The damage boarding schools do
Three months ago, Alex Renton wrote about the abuse he suffered at boarding school. Among the hundreds of emails he received from men wanting to share their experiences, there were others from women – wives, mothers, sisters - who have watched in horror as the men they love struggle with their demons. Here, he tells some of their stories
by Alex Renton
“Marrying someone posh is an adventure.” Sally Fraser laughs. The child of doctors, her school was a comprehensive in Bradford where poshness was not an issue. Her husband, whom she met at a university drama group, is different. So is his family. “When we first met, his mother's chief concern was that, being common, I might get our children to use dummies, which she disapproved of. We weren't even engaged!”
Fraser's blog, Boarding School Action, campaigns to try to curtail elite Britain's hallowed habit of sending its small children away to be looked after by strangers. “Privileged abandonment,” it has been called. Sally, 31, whose husband went to prep school at eight and then to Harrow, has had to become something of an expert in the complex psychiatry of early separation and childhood trauma.
It was early in their marriage – now six years old – that Sally started to disentangle her husband's past. “Having just started a family, I was into this idea that your childhood is everything in forming your nature. I'd done some therapy myself and I started to look at boarding school, wondering if it was harmful to him, and I came across Boarding School Survivors. And I looked at the symptoms, and my husband, and I just went: tick, tick, tick.”
“I thought of myself as a hero,” she writes on her blog. “That I could swoop into his life and give him all the love he needed. But I couldn't, and one can't, and it isn't like that. Also, I had never really taken on the fact that boarding school had been his whole life, not just a one-off traumatic event or unfavourable circumstance but an entire upbringing, and so the problems he faces are not just bad habits or infuriating traits – they are the result of a decade of ingrained survival practices.”
She talks of how he would avoid his birthday and “sabotage” other people's. Only in counselling did the reason emerge. His prep school's tradition on birthdays involved a dunking in an ice-cold bath. Children would hide birthday cards and presents from home, so the older boys did not know the date.
So what are the symptoms of a boarding school survivor? “Well, obviously, a fear of abandonment. A tendency to shut down emotionally, and freeze out, in the face of something sad, or frightening or infuriating. There's the ‘timetabling'!” she laughs. “You're resented if you just want to relax and put your feet up, like a normal person. There's always got to be a plan or a task.” The first time they went on holiday together, Sally and he nearly broke up – until she gave him a puzzle book so he would not feel under-occupied.
“He had no stand-out trauma. Just unhappiness. He was never buggered, or anything. It's just that he left home at eight. And that's why I feel so strongly about this subject – I just think that this is an enormous wrong to do to a child. Private school has contributed so much to social and educational injustice in Britain, and boarding school has had a particularly powerful effect – it has made an elite that is not empathetic, that believes hardship is good for you. That finds situations that should inspire sympathy deeply uncomfortable.”
After debating all this in couple-counselling sessions, Sally's husband signed up for a weekend of “boarding school survivor” therapy. These are run by Nick Duffell, the psychotherapist whose writing and work over 30 years have dragged the issue of the damage suffered by children in boarding schools, state and private, into the public eye.
Sally says her husband is now better and happier. “He's brave,” she says. “It's wonderful to see him; he's a great dad. I've never felt I have had to look after him. But I have thought I'm having to live with the consequences of this system.
“And I do feel we've got to do something about it, we who know about it, but weren't part of it. We've got to change it. We have to stop early boarding.”
Three months ago I wrote about my own experiences in a 1970s private school and of the huge scandal now coming to light around systematic abuse of children in the boarding system. I asked readers of the Observer Magazine to tell me of their own experiences. Hundreds of you have. A third of the emails have come from women. Many of them are survivors of abuse, emotional, physical and sexual, at boarding school; the stories just as grotesque and damaging as those of the men. But many others wrote as people who have loved and lived with survivors – wives, sisters, mothers and children.
In their way these emails are just as painful to read as the raw counts of abuse, neglect and psychological damage that the survivors tell. You realise that when children are traumatised, a slow charge is laid that may detonate over decades.
I've heard stories of depression, divorces and of so many suicides. Of parents who say they never knew their child again after waving them a cheery goodbye at eight years old. Of children who did not work out why their fathers were so flawed until after they were dead and unreachable. Of husbands incapable of loving: “Such a closed, emotionally unavailable man. He only seemed to come alive when he was angry. And we lived in terror.”
The inbox is daunting, full of anger and unresolvable regret. I've read many stories from people who wonder why, when their mothers or fathers had suffered so much at boarding school, it was decided they should go themselves, and stay there, even when it was clear they were suffering, too. Several ex-boarders say that the worst thing of all, after the agony of that separation at seven or eight years old, has been never being able to trust their parents, or any loved one, again. Parents talk, bewildered, of children who hate them, who blame them for all the sorrow and hurt when all they had done – often counting the pennies – was try to buy them a better start in life.
Most moving of all – because it touches on my own experience – are the stories of the loved ones: the people who have stuck by the victims of childhood abuse, coaxed them into opening up their past, and slowly, patiently turned damaged men into something like happy ones (as yet I have not heard from any husbands doing the same job).
Thinking of these untold heroes, I went to see Paula McFadyen. She is the wife of the most vocal survivor of boarding school abuse I've met since writing my own account. I heard Ian McFadyen ambush Nick Clegg on a radio phone-in (they were schoolfriends at Caldicott, where a ring of abusers, led by the headmaster, operated in the 1970s). McFadyen wanted Clegg to push for a government inquiry into institutional child abuse – a wish that was granted earlier this month. I had to meet the woman with this volcano of righteous outrage.
Sitting among her crystals and her paintings of hares, in a cottage embraced by the great green curves of Scotland's border hills, McFadyen is one of the calmest and kindest people I've ever met. Calm is needed, because her husband, Ian, is her opposite. Over the two hours that we've been chatting, I've had to say several times, gently and then less gently, that I'd really like to speak to Paula alone.
Ian agrees. But he won't leave it. He is forever leaning round a door jamb, or popping up by the sofa, to add his thoughts and even to complete her carefully considered sentences. She just laughs. “That's Ian. He's ADHD, on top of the other things. You live with him and you love him.”
Paula has supported him in the witness box – twice – in trials of his teachers. And she supports him as he tells his tale again and again, on talk radio and in the newspapers, even though that entails the most dark revelations. “I'm a happily married man now,” he said to Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio Two in May. “But I can't use the term to my wife that ‘I love her' because the first person I said I loved, outwith my family, was Mr Hill.”
George Hill, his teacher and serial rapist when he was 11, had made him feel complicit – a “special boy”. How does Paula feel about Ian bringing things like this to the public?
“Well,” she replies, in her soft Borders voice, “it is his mission. It wouldn't be my way of doing it – I'm a private sort of person. Now my life is all over Twitter and Facebook. But that's his healing. If that's what he needs to do, who's to say it's right or wrong? And I think the only way to get over abuse is to start on that path of forgiveness towards the abusers, or to get some sort of resolution. Ian remained silent for 30 years: now he feels he has to speak out for those who still feel captive by their silence.
“Folk don't want to hear that – but it's only you that's suffering by carrying that anger around. The abusers are not suffering, so they still have got the power over you. That's Ian's healing path – and it is so important. He can talk about forgiveness, and he can encourage other people that it's not shameful, it's not your fault. That's the only reason I'm talking to you – because there must be myriads of other people who also need to speak.”
The “other things” Paula mentions about Ian begin with brutal abuse from the age of nine or 10, at the private boarding school, Caldicott, Buckinghamshire. He spent six years there. Sexually assaulted again and again, by the school's deputy headmaster, George Hill, and other teachers, Ian left the school at 14 riven by guilt, confusion and self-hatred. He “went off the rails”, as he says, experimenting and testing himself. As a teenager he sought out groups of older men for sex. After working in the hotel industry, his parents' profession, he was by his mid-30s living rough and begging on the streets of Edinburgh. Ian was an alcoholic and a heroin addict well-known for his violence and an upper-class accent that contrasted with the piercings, long hair and big dog that were his street uniform.
Rescued from that life by the brilliant Scottish charity Streetwork, Ian eventually became a support worker, counselling and helping the lost and rejected of Edinburgh, among whom he'd counted himself. This is how he and Paula met, 10 years ago. She is from a rather different background: she grew up in the Scottish Borders in a family that had for generations worked in the garment mills of Hawick; her first job was as a maker of knitwear, but later she got a degree in community education, helping homeless people find new careers. Now she paints, sculpts and, you realise, spends a lot of time listening to Ian. (There are the 2am Twitter jags – your timeline is never empty if you follow @IanMcFadyen1966).
Paula says she was aware of Ian's past as a work colleague and when they started going out; he made no secret of it. “I knew he was a complex character.” On their first meeting, his mother asked: “Did you know he was a drug addict?” But it was only after they had married and she and her son, then 12, had set up house with him did Paula understand that Ian's past was going to impinge on their future. For a start, sex and any physical intimacy stopped.
“I think he felt he didn't have to pretend any more – he backed off completely: ‘We're married now; we don't need to bother with that any more.' There was a rubber wall around him – you touched him and he'd jump.”
Ian set about helping bring up Paula's son, but insisted that he wouldn't have children with her himself. He told her he was frightened he might turn out to be an abuser: he'd read that that can happen to those who have been abused as children. “For nine years, he slept on the sofa. He's coming to bed now. But he doesn't hug or kiss or anything like that. That's very hard. I can deal with the rest. But if you're a tactile person, if that's a big part of your life. It's not the sex… it's no cuddling. But I went on really nasty antidepressants, just to quell my sex drive. We're aware of it; we talk about it now. But I don't want him to do something he doesn't want to do. That's not going to work.”
The abusers, she suggests, stole from him the right to enjoy intimacy. “It's taken me years to come to terms with the fact that it's not me, it's not my fault. I used to go to bed crying, on my own. But we are best mates…” She pauses, collects herself. “He's working on the cuddles – I do get hugs off him now.”
“Supermarket checkouts,” Ian interjects.
“Yes, supermarket checkouts are good for hugs. Because it's safe.”
“At the checkout, I can show what a great husband I am, how much I love and look after my wife. But safe – nothing can happen there. I won't be put into a situation where I have to have sex.”
“We should put a supermarket checkout in the bedroom,” muses Paula.
I say it's good they're talking about it. “We do, now. A lot. We talk about it to death,” she says.
“Yes, but the problem is…” says Ian, and pauses to think. He starts again: “I've truly, truly found my soulmate. But I'm hurting her and that really upsets me, because I wouldn't allow anyone else to hurt my wife. But I am hurting her emotionally and spiritually because I'm not allowing myself to feel safe with her. And that's a result of what happened to me… Sex was never an issue, it was just a commodity to be traded, and because it was such a poor commodity, I don't want to be involved in it. That is an issue I need to work over. I'm not a bad person; I'm a great husband. I have issues with intimacy and being close, but we'll work on that.”
Paula nods emphatically.
“I mean, sex is not something I associate with intimacy. It means nothing; it was something I was taught to do as a child, to do well, to give pleasure to others. I do sex like a robot. I used to sleep with my female bosses.”
When Ian has left the room, she cries a little. “You feel, when it's abuse, the victim gets all the sympathy. But the other damage – his mother, his sister, his wife – we're just left… Until he addresses these problems, they have won – they have still got the power over him.”
Many of the hundreds of people who have emailed me since early May seem to have found some satisfaction in the simple fact of recounting their story. I've been corresponding with men and women in their 70s and older who have never before spoken about what happened to them when they were just eight or 10. They may never do so, but opening that long-closed box does seem to help. For most the shame and anger has not dissipated, but many have said that opening that box is satisfying and helpful. Telling their story can be powerful medicine and many have found some relief and even resolution through counselling and psychotherapy.
For others, there is no consolation. Some of the relatives who have written just want explanations, and perhaps redress, even if these things have become impossible. One woman, a successful media executive, wrote with great tenderness and much anger about her beloved sibling whom she could now do nothing to help.
“My eldest brother (golden boy/head boy/witty, bright, clever, beautiful blond and blue-eyed boy) was at a boarding prep school from the age of six to 13. He was abused for years. It hardly matters as to the level as the effects were devastating, even though he buried it so deep that none of us even knew about it until a few months before his death, 15 years ago, when, a good 10 years after leaving the school, the matter finally came to light with the police… I don't see my brother's death as suicide any more. More like murder. I started to Google the links between abuse and mental illness – and there it all was. By the time the police finally started investigating my brother he was psychotic, depressed, schizophrenic: whatever the labels were, his brain was like a series of exploding Bunsen burners.”
This remains a very active problem for Mary – not her real name – in part because one of her brother's two abusive teachers, a violent and sadistic man, is still alive. Y, as we'll call him, has served a prison sentence since leaving the school, but his crimes against her brother and others had not featured in the court case.
I have also contacted the police, in search of a sexually abusive teacher from my school, and I wanted to talk through the ramifications of this with Mary. For me, for Ian McFadyen and for hundreds of others who attended schools like Caldicott, St Paul's, Colet Court and Ashdown House, revenge through the legal system may provide some interesting therapy. But the exposure that involves is fraught with psychological and practical risks.
Mary is well aware of those problems. She's also worried that her parents, all her family, still feel the effects of her brother's abuse. “It's in the air whenever we are all together – profound and horrifically tragic, yet somehow all of it unspoken. And with suicide comes the inevitable guilt that loved ones left behind feel, or indeed don't allow themselves to feel by blaming others.
“I have tried to encourage my mother to have therapy, but she would never do that. She is of the stiff-upper-lip generation – which, of course, is part of the root of the problem with this whole issue.”
Ignoring the unacceptably ugly is deeply rooted in the class and its culture, Mary and I both agree. “As little as 10 years ago,” she says, “child abuse was hardly spoken about: it wasn't acknowledged, perhaps it was almost expected as part of an induction into real life. There is a line in Alan Bennett's History Boys where someone reminisces: ‘You know, before paedophilia got a bad name.'”
Mary is particularly driven by the fact that the jury that convicted Y, and the judge who sentenced him, never heard what he had done to her brother. These details, as horrific as any I've read in the emails, emerged as she questioned his friends and contemporaries.
“My father talked about killing him. I literally had to beg him not to as then he would go to prison, too. When your life feels like a movie you know something is very wrong. Y was in prison for 12 years and I have found him on the sex offenders register. But I just feel that 12 years was not nearly long enough. He ruined my brother. It was a gross misplacing of trust which my parents in no way deserved. And if he is alive, you have to worry if someone else is now suffering...”
I ask her if she really wants to pursue Y. She is doubtful. “You revisit the trauma too much – it's like reliving it. That's what has happened to me. I've thought so much as I've joined the dots about what happened to him, over the past year. I've really, really hated Y, to the point where I wanted him dead, and it's become too much. It's very unhealthy for me and I'm now on antidepressants,” she says. “I have to put a boundary up. There's a balance between facing your demons and really feeling the emotions, and not spending however many years involved in it so it just takes over your life, and your family's.”
There is a further thing. Y was married. “Though I hate him, I can't help but think: he must have had something awful happen to him. Is that a reason to feel some sense of forgiveness? Would you forgive a serial killer because of his unhappy childhood?”
Many people caught up in this scandal and its reverberations have had similar thoughts. (There are now at least 150 private schools with serious current or recent allegations against them.) All the abusive men – and they are mostly men – I've been told about in recent weeks were once innocent, trusting small boys, just like Mary's brother, like Ian McFadyen, and like me. It's long been known that a significant proportion of sexual abusers were themselves abused. Early trauma can obviously play a part in forming, or warping, the emotional needs of the adult.
It is a mark of the immense generosity of many of the “survivors” and their loved ones, like Ian, like Paula and Mary, that they contemplate the origins of the monsters who have damaged their lives, and even the possibility of forgiveness.
Some of those who have loved the damaged will not forgive. “Please smash the system. Public schools ruin lives,” ends the email from a woman who feels her three brothers were made “alien” to her by their brutalising experiences at a Yorkshire school. She sees their emotional suffering then as the first chapter in a decades-long narrative of divorce, suicide attempts and family feuding that sours her life still. Other carers and survivors are driven – with a generosity I could not consider – to seek peaceful resolution. “I'm not sure I want inquiries and prosecutions,” one survivor's partner said to me in early July, as Theresa May announced two independent investigations into historic child abuse and its cover-ups. “What we need – what the country needs, given the scale of all the abuse – is a commission like South Africa had. Truth and reconciliation. That's what we all deserve.”
Bikers Against Child Abuse group in the works
by EMMALEE C. TORISK
STRUTHERS -- Shannon Benzenhoefer is well aware that membership in the local chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse International that she is working to start will be the furthest thing from easy.
It's not a “fun” club, she explained, but it is necessary. The organization empowers children with documented cases of abuse to take back their own lives and to live without fear, through the physical and emotional support of members.
“When it comes down to it, the things that we will encounter, the people we will see and meet, it's going to be heart-wrenching,” said Benzenhoefer, who lives in Struthers. “To say it's going to be easy to do — it's not. You can never take away what happened to that child.”
Still, more than 35 people — bikers, riders and supporters — already have expressed interest in joining the local BACA chapter, and its first meeting is scheduled for Aug. 3. Benzenhoefer said she became serious about taking the steps to start it once she realized that the area lacked a nearby chapter; the nearest existing one is several hours away.
She added that this initial action came about a year after Teddy Foltz died Jan. 26, 2013, at age 14. Teddy, a victim of child abuse, had lived only a few blocks away from her and her husband, Mike Benzenhoefer. The couple didn't know Teddy personally, but the situation hit too close to home.
“No one seemed to know this was going on,” Benzenhoefer said.
Benzenhoefer is hopeful this fledgling BACA chapter will help to give the area's abused children a voice, and also help them to survive, both physically and emotionally, one of the most horrific situations of their young lives.
Once the chapter is firmly established, each participating child will be assigned two members who will be available to that child whenever they're needed; all members must be at least 18 years old and pass a federal background check, among other requirements. Both men and women are welcome.
Children essentially are adopted into the “biker family,” Benzenhoefer said, and they receive a biker name, along with a vest, a blanket and a teddy bear that every member of the chapter has hugged.
The children are told to hug the bear any time they feel afraid or alone, and also that if it “runs out of hugs,” members will come back to give it more. It's a way for children to share their feelings and their desire to have members with them without actually admitting it.
Members also can follow children to school or to court if they're scared to go, and even sit outside of their homes if they're afraid. Despite the uncertainty inherent in such an undertaking, members must be committed and there “for every step of the way,” Benzenhoefer said. This commitment is also one that is independent of weather — members show up on their bikes even in the rain and snow — and time.
“When they call, we're there,” she added. “There's really no way to gauge if you're going to get called at 4 o'clock in the morning. Your lack of sleep is nothing compared to that child being terrified and not being able to sleep. That child comes first.”
Benzenhoefer noted that BACA helps to shoot down the often negative stereotype of bikers, but that the “hard exterior” isn't at all reduced during their interactions with children. BACA isn't “about coddling them,” and it teaches them that they're powerful, too, she said.
Kelly Plummer of Hubbard, Teddy's godmother, said a local BACA chapter is much needed. Though its existence might not have prevented Teddy's death, it likely would have helped Teddy and his two younger brothers to speak up against the abuse happening in their home.
She recalled how frightened his brothers were when they were called in for questioning, and said BACA members' being present could have assuaged that fear.
“Like any little kid, they were so very scared,” Plummer said. “They didn't know anybody.”
The organization also helps to ensure that abused children don't “fall through the cracks” and that they're not left to fend for themselves in an abusive environment, said Bob Pelar of Boardman. He added that he's hoping to get the local chapter up and running as soon as possible to “do some good around here.”
