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

From ICE

ICE seeks public's help to identify 'John Doe' conspirator in one of the largest-ever child pornography investigations

Unknown suspect is believed to be in southern Connecticut area

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seeks the public's help to identify a suspected child pornography distributer who helped facilitate one of the largest underground networks ever encountered by law enforcement.

The individual is the only remaining suspected administrator of the website investigated as part of Operation Round Table , one of the largest online child exploitation investigations in history, involving victims in 39 states, including Connecticut, and five additional countries.

HSI special agents investigating this case believe "John Doe," whose real first name may be Shaun, is an adult male between 40 and 50 years old. They do not have a photo of the suspect.

Based on investigative clues, HSI special agents believe this person may be living within a 100-mile radius of the New Haven, Connecticut, area. They believe he works in construction management and travels out of town regularly. They also believe he has degrees in electrical engineering and construction management and is proficient with computer programming. He may have previously worked as a director of IT or information security. He may also have a family member living in Hamburg, Germany, who he intended to visit in late spring of this year.

HSI Boston investigators have been unable to identify "John Doe" using traditional investigative means and now request the public's assistance. The public can report information through the toll-free HSI Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing HSI's online tip form . Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Tips can also be submitted through ICE's Operation Predator smartphone app (via hyperlink). All tips will remain confidential. Members of the public should not attempt to apprehend the suspect personally.

As a result of Operation Round Table, investigators have thus far identified 251 minor victims in 39 states and five foreign countries – 228 in the United States and 23 in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Belgium. Eight of the victims were female and 243 were male. The majority of victims, 159, were 13 to 15 years old. Fifty-nine victims were between 16 and 17 years old; 26 victims were 10 to 12 years old; four victims were 7 to 9 years old; one victim was between 4 and 6 years old; and two victims were 3 years old or younger. All victims have been contacted by law enforcement. U.S. victims have been offered support services from HSI victim assistance specialists.

In addition to public appeals, HSI Boston has distributed the "John Doe" information and photos to fellow law enforcement agencies and to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in a unified effort to find this predator and rescue the child.

This investigation was originally conducted under HSI's Operation Predator , an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page .

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce , an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.



Story on 14-year-olds triggered citywide conversation

by Krista Ramsey

A tipping point. A turning point. A line in the sand.

Whatever it was, something happened last Sunday when 14 young teenagers opened up about their lives – the violence they see, the fear they feel as they move about their neighborhoods, the friends they've lost to shootings, the dreams they so fiercely hold – in a story The Enquirer called, "Being 14 in the city."

What happened is we finally heard them.

They stopped being the nameless kids caught on the edge of a crime-scene photograph, laying flowers and teddy bears at the site of a friend's shooting.

Turning 14 in Cincinnati: 'I worry about surviving'

They stopped being "14-year-old arrested for robbery at DeSales Market."

They became Alexis, Armanie, Grady, Jalen, Jamir, Jazonee, Kimera, Lamon, Malek G., Malik N., Nayla, Savannah, Terri and Tony – real kids caught in the complexities of neighborhoods that are safe one minute and fatal the next, of social dynamics that send you out on the street because you can't sit in the house forever, but make you suspicious of everyone around you, even your friends.

They became kids who deserve to live and breathe and hang out and have fun as much as kids in better circumstances do.

That realization set off a conversation that caught fire all week on Facebook and Twitter, through church groups and community councils, in judges' chambers and at family dinner tables. We've included some of the very thoughtful responses we received below; we suspect you heard others.

The basic thread of those conversations was something like this: If, in their short 14 years of life, these kids have faced poverty, hunger, academic failure, the incarceration of a parent, the death of a friend, bullying and multiple family moves – and they're still standing – then what can our community do to step up and help them?

An opportunity: Here's how you can help

And step up in a fresh, practical new way, without getting stalled in budgets and initiatives, in placing blame and "studying the issue?"

What if – for example – we helped them find safe ways home from the bus stop? What if we made sure in every neighborhood there was an easy place for kids to go and say, "There's no food in my house" or "My mom cries every night?"

What if we decided to fight actively, rather than passively abide, a street culture that makes it hard to be smart and easy to be cruel, that glorifies aggression and normalizes violence?

What if we found a mentor for every kid who wants one, a safe after-school place for every kid who needs one, a part-time job for every kid who's ready for one, a second chance for every kid who deserves one?

What if we stopped viewing these kids as threats or tragedies and started viewing them as survivors – even heroes?

And what if we decided that this is the time to become theirs?

Reaction to '14'

Jack M. Jose, principal, Gamble Montessori High School: I appreciate your efforts to show what these students' lives are like, and to take the time to get them in a position where they felt comfortable opening up to you. Revealing the lives of people who are strangers to us – and adolescents fit that description even when they come from within our own house – is the compassionate and revealing side of meaningful reporting. I hope that it triggers dialogue in homes across Cincinnati – not just in the neighborhoods mentioned, but in the entire readership of the Enquirer. I think the first step toward solutions is understanding, and you helped Cincinnati take that step today.

Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Fanon A. Rucker: As the father of two teens and having grown up in almost the same, if not worse, environment in Gary, Ind., almost 30 years ago, this article reminds me of how difficult life is for some, and to be mindful that your reality is not everybody else's. I talk to "successful" folks every day who believe we all begin this race at the same starting line. Not true.

Ann Boyle, Evendale: I teach at St. Francis de Sales and each day I see the faces of those same 14-year-olds that you wrote about. For eight hours we keep them safe and hopefully provide them with life lessons that help them when they leave our building each night. Thank you for shedding light on what these children (and they are children) deal with that sometimes is beyond their control. They have to make choices that are so hard to make. Hopefully your article will bring more mentors and support to their world.

Kelly Leon, director for strategic communications, Xavier University: I noticed that one of the young women profiled in your story on 14-year-olds, Savannah Howard, mentioned that she could see herself attending Xavier University. I have reached out to Savannah's mother to see if Savannah might need a mentor or big sister in her life and if so, I'd like to find one of our students, faculty or staff members to fill that role. Perhaps spending some time on our campus will further reinforce that she can be a student here someday. We would love to have her and help her fulfill her dreams.

Kent Wellington, mentor and chair, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative Board of Trustees: Thanks for the "14" stories. Sadly, they are representative of many of the vulnerable kids our CYC mentors see. On the bright side, 96% of CYC-mentored vulnerable kids get back on track and graduate from high school. The other 4% are positively and forever impacted by strangers who decide to stop their own personal races to help them. If your readers have been waiting for the right time to become a mentor, your "14" stories poignantly illustrate (that) NOW is the time.

Jody McOsker, Loveland: Thank you for writing this story. I am a teacher at Withrow High School. Sadly, the stories of these children are not unique. I think most of my students have been directly impacted by violence that we in the suburbs cannot even imagine. I have students sporting tattoos or wearing T-shirts declaring RIP for cousins and brothers and good friends, even parents. If I ask my own kids whether they know anyone killed by gunfire they look at me as if I were nuts. But I ask the same question at school and almost all the kids will raise their hands.

Once, in my first year there seven years ago, I asked a student why he was fighting after school. He was a really bright kid and had so much potential. He said he had to fight because if he just tried to walk away they would come after him even harder; he would be a target. It didn't really matter, he said. He was actually surprised he was still alive. There was no point in his mind for planning or working toward anything in his future.

It is amazing that in this environment, so many kids have the resilience to overcome the trauma they may have experienced and come out doing well. When my new grandson was born last week, the nurse was a former student. I've run into students working in stores, at the zoo, had them visit and share their success in college. Many of them work their butts off and do manage to reach their goals. We as a community need to come together and find a way so that they all have the opportunity to do just that.

Every part of our society seems to work against these kids. Thank you for giving them a voice. Please continue to do so.

John Pepper: The stories are gut-wrenching. I've heard we are the second-worst major city in the nation for percentages of children living in poverty. We celebrate progress on the Banks, we root for the Reds, we seek political conventions. Yet our attention to this issue is altogether inadequate, lacking in urgency and united community action.

Thomas A. Dutton, director, Miami University Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine: A terrific portrayal of city life through the lives of 14-year olds! I read every word. That your piece came out today is an intriguing coincidence in that a piece I've written was just published this morning on, titled "Econocide Over-the-Rhine."

Econocide is not my term, but I do inflect it with certain meanings, some of which overlap nicely with what you found in those youngsters – it is extremely difficult sometimes to maintain hope and not slide into a kind of nothingness. My quick definition of econocide would be to say that the relation of the "have and have-nots" is really not the primary one today. No, the dominant relation is now the one between the "haves and those-not-needed-nor-wanted." That's my fear, and the internalization of that kind of consciousness is what I fear has happened with many of the youth you present to us."

Judith Van Ginkel, president, Every Child Succeeds: Thank you for a humbling but inspiring piece. I am stunned every day by the resilience and strength of these incredible young people.

Chris Lemmon, Milford: "We invite you to enter the world of 14" has one common thread – most are lacking a father.

The Rev. Sharon Dittmar, First Unitarian Church, Cincinnati: This is one of the most important series I have ever seen. Thank you so much. My congregation is discussing this in some small groups and I will be using it somehow – blog, Google, something.

Here is where I hope we can leverage some meaningful change. This summer the I-71 interchange begins at MLK. Will this interchange (going through Avondale) be used to spur development and support local residents or will we repeat some Cincinnati history (rip out a neighborhood and move our poor, local residents out of the development and its benefits). I have looked and looked and so far I have seen little that speaks to me of real inclusion and creation of a vibrant mixed neighborhood. We need a new interchange for everyone, not just for the "haves" speeding to work and school, but everyone.

It is not about being a bleeding heart. It is looking into the eyes of these children, residents of our city, and human beings and asking ourselves if their quality of life is really the best we have to offer as adults with power, residents of our city and human beings?

Do we want children to grow up afraid to play outside, attending their best friend's funeral at age 13, dying while waiting for a manicure? Many of these children will grow up challenged to finish high school, exposed to criminal activity and violence and without the skills to fuel the economy and employment situation we want.

To say any less admits our defeat and that I am not willing to do. We are the ones to make a difference. They are counting on us.

Jared Kamrass, Blue Ash: "Though I've lived in Cincinnati my entire life, I felt like I was reading about a different city. You successfully changed the lens through which so many of us view the city that we love."

Tracy Cook, executive director, ProKids: Age 14 is a pivotal moment, where these often awkward creatures – full of potential – start to leave childhood behind forever. And what propels them toward their future is the childhood they experience. Do they have the loving embrace of family, friends and their community? Are they fearful in their neighborhoods? Do they experience neglect and abuse at the hands of those they should be able to trust most?

At 14, the question is their response to their childhoods. Will they internalize those experiences and become a lifelong victim? Will they lash out at others? Or can they find the power in themselves to break the cycle?

What we know at ProKids is that every child is worthy of investment and that the world needs their gifts. Most of all, we need to not only invest in our own children but invest in those who have no one else. And we need to do that today. At ProKids, our staff and volunteers know that with each abused and neglected child we support, we have a chance to change the arc of their story. We welcome volunteers who are looking for a way to give a voice to children of all ages who need an advocate.

Mary Jo Alexander, Green Township: They should be able to be just 14 and not afraid to leave their homes, walk their streets, be with their friends. I won't forget these children. Thank you.

Jeff Martin, Finneytown: Great read and very good project. My wife and I have been fostering and adopting children for the last decade. I couldn't help but think about the suggestions at the end on ways to help and feel that there needs to be so much more involvement. What I wish is that folks get really involved in the lives on these kids and their families. Develop relationships that last years and years. It's messy. It's hard, but it is so important. Adoption and foster care are ways to help.

How to help

We hope that reading "Being 14 in the city" inspired you to want to help young people in our city. As a post on the story said, "Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. Volunteer some hours."

Here are four life-changing things you can do:

•  Become a mentor with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. Nearly 1,000 kids are waiting for you. Or sign up to speak about your career, invite a teen to shadow you at work or make a financial donation. For information or to find out how to donate: or 513-363-5203.

Help with summer learning programs, service projects or everyday recreation at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, or help fund their programs. To volunteer, 513-421-8909, ext. 19, or www.bgcgc .org . To give, make checks payable to Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, 600 Dalton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45203. The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati always has a critical need for mentors. Free training is available, and both mentors and mentees receive complimentary YMCA memberships. To volunteer, call 513-246-3233. To give, send checks to YMCA of Greater Cincinnati (Attn: Youth Development), 1105 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. Tutor, help with projects or donate to the Avondale Youth Council. Information: 513-281-0599. Give to Avondale Youth Council, 3618 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45229.



Child abuse in Maine increases 58%

Authorities attribute the dramatic two-year rise to greater awareness, but also see a link to the surge in the use of opiates.

by David Hench

After years of decline, the number of confirmed cases of the physical abuse of children in Maine has climbed dramatically in recent years – much higher than the national average.

Those who work with abused children say they're not sure why the numbers are spiking, but there is evidence that a surge in opiate drug abuse may be a contributor, as well as the lackluster economy and high-profile cases that spur more people to report abuse.

Confirmed cases of the physical abuse of children in Maine rose by 58 percent from 2011 to 2013, a reversal of a decline, both in Maine and nationally, over the previous two decades.

Physical abuse numbers nationally went up just 5 percent from 2011 to 2012, the latest period for which state-by-state numbers were available, while in Maine they jumped by 43 percent. Only Utah, Oklahoma and Montana had higher rates of increase.

The increase in Maine cases was even greater for children younger than 5. Those cases climbed from 241 reported in 2011 to 424 last year, a 78 percent increase, according to data provided by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

“These are big changes in the state. They're huge, actually,” said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

The number of cases involving serious abuse also has risen, according to child safety advocates and state officials.

“Statewide, staff are seeing babies being beaten like they've never seen before,” said Therese Cahill-Low, director of the Office of Child and Family Services at DHHS. “Some of these (staff) people have being doing this for 20 years and are significantly impacted by abuse they're seeing now and how horrendous it is.”

Confirmed cases of physical abuse dropped by 54 percent nationally between 1992 and 2012, while cases in Maine declined by 15 percent, the Crimes Against Children Research Center reports.

It can be difficult to tell how much of the growth is attributable to more abuse and how much stems from better reporting procedures, according to researchers and advocates.

“When you see changes that are that big … you also want to know if anything might be affecting it in terms of the definitions or data collection. Are they doing a lot of training?” said Finkelhor, who credited Maine for publishing its abuse numbers, which has not always been the case. “It seems to me likely there is some actual increase going on, too.”

Cahill-Low said the state has not added caseworkers or changed its definition of abuse. The agency's caseworkers say they have seen an actual increase, particularly in severe abuse, she said.


DHHS said there are more cases of emotional abuse and neglect than physical abuse of children in Maine, but those cases have not increased nearly as much. The number of cases in 2013 of child neglect was 2,796, the number of cases involving emotional abuse was 1,417, and the number of sexual abuse cases was 239. All of those numbers were lower than the previous year.

Gauging whether law enforcement or protective services have stepped up their actions in response to the increased cases of physical abuse is difficult: Data maintained by the Administrative Office of the Courts on criminal convictions isn't broken down by age for simple assault or aggravated assault, although there is a separate charge of simple assault when the victim is younger than 6. The office was unable to provide numbers on how often people are charged in that category.

Geoffrey Rushlau, district attorney for Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties, said the number of simple assault charges for a victim younger than 6 would be a fraction of the total number of physical abuse cases. A Bath man accused Thursday of assaulting his 8-week-old son, for instance, was charged with aggravated assault, domestic violence assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Numbers on children removed from an abusive home have risen in recent years. The state removed 995 children for abuse or neglect in 2013, up 57 percent from the 634 removed in 2011, which was the lowest number in the previous six years. In 2008, the state removed 856 children from their homes because of abuse or neglect.

Physical abuse was cited in 16 percent of those removals last year and 17 percent in 2011. In the last year, the main reason cited for removing a child was neglect, at 84 percent, followed by drug abuse by a parent at 46 percent. More than one cause can be cited in a removal.

Sometimes, caseworkers initiate an intervention because of physical abuse, but other issues – such as substance abuse, domestic violence or mental illness – can end up being a primary cause for removing a child, Cahill-Low said.

In response to a request from the Portland Press Herald, the DHHS released statistics last month on Maine child abuse cases after an assault on twin infants in Sanford. Their father, Anthony Carpinelli, 21, has been charged with aggravated assault after his children, Willow and Haiden, who were 2 months old at the time, were hospitalized with head injuries. Both of the children were discharged from the hospital a few days later.

Carpinelli is being held at the York County Jail on $25,000 bail. The York County district attorney's office said the case remains under investigation and has barred DHHS from releasing its report into allegations of abuse against the infants.


While still a small percentage of overall child abuse numbers, cases of abusive head trauma and hospitalizations are on the rise and are much higher in Maine, per capita, than other states.

Dr. Lawrence Ricci, a forensic pediatrician with the Spurwink Child Abuse Program, said there have been 14 cases of abusive head trauma involving children younger than 1 in the last year. National rates would suggest a state with Maine's population would have about five such cases. Another nine children younger than 1 year old were admitted to a hospital for other serious injuries that could lead to severe disabilities and years of therapy and medical procedures.

A high-profile case, such as the death of 10-week-old Ethan Henderson in Arundel in 2012, prods health care professionals and child care providers to be more aggressive in reporting suspected abuse.

In that case, Ethan's father was accused of squeezing the baby's head hard enough to cause critical brain injuries. The baby had been taken to a doctor six weeks earlier for an arm fracture, though there was no indication that a report was made to the state's child protective agency at that point.

That case served as a painful reminder to those who are mandated to report suspected child abuse of the potential consequences of not reporting. Advocates say the case and others like it could have led to more reports of abuse that might have gone unreported previously.

Finkelhor said a similar phenomenon led to an increase in reported sexual assaults on children when Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged in 2011 and later convicted of dozens of counts of child molestation.

A new law approved by the Maine Legislature a year ago mandates that anyone required to report possible child abuse to the state automatically do so whenever a child under 6 months of age has a broken bone, substantial bruising, burns or poisoning, on the reasoning that children that young cannot walk and are largely incapable of injuring themselves in such a way.

Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance, said that one or even two years of abuse numbers for a particular state may be an anomaly and it is more useful to examine long-term trends and factors, such as the impact of the recession.

Huizar said that instead of leaving children in licensed day care facilities, children were sometimes left with neighbors, friends or extended family during the recession.

“They were seeing high levels of kids coming into emergency rooms for physical abuse,” she said. “It's not just that families are under more financial stress and lash out, but kids were being left in care they otherwise would not have been.”


Another problem that's growing in Maine could be one contributor to the increase in child abuse numbers.

