200,000 per child a year, and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls.

In Florida there has been an increased number of reports each year of human trafficking. In 2013 DCF says its Abuse Hotline received 960 calls statewide regarding human trafficking. 105 of those calls came from northeast Florida. 10 of the cases in the Northeast Region were verified including four in Duval County including to John Harrell with DCF.

"The Florida Department of Children and Families has a great working relationship with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the FBI. DCF notifies the Child Protection Team, law enforcement, and the FBI immediately when we get a report on human trafficking."

If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected Florida law requires you report it to the Florida Abuse Hotline by calling 1-800-962-2873. To find out more about the signs of child abuse, go to

Human Trafficking Resources:

Trafficking in America Task Force

Trafficking in America Conference

Polaris Project


DCF: Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking Workgroup - Resource for recognizing signs of human trafficking

1-888-373-7888 - National Human Trafficking Resource Center




Spreading awareness about sex trafficking

by Kelly Bothum

Third-year resident works to connect patients to proper resources

Dr. Kanani Titchen still remembers the young woman and the graphic images imprinted on her skin around her groin.

The woman was sedated in the operating room, just before undergoing a medical procedure. Titchen was a medical student.

The message was clear. This woman's body was available – for a price.

At the time, the health professionals with Titchen didn't have much to say about the tattoo or what might prompt someone to make that kind of statement with her body.

"The thought was, 'OK, we have a job to do,'" Titchen said. "She was having surgery."

Now a pediatrics resident with Jefferson/Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Titchen recognizes something other than regrettable decision-making could have led to that woman's derogatory tattoo.

She may have been a victim of domestic sex trafficking, and the tattoo may have been forced on her by a pimp looking to leave his mark on what he considered his property.

The popularity of tattooing and branding by pimps is just one of the things Titchen, 39, of Philadelphia, has learned in recent years as she has worked to raise awareness about domestic sex trafficking. She's also discovered that most pediatricians aren't aware of the signs of childhood sexual exploitation or what to do if they suspect it.

For her efforts, Titchen, a rising third-year medical resident, recently received a $25,000 honorarium in a national contest looking to highlight the inspiring residents who have found the right fit in medicine. Titchen was chosen from more than 200 resident doctors nominated for the contest, sponsored by Medelita, a company that designs performance lab coats and scrubs.

"To do this kind of project is one thing. To do this as a resident when your schedule is already booked up tight is really remarkable," said Dr. David Rappaport, associate director of the residency program at duPont Hospital. "It really shows you what kind of person and physician Kanani is."

State, global issue

About 100,000 American children and teens – mostly girls, but boys as well – are estimated to be victims of sex trafficking, according to the Polaris Project, an organization focused on fighting global human trafficking and slavery. These are victims who are forced or coerced into having sex or provide other services against their will. In some cases, people are sold between pimps like belongings. Some are runaways, while others are homeless or live with alcohol or drug addiction.

It's a global issue with local ties as well. Over a five-year period, the Polaris Project has received 122 calls from Delaware to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888). Seventeen of those calls occurred in a six-month period last year.

In Delaware, the House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on S.B. 197, which increases penalties for traffickers, establishes protective measures for victims and forms a council to monitor human trafficking in the state. The legislation also imposes stricter penalties on those who patronize victims of sex trafficking at businesses. The bill, backed by Attorney General Beau Biden's office, is similar to legislation pending in other states.

It may seem like these victims hide in the shadows of society, but they are more visible than people realize, Titchen said. Young victims may frequent free or low-cost health clinics to get medical care. Health professionals, unaware of the subtle cues that may suggest a patient is a victim – such as specific tattoos, extensive bruising and not making eye contact with others – may mistake their brusque manner as an extreme form of teenage rebellion.

But there's an opportunity to connect patients with resources to help them escape these pimps and abusers, who rely on insecurity, fear, drugs and violence to keep their victims from getting away.

"Are we seeing these patients and don't know it? Yes, these patients are in our hospitals," said Titchen, who is working on a video series aimed at educating health care professionals about signs of domestic trafficking as well as resources to help these especially vulnerable patients. "Health care providers are behind the curve, but we really are at the intersection of recognizing these patients and helping them access the resources they need."

'Passion' used well

Sex trafficking wasn't exactly one of the topics Titchen expected to explore when she started at Jefferson Medical College. She started medical school later than most of her peers, working as an actress before switching careers.

She first learned about human trafficking from watching, "The Whistleblower," a feature film based on incidents in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. From there, she began her own research and discovered the problem wasn't just across the ocean. She learned about Internet sites like Backpage, where sex traffickers have been known to advertise. She met young victims who came to her for care.

With help from Nemours doctors, Titchen put together a national survey asking medical students, residents and physicians what they knew about human trafficking. She got more than 1,600 responses confirming her hunch: "Physicians don't know much about the trafficking, but they care immensely about helping their patients," Titchen said.

The physician response prompted her to develop a four-chapter video series with experts who talk about human trafficking, the signs and resources available. It also includes an interview with a trafficking survivor. Working on the video series also has given her a chance to put those acting skills to good use.

Rappaport said Titchen is covering a topic that doesn't get much attention in medical school. "What she's doing is making you more aware of it. As a physician, now I know what to look for," he said.

One challenge is helping patients find the resources to safely escape. There aren't always options for young victims, who often have family issues, substance abuse problems or who lack the skills to navigate social services. In many cases, there are no easy answers.

