Domestic abuse: Tips for neighbors, parents, kids and coworkers
In its public awareness campaign, “Know More, Do More,” the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence says bystanders “may be the first to learn about or witness abuse. Any and all actions that a bystander takes are valuable. There is no step too small.” Here are tips for neighbors, parents, children and coworkers, from the coalition's website (www.ricadv.org):
-- If you suspect someone is being abused, ask if something is wrong, express concern, listen, don't blame, and offer help if it is safe for you to do.
-- Get involved in your community and get to know your neighbors because connected communities show less domestic violence.
-- If you see or hear a dangerous situation, call 911 or tell someone nearby to do so.
-- Speak up when you hear sexist language or jokes that condone violence.
-- Stay involved in your child's life, school and activities.
-- Model what healthy relationships, with trust and respect, look like.
-- Educate yourself on the warning signs and dynamics of an abusive relationship, and talk proactively to your child about dating violence, abuse, healthy boundaries, sex and consent.
-- If you see bruises or injuries that don't match up with the story you were told, don't ignore it. Ask what is going on.
-- If you notice your friend has bruises or recurring injuries, ask what is going on in a non-confrontational manner.
-- Educate yourself on the warning signs of an abusive relationship and healthy relationships.
-- If you suspect your friend or a loved one is in an abusive relationship, talk to a trusted adult or call the helpline (800-494-8100) for information.
-- If your friend tells you they are in an abusive relationship, be supportive and patient. Offer resources for help, or get an adult involved who can help.
-- If you see a coworker with bruises or injuries, ask if they are OK and be a resource for them.
-- Educate yourself on the warning signs, the dynamics of domestic violence and how it can affect the workplace.
-- Often, the abusive partner will harass the victim at the workplace with excessive phone calls and scenes in the parking lot. If this happens, express your concerns to human resources.
-- Be patient and understand that you can't force anyone to reach out for help; just let them know you are there if they need someone.
Fighting the barriers to help male abuse victims
by Eric Volmers
By the time Tong Liech reached out for help to battle his addictions, it was almost too late.
At 29, he had been abusing cocaine and alcohol for years. It had damaged his kidneys to the point where he was on dialysis but he was removed from a transplant waiting list because he continued to abuse drugs.
Seven years ago, while he was lying a hospital bed, feeling utter despair, a nurse asked him what was wrong.
“I opened up to her,” said Liech. “I was in a black hole, but I couldn't ask for help. I think my family sort of saw that I was in trouble, friends also. But I wouldn't ask for help until it came to a point where my life was in danger, where I had to step up and say, ‘Look, I need some help.'”
He got it at the Calgary's Fresh Start Recovery Centre, successfully completing the program and eventually landing a job there as a support worker. But even now, clean and sober for more than seven years, asking for help is a challenge that he continues to work on.
Even before the culture shock Liech experienced after arriving in frigid Canada from his home in Africa, he had plenty of reasons to self-medicate. As a boy, he witnessed the brutality of the civil war that raged in his home country of Liberia. His family fled to a refugee camp in Ghana, which presented a whole new set of horrors. He almost died of malaria at one point. His father drank every day and was occasionally violent (he, too, has since stopped drinking) and Liech, barely a teen, became the responsible one, often removing his drunken father's shoes and putting him to bed.
And even before that turmoil, young Tong grew up with an emotionally and physically abusive stepmother who wreaked havoc on his self-esteem. Signs of weakness were not tolerated. He was a boy, and boys were not supposed to cry. If he did, he was beaten.
“There are some bad memories,” he said.
It's a barrier those who help Calgary men in crisis often face. The reluctance to show weakness and vulnerability is a hallmark of men battling demons, often drummed into them from an early age and hard to overcome.
“You pick yourself up by the bootstraps, you don't cry, you don't talk, you don't trust and you don't feel,” said Stacey Petersen, executive director of Fresh Start. “That's depicted in so many different circles — Hollywood circles, in the workforce. Look at the construction industry. Look at the oil and gas industry. You suck it up. You don't show your weakness.”
Fresh Start is a residential alcohol and drug treatment program for men that focuses on addressing the underlying issues —poverty, violence and sexual abuse — that lead to addiction. Virtually every man who goes through the program has suffered some sort of trauma before falling into addiction, Petersen said.
This can manifest itself in ugly ways in the family home: domestic violence, self-hatred, fear of intimacy, a lack of trust. A major part of Fresh Start's mandate is to prevent “more absent fathers, more lost sons and daughters,” said Petersen. By simply not getting help, men send a powerful and destructive message to their children.
“Kids aren't stupid,” he added. “Kids are incredibly intuitive. Dad is in pain. Dad is hurting, but no one is talking about it. So what do I learn? Under any circumstances, if I'm in trouble or if I'm hurting, I don't reach out.”
When men do reach out, much like Liech, they have often already reached a breaking point. Still, the numbers speak volumes: for the first 10 months of 2014, 42 per cent of the calls received on the crisis line of Distress Centre Calgary were from men. Beyond the statistics, intake workers at the centre say there is a marked difference in attitude between women and men who seek help. Men tend to see themselves as problem solvers and advisers, said senior manager Michelle Wickerson, not the sort who are troubled or need advice.
Those men who do wind up at the Distress Centre's counselling program to address addiction and other problems have often already had a few “kicks at the can” of recovery, sent in by concerned family members or even the justice system. It suggests that men tend to let their demons get out of control before addressing them, an attitude that may also affect how society at large deals with them.
For the men, it's incredibly difficult because they have basically been told to suck it up and get over it. — Frances Wright
To tackle some of the root causes afflicting troubled men, three years ago Frances Wright was asked to help create the Canadian Centre for Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, or CC4MS. Well known for her work promoting women in leadership, including founding the Famous 5 Foundation, Wright admits she was initially reluctant to get involved.
“I said ‘There are still so many other issues for women that need to be addressed,'” Wright said. “We still earn 75 per cent of what a man earns for a comparable job. We're still assaulted much more than men are assaulted. We still don't have the confidence to apply for jobs, to run for elected positions, to be in politics. Those are the issues I've worked on and I wanted to continue to work on.”
But then she learned the statistics. One in three females will be sexually abused before the age of 18. There are more than 300 assault centres in Canada and 119 shelters where women and children can find refuge, she said. One in six men will be sexually abused before the age of 18, but there are only four treatment centres in Canada where they can find help.
Thus, it's hardly surprising that men can be reluctant to come forward or realize that help even exists.
“For the men, it's incredibly difficult because they have basically been told to suck it up and get over it,” Wright says. “They tend to think ‘I'm a man, I can do this.' But it festers within.”
The centre has been attempting to battle the stigma in a unique way, with public luncheons dubbed “Magnificent Men.” In the Fairmont Palliser Hotel's posh Crystal Ballroom, leaders in their fields — Ken Dryden and Peter Mansbridge, for example — have talked about the obstacles they overcame to become successful. While the speakers don't generally address the topic of male sexual abuse directly, Wright gives a short presentation about the cc4ms and the issue after the talk.
“We're there, four times a year, talking about leadership and talking about adult male survivors of child sexual abuse. I think it's a strategy that has worked really well to get the issue out. People have to get used to talking about it.”
Why Is California Keeping Kelly Savage in Prison for a Crime She Didn't Commit?
by Victoria Law
Kelly Savage had been planning her escape. She and her two children were going to take the 7:45 am bus from Porterville, in California's Central Valley, to Los Angeles. There, her sister would help them hide from Mark Savage, the husband whose brutal assaults Kelly had suffered for the past three years.
But 15 hours before their escape, while she was running last-minute errands, her husband beat her 3-and-a-half-year-old son Justin. The boy died. Both Mark and Kelly were arrested. At her trial, the prosecutor argued that Kelly enjoyed the beatings and that, because she had not fled, she was equally at fault for her son's death. Both were convicted of torture and first-degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. In 1998, nearly three years after her son's death - years Kelly Savage spent in jail - she entered California's Valley State Prison for Women. This year marks her 19th in prison.
But her story - and her imprisonment - is neither unique nor exceptional. Nearly 30 states, including California, have failure-to-protect laws that criminalize a parent's inability to protect her children. In many cases, the woman's abuse is not taken into consideration or, as happened in Kelly's case, is even used against her in court. But Section 1473.5 of the California Penal Code now allows women like Kelly, who did not have expert testimony about battering at her trial, a second chance.
A History of Abuse
Kelly Savage was 23 when she was arrested for her son's death. But those 23 years were marked by a history of physical and sexual abuse beginning when she was 3 years old. As a child, she was repeatedly beaten and raped by a number of people, including her father, her uncle, her stepmother's stepfather, and a trusted friend of her father. Although the police had been called several times, they did nothing to stop the abuse or remove Kelly from her abusers.
She married at 18, but her husband also turned out to be physically and sexually abusive. She left him two months before her son Justin was born in December 1991.
The following year, she met Mark Savage. Like the other men in her life, he quickly became both physically and sexually abusive. "I was about to leave him when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter," she said in a phone interview from prison. Noting that she had been raising Justin as a single mother, she explained, "I made a stupid choice. I didn't want to have two kids without a father, so I stayed." Their daughter Krystal was born on November 25, 1993. The couple married the following month.
Krystal's birth did not stem the abuse. Her husband regularly choked, pushed, shoved and yelled at Kelly. He blackened her eye on at least two occasions, burned her with cigarettes and broke her toe.
By Mother's Day 1995, Kelly had had enough. At the local community college, she found a flier for a domestic violence hotline. When she called, the hotline counselor advised her on how to escape. Kelly began preparing, including gathering copies of her children's birth certificates and other paperwork. In the meantime, her husband's abuse escalated. When Mark found her packing the children's photos and birth certificates, he struck her, nearly breaking her hearing aid. She managed to convince him that she had not been packing them. He also tied her to the couch and tried to tattoo his name on her leg using a sharpened paper clip. "I still have a tattoo of an 'M' on my right ankle from this incident (although it is covered by the tattoo of my children's names)," Kelly told Truthout. This type of escalation is so common that it has a name - separation violence. Fearing the impending loss of control, batterers increase their violence and are more likely to kill their family members as they are attempting to leave or have just escaped.
The night before Justin's death, Kelly woke to her son screaming and her husband yelling. When she tried to enter Justin's room, she reported that Mark pushed her out before tossing the boy onto the bed. It was the first - and only - time she had ever seen Mark hit Justin. Usually, she recalled, the boy seemed attached to his stepfather. In court later, she learned that this was traumatic bonding, in which an abuse victim, in an attempt to deflect further harm, forms an emotional attachment to his abuser.
The following day, Kelly put the children to bed at nap time before running some last-minute errands. Her bags, including the children's birth certificates and photos, were packed. When she returned home, Justin was no longer breathing. She called 911, but it was already too late.
In court, the prosecutor used her history of abuse to argue that Kelly enjoyed being beaten and that she allowed her husband to beat Justin in order to please him. Although her lawyer employed a psychologist, Dr. Phyllis Kaufman, as a defense witness, she was not an expert in battered women's syndrome or intimate partner battering. Instead, she testified that Kelly had post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a history of childhood abuse and that people suffering from PTSD sometimes block out or fail to hear signs of danger.
After entering prison, Kelly discovered that Kaufman had been struggling with a similar case in her personal life at the same time: Kaufman's 3-year-old granddaughter had been tortured and murdered by her daughter's abusive boyfriend. As Kaufman was preparing to testify at Kelly's trial, her daughter was awaiting trial at the Sacramento County Jail while her remaining grandchildren were in separate group homes. In prison, Kelly met her daughter whom she is now training to be a peer educator in domestic violence.
When a History of Abuse Becomes a Failure to Protect
As Kelly Savage discovered when she met Kaufman's daughter, her situation is neither unique nor exceptional.
"Abuse is the dominant reason that so many women are locked up," Colby Lenz, a volunteer organizer with the advocacy group California Coalition for Women Prisoners, told Truthout. "Either they didn't speak out or they were at the scene of the crime or they were defending themselves or they didn't stop their abusers from harming or killing their children."
In California, a prison study found that 93 percent of the women who had killed their significant others had been abused by them. Sixty-seven percent of those women reported that they had been attempting to protect themselves or their children. However, there are no comprehensive studies on the number of women incarcerated for failing to protect their children. There is, however, anecdotal evidence that shows a broad pattern across the country. A recent investigation by BuzzFeed News, for instance, found 28 mothers incarcerated in various states for not protecting their children despite evidence that they themselves were being abused.
Now a domestic violence peer educator inside the prison, Kelly has found that approximately 70 percent of the women around her have experienced abuse. She recalled one class of 49 women in which only four of the women reported that they had no abuse in their homes before the age of 18. Of those four, only one woman said that she had never experienced abuse in her adult life.