“A lot of times, nobody wants to get involved,” Pelar said. “[The local chapter] will help some kids, and help maybe change their lives.”
For more information, contact the Benzenhoefers at email@example.com.
Child Sexual Abuse and Warning Signs to Watch Out For
by Hema Dhawan
The recent rape case incident of a 6 year old girl in one of the schools in Bangalore has made every parent shiver. However, what is most shocking that the heinous crime took place in school by the staff and the parents were not aware of the mishap for one week. The incident came to light recently and since then the protests are on in the city.
Although the kids these days are taught about ‘good touch' and ‘bad touch' by parents and teachers, the young ones find themselves totally lost and confused when something of such sort actually happens to them. It is therefore a major responsibility of parents to be aware of CSA or Child Sexual Abuse and its warning signs.
What is Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)? Child Sexual Abuse involves both touching and non-touching activities. Any sexual assault to the kids through these methods comes under CSA.
Some of the touching activities under CSA include:
Touching private parts of a child for pleasure
Making a child touch someone else's private parts
Making uses of any object or body part to touch the private parts of kids
Being intimate with a child forcibly
Some examples of non-touching activities under CSA include:
Clicking photographs of child in sexual poses
Showing porn video and other material to the child
Exposing a child to adult's private parts
Making a child watch or hear sexual acts
Watching a child undressing or using washroom The 2013 Human Rights Watch Report suggests that the cases of CSA are disturbingly high in India. However, most of the cases are not reported due to social fears or lack of any proper mechanism created for children to deal with this.
Warning Signs to Watch For In Children Most of the kids do not understand what they went through after a sexual abuse. A child who had gone through this or has been going through gets upset and tries to stay disconnected from the world. There can be at times change in behaviour too. Parents need to be vigilant enough to identify such signs and if needed should take help from family members, friends or counsellors.
Here are some of the common signs to watch for:
Child becoming very withdrawn
Not too keen to go out of house
Sleeping problem or nightmares
Sudden mood swings
Not eating well or sudden loss of appetite
Unexplained fear towards certain place or people
Fear of being alone
Crying without any reason
Shying away from family members
Besides, a parent must also look for physical signs to know if the child has gone through any sexual abuse. Some of the common signs to look for are:
Pain or bleeding in genitals
Rashes on body or private parts
Pain during urination
Stomach aches or complains of any other such pain and discomfort
Every child is different and each one develops in her or his own way. However, all the children pass through similar stages of development and show different type of behaviour. While there is an accepted range of behaviour in every growing age, there are times when they show some different signs and a parent involvement would be required.
Parents should therefore give time to their kids and observe them for any such unusual behavioural signs. Shock, denial and anger are some of the normal signs shown by children who have been the victim of sexual abuse. It is the duty of parent to be vigilant and seek for assistance and help in case of any doubt.
Big names were right to help sex-trafficking victims
by Editorial board, The Republic
Campaign season got you down? No wonder. So much mud, so little light.
Maybe you long to see public officials do something inspiring, like step outside their comfort zone for the sake of somebody else. It happens. Sometimes the powerful do the right thing for the right reasons.
It's happening in Arizona with issue that makes a lot of people squirm: child sexual exploitation.
Young women who used to be dismissed as bad-girl prostitutes are now recognized as victims. That's an enormous leap toward justice.
But it comes with a boatload of new challenges.
When you move beyond old stereotypes, you often stumble onto shaky ground.
That's where Arizona is now, as police, prosecutors and courts look for realistic ways to deal with people whose histories left wounds and unspeakable scars.
They are teens who have been through a lifetime of trauma, says Lea Benson, president and CEO of StreetLightUSA, a residential treatment center for young victims of sex trafficking.
"They don't know how to deal with the emotions," she says. Who would?
Their backgrounds often include physical or sexual abuse at home. Drug addiction. Homelessness. Foster care. Their life experience left them so vulnerable that they cling to the "love" promised by pimps for whom it is, indeed, just a four-letter word.
Law enforcement is trying to figure out ways to deal with these young women so that they will feel safe enough to testify against perpetrators and trusting enough to stick around for treatment and rehabilitation services.
"We're treading new ground here," says Dave Byers, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is looking at redesigning a facility in Yavapai County where victims of sexual exploitation can get specialized treatment. These would be girls who came into the system on some crime other than prostitution and were identified as victims.
Making the effort to identify victims of sexual trafficking among minors arrested for drug offenses, theft or other crimes is part of the new paradigm. Assuring they get treatment so they won't be victimized again isn't as easy as it sounds. These young women have "lost trust in people," says Benson, who does not think it is appropriate to put them in a locked facility.
She's working with those who are looking for solutions.
The goodwill behind that search is remarkable.
Gov. Jan Brewer gets credit for naming a task force in April 2013 to look into how little girls become merchandise in the sex trade. She put big shots in the group, and what they learned is paying off.
"Sitting on that task force was a real eye-opener for me," says Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. "I now understand it happens in every community."
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery says the task force helped "crystallize" the awareness that "these young girls are victims" and that we need to "help them get on with their lives."
Montgomery's office is developing a diversion program that will provide treatment to victims of sex trafficking.
He says there are shared objectives among those who continue to work on what has become Brewer's Arizona Human Trafficking Council.
The aim is to make sure victims of sex trafficking are no longer revictimized by an uncaring system. That remarkable change happened because people with big titles were willing to challenge the old way of thinking.
Take a moment to savor this shining example of public officials doing absolutely the right thing.
FBI Sting Spotlights Human Trafficking
Arizona Operation Leads to Arrests of Four Men
by Zusha Elinson
A sting featuring a fake sex-slave auction in Arizona has uncovered what authorities say is a little-known human-trafficking threat while also sparking criticism of increasingly elaborate undercover operations.
Four American men have been arrested and charged with federal trafficking offenses in recent months for attempting to buy slaves at a fictitious auction set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a wealthy Phoenix suburb. Undercover agents reached out to the men after they had allegedly shown interest in buying sex slaves through a separate online Malaysian slave-trading organization the FBI was investigating, which turned out to be a scam.
The sting operation—run by the FBI and Phoenix police and outlined in court documents—comes amid a broader effort to tackle trafficking that has focused largely on children forced into the commercial sex trade.
George Steuer, supervisory special agent in the Phoenix FBI office, called it a landmark case.
"We came to realize that there was a portion of the human-trafficking threat that we were underappreciating," said Mr. Steuer. "We realized that there was this group of individuals in the U.S. who were interested in owning a human slave both for sexual exploitation and domestic labor."
Defense lawyers, however, say the investigation went too far by inducing the indicted men to attempt crimes they otherwise wouldn't have pursued.
"I thought I'd heard of everything until I got this case," said George Klink, a Phoenix attorney who represents one of the men. "It's an awful waste of resources." Mr. Klink's client, Steven Currence, and another defendant, Charles Bunnell II, have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Bunnell, who wants to represent himself, has a public-defender adviser who declined to comment. Edward Stevens pleaded guilty last month to attempted trafficking and could face as many as 10 years in prison. Mr. Stevens admitted in the plea agreement that he told an undercover agent that he wanted to buy "a slave for a combination of servitude and sexual purposes." His attorney declined to comment.
The case of Edward Kandl, 59 years old, a retired engineer who also has pleaded not guilty, illustrates how the sting worked. Investigators looking into the alleged slave-trading organization in 2012 discovered Mr. Kandl and a "network of individuals in the United States who [were] actually attempting to purchase nonconsenting slaves," federal prosecutor Krissa Lanham told a federal judge at a December 2013 hearing.
The organization turned out to be a "fraud scheme," Ms. Lanham said at the hearing. The FBI declined to comment on the organization's fate.
Mr. Kandl sent the apparent slave-trading organization $5,000 for what he described in an FBI interview as a "mail order bride" before realizing it was a scam, according to court documents—but not before the FBI had identified him and others through an email search warrant, according to court documents.
Last summer, the FBI began contacting these individuals. Agents sent Mr. Kandl an email about "a slave auction that would involve females of Asian, Hispanic, and Eastern European ancestry between the ages of 18 and 26," according to court documents. After Mr. Kandl expressed interest, conversations ensued in which an undercover agent explained that the women were "kidnapped and not volunteering to be sex slaves." Mr. Kandl said he understood those facts, the government alleges. In early December 2013, Mr. Kandl and the undercover agent met at a Red Lobster restaurant in Tucson before going to a strip club.
Thomas Hoidal, Mr. Kandl's attorney, contends in court papers that the FBI sent the agent to take his client out, paying for alcohol and adult entertainment after Mr. Kandl "expressed reservations and hesitation" about going through with the auction. The government counters that it was Mr. Kandl who suggested the strip club and that he didn't waver about the auction.
Mr. Kandl allegedly went to the bogus auction site on Dec. 13 with $10,000 in cash, according to court documents. But there was no auction and he was arrested. When agents raided his home, they allegedly found a bed with chains installed, locks, and blacked-out windows, according to court documents.
Mr. Kandl told agents after the arrest that in his life he had done "everything right until this stupid thing," according to court documents. Mr. Hoidal disputed the government's case in court filings, writing that the evidence doesn't demonstrate that Mr. Kandl had purchased or would purchase a slave, but rather that his client, "a lonely, retired gentleman with few close friends, was looking for a companion." Mr. Hoidal declined to comment further.
Like the other defendants, Mr. Kandl is still in custody after a judge refused to release him before trial.
Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labor, sexual and otherwise, around the globe, according to the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency. About 1.5 million of these are in North America, the European Union and other developed countries, the organization says.
Investigations and prosecutions of illegal trafficking are on the rise in the U.S., according to an annual State Department report, but reflect only a fraction of such activity, experts say. The Justice Department won 174 convictions for sex and labor trafficking in fiscal 2013, up from 47 in 2009, according to the report.
Experts say the type of behavior targeted in the Phoenix sting likely makes up a small portion of human-trafficking activity in the U.S. Mr. Steuer, the FBI special agent, said he hopes the investigation will reveal how prevalent it is, adding that a goal of the sting was to rescue potential victims. James Wedick, a retired FBI agent who ran undercover operations, was more skeptical. He said the FBI started using questionable stings in terrorism investigations following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"The bureau has gotten more enterprising with agents proposing tools of the trade, if you will, to individuals wanting to commit crimes," said Mr. Wedick. "In the '80s and '90s, you would never have seen anything like this."
Mr. Steuer said the FBI has been a pioneer in investigative techniques and looks for "outside the box solutions" while at the same time "being very cognizant of civil liberties and the constitutional authorities granted to law enforcement." He said that in this case, investigators adhered "to the letter of the law."
Roosevelt Avenue Is 'Epicenter' of NYC Sex Trafficking, Officials Say
by Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska
QUEENS — Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights is “a mecca of human trafficking” where women from countries including Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are being sexually exploited, elected officials said Thursday.
And Queens is the center of the city's trafficking problem, with nearly 60 percent of the city's victims who come forward looking for help.
Roosevelt Avenue has a number of brothels, state Sen. Jose Peralta, who represents Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, said at a press conference where he discussed an initiative to provide foreign-born victims of sex trafficking with free legal representation on immigration issues.
“Roosevelt Avenue is a mecca of human trafficking in Queens and throughout the five boroughs,” Peralta said.
There are gangs “that are participating in bringing women from all over the world," he later told DNAinfo New York.
“They bring them right to Roosevelt Avenue,” the state senator said. “It's really a hub and epicenter of human trafficking.”
Kika Cerpa, who was a victim of sex trafficking, said at the conference that she came to New York from Venezuela, following her boyfriend, when she was 17.
Her boyfriend's family was involved in the sex trafficking business and took away her passport, telling her she owed them a lot of money.
“They told me that the only way I could pay it all was by working in a brothel on Roosevelt Avenue,” she said.
Cerpa, who was on the verge of tears as she read a statement, said she was trafficked for the next three years and “moved from one brothel to another." During that time, she said she was arrested several times for prostitution and treated like a criminal, not a victim.
That situation changed for many women who are victims of sex trafficking when the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court was created last year, she said. The initiative assists people arrested on prostitution charges by treating them as survivors who need support.
The city's Family Justice Centers also provide help to victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence with counseling, shelter and legal assistance. The first of four such centers opened in Brooklyn in 2005. The center in Queens opened in Kew Gardens in 2008.
According to statistics provided by the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, more than 120 sex trafficking victims have sought services at the these centers since 2005. Some 56 percent of those victims asked for help at the Queens Family Justice Center.
Several pro bono immigration attorneys will be available at the Queens center through the initiative unveiled Thursday, which is a collaboration between the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Sanctuary for Families and the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court.
The initiative will "connect survivors of trafficking in the borough of Queens to specialized pro bono immigration services provided by some of New York City's top lawyers," said Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, commissioner of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence.
The lawyers can help eligible victims to apply for T visas, which allow some victims of human trafficking to temporarily remain in the U.S. and work, Pierre-Louis said.
Victims can also get guidance on applying to have criminal convictions related to trafficking vacated.
Human trafficking can happen to the child next door
by Bill Hand
Human trafficking is alive and well in Eastern North Carolina and even in Craven County, according to a panel hosted by True Justice International Friday night, and the battle is on to put an end to it.
The ministry, formerly known as Pearl Ministries, held a fundraising “Freedom Friday Dinner Theater,” which included dinner, a panel and film at Temple Baptist Church from 5 to 9 p.m.
The film was the documentary “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls,” which focuses on a presentation of trafficking worldwide.
The panel was emceed by Doc Loomis, a member of the TJF board and also a bishop in the Anglican Church. Speakers were TJF director Sarah Tellis; Chip Hughes, a member of the governor's crime commission; two TJF missionaries serving in Charleston, and Kelly McPherson, a trafficking activist whose sister escaped trafficking.
Tellis spoke of the ministry's name change and its purpose. She said where TJI focuses a lot of its work locally, it also is concerned with trafficking as a world problem.
“You can't just isolate one thing that is happening here in Craven County without involving the world,” she said.
This is in part because so many victims of sex trafficking are brought in from outside areas. She spoke of one North Carolina victim she has been working with who came from Mexico as an example. “Fifty percent of victims are international,” she said.
Victims are often runaways, troubled youth, orphans or children in the foster system. Traffickers will often lure them by offering them a home, flattery and support, and will slowly draw entrap them through addictions, threat or guilt.
Tellis emphasized the ministry's goal toward empowering the Church to help victims of trafficking, and of training organizations and law enforcement organizations to know the signs and learn how to fight trafficking.
Chip Hughes expressed Gov. Pat McCrory's concern over trafficking problems in the state.
“We've got a huge problem here in North Carolina,” he said, adding that the state has only recently begun to deal with it. “A year ago we were not doing that much about it from a law enforcement standpoint.”
He recalled a time when he was a state trooper, when he pulled over a probable trafficker and his victims but, because of his lack of training, he only knows what the situation was in hindsight.
“The driver was the only one that would converse,” he said. The young women in the van “would not make eye contact or respond to my questions. I know now that all the indicators were there: these ladies were there and they were not there by choice.”
“We need to educate our law enforcement on what to look for,” he said. “Then we know how to make an arrest and get evidence together so we can take these into the courts.”
He said that funding is being arranged to educate and help investigate these crimes.
He emphasized that parents need to teach their children how to be on the lookout to avoid becoming victims.
McPherson described some of her sister's battles with trafficking.
“There was at one point, I thought it happened in Third World countries, I didn't think it was here,” she said, until her own sister was pulled into it.
Her sister, Stacey, had been thrown out of an abusive house when she was just 14 and soon got caught up with a trafficker.
“She shared that there were times her abusers had locked her in a closet, naked without food for a month,” McPherson related. “The only reason they took her out was to rape her. And that happened for years. She allowed them to think she was brainwashed and, in short trips she was allowed, she scraped up money to make a phone call, called her father who picked her up. She is now getting her bachelor in nursing and is married to a police officer.
“It's not what you see in the movies,” McPherson said of how women get caught up in trafficking. “It's not always prostitution. It's not always strippers. It can happen to the girl next door.”
'Girls Court' in the works for Genesee County to fight sex trafficking, first in the state
by Blake Thorne
GENESEE COUNTY, MI -- Back when he was an assistant prosecutor, Genesee County Circuit Judge David Newblatt saw a lot of cases. One in particular, involving a 12-year-old girl, stuck with him. The girl's mother had picked her up from school, taken her to an abandoned house nearby, and prostituted her.
"The girl testified in the child-protection case," Newblatt said. "But when they charged her mother, she denied it," Newblatt said.
It's just another example of the challenges with combating the tragic, complicated world of child sex exploitation, a crime that is becoming more widely recognized as a form of human trafficking. It's a world Newblatt and other local officials and advocates are hoping to tackle head-on by creating Michigan's first "Girls Court."
Nationwide, about a half-dozen or so of these courts exist. They are part of a bigger movement to recognize and crack down on the commercialization of sex crimes involving minors. By establishing a Girls Court here, the hope is to intervene with young girls who are trapped in a criminal underworld or are potentially vulnerable to it in the future.
The court would flag girls coming through the juvenile justice system who are candidates for Girls Court. Then court officials would work to set the girls up with a network of resources and counseling tailored to steer them away from the sex trade.
"It's sexual exploitation of children, that is a form of human trafficking," Newblatt said.
Young girls in these cases become dependent on their abusers "Either through force or threat of violence or their dependence on drugs," he said.
To operate the program, the court is submitting an application for a $100,000 grant through the State Court Administrative Office. The office had reached out to courts throughout the state seeking applications for innovative court programs. The state is expected to notify grant recipients by Oct. 1. Newblatt said he'd like to get the court up and running this fall.
"We're planning on opening a Girls Court whether or not we get this grant," he said.
It's an issue that's finally bubbling to the surface. Newblatt compared it to domestic abuse 50 years ago, a time when those crimes were largely unreported and society generally looked the other way. Eventually, though, victims started coming forward, awareness rose and a network of support services was established.
Last May, a Genesee County human trafficking task force was created. It is made up of local law enforcement, medical professionals and members from social agencies.
It's difficult to put a number on how severe the problem is locally, said Jay Kommareddi, the task force's Public Awareness and Community Outreach Committee chair.
"The victims, they don't see themselves as victims, they don't self-identify as victims," Kommareddi said. "That's another challenge."
Kommareddi said a Girls Court could be a great help for fighting the problem here.
Genesee County Special Assistant Prosecutor John Potbury said he has seen many examples of young girls being manipulated and eventually indebted to predators, who coerce them and force them into the sex trade. It's like a long, manipulative con game, he said.
"It's a scheme," Potbury said. "That's how they become victims. Then they find themselves prostituting on the streets."
"They're broken down, they're beaten down emotionally, verbally, physically," he added. "They become prisoners."
Christina Delikta, a sexual assault crisis counselor at the YWCA of Greater Flint, sees the pattern firsthand.
"We're really just starting to label it for what it is," Delikta said, saying that many of these women in the past would have been prosecuted as criminals. Now people are realizing they're actually being used as currency in a much larger criminal enterprise.
The court could help fight this, she said.
"I'm really excited about the Girls Court," she said.
Mother, maternal grandparents charged in abuse of Mercer County boy
by Carl Prine
A woman walking her dog tipped off Mercer County authorities to “a human skeleton” she saw outside a house along North Second Street in Greenville.
What investigators found was a 7-year-old boy so starved of food, he was reduced to scavenging for insects, and his weight had dwindled to 20 pounds, the lead investigator told the Tribune-Review.
“He looked like a Holocaust victim,” said Mercer County Detective John J. Piatek, who specializes in child abuse cases. “He had been beaten with a belt every time he tried to get food. He had three abscessed teeth and weighed 20 pounds when he was taken to Children's Hospital. The starvation could have killed him. The abscessed teeth could have killed him.”