Child abuse numbers are rising at a rate similar to the increase in overdose deaths, the frequency that babies are born to drug-using mothers and the number of children accidentally ingesting drugs or medication for drug treatment, according to Dr. Stephen Meister, a pediatrician who chairs the state's Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel.

“What we've had is a dramatic increase in opioid use in our young adult population,” Meister said. Federal data indicate that Maine has one of the highest rates of opiate abuse – including prescription painkillers and heroin – in the country.

Research shows that children in homes where parents are actively using illicit drugs are much more likely to be abused than children in families without regular drug use, Meister said, citing a 2009 Australian study which found that 51 percent of infants born to substance-abusing mothers warranted intervention by child protective services, mainly for physical harm or risk, compared to 6 percent born to mothers who didn't use drugs. Children of parents following a drug treatment program are more likely to be abused than children of parents who haven't used drugs, but less likely than in families with active drug users, he said.

The role that drug use plays in child abuse can vary. In some cases, drug-affected parents are incapable of caring for their children, leaving them vulnerable to abuse. In others, drug abusers going through withdrawal can't handle the stress of a child in the house. Children of active drug users are also more likely to have developmental needs, making them more challenging.

“I think sometimes families react to a point where a crying baby is a little too much and make decisions impulsively based on that,” Cahill-Low said.

State social workers may try to come up with a safety plan in such cases, but often the state is unaware of any danger until after a severe episode of abuse, Cahill-Low said.

The state has tried to emphasize more reporting by health care workers when babies are born drug-dependent.

There were 927 babies born in Maine in 2013 classified as drug-affected, according to the DHHS, an increase of 39 percent over 2011, when 668 drug-affected babies were born.

Meister notes that drug use is not an automatic predictor of child abuse. Less than half of the cases in which babies were born drug-affected led to an intervention by the state.

Cahill-Low said she communicates with her counterparts in other New England states who also have seen an increase in drug-related child abuse. Based on their experience, she expects physical abuse will continue to increase through this year.

“The more abuse and neglect you experience as a child the greater the risk you will become involved in substances and become a drug addict or an alcoholic,” Meister said. That increases the chances a person will abuse his own children.

“This becomes multi-generational,” Meister said. “We parent the way we were parented.”



PA Report Sees Hike in Suspected Child Abuse Cases

by Kate Giammarise

HARRISBURG — An annual state report on child abuse showed more reports of suspected child abuse in 2013 than any other year, though there was a decrease in the number of substantiated reports.

ChildLine, the state's abuse hotline, received 26,944 reports of abuse in 2013. Of those, 3,425, or 13 percent, were substantiated.

The topic of child abuse and improving the state's child protection laws has been a hot topic at the Capitol for some time. Approximately 20 bills have been signed by Gov. Tom Corbett since last fall to bring the state's definition of child abuse in line with national standards and otherwise update child protection laws.

The continuing attention to the topic likely accounts for the increased reporting.

“This marks the second year in a row we have set a new record in Pennsylvania for suspected reports of child abuse — a trend that quite likely has been driven in part by the increased public awareness about child abuse in the wake of the Sandusky scandal and other high-profile abuses cases,” said Joan Benso, president and CEO of child advocacy group Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, speaking of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University.

Pennsylvania tends to have among the lowest child abuse substantiation rates in the nation due to a high legal threshold for defining abuse; a law to take effect later this year should change that.

“We believe the increased awareness on the issue and information available on where to go to report suspected abuse has successfully empowered people to speak up,” Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth said in a statement accompanying the release of the report Friday.

“We have made these channels [for reporting abuse] more known to people,” said Kait Gillis, a spokeswoman for the department.

Still, there were some negative trends in the report, said child protection advocate Cathleen Palm.

She cited the fact that 9 percent of substantiated reports of abuse were cases of “re-abuse,” meaning the child has been abused previously.

“I think it says, [are] we effectively assessing the family situation, and if a child should be returned to the home, and if there's enough support in the home?”

Palm also cited the 38 substantiated child-abuse-related child fatalities in 2013, five more than the previous year.

In Allegheny County, there were 1,699 reports of abuse with 66, or 3.3 percent, substantiated.

The county had three substantiated child abuse-related fatalities last year and three near-fatalities.

The entire report is available on the department's website:



Official stresses importance of reporting suspected child abuse; how to do it

by Tim Potter

Daphne Young has a message for people who think a child might be abused but don't report it.

“When you're silent, when you don't act … I feel like they are colluding with the predator instead of the child,” said Young, vice president of communications and prevention education for Childhelp, which she describes as the nation's largest and oldest organization dealing with treatment and prevention of child abuse.

“Five children die each day as a result of child abuse,” Young said.

If you don't report, she said, “You're really taking a chance on their life.”

It might ruin someone's day, but that's a relatively small price, she said.

There is a lot less false reporting than under-reporting, she said.

Young asks that anyone confused about how to report suspected abuse call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453). The hotline is staffed around the clock by professional crisis counselors, with interpreting available for virtually any language.

The hotline can walk a person through how to report and can link the caller with emergency services, including 911, Young said. “They might say, ‘hang up the phone and call 911 and do these three things.' ”

The calls are kept anonymous, she said. “We're not tracing their calls.”

Too often, she said, people can be reluctant to report their suspicion because they don't want to get involved or they worry they might be wrong.

She wants people to realize “they don't have to be detectives, they can trust their instincts.” They don't have to know everything about a situation before they call in.

Child advocates recommend that people call 911 immediately if they sense that a child might be in immediate danger.

Another piece of advice from Young: Take seriously anything a child discloses, and remain calm so you can get basic information without leading the child on. Let a trained forensic investigator get the whole story. Don't play investigator, or you can taint an investigation.

Remember that abuse may not be as obvious as marks or bruises. It could be as subtle as a child looking withdrawn. “Anything that seems off,” she said.

Children being abused might rely on someone outside the family to report a suspicion because so often the abuse comes from someone in the family or close to the family.

Young said statistics show that 68 percent of victims are abused by family members and that 90 percent of sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator.


South Carolina

'Jaidon's Law' to protect children from drug-abusing parents signed into law in SC

by Felicia Kitzmiller

In the final moments of the legislative session, a bill passed that Rep. Mike Forrester said he hopes will provide protection for the young and vulnerable, and prevent more tragic stories like that of Jaidon Morris.

Among other things, the bill requires parents whose children are taken by the Department of Social Services because of substance abuse issues to be drug tested before a judge can consider returning the child to the parents' custody. It also requires a judge to consider the results of the drug test in his or her ruling.

The bill, dubbed Jaidon's Law, is named in memory of Jaidon Morris, a Pickens toddler who was a few months shy of his second birthday when he died of a prescription drug overdose in 2008. Jaidon's grandmother and father were convicted of homicide by child abuse, and aiding and abetting the crime, respectively. They were accused of giving the toddler adult-strength prescription cough medicine and failing to bring him to a doctor when he showed breathing problems.

Jaidon died one week after being returned to his biological family after nearly a year in foster care.

Gov. Nikki Haley quietly signed Jaidon's Law on Tuesday, ending Forrester's three-session effort to pass the legislation. Since first introducing a bill with this drug testing intent, Forrester said there have been numerous procedural and ideological hurdles to overcome, but Jaidon's memory kept him moving forward.

Forrester remembers the day Dione Scotti, Jaidon's foster mother, came to see him and told him the child's story. Jaidon was placed with the Scottis as an infant following an emergency hospitalization. He stayed with the family for 10 months, transforming from a baby to a toddler.

Then the child was gone as quickly as he had come. A judge ruled Jaidon was to be returned to his biological family and he was turned over in a matter of hours. One week later, the Scottis learned Jaidon was hospitalized, and he died shortly after.

“You could just see she was shaken to her very being,” Forrester said of Dione Scotti when she told the story. “She said, 'I know I can't bring him back, but I want to prevent this from happening to another child.' It just rips your heart out to see someone like that.”

As he started researching the issue and drafting legislation, Forrester said he learned Jaidon's story wasn't as unusual as he first thought.

“I've talked to other foster parents who have stories like this, and I had no idea this was happening,” he said.

When a child is removed from a home, state law allows a family court judge to make certain demands of the parents as part of a “placement plan.” Those requirements include drug and alcohol treatment or drug testing.

But Jaidon's Law takes these provisions a step further. When substance abuse is a factor in removing a child from parental care, the parents are now required to take a drug test before a child may be returned to them. The law states judges must consider the test results in ruling on the custody of the child.

Earlier versions of the bill mandated parents pass the drug test before having custody restored, but Forrester said some legislators objected to removing a judge's discretion as specific information would be more available to a judge. When the bill was amended to demand a test be done and at least considered, criticism came from the other side.

“A lot of people say you're watering it down, but these judges have to be re-elected and if they have one of these cases, it's going to come up,” he said.

The law also instructs DSS staff to seek termination of parental rights if a parent fails to follow family court orders twice within a year, or is convicted of homicide by child abuse of another child.

The law also adds a child being born with drug dependence to the list of reasons a parent can be put on the state's central register for child abuse and neglect, and it takes away DSS's ability to grant waivers to being placed on the list in many cases. It also allows DSS to seek termination of a parent's visitation rights while a child is in the agency's custody if it is determined to be in the child's best interests.

Forrester said this bill is not designed to strip the rights of parents, but rather to protect the rights of children who cannot protect themselves.

“I think the biological parent is where the child should be, but there are circumstances like this one where it might not be the best thing at that time,” he said. “… It's like any other right. If I'm driving a car, and I put someone else in danger, that's where my rights end and theirs begins. At the point they put this child in danger, that's where their rights end, in my opinion.”

While the bill has stalled in the past, this year it rode a wave of anit-DSS sentiment to the finish line with only moments to spare.

“This bill was approved by the House literally two minutes before the session ended,” Forrester said.

In the final days before it was passed, the Senate added a variety of DSS reporting requirements to the bill, including the monthly total of cases and children in the system, and the number of children not seen by DSS within 24 hours of an abuse or neglect report.

Forrester said he thinks this bill could be a launching point for continued reforms at DSS. If he is re-elected in November, Forrester said he plans to re-introduce a bill he filed this year that allows foster parents accused by DSS of abuse or neglect to appeal the decision in hopes of avoiding placement on the state's central registry for child abuse.



Psychology of child sexual abuse

RINGGOLD, Georgia -- Recent coverage of a criminal case involving a man accused of sexually abusing a 6-year old boy has shed light on the psychology of that type of crime.

The mother of the 6-year old boy who was reportedly molested by Cody Harris, 19, said signs of sexual abuse included a sudden change in behavior and even attempted suicide.

"The fits of rage started. He would kick holes in the wall and threaten to kill me," she said.

The abuse reportedly occurred at an apartment on Anderson Road.

WDEF contacted Mental Health professionals at the Henegar CBI Counseling Center in Chattanooga. Licensed Counselor, Meaghan Warnock talked about how most sex offenders start off.

"Most offenders have been sexually abused themselves at some point in their life. Even if they haven't been sexually abused, they were probably neglected, suffered physical abuse or emotional abuse in some way."

Warnock also talked about the road to recovery for many victims, especially victims like the 6-year old who suffered both physical and mental harm.

"There needs to be as predictable an environment as possible for a child to recover in that situation and then obviously going through trauma focus therapy," Warnock said.

According to recent statistics, 1 in 3 girls are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18 while 1 in 4 boys are sexually abused before that same age. But not every case involving boys is reported.

"There's such a stigma in a boy being victimized as opposed to being the offender. It's so important that we focus on young boys and the things they're going through because they might less likely come forward and talk to somebody about what they experienced," Warnock said.

In the recent case involving the 6-year old, a change in behavior led to the boy telling his parents what happened to him.

The boy's alleged abuser, Cody Harris remains in jail without bond.



State report sees increase in suspected child abuse cases

by Kate Giammarise

HARRISBURG — An annual state report on child abuse showed more reports of suspected child abuse in 2013 than any other year, though there was a decrease in the number of substantiated reports.

ChildLine, the state's abuse hotline, received 26,944 reports of abuse in 2013. Of those, 3,425, or 13 percent, were substantiated.

The topic of child abuse and improving the state's child protection laws has been a hot topic at the Capitol for some time. Approximately 20 bills have been signed by Gov. Tom Corbett since last fall to bring the state's definition of child abuse in line with national standards and otherwise update child protection laws.

The continuing attention to the topic likely accounts for the increased reporting.

“This marks the second year in a row we have set a new record in Pennsylvania for suspected reports of child abuse — a trend that quite likely has been driven in part by the increased public awareness about child abuse in the wake of the Sandusky scandal and other high-profile abuses cases,” said Joan Benso, president and CEO of child advocacy group Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, speaking of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University.

Pennsylvania tends to have among the lowest child abuse substantiation rates in the nation due to a high legal threshold for defining abuse; a law to take effect later this year should change that.

“We believe the increased awareness on the issue and information available on where to go to report suspected abuse has successfully empowered people to speak up,” Department of Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth said in a statement accompanying the release of the report Friday.

“We have made these channels [for reporting abuse] more known to people,” said Kait Gillis, a spokeswoman for the department.

Still, there were some negative trends in the report, said child protection advocate Cathleen Palm.

She cited the fact that 9 percent of substantiated reports of abuse were cases of “re-abuse,” meaning the child has been abused previously.

”I think it says, [are] we effectively assessing the family situation, and if a child should be returned to the home, and if there's enough support in the home?”

Ms. Palm also cited the 38 substantiated child-abuse-related child fatalities in 2013, five more than the previous year.

In Allegheny County, there were 1,699 reports of abuse with 66, or 3.3 percent, substantiated.

The county had three substantiated child abuse-related fatalities last year and three near-fatalities.

The entire report is available on the department's website:



Vermont Child Abuse Data Tracking Out of Date

by Steph Machado

Two years ago, 15,760 calls came into the Vermont Department for Children and Families to report possible child abuse or neglect.

This year, calls are on track to hit 18,000.

"If you were sitting here with me 5 or 6 years ago, that number would be 12,000," said DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone.

The numbers have also spiked just since the deaths of two Vermont toddlers this year. December 2013 saw 1,375 calls, compared to 1,899 in May of 2014.

We asked Commissioner Yacovone if that means DCF is making more calls to police. The response to our public records request was that DCF "does not track the data you requested for analysis."

"We haven't set up our I.T. system to track the number of times we called police," Yacovone said.

We made the same request to Vermont State Police, but Public Information Officer Stephanie Dasaro said they do not track that data in their records management system. She said she would need to manually go through each police report, and it would take approximately 20 days of full time work to complete the request. State Police also declined to do an interview with FOX44 & ABC22 News to talk about it.

"Our records don't talk to each other, and that's a problem," said State Rep. Ann Pugh, a South Burlington Democrat. Pugh is on the Legislative Panel for Child Protection that's looking into changing Vermont's child abuse laws.

"Our I.T. system for family services is in the dark ages," Rep. Pugh said. She once worked as a social worker for SRS, or State Rehabilitation Services, which is what DCF was previously called.

Commissioner Yacovone points out the system does track some calls to police. By law, sexual abuse reports have to be tracked, and Yacovone says 2012 records show DCF called police at least 222 times.

"That's not the total number of times we called out to police," he said.

"Why don't you have the total?" Reporter Steph Machado asked.

"Well, we would have to go to each individual record and look it up," he said.

State Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) is the chair of the child protection panel. He was shocked to learn Vermont State Police didn't track how often DCF called to help. New York State Police says it does track those numbers.

"That is something the committee will have to look into, I assure you," Sen. Sears said over the phone from Bennington. "Given the conversations we've had about information and it being available."

Lawmakers say they hope the changes they make to the system going forward will mean more collaboration among everyone involved in a child abuse case, because communication is a key element in keeping children sage.

The Legislative Panel on Child Protection has wrapped up its public hearings, and will start the process of re-writing Vermont's child abuse laws in July.



Re-Authorization Approval for "Victims of Child Abuse Act"

The Senate Judiciary committee has approved re-authorization of the "Victims of Child Abuse Act."

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions introduced the act which provides funding to child advocacy centers across the country. Senator Sessions says, those advocacy centers have played a critical role in investigating child abuse and providing care to victims.

He went on to say there's nothing more important than protecting the nation's children. In addition to child advocacy centers, the victims of child abuse act also provides funding for the regional children's advocacy center programs, The National Children's Alliance and the National Children's Advocacy Center.



Teacher sex abuse can happen in all demographics, communities

by Andy Kravetz

PEORIA — Few things are more horrifying for parents than word of a teacher or a coach sexually abusing a child.

More than a dozen people in the Tri-County Area have been charged in such cases over the last decade. Even more were initially arrested, only to have themselves exonerated at trial or no charges filed at all.

Regardless of the outcome, all are affected. The school district has a reputation tarnished. A teacher loses a career, and the child victim might need years of counseling to cope.

Experts say the phenomena crosses all demographics — race, gender, income level and community.

“Unfortunately, kids across the board are at risk,” says Heidi Van Heuklon, the clinical director for the Center for Prevention of Abuse. “No matter what race, ethnicity, community you live in, and income level, kids are at risk for child sexual abuse.”

The June 3 arrest of Maury Beelman, 34, 3301 W. Willow Knolls Road, Apt. 3, who was charged with having sex with a student for at least two years, brought teachers' misconduct back into the spotlight. The Peoria area has seen its share of offenders, ranging from soccer coaches to art teachers to JROTC instructors to homeroom teachers.

Van Heuklon said she can't point to a specific statistic that shows teacher sexual misconduct is on the rise or not. She did note, as others have, that it gets far more attention than it used to.

“These are the cases that become sensationalized,” she said. “And that gives people the perception that this is more of a problem than other child sexual abuse. In reality, these cases represent less than one percent of the total number of children and teens we see yearly for child sex abuse.”

Tara Crady with the Tazewell County Child Advocacy Center, which covers Tazewell, Woodford and Mason counties, says such inappropriate relationships have been going on “since the beginning of time.”

“However, with social media, Snapchat and all the different apps kids have, it is making it easier for adults to have these types of relationships due to easier access,” she said.

There is a range of behavior that can fall into this category, Van Heuklon said. From videotaping to sexting to actual sex or just inappropriate talk, all are considered sexual misconduct and out of bounds. Van Heuklon noted that in some cases, children are “groomed,” or prepared by the offender, a process that could take a long time before anything happens.

And the effects can be even longer lasting.

“It could skew the teenager's perception of what an intimate relationship should be like or a healthy relationship is,” she said. “It could affect their future choices of partners to be engaged with.”

Crady agreed. “They could develop trust issues as the teacher was in a position of authority.”

Often, victims of abuse are at risk for depression, suicide and substance abuse as well.

Mary Ann Manos, a former Bradley University professor and now the superintendent of the Villa Grove school district, which lies about 20 miles south of Champaign, wrote a book about this topic more than a decade ago. She said her research found that much of the abuse happens outside of the classroom.