She has also met numerous women in her situation. She recalled a planned workshop for women imprisoned specifically for the harm or death of a child. More than 70 women, including Kelly, filled out the four-page survey to participate. The number of women who could have participated is probably higher, Kelly said, but because of the stigma and threats of violence against women who allow a child to be hurt, many (including Kaufman's daughter) continue to keep quiet.
Losing Both Her Children
Kelly's daughter Krystal was 18 months old when her brother Justin was killed. Given her history of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of relatives, Kelly decided not to ask her family to take care of Krystal. Instead, Mark's mother came from Florida to take custody.
The last time Kelly saw Krystal was in October 1995; the girl was nearly 2 years old. "I was supposed to have a one-hour contact visit, but I didn't get a full hour," Kelly said. She recalled that both Mark's mother and the social worker warned her not to say anything about Justin to her daughter. "They also told me not to be surprised if she didn't know who I was since it had been two months since we saw each other," she said. "But she knew right away who I was." Mark's mother took the toddler to Florida soon after the visit.
For the next two years, their only communication was through phone calls. "We'd sing the Barney song together," she remembered. But when Kelly refused to accept a plea bargain that would enable Mark to face a lesser sentence, all contact was cut off. Kelly wrote to her daughter via Mark's sister, who promised that she would one day show her letters to the girl. But even then there were rules. "They said I wasn't allowed to be called mom. I had to be called Kelly or else they wouldn't give her the letter," she said. But Kelly wrote to her daughter every month. "I just kept trying."
In 2007, Krystal finally got to see her mother's letters. She had left her grandmother's house and moved in with Mark's sister, who had saved the letters for her. After reading them, she contacted her mother. "Half the time she's angry and half the time she just wants to know what really happened," Kelly said.
"My Only Hope"
In 2001, California passed Section 1473.5 of the Penal Code, which allows incarcerated abuse survivors convicted of defending themselves to file a writ of habeas corpus if expert testimony about battering and its effects was not presented during their trial. In 2004, it was expanded to allow abuse survivors convicted of any violent felony to file a petition. The law's expansion meant that Kelly was eligible to petition for a review of her conviction by introducing expert testimony about her abuse that had been absent at her trial.
In 2002, advocacy groups Free Battered Women, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, the California Women's Law Center and the USC Post-Conviction Justice Project established the Habeas Project to recruit and train volunteer legal teams (attorneys, advocates, investigators and expert witnesses) to work with abuse survivors filing habeas petitions under the new law. By 2007, its efforts had helped free 19 battered women with life sentences. However, despite its best efforts, many women still lack an attorney to help them navigate the process and the Habeas Project closed in 2013 due to a lack of funding. While advocates, including formerly incarcerated battered women, continue to reach out to attorneys, the demand far outweighs the supply. "What's very apparent is the lack of resources for women trying to petition for relief, " noted Lenz, the organizer with California Coalition for Women Prisoners.
When Kelly first learned about 1473.5, she did not apply. Then she began training to become a peer educator in domestic violence, which required 387 hours of workshops with advocates, social workers and others in the field. After one workshop, Kelly spoke to the facilitator, a social worker from Weave, a battered women's shelter in Sacramento. The social worker told her about different training, which examines the effects of child abuse on the mother, and about one mother she had worked with whose husband had killed all three of their children while she was out of the house. "You can't beat yourself up to the point where you give up," Kelly recalled the social worker telling her. Kelly took those words to heart. Thus in 2005, three days before the 10-year anniversary of her son's death, friends helped her fill out the paperwork to request a lawyer to help navigate the habeas process.
The Habeas Project connected Kelly with the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Two of the firm's attorneys, Christina Harper and George Cumming, took on Kelly's petition pro bono. After reviewing her case, Cumming was appalled. "Kelly was convicted by the exploitation of every single derogatory gender stereotype," he told Truthout. "The prosecutor argued that Kelly didn't leave because she enjoyed the beatings and that she allowed her husband to beat Justin in order to please him. But anyone who knows anything about battered women knows how horribly difficult it is for them to leave."
Cumming and Harper wrote Savage's habeas petition. In addition, they also wrote a six-page letter to Kamala Harris, California's attorney general, requesting a meeting to discuss the case. They also included 100 pages of declarations from domestic violence experts. Harris' office declined to meet with them. Sister Helen Prejean, with whom Cumming had worked on a death penalty case in Texas, also wrote to Harris, asking that she meet with Cumming. Harris' office did not respond.
Kelly's petition is currently before the Court of Appeals, which has twice asked Harris to file a response to her petition. In both responses, the attorney general has made clear that she opposes Kelly's petition, arguing that since her lawyer retained Kaufman, a clinical psychologist, Savage had not been prevented from introducing evidence of battered women's syndrome at her trial. In her second response, she argued that 1473.5 was not meant to "eviscerate the well-established rule that prohibits defendant from relitigating matters on habeas corpus that were previously litigated and resolved at trial simply because she has secured a more favorable opinion." In fact, the response continues, "A contrary finding would leave state court judgments vulnerable to indefinite collateral attack based on the evolving state of the expert's disciplinary studies in Battered Women's Syndrome/Intimate Partner Battering."
Cumming and Harper aren't buying that argument. "If the statute doesn't apply to Kelly, then it doesn't apply to any battered woman," Cumming said.
But Harris' office has, on at least one occasion, withdrawn its opposition, Harper noted. When Sara Kruzan, imprisoned since age 16 for killing her abusive pimp, filed her habeas petition, Harris originally opposed it. Kruzan first met George Gilbert Howard when she was 11. He was 31. When she was 13, Howard raped her, and then forced her to begin working as a prostitute. When she was 16, she killed him. She was originally sentenced to life without parole plus an additional four years. In 2010, after she had spent 16 years in prison, her sentence was commuted to 25 years to life. Her habeas petition argued that if evidence of intimate partner battering had been introduced at her trial, the results might have been different. Harris' office originally opposed Kruzan's petition, arguing that Kruzan's circumstances did not fit the definition of cohabitation or a dating relationship. But in 2012, it withdrew its opposition, stating that it recognized that, although Kruzan's exploitation was not from domestic or dating violence, the reasoning behind 1473.5 still applied. Kruzan was released in October 2013 after spending 18 years in prison.
"It's highly unusual for the appellate court to ask the attorney general to file a second response to a habeas petition," Cumming said. He is hopeful that the request means that the court is seriously considering Kelly's petition and will rule favorably. If it does, Kelly could be granted a new trial where an expert witness could testify on her behalf.
Meanwhile, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, which has worked with Kelly for over a decade, has started a Change.org petition asking Harris to withdraw her opposition. More than 7,500 people have signed, many of whom identify as domestic violence survivors. Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) has also put out an online petition. The attorney general's office has declined to comment.
"Going through this process has given me an education, knowing that people care and that people want to help," Kelly told Truthout from prison. Still, she realizes that her habeas petition is her last - and only - chance. "This is my only hope. If not, this is where I stay."
More young abuse victims getting justice
by HENRY BAILEY JR
SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — His online KIK social media account was under the cute user name "thewhiterabbit."
But this "rabbit" was a sexual predator, and his prey was a 13-year-old Southaven girl who began communicating with him through KIK in October 2013, exchanging nude photos with him, and later through Skype.
When the girl came up missing on June 23, her mother reported it to the Southaven police, and told investigators of the online contacts with who turned out to be 39-year-old Bobby Allen Osborne, a South Carolina registered sex offender.
The next day, the teen was found with Osborne in South Carolina and Osborne was arrested on federal charges, including enticement of a minor to travel in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Osborne's case never made it through the criminal justice system: On Sept. 30, he was found dead in his cell at the Lafayette County Detention Center cell in Oxford, the result of self-inflicted hanging, authorities said.
But because of a two-year-old multi-disciplinary team now working through the Southaven-based Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center, more accused child sexual predators are seeing their day in court in DeSoto County, and more young abuse victims are getting justice.
The team — made up of law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers, forensic interviewers, therapists and victim advocates — share information, tying sensitive interviews with medical care, counseling, investigation and prosecution.
The group begins evidence recovery quickly and also the healing process.
The payoff: In the six months following the June 2012 start of the team collaboration, child sexual abuse cases presented to the grand jury more than doubled over the previous six months, from 16 to 33, said Assistant District Attorney Steve Jubera in DeSoto County.
So far in 2014, the state has presented to the grand jury 72 child abuse cases, up from 49 for all of 2013, Jubera said. The cases include statutory rape, sexual battery, child exploitation and possession of child pornography, among other charges, including two child abuse deaths, he said.
Of the outcome of the 2013 cases, Jubera said there were 12 pleas, one trial, 14 "no true" or no indictment bills, eight cases remanded to either youth or adult court and 14 cases that were not finished by the close of the year.
The work of the multi-disciplinary team has made a difference, said Olive Branch police detective Jessica Riley.
"When I started two or three years ago, there may have been five cases a year that we'd see all the way to prosecution. Now that figure is about 10 cases. The MDT has helped tremendously."
While the prosecution of cases has increased, the actual number of offenses has not, said Ashley Schachterle, founder and director of the nonprofit child advocacy center Healing Hearts.
"We're just becoming more aware of what's happening, because now we have a comprehensive system in place," he said.
Healing Hearts opened in 2013 with a mission to respond to child abuse with a team approach that reduces trauma to the children, including by conducting forensic interviews, thorough fact-finding questioning of the victims in a room equipped with discreet video cameras and microphones. Other team members can watch the questioning from a monitoring room, and the victims do not have to repeat their abuse experiences to multiple investigators.
"There's definitely more pedophile-type cases being investigated," said DeSoto Sheriff Bill Rasco .
He said cyberspace has become a fertile field for sex offenders.
"The Internet is being used heavily by these pedophiles to contact young girls," Rasco said. "It's just sickening."
Robertson Schools ruled liable in child sex abuse case
by Nicole Young
Robertson County Schools has been found liable in a civil case involving child-on-child sexual abuse allegations at East Robertson Elementary School.
The judgment, filed Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell, said the school system showed a “deliberate indifference” to what was happening at East Robertson Elementary School and awarded unspecified monetary damages to the plaintiffs in the case.
The civil suit against the school system was filed by the parents of two unrelated former East Robertson students in February of 2013. The parents of a third student joined the suit after the initial filing. All three children have since been removed from the school and were undergoing psychological counseling when the case went before Campbell for a bench trial in September.
Campbell noted that the school district “demonstrated a serious lack of sensitivity” to the alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.
“Known information was not shared with parents or other school employees, despite the need to prevent and deal properly with such abuse,” he wrote. “Children who were victims of such abuse were shamed, not believed, made to apologize, told to drop it, or required to remain with the perpetrator at all times, all in front of the other children.”
The judge also noted that parents who were genuinely concerned about their children were treated with indifference by school officials and they were “lied to about what was really happening.”
During the trial, testimony revealed that repeated incidents of alleged abuse took place at the school over a period of two years and teachers and administrators failed to take certain allegations seriously – in some cases going as far as chiding student victims.
A safety plan aimed at protecting students from a sexually-aggressive classmate was not followed, resulting in an alleged attack in a classroom full of students during school hours, according to testimony.
Despite those claims, officials with Robertson County Schools maintained that the district offered a safe environment for children. Many school officials said at trial that they believed it was up to the teachers to investigate allegations of sexual abuse. In one such case, a teacher and the school's vice principal had investigated an allegation and determined that nothing had happened.
Campbell, in his order, said he believed the teachers, administrators and former Director of Schools Dan Whitlow minimized the actions of the two students responsible for the peer-on-peer sexual abuse at the school. He also criticized the district's safety plan for the main student offender.
All of the children involved in the alleged attacks ranged from 5-to-8 years old at the time of the incidents at the school.
Two alleged offenders were identified in court, both reportedly linked by one alleged incident involving inappropriate touching during a football practice.
The main offender, according to testimony, was a child whose history with the Department of Children's Services dates back to 2010, when he was 4-years-old. His pre-school teacher at Krisle Elementary told DCS officials that he had inappropriately touched female classmates during naptime, testimony revealed.
“Although isolating [the student offender] had failed to work prior to the safety plan and monitoring [the student offender] was obviously failing to work in this instance, Defendant did not change the Safety Plan or reconsider further interventions,” Campbell wrote in his judgment.
All records relating to the civil case were sealed by Campbell to protect the identities of the children involved.
The judge's order states that the amount of damages will be outlined in a brief due to the court by Dec. 15. The school system will have until Dec. 29 to respond, the order said.
The damages will include real costs, such as therapy visits and private school tuition, as well as monetary damages for emotional distress, the judge ruled.
Child sex abuse starts with grooming the victim
by The Statesman Journal
Grooming is a method of building trust with a child and adults around the child to gain access to and time alone with her/him.
Offenders can assume a caring role, befriend the child, or even exploit their position of trust and authority to groom the child and/or the child's family. These individuals intentionally build relationships with the adults around a child or seek out a child with fewer adults in her/his life. This increases the likelihood that the offender's time with the child is welcomed and encouraged.