The boy's mother, Mary C. Rader, 28; maternal grandparents Dennis C. Beighley, 58, and Deana C. Beighley, 47 — who all live the North Second Street house — each have been charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment, child endangerment and criminal conspiracy. The three are free after posting a $75,000 unsecured bond on Friday.
Their sole motive, Piatek said, seems to have been that they disliked the child.
UPMC officials told the Trib that they could not discuss an open child abuse investigation.
The boy is in foster care. His sisters — 11 and 14 — and a brother, 9, have been placed in different homes and are healthy, authorities said.
The older brother was underweight “but not nearly as bad” as his sibling, who was rushed last month to Greenville's UPMC Horizon Hospital and transferred to Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville, Piatek said.
“I went to see him,” said paternal grandmother, Debra Rader of Mercer County. “It was horrible. I'm sorry, but you wouldn't do to a dog what they did to that beautiful boy. They should starve them, and see if they like it.”
During a week's stay, he gained a pound a day and has since gained 24 pounds.
Debra Rader's son, Jimmy, is divorced from Mary Rader. Debra Rader said she twice reported her ex-daughter-in-law to Mercer County authorities.
“She acted strange all the time,” said Debra Rader, 56. “We would go over there to check on the boy, but we were never allowed to see him, so we weren't sure what was going on.”
Piatek said that Children's Hospital experts believe that if investigators had not saved him, the child “had one more month before he went into cardiac arrest.”
Although the boy sometimes received a chunk of tuna fish to eat, Piatek said that the adults, who all lived in the same home, would beat him if he tried to get other food, such as bread or peanut butter.
“The doctors said that the only medicine he needs now is food,” Piatek said.
No one answered calls placed by the Trib to the Beighleys' home or knocks on their door. A message left on a phone linked to Rader was not returned, and other numbers once tied to the family are no longer in service.
No defense attorney was listed in court documents.
Except for traffic citations, none of the defendants had been charged with any previous crimes in Pennsylvania.
According to Piatek, the boy's mother removed him from school a year ago and enrolled him in cyber classes. It did not have a live camera feed for instructors to check if the right child was online studying. Investigators do not know if the boy logged on or if others did it for him.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 30 before Magisterial District Judge Brian Arthur in Greenville.
Dr. Jennifer Wolford of UPMC Children's Hospital Child Advocacy Center told investigators from Mercer County Children and Youth Services that “it was the worst case of childhood starvation she had ever seen,” Piatek said.
Extension of child sexual abuse statute of limitations to help many survivors
by The Republican Editorials
Victims of child sexual abuse now have until they reach the age of 53 to sue the perpetrators of this heinous and all too common crime.
The law, signed by Gov. Deval Patrick last week, extends the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits by three decades. Until last week the statute of limitations expired at the age of 21.
This change will mean that those who are traumatized will have additional time to decide whether to pursue civil litigation, which can be harrowing and difficult at best, traumatizing at worst.
The criminal statute of limitations was extended in 2006 from 15 years after a victim's 16th birthday to 27 years.
Kathy Picard, of Ludlow, worked for a dozen years to get the law changed, and last week she stood with Gov. Deval Patrick as he signed the bill.
Picard said she told family members about her childhood sexual abuse, which took place from the time she was 7 to 17, and like so many of her generation, she was told to keep quiet.
Congratulations to Picard for her persistence. Her work will help others attain a small measure of justice.
The floodgates are likely to open now, as adult victims pursue justice to right a wrong that can never be justified or fully atoned for or paid for through a legal settlement or penalty.
Ultimately, changing the past would be the only way to fully compensate victims for the damage done to their bodies, psyches and spirits.
Westford mom continues honoring slain daughter
by SAMANTHA ALLEN
WESTFORD, Mass. (AP) — Jody Marchand refers to this time as "the afterlife."
Marchand's life has been split between time before and after a domestic violence incident which claimed the life of her daughter. Marchand survived the attack.
The victim turned survivor, and now activist, reflected on her mission this month as she prepares to host a run and bike ride in honor of her daughter, Olivia, who was killed at 17.
"I went to the farmers' market just today. I was giving out yard signs and this woman came over and said, 'Oh my gosh. I knew Olivia,' " Marchand said earlier this month. "And it's just weird. Everyone knew her."
Marchand has spoken openly about the abusive relationship she had with her husband, Brian Marchand, in a marriage she said was based on him manipulating her.
In February 2010, he fatally shot Olivia and then shot Jody Marchand twice in the face before taking his own life. A short time later, Jody Marchand's sister helped her form the Live for Liv Foundation , devoted to helping other victims of domestic violence.
Marchand said she only has one thing left over from her former life at this point — an elderly cat named Pepper.
From here, Marchand said her mission will always stay the same. She wants to honor her daughter's life, but she will work to find ways to move on.
"She would have graduated four years ago, so I'm feeling like, as time goes on, I've had to learn this — it's still about her but my nonprofit... She'll always be the one that inspired it. Her picture will always be up there (on the website), but I have to move forward."
Marchand said the sense of loss she feels for her child continues nonetheless.
Not a day goes by where she says she doesn't wish she could speak with her daughter.
Marchand works to find ways to channel that emotion into a path that will help other victims of domestic violence.
The Ride/Run for Liv event scheduled for Sunday will benefit various groups from around the area through Marchand's organization. This is the third year Marchand has hosted the event and with 200 people expected to attend, the foundation hopes to raise about $10,000.
The nonprofit so far this year has also partnered with the Hope Boutique, which strives to help victims of abuse in Middlesex County afford the necessities as they move out of a bad living situation.
Marchand said a resource like that could have been helpful in her situation. She said she recognized she was stuck in a dangerous place and wanted to leave, but didn't have the resources to do so because her husband kept the household bank accounts.
Marchand is now on that new Hope Boutique's board of directors.
"I said I could afford to get out but it was very difficult. So very often women are in something they don't even realize," she said.
"You think, 'If I do this, it could get better.' You think you need to be the one to make it better but you can't even move out because he's controlling the money."
Marchand said she is compelled to find new ways to help women in her area who may relate to what she went through.
"I have no choice, I feel like. I feel like, 'What would I do every day?' I feel like I have to do something so that my daughter is remembered," she said, "and hopefully help somebody else."
Marchand added her message for victims in distress is to recognize their feelings. She says she wants people to know if they're feeling like something's "not right," then it's just not.
For more information on the July 20 benefit, visit http://www.liveforliv.com/. The Ride/Run for Liv event, at the 4H Fairgrounds at 51 South Chelmsford Road in Westford, includes a 23-mile bike ride at 10 a.m. and a 6-mile bike ride with a 5K at 11 a.m.
The cost for registration ranges from $30 to $35 for adults and $15 to $20 for youth.
Rape: what we don't know about it
When you are abused, there is a monster within the abuser that gets transferred to you which grows until you become the monster
by Vasu Primlani
I recently gave a TEDx talk on rape. It has the distinction of being the most dubious of crimes. It is unique in that our ignorance about this crime seriously outweighs our knowledge of it. No nation on earth can claim to know how many rapes there are in their country. It is estimated that the majority of rapes go unreported. Nations can't even agree on what rape is. Is it penetration? Is it a non-penetrative sexual violation? Does it have to be committed in front of three eyewitnesses for it to be considered a crime? Can a husband rape a wife?
Rape is also unique in that there is shame ascribed to both the victim and the perpetrator. Go visit inmates in prison and ask them what they are in for, they'll tell you murder or theft sooner than they would admit to rape. Especially bizarre, this is perhaps the only crime where the victim is blamed. Wherever there is patriarchy, it's the woman's fault. Even less talked about than rape is the rape of boys and men. And even more taboo.
In my comedy shows, I do special sets on rape to show how ridiculous these precepts are. I speak about rape because I have been through it, since I was 5, systematically, till I was 7. Who was he? A neighbour. What do I remember about him? That his name was Manoj and he had a moustache. And that he was young; no more than 25.
Did I know what was going on? No. But I was honoured that an adult would share that secret with me, for it was clearly a secret. And most definitely adult. And here's the interesting part: It shaped me. In somatic therapy, we use the word “shape” to mean it changes us in certain ways, and over time we don't even realize that we changed our perception of ourselves, the world, so drastically.
It changed me in various ways. First, I blamed myself (children usually do). It really wasn't until five years ago, when a Pakistani friend of mine sat me down and really explained how it wasn't my fault, that I exonerated myself from blame.
Second, pursuant to my shame, I started distancing myself from people, and started “punishing” myself. I figured I wasn't fit for human habitation, that I was really a bad person inside. At first, I punished my body negatively; I would belt myself. Then, I concluded it wasn't my body's fault, I had to discipline my mind. So when my friends ran five rounds around the ground, I ran 10, which made me into the athlete I am today.
Third, and this one I didn't realize until I was 23 and in a rock-climbing incident—I believed that the sole purpose of existence of every man and every woman was to hurt me. I didn't even know I thought that. Try establishing any kind of relationship with that level of mistrust.
I felt like a walking time bomb—I didn't know what would set me off, and I would oscillate between great love, and rage. One friend called me bipolar. And I suspect he was right. You know how they would ask you as a child what kind of an animal you would be? Given my history of child sexual abuse, I'd be a bear—a bipolar bear.
It was in San Francisco, US, that I came across somatic therapy—that speaks directly to the body in making you feel safe inside your skin again. One of my fellow practitioners went and interviewed prison inmates at the local penitentiary. And this is what she found: Guess what percentage of rapists have been raped themselves? 100%. I don't know if that number applies to India, but I suspect it would come pretty close. People rape because they don't have self-esteem, a dignity of their own. You can't give what you don't have. So if you look at it, rapists may be the first victims.
Why would rape victims rape? I believe if you are touched by abuse of any kind—physical, verbal, sexual—there is a monster within the abuser that gets transferred on to the victim. And it grows and grows, and if you don't know it is growing within you, one day it becomes bigger than you, and you become the monster. And so the cycle passes from generation to generation.
In hearing about this debate in India about rape, I have been frustrated. I hear a lot of rage and no real solutions. I am sorry, but the tint on windows, or putting coats on women, or chowmein, has nothing to do with rape. I have heard nothing about rape prevention. After a woman is raped, the harm is done; society will immediately pay a price for it: Every man and woman who will love that woman will pay a price for it. I speak not just as a rape survivor, but as a potential rapist. I have been sexually abused both by men and women as a child. I could have been that next rapist.
Our children need to be protected, and respect for women needs to be demonstrated to them. By teaching them boundaries. As individuals, we do ourselves grievous harm when we force ourselves on someone—both the rapist and the rape victim suffer. There is a way out—through education about boundaries, and therapy that changes our body reality. For bodies have a mind of their own. You'll never catch 95% of the rapists. Incarcerating or killing rapists isn't the answer. Restoring men's dignity, and teaching them to honour women, is.
Vasu Primlani is a professional comic and business speaker in the US and India.
Sexual Abuse in Childhood Exacerbates Heart Disease Risk in Midlife Women
by Vishakha Sonawane
Women who suffer sexual abuse during childhood have more chances of developing early signs of heart disease, a new study reveals.
Researchers explained that sexual abuse can lead to inner lining thickening of the carotid artery that carries blood to the brain. This may point to early atherosclerosis, or narrowing and hardening of the arteries that augment the possibility of heart attacks and strokes.
The study was conducted on 1,400 American women aged between 42 and 52. Researchers took into account Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Chinese women. The team found that 16 percent reported being sexually assaulted during childhood. Among African-Americans, the abuse rate was 20 percent.
Researchers found that only sexual abuse and not physical abuse led to higher artery thickness. The team reasoned that stress might be the reason behind the problem.
"These study findings indicate the importance of considering early life stressors on women's later cardiovascular health. Awareness of the long-term mental and physical consequences of sexual abuse in childhood needs to be heightened nationally, particularly among women and health professionals," lead scientist Dr Rebecca Thurston, from the University of Pittsburgh, said in a press release.
The participants also partook in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (Swan) study based in seven U.S. cities launched in 1996.
The study authors then interviewed the women when they reached menopause. They were asked about their experiences of childhood and adult abuse, both physical and sexual. The women undertook ultrasound tests to detect carotid artery thickening.
"Women who have a history of childhood sexual abuse should report it to their physicians and healthcare providers," Dr Thurston said. "If physicians are able, they should ask about child abuse. Considering child abuse can be important in understanding a woman's cardiovascular risk."
The research is published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
Seminar reviews new child abuse laws
EAST CALN — School officials from Chester County met at the Intermediate Unit Thursday for a seminar on new laws to protect children from physical and sexual abuse.
The laws include an expansion of whom within schools and other institutions is “mandated” to report suspected child abuse.
Nearly 50 school superintendents, administrators, principals and teachers listened and asked questions to officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, which will help administer the new laws.
Other agencies represented at Thursday's meeting included the Chester County Department of Children, Youth and Families and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
“This session we passed 12 laws to better protect children from physical and sexual abuse,” said State Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland. “As minority chairman of the Senate Education committee, I want to make sure our school communities and others understand their new responsibilities under these laws and what we must all do to keep our children safe.”
Dinniman said the new laws, scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 31, 2014, will clarify and expand the list of individuals within schools who will be required to report suspected child abuse, and for the first time, require that they report it directly to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare as well as their respective supervisor.
“This law adds to the list of ‘mandated reporters' – those who by law are required to report suspected child abuse – and also makes very clear that the list can include staff at all K-12 schools and individuals within independent contractors that provide a program, activity or service to a school,” Dinniman said.
The laws passed in 2013 and this year were recommended by the 11-member Task Force on Child Protection that was created in December 2011 after former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period. Three Penn State officials including former Penn State President Graham B. Spanier are awaiting trial on charges they failed to report suspected child abuse.
Keith Hayes, director of the Chester County Department of Children, Youth and Families, said the informational seminar was critical to creating awareness and understanding of the new laws. He said he expected more such meetings to occur in the near future.
“This will only work to the extent that we partner together,” Hayes said, referring to the social service and education officials in the room and mutual understanding of the new requirements. “If this is going to work, it is because we are having this type of respectful discourse. I think this is really helpful, and I think it is just the beginning.”
Florida dad beats man he found allegedly raping his son, report says
by Fox News
A Florida dad who told police he walked in on a man sexually abusing his child, left the suspect motionless and bleeding Friday morning on the living room floor, police said.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the suspect was found at the Daytona Beach home at about 1 a.m. Friday. The paper, citing the arrest report, said Raymond Frolander was found with several knots on his face and bleeding from the mouth.
The 35-year-old father and his son were not identified, but the father reportedly walked in on Frolander sexually battering his son.
The paper obtained the 911 call and reported that the dad told the dispatcher, "I just walked in a grown man molesting...and I got him in a bloody puddle for you, officer."
He told police that he didn't use any weapons in the beating, nor did he ask the suspect any questions.
"He is nice and knocked out on the floor for you," the dad reportedly told police.
The boy told police that Frolander took him to a back room of the house and pulled down his pants, the report said.
The boy, 11, had been playing video games with friends before the alleged attack, the report said.
Frolander was treated at an area hospital and allegedly told police “I'm guilty,” when questioned.
He is being held without bail. Frolander was charged with sexual battery by an 18-year-old on a victim under 12, the report said. The father was not charged.
Teacher accused of using grade threat against student for sex
by The Associated Press
STAMFORD, Conn. -- A Stamford High School English teacher is accused of threatening to fail a student if he broke off their sexual relationship.
Danielle Watkins of Norwalk turned herself in to police Thursday. She is charged with sexual assault, sale of marijuana and risk of injury to a minor.
Police say the 18-year-old student came to them in June and described how the 32-year-old teacher had provided him with drugs and sex since last September. Police say she also gave marijuana to a 15-year-old.
Police say they recovered 2,000 text messages, including nude photos sent to the teen's phone. .
Watkins posted $100,000 bond and is due in state Superior Court in Stamford on July 31. She has an unlisted phone number and attempts to reach her Friday morning were not successful.
Forensic Program Helps North County Abuse Survivors
by Kenny Goldberg
This non-descript building just blocks away from the old Palomar Hospital in Escondido gives little indication of what goes on inside.
People suspected of being battered or sexually abused arrive accompanied by a police officer. They meet with specially trained professionals, and they can count on two things: A comprehensive yet considerate exam process — and strict privacy.
Crystal Harris was examined in 2008 at the Palomar Forensic Center after an incident with her husband.
“Everyone kind of knows intellectually that those type of places exist and that's where women are taken," Harris recalled. "But it's the type of place where you never think you're actually gonna be.”
Thanks in part to evidence collected at the forensic program, Harris's ex-husband was tried and convicted of a felony sex offense. Harris said the forensic program's one-on-one approach was comforting.
“They don't make you deal with a lot of people. They know that's overwhelming. So they don't make you deal with a lot of people, and I think that's good," she said.
Last year, the program saw 200 adults and 350 children. Patty Secor, one of the program's sexual assault nurse examiners, explained the process.
“When they come here, we have them come into a waiting room," she said, showing a visitor a waiting area filled with chairs and some stuffed animals. "This is set up for children, because we do a lot of children at this facility.”
The forensic interview, where patients describe what happened to them, is a crucial part of the process.
Children under 14 are interviewed in a special room. Their conversation is recorded through a two-way mirror from an adjacent room, where police and a representative from the District Attorney's Office sit. Investigators trained in the techniques and challenges of obtaining truthful statements from children, she said, conduct the interviews.
Adults are interviewed in a separate space. Secor explained that all potential victims are also given thorough medical exams. She held a large manila envelope that contained the tools of the trade.
“This is a sample package that we receive from the crime lab that has the equipment we need to do a regular sexual assault exam," Secor said. "It comes with swabs. These are what we use to collect evidence from various parts of the body.”
Secor pointed out what staff learn from the interview often determines the focus of the exam.
“If they tell me that it was not a full sexual assault, I would need to know exactly where on their body I'm going to look for evidence," she said. "Sometimes they say they have a bite mark, sometimes they tell me they have bruises or bodily injuries.”
In a separate exam room, Secor used a black light to aid in her search for physical evidence.
“By looking at their entire body, head to toe, we are able to see if there are any signs of semen or saliva," she said.
All parts of the body where suspected injuries occurred are photographed.
Secor says it's tough working with assault survivors. They're often emotional wrecks.
“Personally, I can keep doing this work because I cannot have stopped what happened to that victim," she explained. "My whole goal is to hopefully hold somebody accountable for what they did to that person.”
The exam and interview are designed to be thorough. The goal is for the adult or child to tell their stories once. And staff say that in interviews with children the key is to keep an open mind.
Cathy McLennan, who directs the Forensic Center's Child Abuse Program, conducts many of the interviews with children.
“Although I have information about what the allegation is going in to talk to the child, it cannot drive the course of that interview," she said. "I've got to consider that. There may have been misunderstandings about something, that the child's behavior does not necessarily mean there has been abuse, but that that's a possibility.”
McLennan is frequently called to testify in court. She often feels nervous.
“And I'm thinking about, 'Gee, I wish I didn't have to be here, didn't have to testify,'" she said. "And then the child will come out of the courtroom. And he or she has just testified, and they're like this tall. And I think, 'wow, I mean, talk about courage. I guess I'm just gonna man up and go in there and do it.'”
Child sexual abuse and adult rape cases in North County are handled at the Superior Court in Vista.
Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior said the Forensic Services Program has been instrumental in getting convictions.
“The work of the Forensic Center and the Child Abuse Program is directly related to our ability to hold rapists accountable and child molesters accountable," Prior said.
The District Attorney's Office files about 600 felony sexual assault cases each year in North County. Thanks in part to evidence collected at the forensic program, the office reports it has achieved a 93 percent conviction rate.