Titchen, who plans to pursue an adolescent medicine specialty, has the ability to form deep relationships with patients and their families, Rappaport said. It's part of what makes her such a strong advocate.

"This passion will really serve her very well," Rapparport said.



Dreamcatcher Foundation Rescues Girls from Sex Trafficking

by Casey Cora

BRIDGEPORT — A nonprofit that rescues young women from the city's underground sex trade is looking to expand its mission.

Leaders with The Dreamcatcher Foundation typically set out in a utility van overnight and search the city's streets for troubled young women and the pimps who hold them against their will.

Their goal is to end human trafficking in the city and suburbs, which the group said claims up to 25,000 women and girls annually, with the bulk of them involved in prostitution by the age of 15 years old.

At a fundraising luncheon at Bridgeport's Zhou B Art Center on late last week, the group's charismatic co-founder Brenda Myers-Powell delivered powerful testimony about her upbringing and addressed the need for the foundation to evolve into a full-fledged, brick-and-mortar social service agency.

Born to a 16-year-old mother who died shortly after childbirth and raised by an alcoholic grandmother, Myers-Powell said she was thrust into a cycle of abuse, first being molested as a toddler and later kidnapped, beaten, raped and burned by various pimps and johns.

"It would take me all night to tell you how many [times] and how it made me feel," she said.

She said it took nearly 25 years in the prostitution trade to realize she wasn't alone, that thousands of other young women were in the same predicament — scared and in desperate need of counseling and comfort.

A trailer for an upcoming documentary about Myers-Powell, shown at the fundraiser, reveals part of her methods to help the prostitutes. She starts with a hug and tells the girls she loves them and explains that it's not their fault.

"It's time for the little woman to grow up. It's her turn now," she tells one of the young women.

Myers-Powell paired up with foundation CEO Stephanie Daniels-Wilson to start the nonprofit in 2008 on little more than a shoestring budget and a vision to empower the victims of human trafficking.

Today, it's grown into a resource agency that's largely comprised of survivors of addiction, sex trafficking, molestation and other abuses, which the founders and law enforcement officials say sets Dreamcatchers apart from other social services. It's still basically run out of Daniels-Wilson's Hyde Park home.

Detective Dion Trotter, who heads up the Cook County Sheriff's Office Child Protection Response Unit, said employing survivors to assist in the rescue and recovery of prostitutes is a powerful tool in helping solve their underlying issues, which often stem from a toxic mess of abuse, poverty, drugs and untreated mental illnesses.

"These people are able to connect with these women in ways we never could. I've seen people with no hope in their eyes. Ten minutes with Brenda and they have a sparkle," Trotter said.

Already, Dreamcatchers helps arrange for mental and physical health services and provides intervention and education programs. They soon hope to build The Dream Center, a facility to house short and long-term shelters for women and a therapy center and to host a 24-hour crisis line.

To date, the group says it's taken 73 girls off the street and has established relationships with thousands more.

A couple of the women spoke at Thursday's fundraiser and told gut-wrenching tales of victimization and abuse.

Several in the audience wiped away tears.

"That's what knocks you down. How can a story even get more horrible than mine?" Myers-Powell said. "But it does. This issue is harsh. It is harsh."



Law enforcement: More resources needed to fight human trafficking

Officials say more needs to be done to help victims

by Aly Myles

LEWISTON, Maine —State officials met Monday to discuss human trafficking in Maine since laws were enacted two years ago.
Auburn Police Chief Phil Crowell spoke at the Maine State Advisory Committee meeting held at Lewiston City Hall, asking for more resources for an aftercare system for victims.

"I think everyone is looking at this issue with a very different lens and through that lens, we're being able to identify what trafficking is and able to put a stop to it," said Crowell.

He said human trafficking is a long term process and putting victims in jail for a short stint is a disservice because it doesn't help them break out of the cycle.

"There are no happy hookers. It is not enough to prosecute those putting these victims in these situations. We need to help the victims get sober, get well and get out," Megan Elam, assistant district attorney of Cumberland County said.

Elam said there has been a new legislative label in the past two years that has made people more aware of sex trafficking, but it does not mean sex trafficking is a new problem in the state. She said awareness is growing, which is key. She said sex trafficking is happening in big and small cities, urban and rural in the state.

District 127 Rep. Amy Volk said people need to be aware of suspicious activity and contact law enforcement if they see anything of concern like random cars with out of state plates constantly visiting a certain house.

She believes sex trafficking is becoming a bigger problem because of increased drug trafficking.

But, she said until it was a law, many officials didn't realize it was a problem.

"In speaking to law enforcement that they can look back on cases that they investigated in the past and now the light bulb goes off of, 'Oh wow, that person was being trafficked against their will,'" said Volk.

Volk said sex trafficking can happen anywhere and once people accept that, there will be more awareness and more help for victims.!TZXmz


Rhode Island


Sex trade's young victims

The trafficking of human beings for sex is both age-old and vile. But it becomes even viler when minors are involved. In an exhaustive report published May 18 (“A window on child sex trafficking”), Journal staff writer Amanda Milkovits compellingly illuminates how this sordid practice has seeped into Rhode Island. She also offers some guideposts on how sex trafficking might be curbed, and its victims helped.

Rhode Island's problem took root in its long years of tolerating indoor prostitution. That ended in 2009, with a change in the law. Though law enforcement officials now have the tools to prosecute sex trafficking, there are still those who seek to make money on it, exploiting Internet communications that can facilitate prostitution. Organized crime groups, street gangs and others entice underage girls into the trade, and make it extremely difficult for them to escape.