The purpose of grooming is:
To reduce the likelihood of a disclosure.
To reduce the likelihood of the child being believed.
To reduce the likelihood of being detected.
To manipulate the perceptions of other adults around the child.
To manipulate the child into becoming a cooperating participant which reduces the likelihood of a disclosure and increases the likelihood that the child will repeatedly return to the offender.
The grooming process does not just occur with the intended victim. Offenders may groom not only the child but also their families and even the local community, who act as the gatekeepers of access.
Although not all child sexual abuse involves grooming, it is a common process used by offenders. It usually begins with subtle behavior that may not initially appear to be inappropriate, such as paying a lot of attention to the child or being very affectionate. Many victims of grooming and sexual abuse do not recognize they are being manipulated, nor do they realize how grooming is a part of the abuse process.
An adult seems overly interested in a child.
An adult frequently initiates or creates opportunities to be alone with a child (or multiple children).
An adult becomes fixated on a child.
An adult gives special privileges to a child (e.g., rides to and from practices, etc.).
An adult befriends a family and shows more interest in building a relationship with the child than with the adults
An adult displays favoritism towards one child within a family.
An adult finds opportunities to buy a child gifts.
An adult caters to the interests of the child, so a child or the parent may initiate contact with the offender.
An adult who displays age and gender preferences.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice
Fears of social media, condemnation keep parents silent
by Carol McAlice Currie
An education researcher is convinced that a culture of exploitation is going unchecked in coaching because parents and students are afraid of voicing concern to school authorities.
Professor Charol Shakeshaft, who prepares school administrators to become district superintendents in the department of education at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, and who wrote a key report about educator sexual misconduct for the U.S. Department of Education a decade ago, said adult sexual misconduct in the nation's schools is a growing issue that parents and taxpayers have a right to be informed about.
She added that the DOE is currently investigating ways to obtain more reliable evidence on the extent of sexual abuse in schools.
She cited a variety of reasons why families remain silent when they suspect a coach of having an inappropriate relationship with a student athlete.
They fear being ostracized in the community and accused of trying to destroy a school's reputation. But there is also a very real concern that in this digital age, their children might be castigated on social media sites.
Such may be the case in West Salem, where a former girls' assistant basketball coach was recently sentenced to 38 months in prison for sexually abusing one teen girl. Despite district attorney and newspaper investigations, many in the community appear to have imposed a gag order on themselves.
Some parents of athletes also worry that their child will be punished for the adult's reporting actions. In other words, if a parent calls on an administrator or coach to make a mandatory report to another employee of the school, their child's playing time could be reduced — retribution for breaking the silence.
"We have to find a way to make these parents understand that they have a responsibility to help get these kids into help now. Sex abuse leaves scars that can last a lifetime," Shakeshaft said.
She believes campuses, including high schools, are under-reporting sex abuse, and then taking cover behind FERPA regulations, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of students' education records.
"FERPA wasn't created to protect criminals and hide assault behind it," Shakeshaft said.
Parents are busy, she said. "We get that. Their child comes home and tells them that a coach was getting too familiar with another player, and the parent warns their child not to be alone on a bus with that coach, to avoid being alone in the gym with that coach, etc," Shakeshaft said.
They protect their own child, but miss the bigger picture, the larger threat, she said.
"Then when they learn that the coach admitted to harming another player, they're embarrassed by how little they did, so they don't want to say they knew."
US boy missing four years found behind 'fake' wall: report
WASHINGTON: A 13-year-old boy whose mother reported him missing four years ago was found by police hidden behind a false wall in his father's Georgia home, US media said.
Authorities arrested five people including the father and stepmother, in Jonesboro, near Atlanta, the local WXIA news network said, showing moving footage of the little boy cuddling up to his mother, both in tears, as they were reunited on Saturday.
Clayton county police were called to a house late Friday, but Police Sergeant KT Hughes said its occupants denied any knowledge of the child to officers.
But just to be sure, police searched the house. They found nothing, the report said.
But when police hours later received another call seeking help at the house, they returned. As a second search was being done, the boy was able to call his mother and tell her where he was being held, reports said.
She directed police to a false wall, hidden by towels, enabling them to find him.
The apparent hiding space was above the garage of the home, WXIA said.
"It shocked all of us, honestly," said one neighbor. "They were really nice people, they were open. They were like, 'Hey, come over any time you want.'"
Police told Atlanta's Channel 2 the mother had apparently reported the child missing to child welfare authorities in 2010, but not to police, possibly because she was an immigrant and unfamiliar with the legal system.
However, authorities said there were still many unanswered questions over custody and why police had not been involved earlier, and that the child would remain with family services for the time being.
The father and stepmother, Gregory Jean, 37, and Samantha Joy Davis, 42, and three others were charged with obstruction, false imprisonment and cruelty to children.
Neighbors said the boy was seen at times working in the yard, and that they heard that he was home-schooled, reports said.
Officials urge reporting of suspected child abuse
by Danielle E. Gaines
Over the past year, Frederick County has seen a string of child abuse resulting in death.
Earlier this month, Melissa and Raymond Brittle pleaded guilty to the child abuse death of 2-year-old Robert Dean Watkins in September.
In October, police announced the arrest of Ryan Wayne Huffer for the death of his his son in February.
In March, Frankie and Stephanie Williams were charged in the death of their 21-month-old daughter, who had also suffered abuse earlier in her life.
Despite the recent number of cases that led to the death of a child, the overall number of child abuse cases in the county remains relatively the same.
“When I see this many cases, I always feel like it's an increase, but when I go back and look, it's similar to years prior,” said Lynn Davis, director of Frederick County Child Advocacy Center. “We've lost some children to abuse in the last year and it's really tragic. Even one is too many.”
During the last federal fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, the Child Advocacy Center served 179 children.
Of those, 140 children were seen for child sexual abuse, 34 children were referred for physical abuse and five were evaluated for neglect.
Families are referred to the center, which houses forensic pediatric doctors, counselors, and other professionals for children and non-offending parents, after an investigation is started by law enforcement or child protective services.
Twice a month, a multidisciplinary team in Frederick County — which includes representatives from CPS, the child advocacy center, law enforcement, the state's attorney's office, pediatric doctors and other organizations — meets to discuss suspected cases of child abuse. The team is committed to investigating, prosecuting, preventing and healing child abuse, Davis said.
Assistant State's Attorneys Lindell K. Angel and Tammy Leache are members of the team, which helps to investigate and build cases that could withstand a jury trial, if necessary.
Leache said building the cases is emotionally difficult for everyone involved, but she focuses on the idea that she and her colleagues are supporting and bringing justice for the children.
The competing emotions are the most difficult part of prosecuting child abuse and child sexual abuse cases, State's Attorney Charlie Smith said. On one hand, prosecutors want to secure convictions in these cases, but are also careful not to re-traumatize the child during the court process.
Smith said conviction of child abuse cases will continue to be a focus of his office when he begins his new term in January.
The countywide team is focused on creating awareness and encouraging people to make reports of suspected child abuse.
Davis encouraged adults who suspect abuse to look for signs of change in the child or unexplained injuries.
“That indicates that we should be asking the child 'What's going on? How are you?'” Davis said. “And if you don't know for certain, make the call and let the professionals decide.”
Between July 2012 and June 2013, 2,517 suspected abuse referrals were made to child protective services, and 1,281 cases were investigated, according to the agency's annual report.
The Child Advocacy Center is planning a “warm line” where people can call anonymously to discuss suspected child abuse and receive advice.
Davis said intervention in child abuse cases is critical so that children can receive therapeutic services.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, which included more than 17,000 participants, concluded that adults who were abused as children were more likely to suffer chronic physical and mental health issues and have a shorter life expectancy.
“Not only is it unfair that a child is abused in the first place, but also that they would endure trauma for the rest of their lives and then die 20 years earlier,” Davis said. “As a society, we need to care. Protecting children is everyone's job. We have to step up. We have to do whatever we can.”
Callers can anonymously report suspected abuse by calling Child Protective Services at (301) 600-2464.
Child Abuse prevention center seeks 100 difference makers
by Lance Griffin
Helping children who have been abused is a blessing to Pamela Miles. Preventing abuse from ever happening is an even bigger one.
A large chunk of funding for the Exchange Center for Child Abuse Prevention goes to intervention programs in which the needs of abused children are served. The center is currently looking for 100 generous Wiregrass residents to help fund prevention programs.
Miles, executive director of the Exchange Center, said the center's Impact 100 emphasis is seeking 100 Wiregrass residents willing to donate $1,000 in 2015 to provide additional funding for prevention.
“We were brainstorming not too long ago and we were saying that if people really knew the impact the agency is on the community, we wouldn't have to beg for funds. People would want to donate,” Miles said.
Miles said much of the additional $100,000 raised would go toward the center's Parent Aid program, which targets families determined to be at risk for child abuse and or neglect who have volunteered to receive in-home visits from qualified volunteers for mentoring, and personal instruction.
“These are not people who have been ordered to be in a program,” Miles said. “These are people who voluntarily come to us and want to end the cycle of abuse. They want to be a difference maker.”
Families agree to weekly in-home visits and education on risk factors and paths to resolution.
Miles said the program currently has a waiting list.
The other source for Impact 100 funds will be the yet-to-be-launched Court Appointed Special Advocate program. Miles said the program calls for volunteers to be recruited, trained and attached to a child abuse victim going through the court process. The volunteer would act as a liaison with the Department of Human Resources and the child's appointed Guardian Ad Litem to make sure the child's needs are met.
“So many times the Guardian Ad Litem is so busy,” Miles said. “The advocate can help make sure all contacts are being made and that the child's needs are truly being met.”
The Exchange Center for Child Abuse Prevention helps around 600 people each year. The center's services are free of charge thanks to private donations and some government funding. The Impact 100 emphasis will help meet needs not currently being met, Miles said.
“What we are asking is not unaffordable,” said Miles, who is participating as an Impact 100 member. “At the end of the year we hope to bring all Impact 100 members together and have an opportunity to show them the impact this key group of people has helped make possible.”
Residents interested in becoming an Impact 100 member can contact Cindy Watt or Pam Miles at the Exchange Center at 671-1966.
For more information, visit the center's website at www.Exchangecap.org.
Local Child Advocacy Center Says Communities “Shy Away” from Child Abuse
by Merris Badcock
WINCHESTER, Va. - Child abuse can take on many forms - physical, sexual, emotional, all of them leaving scars. But for advocates against child abuse, one of the biggest challenges they face is silence.
"Because of our subject matter, because we talk about child abuse, it is not a comfortable subject,” said Monique Derby, President of the Board of Directors for the ChildSafe Center and Child Advocacy Center in Winchester. “People kind of shy away from it."
Child Advocacy Centers, which are nationally accredited by the National Children's Alliance, are trying to break that trend.
According to the Center for Disease Control, in the United States, one in four girls will be sexually assaulted before their eighteenth birthday. For boys, that statistic is one in six.
The ChildSafe Center wants to brings those numbers down, if not completely eradicate them. But child abuse isn't your typical social issue, making it difficult to promote or market.
"You can't put a child's picture up there on a billboard. It's not like we can put them up there and say, 'hey, this is our child, and we're representing the ChildSafe Center,'” Derby said. “We have to figure out a way, and we've been working on this for the last two years, of how to go about letting people know who we are and what we're doing."
In 2013, the ChildSafe Center saw about 200 children from the Shenandoah Valley who had experienced some sort of abuse, whether they were victims or witnesses.
"Many children [who experience abuse] never tell,” said Kelly Bober, the Executive Director and sole forensic interviewer for the center. “The portion, the 200 children we're serving, is a small sample of the children that actually need the service."
Bober said she would love to serve every child that needed assistance. But she doesn't believe the center, which operates on less than $200,000 a year with only two full-time staff members, can take on more cases without additional funding.
For children in the Shenandoah Valley, the ChildSafe Center is a place they can go and share their traumatizing experience “one time.”
While a professional forensic interviewer talks with the child, investigators, prosecutors and even defense attorneys can listen and watch the interview from another room. The only catch is that the interview tapes can't be used during an actual trial.
"The tapes are not admissible in court, because of hearsay exceptions. The child still has to take the stand,” Bober said. “But the tapes are used to help with putting the case together, preparing the child for court [and] seeking out plea deals. So there's still a real benefit to the tapes, even though they cannot be used in lieu of the child for testimony."
There are 777 child advocacy centers across the United States. To find your local center, visit the National Children's Alliance by clicking on this link.
Hotel rape exposed Bristol child sex abuse ring
The concrete monolith of Bristol's Premier Inn hotel, at the foot of the M32 motorway, towers above the city centre.
Inside the imposing structure, in December 2012, a 13-year-old girl was raped by three men.
The discovery of that event set in motion a police investigation that uncovered a two-year catalogue of child sexual abuse by Somali men in the city.
The intelligence-led operation was assisted by members of the Somali community and vulnerable victims, who showed "remarkable courage" coming forward to police.