Palomar Health was forced to withdraw its financial support for the program this year. The county and the private Golden Door Foundation came to the rescue.
The forensic program is hoping to expand that kind of public/private partnership to ensure its long-term financial future.
Child abuse targets youngest, most vulnerable
by Tanya Spencer
INDIANAPOLIS - On Wednesday, Indianapolis police arrested a couple accused of tying up and beating a 2-year-old until he had a broken jaw, perforated intestine and respiratory failure.
The infant was rushed to Riley Hospital in critical condition – another victim of a crime that disproportionately affects the youngest and most vulnerable.
According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, 63 percent of all child abuse and neglect victims are less than one year old. The vast majority are under 3.
"Unless they do go to preschool or daycare, they may not come into contact with an adult who's able to intercede," said Sandy Rinkle, with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.
State research cites a pattern of stress factors like unemployment, low income, substance abuse and/or domestic violence.
The research also debunks common myths – among them, that most abused children grow up to be abusive adults.
"In fact, most don't," Runkle said. "That's kind of a myth. Most children who are abused do not grow up to be abusive as adults."
Another myth? That it's always the "boyfriend" who perpetrates child abuse. State numbers show that 68 percent of child abuse victims were abused by their biological parents in 2012, the latest year data was available.
"We always stress that you really need to know about your partner before you ever leave your child with that person," Runkle said. "If that person tends to get angry easily, if they don't appear to really know what to expect from a child, especially a young child. And this is men and women. I think men kind of get a bad rap here, but this is men and women."
"Fathers and Families" is one of the many local not-for-profits that offer a number of programs to help young parents improve their parenting skills.
"We build the essential foundation, the building blocks of what's critical for effective parenting, employment, education and also relationship building and support services," said Dr. Wallace McLaughlin, president and CEO of the Fathers and Families Center.
Experts agree: Even if it's not formal classes or counseling, all struggling parents should find support to help them cope with the stresses of parenting.
To report suspected child abuse, you can call the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-800-5556.
Local doctors see spike in child abuse; urge parents to take a close look at who watches kids
by Kaitlyn Bolduc
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -- A sudden spike in child abuse reports earlier this month has local doctors speaking out on Thursday.
With school out, they say you need to take a close look at who watches your kids this summer, no matter if it's at daycare, or camp.
Cares Northwest doctors say that the Monday after the Fourth of July weekend, they saw 28 referrals for abuse cases in that day alone.
That's more than they usually see in one week.
"Someone who has a problem with abusing kids is really good at figuring out where the vulnerabilities are, and sadly sometimes that's at summer camps," said Cares NW Counselor Sally Blackwood.
Blackwood tells FOX 12 they're seeing children being victimized by their camp counselors, or day care providers. Especially cases involving adults snapping private photos of kids on smart phones.
Enough so, they want to remind parents about the best way to protect their children.
"I think it's good to make sure kids know the name of what their private parts are, and know that there are rules about those parts. Really make sure with little kids you tell them that keeping secrets about their private parts, isn't OK," said Blackwood.
Blackwood says parents can also be on the lookout for adults who pay their child extra attention and maybe even give them gifts.
"That's when I think you should be concerned, not just about anybody, because most don't hurt kids," said Blackwood.
Here are tips and questions doctors say all parents should ask to make sure your child has a safe summer:
Before kids leave home, make sure they know about:
• Correct names for all body parts so they are comfortable talking about them.
• Personal boundaries. Teach kids that their bodies belong to them and they have the right to say, "no," to touches that bother or confuse them. Teach them to respect other kids' and grownups' personal boundaries.
• Remind kids that no means no, to help them resist peer pressure.
• Some adults and kids have touching problems and break rules about personal boundaries. They might use bribes, like candy, money and drugs, and ask kids to keep it secret.
• Teach kids to tell you, or a safe grownup right away if someone scares them or makes them uncomfortable.
Check out camp and program policies:
• Ask when parents are notified if there are concerns of abuse.
• Ask if all staff and volunteers are screened and trained in sexual abuse prevention.
• Find out how staff report concerns of abuse.
• Find out how concerns of abuse are addressed by management.
Know camp and program rules:
• Are families told about clear expectations of behavior before the program begins? Once you know the program rules, talk with your child about them.
• How are romantic relationships and inappropriate sexual advances addressed?
• Are kids encouraged to voice their concerns? And are their concerns heard and treated seriously?
Important next steps for parents:
• Get to know people your kids spend time with – friends and their parents, neighbors, activity directors and camp staff.
• Pay close attention when someone shows your child a great deal of attention or gives them special gifts. Talk with your child about that person. Tell that person or his/her supervisor that you are not comfortable with your child being treated differently.
• Speak up if you see concerning behaviors and report abuse immediately.
• Be a good role model. Demonstrate good boundaries and respect others' boundaries.
Abuse prevention resources:
Will you do your part to help fight child abuse?
by PennLive Editorial Board
"When you see something, say something."
That's the familiar message Americans have heard again and again, delivered by those in charge of protecting the nation from another catastrophic terrorist attack.
It's also good advice when it comes to helping protect our state's children from child abuse.
In 2013, abuse claimed the lives of 38 Pennsylvania children — a 15 percent increase over the previous year, according to Angela Liddle, executive director of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance. Reducing that number requires vigilance from us all, not just people who work with and around children.
Say you know of a child in the neighborhood who keeps getting a black eye.
Or say you're in public, and you see an adult repeatedly smacking a child, who cowers in fear, as if it has happened before.
You've seen something, so you should say something.
And the best way to "say something" is to call the state's 24-hour child abuse hotline, known as "ChildLine": 1-800-932-0313.
What you've seen may or may not be abuse that crosses legal boundaries, but you don't need to decide that question. A trained investigator will check things out.
By law, a county child welfare worker is supposed to investigate a ChildLine report within 24 hours, according to Liddle, the child protection advocate.
To aid that process, when calling ChildLine, provide as many details about the adult and child/children as possible. (Of course, if you're witnessing an emergency – an assault that isn't going to stop short of serious injury -- call 911.)
"Every person has a role to play in keeping children safe," says Liddle.
However, few of us know what to do when seeing signs of trouble.
In a survey performed by Franklin and Marshall for Liddle's organization, only 22 percent of the general public (those not required by law to report abuse) who suspected abuse actually reported it.
Most often, they reported it by calling 911. However, unless it's an extreme case that needs immediate attention, the report should go to ChildLine. You can't count on 911 dispatchers to steer you in the right direction. Liddle says that in some counties, emergency dispatchers do not necessarily know the right place to direct a non-emergency abuse call.
Almost as important as reporting suspected abuse is doing what you can to help prevent things from getting to a crisis point that puts children at risk. If you know stressed-out parents, for example, you might offer to watch their kids, so they can have a break. The family support alliance offers other helpful suggestions in a handout.
Getting more Pennsylvanians to be alert and involved with helping children who are at risk of abuse may be a challenge, though. For many of us, our "radar" simply may not be tuned to look for signs of trouble. In the Franklin and Marshall survey, only 17 percent said child abuse was a "serious problem." Fourteen percent said it was "not a problem at all."
Tell that to the grieving relatives and friends of those 38 Pennsylvania children who died in 2013.
Tips to Prevent Child Abuse
'Alternative response' is no solution to child abuse
A tiered response to child abuse and neglect cases, like the one Md. recently implemented, has failed elsewhere and raised numerous questions
by Daniel Heimpel
Earlier this month, The Baltimore Sun published an important story describing the expansion of Alternative Response (AR) across Maryland ("A new tactic to halt child abuse in Maryland," July 5). The new system assigns child abuse and neglect cases to one of two tiered tracks based upon whether they are deemed low or high risk.
High risk cases are formally investigated, low risk ones are not.
While Maryland's Department of Human Resources, certain advocates, and a clot of consultants and evaluators celebrate the move to what they see as an evolution in the state's response to child abuse, they are missing — or worse, disregarding — simple documented truths that should shake any reasonable person's confidence.
The idea behind AR is simple. Child abuse investigations are harsh and alienate parents from caseworkers. Further, most child abuse allegations are associated with neglect, which is assumed to be less severe. The tiered system is designed to minimize friction and prioritize cases.
According to the proponents of AR, and the state of Maryland, child protective services should conduct softer investigations called "assessments" for cases involving neglect or milder physical abuse. Instead of court-ordered services, families on the AR track are offered voluntary options. Hallmarks of traditional investigation, like interviewing a child alone or showing up unannounced, are discouraged.
The assumption is that this softer approach will lead to more engaged families. With engaged parents children will be safer and fewer will enter foster care.
These are unassailable intentions. Unfortunately, the facts don't support the assumptions. And what is being sold as sound practice is far from proven — and quite possibly dangerous to children.
The problems with alternative response are numerous:
The evidence base that has been used to promote AR has drawn serious criticism from a varied group of researchers and academics.
A recent evaluation by the University of Illinois at Urbana's Children and Family Research Center found that AR was less safe for Illinois children.
And moving limited money to the alternative track compromises services dedicated to the higher risk cases.
Alternative response's popularity has grown with the fortunes of the Institute for Applied Research (IAR), a non-profit research shop that has conducted the bulk of alternative response evaluations over the past two decades.
"Many claims in this body of research about the benefits of [A]R exemplify marketing and promotional strategies rather than objective science," wrote a team of researchers led by Ron Hughes and Judy Rycus of the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare in the September 2013 issue of the academic journal Research on Social Work Practice. The authors went on to evoke the term "knowledge cartel" to describe the intertwined interests of powerful charitable foundations, research firms like IAR and government entities that can push for dramatic social reforms based on flimsy evidence.
Over the years, a vocal proponent of alternative response has been Casey Family Programs (the Seattle-based cousin of the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation), which has invested nearly $2 billino since 2005 to cut the foster care population in half by 2020. While the powerful foundation explicitly denied promoting alternative response in an interview, the promotional literature that bears its seal, the convenings it organizes, the testimony its staff submits before Congress, and the organizations and initiatives it financially supports appear to tell a different story.
In Maryland, Casey Family Programs played a key role in implementing alternative response. It stocked the state's alternative response advisory council meetings with at least six consultants who made presentations, recommendations and were ready to answer questions. And it co-sponsored a trip to Ohio and Minnesota so social services staff could see alternative response in action. And throughout AR reform in Maryland, Casey distributed self-published reports citing the Institute for Applied Research's evaluations, providing fodder for advocates.
Casey also had final say in choosing who would evaluate Maryland's AR program. Minutes from the August 2013 advisory council meeting state that while the social services agency had "approved the plan for evaluation" it was "waiting for final approval from Casey Family Programs."
The Institute for Applied Research won the contract.
The recent evaluation of Illinois' now defunct alternative response experiment throws even more doubt into the equation. When compared to children on the traditional track, children on the AR track were more likely to be victims of alleged and substantiated child maltreatment after 18 months.
Climate of complicity alleged in Sheriff Bullock child abuse case
by Tom Coombe
BELVIDERE, N.J. -- Former Warren County, New Jersey, Sheriff Edward Bullock is due back in court later this month in the criminal case accusing him of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in the 1980s.
Bullock has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which stem from a grand jury indictment handed down in February, alleging he assaulted the boy in January 1988
But county employees knew about Bullock's alleged interest in young boys years before that, according to legal documents obtained by WFMZ.
these depositions, four former Warren County employees, who worked either for the sheriff's department or juvenile justice system in the mid-1980s, said it was common knowledge, even something people would joke about.
"Oh, there were comments on a daily basis," former deputy sheriff Tim Rodger said in his statement.
"'Ha, ha, ha, oh the sheriff's got a kid in his office now,' you know, and they'd get like a little smirk or a giggle or it was just understood kind of throughout the whole courthouse that Sheriff Bullock was interested in boys."
Rodger and three other employees gave depositions last year in a civil lawsuit filed against the county, claiming officials knew Bullock was molesting boys but did nothing to stop him. The allegations invite comparisons to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State where university officials were accused of knowingly turning a blind eye to the misdeeds of someone in authority.
Prosecutors allege Bullock had sex with a 10-year-old boy who was in his custody in January 1998. He is charged with six counts of sexual assault and is free on bail. Bullock rejected a deal in May that would have had him plead guilty to two counts of sexual assault. Bullock is now 85, and lives in Ocean County.
All four former employees – Rodger, his wife Lisa, former deputy Vera Bunn and retired probation worker Theresa Vliet – were either unavailable or have declined to comment for this story.
In each deposition, they told the same story: that people in county government knew Bullock had an interest in boys. He even had a type.
"I noticed, I noticed that there were certain juveniles that he would, he would be, showing... an interest in, more so than maybe some of the others," said Theresa Vliet, who worked for the county probation department from 1976 to 2008 "There was always ah, the ah, cute, blond, blue-eyed, blue-eyed kids."
Bullock left office after pleading guilty in 1991 to official misconduct. He had sought sexual favors from an undercover New Jersey state trooper posing as a teenage boy.
In her statement, Vera Bunn said she and Tim Rodger became concerned about Bullock. She went to the state police Detective Debbie Armitage in 1991.
"I told her I had a concern about Bullock showing interest for young boys and that it was general knowledge in the courthouse and that no one seemed to care," Bunn said.
"It was general knowledge. I mean people would make remarks all the time in the courthouse, from every area, every department," Bunn said in her statement. Even cadets at the state police academy seemed to know.
Bunn said she saw Bullock ask the boys sexual questions and witnessed him rubbing their shoulders and buttocks.
In the deposition, investigator Lisa Reed asked Bunn what caused her to become concerned. Bunn described a "perverted reaction" Bullock would have to the boys in her presence.
Bunn: Oh, he would just stare at ‘em like he'd, he'd, he would ah, I, he was infatuated with ‘em.
Reed: So, this was…just as a man looking at a woman as attractive to him?
Bunn: Exactly, exactly.
After meeting with Armitage, Tim Rodger came up with a plan to use an undercover officer.
"I told her, well if you had a young trooper that was fresh out of the academy, he likes hanging out at the P'burg Mall, he's there every night," Rodger said in the deposition. "I can guarantee if you put a trooper in there... tell 'em that, you know, that he's, he's a runaway, doesn't you know, have a father, he doesn't know where to go, guaranteed Sheriff Bullock would probably approach him."
Following the undercover sting, Bullock, a Republican, was charged with official misconduct. He resigned, but not until after winning re-election.
At the time, Warren County Democrats said it appeared a coverup was underway, saying Bullock's claim that he'd resigned due to stress wasn't credible. Bullock ultimately spent nine months in prison.
In his deposition, Tim Rodger said authorities waited until after the election that year to charge Bullock, as a way of keeping his seat.
Bullock's next scheduled court date is a July 21 status conference.
Graham Spanier reveals own abuse as a child and defends himself in Sandusky case
by CINDY STAUFFER
Former Penn State president Graham Spanier recently sent a three-page letter to the Penn State trustees, expressing regret for the scandal that enveloped the university after the Jerry Sandusky scandal but maintaining that he never heard about Sandusky's abuse until a grand jury presentment.
A copy of the letter, obtained by The Patriot-News, is here.
In a interview with the New York Times, Spanier reveals details about his own physical abuse at the hands of his father, a man he says would be in jail today for the beatings he rained down on his children.
Spanier said that his father sometimes hit him with his hands or fists, “but 90 percent of the time, it was what's called a strapping. He would undo his belt, double it up and would strap you with it. You'd be cowering in the corner, and he would continue doing that until I assume he got tired. He just couldn't do it anymore."
Spanier told the Times he is an "intervener."
“If I see something going on in the street, in the community, I intervene. . . . If Gary Schultz or Tim Curley had said to me anything about child abuse, sexual abuse, anything criminal, even had hinted about that possibility, of course we would have said something."
In it, he also is incredulous that he has been charged criminally in the case.
“What does this have to do with me?” he told the Times. “I never saw anything. I never spoke to a kid, a witness, a parent, Sandusky, McQueary, Paterno.”
The letter and interview come as Sandusky's adopted son recently told Oprah Winfrey about his abuse at the hands of his father, in an interview to be broadcast Thursday night.
Jerry Sandusky's son recounts sexual abuse by his father
by David DeKok
HARRISBURG Pa. (Reuters) - An adopted son of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky recounted to Oprah Winfrey in often graphic detail how the former Penn State University assistant football coach had molested him as a teenager in what became a "bedtime ritual."
In an interview broadcast on Thursday in a segment of Winfrey's "Oprah Prime" program, Matthew Sandusky, the youngest of the family's six adopted children, also said he found it hard to believe that his adoptive mother, Jerry Sandusky's wife Dottie, had been unaware of the abuse.
"She has walked into the bedroom when I was laying on top of Jerry Sandusky in my underwear," recalled Matthew Sandusky, now aged 33.
Dottie Sandusky was shown in a separate video clip asserting that her husband was innocent and had not molested anyone. She has accused Matthew Sandusky of stealing her husband's football championship rings, a claim he denied in Thursday's interview.
In a case that rocked the world of college athletics, Jerry Sandusky was jailed in 2012 for between 30 and 60 years, for using his position in the prestigious Penn State football program to sexually abuse 10 boys over a period of 15 years.
In the interview, Matthew Sandusky said the abuse he suffered was not greatly different from that described by witnesses who testified at his adoptive father's trial.
But his television appearance was the first opportunity for most people to hear that story directly from a victim, since the trial was not televised.
He said Sandusky's abuse of him began with a hand on his knee as he rode in a car with the coach at the age of 9. Over time, he said, his adoptive father escalated the level of inappropriate physical contact to kissing him on the lips and lying on top of him while aroused.
The abuse ultimately grew into instances of forced oral copulation and sodomy, with some of the sexual assaults occurring while he was in the shower, Matthew Sandusky said.
During the interview, he also recounted a troubled upbringing by a single mother prior to his adoption by the Sandusky family, and admitted to several arrests as a teen and a suicide attempt.
At the age of 16, given a choice between going to juvenile prison or being adopted by the Sanduskys, he chose adoption.
Matthew Sandusky is one of 26 men abused by the coach who have shared in a total settlement with Penn State of $59.7 million.
Sexual Assault Center sees spike in child sex abuse exams
by Carolyn Grindrod
The Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia performed 21 forensic examinations last month — nearly double the number of alleged sexual abuse cases they typically see.
And, out of those exams, 13 were performed on children younger than 12.
It's an age group they haven't dealt with before, but Executive Director Kim Davis said they now have the training to examine clients of the Harbor House child advocacy center at the SAC office.
Harbor House Executive Director Gail Garland said children from areas around Floyd County also are included in that number — but it's the highest monthly total they've seen in a long time.
According to Davis, 10 of the cases happened in Rome and Floyd County. The SAC also serves Bartow, Gordon, Polk and Chattooga counties.
“It just goes to show how much child abuse is happening in our community — as well as how much sexual abuse is actually happening,” she said.
Most of the children were examined within 72 hours of the alleged sexual assault, Davis said. Examinations also can be provided to youngsters after that time period if child advocacy officials feel a need for one.
“Sometimes with a child it can be harder,” said Garland. “It just depends on when and how much the child decides to disclose.”
Garland said there's been an increase in child victims in the past six months, but the number of child abuse cases remains lower than in past decades.
“I'm sure the increase has been noticeable for (SAC officials), since it's something new to them. We've been doing exams for a while,” said Garland.
Children younger than 12 who needed exams were being seen by Barbie Townsell, an SAC nurse practitioner, in a private room at Floyd Medical Center.
But Davis said Townsell was stretched thin at the two locations.
“We decided to train a nurse for acute cases so we'd have 24-7 coverage, and Barbie continues to work a lot of ongoing cases,” said Davis. “We've been doing forensic exams on children since the first of April.”
Garland said her center provides a comfortable, home-like setting for interviews that is less threatening for children who may have experienced sexual abuse.