According to Stephanie Terry, associate director of child welfare services at the Department of Children, Youth and Families, activity has spiked, driven partly by the ease of selling sex online. Because victims are often reluctant to bring charges, firm numbers are elusive. But DCYF notes that in Rhode Island, 20 cases were referred for investigation in the past year. The girls involved were as young as 13.

Rhode Island's many strip clubs may contribute to the problem by hiring underage dancers. The strip clubs also create a ready pool of customers for enterprising pimps.

Tracking down young victims, and especially gaining their trust, is a great challenge for law enforcement. So is keeping them from returning to their traffickers. Rhode Island needs better services to break this dangerous cycle.

Equally important are more vigorous efforts to prosecute those who purchase sex. The “johns,” as they are known, are rarely arrested, yet many are engaged in child abuse. Businesses that foster the trade should also be severely penalized. In a case involving a 15-year-old, the strip club Cheaters got away with a shockingly weak slap on the wrist, a mere $5,000 fine and a 45-day license suspension from Mayor Angel Taveras's handpicked Board of Licenses.

Family Court Chief Judge Haiganush Bedrosian deserves credit for focusing on child sex trafficking, and organizing a recent conference to study solutions. Massachusetts has had some success with programs to assist sexually exploited young people; Rhode Island should borrow those practices that seem to work. In a promising development, Day One, a Rhode Island nonprofit, is working on a set of statewide standards for law enforcement and social-service agencies to follow in these cases.

We commend efforts by prosecutors to focus on the most egregious cases and bring those responsible, especially violent pimps, to justice, while striving to help the young victims.

But as Ms. Milkovits's report makes clear, Rhode Island still has far to go in curbing a hideous trade.




Florida Child Sex Trafficking: Help One More Child

Since the 1950s, Florida Baptist Children's Homes has been headquartered in Lakeland, off Sikes Boulevard, helping children who are orphans, abused or otherwise in critical need of aid.

Established in Arcadia as the Florida Baptist Orphanage in 1904, the organization is celebrating its 110th anniversary through continued expansion — 18 locations in Florida, plus missions to 10 developing countries through its Orphan's Heart program.

This expansive approach enables an ongoing objective of "helping one more child," Jerry T. Haag, Ph.D., the organization's president, told the Editorial Board in an interview May 21.

Last year, the Florida Department of Children and Families asked Florida Baptist Children's Homes to build a safe-home program for girls ensnared by child sex trafficking. "Florida is the third-largest hub for child sex trafficking — third behind California and Texas," Haag said. In 2013, in Florida, 276 cases of child sex trafficking were confirmed, eight of which were in Polk County, said Haag and Vice President of Programs Pam Whitaker.

Yet the state of Florida had just 20 beds to care for sex-trafficked girls.


Florida Baptist Children's Homes responded by creating The Porch Light as a program for "rescue and restoration" through a safe house it has established in an "undisclosed location in Central Florida," Haag said.

"This first phase is where girls can come there and be home schooled, in conjunction with the county, in conjunction with fantastic coaches and mentors that we have. These are girls that are coming from dire trauma. Most of them are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder," Haag said.

"They've been traumatized multiple times in life," he said. "Many times, these children are victims of Stockholm syndrome. So, they've bonded with the perpetrators and the lies that they've told them."

The average age of a child who has been sexually exploited in Florida is 13, Haag said.

Girls are sucked into sex trafficking and kept there by trickery, capture and absolute control, Haag said, citing the case of a 14-year-old in Miami.


The girl made a connection on the Internet — as do about half the girls in sex-trafficking cases, Haag said — with a person who said he was a boy and he liked her.

"He empathized with her about 'your parents don't treat you like they should. Yeah, they ought to treat you like an adult. I don't believe they don't let you go to those parties. You know, my friends and I are having a party. Why don't you come?' It's a 14-year-old girl," Haag said. "She left the house and went to this party. She didn't find this boy who liked her. She found this pimp and a woman who was working with him.

"They plied her with alcohol, marijuana and amphetamines. They began immediately advertising her on the Internet as a new girl named Sparkle."

After the girl tried to run away, the pimp took her to a flea market and had her eyelids tattooed. "Across one of the eyelids he had tattooed Suave," Haag said. "Across the other eyelid he had tattooed House. There's a street named Suave, and he wanted everybody to know this 14-year-old girl was his property.

"Sparkle, fortunately, was rescued."

The help to endangered and entrapped girls by Florida Baptist Children's Homes and The Porch Light is valuable not only for the direct aid provided, but for education from which parents, girls and local agencies can learn of protective measures.

In 2013, the organization raised $12.6 million through individuals, the state, businesses and other donors. It spent a like amount.

Child sex trafficking is a sad and frustrating fact in Florida — particularly along the Interstate 4 corridor, with Polk County at its mid-point.

Society, through organizations such as The Porch Light, in partnership with governmental agencies and law enforcement, must work to eliminate this scourge, and protect and treat its victims.

[ Note: A podcast accompanies this editorial at Listen to the Editorial Board's interview with officials of Florida Baptist Children's Home. The podcast will play on a personal computer. Or download it free at the iTunes Store for use on an iPod or similar player; search: Ledger Editorial. ]


From ICE

HSI, Clear Channel announce cyber safety PSA campaign as school year ends

DETROIT — Last year, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) spent a million hours nationally investigating child-exploitation crimes, opening nearly 4,000 cases.