“As children become more involved in school — after-school activities, sports — it gets to the point where a teacher or coach could spend more time with the student out of the classroom than in it,” she said.

Misconduct, as she put it, is gut-wrenching for all parties and often starts with poor choices by the adult. The children, she and others have said, are never at fault because legally, they can't consent to such a relationship in any circumstances.

“Whether things were misinterpreted or it is a situation of pedophilia or the teacher is just in the wrong place at the wrong time, it has to be the teacher's fault. A child is never responsible legally,” she said.

Changes in state law over the years also have played a role in how the misconduct is dealt with. As a superintendent, Manos said she is mandated to report any allegations to the state. Such a move, she says, gets rid of the old practice of “passing the trash,” where a district would quietly remove a teacher, giving him or her a favorable recommendation to get rid of the person.

All three women agree that the vast majority of teachers don't fall into this category, but they also agree teachers need to be cautious and to avoid situations that could put them at risk.

“I don't think that young education candidates come into the teaching field to hurt anyone. There are some who make terrible mistakes of judgment. I don't mean that to be a slap on the wrist … The teacher in question ends up in a very difficult situation, because it ends their career,” Manos said.

And yet, there is little consensus of why these things happen. Low self-esteem, a misguided sense of love, poor choices or pedophilia are all factors on some level, they say, but it's too broad of a topic to define what the problem is and how to stop it. The Center for Prevention of Abuse goes into classrooms to offer prevention classes.

The CAC in Tazewell County offers counseling to victims and to parents, who often are devastated with guilt for missing “things that might have been red flags in hindsight.” And teacher education courses offer some ethics training. But Manos puts the onus on teachers.

“Social media has upped the odds that a teacher will step over the line in an effort to be friends,” she said. “Email can be misunderstood as words do not sound the same to everyone.”

Sex abuse in schools: What can be done?

While the vast majority of teachers aren't the type to harm a child through sexual misconduct, parents do need to stay vigilant and to prepare their children in case if they are put in an inappropriate situation.

The Center for Prevention of Abuse has several programs that are taught at area schools and also counsels victims of all types of sexual abuse.

Among the tips they suggest for parents:

>> Be approachable.

>> Be in tune with your child's friends and/or social circle. Know who your child's friends are, and be aware of your child's social media activities. Set age-appropriate boundaries for online communications.

>> Encourage open and trusting communication. Stress that you always are willing to listen.

>> Explain to your child about appropriate boundaries with other adults in their lives.

>> Notice the behavior of other adults around your child, and be concerned about adults singling out certain children for attention. Decide if it is inappropriate, unnecessary and more for the adult than the child.

>> If your child makes a disclosure, remain calm. Reassure your child by telling them you are there for them.


The center also encourages parents to keep up with the times when it comes to technology. Among those tips are:

>> Educate yourself — be aware of social media sites.

>> Monitor your child's Internet use. Know who they communicate with online.

>> Teach your child appropriate social skills for online communication.

>> Remind children not to give out their personal information (address, telephone number, etc.) online without your permission.

>> Set age-appropriate boundaries for use of technology and online behaviors.

School districts

The center also helps local school districts so they can avoid problems and the potential stain on their reputation. Their tips center around Educate, Train and Act:

>> Maintain mandatory School Based Violence Prevention Education for staff, parents and students.

>> Build a common language with terminology that clearly distinguishes child sexual abuse from word descriptors such as “inappropriate relationships” describe child sexual abuse.

>> Having proper information for children and parents affected by misconduct which will allow the parent to protect their child and seek out medical help and counseling if necessary.

>> All employees should be responsible for mandated reporting. Follow school district's directive on DCFS mandated reporting protocol.

>> Have supports and referral systems in place to address a student disclosure for sexual abuse.



Why the ‘End Demand' Approach to Sex Work Doesn't Work

by Berlin

For the last seven years, I've been working as an escort in Ottawa and, most recently, in Toronto. I've seen approximately 100 unique clients (this does not include repeat clients) per year and not one of them has ever been anything less than respectful.

“End demand” campaigns, like the one suggested in a recent RH Reality Check commentary , are based on the false characterization of clients of sex workers as rapists, and perpetuated by the prostitution-as-violence camp. This is nothing but misogyny, pure and simple.

To suggest that women cannot differentiate between their work and when they have been assaulted is grossly offensive.

Yasmin Vafa's piece, “ Racial Injustice: The Case for Prosecuting Buyers as Sex Traffickers ,” celebrates “demand reduction” as a trafficking prevention strategy, particularly in the case of minors. The issues of child prostitution and child trafficking are highly charged, sensitive subjects and I have no intention of diminishing the abuses that do occur. However, Vafa's piece, while well-intentioned, is misguided in a number of ways.

In these discussions, rarely are the actors identified clearly; rather we get the generalized subjects “children” and “buyers,” leaving the reader to imagine the worst-case scenario, such as the survivor account Vafa references in her piece. These two groups are not homogenous.

First, let us examine the category of the “child.” According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is anyone under the age of 18. To further complicate things, the UN defines a “youth” as anyone between 15 and 24 years old. Even the most ardent defender of children would concede that those persons aged 15, 16, and 17 are more accurately categorized as youth and that their participation in sexual relations is different than those of younger children.

And who are the buyers really?

Research shows that a portion of buyers are actually youth purchasing sex from other youth. As Julia O'Connell Davidson has stated , “who really believes that a sexual relationship between a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old should be categorized as a sexual relationship between an ‘adult' and a ‘child'?”

The sordid picture of older men luring young children into prostitution is also largely exaggerated. Heather Montgomery's research with child prostitutes in Thailand revealed that often children pimp for each other. She observes that while myths about child prostitution make it “inconceivable that children should pimp for each other and a take a cut of the earnings of another child who has become a prostitute … this is exactly what does happen as part of the children's survival strategies.”

Further, children who have friends and acquaintances working in prostitution may see that prostitution offers a means of subsistence, making it a viable survival option. Therefore, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act has the potential to criminalize the very children we are supposed to be defending. In Canada, this reality came to pass when two 15-year-old girls were charged with human trafficking .

A criminal record is no way to help children and youth leave prostitution.

Further, putting vulnerable children and youth in the hands of the police is a dangerous business. Police in Ottawa regularly extort sex workers for favors on threat of arrest, physically and sexually assault women, and harass street-based workers, the majority of whom are Aboriginal women . The Cato Institute's 2010 Annual Report on Police Misconduct in the United States noted:

Of the officers associated with reports of serious sexual misconduct, 51% (180) were involved with reports that involved minors and 49% (174) involved adults.

However, of the 479 alleged victims of serious sexual misconduct which were tracked, 52% (249) were minors and 48% (230) were adults. This would appear to indicate that minors are victims of alleged serial offenders slightly more often than adults.

Placing the focus on the buyers obscures the ways in which the state is culpable in perpetuating violence against women and children, whether or not they are sex workers. It is naïve to think that a state which consistently violates the rights of sex workers will produce a desirable outcome by introducing stronger legal penalties.

A second critique I have of her piece is her support of a bill that proposes to prosecute buyers as sex traffickers, a conflation of prostitution and trafficking, which are two separate categories. Even when referring to child prostitution, a distinction must be made between trafficking and consensual prostitution. The Global Commission on HIV and the Law writes that the conflation of trafficking and sexual exploitation “has ultimately served to undermine efforts to address both trafficking and sexual commerce, while inadvertently contributing to the harm that people working in sexual commerce face from local law enforcement and from potentially violent clients and intermediaries.”

In January, police services across Canada initiated “Project Northern Spotlight” aimed at finding victims of human trafficking. Officers posed as clients and in Ottawa visited 29 women, all of whom were legally adults and none of whom were trafficked. Quinn, one of the workers who was visited, described the visit by four police officers as threatening and intimidating, particularly given the fact that she was a woman, alone, in lingerie, and expecting a client. If the police were so concerned with finding trafficking victims, why did they largely target independent adult escorts?

In Sweden, where the laws targeting clients of sex workers have been in place since 1999, sex work has been pushed further underground. Sex workers have little time to screen their clients because clients fear arrest. Sex workers are subpoenaed and ordered to testify against their clients in court. Many clients simply start seeing workers indoors, leaving only those clients who are otherwise undesirable for street-based workers (e.g., they have a criminal record already), as well as increasing competition among women for a reduced client base. If they choose to operate indoors, which is safer than working on the street, they can be evicted because landlords are charged with profiting off a sex worker's earnings—their rent—if they do not evict the tenant.

Sex working mothers run the risk of losing custody of their children. The case of Petite Jasmine, a Swedish sex worker, is exemplary on this point. Her children were taken from her because of her work in the sex industry and given to her abusive husband, who later stabbed her to death during a visit with her children.

In Canada, the conservative government recently tabled a bill entitled the “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act,” which also criminalizes the clients of sex workers, among a host of other provisions. But a recent study published in the British Medical Journal shows that criminalizing our clients reproduces the harms experienced under criminalization , which corroborates the evidence coming out of Sweden.

We cannot know the full extent to which children are sold as “sex slaves.” Figures are exaggerated or outright fabricated, and because it is a clandestine activity, it is very difficult to quantify. However, if we rely on statistics from the FBI database regarding the number of children arrested for prostitution offenses (not the number of children trafficked) between 1981 and 2012, we see that minors selling sex make up only 1.83 percent of prostitution arrests over a 31-year period. If buyers are fueling the demand for underage sex workers, one would think there would be higher numbers of children selling sex. In Canada, where the act of selling sex has never been illegal, there were zero recorded instances of trafficking of minors between 2008 and 2012, according to Statistics Canada. Meanwhile, the incidents of adult trafficking were just under 50 and include all forms of trafficking, not just those being trafficked into the sex industry.

Finally, making child prostitution and child trafficking an issue of demand detracts from systemic issues that cause children to sell sex in the first place. We ignore the political, economic, and social inequalities that underpin this phenomenon. Without measures to address the conditions under which children make the decision to sell sex, criminalizing clients is nothing but a band-aid solution.

If more than half of the male population has used the services of a sex worker at some point, there is no way we can arrest all the men who have ever bought or ever would buy sex. Furthermore, criminalizing clients means that when clients do come across potentially coerced workers, they will not report it due to fear of arrest.

The continued conflation of trafficking and consensual prostitution leads to more violence and abuse of sex workers. If we are really and truly concerned with the welfare of children and youth working in the sex industry, we need to start thinking about affordable housing, access to services, and alternate employment opportunities. “End demand” has not worked. Let's stop moralizing and fight for tangible resources to assist those working in the sex industry.



East High valedictorian shares story to help other victims of sexual abuse

by Brian Leaf

ROCKFORD — Heather Franklin, 18, valedictorian of East High School's Class of 2014, has forearm scars that are like rungs on a broken ladder.

The fading lines she cut into herself as an adolescent are symbols now of her climb into adulthood and above the emotional despair of being raped by an uncle.

During high school Franklin said she fought through depression and thoughts of suicide, but found peace through her faith and a belief that she survived a heinous crime to help other sexual assault victims out of their devastating darkness.

Five years after her assailant was sentenced to 60 years in a South Dakota prison, East's top student wears short sleeves. It's a sign, she says, that she's growing comfortable in her own skin, ready to leave Rockford on Tuesday for Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, to study psychology.

“I really want to talk about it,” Heather, 18, said earlier this month at the home of her Rockford foster parents, Heidi and Ian Provo. “But not just for the healing. I want to bring awareness to it.”

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime , child sexual abuse is under-reported by victims. The Crimes Against Children Resource Center said that self-report studies indicate 20 percent of adult women and 5 percent to 10 percent of adult males recall a sexual assault or sexual abuse incident.

Children ages 7 to 13 are most vulnerable, and the National Institute of Justice reported in 2003 that 75 percent of adolescent victims were abused by someone they knew well.

Last year, 466 children involved in sexual abuse cases were referred to Rockford's Carrie Lynn Children's Center, which advocates for abuse victims.

For victims, prolonged sexual abuse can result in low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, self-harm, and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. And a child may withdraw, mistrust adults and become suicidal. And child sexual abuse affects entire families, which often find that the anger, guilt and helplessness in the aftermath of the crime becomes a wedge between parent and child.

Heather has lived with foster parents for the past 18 months.

The ordeal that nearly destroyed Heather ultimately drove her to academic excellence. She said she escaped by becoming absorbed in her schoolwork.

“I am addicted to books,” she said.

Heather graduated with a weighted GPA of 4.6 earned at four high schools — Mitchell, South Dakota, Oregon, Byron and East, where she enrolled the second semester of her junior year after moving in with the Provos.

“What she's come through is unreal and for her to come out where she has, it's incredible. It's amazing she's here at all,” said Ian Provo, a Rasmussen College adjunct professor and social worker who became her “parental representative figure” when she moved in with the family on Christmas Eve in 2012.

“I told Heather when she moved here that I wouldn't be her therapist,” he said. “She needed a dad.”

Her story

Heather, one of four children, was born in Elgin. Her mother and father split when she was young. As a child, Franklin lived in homeless shelters and with foster parents for a while. Her family didn't stay anywhere for long.

“My mom moved us around quite a bit,” Heather said. “She didn't finish college so it was hard for her to find work. We had to go where the jobs were.”

In 2007, they went to South Dakota and moved in with her uncle Larry James Franklin. She'd met him three years before at a family funeral. He worked at a gas station. She liked him.

“He looked exactly like my dad,” she said.

That summer her uncle went about spoiling her with candy and clothing. She trusted him and craved his attention. She was 11 and entering sixth grade.

“Growing up in a single-parent home, it was hard for my mom to share the attention,” she said. “She usually spent it with the child who had the most problems, which was my twin who had learning and behavioral issues.”

That summer, her mother had a breakdown and was hospitalized. Her uncle told police her mother was suicidal.

With his victim “groomed,” he took control.

“He did everything in his power to make it seem she was a bad person and (had her) removed from the home,” Heather said.

He obtained temporary guardianship of his niece.

That's when she was forced to move into her uncle's room and the assaults began.

‘Indian pact'

He conjured up a bizarre secrecy pact.

Court records said her uncle mixed urine, his and hers, in baby food jars and buried them in a park. He said it was an “Indian pact” and that if she broke it by telling someone about what was going on she would be struck down by an “Indian god.”

Initially, she said, she believed him.

After the assaults began she started cutting herself, a negative coping response that continued until five months ago.

Over time she said she came to fear the wrath of her uncle, who kept a gun under his bed, more than she feared the wrath of a deity.

As a Mormon, she had her own deity to which she prayed.

She read from “For the Strength of Youth,” a book of standards published by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In the chapter “Sexual Purity” she read that victims of sexual abuse are innocent and not guilty of sin and that healing would take time. They should seek help from another trusted adult or the church bishop.

Heather picked up the Bible one day and said it opened to Matthew 5:44: “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

“I understood that the abuse wasn't going to immediately stop,” she said. “But I found that peace that I needed.”

When her mother got out of the hospital, state social workers barred her from the home. The abuse continued. In late December 2007, her mother was cleared to again live with her children and moved back in.

Heather said the assaults stopped. She still kept the secret but confronted her abuser. She asked him what would happen if she told someone that she was being abused.

“I pretty much didn't care,” she said. “I was pretty numb. I was frustrated.”


When her uncle didn't answer, she was emboldened.

After Christmas, his 15-year-old cat died and her uncle overdosed on pills. Heather's mother found him when she came home after working the third shift and called 911. He was hospitalized and upon release was not allowed back in the premises with the children.

“God kind of removed him from the home,” she said.

With her uncle gone, she came up with a plan.

She was anxious, awake most of the night on a Thursday in January 2008. She was ready to break the pact. But she overslept. When her mother came home from work, she was running late. Her mother said she could stay home that day.

“She was thinking that I was being the typical me, using school to cope. It wasn't like that. I had handwritten this letter to my counselor the night before. I said, ‘I think I've been abused by my uncle.' ”

Heather told her mother: “You don't understand. I have to go to school.”

It was snowy, but she got on her sister's bike and rode to school. No one was in her counselor's office so she said she left the note on the desk. By that afternoon, police had questioned her. Investigators later went to the park, warmed the earth with cemetery equipment used to prepare frozen ground for graves and dug up jars with frozen liquid in them. Her uncle was jailed.

She later testified against him in court in 2009.

“I was very scared during the testimony,” she said.

After his conviction and 60-year sentence, she said, she struggled with sleep and suffered flashbacks. If she smelled alcohol on someone it made her emotional. In Mitchell, she lived with a Mormon family for a while who helped her through “shock and catatonia.” When she moved back to Illinois with her family, she said that she felt a sense of abandonment.

“Heather shut down, she just shut the doors,” her mother said. “When a teen shuts you out, it's beyond your control. It's a horrible feeling. You want to help them so badly, but there's nothing you can do.”

Heather escaped into study. Church had become vital for her, and when she met Heidi Provo, a Mormon, at a summer camp, there was a connection.

“I was asking her basic questions about how can I get my family more involved in the church,” she said.

She found a confidant in Heidi, who is also an abuse survivor. Heidi and Ian Provo adopted two children and they also served as foster parents.

They stayed in touch after camp, and when Heather decided she had to find a place where she could heal, they invited her to move in with them in Rockford.

“I needed to be in a place where I could focus on school and overcome some of the things I'd been through,” Heather said.

It was a rough transition.

“There was a rocky adjustment, with rules and borders laid out,” Ian said. “Heather was not used to them.”

A healing time

She said being away has helped her grow closer to her mom, and she sees her academic achievement as a way to thank her.

“This has been a healing time for my mother and me,” Heather said.

Her mother, Beverly Hall, was at the BMO Harris Bank Center on May 28 as Heather addressed classmates at East's graduation ceremony.

“I really missed my daughter,” Hall said. “And I'm very proud of her. Whenever I'm around her, I have a smile on my face.”

Heather said she was lucky to be with the Provos. Heidi Provo and Hall built a friendship that became a bridge to mother and daughter.

Last month at graduation, Franklin was thankful for the support she received from family, friends and her church.

“I will forever be indebted to friends and family who have kept me afloat,” she said. “Most of all, I want to also thank my mother, as loving and stubborn as she is, for teaching me to never give up.

“I faced financial hardships and discrimination. I suffered from chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, I refused to remain ignorant, indecisive and indifferent over my situation. I relied heavily on faith and hope to sustain me; faith in God and hope that I would, through hard work, recover and find the light again.”

The light is shining again. Classes begin June 20 in Provo, Utah, for Heather, who plans to help other victims by writing a book to share her experience.

“There is a plan for me,” she said.



Fate by association

Peers, mentors are key to breaking patterns of domestic abuse


Condition a child through criticism or circumstance to believe she or he is not worthy and you can nearly guarantee a Pavlovian-like internal magnet will form, drawing that person through a life that seems to inexplicably careen from one bad situation to another.