Before Harbor House was established, a child victim would have been interviewed anywhere between two and five times by different people at different agencies.
“It was very traumatic for a child to have to talk about it that many times,” Garland said.
Harbor House also hosts meetings of a multi-discipline team made up of the nurses who conduct exams, police detectives, caseworkers with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, and representatives from the district attorney's office.
“Our main focus here at the Harbor House is to conduct that interview, but the secondary important thing is that team,” said Garland. “We make sure everyone's talking and working together.”
Garland said it's up to the multi-discipline team to decide if the child needs a physical examination.
Roybal-Allard Focuses Attention on Girls Arriving on Border
by Suzanne Gamboa
Women in Congress have rallied around many gender-specific issues over time and some are doing the same on the arrivals of children and women to the U.S. border.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who leads the Congressional Women's Working Group on Immigration, said she feels “we are losing the focus of the catastrophe and the humanitarian crisis of the children and these women” who have arriving mostly at the Texas-Mexico border in the hundreds daily from Central America and Mexico.
Roybal-Allard said in a statement that 40 percent of the more than 52,000 children apprehended at the border since Oct. 1 are girls. The administration also has said more girls and younger children are coming. The Congressional Research Service said in a recent report it could not get data to illustrate the increase in girls and young children so it was unclear whether the additional girls and young children is a result of the larger number of children arriving or if the girls and children are a greater proportion of the unaccompanied children.
The Congressional Women's Working Group is mostly Democrats, but Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, is a member. Roybal-Allard said she hopes to capture the attention of female and male colleagues on the issue, but pointed out that the girls are particularly vulnerable.
“What is happening to them is real. We are getting story aftger story of children being murdered, young girls being raped and drug cartels threatening young boys,” Roybal-Allard said. “I think we are losing site of the humanitarian side and the reasons why they are coming.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, was tapped the leader of a task force on the issue by House Speaker John Boehner. Although she has a different view than Roybal-Allard on what should be done with the children, she agrees it's not an immigration issue but a crisis.
Women in Washington have come together on other international issues regarding women and girls. A good example is the effort by former first lady Laura Bush and her push for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, and former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican from Texas joined that cause.
In a Wednesday conference call sponsored by Human Rights First, Leslie Vélez with the United Nation's High Commissioner for Refugees told of a young girl who told of watching her classmate be sexually violated, killed and dismembered and her body parts spread on the route to school.
Vélez said the spreading of the girls' body parts was “a sign to the young girls that the gangs are not making empty threats when they are trying to make them their girlfriends."
Cory Smith of Humanity United told the story of a young girl he called Sara, which is not her real name, who recently crossed the border into the U.S. and is originally from El Salvador.
The girl was living with a group of women after her mom went to the U.S., she was 15. She was kidnapped by a group of men, sexually abused and forced to have sex with other men and later sold into sex slavery. After two years she escaped and made it to the U.S. She was able to speak to a social worker two months after her arrival who identified her as a trafficking victim, Smith said.
Vélez said the usual pattern for refugee flows_ a term the Obama administration has not used to refer to the children and families _ is for children and children to arrive first. As violence escalates, the flow escalates. She said that is the pattern coming out of Syria.
“The numbers have been slowly doubling in the United States every year since 2008. Now, we're at that point where the arc has increased,” she said.
Controversial Chinese School Uses “Violent” Method to Cure Autism
by Laurel Joss
Sichuan Province, China – He Xiaoyn, founder of Leyironghe Kindergarten in Ziyang, southwest China's Sichuan Province, claims to have “ cured ” 10 children with autism using her controversial, somewhat violent method. Her approach consists of using extreme negative feedback to work towards behavioral changes. For example, if a child bites, she will bite the child. If a child is obsessed with playing with water, she will drench the child from head to toe.
Her method has attracted the attention of parents and experts alike. Many, like Dr. Zhang Zhongming from the Chinese Psychology Association, express concern that such drastic measures may do more damage than good. Others, however, are praising Xiaoyn's innovative approach, including ten families who claim that her methods have “ cured ” their children.
He Xiaoyn is a doctoral student of early childhood education. She is not a medical doctor nor a licensed psychologist. She founded the Leyironghe Kindergarten as a special school serving children with autism and learning disabilities.
She says, “There is no effective drug to cure autism right now. My approach is the combination of medical and psychological treatment. As long as parents recognize my efforts, they are my source of motivation. I believe doing so is to save children and even save a family.”
Aversive therapies are no longer common in western cultures, where behavioral methods such as Applied Behavior Analysis are more popular, but they do exist. The Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts came under fire when a video showing a young man with autism being “ treated ” with electric shocks went viral. Other students came forward with stories of abuse and intimidation. Letters written by survivors of the Judge Rotenberg Center detail the disturbing “ consequences ” they faced, for offenses such as rocking or covering their ears can be found at http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/01/judge-rotenberg-center-survivors-letter.html.
Punishments included things like shock therapy resulting in burns and scars, meals being withheld, and sleep deprivation. The authors of these letters did not indicate any therapeutic benefits to the “ therapies ” they received, instead describing extreme anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms resulting from their “ education ” at the Rotenberg Center.
Is aversion therapy ever useful?
Research shows that it can be helpful for certain issues, such as the use of nausea-inducing drugs for alcoholics, but more often, it seems to cause more harm than good (http://www.minddisorders.com/A-Br/Aversion-therapy.html). Adult patients who are motivated to quit drinking are capable of giving consent to aversive therapies if they feel this approach will be helpful, but individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities are not in a position to give consent, especially children.
Other studies have shown that mild electro-convulsive shock therapy may help individuals with severe self-injurious behaviors (http://brainblogger.com/2011/05/30/electroconvulsive-therapy-in-pediatric-psychiatry/). However, these children were treated by licensed medical professionals, and were not subjected to shocks as “ punishment ” for undesirable behaviors.
Some parents whose children have severe violent or self-injurious behaviors may feel that aversive therapies are a last resort, and according to ten families in China, they can even “ cure ” autism. Unfortunately, they often cross the line from “ therapy ” to outright abuse.
Child abuse detective explains job with ChildSafe
by Jessie Degollado
SAN ANTONIO - Detective Sylvia Perez will tell you there's nothing routine about her job with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office specializing in crimes against children.
"It's more than a job. You have to be a strong person," Perez said.
Perez is among the law enforcement officers assigned to ChildSafe, a child advocacy center where young victims of abuse are first interviewed.
The agency also offers counseling and treatment.
"I'm a fact finder and so my job is to sit, and listen and gather as much facts as I can regarding the case," Perez said.
Given the victim often is traumatized, Perez said a forensic interviewer and the child are in a room with a camera discreetly watching overhead.
Perez said by not being law enforcement, a forensic interviewer tries to help the victim feel more comfortable.
Law enforcement and Child Protective Services have a monitor in the next room where they watch and listen intently.
Perez said at times, "I feel like I just want to get up and I can't take it. I can't hear it."
She said, "(I) see their demeanor, see their faces, see the tears coming down their eyes, hear the pain in their voice describing the act that was committed on them, be it physical or sexual abuse."
And yet, Perez said as a professional, she must focus on the case and the victim.
"I'm here to tell their story," Perez said.
Perez said she also must keep an open mind, "making sure that I'm fair with representing the facts and that I represent all the facts."
To help get a conviction, "the burden of proof on those detectives is 99 percent," said Kim Abernathy, ChildSafe president and CEO.
After a perpetrator is convicted, Perez said she knows, "I helped this child close that chapter in their life."
While their recovery may be long and difficult, Perez said, "I go home and regroup, and come back the following day and be ready to go all over again."
Child abuse images dragnet snares 660 suspected paedophiles
by Lisa Vaas
Doctors, teachers, scout leaders, care workers and former police officers - all professions that entail unsupervised access to children - were among 660 who've been arrested in an unprecedented child abuse image dragnet in the UK.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said in a press release that more than 400 children across the UK have been plucked from danger and are now being safeguarded.
The majority of those arrested were previously unknown to the police, while 39 were registered sex offenders.
Police have brought charges that range from possession of indecent images of children to serious sexual assault.
Not wanting to tip off paedophiles, investigators have declined to reveal the methods they used to track down suspects.
Even a haul as enormous as this one represents merely the tip of the iceberg, they said, and they want to be able to use the same tactics again in future investigations.
Despite this secretiveness, officers talking to the BBC's Tom Symonds did say that their techniques comprised a breakthrough in the way intelligence was used and passed between the various police forces, as opposed to coming from a technological advance.
The six-month investigation involved 45 police forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The level of coordination between disparate law bodies is, in fact, the reason why the newly formed NCA was created. NCA Deputy Director General Phil Gormley said that such coordination contributed to the sting's success:
This is the first time the UK has had the capability to coordinate a single targeted operation of this nature. Over the past six months we have seen unprecedented levels of cooperation to deliver this result.
Gormley told the BBC that the internet won't hide sex offenders - not even the Deep Web.
(There are terms that are used somewhat interchangeably to describe the underbelly of the internet, such as the Dark internet, where computers are found that can no longer be reached via the internet, or the Darknet, which is a distributed filesharing network that makes up a smaller part of the Deep Web.)
The Deep Web strata of the internet contains subsurface web content that's not indexed by standard search engines.
It's considered a haven for thieves, child pornographers, human traffickers, forgers, assassins and peddlers of state secrets and loose nukes.
One example of content that operates on the Deep Web is the now-defunct Silk Road, the former black market for drugs and firearms, which the FBI shut down in the autumn of 2013.
The breadth of the UK's paedophilia sweep shows the scale of internet trafficking in child porn that's taking place on the Deep Web, said John Carr, Secretary, UK Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, and should serve as a clear signal that police are watching for it:
This huge operation provides another distressing illustration of the scale of online offending against children but perhaps more importantly it also sends out a very clear warning to paedophiles and collectors of indecent images everywhere that the internet is increasingly becoming a very hostile environment for them.
Police forces all over the world are co-operating on an unprecedented scale in pursuit of online child sex offenders and they are deploying technical tools to track them down with ever greater effectiveness.
That scale was illustrated by the uncovering of a massive, 27,000-member child abuse ring that the US Department of Homeland Security dug out from behind the Darknet's anonymising router, Tor, in March.
According to the BBC, during the course of the UK investigation, 833 buildings were searched, and 9,172 devices, including phones and laptops, were seized.
Kudos to all of the investigators.
May such hard work be facilitated by all the tools, technologies, coordination and communication humanly possible, be it electronics-sniffing police dogs, ransomware that tricks child abusers into turning themselves in, a CGI girl used to lure paedophiles, or the less technological but still crucial act of pulling dispersed police forces together and allowing them to work better, stronger, and smarter, together.
New state law to give doctors more training about child abuse head trauma
by Maira Ansari
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A number of new laws went into effect on July 15 in Kentucky. One of them, HB 157, is a major step forward in ensuring medical professional receive continued training to recognize and prevent child abuse.
"We have a terrible problem in Kentucky," said Dr. Stephen Wright, medical director of Kosair Children's Hospital.
Pediatricians, radiologists, family practitioners, emergency medicine and urgent care physicians frequently interact with children who require routine or emergency medical care. Dr. Wright says there have been cases of child fatalities or near fatalities resulting from child abuse that might have been avoided if the attending physician had been specifically trained to recognize the signs of abuse and referred the case to child protective services.
Kentucky data indicates that physical abuse of young children is the most lethal form of child maltreatment. From Fiscal Year 2009 to the present, there have been more than 100 children with life-threatening or fatal injuries resulting from abusive head trauma.
"One of the things we've noticed is that about half of them have seen some type of health care worker, many of them physicians within two weeks of the child coming into the hospital with fatal or life threatening injuries," said Dr. Wright.
A law passed in 2010 required similar training requirements for other child-serving or child-focused professionals and caregivers. HB 157 provides comparable training for physicians.
The law went into effect, as a baby in Louisville is on life support, after his father allegedly beat him. The father, Juan Alejandro Lopez Rosales, 24, is accused of beating his two-month-old infant, Isaac Lopez. A legal challenge continues over who should determine when the baby is taken off life support.
Dr. Wright says any child four months or younger shouldn't have bruises anywhere. A red flag of abuse is bruises on the torso, ears, neck, and genital area.
To learn more about the warning signs of abuse and prevention go to www.donthurtchildren.com
HB 157, sponsored by Representatives Addia Wuchner (R-Burlington/District 66) and Susan Westrom (D-Lexington/District 79).
For a list of the new laws that went into effect on July 15h in Kentucky, click here.
“We can`t afford for this system to fail:” State lawmakers raise concern over child abuse case backlog
by A.J. Bayatpour
MILWAUKEE CO. (WITI) — According to state statute, investigations into allegations of child abuse or neglect are to be completed within 60 days. In Milwaukee County, nearly 3,000 cases have been open longer than that.
Investigations into possible cases of child abuse and neglect are handled at the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare at 26th and Wisconsin.
The office has come under scrutiny from state representatives Chris Taylor and LaTonya Johnson — who wrote a letter to the head of the Department of Children and Families. That letter asks why more than 2,800 cases in Milwaukee County alone have been open for 60 days. 2,300 of the cases have been open for longer than 90 days.
“When you talk about children being involved in the bureau, there are no do-overs because a mistake, or a missed case, or not having the case examined fully can result in a death,” Rep. Johnson (D-Milwaukee) said.
A Department of Children and Families spokesman says any case where a child could face immediate danger is prioritized and is not part of the backlog.
In a statement, he says: “We are well aware of the backlog of initial assessments at the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) and have been taking measures to reduce it — including increasing the number of BMCW initial assessment specialists and hiring a team of national experts on child welfare to help complete investigations.”
Adding new specialists might be a necessity considering the Child Welfare League of America recommends that an initial assessment (IA) specialist have an average caseload of 12 cases.
The current average caseload in Milwaukee County is 51 cases.
Rep. Johnson says the next step is figuring out how those caseloads got to be so large — adding that could be a challenge.
“Sometimes the confidentiality clauses and workers being afraid of retaliation makes that somewhat impossible,” Rep. Johnson said.
Rep. Johnson says reducing the backlog should be among the state's top priorities.
“Because it`s an option of last resort. We can`t afford for this system to fail,” Rep. Johnson said.
Currently, the BMCW has 79 initial assessment specialists, and has hired 16 more who are in training.
A citizen review panel that looks at the performance of the bureau is scheduled to meet next Friday, July 18th.
States act to combat human trafficking
by Keith Goble
States all over the map are taking steps to curb human trafficking.
The activity is described as one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world generating more than $32 billion annually. It's estimated that more than 20 million people are being trafficked world-wide. In the U.S., victims are commonly transported along the interstate highway system.
A new law in Pennsylvania gives prosecutors a comprehensive legal definition of human trafficking that is intended to result in more successful convictions, and enhance punishments for traffickers.
Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, said the law addresses the weaknesses in the state's current law that often allows traffickers to be charged with lesser crimes.
“This legislation takes aim at one of the most tragic and destructive crimes in modern history that is being committed on a large scale in Pennsylvania and around the world,” Greenleaf said in a news release.
In Colorado, a similar rule enacted provides a comprehensive legal definition of trafficking.
The new law makes it easier to prosecute offenders and also establishes an ongoing council to study the problem.
Florida lawmakers approved two new laws to increase prosecution of trafficking offenders and provide better services to survivors.
According to the U.S. State Department, Florida has the third-highest trafficking rate in the nation. The average age of people sold into the trafficking trade is 12-14.
One provision in the Florida law removes the statute of limitations to allow prosecution for certain human trafficking offenses at any time.
“Human trafficking is the modern form of slavery and a heartbreaking reality of our time,” stated Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala. “Gov. Scott and the legislature are making clear we will not sit by and allow this abuse of our most vulnerable.”
In Ohio, a new law is intended to reduce occurrences of trafficking. Penalties for soliciting minors for sex will become a felony crime rather than a misdemeanor. Other rule changes include prohibiting sex-for-hire advertisements depicting a minor and extending the statute of limitations on related crimes.
Kylla Leeburg, deputy director of Truckers Against Trafficking, a nonprofit organization that educates trucking and travel plaza industry members on domestic sex trafficking, has said that truckers and others can play an important role in combating sex trafficking.
She said anyone who suspects human trafficking is taking place can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-373-7888 and report what they know.
New Territory teen helps create app to fight human trafficking
by Zach Haverkamp
Like many of today's youth, Sartartia Middle School student Mikey Martell began using technology at an age that would have been considered surprisingly young just a generation ago. The New Territory 13-year-old furthered his age group's reputation for technological proficiency at the Essence Festival's #YesWeCode hack-a-thon in New Orleans, where he and two other teens created an award-winning app designed to combat human trafficking.
Martell said he's used computers since the 1st or 2nd grade, but first began coding while working on a 5th grade science project. Though his interest has gone up and down in the field, he said he's stuck with the activity ever since.
“Mainly it was something I do to keep from being bored,” Martell said, “but I recently started getting back into it.”
Martell was a junior developer of the Sex Trafficking Operations Prevention (STOP) app, an idea pitched by a girl who had travelled to the hack-a-thon via car all the way from New York to be in New Orleans over the July 4 weekend.
The STOP app's primary feature is a button in the middle screen that, when pressed, immediately dials the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Polaris Project hotline.
Martell explained the app's two other main functions: “With the ‘I am a Witness' button, you can fill out a form with your name, or you can remain anonymous. Then, you write what you saw and a description of the person doing the trafficking or a description of the person being trafficked. And you can take a picture, or upload a picture from your gallery. And the information tap is a button that lets you see information on sex trafficking and what it is.”
Martell's mother Laquitta DeMerchant, herself the owner of a tech-startup, was a mentor on her son's team at #YesWeCode, an event launched by former White House Council on Environmental Quality advisor Van Jones and Qeyno Labs to nurture an interest in coding among “high potential, low opportunity” youth. DeMerchant said the goal for each of the 15 teams at the event was provide real-world experience to the teen developers.
“We didn't break anything down into laymen's terms,” DeMerchant said. “We talked with them like we're in a corporate setting, and we let them get their hands on it. So they participated in designing and creating their logos, gathering and validating their requirements, the development effort and the quality engineering effort.”
At the culmination of #YesWeCode, the app created by Martell and Team STOP won the top award in both the “Global Impact” and “Greatest Impact for Women' categories. Martell personally won $7,500 in cash and software to continue his development efforts.
“[Winning] was pretty big, because there were so many people there,” Martell said, “and there was some really big competition.”
Even with such an honor, Martell – a Gifted and Talented student who enjoys basketball, baseball and track in addition to his technical pursuits – said his friends aren't even really aware of his hand in creating the app. His #YesWeCode teammates haven't discussed in detail what will next happen with their creation, but the ultimate plan is to make it available to the wider public through the App Store.
“I wanted him to participate and see other children that looked like him,” DeMerchant said, “to see what they were doing and for him to start competing, because I competed in a national competition with my company and I wanted him to enjoy that excitement. He really enjoyed it. He liked meeting people and learning about the process.”
Child Exploitation/Operation Predator
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Each year, countless children around the world fall prey to sexual predators. These young victims are left with permanent psychological, physical, and emotional scars. When a recording of that sexual abuse is made or released onto the Internet, it lives on forever. It haunts the children depicted in it, who live daily with the knowledge that countless strangers use an image of their worst experiences for their own gratification.
Seeking to end this criminal activity and protect children worldwide, HSI developed Operation Predator, an international initiative to identify, investigate and arrest child predators who:
Possess, trade and produce child pornography
Travel overseas for sex with minors; and
Engage in the sex trafficking of children.