One of those convicted for abusing multiple victims told the court at his trial that sharing girls for sex "was part of Somali culture" and "a religious requirement".
Following the convictions, Bristol Somali Forum they were "deeply shocked and shaken" by the revelations in the case.
In a statement they described the events as: "unforgivable acts of cruelty against the most vulnerable members of our community".
It added: "The Muslim communities in Bristol would like to make it absolutely clear we wholeheartedly condemn these dreadful evil acts.
"It is right and appropriate that those responsible, and found guilty through our judiciary process are punished to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of who they are."
The children's charity Barnardo's claimed the discovery of the crimes is "only the tip of the iceberg".
The organisation has seen more than 90 people in the past six months who are either victims or at high risk of becoming victims of child sex crimes at their Bristol office.
Regional director Hugh Sherriffe said he believed as people became more vigilant to sex crimes "we'll see more and more of this".
He added the apparently high number showed the city is "very aware of child sexual exploitation issues".
Esther Keller from Bristol charity Kid's Company, which supported one of the victims, agrees, and believes child sexual abuse in the city is "probably more widespread than even we realise".
"And after this court case other girls might pluck up the courage and say 'it happened to me as well'," she said.
She believes a lot of the abuse is hidden and many of the victims are not realising they are in a situation "that's not really very savoury".
"Many of the girls involved had some sort of attachment issues and were looking for somebody to care for and love them," Ms Keller said.
"Within these relationships it takes a long time before the abuse begins. What the perpetrators are trying to do is to build up the trust with these girls.
"In the back of the perpetrator's mind is always this desire to pounce as soon as they think they can.
"They [the girls] think they're in a very loving, caring relationship for the rest of their lives and they can't imagine that these men, that are so nice to them, are trying to abuse and exploit them.
"I'd urge parents... if your daughter comes home and they suddenly wear nice clothes and are given lots of gifts by some men, check out what this is about - particularly if they are very young."
Ch Supt Julian Moss, head of Avon and Somerset Police's CID department, described what officers found as "appalling, abhorrent crimes" against "vulnerable young children" and praised the victims' "courage and strength".
"Nobody should underestimate how difficult it has been for them to do that and I'd like to give my heartfelt thanks to each one of them," he said.
13,000 'being held in slavery'
Up to 13,000 people in Britain are being held in conditions of slavery, four times the number previously thought, the Home Office has said.
In what is said to be the first scientific estimate of the scale of modern slavery in the UK, the Home Office has said the number of victims last year was between 10,000 and 13,000.
They include women forced into prostitution, domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.
Data from the National Crime Agency's Human Trafficking Centre had previously put the number of slavery victims in 2013 at 2,744.
Launching the Government's modern slavery strategy, Home Secretary Theresa May said the scale of abuse was "shocking".
"The first step to eradicating the scourge of modern slavery is acknowledging and confronting its existence," she said.
"The estimated scale of the problem in modern Britain is shocking and these new figures starkly reinforce the case for urgent action."
The new estimate is based on a statistical analysis by the Home Office chief scientific adviser, Professor Bernard Silverman, which aims for the first time to calculate the "dark figure" of victim numbers who are not reported to the law enforcement agencies.
"Modern slavery is very often deeply hidden and so it is a great challenge to assess its scale," he said.
"The data collected is inevitably incomplete and, in addition, has to be very carefully handled because of its sensitivity. "
The new strategy document, which builds on the frameworks used to counter terrorism and fight organised crime, sets out plans for co-ordinated action across government and law enforcement agencies to run alongside the Modern Slavery Bill currently going through Parliament.
While many victims are foreign nationals, the document emphasises that vulnerable British adults and children are also being systematically preyed upon by traffickers and slave drivers. The National Crime Agency estimates that the UK was the third most common country of origin for victims identified in 2013.
Among overseas victims, many of them brought into the UK by people traffickers, the most common countries were Romania, Poland, Albania and Nigeria.
UK Debates Approach to Child Sex Abuse Prevention as Pedophile Outs Himself on TV
On Tuesday evening, the British public was introduced — with much fanfare — to a soft-spoken, floppy-haired pedophile named Eddie.
Outing himself for the first time on a Channel 4 documentary, The Pedophile Next Door, 39-year-old Eddie calmly explained that his "age of attraction" includes children as young as four, though he is not "exclusively attracted to children." He said that he first self-identified as a pedophile in his 20s, after he began watching child porn. "I was genuinely distressed and worried… I would much prefer not to have these feelings and attractions, but I have them. And that's difficult."
Eddie insists that he has never acted on his desires — and indeed, that "I don't think I'm capable of that kind of thing." He says he wants help, to ensure that he never does offend.
But what recourse is there for the self-aware and self-critical pedophile: the adult who lusts for children, but who abhors his own desires — who recognizes his capacity to harm, but does not want to be a child molester?
In the Channel 4 documentary, presenter Steve Humphries does his best to ramp up the theatrics. Shots of Humphries glowering in the rear-view mirror of his car are accompanied by dramatic one-offs: "Most of us would never dream of talking to a pedophile." Eddie himself acknowledges that the subject he is broaching is one that triggers an instinctive hostility.
"People will probably say 'Why isn't this guy locked up? We should kill this guy, we should go and give him a good shoeing,'" he says.
"I, honest to God, won't run away from you and if that is what you want to do to me, you come and do it, because all you are doing in that scenario is just keeping the status quo.
But the crux of the film was rather level-headed: that we need a new approach to pedophilia, because what we're doing now isn't working.
Indeed, the film has rekindled a debate about pedophilia in Britain, which can seem to be perpetually awash in pedophile scandal. Some are agitating for a new approach to treating potential child abusers, while others, like Prime Minister David Cameron, want to toughen legal safeguards.
According to one researcher cited in the film, around 1 in 6 children in Britain will be sexually abused before the age of 16. "The problem is getting bigger and bigger," said Jonathan Taylor, formerly of Scotland Yard's former pedophile unit. "We haven't even got in the boat to go and see the tip of the iceberg."
Preventing the sexual abuse of children "has always been seen through the criminal justice lens [where] the option has always been to punish," Maia Christopher, executive director of the US-based Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, told VICE News. The result is that, historically, pedophiles have only received help and rehabilitation "after harm has been done." But Christopher says that recent years have seen a new push to address deviant sexual desires before they manifest as acts of child molestation.
But this requires creating space for pedophiles to voluntarily come forward and fess up.
Germany's Prevention Project Dunkelfeld — whose slogan is "Don't Offend" — is often held up as the gold standard in pedophile treatment. Dunkelfeld operates 10 outpatient centres across Germany, where self-described pedophiles receive a year of free therapy, delivered through weekly group sessions that are built around specific themes. Since it launched in 2005, some 4,500 patients, almost exclusively men, have entered the program.
The program's literature describes pedophilia as a "sexual preference" and a "sexual preference disorder" — and starts from the premise that pedophilia is not a mental illness, but rather a fixed and unwavering sexual predilection. By this logic, pedophilia cannot be cured or even reoriented, but it can be managed, such that pedophiles are not slaves to their urges and can avoid abusing children.
Most patients self-refer themselves to Dunkelfeld, Dr. Till Amelung, who has worked with the program since 2009, told VICE News. In the first instance of contact, would-be patients are assessed to ensure that they are intellectually and psychological stable — and that they are indeed pedophiles. "We explore their sexual fantasies about children, to see whether they are sufficient to bring about orgasm or climax."
Treatment draws on cognitive behavioural therapy and also borrows from the realm of addiction counseling — with its strategy of "relapse prevention." Amelung emphasizes coping strategies and stress alleviation, and helps his patients to break patterns of rumination and sexual fantasy. He also challenges what he describes as common "maladaptive...attitudes or convictions" among his patient base, which hold that "sex with children is OK [and] children might profit from sexual experiences with adults."
One role-playing exercise, which casts pedophiles in the role of the defenceless child, is designed to "sensitize the men to the feelings of shame, guilt and helplessness that accompany kids in a sexual situation."
Amelung treats both convicted child abusers and non-offenders. Some are "exclusive" pedophiles (who are only attracted to children) and others are partial pedophiles (who may also be attracted to adults). For exclusive pedophiles, Amelung says, part of the process is helping them realize "that they will never have sex with someone that they really desire. There's a great amount of grief."
Dunkelfeld runs slick TV ads on German television stations and in movie cinemas — and organizers tell VICE News that, almost a decade after they launched the program, they don't receive much in the way of public criticism or outcry.
The German model reflects a shifting approach to pedophilia within scientific circles, whose experts and researchers increasingly see it not as a mental illness, but rather as "a sexual orientation" — albeit one whose exercise inherently involves victimization and assault.
There is scant research on what causes pedophilia, though studies do suggest a genetic predisposition. Pedophiles are more likely than the general population to be short and left-handed and to have a lower IQ (by about 10 points.) Some show evidence of atypical brain anatomy.
New approaches also make a distinction between pedophiles and child molesters: categories that are often conflated. Last year, the American Psychiatric Associated updated its Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders to draw a distinction between people who have "recurrent, intense and sexually arousing fantasies" about children, and those who actually molest kids. According to the manual, people who lust for children but whose desires are not distressing or harmful to themselves or others "do not have a mental disorder."
"It's a handicap. I try to compare it to having diabetes," Dr. Corine de Ruiter, a forensic psychologist, told Channel 4 .
Therapists who work at Germany's Dunkelfeld program are regular speakers on the conference circuit, but their model is rarely replicated. In many countries, so-called "mandatory reporting laws" make it tricky for non-offending pedophiles to come forward.
Legislation in many American states, for instance, requires people working in certain professions to go to child protective services if they suspect that a child is being abused or is at risk of abuse. These laws are credited with exposing instances of child abuse, but they may also push professionals to err on the side of caution, and report even non-abusing pedophiles to authorities. This, in turn, could drive pedophiles further away.
Some pedophiles seek help in online support groups. The "Virtuous Pedophiles" are run by two anonymous men, both of whom have families and children. Together, they gather in the deep web to help each other eschew their sexual desires and abstain from child porn. Some hail the groups as essential, but others, like the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, worry that they might instead function as underground trading posts for pedophilic tips and tricks.
Germany does not have mandatory reporting laws. Britain doesn't either — though professional medical bodies like the British Psychological Society have their own reporting requirements that can have a similar effect, for example mandating that disclosed past offences be reported to the authorities. In September, under pressure from a number of survivors' organizations including the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), the UK government confirmed that it is considering American-style mandatory reporting rules. Five months earlier, in April, Prime Minister David Cameron told journalists that he would make it illegal for people to download "manuals" on how to sexually groom children — in the same way that it is illegal, under the UK's Terrorism Act 2000, for people to download terrorist training manuals.
This same government recently heard, from the head of the National Crime Agency, that British law enforcement agencies are overwhelmed by the number of people in Britain accessing child pornography — around 50,000 each year — with the result that many will elude law enforcement.
One program that does run in Britain is the Stop it Now! helpline, run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, with funding from the UK Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. But Stop it Now! Director Donald Findlater told VICE News that the organization is largely limited to providing anonymous counseling by phone. A pedophile can come for in-person treatment, but only if he agrees to report himself — or be reported— to police. When callers get through to the hotline, they are read a statement:
"The Helpline is confidential. We will not ask you for your name or any other details, but if you do give us any information that identifies a child who has been, is being, or is at risk of being abused, we will pass this on to the appropriate agencies. We will also pass on details of any criminal offence that has been committed."
Findlater explained that the majority of calls come from "those who are troubled by their own thoughts." The average hotline user calls three or four times, though some call upwards of 20 or 30 times — over the course of several years. In some instances, family members or friends get involved. And Findlater said the calls keep coming, in increasing rates. Last summer, the Home Office promised £100,000 of funding after Stop it Now! revealed that it was missing a startling 5,000 calls each month, due to understaffing.
The group also runs workshops for professionals, like "Sexual Fantasy and Arousal: Managing the Problem."
But the very notion of psychological treatment for pedophilia is controversial. For some, it recalls now - discredited attempts to "cure" homosexuality via so-called "gay conversion therapy" — which, in some cases, involved forcing gay men to masturbate to imaginations of heterosexual encounters. Others worry that defining pedophilia as a sexual orientation — over which a person has no control — will mainstream it, or strip pedophiles of responsibility for their actions.
British officials have reason to be especially wary when it comes to re-tooling their approach to child pedophilia. As late as the 1980s, members of the infamous Pedophile Information Exchange (PIE) — which sought to legalize sex with children — were given audiences with politicians and civil liberties groups. They campaigned publicly, published a magazine, lectured at universities, appeared on respectable news programs and even submitted to a Home Office enquiry into age of consent legislation. The PIE's logic of "children's sexual liberation" was widely and brazenly shared. Since the group's disbanding in 1984, a number of its members have been convicted of child sex offenses.