Unless, that is, someone steps up to interrupt the force. And those in the business of stopping the cycles that take children from “resilient” babes to adults in crisis say peers and mentors can be the most powerful influences in a child's life.

Positive influences, however, are in increasingly short supply. Economic conditions have reduced the availability of more mature people to guide because they are too busy treading water themselves. Classrooms are filled with children from dicey home situations coaching each other from their warped and immature world views.

This community is fortunate to have multiple mentoring organizations not just holding out a net to catch what they can, but also anticipating issues before they are fully realized.

But rather than merely lead and educate, resources such as Planned Parenthood, the Blaine County Community Drug Coalition and The Advocates are establishing teen advisory councils and boards to collect their valuable perspectives and take their information into the field.

These youth peer panels are revealing a willingness to apply the same fervor to interpersonal empowerment as their predecessors and friends have been to be champions for the environment or against hunger.

They are the youngest experts to challenge negative patterns of thinking in the spirit of a mission that states, “Each day, we are presented with the choice to speak out, to make a difference, to change a life.”

The teen-driven Our Revolution is taking on dating violence with that rallying cry.

Nature versus nurture

The Advocates has spent more than two decades in the valley picking up the pieces of missed interventions and the resulting aftermath.

Nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their life.

“National statistics are that one in three dating teens will be in an emotionally, verbally or physically abusive relationship, and our valley is right on track with national statistics,” said Darrel Harris, coordinator of social change for The Advocates. “Teen dating abuse is epidemic. Some researchers are calling it the No. 1 health concern in our country. That may or may not be true, but it is the one health concern that we can absolutely do something about with information and education.”

What is often seen in shelters worldwide is a pattern of violence that starts very young and morphs into a tolerance for a life built on shattered dreams, self-sabotage, violence, sexual abuse, bullying and/or self-imposed exile through substance abuse.

What is known is that a seemingly unfettered child isn't always a romantic free spirit, or that a rootless adult isn't just a commitmentphobe. There is usually an unresolved grief or unchallenged interpretation of an event deemed, consciously or not, to be traumatic.

It could be from an emotional or physical trauma, untreated mental-health matter, familial dysfunction or other disillusionment.

In many cases, just as the person was forming, and filling his or her unscathed vessels with all the good things that newness to the world brings, something dreadful happened.

In an instant, everything was the same, and nothing was. And how that moment was handled can determine whether one learns and grows, or merely survives.

Self-esteem is as stretchy and pliable as a Slinky, but left to its own devices, just like the toy's tail follows the head whichever way has the least resistance, it is, too often, down.

Culturally, teens receive mixed and confusing messages about relationships. Teens get many of their ideas about what relationships are supposed to be, and their social emotional skills are influenced by, peers and media, Harris said.

“Teens often have innocent ideas about what relationships are, buy into gender stereotypes, and do not know what a healthy relationship looks, sounds and feels like,” she said. “Research shows that the vast majority of teens can name the warning signs of abuse but cannot identify the components of a healthy relationship.

“Teen dating abuse, like all forms of power-based personal violence, is about power and control.”

Interestingly, unlike adult domestic violence, teen boys and girls are equally abusive. Statistically, boys are more physically and sexually abusive and girls are more emotionally and verbally abusive.

“But, all forms of violence and abuse are destructive and damaging,” Harris said.

Repair or repeat

“I was set up to be abused from the time I was a young girl,” said Lara Spencer, a businesswoman and advocate as well as an addict in recovery and a survivor of domestic violence. “It starts with a little tear-down and evolves into a beat-down.”

She was the daughter of a prominent Alaskan businessman and, as such, like her mother and brother, she absorbed the nicks from her abusive father and kept them secret, because of shame and bewilderment as well as his prominence in her town. So she did what many young kids with too much time and too few answers do—she partied.

“I had to escape and I covered up my pain.”

Thanks to tenacity and punk rock, the young Spencer went on to graduate from Seattle Pacific University with a focus on fashion. But her success only dressed up her scars, and, privately, her history of abuse continued with her relationships with men.

She married her last abuser, still in a haze of addiction clothed in ambition.

An E.R. nurse connected the dots after seeing Spencer more than a few times, the latest when her lover had smashed her head on a toilet. The nurse gave her some contacts and her husband was sent to jail.

Spencer became a case study for a Swedish Medical Center. Their plan was to observe what happens when a person comes back from near death and is given all the support and options and information available to change.

After being released from jail, her husband came for her a year into her recovery, and when rejected, he left her a cyanide-laced drink to toast his death, and took his own life. Because they were still married, she was made responsible for his burial.

The brutal realization was enough to keep her on course to break her own patterns. A letter from her niece in 2006 turned her into a warrior for the cause.

From a simple note

“Dear Aunt Lara, there are no cool clothes here and people tell me I'm ugly and I want to kill myself,” Spencer recalled, paraphrasing the note. The writer's father, Spencer's brother, was working at the Community School, a widower with a seventh-grade daughter struggling without her mother.

Spencer was by then the merchandise coordinator and manager for the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Her past had long since been reconciled, but her experience instantly set her on high alert.

“I knew exactly what that was because I was that child,” she said. “I knew that was not a joke, that the possibilities were more than great that she was either going to do drugs and alcohol or date an abusive man. I gave all my tangibles up for a spiritual solution. It was a no-brainer—I was going to break that cycle.”
Spencer said her time spent in consignment stores provided the platform for a vision that she hammered over in her mind as she made her way to Ketchum three weeks after getting the note.

She would create The Dollhouse, a hub for girls and women to dress their outsides to match their insides.

She went to The Advocates, and in her founding mission statement for the shop was a promise to make the organization a beneficiary of donated clothing.

While working on her family's stuff, she was growing in her local advocacy. The Advocates asked her to serve on the board of directors.

Back then, Harris was looking for ways to reach youth with The Advocates' services, which at that time was largely in reactive and re-entry mode.

In the meantime, Spencer would provide the clients with personal testimony and create a haven for nurturing confidence for women starting over by using her talents and her torments for change for others.

Last summer, her niece, now a college graduate who doesn't smoke or drink, came for a visit with a gentleman of a boyfriend en route to service work in South Korea.

“My job was to break the cycle—we broke the cycle,” Spencer said.

Her mission complete, the “miracles,” as she calls them, keep coming.

And despite a few moves of the business, and some harrowing financial times, things are happening from her little Hailey shop that confirms she's in it for the long run.

Can we use your shop?

In late winter, two young women walked into The Dollhouse explaining an internship they were starting with The Advocates. They wanted to hold an event there to introduce a new teen-empowerment program to the community.

Spencer, of course, was on board. Revolutionary acts of healing were committed—young men and women celebrated together.

Spencer gave a speech that ended with the message, “Right now, you are the solution. As long as you are standing there, you are healing others.”

The attendees were likewise enthused, leaving evidence of their spirits in messages on a white board.

The internship launch party was part of a social movement created by teens from the Center for Healthy Relationships, a branch of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

Social movements, Harris said, “often begin with conversations—conversations among everyday people about the change they want to see in their own lives, their communities, and the world, and this is what Our Revolution is all about.”

The goal of the Our Revolution conversation is to empower teens to raise their voice and be the change they want to see.

The Every Teen Has a Choice (or ETC) interns have been introducing the Our Revolution conversation to their peers, spreading messages about what healthy relationships look like.

They are assisting The Advocates in eighth-grade health classes, helping middle-schoolers identify important components of healthy relationships and think about their boundaries. They are also providing tools to be able to communicate those things.

“Study after study show that teens are more likely to listen to other teens, and that is why we created the ETC group,” Harris said. “The ETCs not only gain personal and professional skills from their work experience with The Advocates, they make our prevention education work more effective and spread positive behaviors among their peers. Our weekly conversations spread from inside the walls of our office to the schools, to the soccer fields.”
Harris' co-mentor, Heidi Cook, gave a talk recently to high-school-age kids about the terms of consent. Their responses indicated that traditional views believed long abandoned are still alive:

Regarding a scenario in which a boy forced a girl to have sex after she says no.
-- “Well, she shouldn't have let him pay for lunch. If she wouldn't have led him on, she wouldn't have gotten herself in this situation.”

To “no means no,” and only an enthusiastic “yes” by both parties is consent.
-- A girl offered, “They may say, ‘no, no, no,' but girls are always just playing hard to get.”

Boys can't be sexually assaulted and no cop would believe them if they said they were.
-- “It wouldn't be rape, it would be, like, ‘Thank you,'” said a boy.

What is rape then?
-- “Rape is when someone in a white van comes and snatches you up.”

The students were shocked to find out that 73 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. And the responses establish a need for a call to action and conversation, to take a step toward a compassionate community free of violence and abuse. And it illustrates, painfully, how it is something that must be taught and modeled.

Teens are coming to the ETCs and asking questions about abusive relationships or asking whom they should go to talk to.

“We have had students, referred by the ETC, come talk to us about their relationships,” Harris said. “The ETCs are changing the language they use and their peers are taking notice. One ETC says his football and lacrosse teammates know that he disapproves of any derogatory talk about women and they have stopped using that language, or at least using it around him.”

Support comes from many places

“We do not just shop in here, we experience,” Spencer said. She refers to her customers as “dolls” and offers a healthy dose of “you're more than OK.”

“It's a place to cry, hug, share and heal. It's possible. It's so possible. I am not a victim, I am a possibility.”

You are who you date

•  Domestic violence can happen to anyone—it doesn't matter how much money people make, how much education they have, what race they are or what religion they believe in.

•  Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their life. (Source: Commonwealth Fund survey, 1998.)

•  Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44, more common than automobile accidents, muggings and cancer deaths combined. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1990.)

•  It is estimated that 503,485 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year in the United States. (National Institute of Justice, July 2000.)

•  1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner in 2000. That equals four deaths per day due to domestic violence. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, February 2003.)

•  While women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner. (U.S. Department of Justice, 1998.)

•  The prevalence of domestic violence among gay and lesbian couples is approximately 25-33 percent. (Barnes, “It's Just a Quarrel,” American Bar Association Journal, February 1998, p. 25.)

•  Each year, between 50,000 and 100,000 lesbian women and as many as 500,000 gay men are battered. (Murphy, “Queer Justice: Equal Protection for Victims of Same-Sex Domestic Violence,” 30 Val. U. L. Rev. 335 (1995).)

•  For more statistics on domestic violence, visit the Family Violence Prevention Fund: .

•  An estimated one out of every five children and adolescents has a mental-health disorder, with about 11 percent of youth between the ages of 9 and 17 having a major mental-health disorder. Ninety percent of people who develop a mental disorder show warning signs during their teen years. (National Alliance on Mental Illness.)



Lewisville police work to combat crimes against women

by Heather M. Goodwin

On any given week Detective Scott Austin could be called to investigate nearly 10 cases of family violence assault. In order to keep up with the latest trends, he attends yearly conferences including this year's Conference on Crimes Against Women.

The ninth annual Conference on Crimes Against Women drew law enforcement professionals from across the U.S. and multiple countries. The conference, sponsored by the Genesis Women's Shelter and the Dallas Police Department, provides the most relevant and up-to-date training available to combat crimes against women. The keynote speaker Kym L. Worthy, known as the “toughest woman in Detroit,” is the current prosecutor of Wayne County, Michigan.

“Worthy, being a sexual assault survivor herself, has committed herself to resolving this matter,” Austin said.

Worthy became the first African-American female to hold the position of Wayne County Special Assignment Prosecutor, and she specialized in high profile murder cases early in her career. Worthy is an advocate for witnesses who risk their lives to testify in court. She created an Elder Abuse Unit, which handles cases involving elderly and vulnerable adults that are victims of crime. Worthy discovered more than 11,000 unprocessed sexual assault kits in a Detroit Police Department storage facility several years ago.

“It's a massive undertaking [the kits needed to be processed],” Worthy said. “If rape victims are willing to come forward, they need to know they are being taken seriously.”

Austin serves as Lewisville's assault family violence detective and hostage negotiator. He has held that position for more than 10 years, but has been with the department for 15. Lewisville's crimes against persons unit includes five detectives, one crime victim liaison police officer, one sergeant and one crime scene technician. It is housed within the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) with the Crimes Against Persons Unit (CAPERS).

Crimes against women include, but aren't limited to the following offenses: murder, aggravated assault, assault, sexual assault, prostitution, human trafficking and stalking.

“I attend training conferences and other types of classes that pertain to domestic violence every year,” Austin said. “I've attended this conference for seven years, and I'm going to attend next year's as well.”

3,000 cases and counting

Austin said he passes on his training to the other officers within the Lewisville Police Department.

“There are four patrol shifts, and once a year I go into each shift in the morning to remind them of how to handle domestic violence calls,” Austin said. “In addition when officers leave the academy, they receive 12 weeks of field training with another officer.”

Austin said during the field training, officers would go on many domestic violence calls.

Austin said on average, he is assigned 300 cases per year and makes 100 arrests per year. In 2013, there were 500 calls for assault family violence. He said in his more than 10 years in the division, he's had more than 3,000 cases and made at least 1,000 arrests.

Throughout his career, Austin said he has scene many changes to how the department approaches family violence assault. He said because of the potentially violent nature of calls, they are dispatched as “priority” calls and require that two officers respond.

“Due to high emotions, irrational behavior and other unperceived dangers, domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls that officers will respond to and many police departments have modified the way in which officers respond to these calls,” Austin said. “At least one-half of all calls have alcohol or drugs involved.”

Austin said when a call comes through dispatch, the 911 call-taker attempts to gather as much information as possible from the caller including information about weapons, whether children are present and the involvement of alcohol/drugs. The dispatcher then relays that information to the responding officers, so they have as much information as possible to ensure their safety. He said when the patrol officers arrive on scene they will arrest the suspect if they are present and if officers can determine that an assault occurred.

Austin said while on the scene, officers take photographs of everything including the residence and the victim. They also gather statements from the victim, witnesses and suspect, if they are present.

“If an offense report is generated by the officers and no arrest is made, that case gets assigned to me for review,” Austin said.

Investigating the pieces

Once the case is assigned to Austin, he reviews all the evidence including photographs and the 911 call. He then contacts the victim, witnesses and suspect to get their story. If he can establish probable cause, he issues an arrest warrant and once arrested, the suspect's case does to the district attorney.

“These cases take anywhere from six months to a year to go to court,” Austin said.

Austin said one of the challenges in assault family violence cases is that most of the time, right after the incident is when the victim is most cooperative.

“I tell officers to investigate these cases like a homicide because most likely, the victim won't testify,” Austin said. “More than half the time the victim is back with the suspect by the time it goes to trial.”

Austin said up until about 10 years ago, departments were running into problems with taking assault family violence cases to court, because the victim would drop the charges. He said that has changed the process and cases are no longer tried as suspect versus victim, instead it is the suspect versus the state and the victim is called in as a witness for the state.

“It was thought that these victims were probably being coerced into dropping the charges,” Austin said. “This way it takes the power out of the suspect's hands. Once a case is filed, it's up to the district attorney how to proceed.”

Victims tend to drop charges

Austin said many victims of domestic violence drop, or attempt to drop, charges for various reasons including unemployment, financial instability, children, nowhere to live, embarrassment, husband/boyfriend will lose his job, retaliation and other reasons.

Cases are brought either as felony charges or misdemeanors. Austin said felonies include: assault family/household member impeding breathing/circulation, assault family/household member with previous conviction, assault bodily injury family/household member twice within 12 months, aggravated assault dating/family/household member with a deadly weapon, murder, attempted murder and sexual assault. Misdemeanors include stalking, unlawful restraint, interference with an emergency call, violation of a protective order, assault causing bodily injury to a family member (first offense) and retaliation, which is when a suspect threatens their victim into dropping charges or pursing a case.

“If I can bring felony charges against the suspect, it's often times better because then it gives the district attorney leverage to offer a plea bargain,” Austin said.

Risk factors

Austin said some of the risk factors for domestic violence could include low self-esteem, low income, lack of education, emotional insecurity and imbalance of relationship power and control, but he said domestic violence does not discriminate. He said it crosses race, socio-economic and sexual orientation lines.

Austin said he's seen a trend that during the summertime and if the weather is bad, assault family violence calls increase. He also said the department sees an increase in calls the day after the Dallas Cowboys lose a game.

“I've investigated cases where the victim or suspect was a police officer, was someone who held an executive-type job and many others,” Austin said. “In addition, every year I go out on assault family violence calls involving same sex couples.”

Austin said he has seen domestic violence cause homelessness, rises in health care costs, loss of work production, emotional issues and many other issues.

There are various organizations within Denton County that assist victims of domestic violence including the Denton County Friends of the Family. The nonprofit provides counseling, housing and other support to victims.

“Family violence is about power and control over another person,” Austin said. “It's something that could affect anyone.”

For information visit


Sexual abuse of minors alleged at border as kids flock into U.S.

by Pamela Brown and Steve Almasy

Threats of violence. Sexual abuse. Strip searches. Dirty conditions. Young mothers whose children became sick.

These are among the reported abuses of 116 minors by agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and four immigrant-rights groups.

The groups say in their complaint that the incidents have been occurring for years and called for an investigation and improved federal policies toward young undocumented immigrants.

"Given these longstanding problems, and in light of the rising number of unaccompanied children seeking relief from dangerous conditions in their home countries, the need for broad and lasting agency reforms is clear," the complaint says.

A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection said the agency has taken "extraordinary measures" to look after the children, some of whom are new parents.

Michael Friel wrote in an e-mail that children get regular meals and drinks, constant monitoring, and those who appear sick get medical care.

"Mistreatment or misconduct is not tolerated," he added.

The crisis of unaccompanied minors from countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras is growing.

Because the children are not from countries that border the United States, federal law prohibits them from being immediately deported. Instead, after three days they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

But the ACLU and the other organizations say children have too often reported incidents of abuse, freezing cold cells and rooms where dozens of people are jammed in with access to only one toilet. About 70% said they were held past the 72-hour detention period.

Four out of five described a lack of water and enough food, according to the complaint, addressed to the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the department's inspector general. Americans for Immigrant Justice, the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project and the National Immigrant Justice Center also joined the complaint.

The children were between the ages of 5 and 17 when the incidents allegedly occurred.

DHS wouldn't comment on whether it was investigating the allegations.

Chris Cabrera, a leader of a chapter of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union representing U.S. Border Patrol agents, estimated that more than 60,000 unaccompanied juveniles will cross the Mexican border with the United States in 2014 and that the numbers will rise from there.

Many of the youths turn themselves in to the Border Patrol.

"They know that once they get to the station, we are going to give them paperwork and we are going to set them free into the United States," Cabrera said.

The numbers are overwhelming American facilities, particularly in Texas.