In an effort to dramatically reduce the number of children falling prey to sexual predators online, HSI announced Friday a partnership with Clear Channel to generate awareness about online safety. The partnership comes at the end of the school year as young people will have more free time for social networking and other online activities.

The partnership follows the recent launch of HSI's Project iGuardian, a proactive outreach campaign aimed at educating the public about cyber safety. Project iGuardian is viewed as a vital next step in HSI's ongoing effort to combat online child sexual predation.

As part of the effort, Clear Channel will air on their six Detroit-area stations a 30-second public service announcement (PSA), which features HSI Detroit Special Agent in Charge Marlon V. Miller discussing some basic tips on how parents and young people can avoid online predators.

"We want to arm parents and young people with some very basic tips to keep them safe online," said Miller. "Following some of these fundamental practices can mean the difference between falling victim to an online predator and staying safe and avoiding any undue emotional or physical harm."

"Clear Channel is excited to educate its Detroit listeners about cyber safety," said Nick Gnau, market president for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Detroit. "Teaming up with HSI will no doubt help minimize these crimes and teach parents and young people on how to avoid this growing problem in the Detroit community."

The PSA will begin airing June 1 and run through June 30 on all six Clear Channel stations in southeastern Michigan.

Clear Channel locally owns and operates Channel 95.5 (WKQI-FM), FM 98 (WJLB-FM), The D 106.7 (WDTW-FM), Mix 92.3 (WMXD-FM), 100.3 (WNIC-FM), and 1130 AM (WDFN-AM).

As part of Project iGuardian, HSI special agents together with their law enforcement partners, will visit schools and youth groups across the country to provide children and parents with hands-on tips on how to avoid falling victim to online sexual predators. Using superhero-style characters and trading cards developed expressly for the initiative, the law enforcement personnel will remind young computer users to "think before you click." The presentations are age-appropriate, adapted for audiences ranging from grade school students to youths in their early teens.

Organizations and schools interested in requesting a Project iGuardian presentation can do so using a link on ICE's website. At that link, users will also find general cyber safety tips for kids, parents and educators. Those seeking further guidance can use the link on ICE's website to access the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's NetSmartz Workshop, which features more detailed information on numerous topics related to online safety.


From the FBI

Bureau Initiative Focuses on Child Sex Tourism -- Help the Victims, Apprehend the Abusers

Last month, the FBI asked for the public's help in a case involving a suspected serial child predator who for years taught in private international schools overseas. The suspect committed suicide after his employer saw pornographic images on his thumb drive, but as part of our subsequent investigation—when we began the process of identifying and notifying the victims shown in these images—we also asked that possible victims and others who may have information come forward, not only to aid investigators but to potentially access our victim assistance services.

Child sex tourism—people traveling to another country specifically to engage in illegal sexual conduct with children—is a very real issue that causes devastating and long-lasting psychological and physical consequences for victims. And the problem is growing, thanks to the relative ease of international travel coupled with the popularity of the Internet in helping individuals exchange information about how and where to find child victims in foreign locations.

The U.S. State Department estimates that more than a million children are exploited each year in the global commercial sex trade. That's in addition to the untold number of young victims of non-commercial sexual conduct.

But whether it involves commercial or non-commercial sex acts, the FBI—in conjunction with our domestic and international law enforcement partners—investigates U.S. citizens and permanent residents who travel overseas to engage in illegal sexual conduct with children under the age of 18. Since 2008, our Child Sex Tourism Initiative has employed proactive strategies to address the crime, including working with foreign law enforcement and non-governmental organizations to provide child victims with support services and to investigate and prosecute individuals engaging in child sex tourism.

The FBI also shares intelligence products with our overseas law enforcement partners that focus on trends, methods of operations, offenders, etc. And we offer training to foreign law enforcement and non-governmental organizations to build capacity and develop an effective team approach to address the problem. Intelligence sharing and training help develop cohesive multi-disciplinary teams, which in turn enable better international cooperation during the investigation of these crimes.

Children from developing countries are often seen as easy targets by Americans. Our investigations, however, have shown that American perpetrators travel to a variety of locations—from less developed areas in Southeast Asia and Central and South America to more developed areas in Europe. But it makes no difference where these crimes occur—any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who engages in sexual contact with a minor overseas is subject to prosecution under various U.S. laws.

And these laws were strengthened in 2003 with the passage of the federal PROTECT Act, which authorized a variety of additional prosecutive remedies and other tools to use against those who victimize children. It also makes clear that there is no statute of limitations for crimes involving the abduction or physical or sexual abuse of a child.

So a word of warning to perpetrators of this horrendous crime: No matter where you go, no matter how long it takes, you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

And a word of comfort to the victims: The FBI will work with your countries' authorities and non-governmental organizations to bring perpetrators to justice and to help coordinate the services you need.