As it stands, pedophiles are usually revealed only after they violently abuse children: when they're convicted in court, or when their whereabouts are revealed — and draw wild-eyed crowds.
In 2000, after the murder and rape of a young girl named Sarah Payne, British tabloid News of the World launched a "naming and shaming" section, which published photographs of pedophiles along with their addresses, and brought hoards of enraged protesters to take to the streets. Vigilante attacks sometimes followed.
In the wake of these publications, some men picked up and skipped town. As a result, the Channel 4 documentary notes, these pedophiles moved further underground.
Teri Hatcher Addresses The UN With Emotional Speech About Sexual Abuse
(Video on site)
Teri Hatcher, known for her role on Desperate Housewives and as Lois in the television series, Lois & Clark , addressed the UN on November 25 about the sexual abuse that she horribly experienced as a young child by her uncle. Abuse that, as ET Canada reports, continued throughout her childhood, which Hatcher kept silenced about until she found the strength to come forward at the age of 18.
Hatcher gave the emotionally charged speech during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in New York. The conference was in part intended to help launch the Orange Your Neighborhood initiative, an initiative which was developed via the UNITE campaign by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.
Hatcher's words were vulnerable and heartfelt. The Daily Telegraph shares the words expressed by the star, which clearly indicate how her anguish over the abusive events still continues to plague her years after they took place.
“I am one of three women, who for the rest of her life battles the voice in her head that accepts blame for abuse, a voice that is antithetical to self-esteem, self-worth and happiness.This is a statistic that has to change. I am one in three and I will be the one who yells from the rooftops until those numbers change. Until every woman who has faced abuse feels less alone and safe enough to find the courage to have her own voice. Until violence against women is no longer a part of any woman's story, silence will not be a part of mine.”
Hatcher finally came forward with the secret of the abuse by way of a journal that she gave to her parents at the age of 18.
Teri described their reaction, stating, “My mother and father had suspected something had happened, but they were just burdened by their own confusing anger and helplessness that they were paralyzed into their own silence.”
The silence remained for another 20 years until finally Teri was brought to speak after hearing of a suicide of an 11-year-old girl who took her own life after being abused by Hatcher's uncle.
ET Canada recounts Hatcher's words, stating, “In a suicide note, she implicated my uncle, who had been sexually abusing her for years. I was shocked and devastated and overwhelmed by the idea that he had continued his abuse.”
Hatcher finally broke her silence and came forward about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her uncle so many years earlier. In doing so, she helped to convict him. Hatcher's uncle will remain in prison until death. However, Teri communicates that although it is a relief that he can not bring anymore harm to other young girls, the scars will remain with her and additional victims.
She added, “I am simply one of three women who is forced to accept violence as a part of their life story.”
The speech was met with a standing ovation. Hatcher helped to kick off a 16-day movement aiming to end violence against women internationally, and played a pertinent role by inspiring those who are suffering to break the silence.
County 's domestic violence rate one of highest in California
8,000 cases in '14
by Art Van Kraft
Ventura County has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in California, and the number of reported cases keeps rising.
According to social workers and law enforcement officials, there are many reasons for the county's high rate of domestic violence.
Erik Sternad, director of Camarillo based nonprofit Interface Children and Family Services, said money woes, substance abuse and emotional immaturity are all common triggers.
“We do know that abuse stretches across socioeconomic lines, and we know it is usually behavior passed from parent to child,” Sternad said.
According to the California Department of Justice, there were about 7,500 reported cases of domestic violence in Ventura County in 2012. That figure has increased to nearly 8,000 thus far in 2014.
According to the department of justice, 14 percent of Ventura County residents reported some type of domestic violence in their homes.
That's more than double the state average of 6.7 percent.
Ventura and Fresno counties have the highest number of domestic violence reports in the state.
‘Out of the house for good'
A 25-year-old county resident, who asked not be named to protect herself from her abusive husband, said she finally took her young child and left her home in 2013.
“My ex-husband would try to control my whole life,” she said. “He would hurt me when I tried to resist, and he was always being arrested. My daughter was just 6. The hardest thing I ever did was to just leave.”
She found the courage to call for help.
A Ventura County crisis team came to the house and helped her confront her husband.
“I had no money, but I looked him straight in the face and walked out of the house for good,” she said.
The woman and her daughter were sequestered at an undisclosed shelter in eastern Ventura for 30 days.
The two eventually entered a 12-month transitional home, where they were given a chance to restart their lives.
No outside support
Interface manages a shelter and four transitional homes in Ventura County. Sternad said the locations of the facilities are kept secret.
“Several weeks ago we had someone impersonate a pro bono attorney trying to get information on the location of a victim,” he said. “The first 12 months is the most dangerous to victims. We have batterers routinely trying to find them.”
In addition to the shelters, Interface has a 24-hour emergency response team that supports the victims and their families with an escape plan. Sternad said the response team is critical in getting services to victims when they need it most.
“We often go straight to the police station,” he said. “If there has been a violent incident at home, they are usually at the police station waiting room. The police have to go on to other things, and there is nobody there to help them.”
Sternad said the victims often have no outside support. Commonly, abusers take control of a victim's life, leaving them isolated from family and friends.
The Coalition for Family Harmony is another nonprofit organization in Ventura.
The shelter has four rooms with bunk beds and cradles. Director Caroline Prijatel-Sutton said her office regards domestic abuse and domestic violence as the same thing.
“Many of the women here were never touched, but they went through serious abuse,” Prijatel-Sutton said.
“Spouses would deny them a cellphone, a credit card or a driver's license and isolate them from their family. These are all forms of abuse, and the women usually don't leave.”
The number of major violent crimes involving robbery, kidnapping or murder is slowly dropping in Ventura County.
According to the district attorney's office, the crime rate is the lowest it's been since the early 1990s, yet violence in the home continues to rise.
“Law enforcement in Ventura County takes domestic violence reports more seriously,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Frawley. “They follow up more than other counties. Even so, I think everybody can agree that domestic violence is still underreported.”
The Ventura County district attorney's office filed 629 domestic violence cases in 2012. That figure increased to 653 in 2013, and thus far in 2014 there have been nearly 800 cases filed.
Educating the public
Sternad said education is one way to slow the spread of domestic violence.
Interface uses outreach programs to help stop abuse before it happens, he said, and a school program is used to educate families that are at risk.
“We are definitely seeing high levels of stress in families during the holidays,” he said. “This is really contributing to the abuse of children and spouses. Because of what we are seeing, we have doubled the amount of preventative education in schools, but funds are short.”
Ensuring youngsters will no longer suffer violence in the home
by Elizabeth Mackley
CHILDREN are the forgotten secondary victims of domestic abuse and this week, Swindon Women's Aid is highlighting the untold effects on their wellbeing.
The charity has teamed up with Swindon Community Safety Partnership to host a number of events and raise awareness of the taboo subject during Domestic Violence Awareness Week, which runs until November 28.
Even if children are not the direct targets of domestic abuse, witnessing the violence, even behind closed doors, has severe long-term consequences on their lives.
Jo Heaven, business development manager at Swindon Women's Aid, said: “When we think of domestic violence, pictures of adult victims and perpetrators come to mind, but there are often children who witness the abuse either directly or through closed doors.
“Some children can be injured as they try to defend their mothers or be abused alongside the adult victim.”
To support these most vulnerable victims the charity has a dedicated team of workers who aim to support and care for the children at the Women's Refuge.
Jo said: “At Swindon Women's Aid we have a dedicated team of children's support workers that have supported the 196 child victims of domestic violence that have stayed at the refuge since 2012.
“The children's behaviour may be withdrawn and they will have difficulty making new friendships.
“Other children have violent outbursts mirroring the behaviour they have seen in their own homes. Often communication skills are not fully formed as family discussions have been stilted or they have kept quiet to avoid confrontation.”
The work revolves making the children feel safe, and providing them with the means to explore their creativity and capacity for learning without living in fear.
Jo said: “Through structured sessions, activities and trips the children are given the opportunity to be children again – to play, trying new sports or just having fun.
“Mothers are helped to re-bond with their children and improve their parenting skills.
“Improvements in communication skills and a reduction in social isolation are welcome by-products of these activities.”
A number of events are set to take place this week to raise awareness of domestic abuse as well as offering information sessions and the opportunity to buy a white ribbon.
On Saturday people can head along to a fundraising Winter Wonderland Ball and, on Friday, Swindon Women's Aid is asking supporters to wear their pyjamas to work.
If you are affected by domestic violence contact Swindon Women's Aid on 01793 610610 or for more information visit: www.swindonwomensaid.org
Woman Charged with Filing 28 False Child Abuse Reports
In October 2014 the Bonifay Police Department began an investigation into some false reports of child abuse/neglect being submitted to the Florida Abuse Registry.
The investigation began after numerous unfounded reports were filed reporting alleged abuse in two separate households. The local Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Child Protective Investigative Unit contacted the Bonifay Police Department and asked for a criminal investigation into the matter.
The reports began in August 2014 and on some days the Abuse Registry was receiving multiple reports. DCF provided necessary information that led to subpoenas for records from two internet providers. The subpoenaed records led to the identification of a suspect connected to both households.
Jessica Elizabeth Combee, white female, 38 years-of-age, from Westville, FL has been arrested and charged with 28 counts of False Report(s) of Child Abuse. The offense is in violation of Florida Statute 39.205(9) and each count is a felony of the third degree.
When interviewed by law enforcement as to her motive for filing such reports, Combee responded, “to create havoc.” Combee was arrested last night and is currently in the Holmes County Jail with a $28,000.00 bond.
Bonifay Police Chief Chris Wells stated, “This is just one example of how people use the “system” to carry out their agenda against whomever they felt has done them wrong. The time and effort spent by law enforcement and DCF investigating these false reports could have been better used helping others who were really in need. I hope that this case will get the attention of others who might think twice before reporting something they know to be untruthful. I would also like to thank the Holmes County Sheriff's Office for their assistance in this investigation and executing the arrest warrant.”
Consider children in foster care when thinking of adoption
by Kitsey E. Burns
As November is National Adoption Month, it is the opportune time to make an appeal to those thinking of adoption to please consider adopting a child in foster care. These children, having experienced neglect or abuse, are the most vulnerable. They need a family that will give unconditional love, and a family that is able to provide for all their needs, both emotional and physical, on a consistent basis.
Child advocates and staff of the Guardian ad Litem Program have witnessed the transformation that occurs when a child is placed in a “forever” home. With proper care, these children are able to reach their full potential. It is not an easy journey, and may take a lifetime of support, but the rewards are immeasurable. The trauma of neglect and abuse as well as foster care can be overwhelming; however, with nurturing and love, anything is possible.
If adoption is not an option, consider becoming a child advocate for the Guardian ad Litem Program. As a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), participants will receive training and support to help guide them in their work with children. Volunteers will advocate for them and give them a much needed voice in the judicial process. The end result of having a child placed in a permanent, safe home is the ultimate reward, whether it is reunification with parents /guardians or in an appropriate adoptive home. For more information on adoption, contact the Department of Social Services in a local town. For more information on becoming a Guardian ad Litem child advocate, call 336-651-4465 or visit: www.ncgal.org
The Need For Therapeutic Foster Homes In Oklahoma
Oklahoma's children need your help! There is a desperate need for families willing to open their homes and make the commitment to provide nurturing, consistent, loving care to children in OKDHS custody. The number of confirmed child abuse cases continually rises and there are over 10,700 children in foster care in Oklahoma. The number of children needing a Therapeutic Foster home is also increasing. Currently there are more than 200 children and teens waiting for a TFC home.
Therapeutic foster care is a specialized form of foster care especially for children and teens who have identified emotional or behavioral problems, who need a higher level of care than traditional foster care. We provide Trauma Focused specialized care and treatment to meet each child's individual needs. The focus is to help the child overcome their situation while working closely with their DHS worker and our counselor and trained foster parents toward the goal of reunification, adoption, or independent living. Benefits to foster parents include helping a child in need, tax free reimbursement, professional training and support including 24hour crisis intervention. TFC children receive weekly individual and family counseling.
Basic requirements to become a TFC foster parent include: be 21 years of age or older, GED, high school diploma or higher education, single or married at least one year, both parents must attend training, stable loving home environment, financially stable, must be willing to successfully complete a thorough background check and home assessment. This is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive difference in the life of a child. For more information contact 1-800-275-6776, Ardmore office 580-226-9388, Durant Office 580-924-9441 or www.offibhs.org.
Sex Trafficking Prevalent In Maryland
by Abby Theodros
FREDERICK, Md. – At a moment's notice, Maryland State Police investigator, Chris Heid can make a call and arrange a ‘date.'
“Our offices are in Columbia, Maryland so we'll call the girls from Columbia and then we'll head out this way once we get a phone call or a date,” said Heid.
Making a date is just the first step in a standard human trafficking operation conducted by the Maryland Child Exploitation task force. The ultimate goal is to uncover cases of child sex trafficking and assist victims who may have been coerced or tricked into the business of trading sex for money.