HSI is a worldwide leader in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children. Prior to the creation of the agency in 2003, legacy U.S. Customs special agents investigated the disbursement of illegal child pornography that was often sent by mail or purchased overseas. With the advent of the Internet, the sharing and trading of child pornography now primarily occurs online. In addition to the legacy expertise, HSI special agents also have the authority to investigate the illegal movement of people and goods across U.S. borders, and because the Internet is borderless, the sharing of contraband online is an international crime. An image on the Web of a child being sexually abused can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world. Operation Predator draws on the agency's unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children. And, with 200 U.S. offices and more than 70 offices overseas, HSI has the ability to follow a case – to rescue a victim or arrest a predator – wherever in the world it may lead.
Collaborating with law enforcement partners around the country and the world, Operation Predator brings together an array of resources to target these child predators. As part of the effort:
HSI participates on all 61 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces across the United States, which are led by state and local law enforcement agencies.
HSI established a National Victim Identification Program at its Cyber Crimes Center, combining the latest technology with traditional investigative techniques to rescue child victims of sexual exploitation.
HSI is the U.S. representative to the Interpol working group that locates new child sexual abuse material on the Internet and refers cases to the country that the abuse is believed to be occurring in for further investigation. Also, HSI special agents stationed internationally work with foreign governments, Interpol and others to enhance coordination and cooperation on crimes that cross borders.
HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and other federal agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, joining law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations and private sector partners around the world to fight child exploitation information and images that travel over the Internet.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around-the-clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may also be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com
You can help by reporting suspected abuse or by providing tips regarding fugitives and unknown suspects .
Operation Predator smartphone app
ICE has created a smartphone app – the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement – designed to seek the public's help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators.
Learn more .
Predators Face Severe Penalties
Several laws increase the probability that sexual predators who harm children will suffer severe consequences, including the Mann Act, the 1994 Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Act, the 2003 Protect Act and the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. Federal law bars U.S. residents from engaging in sexual or pornographic activities anywhere in the world with a child under 18. ICE works with law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups around the globe to investigate crimes of this nature. Those convicted in the United States face significant penalties:
Up to 30 years in prison for possession, manufacture, distribution of child pornography
Up to 30 years in prison for traveling child sex offender, facilitator of sex with children, or a participant in these crimes
Up to a life sentence for sex trafficking children for prostitution
About the Virtual Global Taskforce
The Virtual Global Taskforce is made up of law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations and private sector partners from around the world working together to fight child sexual abuse online. The taskforce aims to build an effective, international partnership of law enforcement agencies that helps to protect children from online child sexual abuse.
The Virtual Global Taskforce strives to make the Internet a safer place, identify, locate and help children at risk and hold perpetrators accountable.
Additional information, resources and reporting information are available at www.virtualglobaltaskforce.com
Stopping The Trade
by Jonathan Van Dyke
In the spring of 2012, a Long Beach 16-year-old stepped out on the street, her first attempt at trying her hand at becoming a prostitute. She was arrested almost immediately.
In this particular case, that would be the last time either of those situations happened, much to the relief of the police officers and detectives who worked her case.
It is not always this way, Long Beach Police Department officials said, but there has been a spike in good stories amongst the horror show that is the human sex trafficking trade in the city, county, state and country.
In March 2012, the LBPD Juvenile Investigations Section conducted a follow-up investigation in regards to a female juvenile (the 16-year-old) who was reported missing. Eventually, it was found out she was arrested the very first day she went out on the streets to prostitute, said Satwan Johnson, detective in the LBPD Juvenile Investigations Section's Missing Persons Detail.
“Once we realized what we had, we geared it toward a human trafficking case,” he said.
Talking to the 16-year-old, it was revealed that there was a second victim who was the same age. They both were under the same pimp. A conversation with that second victim led detectives to a third victim, who had been with the three girls' pimp since she was 14. Her story was the darkest, Johnson said. The third girl had tried to get out, but was essentially sold back to the pimp by her own mother.
The third girl, when she was 16, began a sexual relationship with the pimp. The pimp was known as Suawvey (i.e. suave). She began turning tricks on the street for him and she became pregnant. Suawvey beat her so brutally, officials said, that she miscarried.
As police talked to the three survivors, they continued the investigation forward. A search warrant was issued for the residence of James Junior Conley, 37, of Compton — the aforementioned Suawvey. When they arrived at the house in June 2012, he was not home, but officers collected a bunch of evidence connected to sex trafficking including:
• Videos that showed training on how to become a pimp.
• Photographs of the first victim and others.
• A lot of jewelry bought “through the fruits of her labor,” Johnson said.
On June 22, 2012, officers arrested Conley while he was “supervising” a prostitute. The investigation determined he was part of a multimillion-dollar pimping operation that controlled a prostitution track (geographical area) along Long Beach Boulevard from Victoria Avenue into Compton.
“There are a number of hotels along Long Beach Boulevard starting at Victoria and going toward Compton,” Johnson said. “And along there are several hotels commonly used by pimps.”
Conley was arrested for crimes occurring during a three-year period involving the three female juveniles at ages 15-17.
Two years later, on April 17, 2014, jurors took less than a day to find him guilty of three counts of pandering by procuring a minor over age 16; three counts of lewd acts upon a child; one count of pimping a minor under age 16; one count of pimping a minor over age 16; and one count of human trafficking of a child. The jury also found true a special allegation that the defendant was previously convicted of intent to commit rape in 2001.
At the beginning of June, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Tomson Ong sentenced Conley to 36 years and six months in state prison.
Johnson said he has kept up a little with the three victims since they first helped make this case happen.
“(The first victim is) going to work and going to school and doing really well,” he said. “The second girl is staying out of trouble. And the third girl is doing very well — with two jobs and a place (to live). This is actually one of the biggest success stories that we've had, with these young girls not going back to that life.”
This is a major goal of the Long Beach Police Department as a whole, Vice Lt. Dan Pratt said, weeks before this most recent sentencing news. It hasn't always been this way.
“We would go out and arrest as many (prostitutes) as possible to make the point to them that they are not welcome in this neighborhood,” he said of vice stings. “They would go to jail. That would kind of be the end of it — the end of our investigation — years ago.”
Prostitution is a misdemeanor crime. Most of the girls were serving less than six months in jail.
“Oftentimes it was the weekend in jail and probation, and to this day, it isn't that much,” Pratt said. “We only thought of it (back then) as — girls will work for their pimp, and they wouldn't roll over on their boss, or give up their boss.”
Slowly, that thinking has changed, he said.
“They are not prostitutes who have chosen this as a trade,” he said. “As a whole, it's been changing the last 10 years, and it's just gone more into the light now. People are talking about it more. Survivors are telling their stories. Police officers are beginning to understand.
“We weren't looking at them as victims before. We looked at them as girls who have chosen that lifestyle. Now, we are realizing these girls are forced into the lifestyle and they are victims. They're not suspects.”
The tools have changed, which has helped immensely to keep track of everything, Pratt said. Just a few years ago, the state penal code rules were overhauled and upgraded, which pertain directly to human sex trafficking.
“That became a bigger crime,” he said. “It carries more weight than pimping and pandering.”
Pimping and pandering was just a low-level felony. Human trafficking with enhancements (gang involvement, sexual crimes) — “Now you are starting to get into some serious crime,” he added
Today, the James Junior Conleys of the world can receive 15 years-to-life. Some cases go federal with a minimum of 15 years, which also has helped in the fight, Pratt said, with many cases receiving U.S. Homeland Security support, especially for pimps traveling across state borders.
“Once we paired with them, that really gave us some teeth,” Pratt said.
The department is tracking this type of crime more closely. In 2012, when it came to human sex trafficking, the LBPD only was able to say there were four arrests. In 2013, they investigated 12 human trafficking cases, made 14 arrests and rescued 19 minors.
This year, the awareness and concentration has paid off further. Through June 18, the department already has almost equaled last year's numbers in their entirety: 16 cases, 14 arrests and 16 minors taken off the streets.
“This year, literally, we are focusing a lot more efforts on human trafficking than we ever have in the history of the department,” Pratt said. “That's why you see the numbers spike. There's going to be a point where it has to plateau.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who has been a very outspoken advocate against human sex trafficking, lauded the LBPD earlier this year, after a 15-year-old victim was rescued in a different case.
“Sex trafficking is a horrific and cowardly industry thriving in communities across the county, and fortunately, Long Beach has been an incredible partner in our efforts to crack down on it,” he said.
Pratt said he and his peers hope to continue to show better numbers as awareness and training meet the oncoming problem.
“We're getting better at getting through to (survivors) and getting their trust,” Pratt said, noting that leads to more pimp arrests. “Once we gain that trust and get them to understand we are there to help, then maybe we can be the people to get through and tell them what is really going on.
“Every victim that comes in, we learn more about the operation and how to investigate them. With each bit of learning that we've gotten, we've been able to take more people off the street. We have to be able to convince them that we can help.”
PART II: Psychological Warfare Propels Human Sex Trafficking World
“Of all the horrible things that happened to them, the McDonald's at the end of the day makes it okay, it makes it bearable,” Long Beach Police Department Vice Lt. Dan Pratt said. “That might be bizarre to you and me.”
It's everyday life for many of the young women Pratt said he and fellow officers run into in the human sex trafficking trade, problems the department and the community at large are starting to get a better handle on.
These are victims who can be so lost in the trade, that they have tattoos signifying pimp and trafficker ownership on the inside of their lips. It is not uncommon for the pimp or trafficker to impregnate the girl victims to further bind them. Pratt said the national starting average for victims is 12, and many times they aren't found until 17 or 18.
Can there be a true human bond through traumatic experience? D'Lita Miller, founder of Families Against Sex Trafficking (FAST), says definitively “yes,” if you can call it that. Recently, a young woman who had just extricated herself from sex trafficking was asked at FAST to map out her future.
“Go ahead, draw what you see for your future,” Miller said to her.
When the youngster turned in her rehab assignment, Miller said she wished she was shocked at the results — the picture came back with the girl's sex trafficker right there in the middle of it all.
“Especially when there is a trafficker involved, there is this sense a lot like domestic violence,” Miller said. “There is lots of mind control.”
Pratt said one of the difficulties of arresting and then prosecuting the traffickers and pimps, is getting their victims' trust in the first place.
“The brainwashing that has been done is unbelievable — this psychological warfare the pimps have done with these girls,” he said. “That's why they like the younger ones.”
ANOTHER WORLD WITHIN OUR WORLD
There is no perfect breakdown of demographics for who gets caught up in human sex trafficking, various experts and officials said, but there are some commonalities. It is still majority women, although there are plenty of men (about 20%), too. Jennifer (name changed to protect her identity) of support group CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking) LA works that group's hotlines and gets a variety of calls.
“People envision one type of person, but it really isn't just one face,” she said. “It's all ages and races and there is some misconception that there are no men.”
Pratt said he has seen many survivors come from broken homes — maybe they were being bothered sexually or otherwise, not getting enough love or their parents work two jobs and are non-existent. These situations lead to opportunities for pimps.
“Every time he offers to take her somewhere, she thinks anywhere but here is great,” Pratt said. “These guys are so good. The girls will either convince themselves this is what I have to do to keep him happy, or they are too scared to leave.”
Police refer primarily to two types of traffickers or pimps. Gorilla pimps demand a certain amount of money, and if the prostitute does not make the quota, she might get beaten or he will withhold basic amenities like food and clothing.
Romeo pimps will treat the prostitute more like a girlfriend upfront (Pratt said Vice sees more of this) and the relationship often will start like boyfriend and girlfriend, before again turning intense and possibly violent. There is a honeymoon period where the pimp will buy the young victim dinner, clothes, cellphones and jewelry — then eventually he might take her to a hotel room. It might look like a party setting, but that's when things get flipped into prostitution territory.
Pratt said psychological warfare is the PhD for the pimp, and he takes advantage of difficult situations the prostitute has come from — very dire situations indeed.
When Miller was 11, she said she essentially was held hostage by a gang and beaten and raped by multiple members.
“That kind of began what I consider the grooming process for my life,” she said. “By the age of 14, I was pregnant with my first child.”
She said she was not necessarily coerced into prostitution, but by 18 she didn't see another way. She has five children now, but about 10 years ago she shed the life, got an education and worked as a paralegal. Eventually she started advocating and helping against the human sex trafficking industry, which is what FAST does for families.
“It was really education that helped me get out of that life,” Miller said. “Even at 30, I still had a chance.”
But the stigma and culture are hard to break, and Miller said her second youngest daughter got caught in something sinister herself. First, at 13, the daughter was taken to a hotel room where a gang member trafficker was running the show.
“She was only with the trafficker for about 48 hours, but he was convicted for more than 30 years,” Miller said.
The second time, was much harder and falls into the stories Miller deals with at her nonprofit every day — a Romeo pimp got to the same daughter. Miller said she remembers the day it could have been different.
Miller and her daughter were at a beauty supply store, and Miller said she was too busy and coarse with her daughter, dismissing her and ignoring her.
“She said, ‘Mom you weren't available,'” Miller said, of the two recalling the incident much later. “She said, ‘First your delivery was wack and then you pissed me off in front of this guy, and I kind of wanted to get you back.'”
That “guy” would be the daughter's next pimp. They hadn't seen him before, but he was lurking in the store, and when Miller left, he approached the daughter with a wad of money, and a promise to the daughter that she wouldn't have to deal with Miller's apparent apathy.
“If I could get that day all over again, I would not have yelled at her,” Miller said. “This is the thing, traffickers are always watching.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Rachel Thomas of Sowers Education Group, said she was tricked into prostitution as a 20-year-old going to Emory University in Atlanta.
“Basically, I'm from a wonderful two-parent home,” she said. “I've found my story isn't expressed as much. My job now is to spread the message that there is no one exempt.”
Indeed, Thomas was approached by a seemingly genuine man with a genuine offer to a modeling career. He paid for her first modeling gig, got her a photo shoot, and then a legitimate music video and by the third week she had signed papers — giving away a lot of personal information. By the fifth week, however, she saw a violent side to things — and then she was stuck.
“That scared me to death,” Thomas said of the first time the man beat a fellow model. “I'd never seen that type of abuse unless it was on a Lifetime movie special.”
When she tried to get out, he told her he'd kill her or have her parents killed (their address was given during the contract negotiations). All the other models who had made him seem legit actually were being pimped out. He was a CEO Pimp, Thomas said.
“He would remain abusive whenever I tried to resist, but he also was working as an agent and getting me modeling gigs and working under the guise of a business,” she said.
Thomas was under his control for 10 months before police reached another prostitute, who then had them reach out to her. The “agent” had taken girls across state lines so the federal agencies were involved. Thomas did some undercover work and testified against him. More than 75 victims were interviewed to build the case, and he pled out to 15 years.
MAKING HERE HOSPITABLE
Now in Long Beach, Thomas said she witnesses all sorts of stories through her nonprofit, and said she knows she was fairly lucky, even though her story is tragic.
“I can't even imagine what today's (victims) are going through,” she said. “Mine wasn't good, today it's heartbreaking.”
Thomas said there are too many stories of sadness to recount, with broken homes and desperation always lurking around the corner.
“I wish the term child prostitute, juvenile prostitute, any phrase with a person under 18 and prostitute, that needs to be banned,” she said. “Legally it makes no sense, you can't consent until 18. And ethically and morally it makes no sense. I don't believe any 12-year-old says, ‘I really want to be a prostitute and sell my body for sex.'”
LBPD officials said the trade is getting more sophisticated, but there are still specific places that are notorious for prostitution, like on parts of Pacific Coast Highway, Anaheim Street or Long Beach Boulevard from Victoria Street north into Compton. Pimps call them tracks.
Online sites like Craigslist, MyRedBook and Backpages have emerged over time.
Pimps have their own profiles. Names surface on the streets like Suawvey or Bash Millions. They're ages 18 to mid-20s mostly, officials said, and often gang affiliated. The industry can get brazen, and there are awards for the Pimp of the Year.
Pratt said higher paying clientele might give $200 to $300 for a prostitute. The “best” prostitutes can bring in $2,000 a day.
Pratt said mostly nobody works alone — the girls work for a pimp who is under the greater organizational umbrella of a gang or organized crime (as many as 75% might be tied to gangs).
There is a culture of abuse, Miller said, in many people and particularly from her vantage point in the African American and Latin America cultures.
“Being with a pimp is even glorified,” she said. “Coming out of Long Beach, the majority of their (her children's) friends are on meth and in the life. If you are not doing it, something is wrong with you.”
Just recently, her daughter (who got out and is now getting an education), showed her a spat on Facebook with four or five young women affiliated with Wilson High School arguing over a pimp (“That's my Daddy, I was his ho first.”)
Traffickers will find new and interesting ways to recruit, Miller said, and they are always hanging out in the right place. She has received multiple calls of pimps loitering at food stamp offices. She has been tearing down blatant posters on light poles (Some read: “Got a big butt? Wanna make some extra cash? Want your hair and nails done? Want some weed? Call this number”).
“They had the audacity to laminate it,” she said.
“We get calls daily about girls who are being encountered by law enforcement,” Jennifer said. “That's not to mention the ones being hidden underground, or who don't see themselves as victims. It's such a hidden crime that we only see the tip of the iceberg.”
And so in the last few years a movement has truly been born, and it is victims like Miller and Thomas who are leading the way. They want to make a difference.
“Victims, when they embrace their survivorhood, are the most awesome and brilliant people who have so much to offer the anti-trafficking movement and so much to offer the world,” Thomas said. “It's going to take a whole community to really make a difference.”
PART III: Officialdom, Volunteer Groups Mobilize To Stop Trade
On a hot summer morning the Thursday before the Fourth of July, a group of more than 60 people convened in the basement of First Lutheran Church. Holiday weekend or not, this group of diverse community members was ready to discuss the topic at hand.
The Long Beach Human Trafficking Task Force (LBHTTF) formed in January 2012. The group meets from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at First Lutheran Church, 905 Atlantic Ave. At its beginning, groups like Junior League of Long Beach and Kingdom Causes came together to combat human sex trafficking.
“We found quickly that there were plenty of people in the community doing great work,” Virginia Zart, LBHTTF co-founder, said. “So we thought, ‘Why don't we all come together and see who is doing what?'”
Today, the task force includes representatives from City Council offices, health groups, mental health groups, shelters, church groups, law enforcement agencies, attorney's offices and trauma centers.
“We were floored that many people were working on the issue,” Zart said. “The best way to get to our goal was doing it collaboratively.”
Last Thursday's meeting included some introductory words from several members, before the group split into subcommittees that focus on prevention, prosecution, protection and an introduction to the topic for new visitors. One group debated where the issue was heading from the perspective of the law; another was fervently working toward a Long Beach Unified School District awareness event slated for next January; and yet another meeting upstairs in the church area discussed available shelter options. The enthusiasm in the building resonated throughout.
GETTING SOME ATTENTION
Community engagement goes a long way, but officials from many agencies admitted that institutionally there needs to be more strides taken.
“I, like so many people, thought it was only in Third World countries and not here in our own backyard,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe said. “It's probably one of the most horrific issues I've ever dealt with in my political career.”
Knabe said he was made aware of the issue in detail about three years ago, and since then he has been one of the most vocal elected officials in the country about it — including testifying before a congressional committee. Locally, he added, a key so far has been in the courtroom.
“(Human trafficking victims) would come into the courtroom, the judge would slap the wrist and let them go,” he said. “The scumbag pimp is just waiting out there in the parking lot.”
Working with two probation officers, Knabe helped secure $1 million in federal grant money, which was used to start the revolutionary STAR Court.
“We wanted to put (survivors) in a situation with all these services available to them,” Knabe said.
The STAR Court has judges who don't rotate out of it, so they maintain intimate knowledge and training on the topic. STAR Court is for children 17 and younger as a diversion program specifically for child sex trafficking situations.