On Wednesday, Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson told a Senate committee that he recently visited the border.

He also told Judiciary Committee that the U.S. would open three new facilities to house the children and would pull scores of agents from their duties watching the border so they could watch the youths.




Border detention of children shames America

by Ruben Navarrette

San Diego, Calif. (CNN) -- Where did our country go? Americans are known around the world as a good and compassionate people -- with a soft spot for children.

And, although you wouldn't know it from watching a ghastly detention drama currently playing out in the Southwest, law enforcement and the legal system have built-in safeguards that acknowledge the simple fact that children are different from adults, and thus cannot be treated the same.

The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement seem to have forgotten that. These agencies are currently warehousing hundreds of children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who have, in recent months, streamed across the Texas-Mexico border.

According to media reports, the group is a mixture of unaccompanied minors sent by their parents, toddlers traveling with their mothers, and children who are alone and trying to reunite with their parents in the United States.

These youngsters are a long way from home and many appear to have gotten this far by jumping aboard passenger trains that run from the Mexico-Guatemala border to the northern cities of Mexico, and then joining up with "coyotes" (smugglers) who brought them across or, in some cases, merely pointed the way.

Once they arrived, they were taken into custody by U.S. immigration officials. According to immigration attorneys who represent some of these children, many are being held in freezing holding cells intended for fewer inhabitants and shorter stays. These aren't jail cells as much as temporary holding rooms nicknamed "hieleras," or ice chests. CNN has reported that the border facilities lack "enough food, beds or sanitary facilities to provide for the children."

These are the lucky ones. Federal immigration officials have loaded hundreds of others on buses and transported them across state lines, only to drop them at bus stations in states like Arizona with nothing more than a notice to appear before an immigration judge -- a scribbled piece of paper representing a feeble attempt at accountability, which most of these people are likely to ignore as they wander off and fade into society.

President Barack Obama called it "an urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated federal response." And Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said his department other agencies would work together to ensure a "rapid government-wide response in the short-term and to undertake broader, longer-term reforms to address the root cause behind these recent migration trends."

Anyone still think the border is -- as President Barack Obama and other administration officials have repeatedly assured us -- more secure than it ever has been?

It's a mess. U.S. officials don't have the faintest idea of what to do with the influx, even though they had advanced warning that this crisis was coming.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry told radio host Sean Hannity this week that public safety officials in his state had informed the federal government about a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border as early as 2012. The Department of Homeland Security appears to have not adequately addressed the problem. And now, with more than 1,000 children coming across the border every day according to government reports, it must.

Why are they coming? They're fleeing countries like those in Central America that are quite literally falling apart, with little or failed infrastructure in the military or law enforcement, and thus unable to fend off encroachment by Mexican drug cartels looking for new outposts from which to operate.

That is the best theory about why the surge is occurring.

The most far-fetched theory comes from restrictionists and nativists who insist that what enticed these children from Central America to cross the U.S.-Mexico border is an expectation that Obama is poised to use his executive power to grant a kind of "amnesty" to millions of undocumented.

If people in Central America believe that, they could be the only folks in this hemisphere who do.

Obama has never been particularly interested in proposing an immigration reform plan to Congress. And he has spent the last few years resisting calls to use executive power to act unilaterally to stop deportations.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had taken just about every position one can take on the immigration issue, but recently said he would work with Obama to allow undocumented young people to stay in the United States. Now that has been defeated in the primary election by a conservative in his home district in Virginia, immigration reform is all but dead.

Besides, from all appearances, the border kids aren't immigrants. They're refugees. They're here because they couldn't be anywhere else, and they had no choice but to come. We're supposed to take in people like this, and offer them safe haven.

This country has a right to protect its borders, and to decide who enters and who doesn't. But once our officials apprehend and take custody of a group of people -- let alone a group of children -- they're responsible to do right by them. That isn't happening in the Southwest.

We have standards, and procedures, and hoops to jump through for those who might claim refugee status. We don't just drop human beings at a bus station, and run in the other direction. There are nations that would handle a situation like this in such a cowardly manner. This isn't one of them.

So where did our country go? And how do we get it back?


Homeland Security to probe border child abuse allegations

by Stephen Dinan

Homeland Security officials announced an investigation Thursday into charges that Customs and Border Protection officers abused some of the young children surging across the U.S. border, as the government continued to struggle to get a handle on the burgeoning problem.

Department Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a stern message to parents thinking of sending their children to make the journey from Central America to the U.S., telling them the trip isn't safe and their children won't be eligible for legal status under either President Obama's non-deportation policy or under the Senate's immigration bill.

“Illegal migration through the south Texas border is not safe. A processing center is no place for your child. Putting your child in the hands of a criminal smuggling organization is not safe,” he said. “I am not encouraging in any way, shape or form, illegal migration. That's the message.”

However, at a press conference that left many unanswered questions, he refused to say whether illegal immigrant parents in the U.S. who try to collect their children will be subject to deportation, saying only that under American law the government tries to reunite families.

The surge of children — estimated to reach more than 90,000 this year, and more than 140,000 next year, according to an internal draft memo — has left Homeland Security officials struggling to please both sides in the immigration debate.

Arizona's attorney general wrote a letter Thursday demanding that Homeland Security stop shipping the children and other illegal immigrants from Texas, where most are crossing, to his state. Tom Horne said there is no legal basis for the transfer and he is looking to see whether he can sue the federal government.

According to an Associated Press report from Port Hueneme, California, a government official said the temporary shelter for Central American children on the naval base there could see its population triple and reach capacity next week.

Meanwhile, immigrant rights groups argue the children should be given better treatment and, in many cases, say humanitarian concerns should earn them the right to stay.

Advocates also filed a complaint this week with Mr. Johnson protesting the treatment of some of the children while in the care of Customs and Border Protection.

The complaint details dozens of stories from children who say they were denied food or water, insulted or threatened by officers, denied the chance to make an asylum claim or even physically abused. The names were provided to the agency for follow-up investigation.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske told reporters he signed an order to start the investigation, but also said the agents he's seen have been going beyond the call of duty.

“In my multiple trips with the BP agents, I have been watching them do absolutely heroic efforts, not only rescuing children but taking care of them way beyond some of the skill sets. They are doing everything from mixing formula to bringing in their own children's clothing,” Mr. Kerlikowske said.

“It takes a toll on those agents, a human toll. But they are absolutely committed to making sure these children are treated in not only the most respectful and humane way, but also the most loving way,” he said.

Mr. Johnson said charities have stepped up to help the children, with the American Red Cross providing blankets and hygiene kits, and the Texas Baptist Men providing shower trailers.

The secretary also said he's sent more investigators to the border to target smuggling organizations that are facilitating the surge, and has reinstated a public relations campaign in English and Spanish in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the three main countries responsible for the surge, pleading with parents not to make the journey or send their children alone



Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Team

by Ashley McDowell

The Alpena/ Presque Isle Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Team is producing a video on babies that are born addicted to drugs.

The video will be used as an educational tool to inform the community of what a baby goes through when it is born an addict due to parents drug use.

Child abuse and Neglect Prevention Team Vice President Lee Fitzpatrick, says they've received data that shows our area is having more use of services to drug addicted babies than other surrounding areas.

Fitzpatrick says the doctors and medical facilities are working with the can team to produce the video. He says they will tape a medical staff member that is caring for a child living through that situation.


Viet Nam

Child sexual abuse gets increasingly complicated in Vietnam: experts

Ban Van Giang, who was recently sentenced to 13 years in prison for child rape, told police that pornography inspired him to commit the crime.

The Hanoi People's Court said they'd gone easy on the 22-year-old man from Tuyen Quang because Giang is a member of an ethnic minority tribe and suffers from a limited mental capacity.

Experts are calling for more action to tackle child sexual abuse, which they describe as an increasingly prevalent and complex problem.

According to the verdict, the Dao ethnic man began working as an aprentice at a furniture workshop in Hanoi's Me Linh District in November 2013. After receiving some payment, he bought a cell phone and downloaded several pornographic films.

On December 10, 2013, he lured a six year old neighbor girl into his room on the pretense that they would watch television, then he raped the child.

Later that day, the girl told her mother who called the police.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, about 5,600 cases of child sexual abuse were reported between 2006-2011

Child rape accounts for nearly 66 percent of the country's annual average of 1,000 sexual assaults, according to the ministry.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs estimates there are about 16,000 highly disadvantaged children in the city, of which many are at risk of suffering violence, labor exploitation and sexual abuse.

From December 2010 to November 15, 2013, city authorities recorded 355 cases of child sexual abuse--most of the victims were girls.

Tran Minh Hai, director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based NGO Tuong Lai Center for Health Education and Community Development, said Vietnam's child sexual abuse problem is becoming “more complicated in both the type and number of cases.”

“Relevant ministries have released statistics, but that's only for reported cases. The actual number is much higher because, in many cases, the family of the victims chose to conceal the cases,” he told Thanh Nien News.

Vulnerable children

Hai said many parents are not aware of the threat of child sexual abuse and have not taken preventive measures.

“Many members of the victims' families have very limited knowledge about how to protect their children.”

“For example, some parents go to work and leave a daughter of, say, nine years old at home alone. Someone like that is certainly is an easy target for violence or sexual abuse.”

In some cases, the culprit is a family member or a relative of the victim.

Tien Giang police arrested 28-year-old Nguyen Huu Phuoc for allegedly raping his eight-year-old niece on June 5.

Police said the girl's mother asked Duong Thi Be, of My Tho Town, to watch the girl when she went to work.

On June 4, Phuoc came to Be's house and get his niece but did not tell Be, who was cooking in the kitchen.

Be called the police after she went to Phuoc's house and found the man abusing his niece.

Who to blame?

Hai, the Tuong Lai Center director, said that in addition to a lack of parental awareness, easy access to internet pornography is a major reason for child sexual abuse.

“Normally, many adults can watch “black” movies and control themselves. But when they are drunk or unstable, they may engage in child sexual abuse or rape,” he said.

According to Can Tho-based psychologist, Ngo Thanh Thuan, the rise in child sex abuse reflects a larger moral collapse as more cases involving younger and younger victims and more numerous violations continue to be reported.

He also said that internet pornography has become more widely available and increased the threat of child sexual abuse.

“When I ask many young farmers and day laborers who work away from home if there is ‘something' in their phones, eight of every ten people answer by asking if I want to watch or copy it.”

“Porn is easy to download to computers and smart phones, which are becoming very popular now,” he said.

Vietnam currently has more than 39.7 million internet users, according to Internet Live Stats. The country has more than 90 million people.

Meanwhile, Vietnam is expected to have one smart phone user in every four citizens, increasing the number of smart phones in use in the local market to 20 million units this year, according to market research and consulting company Spire.

Thuan said that many children have also been affected by pornographic content and are willing to engage in sex without being aware that they are actually being abused.

“It has a terrible affect on the physical and mental development of the child and will affect their future,” he said.

Thuan also criticized insufficient government efforts to raise public awareness of the risks of child sex abuse.

Actions needed

Nguyen Thi Thuy, manager of the HCMC-based Thao Dan Social Protection Center, said that there should be a mechanism to protect children that involves government agencies and social organizations.

“The government should invest to ensure the continuous operation of models of protecting vulnerable children,” she said.

Tran Cong Binh, UNICEF child protection specialist, said campaigns for child rights in Vietnam have seen “encouraging” results but many challenges and difficulties remain.

“Child rights have not been fully implemented. Many disparities in this field exist between different regions and ethnicities,” he said.

Binh called for the government to clarify the role of relevant agencies to ensure thorough enforcement of regulations for the protection of children and better coordination among their operations.

“There should be specialized services in early detection and intervention when children face the threat of abuse.”

“Besides, relevant services should be set up for communities in need.”


Protestors say Southern Baptists not taking clergy sex abuse seriously

Victims of child sex abuse and their supporters canvassed the SBC annual meeting with fliers asking Baptist officials to “take child sex abuse cases more seriously.”

by Bob Allen

The mother of a child sex abuse victim who is suing a Maryland ministry with ties to leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention said June 11 that a “good-old-boy” network among evangelical preachers is just as effective in covering up clergy predators as the Catholic hierarchy.

“It's almost like a mafia system,” Pam Palmer, a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit heard June 9 by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, said in a media event staged outside the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“To me, as a Bible-believing Christian, it should not be that way,” Palmer said of an alleged conspiracy to conceal child abuse by Sovereign Grace Ministries, an evangelical network of churches that during internal strife moved its headquarters from Montgomery County, Md., to Louisville, Ky., in part because of proximity to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“They have come out very publicly in support of Sovereign Grace Ministries,” Palmer said. That concern brought her to Baltimore for a demonstration prodding Southern Baptist officials “to take child sex abuse cases more seriously and take strong steps now to safeguard innocent children and vulnerable adults from those who commit and conceal clergy sex crimes.”

The sidewalk press conference and flier handout was arranged by SNAP, the nation's oldest and largest support group for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

SNAP is asking the SBC, the nation's second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics, to hire independent experts to review child sexual abuse scandals, immediately respond to child sexual abuse reports with openness and compassion and hire outside experts to study of the feasibility a denomination-wide database of clergy predators.

The SBC Executive Committee responded to a motion requesting such a study in 2007 with an internal probe that recommended against the idea, saying the denomination lacks authority to police autonomous Southern Baptist congregations.

“The Southern Baptist Convention is doing the same thing Sovereign Grace Ministries has done,” Palmer said in describing her reason for linking up with SNAP in the SBC protest.

Palmer said “there is no doubt in my mind” that C.J. Mahaney, founder and former head of Sovereign Grace Ministries, knew of a conspiracy to discourage the reporting of sexual abuse to outside authorities and instead handle it internally as a matter of “church discipline” during his 27 years as senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md.

“I just know how it was run,” said Palmer, an active member in the church for 23 years. “It was run with a very strong hand of leadership,” she said, with group leaders reporting to pastors who in turn reported to senior pastors up the chain of command.

When she learned her 3-year-old daughter was sexually abused in 1993, she said, pastors advised her not to call the police, but the family had already done so.

She said at the time “there was no reason given” for the counsel, but later church leaders said it was to not cause further harm to her daughter.

If that is so, Palmer's daughter, Renee Gamby, wondered why six months after her abuse she was re-victimized by a “reconciliation” meeting organized with her abuser “as if a 3-year-old was supposed to forgive the perpetrator.”

“I was absolutely terrified,” she recalls vividly at age 24. “As soon as I could, I crawled under my mom's chair.”

Gamby's story is one of several recounted in sometimes graphic detail in a lawsuit dismissed by a trial court because Maryland law requires sex abuse victims to file lawsuits within three years of turning 18. Gamby described the statute of limitations as “antiquated” and said it protects only predators.

Experts say delayed reporting of child sexual abuse is a common and normal reaction from someone who has experienced traumatic events. Sometimes the secret is kept for decades.

Gamby said what prompted her family to break silence was when a number of former church members with similar stories came into contact and perceived a pattern of alleged minimizing and non-reporting of sexual abuse by church leaders in 2011.

Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler and prominent Southern Baptist pastor Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, responded to allegations in the lawsuit with a public statement vouching for the “personal integrity” of Mahaney, a ministry colleague who with Presbyterian pastor Ligon Duncan co-founded a biennial preaching conference called Together for the Gospel.

“A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry,” Dever, Duncan and Mohler said in a statement later removed without comment from the T4G website.

“No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney,” they said. “Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals.”

Palmer said she doesn't understand why Southern Baptist leaders so quick to speak out on controversies such as the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State seem so circumspect when it involves one of their own.

She said SBC pundits have been similarly silent about John Langworthy, a former staff member at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Miss., and Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, convicted of molesting multiple boys in the 1980s.

Prestonwood Pastor Jack Graham, who came to the now multisite church with its main campus in Plano, Texas, just before church leaders reportedly fired Langworthy for sexual misconduct with minors but did not call police, is a former SBC president.

Greg Belser, the pastor of Morrison Heights Baptist Church, which investigated the recently discovered allegations against Langworthy but refused to share the findings with secular authorities, has been honored with recent denominational leadership roles. The most recent was membership on this year's SBC Resolutions Committee, which drafted pronouncements on social issues including the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, payday lending and transgender identity.

“If it's a good-old-boys club at the expense of children, we know what Jesus said they should do,” Palmer said. “Have a millstone around their neck.”

After attending Monday's hearing Palmer said she is “hopeful” the lawsuit will move forward, but if not the plaintiffs intend to continue appealing to a higher court.



Archbishop Carlson's words, actions put other children in danger

by Betsey Bruce

A supporter of Archbishop Robert Carlson has called on him to “clarify” his testimony from a recent deposition in a Minnesota case.

Archbishop Carlson was asked by lawyers for a plaintiff in a sex abuse case from 30 years ago if “you knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a kid.”

Carlson responded, “I'm not sure if I knew or not, that it was a crime. I understand today it's a crime.”

Critics have called the testimony “disturbing” and even “unbelievable.” St. Louis Catholic Bill Hannegan provided a statement to FOX2 News Tuesday. He questions the words used by the attorney suggesting the church leader could have “misconstrued” them.

Hannegan said, “ If Archbishop Carlson had been clearly asked whether he knew, back in 1984, that it was a crime for a priest, or any adult, to sexually abuse a child, I believe he would have answered yes, as he did when asked about a specific case elsewhere in the deposition. The actual questions he was asked did not contain the words ‘child' or abuse,' and so might have been misconstrued as questions about Minnesota Age of Consent laws. The sexual abuse of children has always and everywhere been a crime. I hope Archbishop Carlson quickly clarifies this confusion.”

Barbara Dorris, a long time critic of the Catholic Church's handling of sex abuse cases involving priests, said Carlson's words were disturbing, “but his actions are downright dangerous in that in 25 years he never once called the police.” She added, “My fear is, if he didn't do it in Minnesota, he's not calling police in St. Louis and we have evidence of his continued putting the diocese, the secrets of the diocese,
the needs of the predators ahead of the victims and ahead of innocent children.”

Dorris, Outreach Director for SNAP (Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests) criticized Carlson for “practically identifying the family of the young victim at the Cathedral parish.” She said it has intimidated other victims into remaining silent who might have come forward in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's case against Father Joseph Jiang. Jiang is accused of sexually abusing a boy under the age of 14. His case is awaiting trial.

Barbara Dorris, who works with victims of clergy abuse through SNAP, or the Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests , reacted to Carlson.

“His words yesterday, that he didn't know it was a crime to rape a child, were disturbing, but his actions are downright dangerous,” Dorris said. “That in 25 years he never once called the police.”

Dorris, who is SNAP's outreach director, fears the same pattern has continued in St. Louis.

“We have evidence of his continued putting the diocese, the secrets of the diocese, the needs of the predators ahead of the victims and ahead of innocent children.”