Justice is Served: Recent Child Sex Tourism Investigations

The FBI and its partners work tirelessly to identify and bring to justice individuals from the U.S. who travel overseas to engage in illegal sex with children. Over the past few years, these efforts have paid off with the successful investigation of numerous U.S. residents on child sex tourism charges. They include:

- Hector Orejuela, Jr., a former teacher and tutor in China who molested one girl under the age of 12 and attempted to molest another. He was arrested in China, returned to the U.S. to face charges, and was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison. More

- Walter Lee Williams, a California man wanted for traveling to the Philippines for the purpose of having sex with minors. Williams had been added to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list but was apprehended in Mexico one day later with the assistance of Mexican authorities and brought back to the U.S. More

- John D. Ott, a former medical doctor for non-governmental organizations and hospitals in Kenya, who admitted to engaging in illicit sexual conduct with at least 14 minors who ranged in age from 9 to 17. He later pled guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. More

- Michael James Dodd, a former teacher in Cambodia who was arrested in 2008 for engaging in sexually illicit conduct with a 14-year-old girl. He was returned to the U.S. in 2010 to face charges and was ultimately sentenced to nearly nine years in prison. More

Through our international partnerships, there have been cases where foreign authorities have successfully prosecuted U.S. citizens involved in child sex tourism. When that happens, the FBI—often while conducting its own parallel investigation—will offer help.

That's what happened in the case of an American man working as an English teacher in Thailand who was arrested by Thai authorities for engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a 9-year-old boy. The Bureau offered computer forensics assistance in analyzing the subject's computer and video camera, which revealed that he had videotaped himself having sex with multiple young boys. He pled guilty last fall and was sentenced to 39 years in a Thai prison.




Don't forget the impact of sexual abuse on survivors

by Rita Landgraf

Over the recent months and even years, The News Journal has published stories relative to crimes involving sexual abuse, assault and rape of children. As a society, we all have the responsibility to act to reduce these crimes and to work toward the elimination of sexual violence. That's especially important because so many of the victims are children.

I am grateful that the media is focused on the public impact of sexual abuse, recognizing that this is a criminal act of violence and holding the perpetrators accountable. This is a step in the right direction since not that long ago, this violence against children literally happened in silence. For many people in our society, the victims of sexual abuse were invisible. We didn't want to speak about these horrific crimes and we didn't want to acknowledge the toll these crimes took on the survivors. We wanted to act as if the whole thing hadn't happened. For a survivor, this invisibility is another layer of trauma on top of the original abuse in which they were treated as a non-human – invisible.

As a child survivor of sexual abuse, I know too well that this violence presents triggers throughout a person's lifespan. I was very vulnerable as a child and remained so during most of my young adult life. Boundaries and trust were extremely confusing to me, and self-worth was virtually non-existent. As a young woman, that made me extremely vulnerable. Without the knowledge of how past trauma impacts our daily life, we may continue to put ourselves in harm's way. Those who experience trauma also are more prone to endure additional trauma and to suffer from addiction.

I am fortunate to have been in treatment that led me to a healthy life in which I not only survive, but thrive. For me, surviving continues to be a journey, one that will always impact my life in a real way. In that regard, I call being a survivor of sexual abuse "the gift that keeps on giving." I am healthy today, but even the recent stories of the Richards case, the teachers and coaches who sexually abuse adolescents, and the too-frequent cases of sexual assault we read about in the newspaper bring with them something I call "flooding." For survivors, the numerous accounts – including the one on today's front page – are reminders of the pain and suffering that this violence causes.

Even with the strong foundation of treatment that I received, the articles impact me in a most profound way. For survivors who haven't sought treatment, I worry about the emotional impact that this level of "flooding" will have on them long after their abuse was perpetrated. I implore them to seek treatment and support. Please don't disassociate. Please don't numb the pain. Please don't engage in behaviors that will cause you additional harm.

Healing from the crime inflicted upon me as a young child by a person of trust is a continuous process, complete with its own set of challenges. But that continuous healing does come with benefits. It has taught me great empathy and compassion for others. It has taught me that treatment does work and healthy living is possible. That is what I want for all who have been impacted by sexual trauma. In fact, knowing that these words may encourage others to seek support actually aids me in my journey of healing. Something good and right needs to come from something so bad.

Those feelings and the constant care that being a survivor of sexual assault takes are two reasons that I co-founded the Delaware nonprofit organization SOAR – Survivors Of Abuse in Recovery – 22 years ago. I didn't want anyone in need to go without support, regardless of their ability to pay or regardless of their age. Each year, more than 2,000 adults, adolescents, children and their families from Delaware and nearby counties in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey use SOAR's services. If you are struggling as a survivor of sexual abuse, please go to

For all of us, supporting survivors and reducing the incidence of sexual abuse needs to be at the core of our shared humanity. Together, our commitment and our compassion can make a difference for the people of Delaware – and the society we share.

Rita Landgraf is the Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health and Social Services, a survivor of sexual abuse and a founder of Survivors Of Abuse in Recovery (SOAR).



Stolen childhoods and blighted lives - child abuse in industrial schools

by Bette Brown

In the course of compiling her book, ‘Stolen Lives', Bette Brown has come to believe that the abuse of children in industrial schools was one of the darkest chapters in Ireland's history.

TOWER BRIDGE stands majestically in the morning sunlight above the Saturday strollers. Among them, Mary Collins is admiring the scene in the city of London that she now calls home but her peace is fleeting.

Fear suddenly seizes her like a physical grip on the back of her head and she is a little girl again, running with her mother through fields in Cork, escaping from hell.

“The fear goes in through the back of my head. We are running, running all the time across the fields.” Mary is just two and a half, but she can sense her mother's desperation.

“She was escaping. She'd found me, maybe she was looking for my sister Angela too. It could be days or weeks. I remember the rain all the time and the running.”

Mary pauses, before firmly choosing her words. “They captured her. That's really what it was. She needed help.

“They took her in. Then they captured her. They told me she was dirty, they taught me to hate her. I suffered every day because of her. I blamed her.”