The court includes representation from the Los Angeles County Public Defender, Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Department of Public Health — along with mental health and housing organizations. Each new victim has a former human sex trafficking survivor there to help them along the way.
“We have all the wrap-around services right there,” Knabe said.
Knabe's office also has worked with Metrolink and billboard companies to put anti-trafficking campaigns front and center around the county. He has lobbied for harsher laws that penalize traffickers and the Johns who pay for sex with the girls.
“As we learn more in training and from survivors, that helps with the laws,” he said. “You can't put this in the same category as three strikes or the same as armed robbery or burglary — it's totally different. This is a human life that is just being destroyed.”
Prostitution is a misdemeanor. If the victims are 18 or older, the cases come to City Prosecutor Doug Haubert's office, where training in the new ways of looking at prostitution cases has become even more important.
The laws get much trickier when involving someone 18 or older, because those people are considered adults in the eyes of the law.
“We screen cases and try to identify some of the indicators that may suggest there is human trafficking involved,” Haubert said, adding that they have a victim advocate who follows up on certain cases.
“We don't have any tools and laws to help us identify these cases,” Haubert said. “It' s up to our office to keep an eye out when their status is not juvenile, it's really on us.”
The trick is training and recognition, officials said, because there are still plenty of victims who started young and never got out before turning 18.
HERE TO HELP
LA CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking) operates as the largest direct service provider for human trafficking victims (sex and work). Organized 15 years ago, the nonprofit's mission is to directly work with survivors and work for systematic change against human trafficking.
Jennifer (name changed for safety reasons) manages the CAST 24-hour hotline as an emergency response coordinator. The hotline receives referrals, often from proactive law enforcement agencies like the Long Beach Police Department.
From there, victims meet with Jennifer and someone from CAST's legal team to talk about the services provided (everything from grocery shopping, legal aid, housing placement and clinic referrals).
“The goal of the program is to give the skills needed to be self sufficient,” Jennifer said. “We don't try and put a lot of pressure on them to accept services. We want to do everything on their own timing.”
Other early adopter nonprofits that have been on the forefront of the issue, officials said, include The Mary Magdalene Project and Saving Innocence.
More and more survivors are coming out in public to tell their stories, often starting their own groups and nonprofits to help in the fight.
D'Lita Miller, founder of Families Against Sex Trafficking, is one such case. She survived her own roots in prostitution and then dealt with a daughter getting entangled in the human sex trafficking trade.
“There wasn't really a lot of support for the family, is what we found,” she said of the reason for founding her own nonprofit. “From the experiences we went through, I saw the advocacy families specifically needed.”
Representing survivor-story diversity is key, too, said Rachel Thomas, founder of Sowers Education Group.
Thomas didn't become entrapped in human sex trafficking until she was 20, when a supposed modeling talent agent tricked her. She said it was important to her that this story was represented, and she still shares commonalities with all the young women she meets.
Sowers have made presentations to more than 5,000 students at Poly High School and Thomas has developed an intervention curriculum being taught to other survivors.
“We're telling people signs to look out for, what human trafficking is and how to be safe,” Thomas said. “I think the most successful organizations and initiatives are the ones that are survivor-informed.”
Human sex trafficking, particularly regarding children, is a topic catching on at many different levels.
“The approach is a victim center approach now, as we recognize them as victims that are caught up in the vicious cycle of abuse — something that is not easy to get out of,” said Victor Rodriguez, assistant head deputy of sex crimes at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. “There even needs to be the understanding that they might not initially want the services, or it could take several attempts to recognize they are victims and that they need to get away from traffickers.”
LBPD Vice Lt. Dan Pratt said it is good to see more places opening up to house survivors, along with more political will and money being invested into combatting human sex trafficking.
“We have to do more training and the survivors are a key element to all of this,” Knabe said. “I think this has to really be elevated as a national issue.”
Miller said she was optimistic about the future, even if there was still a lot of work to do.
“We have a ways to go, but the fact that we are looking at this differently and law enforcement and school districts are being trained now — it's good to see that the language is being changed,” she said.
Victims looking for immediate services are encouraged to call 9-1-1 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, which will connect them to resources, including local groups. A roundup of many of the Southern California groups can be found at www.socalhumantraffickingevents.info. Email the Long Beach task force at LBHTTF@gmail.com
State Approves New System for Union Co. DSS Following Child Abuse Case
by Litsa Pappas
UNION COUNTY -- The Union County Department of Social Services has a new system in place, now approved by the state.
Those changes became a priority following a child abuse case last November when a DSS supervisor was charged.
County commissioners say that child abuse case in November shocked everyone, but they say now they're turning that incident into something good by creating a model DSS system for the state
.“This information that came out in November, it truly rocked the country,” said commissioner Jonathan Thomas.
It was a child abuse case that rocked more than just Union County, now making a difference for child welfare.
The Union County Human Services Department presented county commissioners their new and improved program approved by the state Monday night.
“Now we have stability so people can know what's expected of them and so we can have a consistent approach to doing things,” said Human Services Director Richard Matens
Matens says their improvements intensified last November after DSS Supervisor Wanda Sue Larson was charged with child abuse in her own home.
Police say an 11-year-old boy was found tied to the front porch with a dead chicken around his neck, along with other injuries.
“If anything good can happen from this horrific event that happened in November, it's now that we're one of the model programs for child welfare in the state,” said Matens.
Matens says they've been working with the state every month to improve their DSS program. So far they've added staff including an outside position to monitor all supervisors, plus new technology to record all updates from every foster care visit instantly.
“It's an efficient, much higher quality way of doing things,” said Matens.
Earlier this year, the Union County commissioners took control over the Human Services and DSS departments to have more transparency between those boards and the county.
Now the commissioners are involved in all major changes in DSS.
Why is child abuse suddenly in the spotlight in Britain?
Two government inquiries of decades-old abuses by powerful individuals are under way – spurred by the confluence of a high-profile case, police investigations, and media scrutiny.
by Mian Ridge
London — This is normally a languid time of year in Westminster, with Parliament winding down for the long summer holiday. But this season, it has been anything but.
Last week saw the British government announce a pair of historic inquiries into allegations of sexual abuse of children by politicians and other figures in high authority. The inquiries, which follow a string of celebrity child abuse scandals that has dominated British headlines, point to a dramatic change here, in which many hundreds of victims of abuse by the well connected and powerful are coming forward to report decades-old crimes.
In some ways, it seems surprising that this reckoning has taken so long. But it has taken the confluence of a high-profile case, police investigations, and the media's pursuit of a good story to create the storm that is now brewing in Westminster.
Recommended: Keep calm and answer on: Take our United Kingdom quiz.
“It's a sea change really,” says John Bird, who himself was abused as a child and now works for the National Association for People Abused in Childhood [NAPAC], which runs a telephone helpline for victims. “I never thought I would see it happening in my lifetime.”
Observers believe that the Westminster rumors, which have been quietly simmering for several years, have only bubbled to the surface now because of a string of celebrity convictions for sexual abuse.
“Every time there's one of these cases, the volume of our calls [on the NAPAC helpline] goes right up,” says Mr. Bird. “People have been given the impression that they will be taken seriously and that there could be some justice for them.”
Earlier this month, entertainer and television presenter Rolf Harris was found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault. His adds to a litany of cases of abuse of girls and women by male celebrities, including television presenter Stuart Hall and publicist Max Clifford, who were also jailed this year.
But the real force for change came from the posthumous exposure of television presenter Jimmy Saville. Since his death in in 2011, hundreds of people, many of them children, have reported abuse at his hands, and new victims continue to come forward.
His dramatic unmasking seems to have created a climate in which victims of other celebrities have felt able to report their abuse – often decades after it took place – in the new hope that they will be taken seriously.
And the response by the police, which has set up several inquiries to encourage the victims of abuse to report crimes, has encouraged this. Many of the victims of Harris, Clifford, and Hall reported their crimes as a result of the unmasking of Saville.
The media have of course played a central role in bringing these cases to light and empowering victims to speak up.
But when it comes to the Westminster reports, the media's role has been particularly crucial. It may not be coincidence that the story really took off as the trial of tabloid journalists for phone hacking finished. Some media commentators see the many lurid headlines involving the words “Westminster” and “pedophile” as efforts by the press – in some cases conscious, in others less so – to show the government that it cannot be shackled.
Respected child protection campaigners have said that at least 10 and possibly more than 20 public figures, including current and former politicians, should be investigated over allegations they abused young children.
“The same names come up again and again,” says Mr. Bird, referring to the helpline run by NAPAC. “I warn some of the politicians who have called for inquiries that they are across political parties.”
The long-rumored claims are not yet supported by published evidence. But the renewed speculation, combined with the rash of celebrity abuse cases, has spurred the two government inquiries announced last week by Home Secretary Theresa May.
One of the inquiries will look into reports that in the 1980s, dozens of documents relating to the systematic sexual abuse of children by people in positions of great authority, including parliamentarians, somehow disappeared from the Home Office. The other, larger inquiry will look into how child sex abuse has been handled at the country's most important institutions: the police, churches, the health service, and political parties.
The first inquiry into the missing documents is expected to take up to 10 weeks. The second will not report back until after Britain's general election, which takes place in May 2015.
A cautious note
People working in child protection express caution about what either inquiry and the many debates devoted to famous child abusers will achieve. Most child abuse, they say, takes part in everyday domestic settings. Most abused children are assaulted by people known to them. Around 30 percent of perpetrators are thought to be members of their victims' immediate family.
Bird says that while abuse by the powerful is merely the tip of an awful iceberg, its exposure is helpful if it encourages victims past and present to report crimes.
“It's all moving in the right direction,” he says. “The calls to our helpline go up every time there's a famous case, but most of the victims on the phone have been abused by people no one has heard of.”
State-owned colleges adopt strong child abuse policy
It is difficult to find any good that came from the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.
The reputations of a great university and its legendary football coach were damaged. The political career of our governor hit an iceberg of Titanic proportions.
And the victims' tales of terrible abuse -- and the years of having to live with the pain it caused -- were heartbreaking, especially when you consider that some of them had been abused after authorities were (or should have been) alerted to Mr. Sandusky's predatory tendencies.
But at least the Sandusky case has increased public awareness of child sexual abuse. And the scandal has led to changes aimed at making sure a monster like Mr. Sandusky is no longer allowed to prowl university campuses with impunity.
Penn State has adopted a number of changes in its policies on reporting child abuse and screening employees. The university now mandates annual training on reporting child abuse for all of its employees. Any employee who fails to report child abuse faces strict disciplinary action. Employees, contractors and students who have direct contact with minors on campus must pass a criminal background check, in addition to the mandated training.
And last week, Pennsylvania's state-owned universities have adopted a similar policy for the system's 14 schools. The policy will go into effect in January, but mandatory training is expected to begin before then, the Associated Press reported. (Penn State is considered a “state-related” university and is not part of the state-owned system, which includes, among others, Bloomsburg, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.)
The state-owned universities will require training in first-aid and the detection and reporting of child abuse, the AP reported. The policy also extends mandatory reporter status to all employees, contractors and volunteers.
And crucially, the new policy will require employees to report suspected abuse to both the state Department of Public Welfare and to a designated person at the university -- the double notification acting as a fail safe to avoid the Sandusky situation where Penn State officials are accused of essentially covering up the crimes.
The new policies also bring the state-owned universities into line with changes in the law, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett in April. The changes expanded the definition of those mandated to report abuse, increased penalties for those who fail to report abuse and empowered the state's licensing board to make child abuse training a requirement for mandatory reporters.
All of these changes should be effective tools in preventing and reporting child abuse. They are specific and address holes in university policies and the law that permitted a predator to have free rein. And they avoid the human tendency to overreact in the wake of tragic circumstances.
The changes are long-overdue and come too late for Mr. Sandusky's victims.
But if they help prevent another monster from destroying children's lives, it will be some small measure of good that has come from this horror.
Reporting suspected child abuse could save a life
by Jasmine Norwood
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A four month old child died and her father has been charged with neglect of a dependent causing a death. Child advocates say there are red flags you can look for to help identify children who may need help.
"In the case of a baby, the baby can't say what it is that's happened to them. In the case of an older child, the child may be too terrified to tell mom what's going on," said Linda Baechle, the CEO of the YWCA of North Central Indiana.
Baechle has dedicated her life to protecting abused women and children.
"If we are suspecting that there is a child abuse going on, it's our responsibility to make sure that that's reported," said Baechle.
Baechle says most of the time, children are abused by someone close to them.
"Most frequently the person who is abusing the child is a family member. Two thirds to three quarters of the cases the perpetrator is a male, typically the father or perhaps the mother's boyfriend," said Baechle.
She says not all injuries are external and it can be hard to tell if a child is being abused, especially when it comes to babies.
"This child cannot speak for themselves," said Baechle.
But there are signs to look for-
"Changes in the child's behavior, unexplained bruises or injuries, loss of appetite, sometimes things like vomiting can be a sign of injuries," said Baechle.
Baechle says if you see something, say something.
"Don't be on the fence about whether or not you should be in someone's business when we are talking about protecting a child. It's your responsibility to do everything you can to make sure you report it," said Baechle.
She says reporting suspected abuse could save a child's life.
It could take more than one visit from social workers to identify an abusive living situation, so don't hesitate to call more than once, said Baechle.
Child Abuse, Neglect Cases Skyrocketing in Waco Area
(WACO, TX) — The Waco area is reporting skyrocketing numbers of child abuse and neglect allegations, and some experts say the problem appears to be related to methamphetamine use.
Records for McLennan County show more than 230 children were removed from their homes between October and May.
That's already more cases than were seen by Child Protective Services there in all of fiscal year 2013.
Reportedly, two newborns taken into CPS custody last week tested positive for meth.
Cyber child abuse Some parents are too connected to parent
by Bill Fletcher, Jr.
I was strolling down a very busy Broadway in New York City a couple of weeks ago. It was a very nice Saturday and it seemed like everyone was out walking and shopping. In front of me were a woman and her very young child (maybe 3 or 4 years old).
The woman was completely entranced by her cellphone. She was texting away. Her daughter was walking a few steps behind her and was meandering around.
My wife and I found this very unsettling. So, too, did two young men who were approaching us. They looked at each other and got ready to say something to the young mother. My wife beat them to the punch, telling the woman that she needed to pay attention to her child because someone could simply grab the child since the mother appeared completely oblivious to the surroundings. The mother grunted – there is no other way to describe it – and yelled to her child to stay with her.
As we crossed the street I looked behind me and noticed that, while the daughter was closer to her mother, the mother was back at texting.
This all reminded me of an episode from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where members of the crew discover this toy that completely captivates them to the point that they can do nothing but play with it.
On another recent day, I saw a mother and her child walking to school with the mother texting away, ignoring the child altogether. Let me be clear: I use my cell phone regularly, but what I am seeing is not simply the usage of cellphones. Rather, it is the cell replacing real human contact. It is the cell as a narcotic.
The woman in NYC had completely lost focus. Her child could have vanished in a nano-second and she would not have noticed.
Yet, there is another aspect to this. When I was a child and with my parents, my parents would talk with me. I do not mean that I was the center of every conversation, but we spoke about all sorts of things. If a parent is focused on that cell – and dollars to donuts they are not cutting deals for some hedge fund or handling major issues in their organizations – they cannot pay attention to the questions that the child might be asking or might wish to ask.
Let me put it even more directly in case I have been too subtle: what is so important in that cellphone that one feels comfortable ignoring a child?
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a racial justice, labor and global justice activist and writer. Follow him on Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com
Alwaleed Foundation launches child abuse awareness campaign
by Arab News
The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation chaired by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has launched #Albyout_Asrar child abuse awareness campaign during the holy month of Ramadan. Although child abuse is considered one of the most critical issues in today's society, only 10 percent of the cases are reported while 90 percent remain wrapped in a child's sense of shame or fear of being subjected to punishment from the perpetrator.
Much could be done at societal level to prevent child abuse and neglect including shedding light on children's rights, protects their dignity and ensures their natural growth socially, psychologically and physically. Furthermore, several international conventions and agreements are placed to ensure that children's rights are protected. The Human Rights Convention defines child abuse as “any act or neglect that subjects a child's life, safety, integrity, and health from a physical, sexual, mental, and psychological aspect to risk.”
Child abuse is a global problem that is deeply rooted in cultural, economic and social practices. In Saudi Arabia, 65 percent of the child abuse cases reported to hospitals include physical injuries such as bruises, welts, burns, scalds, lacerations and fractures.
Young children are most at risk of physical abuse.
2 charged for failing to report sex abuse claim
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Two St. Paul School District employees face a misdemeanor charge for failing to report alleged sexual abuse of a child.
Beth Behnke, 48, of Burnsville, and Craig Guidry, 52, of Arden Hills, were charged on Monday in Dakota County. Prosecutors said that Behnke and Guidry failed to report under Minnesota's mandated reporting law the alleged conduct of Walter Happel, of Newport.
The conduct was related to an incident that occurred in January 2012 and was later labeled "sexual abuse" in a March 19 report filed by a social worker with the St. Paul School District.
Happel, a former St. Paul school custodian is accused of looking under a bathroom stall at an 11-year-old boy. He faces a total of eight charges for sexually abusing children and inappropriate behavior after new victims came forward.
Dakota County Attorney Jame Backstrom said in a statement that, "mandatedreporters are required to file reports within 24 hours of their directobservations or indirect information they receive related to the neglector sexual abuse of a child. Theresponsibility to make such a report to the appropriate law enforcement agencyor social services agency is not excused by the belief a mandated reporter mayhave that such a report will be filed by someone else in the organization'shierarchy."
Backstrom said that the mandated reporting law is important to protecting the health and safety of children and needs to be followed."
35 Disney World employees arrested for sex abuse crimes since 2006
by Arturo Garcia
At least 35 employees at Disney World in Florida have been arrested for charges related to sexual abuse against children over the past eight years, including four within the past month, CNN reported on Monday.
The employees, who ranged from maintenance workers to tour guides to security guards, were arrested on charges including possession of child pornography and trying to meet a minor for sex. Thirty-two of them have already been convicted, with the other cases still pending. Over the same time period, CNN reported, two Sea World employees and five Universal Studios workers were charged with similar offenses. None of the arrests involved minors at any of the theme parks.
“The numbers reported by CNN represent one one-hundredth of one percent of the 300,000 people we have employed during this time period,” Disney said in a statement. “We continue to work closely with law enforcement and organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as we constantly strengthen our efforts.”
Universal Studios and Sea World issued separate statements touting their own background checks.
“We have zero tolerance for this kind of activity,” Universal's statement read. “We deal with situations such as this immediately and permanently.”
After being informed of CNN's findings, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) introduced a bill that would grant an exemption to the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 allowing employers to use a polygraph test on workers whose activities “would involve the care or supervision of children or regular access to children.”
“We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children,” Ross told CNN. “We owe it to our future to make sure we don't let the next predator find a victim.”
However, critics of polygraph exams have argued that they can be inconclusive, which can lead to a pre-supposition of guilt.
Nixon signs child abuse legislation
by Susan Redden
JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon last week signed a bill sponsored by state Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, to help improve the state's response in cases of child abuse and neglect.
Lant is vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. The measure was proposed as a result of hearings and investigations by the committee. Lant attended the bill signing in Springfield.
He said the bill, which passed by large margins in the House and Senate, will change several provisions and will give the Missouri Children's Division more time to complete an investigative report. Currently, investigations must be done in 30 days. The new law extends that to 45 days.
“Giving the Missouri Children's Division more time to complete a child abuse or neglect investigation is going to have a tremendous impact on the welfare of our children,” Lant said.
The joint committee was formed at his urging. He took up the cause soon after he arrived in Jefferson City based on lobbying from local teachers in the wake of the rape and murder of 9-year-old Rowan Ford of Stella in 2007.