But Carlson's supporters see issues with the nature of the lawyers' questions. Bill Hannegan issued a statement saying:

“The actual questions he was asked did not contain the words “child” or “abuse,” and so might have been misconstrued as questions about Minnesota age of consent laws. I hope Archbishop Carlson quickly clarifies this confusion.”

SNAP leaders point to some fifty known clergy predators in St. Louis. They worry these men may still have access to children.

“If indeed they have learned from their mistakes then they need to remove these men who they admit have molested children. This is wrong There is no excuse for it,” said Dorris.

In a statement released Monday, the Archdiocese of St. Louis said, “In this most recent deposition, while not being able to recall his knowledge of the law exactly as it was many decades ago, the Archbishop did make clear that he knows child sex abuse is a crime today. The question does not address the Archbishop's moral stance on the sin of pedophilia, which has been that it is a most egregious offense.”

The circuit attorney in St. Louis is preparing to try a criminal case against a St. Louis Archdiocesan priest. He is accused of sexually abusing a minor. The case could come to trial this year.


If More Teachers Were Like Her, We Could End Child Abuse

by Eleanor Goldberg

Somewhere between four and six children die every day in the U.S. as a result of child abuse and neglect, a staggering statistic that doesn't even tell the whole story considering that so many cases go unreported.

When it comes to child abuse, the U.S. actually has one of the worst records among developed countries, according to Child Help, a nonprofit that works to prevent violence against children. To help make this country a safer place for kids who are being hurt, the National Children's Alliance (NCA) is calling on those who are at the "front lines" to play a greater role: America's teachers.

Back in the fall, the NCA, which provides training, support, technical assistance and leadership to local children's and child advocacy centers, launched its "Help Victims Become Survivors" campaign. The group debuted the initiative with the chilling video above that demonstrates just how critical educators are in saving children's lives.

In the 60-second spot , not a single word can be heard of the exchange between a teacher and the student. But it's not the details of the case that matter. It's the educator's willingness to listen and stand up for her suffering student.

"It's easy to be a bystander," Teresa Huizar, NCA's executive director, told The Huffington Post. "Children have to show a lot of courage [in reporting abuse] and we feel it's important for adults to show the same courage. We can't help victims become survivors if we don't know that they're victims."

Teachers are already the most likely to report abuse among the demographic that is legally bound to do so, Huizar said.

According to Safe Horizon, 2.9 million cases of child abuse are reported each year in the U.S. Of those cases, 17 percent are reported by teachers.

Though educators are the mostly likely to bring a case to authorities, Huizar says that there is still much more work to be done in training teachers to identify the warning signs and how to proceed once they do.

Huizar is optimistic, however, that the PSA has already made a measurable impact and will continue to do so.

A number of teachers have come forward to Huizar and said, "I've been worried and this prompted me to do something."

Find out how you can help victims of child abuse become survivors by taking the National Children's Alliance pledge here and how you can support the organization's efforts here.



Voices of Men Initiative Marks Five Years of Advocacy Work and Hosts Annual Event with a Record Number of Attendees and Sponsors

With 800 participants attending and more than 30 sponsor organizations on board, Fox Valley Voices of Men hosted its annual breakfast event to a record crowd this week in Appleton, Wisconsin. The bold movement marks its fifth year of advocacy efforts in 2014 and continues its mission to change the attitudes and actions of men and boys that contribute to the abuse of women and children.

Appleton, WI -- Now in its fifth year of advocacy and education efforts, Fox Valley Voices of Men reached its largest crowd yet this week with a record number of sponsors when the group hosted its annual breakfast event.

‘Removing the Mask' served as the theme for 2014 as the Wisconsin-based organization reiterated its mission of taking a stand against men's violence against women and children. In all, 800 men and young men were in attendance with support from 30+ business sponsors.

The event opened with women representing the four local Voices of Men partner agencies – Harbor House Domestic Abuse Services, the Sexual Assault Crisis Center, Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services and Reach Counseling Services – who work with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in the Fox Valley region every day.

It also featured real-world scenarios from the Chicago-based theater group, SST, where participants were challenged to take off “the mask” that represents the stereotypical things society has long taught about what it means to be a man.

The scenarios were meant to show how certain language and behaviors have become so commonplace in everything from advertising campaigns to daily interactions nowadays, and how they objectify and devalue women.

“For too long, our society has excused the behaviors of men who feel entitled or believe women have less value,” said Shannon Kenevan, president of Voices of Men. “The fact that men represent 90 percent or more of the perpetrators of women's violence shows that it's a problem we must come together to address.”

As in years past, the pledge to “not commit, condone or remain silent about men's violence against women and children” was read aloud. Thousands of adult and young men have taken this pledge since 2010.

“To me, Voices of Men is about each of us trying to be an example for others to follow in treating women with respect and dignity,” said Tom Berkedal, co-host of the 2014 breakfast. “I have five really important reasons to be at this podium and to continue this work in spreading awareness – my wife, three daughters and a granddaughter.”

According to Voices of Men, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime.

“This isn't an issue men can just choose to ignore until someone they love is directly impacted,” Kenevan explained. “We should be concerned about EVERY woman who is abused or assaulted.”

Voices of Men, a 2011 recipient of the Voices of Courage Award from the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, has led training sessions for athletic coaches, recruited men to mentor young boys and publicly responded to community crises involving violence toward women. It has also organized workplace education sessions and supported agency fundraising and awareness events related to the topic. To learn more, visit .



Healthy People - Never too late: child abuse prevention

by Kristina Grogan

What is abuse? Four broad categories of child abuse exist: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

Knowing the signs of abuse is key; child abuse can sometimes be difficult to see unless you are mindful of it. Negative changes in behavior, a decline in school performance, unhealthy changes in eating or sleeping habits, poor hygiene, increased difficulty in concentration or inappropriate sexual behaviors are all signs of possible abuse. Even changes in clothing, i.e. too little or too many clothes for the weather, are signs to pay attention to.

Of the four categories of abuse, Mendocino County encounters the most incidents of neglect. Neglect is the failure to provide a minimum standard of care for a child's physical and emotional needs. Physical signs of neglect can be seen in the child's lack of hygiene, lack of supervision, constant hunger and/or the child's parenting of siblings. Emotional signs could include learning problems, an extreme willingness to please and a watchfulness as though waiting for something bad to happen.

For more information, go to and

The important thing to remember when faced with a situation where you must make the decision to report child abuse or not to report is to listen carefully to the child. When listening, allow the child to tell their story in their words without interpretation. It is important not to lead a child into affirming the listener's assumptions.

Where to report? 9-1-1 is the first number to call if the child is in immediate danger. Law enforcement works closely with Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Family and Children's Services to ensure the child's immediate safety. The Family and Children's Services Toll Free Crisis Number or Hotline is 866-236-0368.

What to report:

Name of birth parents or guardian; Date of birth for parents and children; Address of parents and children; School in which the children attend; Articulate the safety issue (What are you worried about? What is the parent or guardian doing or not doing that is causing the child harm?); When the safety issued occurred and how often; Name, date of birth, and location if possible, of the person who is causing the hurt or harm.

What happens? If the child is in immediate danger, law enforcement and/or a Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Family and Children's Services Social Worker assess and determine if the family situation warrants placement of a child into a safe environment when danger is imminent.

When Family and Children's Service is contacted regarding concerns for a child's safety and well-being, a referral is taken. Supervisory level staff members determine if the referral is immediate, to be addressed within 10 days or if the referral does not rise to the level of abuse.

How could a Social Worker Supervisor make the determination of what rises to the level of abuse? A process called "Structured Decision Making" allows the Supervisor to determine the level of risk and involvement to ensure every child is protected. Structured Decision Making is a statewide tool involving three computerized assessments: Hotline, High Risk Assessment and the Safety Assessment. Beyond these assessment tools, Social Workers meet regularly with staffing groups including Supervisors and Managers to discuss the risk and challenges of their referrals.

If the referral has been determined to rise to the level of abuse, a Social Worker is assigned. The Social Worker is responsible for an investigation of the alleged abuse and will interview all parties including the children.

When a Social Worker engages with a family in crisis, the primary concern of the work involves the development and creation of a Safety Plan for the child. In some cases, that plan involves placing the child into protective custody. Studies have shown that the health and well-being of the child are more likely to rebound if they remain in what is familiar to them. Social Workers, in low risk assessments, will attempt to keep the child with what is familiar by placing them as close to their home as possible. The involvement of extended family members, friends and neighbors allows the child to be placed in a safe environment. This important step also provides a crucial network of support and accountability for the parents.

Using the structure and processes of a discipline called Safety Organized Practice, a formal Safety Plan is developed. With the help of the natural support system within their immediate and extended family and friend network, the Plan also uses the formal support systems found within the HHSA organizational resources and community agencies. The Safety Plan is developed with the family to ensure that all agreed upon resources will help everyone overcome the barriers to a safe environment for the child.

Some of these barriers are called "complicating factors." Complicating factors are the obstacles that stand in the way of healthy relationships and that can create overwhelming hardships for the family members. Complicating factors are those which indirectly influence the environment of the family, but do not directly impact the child. These barriers may include a lack of parenting skills, anger management, alcohol or drug abuse, mental health issues, financial hardship, unemployment, etc. The Social Worker is able to build a multidisciplinary team of subject matter experts from within HHSA and/or community agencies to engage the family and resolve these factors.

The end result is highly dependent upon the family, but the planning, forethought and collaboration of trained professionals within Family and Children Services, throughout the Health and Human Services Agency and in the community agencies provides the resources needed for a successful migration to family health. Safety Organized Practice and the auxiliary work that helps to resolve or remove the complicating factors leading to abuse provide a sophisticated engagement process in child welfare. While there are always improvements to be made, the process is well worth recognition as an extremely valuable practice positively affecting children, families and our community as a whole.



All but 102 ignored Arizona abuse reports closed

PHOENIX (AP) - A team reviewing nearly 6,600 child abuse and neglect reports that weren't investigated by Arizona child welfare officials say they've now closed all but 102 of those cases.

The so-called CARE team named on Dec. 2 by Gov. Jan Brewer provided the latest update Tuesday. The team says investigators have seen 12,854 children identified in the reports. All cases have had a response.

Child welfare workers probing the ignored reports removed 251 children from their homes. Another 316 children identified in the reports had been removed because of another case.

Brewer removed the state's Child Protective Services department from its parent agency and the Legislature created a new Department of Child Safety to handle child welfare last month. The CARE team is led by Charles Flanagan, the new department's director.



Two things you can do to prevent child sexual abuse

by Cara Courchesne

Last week, I attended the National Children's Alliance Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. During several interesting sessions about child sexual abuse and conversations with colleagues from around the country, I again was thinking about how to respond to the inevitable question of, “But what can I do to help prevent and respond to child sexual abuse?”

When people learn that I work for the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault , they generally ask two questions: “Does sexual violence really happen in Maine?” and “What can I do to help?” Especially when there are children or older adults involved, people tend to pay a particular amount of attention.

The first question is easy to answer: Yes, sexual violence happens in Maine. About 1 in 5 Mainers will experience rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime . It's easy to talk about numbers because people are comfortable with numbers.

People, however, are less comfortable with behavior change, which makes the second question more difficult to answer. It involves examining our own behavior, acknowledging our own discomforts, and knowing when to ask for help. A few thoughts I had during the conference and conversations with various colleagues:

Recognizing a child's body is her/his own. When I say this to people, their immediate reaction is, “Of course my kid's body is his/her own!” Sometimes, though, in an effort to make auntie so-and-so feel included, we say things like, “Give Aunt Cara a hug and a kiss goodbye!” What if Sally doesn't want to give Aunt Cara a hug and a kiss goodbye? This doesn't seem like a big deal, but what this inevitably says to Sally is, “You have to hug or kiss someone even if you don't want to because a grownup said so.”

Now, if Sally happens to be spunkier than the average kid, she may flat out deny the hug/kiss request and go on playing with her Legos. However, some kids may not feel so spunky. Saying to Sally, “If you don't want to hug Aunt Cara, that's OK, but let's say goodbye,” helps to teach her manners but doesn't put her in a position of having to hug or kiss someone she doesn't want to hug or kiss. It helps children like Sally recognize and respect boundaries – their own and others. We don't make the teens in our lives hug or kiss people they don't want to. In fact, we actively tell them they don't have to! Why is a 3-year old any different? This small aspect of our behavior with young children can help address the broader issue of child sexual abuse.

If you see something, say something. A lot of folks get into a “not my business” frame of mind when it comes to sexual abuse. This frame of mind, often called the bystander effect , is why we read stories about people who witness a violent crime and don't intervene or call the police.

The thing is, any type of violent crime is everyone's business. And when it relates to those who can't speak up for themselves, it's even more important that if we suspect something, we say something.

This is an especially important point for those who work with children on a regular basis. During the week of July 14, St. Joseph's college is hosting an education symposium about child sexual abuse signs, symptoms and reporting. Speakers include Sen. Bill Diamond, Attorney General Janet Mills, Maine State Police Lt. Glenn Lang, former Assistant District Attorney Alan Kelley, and others.

I'll be speaking about child sexual abuse response, prevention, and the importance of services such as Children's Advocacy Centers and sexual assault support advocates . The information presented is intended for teachers and administrators and will include topics such as mandatory reporting and best practices for addressing a student/child who may be a victim. The symposium will be helpful for educators who have a chance to intervene in a potentially abusive situation. Both graduate and continuing education credits are available. For more information, or to register, click here .

The culture of silence around child sexual abuse still exists, though it's getting better. For more information on how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse, visit the Maine Network of Children's Advocacy Centers , a program of MECASA.



Governor Jindal Signs Bills to Crack Down on Human Trafficking and Protect Victims

Baton Rouge -- (Press Release) Governor Jindal signed four bills into law that will crack down on human trafficking in Louisiana. HB 1025 by Rep. Neil Abramson, HB 569 by Rep. Julie Stokes, HB 1105 by Rep. Valerie Hodges, and HB 1262 by Rep. Barry Ivey will help ensure criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that victims of human trafficking are identified and protected. These bills were included in Governor Jindal's 2014 Legislative Package.

The Governor said human trafficking occurs when a person is forced to provide commercial services against her will, often related to sex – and it is occurring at alarming rates in Louisiana. The Governor said these new laws will further punish criminals in order to deter participation in this terrible industry, as well as provide victims more protection and a way out.

Governor Jindal was joined by several organizations that work to protect victims of human trafficking, including Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign. The A21 Campaign is an international organization that works to fight human trafficking and raise awareness about its underground nature.

Governor Jindal said, “I am proud to sign these bills into law to help us win the war against human trafficking in Louisiana. These crimes are happening at alarming rates in America, and the Louisiana State Police has seen rising numbers right here in our state. Criminals who engage in these human trafficking crimes deserve the harshest punishment that we can possibly give them. They should be given zero opportunity to ever harm anyone again. That's why we made human trafficking one of our top priorities this session, and that work has allowed us to strengthen penalties and better protect the victims of these heinous acts.

“To further crack down on human trafficking, we also added $250,000 into the state budget for the development and implementation of a human trafficking training course. This course will help law enforcement better understand the signs of human trafficking, and it will help officers learn how to combat these criminal activities as they patrol our streets and communities.”

Victims are often lured in by a controlling criminal who promises them a chance at a better life – such as a job, an education or even simply a loving relationship in place of the family they do not have. These criminals use physical abuse, threats, lies, manipulation, and false promises – degrading their victims as human beings and treating them as property.

A21 Campaign Founder Christine Caine said, “It is so inspiring to see how Louisiana is leading the way by enacting such tough laws on human trafficking. Governor Jindal and the legislators have boldly chosen to be leaders on the national and global scale in fighting this terrible industry - and this legislation is going to play a key role in helping to end these horrible crimes and identify those trapped in slavery. I am so personally thankful that Governor Jindal chose to make this one of his top priorities for the 2014 Legislative Session.”

Rep. Neil Abramson said, “I'm honored to be the author of this legislation that Governor Jindal is signing today, which will build upon our previous efforts to put an end to human trafficking in Louisiana. This law will continue to crack down on criminals and will also raise awareness about human trafficking, including that there are victims of human trafficking who need help. Together, we can stop human trafficking; this legislation is another great step toward achieving that goal."

HB 1025 by Rep. Neil Abramson creates harsher punishments and better tools for cracking down on human trafficking and commercial sex related offenses:

The bill targets those purchasing sex by creating the crime of “unlawful purchase of commercial sexual activity” and requiring a person who commits this crime with a minor to register as a sex offender. It expands the present crimes of human trafficking and trafficking of children for sexual purposes to include the act of receiving, isolating, and enticing another person in order to engage in sexual services or labor.

Additionally, the legislation expands the definition of "racketeering activity" to include pornography involving juveniles, computer-aided solicitation of a minor, prostitution, persons under eighteen, soliciting for prostitutes, inciting prostitution, promoting prostitution, letting premises for prostitution, enticing persons into prostitution, keeping a disorderly place, letting a disorderly place, and operation of places of prostitution.

It increases the penalties for crimes involving organized or facilitating prostitution by permitting the court to seize the personal property directly used in the commission of the offense and requires that the funds generated from the sale be deposited in the Exploited Children's Special Fund which is used to fund services for victims.

This includes electronic communication devices, computers, computer related equipment, vehicles, and other media devices.

The bill also increases protections and remedies for victims of Human Trafficking. It expands the affirmative defense currently afforded to minor victims of human trafficking involving commercial sexual activity for crimes committed as a direct result of trafficking to adult victims of human trafficking. It permits a person to file a motion to vacate a conviction for prostitution related offenses which were committed as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking or trafficking of children for sexual purposes.

HB 569 authored by Rep. Julie Stokes authorizes district courts to designate a section or division of court for human trafficking courts. This legislation requires that these human trafficking courts emphasize training for judges on the issues involved in human trafficking and specialize in hearing cases involving prostitution related offenses for the purpose of identifying victims.

Current law authorizes the judges of any judicial district court, by majority vote of the judges to designate a certain specialized division of the court to operate a drug court, driving while intoxicated court, or a mental health court.

Human trafficking survivor and Eden House Resident Director Clemmie Greenlee said, “I am grateful to Governor Bobby Jindal for bringing awareness to the issue of human trafficking here in the United States and in Louisiana. I am humbled at the opportunity to speak out on this issue with the Governor and give a voice to the voiceless. These laws will help more women like me who thought they had no way out."

Eden House Co-Founder and Executive Director Kara Van de Carr said, “Louisiana is a leader in the fight against human trafficking, which is a global human rights violation that is happening right here in our state. These laws are a vital tool to protect against the criminal victimization of our citizens and to foster their healing and recovery. We are grateful that Governor Jindal made these bills a priority and signed them into law."