Forty-five years later, Mary wrote a poem about that hatred. But by then she had uncovered many of the dark secrets of her mother's life and of her own, and the hatred had begun to turn to compassion and one day even to love. That day, Mary found herself praying to her mother for her own son's recovery from a near-fatal illness at the age of 16.

“I was in a church somewhere near Guy's Hospital and I was asking her to save him. It was when I nearly lost my son that I began to feel about her. Her children had been taken from her; she had lost her three children.

“Two miracles happened. My son survived and I found my mother. The hatred they'd beaten into me, the shame about my family, was leaving me.”

Mary is one of 10 survivors of institutional abuse, ranging in age from 54 to 87, whom I interviewed for Stolen Lives, published to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the landmark Ryan Commission report on such abuse.

The book traces the horrors endured by children in the religious- run industrial institutions and breaks new ground in the chilling level of detail from survivors of the harrowing effects of the abuse on their lives as adults.

Survivors such as John Griffin, whose nightmare began in Baltimore Fishing School in the heart of West Cork.

The last time John saw his mother he was six weeks old.

Now, 55 years later, after a long search, he had tracked her down to a house in Derby in England, hoping for answers that might rid him of the terrors of institutional child abuse that still haunt him.

He had been searching for her for more than 20 years and had finally found an address for her in England.

But that morning, as John travelled to Derby from Ireland, he was still not sure if he would find his mother.

She would now be almost 90. “Maybe she wasn't still at that address. Maybe she wasn't even still alive,” he recalls thinking on that fateful day.

The address took him eventually to a rundown house on Bridge St in Derby. It looked bleak even in the sunshine of a summer afternoon and John felt some trepidation as he approached the house. “I didn't know what might happen,” he recalls.

“I knocked hard on the door. There was no response. But then from upstairs I heard a window opening. A woman put her head out.

“ ‘No lodgers,' she shouted. ‘Go away.' ”

John began to think he was at the wrong house. “I was about to turn and leave but instead I looked up at the woman at the window.”

They could clearly see each others faces now in the bright light of the early afternoon.

“ ‘Come back here,' she shouted. ‘You're John, aren't you? I've been waiting for you. Come in.' ”

When the woman opened the door, she was smiling at him, telling him that the week before a fortune teller had told her he'd finally come.

“'I knew you'd come. I was waiting to die till I saw you,'” Annie Griffin told her son.

But there were no hugs. Too much pain had been endured.

When I travelled to Cork to interview John for Stolen Lives, he described the industrial institutions as “a sea of barbarism”.

The more survivors I interviewed and the more stories I heard, the more I recalled his description.

Others referred to them as being like “a concentration camp”.

That description about Artane Industrial School in Dublin, run by the Christian Brothers, came from Des Murray.

“Artane was a concentration camp,” he says quietly. “I was singled out by two Brothers, two sadists; my biggest regret is that I didn't kill those two bastards.

“One was particularly savage. One fella I knew had a rheumatic heart but Brother B used to make him fill a wheelbarrow with stones and wheel it around the yard three or four times.”

Des had arrived in Artane at the age of 12 and a half in 1954, having already been moved through a number of institutions in Dublin.

He was the son of an unmarried mother and was born in 1941 in St Kevin's Hospital Dublin (now St James's).

Des witnessed sexual violence in Artane but did not encounter it directly himself. “I remember seeing a Brother on the landing and he was spotting the boys,” he says. “They carefully chose their victims. You wouldn't see the boys going into the Brothers' room, but sometimes you'd see them running out, screaming. They chose the vulnerable ones.”

Valentine Walsh was not so fortunate in St Joseph's Industrial School, Tralee, Co Kerry. He was sexually and physically abused there from the ages of 9 to 13.

Valentine shows a photograph of himself as a little boy. He is seven and it is the day of his First Holy Communion. He looks very handsome, this little boy, with his dark hair and his spiffy suit and tie, but Valentine isn't smiling.

He doesn't ever remember a reason to smile. All Valentine remembers is the terror.

A locked door, a darkened room, and three Christian Brothers who sexually and physically abused him.

That is the world that lay in wait for the little boy in the Communion group of 1960 in St Joseph's Industrial School, Tralee, Co Kerry.

“The first memory I have of being sexually abused by Brother D was when I was 9 or 10,” says Valentine. “He would take me into his own classroom in the evening when it was empty. He would lock the door behind us.”

He recalls how it happened and how Brother D prepared the room for this hell. “I remember the blackboard in the classroom was used by Brother D to block off the windows,” Valentine recalls. “Other clippings and newspaper were on the windows and blocked off any sight into the classroom. The clippings and the blackboard prevented anyone from the outside looking in. We were locked in and they were locked out.”

Then the terror began.

AFTER more than two decades as a journalist in various parts of the world, no project I've handled has been quite as harrowing as this book. In the course of compiling it, I have come to believe that, without doubt, the abuse of children in industrial schools was one of the darkest chapters in Ireland's history.

There have been other appalling cases of religious and secular abuse here, as in other countries, but what made the institutional abuse particularly horrific was that the crimes were committed against children who were largely isolated from the outside world, abandoned by the courts of the State and in many cases by their families to lives of unimaginable cruelty. It tore whole lives apart.

The book grew out of the aftermath of the first national March of Solidarity with survivors of institutional abuse on June 10, 2009, which the late Christine Buckley and I organised with the support of Barnardos, One in Four, and the Children's Rights Alliance,after the publication of the report by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, led by Justice Seán Ryan.