“Our goal is to locate juveniles, offer assistance to victims regardless of age, and arrest the traffickers,” Heid said.
Corporal Heid's child recovery unit, a subset of the state wide task force, has uncovered more than 160 suspected trafficking victims in 2014.
One of those suspected victims is a 25-year-old girl who moved her work from Baltimore to Frederick after a string of dangerous sexual encounters. Sarah, whose name was changed for anonymity, found herself in the sex industry after pressure from her former strip club boss and a drug habit.
“When I first started doing this I had a bad experience so I came up to Frederick. I've had a pimp harass me and rape me because I wouldn't work for him,” Sarah said. “This is not a joke. Every time you open the door, the possibility of someone hurting you is real.”
Sarah insisted she was not working for anyone, but Sergeant Debbie Flory, also a member of the recovery unit, has seen many of cases like Sarah's and believes she is a victim.
“There was a man there and he traveled with the ladies so 9 out of 10 times that's her pimp,” said Flory.
Sex trafficking in Maryland is on the rise, according to members of the task force and Frederick County is not excluded.
“We've come to the area a handful of times this year and we typically get about five to six dates a night,” said Heid.
In an effort to combat those numbers, police investigators are taking a different approach in addressing girls in the sex trade. Instead of questioning and arresting, they offer support and resources.
“Any woman who is doing this for a living is a victim. At some point or the other they were talked into it,” said Flory.
As for the pimps and johns, they are arrested when a juvenile is involved. But if an adult woman is being trafficked she must confirm she is being forced or threatened, otherwise there is no arrest.
Missing S.F. 12-year-old may be sex-trafficking victim
by Vivian Ho
Police are investigating the possibility that a 12-year-old San Francisco girl who has been missing for almost two weeks is a victim of sex trafficking.
Imani Howell was last seen getting onto a 19-Polk bus for school on Nov. 10, police said. People have reported seeing her in the Mission District and along Oakland's International Boulevard, known hot spots for the trafficking of young girls.
“It's devastating right now, what we're going through and she's not here,” said her father, Willie Howell. “For this to happen to a 12-year-old — I almost went crazy. Everything has gone through my mind. She's just a little baby girl.”
Howell said the day Imani went missing was normal, starting with the morning ritual of him watching from a window in their Bayview home to make sure she safely got on a bus.
“I spent the whole day thinking my daughter was at school,” he said. “She usually gets home at 4:15, but 4:15 came, and my daughter still hadn't come home. ... When 5:50 came and she still wasn't home, I went to the Bayview police department and told them my daughter has never been late coming home.”
He filed a missing persons report. The next day was Veterans Day, so it wasn't until Nov. 12 that he learned from her school that she never showed up to class the day she went missing.
San Francisco police are broadcasting Imani's description over the scanner every hour in hopes someone will spot her. She was last seen on International Boulevard in Oakland on Monday.
Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said investigators are looking into the possibility that she had been tricked or coerced into human trafficking, and “we're following any leads that we get.”
Domestic human trafficking is more common than most people think, said Betty Ann Boeving, executive director of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition.
“It's unbelievable to me that when we speak now at events, how many people are standing up at the end and sharing stories,” she said. “People are saying my daughter had a friend who was lured on Facebook and was missing for a while, or talking about cases where a daughter goes to a store and is abducted by a friend's friend. It's happening more than we'd like to think.”
The issue is that many of these children are being lured by people they either know or meet online, Boeving said. The pimps don't look like criminals, she said, and have persuaded their victims to trust them.
That's what Howell believes happened to Imani. He thinks she got in touch with a predator through her cell phone, and the person then lured her away.
“I know my daughter. I raised her,” Howell said. “My daughter isn't going to go anywhere with someone she doesn't know. She's with somebody she's comfortable being around.”
Howell said he had done what he could to make sure she was using the cell phone only to text and call friends and family.
“Kids are very smart,” he said. “They will find a way. She was on Instagram, so I took her phone and deleted it. I bought her another phone so I could track her, and told her that if you try anything but talk on the phone, texting with friends, it's going to let me know. She tried, but then I think she started using her friends' phones.”
Imani has always been a good kid who has helped others, Howell said. She went to church, excelled at math and enjoyed playing basketball and going on bike rides with her father.
“She had told me she wanted to be a lawyer,” Howell said. “Then she told me she changed her mind and said she wants to be a paramedic because she likes to help people. Then she said, 'Daddy, can I do both?' And I said, 'You can do as many as you want.'”
Howell said he has been researching what he needs to do when Imani returns. If she is a victim of human trafficking, she will need “a lot of support from us, a lot of counseling from us,” he said.
“Come home,” Howell said, addressing his daughter. “We love you. Just come home.”
Imani is 5 feet 4, weighs 161 pounds, has brown eyes and black hair. She was last seen wearing black yoga-style pants with a cut-off shirt and high heels, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the San Francisco Police Department at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 with “SFPD” at the beginning of the message.
Former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart fights to stop human trafficking
NEW YORK -- According to a United Nations report, sex trafficking has become a $99-billion-a-year industry -- a figure that has more than tripled in the last seven years.
Kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart spoke about the trade at the UN yesterday and afterwards sat down with CBS News.
"They're kidnapped, they're stolen," Smart said of sex trafficking victims in an interview with CBS News. "Many times they are given drugs, many times they are manipulated through threats, just, I mean, like me. I was manipulated through threats, threats to my life and my family."
Twelve years ago, when she was 14 years old, smart was abducted, raped and held in captivity for nine months. She now crisscrosses the country, speaking and talking to victims about her experience.
She's turning her ordeal into a powerful weapon against an exploding criminal enterprise -- human trafficking.
"I often look back to the nightmare of my own kidnapping, to the very night that I was taken at knifepoint from my bed," Smart told the UN.
Training with Navy SEALs to help with rescues, Smart is merging her own foundation with Operation Underground Railroad.
That group sets up stings with local law enforcement to free children, like a recent mission in Colombia that rescued 29 kids under the age of 18.
Many trafficking victims are orphaned by war and natural disaster, or lured with the promise of modeling and film jobs.
"There are so many feelings of worthlessness, of being devalued, of wondering if life will even be worth continuing to live and if you do survive, will people accept you back," Smart said.
Now age 26, Smart says she's conquered that fear of acceptance. While she still has flashbacks when she talks to victims, she feels sharing her story is liberating.
Lawmakers Propose Changes to Child Abuse Laws
by Steph Machado
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Over the past ten months, the Legislative Panel on Child Protection has heard from more than 600 people about Vermont's child welfare system.
The panel of lawmakers formed in February, shortly after the death of 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon, with the goal of changing Vermont's child abuse laws. Over the summer, 14-month-old Peighton Geraw also died. Both were reunited with their families by the Vermont Department for Children and Families before they died.
"Public safety, including the safety of our kids should be a main government function," said Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington). He co-chaired the committee with Sen. Claire Ayer (D-Addison).
Tuesday, the panel had its final meeting, putting out recommendations that will be turned into a bill for the full Legislature to consider in January.
One of the major recommendations concerned reunification, and changing to what Sen. Sears calls a "Massachusetts" model, focusing on the child's best interest.
"Some of the testimony we heard was that it isn't always the best interest of the child," said Sears. "That reunification with one or both parents is the paramount goal. We think the best interest of the child needs to be our standard."
Dezirae Sheldon was given back to her mother by DCF shortly before her death. Her mother's husband, Dennis Duby, was charged with her murder.
Another major recommendation is the "cone of confidentiality," which will allow more communication that current confidentiality laws prohibit.
"All the people working with this family or particular individual will be able to talk to each other," said Sen. Sears. Those people could include social workers, guardian ad litems, probation officers, and police.
A state police report released in June found issues with communication led to Dezirae Sheldon being returned to her home. Another external report, called for by Gov. Shumlin and released last week, came to a similar conclusion.
The focus of the panel's recommendations is to prevent child abuse before it's too late. Read more of the draft recommendations here. They will be drafted into a bill by January.
Child Abuse: How to Spot It, Stop It and Prevent It
Abuse or neglect hurts children in many ways. Young children are at special risk. They may not grow properly. They may have learning problems. They may feel bad about themselves and not trust other people. They may be scared or angry. Sometimes they die.
Children often believe that abuse or neglect is their fault. They may think that they did something wrong and deserve what happened. It is up to adults who care to protect them.
What can you do if you suspect that a child has been abused or neglected?
Call the police or local child protective services. You don't have to give your name. If you don't know who to call, a hospital may be able to tell you. Many of them have special programs to deal with child abuse and neglect.
If a child is in immediate danger or has been badly hurt, don't wait. Call 911 or other emergency services right away.
If it is your own child, get him or her to a safe place and stay there. This may be the home of a close friend or family member or a domestic violence shelter. To find help in your area, call a trusted health professional, a child abuse organization, or the police.
If you are a child or teen who is being abused, don't keep the secret. Tell someone who can make a difference: a trusted family member, teacher, counselor, or doctor.
The Childhelp National Child Abuse hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer information, advice, and support. Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
What can you do if you're afraid someone might harm your child?
If there is someone in your child's life who you think is close to becoming an abuser, you may be able to talk to that person about it and help the person learn more about managing stress and about how children grow and develop.
If you're afraid to talk to the person, make a specific plan for how you will protect your children if you think abuse is about to happen or has happened. Know who you will call and where you and your children will go.
How can you prevent child abuse and neglect?
To protect your child from abuse:
Listen to your child. Let him or her know it is safe to talk about anything with you.
Get to know your child's friends and their families.
Screen all caregivers, such as babysitters and day care centers. Find out what they know about child health, child development, and child care. This may include getting permission for a police background check.
Teach your child the difference between "good touches" and "bad touches."
Take a break. Ask a family member or friend to give you a break when you feel overwhelmed. Learn healthy ways to manage stress. Look online for information and support, such as Childhelp (www.childhelp.org).
Get help if you have ever been a victim of abuse. Having a history of being abused increases your chances of becoming an abuser. A good place to start is the Childhelp hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). You can talk to a counselor for free without giving your name.
To help other children:
Learn to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect. For example, a child may not grow as expected, may be dirty or unhealthy, or may seem fearful, anxious, or depressed.
Know the names of your neighbors and their children. Offer to help a new parent. Child abuse becomes less likely if parents and caregivers feel supported.
Be an advocate for children. Support any group that helps parents at risk of abusing their children. Donate time, money, or goods to a local domestic violence shelter.
If you see abuse or neglect happening, speak up. A child's life may depend on it.
From Sanford Health:
What is child abuse and neglect?
Child abuse means doing something that hurts a child. Neglect means not giving or doing something that a child needs.
Physical abuse includes hitting, kicking, shaking, pinching, and burning. It may leave bruises, cuts, or other marks and cause pain, broken bones, or internal injuries.
Emotional abuse is saying or doing things that make a child feel unloved, unwanted, unsafe, or worthless. It can range from yelling and threatening to ignoring the child and not giving love and support. It may not leave scars you can see, but the damage to a child is just as real.
Sexual abuse is any sexual contact between an adult and a child or between an older child and a younger child. Showing pornography to a child is a type of sexual abuse.
Neglect happens when a child does not get the shelter, schooling, clothing, medical care, or protection he or she needs. Child neglect is just as serious as abuse and is more common.
Stop abusing our girls!
Campaign launched to end sexual violence
A social awareness campaign to end sexual violence against girls was yesterday endorsed by ministers of government and leaders of civil society to commemorate International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The campaign, dubbed 'Nuh Guh Deh', was developed as a method to discourage men from engaging in sexual activities with underaged girls, with hopes of ending occurrences of violence against women.
The campaign, which involves the use of video presentations done by Eve for Life, tells the stories of young girls who have been victims and survivors of sexual abuse, messages which are intended to have an emotional appeal to help put a blunder on acts of violence against women.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator A J Nicholson endorsed calls for the country to use the 16 days of activism, stipulated by the United Nations until December 10, as an action against the elimination of the act of violence towards women and girls.
"Let us work together until that time comes when it is no longer necessary for us to meet for this purpose," Nicholson said, noting that women make up the majority of the population and subsequently should be treated with respect.
"Women comprise 51 per cent of the national population; they are our mothers, our sisters, our wives, our daughters, our colleagues and our friends. Violence against them is an attack against the very fabric of our lives, our families, our community, our society," Nicholson said.
He added that statistics from the United Nations estimated that more than 70 per cent of women worldwide will experience some form of violence in their lives, but pointed out that violence committed against women also has an impact on the economy.
"Violence against women impacts and impedes the progress in many areas such as poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and security," added Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, the Opposition spokesman on gender affairs.
To combat what she described as a global pandemic, Grange said women and girls should stop suffering in silence for monetary gains, but rather speak out.