HB 1105 authored by Rep. Hodges requires posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in outpatient abortion facilities. Often perpetrators of human trafficking force women and children to undergo abortions so that the victims can continue working in the industry. This bill is aimed at reaching the victims before that happens.

Current law requires certain establishments to post information regarding the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in location that have been found to be a public nuisance for prostitution, included massage parlors, spas and sexually oriented businesses.

This bill additionally requires outpatient abortion facilities to post information regarding the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline so that victims have a fast way to reach out for help.

HB 1262 by Rep. Ivey requires that, prior to undergoing an elective abortion, a woman must be provided with information on coerced abortions and human trafficking. This law will help identify more victims of human trafficking who are forced to go to abortion facilities and it will help offer victims a way out of this terrible industry.



'They kept going until I lost consciousness'. The reality of rape as a weapon of war

by Katie Harrison

20-year-old Moses was crying as he tried to tell his story. He knew he was going to find it difficult so he had asked his pastor to pray for us first before our conversation.

We were in Uganda, where Moses had returned to his home village a year or so before, having spent the previous ten years as a child soldier.

He was abducted aged nine during the worst of the troubles in northern Uganda. He lived in constant fear as he was trained to raid villages and kill people.

His tears were for the shame and revulsion he felt as he remembered having to rape women and girls. "I had to conquer women who were like my mother," he said.

Despite being only a child with no understanding of sex of any kind - loving or otherwise - he knew that he had to rape women as he'd been instructed, because he would be killed if he didn't.

Life is cheap in many wars, and Moses had already seen many of his very young friends killed for not joining in the life of the corps - murdered for not being able to learn the local language of the army chief or for not gathering enough food to feed their fellow soldiers.

As for dignity, for many women, children and men all over the world, it's practically a forgotten concept; a luxury no-one can afford any more.

In Central African Republic women last month told me of being raped brutally at gunpoint. Their stories were distressing, and 28-year-old Leontine clung to my hand and wept as she heard the interpreter describe to me her account of three soldiers ripping her clothes off and taking it in turns to rape her in the arid heat of an open field. "They kept going until I lost consciousness," she said. "And when I woke up, I was bleeding. I bled so much and still I have pain there."

What is particularly chilling is the consistency of these narratives. In two days, five women - who didn't know each other and who lived in different parts of the city of Bangui - told me startlingly similar stories. Always two or more men per woman, always at gunpoint, always in the same position, always for a long time and causing similar injuries.

Tearfund has worked in many war zones and post-conflict areas over the years, finding that armed groups are using rape systematically to exert power and to cause extreme levels of fear and terror.

When rapes are reported independently using very similar descriptions, we know that it is a planned part of the military strategy. The nature of sexual violence varies from conflict to conflict - in some countries, armed groups use foreign objects or target very young children or men - but their consistency within each conflict is telling.

We hear from former soldiers that rewards and punishments are part of life in their armed groups. They are incentivised to rape through rewards systems - extra food, cigarettes, status in the group – and punished if they don't.

It's the same in many conflicts. Soldiers are rewarded for brutality, like in Syria where the Times reported last October that snipers were given extra cigarettes if they shot and hit a pregnant woman's belly.

Throughout history, especially in places where there is little regard for international protocols or the rules of war, the rape and murder of civilians has become the easiest way for communities to be dominated.

When people are raped, they go through the immense physical trauma of the event and of subsequent injuries. Many also live with the horrors of recurring nightmares, shame, fear of contact with anyone and, often, vilification and rejection from family and friends.

Systematic rape and killing often goes hand-in-hand with family breakdown, as parents flee to different places for refuge or one or both are killed, and children end up confused and far from home.

For those children, this topsy-turvy world has devastating consequences. They grow up with very little understanding of a stable loving family, and are often passed around from one home to the next before having to fend for themselves at a very young age without proper education or healthcare.

When I asked 17-year-old rape survivor Amelia in Central African Republic about her hopes for the future, she said: "I just want to go to school. I've missed a year because we had to run away to the city when I was raped, and now I don't go to school anymore." She loves to learn and she knows that education is her ticket to a better life, but she has been robbed of that.

The armed groups know this, and their strategies of systematic rape, killings and raids are intended to wreak as much havoc as possible, both immediately and for many years to come, because it takes a long time to recover.

It's often a hallmark of post-conflict states that governance is extremely difficult because the people who survived the war have never known anything but fighting, so they haven't figured out ways to govern peacefully.

I met a village chief in Liberia a few years ago, who was in his thirties. In his part of the country, village chiefs had traditionally been much older than that, but he was the only person left after the carnage of the conflict who had returned to his home village and been willing to take on leadership.

He knew that many people looked to him for guidance, but all the disputes he had witnessed for many years previously had been resolved by fighting and sexual violence. He had a big task on his hands.

And that's why sexual violence is so fundamental to many conflicts. It's not random or opportunistic, and it's not about sexual gratification.

It's a sinister abuse of power, designed to kill people's spirits and ruin the fabric of families and communities. It changes the lives of individuals and communities forever, and takes those people years to recover.

It can become part of everyday life, even many years after the conflict itself is over. In Rwanda, 20 years after the genocide, pastors told me of the legacy of sexual violence. Even though the fighting had finished, there was still a strong culture of using rape to finish an argument or, in street robbery, to force a woman to hand over her possessions.

The Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Rev Dr Onesphore Rwaje, told me that, even 20 years on, this is still a confusing situation for many people and that rape within families - of wives and daughters - had become more common since the conflict.

Our latest Tearfund research , funded by the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office, examines attitudes to masculinity and gender in the Great Lakes region of Africa. It's a largely Christian region and we found there, as in so many places, that churches are hugely influential in forming and changing attitudes and behaviour. Sexual violence quickly becomes normalised in cultures where women are considered inferior, or where sex is not always seen as a loving act between consenting adults.

Where churches are equipped to denounce openly and reject the normalisation of sexual and gender-based violence, we see stigma reduced and, in the long term, more stable families and reduced incidence of rape.

And in places like Rwanda, where pastors and churches are leading their communities to declare themselves 'rape-free villages', the army of local volunteers easily mobilised through the church quickly swing into action when someone is assaulted, taking them to the clinic for examination and accompanying them to report the crime to the Police and through the court proceedings.

The Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict summit in London this week, co-hosted by the UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague and actor Angelina Jolie, brings together 100 countries to agree how best to end rape in war.

If the conference is to be more than an expensive networking event, it must result in tough and effective judicial systems prosecuting those who rape or authorise sexual violence. In many countries, war is accompanied by lawlessness and often the national constitution becomes defunct, so it's vital that governments agree to national and international legal systems that act as sufficient deterrent.

And the aid budgets that fund humanitarian assistance must allocate funds to helping people who have been raped or forced to watch someone being raped. Emergency services funded in war zones - medical assistance, food distribution, latrine construction, water supply - should also be located and managed so that everyone can use them without fear of assault.

In the international community, sexual violence sometimes runs the risk of being seen as an add-on; something we'll get to if we can after we've finished meeting other needs. So this summit, and especially the huge focus on the role of churches and faith communities, is a big step forward in recognising the relentlessly evil abuse of power perpetrated every day.

It needs to be about more than awareness, though. The millions of survivors in war zones around the world deserve more than that.



Feds may be violating state child abuse laws

by Howard Fischer

PHOENIX — Saying immigrant children being bused to Arizona may be being placed in danger, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery warned federal officials Monday they may be violating state child abuse laws.

In a letter to a top immigration official, Montgomery said he fears that minors who really are not traveling with parents are being left at bus stations “without food, water or shelter, or means to acquire same” despite claims by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the contrary. And he cited an Arizona law that prohibits someone who has care or custody of a child from permitting them to be injured or placed in a dangerous situation.

He said that, given the 100-plus degree temperatures, “any federal official who directly engages in such conduct or who authorizes such conduct may be guilty of a Class 4 felony.” And if that is classified as a dangerous offense, the presumptive prison term is six years behind bars.

Montgomery's complaint comes as top officials in the Obama administration admitted earlier Monday they're not meeting a requirement in federal law to process unaccompanied minors within 72 hours and turn them over to federal health officials.

The officials, who would speak with reporters only on background and not for direct attribution, said they had prepared for an increase in immigrants from violence-prone Central American countries. But they said the flood of immigrants, mainly coming through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, was larger than anticipated.

What that means is that these children, being handled separate from families bused to and dumped in Arizona, are remaining locked up for longer than they should at a facility operated by Customs and Border Protection — essentially a refurbished warehouse with no indoor plumbing.

That point got the attention of Congressman Raul Grijalva who sent a letter Monday to the White House about where the children are being housed.

“I understand resources are strained and immediate actions need to be taken,” Grijalva wrote the president. “However, according to reports, this facility is not in a suitable condition to hold the unaccompanied children.”

He wanted details of when improvement would be made “to make conditions habitable” or, if not what is a contingency plan.

One administration official said efforts are underway to provide hot meals and shower facilities, “all kinds of things to make their life there as comfortable as possible — but with the ultimate goal of trying to move the children as quickly as possible.”

That, however, creates another problem: Administration officials admit that the three facilities being prepared for the children at military bases in Texas, California and Oklahoma can house perhaps a maximum of 3,000. But hundreds have been arriving daily at Nogales for processing.

Administration officials said the Department of Health and Human Services, which is accepting legal responsibility for these unaccompanied minors, has access to thousands of other beds at existing facilities. But they said that clearly is not a good long-term answer.

What is, they said, is trying to find adult relatives for these children — even those in this country illegally and awaiting their own deportation proceedings — or at least foster care families.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is saying all unaccompanied minors who enter the country illegally are being sent first to a processing center at Nogales and eventually to more permanent housing at military bases, never being abandoned alone. But Montgomery said it appears they may be being mixed in with families who are simply being bused to Arizona.

“When I spoke with Greyhound bus officials at the Phoenix bus station, they can't confirm exactly which minors who are in the bus station are with which adults,” he said.

Montgomery also said it's possible, if not likely, that adults who were captured trying to get into the country simply latched on to the nearest available child and proclaimed a relationship.

That maneuver would have prevented the person from being immediately locked up since ICE has only limited facilities for families. Instead, those families are being bused to Tucson and Phoenix — and other locations — and being given orders to report to ICE after reaching their final destination.

But what that also means, Montgomery said, is these adults are simply abandoning their newly “adopted” offspring at the bus station. And he said that makes ICE responsible for not verifying the familial relationship.

Montgomery conceded, though, he cannot do much at this point without hard proof.

“The best that I can do is simply let ICE know that if they are, in fact, dropping off unaccompanied minors with whatever process they're using right now, cannot provide that 100 percent certainty that they're not, they need to be advised they're potentially in violation of our child abuse statutes,” he said.

ICE officials did not immediately respond to queries about the letter to Thomas Winkowski, principal deputy assistant secretary for ICE. But Montgomery said he would be skeptical of whatever the agency says.

“It wasn't too long ago ICE was also telling us they weren't releasing in the community, and then, if they were, they weren't releasing any criminals with violent histories,” he said — statements Montgomery said later proved to be false.

In their background briefing, the administration officials brushed aside questions of whether the sudden rush of immigrants is due to some belief is that the Obama administration will give them amnesty if they get here.

They pointed out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program implemented two years ago specifically applies to those already here on that date. And they said nothing in congressional legislation to provide some relief to those in the country would apply to these new arrivals.

Instead, they said the problem appears to be a direct outgrowth of violence in Central America.

“Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world,” one official said, with Guatemala and El Salvador not far behind.

She said if children were being lured in anticipation of a new amnesty, then there would be an across-the-board increase in migrants from all countries. But she said that is not the case.

Numbers provided by Border Patrol show that the number of unaccompanied children from Honduras is early nearly double from the same time a year ago. There also are large increases from El Salvador and Guatemala.

Yet the number of unaccompanied minors from Mexico actually is about a third less.

And most of that is coming through the Rio Grande Valley, where numbers more than doubled. By contrast, the increase through the Yuma sector is only 34 percent, with a 5 percent decline in the Tucson sector.



Change methods for reporting child abuse in schools

by Harry Gin

Having worked in Child Protective Services for two decades, I know our educators do take the mandate of reporting suspected child abuse seriously. Schools do this well, but apparently that is not the case when the suspected perpetrator is a staff member, as evidenced by recent stories in the media.

We need to change how parents, staff and school administrators report and handle allegations of abuse when the perpetrator is a member of the school staff.

It is staff's responsibility to take a child's report seriously and remove the child from the suspected perpetrator. However, it is not the school's responsibility to determine if the allegations are true and conduct its own investigation before deciding to report to CPS or law enforcement.

To ensure impartiality, parents should file a suspected child abuse report with law enforcement or CPS and only then report the abuse to school officials.

This change is counterintuitive for parents, as the school's complaint procedures reinforce school district policies to have parents work issues within the system through the teacher, principal and then the district office.

Unfortunately, the complaint process often protects the suspected teacher, and the institution and the interests and welfare of the student can be circumvented along the way.

Under these circumstances, victims may be pressured to recant or parents agreed to allow school officials "take care of the situation." Forces protecting the institution, the hierarchical relationships between reporting party and their superiors, collegial relationships among teachers all place the victim and their parents at a disadvantage.

When staff and administrators do act, too often they end up conducting their own investigation. Their ability to conduct an impartial finding is burdened by conflicts. Their only duty is to report "reasonable suspicions of child abuse" and act in good faith. They are not held liable for reporting, nor are they expected to substantiate the allegations before reporting to CPS or law enforcement.

By directly reporting to CPS or law enforcement, the victim, their parent, or a responsive teacher or staff can avoid the pitfalls of the current practice.

The issue of investigating abuse in our schools is no less fraught with difficulties than concerns about the Catholic Church investigating sexual abuse by priests or law enforcement investigating officer misconduct or universities and college responding to rape allegations by investigating itself.

Only when an outside, impartial body is given this responsibility can we begin to renew our faith in our institutions.

Harry Gin, a Union City resident, is a retired social worker with 38 years experience in Child and Adult Protective Services. He served on the San Lorenzo Unified School Board from 1983-1996.



Mount Pleasant man gets year in jail for child sexual abuse

by Stephanie Jones

RACINE — A 44-year-old Mount Pleasant man was sentenced Monday to a year in Racine County Jail for his involvement in having kids perform sex acts on themselves and each other.

But he will not be required to register as a sex offender.

Paul Beckett had been charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault for a child and three counts of child enticement. But through a plea deal reached between his attorney and the District Attorney's Office, those charges were altered to three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.

According to court records, Mount Pleasant police were called to a home on July 31, 2010, after a man reportedly said he learned his daughter had been sexually assaulted by Beckett.

Beckett was accused of sexually assaulting that girl and two other children and of allegedly making the then-12-year-old girl, her then-6-year-old brother and a then-11-year-old female relative perform sex acts on themselves and on each other in June 2010. The 12-year-old girl told Mount Pleasant police that the abuse started when she was 10 or 11 years old, and Beckett would make her watch pornography with him while sitting on his lap, according to his criminal complaint.

The 12-year-old told investigators Beckett made her and the other girl take their tops off at the beach one day and touch her little brother's genitalia, telling her he would buy her anything she wanted at McDonald's, according to the complaint.

When questioned in August 2010, Beckett reportedly told investigators he found the girls topless and touching the boy's genitalia, the complaint said. He told police “he quickly told the girls to ‘stop it' and quickly shut the car door,” according to the complaint.

Assistant Racine County District Attorney Robert Repischak said in court they would have had trouble proving all of the original charges.

However, he did let the judge know he had a past criminal record that included a sexual offense involving a teenage girl he was related to.

In ordering the one year sentence, Racine County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Boyle said he had to consider the gravity of offense. But he said, “This is a complex case” and demonstrates how a case can change over time.

While the man reportedly did not perform sex acts on the kids himself, Boyle said, “Something inappropriate occurred here.”

And, “for all intents and purposes it's been a nightmare,” he said of what the parents have been though. With that, he sentenced the man to one year in jail to start Monday, although he will get credit for the approximately four months he served earlier.


United Kingdom

Child victims of sexual abuse feeling suicidal over appearing in court, NSPCC reveals

Research by the NSPCC found children are being forced to give evidence in court rooms because of a lack of video link sites

by Luke Stevenson

Giving evidence in court is causing thousands of child victims of sexual abuse to feel depressed, frightened and potentially suicidal, research by the NSPCC has revealed.

Last year, the charity helped 1,200 children who were concerned about giving evidence in court – an 11% rise on the number who called with concerns the previous year. Some told ChildLine their court ordeal had led them to self-harm or contemplate suicide.

This is despite the fact that a major government inquiry in 1989 said children should never be forced to give evidence in a courtroom.

A Freedom of Information request by the NSPCC, sent to 40 police forces in England, revealed that – despite recommendations that children should only be required to give evidence in a court room if they wished to – 99% of the 20,000 plus children who give evidence every year still have to do so from a court building. This is due to the lack of video link sites available.

The charity released the data today as part of its newly-launched ‘Order In Court' campaign . It seeks to reduce the distress that children feel when participating in criminal proceedings by calling for the justice system to be more fit for children.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “It's criminal that after a quarter of a century, children are still being subjected to harrowing experiences in court to get the justice they deserve.”

“If this is the view that children have of the court experience it's likely to discourage others who have suffered to come forward.”

Some parents of children who have had to give evidence in court told the NSPCC their treatment was ‘barbaric', saying: “I'd never seen a child in so much distress”.



Virginia survey shows human trafficking a growing concern among law enforcement

by Barrett Mohrmann

For many, human trafficking conjures images of frightened women snatched away in the night to be sold in some distant country.

But human trafficking exists in Virginia, even in Lynchburg, authorities have said.

“Behind drugs and guns, it's the third most profitable criminal enterprise,” said Kim McCabe, professor of sociology and criminology at Lynchburg College.

Finding statistics on human trafficking proves challenging for law enforcement agencies and researchers. The industry heavily depends on staying in the shadows and terrorizing its victims into silence.

“It's not like they're reporting it to the IRS,” McCabe said. “There's really no count.”

In September 2012, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services conducted a survey on the challenges of addressing the needs of human-trafficking victims. More than 100 agencies responded. Nearly half reported seeing an increase in human-trafficking victims. The other half claimed human-trafficking cases remained level, with one agency reporting a decrease. Traffickers buy and sell men and women for different purposes, such as labor and organs, but sex trafficking reigns as the most popular form.

“It's a strange crime. It's prostitution, but it's prostitution-plus,” McCabe said.

With an eye toward the sex trade, traffickers most often prey upon young women.

The criminal justice services department claimed most known victims of sex trafficking in Virginia are women between the ages of 20 and 39. Nearly half come from Latin American countries and half are U.S. residents, the department reported.

McCabe described these human trafficking rings as agencies often run by one to five people who move their victims from city to city.