Lant said he was pleased the governor signed the measure but expressed frustration that funding being withheld by Nixon includes a “much-needed pay increase” for workers in the Children's Division.
The governor also signed a bill proposed specifically for the Carthage School District that will allow it to perform a one-time transfer of unrestricted funds from the incidental fund to a capital projects account to allow the district to construct tornado safe rooms.
State Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, has been named a Defender of Prosperity by the Missouri chapter of Americans for Prosperity.
Emery was presented with the award at a ceremony last week at Granny Shaffer's in Joplin.
Patrick Warner, director of AFP-Missouri, called Emery “a tireless advocate for the Missouri taxpayer.”
He noted the senator had received an A grade from the group based on his ranking in a legislative report card compiled by the chapter.
The grade is based on how lawmakers voted on measures on which AFP had taken a position, including Medicaid expansion, tax reduction and the Keystone pipeline.
Ice cream, watermelon
Those who want to learn more about Republican candidates and Aug. 5 election issues should mark their calendars.
The Carthage Lincoln Ladies ice cream social will be Monday, July 21, and the Newton County watermelon feed is Thursday, July 24.
The Lincoln Ladies bill their event as an “old-fashioned Republican meet-the-candidates ice cream social and rally.”
The program will start at 6 p.m. at Carthage Memorial Hall, 407 Garrison Ave.
Republican candidates for state and county offices will speak at the event, which normally attracts big crowds.
The watermelon feed also attracts a crowd, but those on hand this year will hear from only one candidate on the ballot — Tom Schweich, the Missouri state auditor.
There will be no speeches from county candidates because there's not a single contested county race on the GOP ballot.
There will, however, be presentations on the constitutional amendments on the ballot.
The event, sponsored by the Newton County Republican Central Committee and the Republican Women of Newton County, is set for 6:30 p.m. at Big Spring Park in Neosho.
Pope Francis: ‘One in 50' Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals is a paedophile
by Adam Whithnall
Pope Francis has revealed that “reliable data” collected by the Vatican suggests that one in every 50 members of the Catholic clergy is a paedophile.
Speaking in an interview with La Repubblica, the Pope said his advisers had tried to “reassure” him that paedophilia within the Church was “at the level of two per cent”.
He pledged that he would drive away the “leprosy” of child abuse that was infecting the “house” of Catholicism.
“I find this state of affairs intolerable,” he said.
Pope Francis said his advisers at the Vatican had given him the 2 per cent estimate, which included “priests, bishops and cardinals”.
He also warned of much greater figures for people who were aware of the existence of abuse – sometimes within their own families – but who stayed silent because of corruption or fear.
His comments came a week after the Pope met with six victims of clerical paedophilia to apologise for their abuse at the hands of priests.
The meeting, with six British, Irish and German Catholics, was designed to acknowledge the gravity of the Church's guilt and complicity.
Despite Pope Francis's popularity, there has been criticism of him for failing to take a high-profile stand against the global paedophilia scandal.
His predecessor, Benedict XVI, met with victims of sexual abuse by priests, in Washington in 2008. He then met with victims in Australia, Germany, Malta and the UK.
In February and May, critical reports released by two separate UN committees condemned the Church's “code of silence” on paedophile priests. It said this silence was allowing known sex offenders to continue working with children.
Waldorf school sex abuse probe cites multiple teachers, failure to act
by Mareesa Nicosia
CHESTNUT RIDGE – Kate Christensen wasn't alone.
An investigation launched last year after the Green Meadow Waldorf School alumna accused a former teacher of molesting her alleges that he sexually assaulted her, 11 other girls and a woman during his decades-long tenure there.
The findings, revealed in a damning report by a private investigative firm hired by Green Meadow, also accuse two other teachers of sex crimes — one of possessing child porn and another of assaulting a girl on a school-sponsored trip. It says the school failed to act when complaints of teachers' alleged criminal behavior surfaced.
the case of John Alexandra, the alleged serial offender, the school's lack of response enabled his predatory behavior, the report finds.
"Allowing Mr. Alexandra to freely roam Threefold property resulted in giving him essentially unrestricted access to students and faculty members, and thereby enabled him to continue to victimize others," investigators said.
The seven-month investigation, led by Lisa Friel, former chief of the Manhattan district attorney's Sex Crimes Unit and an executive at T&M Protection Resources, involved interviews with 95 people and reviews of thousands of documents.
The findings have been shared with law enforcement officials, but no arrests have resulted. For a majority of the cases, the five-year statute of limitations for reporting has passed. The alleged assaults took place on school property or the surrounding area and ranged from inappropriate rubbing, touching and hugging to statutory rape, the report says.
Many of the alleged victims didn't report what happened at the time, for fear they wouldn't be believed, investigators said. In some cases, they found, Alexandra's alleged victims felt that other adults at Green Meadow were complicit in his behavior because they observed it yet encouraged students to maintain relationships with him, an esteemed member of the community.
The progressive Green Meadow school opened the investigation about a year ago, after Christensen, 51, revealed a story of abuse at the hands of her high school math teacher in a memoir.
Christensen, a 1980 graduate and now a PEN/Faulkner award-winning author, refers to the teacher as "Tomcat" in the book. The school identified Alexandra in a letter to the community and banned him from the campus at the outset of the investigation, explaining the decision was "based on credible evidence."
There are disturbing accusations in the report against Alexandra, 72, who enjoyed a distinguished career as a teacher in the 1960s and '70s, and later served as a board member. A Spring Valley resident who is married with grown children, he stayed active at Green Meadow and with affiliated institutions that are part of the Threefold Educational Foundation's campus, located off Hungry Hollow Road, until the allegations surfaced last year.
Investigators say Alexandra committed "a multitude of crimes" over his decades at the school. They also accuse him of stalking, harassment and child endangerment.
Investigators said Alexandra declined to speak with them. He hasn't publicly addressed the allegations.
"My client hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing, nor am I aware of any contemporaneous reports substantiating any allegations," said Robert Bernstein, Alexandra's lawyer. "These allegations are from decades ago and there were never any contemporaneous documents to substantiate the allegations at the time."
Investigators shared information with Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe's office as allegations arose during the investigation, according to Green Meadow. A spokeswoman for the DA's Special Victims Unit said the office received the report Tuesday and would review it before making any comments.
The other two teachers named in the report left the school soon after the events occurred. One was accused of sexually assaulting a middle school student in 1983 during a school-sponsored trip; the other was reportedly found in possession of child pornography in 2005, as well as photographs he took of Green Meadow students in swimwear.
The first teacher left for a new job at another school soon after admitting to a colleague what had happened in 1983, according to the report; the other was forced to leave the school after the child pornography was found in his residence, but the school didn't investigate and didn't turn the information over to police, the report indicates.
A summary of investigators' findings was sent to some 1,700 alumni and parents last week, along with a letter of apology from Co-administrator Eric Silber and board President Jonathan Lynn.
The school says it can't make T&M's full-length report public because of the need to protect the privacy of victims, witnesses and others involved.
Silber, whose two young daughters attend Green Meadow, was hired in 2012 but began the new co-administrator position last July, just before the allegations surfaced. He reflected on the school's difficult year in an interview with The Journal News on Thursday.
"I'm glad that Kate came forward and we were able to do this because the truth is able to come forward," he said. "Having something like this living inside a school, any institution, in the shadow, isn't healthy for the institution at all. And the only way you can heal something is you have to diagnose it, you have to name it and you have to go through the process, which is painful."
Silber headed a committee of board members and teachers that signed off on the investigators' report and agreed to identify the two alleged offenders in addition to Alexandra.
Silber said about five teachers, including one who still works at the school, were identified as being in a position to stop the offenders but did not. The school flagged those teachers' files and notified an international Waldorf school accreditation body and the New York State Association of Independent Schools.
In acknowledging all those who contributed to the investigation, Green Meadow officials credit Christensen for providing the information that prompted it.
Her courage to come forward allowed the school "to fully acknowledge errors and misjudgments of the past," the letter says. "We will emerge a better, stronger school because of her."
Among the "errors" cited by investigators was the lack of a written policy or protocol on sexual misconduct complaints during the years Christensen attended the school.
Christensen said the report laid bare the extent of the damage inflicted by the "pervasive sexually abusive atmosphere at the school at that time."
"Not everyone was abused, but everyone was affected," she wrote in an email. "This kind of school-wide, community-wide abuse goes much deeper than the victims — everyone touched by it is hurt, and this goes very deep and lasts decades."
She praised the school's handling of the probe into its troubling past.
"I know it was painful and difficult for the school to face this, but it was the right — and only — thing to do, and they did it without hesitation," she wrote.
After The Journal News carried her story last year, another former student, Ann Hunkins, came forward with a story about Alexandra's conduct.
In its letter, the school offers an apology to victims and pledges its commitment to "the safety and emotional well-being of past, present and future community members."
"We cannot undo what has been done in the past, nor can we ever know the full extent of the pain that has been caused," officials wrote. "We do know that we can disclose what we know now, offer this apology, and do what we can to support healing for all involved."
About 400 students attend Green Meadow's pre-K-12 program and, like Alexandra once did, many educators live on the adjacent Threefold property that encompasses a dynamic anthroposophical community. In addition to the school, Threefold-affiliated institutions include the Fellowship, a home for the elderly; a Waldorf teacher training center; a church; and a natural foods co-op.
The campus was founded in the early 20th century by students of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher who popularized the spiritual science movement known as anthroposophy.
At the recommendation of T&M, Green Meadow is overhauling its response procedure to sexual harassment and abuse complaints. It will enforce a new written anti-harassment policy that details obligations of mandated reporters; stricter background screenings for adults who interact with students; and a better mechanism for anonymous reporting of suspected abuse.
The recommendations for strengthening the school's policies extend to the broader Threefold community, officials said.
Oklahoma among 19 states that still allow paddling in public schools, but most districts don't
by KIM ARCHER
If you thought paddling kids at school was a long-gone tradition, think again.
Oklahoma is one of 19 states in the country that still allows corporal punishment in schools. The state ranked sixth highest for the number of paddlings in 2009-10, behind Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia, according to the latest U.S. Department of Education data. Louisiana ranks just behind Oklahoma .
The latest national data shows there were around 200,000 instances of paddling in U.S. schools during the 2009-10 year, the most recent year with available figures.
Despite Oklahoma's high ranking, the practice clearly is trending lower in the state. In Oklahoma that year, there were more than 11,000 instances of kids being paddled at school, down from more than 15,000 spanking incidents in 2005-06, the Department of Education estimates.
”I think that this generation of parents isn't as supportive of corporal punishment as the past generation,” said Berryhill Superintendent Mike Campbell.
Most states that continue to allow spankings at school are bunched in the South, with Mississippi leading the pack in the number of spankings in 2009-10 at more than 40,000.
The decision to use physical punishment in Oklahoma schools is left up to each district. Most urban and suburban school districts in Oklahoma no longer allow paddling, including Tulsa, Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. Schools that employ physical punishment are generally clustered in small, rural districts.
John Cox, president of the state's Organization of Rural Elementary Schools, said: “Many of our rural schools still allow paddling, as such in my case, but we use it sparingly. It is more important to us that we find out the root of the misbehavior and use that information to correct future behavior, instead of a quick fix of punishment with a paddle.”
Cox is superintendent of Peggs Public School in northeast Oklahoma and is running for state superintendent.
Numerous professional groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Parent Teachers Association, the American Medical Association and the National Education Association, oppose the practice.
”Corporal punishment is a technique that is easily abused, leads to physical injuries, and can cause serious emotional harm,” the National Association of School Psychologists said in its position statement.
Berryhill Public Schools still has no official ban on corporal punishment in its policy, but Campbell said he and other administrators decided several years ago to no longer use physical punishment.
”It just sets us up for potential litigation,” Campbell said.
That is why more and more districts are deciding to abandon the practice, said Julie Miller, deputy executive director and general counsel for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
”From a legal perspective, it's very difficult. If a teacher were just to stop class and administer physical punishment to a student, then there could become a negligent supervision issue with the rest of the students in the classroom,” Miller said.
And then there is the risk of being accused of child abuse, she said.
Two years ago, a Cordell woman filed a police report alleging her 12-year-old son sustained large bruises after being paddled at school, despite the fact her husband had given his approval. The county district attorney didn't file charges because he said that instance of paddling didn't break state law. But schools no longer want to take the risk that a case would go the other way.
Berryhill uses alternative forms of discipline, and Campbell said those have worked well. “All we're looking for is to find ways to alter negative behavior. I don't care what discipline we have as long as it's effective.”
He believes paddling is effective for some children and not for others.
”I know I was paddled as a child, and I grew up to be a productive citizen,” he said. But he understands parental concerns that school officials may not be careful when paddling. When Berryhill used corporal punishment, Campbell instructed his principals to never paddle a child when angry, to have a witness, and to use only reasonable force. Parents were also able to sign opt-out forms.
”But I'm sure there may be some administrators out there that don't exercise good judgment,” he said. Some parents actually request that the district paddle their child, but Campbell said he doesn't oblige. “That's the parent's job,” he said.
Cox said he believes the decision to use corporal punishment should remain a local decision and that parents should have a choice in the form of punishment used.
“I also believe it is our job to help teach children that they should behave in the correct manner because it is the right thing to do, instead of just trying to avoid punishment,” he said. “Corporal punishment relies on the use of fear and is a quick fix; behavior management technique works with the root cause of the misbehavior and may also have a lasting effect.”
Foster children focus of California schools
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California is embarking on a first-of-its-kind attempt to improve the academic lives of foster youth by giving schools more money to meet their special learning and emotional needs and holding educators and administrators accountable.
But first, officials have to figure out how many school-age foster children they have and where they are enrolled in a state that's home to nearly one-fifth of the nation's foster children.
Until now, no state has attempted to identify every foster child in its public schools or to systematically track their progress, much less funnel funds toward those students or require school districts to show they are spending the money effectively.
That changed in California this month as part of a new school funding formula that will direct billions of extra dollars to districts based on how many students they have with low family incomes, learning to speak English or in foster care.
The state's 1,043 school systems had to submit plans by July 1 for how they intend to use the funds, a pot projected to reach at least $9.3 billion by 2021, to increase or improve services for those specific student groups.
During the next school year, districts also will have to report on their foster children's absences, progress toward graduation, standardized test scores and other measures they already maintain for the other two target groups.
The moves are significant for an estimated 42,000 school-age foster children, less than 1 percent of the state's 6.2 million public school students, said Molly Dunn, a lawyer with the Alliance for Children's Rights, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group.
It means educators and elected officials have recognized the group is facing unique educational hardships from abuse or neglect, frequent moves and experiences in foster or group homes, Dunn said.
“It's a whole new world,” she said. “They are a very small group of students, they are lagging so far behind and for them to be included with these much larger populations of students focused the attention on the great level of need they have. And that's only right because these are our kids, the state's kids, and they are doing the worst.”
A report last year by the nonprofit research agency WestEd found California's foster youth had the lowest math scores of any group, and had results in English comparable to those with disabilities or English learners.
Students in foster care also dropped out of high school at significantly higher rates than other at-risk students and were least likely to graduate. The authors noted that unlike racial minorities, English learners and impoverished students, the needs of foster youth had gone “unrecognized and unmet.”
Come fall, school districts are to receive weekly updates on which students are in foster care, the result of a new data-sharing agreement between the state education and social service departments.
The change marks a fundamental shift from past practice, which held that schools should not get the information to avoid stigmatizing children or violating their privacy, said Jesse Hahnel, director of the Foster Youth Education Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law.
“If they don't know who their kids are, they can't design a program for them. It's not like there is a big group of parents advocating on their behalf,” Hahnel said.
Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest, educates more than 5,000 foster children. For next year, it has earmarked $9.9 million to hire 92 guidance counselors, behavior specialists, attendance monitors and service coordinators to help those students, a job that previously fell to just three foster youth liaisons.
“We really scaled it up significantly so we could provide direct support to every foster youth, which is what we wanted to do but didn't have the resources to do,” Erika Torres, the district's pupil services director, said.
The 10 school districts in Santa Cruz County, with about 450 foster children, have proposed tutoring, counseling, extra-curricular activities and other help for foster youth in the region south of San Jose.
County Superintendent Michael Watkins said such efforts are a result of the state “holding everyone's feet to the fire” by grading schools on support for foster children.
“We won't know for a couple years, probably, but I'm hopeful this will stem the tide for youth who, through no fault of their own, end up in a system that totally fails them,” Watkins said.
Michael Jones, a resource teacher in the Elk Grove Unified School District near Sacramento, has doubts.
“You can't fund decency. You can't fund caring. And unfortunately, that's a big problem with the system right now is the mindset is we will throw money at it and we will make things better,” Jones said. “There is not enough money on the planet to put people in kids' lives who actually care and are there because they think it's the right thing to do.”
Six years ago, he founded a weekly class where students in foster care could meet each other, talk about their struggles, get a hug and pick up school supplies, toiletries, and even prom attire that he bought or were donated. He has since expanded it to the district's other high schools.
Former student Kandance Stagner, 18, who has been in seven foster care settings since the second grade, graduated from high school in June and is preparing to attend college in Nebraska — achievements she attributes in large part to the nurturing environment Jones created.
She hopes foster youth who come after her will get the sort of tutoring and other help she received.
“I understand what they've gone through and I've been through what they've gone through and I chose to take a bigger and broader step,” Stagner said. “I just know, I hope, that we will stop being the outcasts and the statistics.”
Women Who Kill Their Children Are Not So Bad, Says Psychologist
by News Staff
Dr. Helen Gavin, a psychologist at the University of Huddersfield, and Dr. Theresa Porter, a clinical psychologist based at a hospital in Connecticut, think that such murderers are getting a bad rap in culture, so they wrote "Infanticide and Neonaticide: A Review of 40 Years of Research Literature on Incidence and Causes" for Trauma, Violence and Abuse to rationalize that women who kill their babies – either within 24 hours of birth (neonaticide) – or at a later stage (infanticide), are not simply simply monsters or psychotic or both. It's complex, they wrote.
“Historically, women who kill their babies, if discovered, were treated quite punitively, both by society and by the law,” says Gavin. “In recent years it has been realized that there are many more factors involved in killing your own infant than there are in killing another child or an adult. In the past, we have either described these women as bad or mad, but in fact, there are shades in between.”
The article's authors conclude that there is a still a need for levels of understanding that could help prevent cases of child killing. But possible measures include the education of gynecologists, obstetricians and birthing unit staff so that they could spot warning signs. Also, the authors argue, “Open conversation with women regarding their and their family's history of mental illness would assist in identifying some women with predispositions to psychosis.”
So now overwrought hospital employees might have to be tasked with knowing if someone is going to kill their baby. Katie Couric, an American television personality, famously tried to make that argument about Andrea Yates, who murdered her children one at a time in a bathtub. Couric blamed everyone but the murderer. But Couric was not going to be sued for making her claim, the way doctors and nurses will be.
Gavin and Dr Porter also believe that public service messages that would educate the public in recognizing warning signs and symptoms.
Their article has been selected for inclusion in the anthology "Current Perspectives in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Behavior." The editor of the anthology, Professor Anne Bartol, said that the paper “makes a significant contribution to the literature, and we believe students and professors using this supplementary text will find it helpful and informative”.
November 2014 will also see the publication of Female Aggression, co-authored by Gavin and Porter, which examines the evolution, development and expression of aggression in female animals and humans. The authors examine this phenomenon as an emotional, physical or psychological response to the world in its own right, “not merely as a pale imitation of male behavior”.
“Statistics suggest that female violence is the one form of crime that is growing. Nobody knows why, but there are several hypotheses and I want to investigate those.”