"Know the signals [like] unexplained soreness or bruises around genitals or mouth, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, children running away, [which tell that your girls are being abused]," Grange said. "The first thing we say when children run away is that they are rude but do we seek to find out if there's some level of abuse at home driving them away?" she asked.
Grange urged adults not to turn a blind eye or remain silent and reminded them that each one has a responsibility to uphold in order to end violence against girls and women.
Minister with responsibility for information, Senator Sandra Falconer, who represented Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, said the Government would continue to put measures in place to eliminate violence against women.
Everyone can help in prevention of child abuse, domestic violence
by John W. Morrissey
By the time, you finish reading this article, more than 30 cases of child abuse will have been reported to authorities nationwide. By the end of today, that number will swell past 9,000. In addition, three of those children will die at the hands of their abuser. All in a single day.
Children from newborn to 3 years old are at the highest risk for abuse and neglect. It is shocking and tragic, yet it is critical that we as a community grasp that one out of every three victims of child abuse are babies and toddlers
The overlap between domestic violence and child abuse is not altogether surprising to people who work with batterers and abusers, because of the similarities between the profiles and tactics used by members of the two groups (often the same individuals).
Both groups are known for exercising a high degree of control over their victims and other family members, through verbal abuse and other strategies. They believe it is their right to use progressively more severe bullying tactics if they are not getting the obedience that they demand. Batterers and abusers tend to alternate between periods of loving kindness and periods of harsh emotional and physical abusiveness towards their victims.
The murder of Serenity Rose, 11 months old, should serve as a wake-up call to our entire community. Domestic violence is a tremendous problem in our community and across the country. On average more than three women are murdered each day by their husband or boyfriend, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Domestic violence is a scourge on our community.
Advocates like myself often fight in courtrooms and the public realm to protect the rights, health and welfare of at-risk children and domestic abuse victims. However, all too often, the worst abuses go on in places we cannot see or reach — behind a family's closed doors.
How common are these problems? Domestic violence is a widespread problem with long-term consequences to the victim and all family members as well as to the batterer. Child abuse has become a national epidemic.
More than 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States, and it is believed there are still many more cases unreported and undisclosed. More than one million children are confirmed each year as victims of child abuse and neglect by child protective services agencies. In addition, every day a minimum of three children die as a result.
Domestic violence and child abuse proliferate in an environment that accepts it. Shrouding the violence in secrecy allows this behavior to continue. Educating the public about the extent and nature of the violence establishes a foundation that permits victims to come forward. The public needs to be educated about the long-term cost to society involving domestic abuse and child abuse.
When we reflect on the sobering statistics it is easy to be overwhelmed and to ask yourself, “What can I possibly do to make a difference?” The answer is you can do a lot. Everybody can play a role in preventing domestic abuse and child abuse by becoming advocates and reporting the abuse.
Keep the toll-free numbers nearby, Child Abuse hotline 800-422-4453, National Domestic Abuse hotline 800-799-7233; you can report your suspicions confidentially.
We need to work together to make Serenity Rose the last victim of abuse who is ever murdered in our community. Educate yourself — and others — about the devastating toll that domestic violence and child abuse and neglect take on our children and our society as a whole.
We all have a role to play. What will yours be?
John W. Morrissey is the chief of the Kenosha Police Department.
United Arab Emirates
Psychological abuse can scar a child for life
by Ayesha Almazroui
Physical and sexual abuse leaves visible marks on a child's body and can lead to psychological harm. How about psychological abuse? How much do we know about its effects and the trauma it induces?
The largest national survey on child abuse, Abuse against Children in UAE Society, revealed that psychological abuse is the most prevalent form of ill-treatment in the UAE.
According to the survey by the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, 39 per cent of child abuse occurs in schools and 23 per cent in homes. Witnessing violence and neglect, both of which can also be classified as psychological abuse, came in at 22 and 18 per cent respectively. This brings psychological abuse to a grand total of 63 per cent of all abuse at home. That's far more than physical abuse (22 per cent) and sexual abuse (15 per cent).
Perhaps it's not surprising that psychological abuse significantly exceeds any other form of abuse. It can be kept well-hidden and often it is hard to detect. This makes it an especially serious problem.
The harm caused by psychological abuse is usually underestimated, not only in the UAE but around the world. Many parents don't realise the consequences of ignoring a child, preventing them from having a normal social life or verbally assaulting them by casually belittling, shaming, ridiculing or threatening them.
Parents may behave this way for many reasons – the stress of everyday life, poor parenting skills, a lack of appropriate disciplinary techniques.
Sometimes, they may have unrealistic expectations of their children and react with psychological abuse when they fail to achieve them. Sometimes, parents who were themselves victims of psychological abuse at the hands of their parents or caregivers, do the same to their children. Breaking the cycle of abuse from one generation to the next is often very difficult.
People often think that physical and sexual abuse are far more harmful to a child than psychological or emotional abuse because they aren't visually apparent, at least at first. Bruising and malnutrition, for instance, are obvious signs that something is wrong. But psychological abuse is hard to detect. This may be why it isn't considered taboo in the way of physical and sexual child abuse. As a result, there is a higher level of tolerance of it.
But according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association, children who are emotionally abused and neglected face similar, and sometimes worse, mental health problems than those who are physically or sexually abused. The study defined the following as psychological abuse by a parent or caregiver: bullying, terrorising, coercive control, verbal assault and threats, humiliation, overwhelming demands, shunning and/or isolation.
The hidden scars of this type of abuse can manifest in numerous ways, including insecurity, low self-esteem, poor development of basic skills, difficulty forming relationships, withdrawal, destructive and harmful behaviour (such as pyromania and cruelty to animals), alcohol or drug abuse, and in extreme cases, suicide.
Policymakers and health and education authorities need to take note of the results of the Abuse against Children in the UAE survey. First, efforts should be made to raise awareness about the tremendous amount of harm that psychological abuse can do to our children.
Awareness campaigns, such as “Weapon of Choice”, an international public-service campaign by US photographer Rich Johnson, can help change attitudes. Johnson took a series of pictures showing victims physically scarred by the words used against them to demonstrate the extent of harm that can be caused by verbal abuse.
Last but not least, psychological abuse should be an essential part of prevention programmes in schools. We must never assume that psychological scars are less harmful than physical ones. It's time that society changes its attitude to a deeply painful and hidden shame.
Social workers struggling with emotional impact of child abuse cases, finds NSPCC
NSPCC and Coventry University research finds social workers want more training and better supervision to deal with child sexual abuse
Social workers are struggling to deal with the emotional impact of child sexual abuse cases and do not feel adequately trained to help children at risk, an NSPCC report has found.
Published today, the report – which interviewed social workers, managers and safeguarding board chairs in six English councils – highlighted that a social worker's confidence to deal with these issues is affected by their access to training, supervision, peer and managerial support and previous experience of managing cases of child sexual abuse (CSA).
Social workers interviewed by researchers broadly agreed that they “had not undertaken CSA specific or in depth training as part of their qualifying programme”, while some were unable to complete any training due to their teams being overworked.
“There was an acknowledgement that qualifying training provided social workers with the theoretical knowledge that enabled them to contextualise and understand CSA but their courses had not specifically prepared them for the work involved,” the report stated.
Some social workers also said their local authority did not require them to undertake any specific CSA training, with individual social workers taking responsibility for their own professional development.
High caseloads also impacted on social workers' ability to maintain their own wellbeing.
The report, commissioned by the NSPCC and carried out by researchers at Coventry University, found social workers “undertook the work with a strong sense of commitment and concern for children”.
But they were also emotionally affected by the cases of sexual abuse they were managing and found high caseloads and managerial pressures ate into their own time for self-support.
Social workers involved in the research called for less emphasis on the procedural elements of working with victims, in favour of more focus on direct work with children, multi-agency working and supporting children and their families after a disclosure of abuse.
They argued for more training on the healthy sexual development of children and for training to be more interactive and participatory.
The report concluded that social workers were, “frequently operating without the support, time, knowledge and training they needed to ensure the identification of sexual abuse and the protection and well-being of extremely vulnerable children”.
Annie Hudson, chief executive of the College of Social Work, which was tasked by the report to develop practice guidance for social workers, said the research shows “the undoubted negative impact of workload pressures” on practitioners.
“There are complex variables which shape whether or not social workers feel capable and confident in what is a very emotionally demanding area of practice,” she said. “These include initial and post qualifying training, peer support, attitudes of managers, as well as caseloads.”
She added that social workers must have access to excellent training around child sexual abuse at every stage of their careers.
Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC's sexual abuse programme, said social workers need greater support to keep up with a “rapidly changing environment of sexual abuse.”
“They expertly adapt their responses to ever-evolving risks, but also need bespoke training to tackle issues such as internet-based abuse, grooming and child sexual exploitation.”
The report also recommended that educators should collaborate to achieve greater consistency on teaching CSA during qualifying training, while Local Safeguarding Children Boards were told to monitor responses to annual training needs analysis of social workers.
Child abuse survivors operate in crisis mode
by Sandrine Rattan
The effects and negative impact of child abuse on adult survivors are wide-ranging. First it must be understood, that the world of children revolves around their parents or primary caregivers. Moreover, parents and or caregivers are the primary source of safety, security, love, understanding and all the other nurturing elements that are usually associated with that bond. However, when children are abused, the trust which was developed between the children and the “abuser” is violated.
When the primary relationship is one of betrayal, a negative set of beliefs develop immediately that often affect the victim's capacity to establish and sustain significant attachments throughout their life.
Research has shown, that survivors often experience conflicting relationships and chaotic lifestyles.
The lives of many survivors are often characterised by frequent crises and turmoil including job disappointments, failed relationships and financial setbacks. In most instances, these situations exist as a result of unresolved abuse issues which occurred during childhood.
The reasons are complex, but for many survivors, on-going internal chaos prevents the establishment of regularity, predictability and consistency.
Many victims operate their lives in crisis-mode, responding with stop-gap measures which are unable to resolve the underlying issues. According to Dr Bessel van Der Kolk, Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, “People have a range of capacities to deal with overwhelming experiences. Some people, kids in particular, are able to disappear into a fantasy world, to disassociate, to pretend like it isn't happening, and are able to go on with their lives. And sometimes it comes back to haunt them.”
A number of studies have explored the psychological effects of childhood trauma and subsequent health concerns. Research has also found that child abuse contributes to depression, anxiety disorders, addictions, personality disorders, sexual disorders as well as suicidal tendencies.
A study conducted by psychologists Palmer, Brown, Rae-Grant and Loughlin in 2001 with 384 survivors of child abuse, found that they had a tendency to be depressed, have low self-esteem, and also had challenges functioning effectively in their family environment.
The link between Child Abuse and Medical Challenges:
Child abuse negatively impacts the health of victims. Prior studies have amassed support for these relationships in younger adults, yet fewer studies have looked at the effects of abuse on health in older adults along with the psychological variables, that may influence the abuse-health relationship. A study published in “Psychology and Violence” examined data obtained from a two-wave panel study in Florida's Miami-Dade County. The study explored the impact of child abuse on current medical problems among older adults who were screened on physical disability status. Conducted in South Florida, the researchers used a multi-ethnic sample that is representative of the general population in the area. The results showed that child abuse was associated with a number of health problems. The authors concluded that there are severe effects of child abuse on the health of older adults.
The lessons learnt from these amazing revelations are that the childhood phase of one's life needs to be preserved and nurtured with emotions which would leave lasting and positive memories, that should not only be cherished, but also act as a guide to position individuals in the right direction as they traverse through the various stages of adulthood.
Call 365-7648 to book your space for the upcoming workshop on January 24, 2015, titled “Women's success towards self-sufficiency & Financial Independence”
The Paedophile Next Door: Documentary to show self-confession from 'man sexually attracted to children as young as four'
by Nicola Methven
39-year-old Eddie admits openly that he has been sexually attracted to girls as young as four since he was in his 20s - but insists he has never committed a crime
A self-confessed paedophile is to out himself in a television documentary to ask for more help for people sexually attracted to children in a bid to stop them becoming criminals.
Channel 4's The Paedophile Next Door will feature 39-year-old Eddie admitting openly on camera that he has been sexually attracted to girls as young as four since he was in his 20s, but insisting has never committed a crime.
The programme looks at so-called "virtuous paedophiles" and suggests radical changes are needed to child protection that include treatment and therapy for those who come forward despite never having committed any sex offences.
An adult victim of child abuse will come face to face with a man who admits to being a paedophile in a Channel 4 film which urges men who are attracted to children to own up and seek help.
Ian McFadyen, who was abused by a paedophile ring which operated in his school more than 30 years ago, will tell the man: “Some years ago, I would have probably attempted to kill you”.
But both survivor and paedophile, called Eddie, agree that the current system to protect children is not working.
Ian said today: "It was not a comfortable meeting but we are heading towards the same goal."
Dr Sarah Goode, an expert on the subject of paedophilia, says that British children today would be better served if some of the men who might be inclined to abuse them - believed to number up to 250,000 - could be prevented from doing so.