“Traffickers usually move people fairly often,” she said.

As commerce shifts toward an online marketplace, sex trafficking rings have discovered a new, shrouded outlet to peddle their victims. Rather than forcing them to walk a lamp-lighted street corner, trafficking groups advertise and sell women online.

“Back in the day, there was a place to go, but it's not like that,” McCabe said. “The Internet has been wonderful, and it's been horrible in many ways for law enforcement.”

Eight years ago, when Det. Brian Smith first began his work with the Lynchburg Police Department, making prostitution arrests required going to an ill-reputed street corner late at night.

Now, when patrolling for prostitutes or solicitors, Smith surfs the Internet.

“Almost all of our enforcement activities are directed toward online,” he said. “It is more difficult. Logistically it takes more. There are a lot more layers that we have to deal with.”

In order to make an arrest, police have to establish a clear agreement to exchange money for sex. Anything less will not warrant an arrest.

“They look at that as just a lewd conversation,” Smith said, speaking of the courts.

Police create fake advertisements to try to snare potential solicitors in Lynchburg.

“It's amazing. People are beating the door down,” Smith said. “Lynchburg is not as bad as other places, but there definitely is a market for it here.”

Smith said he patrols numerous websites, including , a classified advertising website offers goods and services by city.

In an article published April 1, 2013, the AIM Group, a global team of experts in interactive media and classified advertising, claimed Backpage earned about $4.2 million in one month just from “escort and body-rub advertising.” Backpage operates about 400 localized sites for cities across the U.S., including Lynchburg.

Village Voice, the parent company of Backpage, has reported it collects credit card numbers from all advertisers and responds quickly to subpoenas from law enforcement agencies. The company also has said it uses moderators to combat underage prostitution on the website.

Smith added one website cannot be blamed for the widespread influx of online business for prostitution and trafficking rings. He said he inspects about 10 websites daily.

“We monitor a lot of different websites. The only way you can stop it is to shut the Internet down.”

Between 2003 and 2013, Lynchburg police made 144 arrests on prostitution charges, with an average of just over 14 arrests per year, according to police department data. The highest number of arrests came in 2004 with 29, compared to 11 in 2013.

“We know about a fair amount, but we can't possibly know about it all,” Smith said. “There is such a huge market for it.”

The News & Advance reached out to several women advertising on under the escorts subsection. They either declined to be interviewed or did not return phone calls.

Adding to the elusive nature of prostitution and trafficking, Smith and McCabe both commented that trafficking and prostitution rings work as mobile units, moving women back and forth to avoid law enforcement.

“They'll finance them to come into town and pay for the hotel room. Then they'll move them to the next spot,” Smith said. “It's difficult when you're making an arrest in Lynchburg, but the other half of that crime is in Delaware. To get those cases where you're actually getting the source, it's a lot of work.”

To make an arrest, Lynchburg investigators often will respond to online advertisements as a potential client, or “John.” Smith estimated the majority of prostitutes arrested in Lynchburg are controlled by a prostitution or trafficking ring. Of the entire arrest process, getting women to give away her oppressing ring may prove the hardest challenge.

“It takes some extremely brave women to say this is what's happening,” McCabe said.

Smith said the vice unit interrogates every prostitute they arrest. If investigators feel she may have connections to a larger prostitution or trafficking ring, they might offer to remove one of her charges in exchange for information.

“We're able to give them the opportunity to help themselves,” Smith said. “There are a lot of gray areas in prostitution. It's difficult for us to enforce. You have a criminal and a victim at the same time.”

That blurred distinction between prostitutes as criminals or victims proves challenging for law enforcement and supportive agencies looking to help these women.

The agencies surveyed by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services identified inadequate resources and difficulty identifying trafficking victims as their main challenges. Half of the agencies estimated trafficking victims required about three or more months of care, including counseling and therapy “to address extreme trauma and indoctrination,” according to the department's report.

In its effort to distinguish between prostitution and trafficking, law enforcement has discovered a very similar criterion for how victims are targeted. The scenarios of abduction happen, but much less often than prostitution and trafficking rings identifying and preying upon vulnerable women.

Twice during the trial of Randy Taylor — convicted of abducting and murdering 17-year-old Alexis Murphy — Taylor's attorney, Michael Hallahan, brought up human trafficking. “There is no evidence of murder,” Hallahan said in his opening statement in court. Hallahan broached human trafficking as an alternative to Murphy's death, highlighting the numerous unanswered questions and possibilities since investigators have not recovered Murphy's body.

“This is not human trafficking,” NelsonCountyCommonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin told jurors in his closing argument.

Most often, victims of prostitution and trafficking come from a tumultuous home, Smith said. Feeling unloved, these women latch on to someone who appears to care for them, showering them with gifts and false kindness.

“It's a grooming process. They give them gifts and attention,” Smith said. “They'll pull them into the fold that way.”

Prostitution and trafficking rings also use drugs as a leash, getting women addicted, so they come back.

“In a sense, they're kind of trapped. They know there's a source for that drug there,” Smith said. “It's sort of a revolving door that they get trapped in. It's sad.”

With the fluid, mobile natures of these criminal rings, law enforcement agencies and governments are banding across the country to combat the issue.

“It's more communication,” Smith said. “We have relationships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.”

In January, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli designated $6 million to help victims of sex trafficking. Cuccinelli has said those funds will help provide shelter and counseling for women once victimized by trafficking rings.

Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring has said he will focus on reducing trafficking in Virginia.

“Human trafficking is an emerging public safety threat across our nation, including here in Virginia,” Herring said in a statement on his website. “Trafficked victims don't come from any one place. They come from large cities, small towns, different socioeconomic situations and diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.”

Even with increased resources and awareness, law enforcement agencies are doubtful human trafficking and forced prostitution will ever disappear.

“It's the oldest business for a reason,” Smith said. “I don't think there will ever be a way to stop it.”



Van Nuys Neighborhood Council Hosting Child & Sex Trafficking Summit In July

Sex Trafficking in the San Fernando Valley has Become a Major Concern. The VNNC Summit Will Address This Issue Not Only in Van Nuys, but Throughout the Southern California Area

VAN NUYS, CA — The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is set to host a Special Council Meeting on Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 6:30 pm to address Child & Sex Trafficking. According to the United Nations, “Children are trafficked for forced labor, domestic work, as child soldiers, as camel jockeys, for begging, work on construction sites and plantations but most children are trafficked for sexual exploitation. And girls trafficked for forced labor and domestic work often end up sexually exploited by their employers. The vulnerability of these children is even greater when they arrive in another country. Often they do not have contact with their families and are at the mercy of their employers.”

Additionally, “In 2006, the US State Department reported that one million children are exploited in the global sex trade. Sex tourists, seeking anonymity and impunity in foreign lands, exploit many of these children in child sex tourism. Child trafficking can occur when children are abducted from the streets, sold into sexual slavery and forced marriage by relatives, or in any place where traffickers, pimps and recruiters prey upon a child's vulnerabilities. Poverty is the pre-condition that makes it easier for traffickers to operate.

The greatest factor in promoting child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation is the demand for younger and younger victims worldwide. This demand comes from the mostly male buyers who become the customers in the growing global sex industry. Children are often trafficked, employed and exploited because, compared to adults, they are more vulnerable, cheaper to hire and are less likely to demand higher wages or better working conditions. Some employers falsely argue that children are particularly suited to certain types of work because of their small size and “nimble fingers.”

“We plan on reaching out to every level of law enforcement, as well as other local governments and municipalities in the area, and would like to bring the experts, the community leaders, and the general public together to address this local and global issue,” said George Christopher Thomas, President of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council.

“At the Summit and Special Van Nuys Neighborhood Council Meeting this July, I would like to focus solely on Child & Sex Trafficking. We have an obligation and a duty to our community to come up with a strategic plan, and I believe doing so should be our top concern,” said Thomas.

The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council meets at 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard and the Summit will take place in the Council Chambers starting at 6:30 pm. If your Neighborhood Council or organization would like to co-host this summit with the VNNC, please email Council President Thomas at For more information please visit .



How mid-century Ireland dealt with unwed mothers and their children, and why we're talking about it today

by Dylan Matthews

Researcher Catherine Corless has uncovered records suggesting that the bodies of 796 infants were buried in a septic tank in Tuam, Ireland. The tank — previously believed to have held victims of the Irish famine of the 1840s — was on the property of a "mother and baby home" run by the Bon Secours nuns between 1925 and 1961; while the cause of death is unknown, the unsanitary conditions of the homes was likely a major factor.

The mother and baby homes, along with the Magdalene laundries for "fallen women" and other institutions erected by the Catholic Church in Ireland (often with state participation), have seen renewed scrutiny since the 1990s as abuses committed against the women condemned to live in the institutions have come to light. The mother and baby homes sometimes forced mothers to put their children up for adoption, often to the US, while Magdalene laundries subjected women to forced labor (usually, as the name implies, washing clothes and linens) and physical abuse. One mother and baby home, Sean Ross Abbey, was featured in last year's film Philomena . Last year, the Irish government agreed to compensate survivors of the Magdalene laundries, while those abused in mother and baby homes have yet to be compensated, and children of mothers in the homes say they have been denied access to records.

Mari Steed is the cofounder of the group Justice for Magdalenes and US coordinator for the Adoption Rights Alliance , Ireland. She was one of more than 2,000 children born in Ireland and put up for adoption in the United States without their mothers' consent. We spoke on the phone Wednesday, June 4, about the history of the Magdalene laundries and mother and baby homes, what we know about the conditions that led to the tragedy in Tuam, and what reforms still need to be made. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Dylan Matthews: For readers unfamiliar with the Magdalene laundries or the mother and baby homes — what were they? How did they get started? What sorts of women were sent to them?

Mari Steed: The Tuam babies and the mother and baby homes were actually different institutions from the Magdalene laundries. I'll start with the Magdalene laundries, since they've been around somewhat longer. They started as Protestant-run organizations in the UK as far back as the 18th century, although the remit at the time was different at the time and less punitive than it would be later on in Ireland. They were to reform prostitutes, try to cure them of venereal diseases, teach them a trade, and get them back out into decent society. That was the original model, as founded in the UK.

Religious orders, the Good Shepherd sisters and others, in Ireland decided to take that model and bring it to Ireland around the end of the 19th century, and began to open these institutions for "fallen women." You could become a fallen woman by having a child out of wedlock, by being pretty and thus at "moral risk," by being raped by family members or stranger, even though they're the victims. There were many routes into the laundry. Many were family placed, if the family thought their daughter had disgraced them in any way shape or form, they could send them to the nuns.

Many of them, we now know and have proven, came through state routes. For example, in my mother's case, she was in an Irish industrial school. She had been born out of wedlock at a time when adoption didn't exist. Your avenues were being boarded out to a family or sent on to an industrial school or orphanage. So she grew up in an industrial school and when girls reach the end of their schooling years, around age 14, it was common for them to be transferred to work in a Magdalene laundry.

DM: What were the conditions like in the Magdalene laundries?

MS: They were very harsh, very punitive. I don't know how familiar you are with the Stanford prison experiment , but we've come to the understanding that that's what happened with a lot of these nuns. They may have started with the best of intentions, but by the very nature of Irish society and repression of women's sexuality, they began to see these women as less than human, and treat them that way. That's where we're seeing a lot of the abuse, and really torture, at the end of the day.

The women were not free to come and go. If they tried to escape, they were dragged back by the police. They weren't allowed to speak to one another, so there was not a lot of discourse, even amongst themselves, though obviously some did. They were given false names to protect their identities. They had their clothes stripped from them. Just harsh, ugly institutions. And at the end of the day they were doing essentially slave labor, because these nuns were taking commercial contracts from everyone from the local hoteliers to the prisons to the clergy, even the Department of Defense contracted their laundry services. And the women were not paid for the work they did.

The laundries actually continued, not as active as in the '30s through '50s, but the last one didn't close until 1996, at Sean MacDermott Street . People like to say, "Well, put it in the context of the times, this happened so long ago." Not really. These women are still living, some of them. There are living women out there who can testify to what that was like, and have testified to it.

DM: How did they relate to the mother and baby homes, which the current revelations concern?

MS: [Boston College professor and activist] James Smith refers to it as Ireland's "architecture of containment," and that's exactly what it was. You had these industrial schools, the Magdalene laundries, the mother and baby homes, all with different remits, but the basic model was to contain and segregate anything that was deemed morally inferior by society, whether that's children, unwed mothers, the women in the Magdalenes, etc. They were all cross connecting at various points. Children were sent to laundries, women came out of laundries or went into laundries from mother and baby homes.

The key differences are that the Magdalene laundries really did operate, in large part, privately, by religious orders. The state didn't have any dealings with them until the mid-1960s when they paid capitation grants for each woman sent to the nuns. Prior to that, it was just nuns doing commercial business, and the women not getting paid for it, but there was no state interaction at that level.

The mother and baby homes were different in that they were regulated by the state and had to be accredited adoption societies, at least by 1952, which is when that became legal in Ireland. They received stipends from the day they opened, from the government. They were receiving the equivalent of an industrial wage at that time for each mother and baby, from the state. If that were the case, why were so many of these women, like my mother or Philomena Lee, expected to earn their keep if the state were in fact funding that? It really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Obviously there was some profit being made there, not to mention what half of our parents paid. That's another story unto itself. Adoptive parents were "donating" huge amounts of money.

Obviously there's a lot of collaboration between the two, a lot of crossover and intersections, but they were really distinctly separate. When we talk about Magdalene laundries versus mother and baby homes, we have to be careful, especially now because we have an actual redress, such as it is, for the Magdalene women, but as it gets into the media, now what we have are mothers who were forced to give their babies up coming out of the mother and baby home history and thinking they're eligible under the Magdalene thing, which of course they're not. That's the only reason I'm drawing such a distinct line. I don't want anyone to feel they can make a claim. We're not quite there yet, although I think this latest explosion might get us there a bit faster, since it seems to have caused quite a bit of outrage finally.

DM: But the mother and baby homes, though they received money from the state, they were run by the church still, no?

MS: Correct.

DM: How old were the women placed in the mother and baby homes, generally?

MS: There's one girl who has a marker at Sean Ross Abbey , who must have died either giving birth or prior to birth, I'm not sure which, and was buried by the nuns, meaning either she had no family or the family wouldn't take the body back. She's buried on the grounds there and her cross states that she's 14. There were some very young girls there, many of them carrying children of incest, rape, etc. They can go anywhere from 14 up to 40.

For parents of children who were trafficked to the US, we do have a lot of data files we made over the years, and have been able to determine some of the mothers' ages. It's surprising to many people that the vast majority of them were over the age of 21. A lot of people find that shocking because they think of US birth mothers being in their teens and think, "My birth mother was 27, how was she not able to keep me?" But they lacked resources, and certainly the sexual maturity to even understand what had happened to them.

DM: You have data on facilities besides Tuam, and the conditions for children there. Can you talk about what you've found?

MS: We've been very cautious about that because there's so much more research that has to be done. We need to pull more death certificates and see what the causes were. You can pull death registers from the opening date of most of these homes, say from 1930 up to 1955, and the numbers are shocking. The numbers for all three of the Sacred Heart homes, in Cork, Tipperary, and Westmeath, were double or triple the national mortality rate for infants.

There was an excellent book written by Dr. James Deeny in 1989 on this. He had been the chief medical officer for Ireland back in the 1940s, and before that he was a local medical inspector and went into Bessboro [the Sacred Hearts home in Cork] because he had heard stories of staggering numbers of children dying. He went in for an inspection. The nuns thought they were being clever and put nice clean white linens in the babies' cots, but when their backs were turned, he pulled down the covers and discovered there were outbreaks of Streptococcus going around, and masses of children lying around infected. That would explain in certain years like that we're seeing such a high death rate.

Again, these are ailments that any other child in any other situation would be treated for and probably survive with no problem. It raises questions. The nuns felt we were all inferior due to being born out of wedlock, but if the child did suffer from some congenital problem or was sickly and needed help, did they just make no effort to save that child and allow them to die? Starve them, put them on sugar water, and that was the end of it? We are seeing, as we pull death certificates, an overwhelming number of children showing up as dying from acute malnutrition. There's also heart failure, sepsis — many of them very treatable. Given decent medical care, they would have survived.

Looking at the data we have at hand and knowing a bit about the history of us children sent to the US, they were obviously looking for the best and the brightest, and the healthiest, to adopt out, either to the Irish market or abroad. And it did start to get better toward the mid to late 1950s. I think the nuns realized they were in no position to deliver babies, so they started to bring in midwives and county resident doctors and you do start to see the mortality rates drop as you go through the 1950s.

DM: How, if at all, did mothers leave these homes, especially if it was put up for adoption? Did they just continue to work there? Were they transferred to laundries?

MS: A combination. It was £100 to pay your way out. If you had the baby, you were free to leave in six weeks if you were able to pay. If you weren't, the nuns would put you to work. You might be in the laundry facility there at the home, you might be at the farm, my mother did sewing, etc. There were a number of things the nuns could have you do to earn your keep. We've found women who worked there for as long as five years for the nuns. If their families wouldn't take them, if they had nowhere to go, then yes, very often they would be sent on to a Magdalene laundry.

DM: What about the children, if they weren't adopted? Would they live their whole lives in an institution like that?

MS: No, they were sent on to either orphanages or industrial schools fairly quickly, if they weren't adopted out. We do know of children as old as five coming to the US, so if they did find a parent (or "buyer") who wasn't averse to taking a child as old as five, then they did get sent to the US, if not to a family in Ireland.

DM: So all told, how many people, either in your position or as mothers, were cycled through either the mother and baby homes or the laundries, or associated institutions?

MS: On the mother and baby side, we know there are 60,000 adopted adults in Ireland, UK, or the US. That's the figure we put for those who were formally adopted since the 1952 adoption act. On top of that, there might be 5,000 to 10,000 de facto adoptees, who were fostered out. Industrial schools housed something like 10,000 children. The Magdalene laundries we're always loath to put a number on, because so many records were destroyed, but it was estimated to be as high as 30,000.

DM: Speaking as a child of this system, what can be done at this point for both children who were taken from their mothers and surviving mothers?

MS: We've been plugging at this in Ireland and the US for 20 years, and there are adopted people who are still subjected to discrimination and forbidden from seeing their own records. You have a whole class of citizens who are considered second class by virtue of the status of their birth. Ireland does not have open birth records, as the UK does. There are only four states in the US with true open records and maybe another three with conditional access. That's atrocious. You have a generation or more of people who don't have access to information about themselves: medical, historical, their identity and so forth. In Ireland, we've been calling for legislation and reforms, but it's been ignored so many times. We have to keep fighting for the living as well as the dead. We need to give voice to those of us who didn't make it out of the homes, but remember the living as well.