A day after the solidarity march, a Dáil Eireann debate opened on the Ryan report. The abuse detailed in the report was described by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as “torture, pure and simple”. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said it was “a stain on the conscience of our nation”.

President Michael D Higgins said: “There is evidence of an institutional collusion that was deep, continuous and sinister in terms of its relationship between Church and State.”

The title of the book, Stolen Lives, underlines that through such “collusion” not only were childhoods stolen but the horrors these children suffered blighted their entire lives. Some, such as Mary Collins's sister, found their suffering unendurable and died by suicide.

In the Dáil debate on the Ryan report on June 11, 2009, Mr Kenny said: “We cannot rewrite those stories, nor can we write a happy ending to them.

“But it is our clear and inescapable duty to reach out and rescue, to listen, and to learn and to create something out of this catalogue of cruelty in which, as a nation, we can take some pride.”

lStolen Lives, priced at €7.99, is available at


It's Time for Men to Stand Up and Fight Domestic Violence

by Dean Obeidallah

Guys, face it: we are the problem here. And all of us should be doing something to stop violence against women.

“3 women are killed every day in the US by domestic violence. Who is killing them? It is us men.

Sure, I've been known to tweet intentionally provocative messages in the hope of angering those who disagree with me on political issues. But when I recently launched the above 88-character tweet in response to the Santa Barbara killer's misogynistic manifesto, I truly thought it was something that all men would agree with. But man was I wrong!

I was immediately bombarded with angry tweets from outraged men. Here's a little sample:

“I certainly haven't killed any women lately. If you have something to confess, you should probably call the police.”

“Better round up all of us white males, cuz all we do is rape and murder women”

“Women don't generally attack men. Instead they chose innocent, defenseless targets like their own 4 year olds.”

“He's desperate to get laid”

Most of the angry tweets I received were from men who identified themselves in their Twitter profiles as conservatives. But that has no bearing on who is actually abusing women. As Dr. Jessica Pearson, a clinical psychologist who specializes in forensic assessment, explained: “Domestic violence knows no limits. It occurs in every socio-economic, religious, racial, and ethnic group in our country.”

Here's my plea to my fellow men regardless of your political leanings: Please don't be defensive when the issue of domestic violence is raised. We need to have an honest discussion about the issue. Recognize the reality that it is us, men, who are solely responsible for domestic violence against women. It's not in any way the fault of women.

We are the ones who are killing three women a day. In fact, more women in the United States have been killed by their husbands and boyfriends (11,766) during the time of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than U.S. troops fighting those wars (6,488).

We also must accept that it is us, men, who abuse one woman every 15 seconds. Just look at the numbers from Philadelphia alone. In 2012, there were more than 107,000 domestic violence cases reported, and close to 2,000 visits to emergency rooms by women attacked by men they were in relationships with or had previously been involved with.

True, men can be the victims of domestic violence, but 85 percent (PDF) of victims are women. And thankfully the number of cases of domestic violence has dropped (PDF) in recent years. However, a recent study found that many emergency rooms have been failing to properly identify domestic violence victims, consequently, there is widespread underreporting.

Here's something that may shock many women: Many men, including myself up until recently, truly have no idea the extent of domestic violence that women endure on a daily basis. I only became aware last year after becoming active with the organization Breakthrough, a global human rights organization that strives to make violence and discrimination against women unacceptable.

Before then I had no clue that the NYPD receives 700-plus phone calls per day from women who are victims of domestic violence. Nor was I aware that on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls (PDF) placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. It was as if my eyes had been opened to an epidemic that was happening right in front of me the entire time but for some reason I didn't see it—or possibly choose not to see it.

Despite this reality, and in the same week as the Santa Barbara misogynistic inspired killing spree, Glen Beck's network The Blaze presented a comedy sketch mocking the federal government's report on the number of women who reported they were sexually assaulted on college campuses. The host of the show, Stu Burguiere, ridiculed the idea that women should report being raped if they were pressured into having sex. He even joked: “It is possible to have consensual sex while drunk or high” because after all that's what we see in “beer commercials.” Translation: Guys, it's cool to treat women any way you want.

So what can men do? First of all, don't make assinine sketches like The Blaze did mocking any woman who complains of sexual assault or domestic violence. Second, as Mallika Dutt, the President of Breakthrough urged, men should no longer subscribe to the philosophy of “it's none of my business.” Dutt recommended: “If you see a friend or family member abusing his wife or girlfriend, start a conversation and urge him to seek help,” adding, “The more we break the silence, the more chances we have of ending the abuse.”

And Rita Smith, the executive Director of National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, offered a simple suggestion to men: Change the dialogue in your peer groups by not telling jokes or making comments that belittle the impact of domestic violence or sexual assault. She also recommended that men call out friends who make sexist comments. Keep in mind that experts have found that “men are more likely to listen to other men when it comes to the perpetration of violence.”

So my fellow men/dudes/bros, don't be silent when you see abusive behavior toward women or hear comments that perpetuate misogyny. Plus don't put off seeking help if you need it. Collectively these actions will not only change cultural norms but they could save the lives of women across our nation—including the life of your own wife, girlfriend, or daughter.



Preventing child abuse everyone's duty

Letter To The Editor

This letter is part of a fifth-grade project at International Studies Elementary Charter School, Albany, on child and elderly abuse

Child abuse is a problem around the world. In the United States alone over 2.9 million children are abused each year. In the state of Georgia there are an estimated 693,174 children suffering some type of abuse yearly. Abused children range from infancy through young adulthood. Child abuse endangers the health and welfare of children. In our state, we determined the largest population of abused children ranged from the ages of 4 to 6 years old, and many times the abuse came from a family member. There are many forms of abuse such as physical and emotional.

There are many factors that contribute to child abuse such as immaturity of parents, non-parenting skills, and poor childhood experiences or being abused as children, drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and social isolation of the parents. Physical abuse leaves bruises, scars, and can cause the loss of life. Many times physical abuse comes from excessive discipline or beating of a child. Emotional abuse affects children's mental state and social abilities. We discovered that emotional abuse happens across social classes. Emotional abuse does not leave physical scars, but often children show emotional abuse by becoming abusers themselves, becoming withdrawn, or lashing out at others. Our research stated in 2005 3.3 million abuse cases were reported across the country, involving some 6.6 million children.

Preventing child abuse is a responsibility of all citizens. Any caring person can help prevent child abuse. Activities such as parental involvement classes, mentoring programs, and after-school activities can help prevent or support children who are being abused. Most of all, if you believe a friend or classmate is being abused please tell the counselor or an adult. Together we can make all children feel safe.

Ms. Gore's 5th Grade Class

International Studies Elementary Charter School, Albany



Elderly, child abuse victims numbers high

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: This letter is part of a fifth-grade project at International Studies Elementary Charter School, Albany, on child and elderly abuse

Our class has been researching two topics: child abuse and elderly abuse. In our class, we are very engaged in this subject. Child and elderly abuse is the most horrible and inhumane thing that can be done. We want to share some facts we have learned, as well as some ways to help someone that may be abused.

We have learned important facts about elderly abuse. Elderly abuse affected 5,961,568 elders in 2010. Thirty-two percent of the abusers are teenagers. Elders who have been abused have a 300 percent higher risk of dying earlier than those that have not been abused. Ninety percent of those abused are abused by someone in their own family. Only 1 out of 5 elderly abuse cases is ever reported. Elderly abuse mostly affects those who are over 60 years of age. Elderly abuse happens so often because the abused cannot fight back.

We were saddened by the research we found on child abuse. Child abuse is any act that endangers a child's physical or emotional health. Four percent of children die each day from child abuse. Some that are abused as children grow up to abuse children themselves. According to the state of Georgia, in 2012 3,024 males and 5, 637 females were reported as being abused. There are 3.6 million cases of child abuse reported in the U.S. each year. Forty-five percent of all abusers are male, while 55 percent are female. Ninety-three percent of abusers are related to the child.

Here are some websites, organizations, and phone numbers you can use to contact someone in case of abuse: , National Center on Elderly Abuse (1-800-677-1116), Hotline Phone Number (1-800-428-9124), The Lily Pad SANE Center (229-435-0074).

Now that you are aware show you care.

Mrs. Talaa's Fifth Grade Class

International Studies Elementary Charter School, Albany


Great Britain

More than 500 child abuse reports made against BBC star Jimmy Savile

by Agence France-Presse

More than 500 reports of abuse on victims aged as young as two have been made against late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, according to a new investigation by the NSPCC charity published Monday.

The probe found that Savile, one of the biggest TV stars in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, exploited high-level contacts to gain access to vulnerable victims at a high-security psychiatric hospital.

“There's no doubt that Savile is one of the most, if not the most, prolific sex offender that we at the NSPCC have ever come across,” said Peter Watt, director of child protection at the children's charity.

“What you have is somebody who at his most prolific lost no opportunity to identify vulnerable victims and abuse them.”

The investigation was commissioned by BBC programme Panorama and will be aired at 8.30pm local time (1930 GMT).

The report uncovered government documents that showed a senior civil servant had pushed for Savile to be appointed as head of a task force to resolve a dispute between trade unions and management of the Broadmoor psychiatric hospital in southern England in 1988.

Thames Valley Police says it has now received 16 reports of abuse by him inside the special hospital, for which he had his own set of keys.

- Savile ‘swapped autographs for kisses' -

Former Broadmoor manager Trevor Smith said Savile would give young girls autographs in exchange for a kiss.

“He kissed these girls who were about 13 smack bang on the lips, held his hand behind their neck to pull them forward and he virtually was giving them French kisses,” he explained.

Savile, who died in October 2011 at the age of 84, was a hugely popular but eccentric figure, famed for his shock of white hair, tracksuits and chunky gold jewellery. He was knighted in 1990.

He used his fame as presenter of BBC TV's “Top of the Pops” chart show and children's programme “Jim'll Fix It” to rape and assault victims on BBC premises as well as in schools and hospitals, where he was welcomed by his fans.

The latest NSPCC figures show the most common age group for Savile's victims was between 13 to 15.

A year after his death, five women went on television to complain Savile had abused them when they were girls, opening the floodgates for hundreds of similar allegations.

An joint NSPCC and police report published last year gathered claims from around 450 people, detailing 214 criminal offences, including 34 rapes — 28 of them of children.

The scandal threw the BBC into crisis and its botched handling of the fall-out led to the resignation of director general George Entwistle in November 2012.

It has commissioned an independent review into the culture and practices of the BBC during the years that Savile worked there.

“The BBC has said it is appalled at Jimmy Saville's crimes,” a BBC spokesman said in response to the new report.

“We're unable to give a commentary on statements in these specific documents as they are over 40 years old, but the Dame Janet Smith review is considering the culture and practices of the BBC during this period and has had our full cooperation. We will await their full report.”