She said that those men who had sexual feelings towards children but were determined not to act on them could be helped through support groups which work in a similar way to addiction therapy.
In the film Eddie claims to be a paedophile who is attracted primarily to girls aged four to six years old but has never abused any.
He says he is speaking out on camera because he is desperate for help to manage his “unwanted desires” and thinks other men like him should also seek support.
On the eve of the film being screened, former victim Ian agreed that it was important to change the way that we deal with the issue of child sex abuse.
"There are many Eddies out there," he said. "They are a ticking timebomb. We'll never stop all child abuse but our current procedures are antiquated.
"If we don't talk about it, less children will be protected. It may be uncomfortable to talk about but for somebody that has survived that, it is less uncomfortable than the act being perpetrated."
As many as 1 in 50 British men feel some degree of sexual attraction towards children, Dr Goode said.
The film-makers hope that the programme, called The Paedophile Next Door, will encourage others like Eddie to "out" themselves. Dr Goode said: "I think quite a lot of men will come forward as a result of Eddie's courage.
"We need to change our culture. Britain is lagging behind other countries - we need to differentiate between attraction and action and create a climate where people who are troubled by these feelings can seek help. We need to be far more grown-up about child protection."
In the film Eddie writes a letter to his estranged mother telling her that he is a reluctant paedophile and has since travelled to Europe for treatment.
Ian, who went to school with Nick Clegg, said he had written to the deputy Prime Minister requesting that he helps bring about changes to the current system, which is failing children.
Ian said: "I tried to pass him the baton but he didn't so much drop the baton as chuck it away.
"The response I got was that what happened to me in the 70s could not happen now."
* The Paedophile Next Door, C4, 9pm, Tuesday 25 November
Charges not filed despite ‘substantiated child abuse'
7-month-old suffers spiral fracture of femur at day care
by Adam Schrager
MADISON, Wis. - A Columbia County mother is frustrated no criminal charges have been filed after her 7-month-old son suffered a spiral fracture of his femur at a day care.
One of the leading child abuse doctors in Wisconsin told police Sam Stanton's injury was consistent with abuse, and Columbia County Child Protective Services substantiated child abuse against the owner of the day care for her alleged actions on July 19, 2013. However, Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey last week determined she did not have a criminal case she could prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
"It's saying if you can't speak and you can't point to the person who did something, they'll never be caught," said Heather Stanton, Sam's mother. "I mean, he was 7 1/2 months old. It's not like he can call 911."
Stanton said when she picked Sam up from the Bunny Hop Day Care in the village of Fall River nearly a year and a half ago, her parental intuition and a look on her son's face let her know something was seriously wrong.
"I will never, ever, ever, ever forget in a million years the look of terror on his face and the noise that he made," she said. "There were no words for him at 7 1/2 months old, so this noise, you can only describe it as 'I can't handle this, something's wrong and this is how I'm telling you something's wrong.'"
Stanton brought Sam to the UW Children's Hospital where he was treated by Dr. Barbara Knox, an internationally known expert in cases of child abuse. Her medical report said a spiral fracture of the femur is gravely concerning for non-accidental trauma.
The injury happens when a child's leg is twisted. It can happen accidentally if a child is climbing down from a high chair and their foot gets caught, but Sam was immobile at that point, leading Fall River police to launch a felony physical-abuse-of-a-child investigation.
Officers first explored Stanton as a possible suspect, giving her a forensic voice stress analysis test which she passed. Then, they questioned the day care owner and her adult-aged daughter, both of whom were in the home-based day care when Sam was there.
They told wildly disparate stories and when Fall River police read the day care owner her Miranda rights, she obtained a lawyer and did not correspond with them further. Stanton remains frustrated over not knowing what happened.
"Who did it? That's the question," Stanton said. "No one's admitting there was an accident. No one's saying anything about anything."
That's one of the reasons that Kohlwey said she is asking anyone with information about this incident to come forward, but that she does not feel she knows conclusively what happened to Sam.
"We don't have proof here that Sam was injured deliberately or in a criminally-negligent manner and we also don't have proof beyond a reasonable doubt who injured him," Kohlwey said. "I would love that every crime would get solved and even more so when it's a baby that's getting injured, but we don't solve all crimes."
The State of Wisconsin's Division of Children and Family Services allowed the day care to close voluntarily in September, 2013, after concluding that corporal punishment, defined by state law as spanking, hitting, pinching, shaking, slapping, twisting, throwing, happened at Bunny Hop.
A spokesman for DCF said it is on a case-by-case basis that the state determines whether it would shut down a day care or allow the provider to voluntarily close. Compliance history plays a factor. Earlier allegations of improper discipline from 2001, 2004 and 2006 were not substantiated by Columbia County Child Protective Services.
Sam Stanton is coming up on his second birthday. After spending six weeks in a cast, he's gone through physical therapy and he is now moving well. Yet, his mother said she will continue to advocate for justice, if not for Sam, then for the next kid she fears may come through those caregivers. State law allows the former day care owner to look after four kids up to the age of 7 without any state regulation.
"How do you let go? Do you just walk away and forget? I can't," she said. "If somebody else's kid (gets hurt), I'll never sleep again."
Police: Student led high school prostitution ring
by The Associated Press
VENICE, Fla. (AP) - Authorities in Florida say a 17-year-old Sarasota High School student organized a prostitution ring of students from nearby high schools.
The teen was arrested Friday on felony charges of human trafficking of a person under 18.
Venice police say at least one act of prostitution took place, which led to the arrest of 21-year-old John Michael Mosher. He's accused of paying $40 and a bottle of liquor to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Police Capt. Tom Mattmuller told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1vjm1ub) another arrest is expected Tuesday.
Officials say the ring was uncovered when four students confided to administrators at Venice High School.
Documents indicate the teen and at least one other student concocted the plan over the summer to prostitute teens for money and alcohol.
Accountability is key to a safer community
by Malinda Williams
Why is accountability so important in making our communities safer from domestic violence? Because without interruption and accountability, offenders continue to harass, intimidate, and threaten their partners and children. From decades of work in this community as well as from many studies, we know often the offender goes on to abuse new partners, creating different victims of their abuse – over and over.
For this reason, assuring accountability for domestic violence must be a community-wide effort. Offenders and all agencies with a stake in prevention — including police, courts, prosecution, probation, substance abuse treatment providers, and domestic violence service providers — must be accountable for the safety of the victims.
Victims of domestic violence are justifiably the focus of most resources for services and support. But resources and prevention services must also be directed to the people actually responsible for the problem — the batterers. One important service for batterers is enrollment in a batterer intervention programs. These programs are designed for offenders who deliberately use a pattern of violence/intimidation/manipulation to exert coercive control over their intimate partner. Many studies show that men who participate and complete a batterer intervention program are significantly less likely to re-offend than men who did not complete a program.
Batterer intervention programs work because they teach men how to examine and be accountable for their abusive behavior. Batterer intervention programs also reduce men's social isolation and provide a safe environment for offenders to deal with difficult personal issues, to challenge other members who engage in abusive behavior, to change views about intimate relationships that offenders use to justify abusive behaviors. Batterer intervention programs help offenders learn alternative, nonviolent coping methods and strategies and teach them conflict resolution skills.
New Mexico state law requires courts to order, as part of probation, anyone who is convicted of domestic violence to complete a state-certified batterer intervention program. Unfortunately, most people who commit domestic violence never attend a batterer intervention program because most offenders are never arrested. And if an arrest actually occurs, prosecutors often do not seek convictions, even in the worst cases. Offenders are often offered “pre-prosecution diversion,” which will not result in a conviction. Prosecutors excuse offering pre-prosecution diversion by claiming it is particularly difficult to get convictions because victims do not cooperate or it is a “he-said, she-said” situation. But even when there are medical records and outside witnesses, prosecutors rarely prosecute.
Ray Rice, the NFL player who knocked out his wife in an elevator, got pre-prosecution diversion, even though there was a grand jury felony indictment and a clear video recording of the assault. The criminal justice system needs to be held accountable for the safety of all adult and child victims of domestic violence.
Courts have the power and leadership responsibility to hold the police, prosecution, probation, and nonprofits providing domestic violence services accountable for ensuring victims and offenders are provided with the best possible and effective services. Defendants must be monitored, held accountable for their choices, and sanctioned quickly for violations. And judges must understand which programs will enforce accountability and provide the best chance of reducing re-offense.
To maximize accountability to victims, the successful batterer intervention program completion must be one component of a coordinated community response. Other components include police training, pro-arrest policies, “no-drop” prosecution policies, and substance abuse treatment tied to court supervision. Each component of a community response affects whether a batterer will re-offend. Even the best batterer intervention programs will work not well unless offenders and all agencies are held accountable for preventing domestic violence.
Brevard sex-assault victims answer 'why'
by Britt Kennerly
Only the women (more than a dozen as I write this) who have accused comedian Bill Cosby of sexual abuse or misconduct, and Cosby himself, know what happened between them.
I can only guess what happens to the career of a man once dubbed TV Guide's "Greatest TV Dad of All Time."
But I can state this unequivocally: I'm sick of the "whys" roiling after these revelations.
You've heard the whys, most often asked by people who haven't been victimized or haven't come to terms with abuse if they suffered it.
Why didn't these women come forward earlier?
Why would they speak up now — for money, fame?
Why don't all survivors of sexual abuse speak up, period?
Because they feel afraid. Ashamed. Alone.
Because they're often threatened by a person with some degree of power or control over them, warning the victim's life will be ruined by telling someone or pressing charges.
Because in 2014, global scorn and ridicule can be heaped on a victim, anyone, via social media.
Because rape survivors have long been blamed for what they were wearing, or drinking, or because they were out late at night.
Because claims of rape are often not taken seriously, to a point where sexual assault is one of the nation's most under-reported crimes.
Erin Baird knows why.
She survived multiple sexual assaults as a child and as an adult. She never reported the experiences to authorities for a variety of reasons, said Baird, regional coordinator for service learning at Eastern Florida State College.
"It is difficult to explain the fog of fear and confusion that can envelope an individual after such a traumatic experience, particularly when most victims know (and many times love) their abusers, and especially when victims are young," she said.
"It saddens me to see so much hate and ridicule directed at victims of any crime, but when it involves sexual crimes it is far more disheartening. We live in a culture that, despite all our evolution toward equality for women, is still plagued by rampant sexism. Victims are already living in that environment and already struggling with feelings of shame unique to sexual crimes. An environment of compassion is far more conducive to healing and justice."
Veronica, who hasn't told her daughter and doesn't want to give her last name, knows why.
It's taken her years to work through the serial abuse and self-esteem issues she suffered.
She was sexually assaulted for years by her step-grandfather, starting when she was 7. She didn't tell her mother "as I knew it would have broken her heart to know that she had continually placed me in harm's way," she said.
"Predators school themselves on how to keep their victims silent. This sexual abuse happened over the summers I was sent to stay with my grandparents. My parents were too busy working to care for me and I think financially they needed my grandparents to help with the care."
Veronica was 12 when she looked her rapist in the eye "and told him if he touched me again, I would tell. This was the last summer I was invited to stay with my grandparents."
And Leslie McGinty, of Palm Bay, knows why.
The few times she talked about being attacked, "I was asked what I did to provoke it," she said.
"That has to stop. I did nothing but walk home from a bus stop and trust someone I worked with. I never reported it because of threats to my safety. It feels like some men have an entitlement issue in regard to women's bodies. If you don't put out, you are a prude or a bitch. If you do, you are a slut. The same standards are not held for men."
Baird hopes, though, that things are getting better. She recently helped coordinate a domestic violence/sexual violence awareness event at EFSC called "Light in Dark Places."
"I may not have reported the crimes against me, but it restores my spirit to share my story so that others may know they do not suffer alone," Baird said.
"I was also inspired by the love and support demonstrated by our community and our students. I am hopeful that as we continue to cultivate understanding, anger and judgment will fade away."
Oh, why haven't we reached that why-free place already?
Campaign to give more support to victims of domestic and sexual violence
Victims of domestic and sexual violence are to get more support in a campaign being launched.
How Many Times has been created with the help of the survivors of violence.
It aims is to increase awareness of helplines and support services on offer to both men and women in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Figures show 40,000 women in the city may have suffered domestic abuse in their adult lives.
In the county, about 7,600 incidents of domestic abuse are reported to the police each year, of which 2,700 are classed as criminal offences and a fifth of victims are men.
On average, two women die each year in Leicester and Leicestershire from domestic violence.
County councillor Joe Orson, chairman of the Leicestershire Safer Communities Strategy Board (LSCSB) said: “Domestic abuse and sexual violence can affect anyone, and have long-lasting impacts on individuals, families and communities.”
From today, posters will be going up in GPs surgeries, council offices and other public buildings across the city, county and Rutland to promote the helpline numbers.
The title of the campaign, How Many Times, refers to national research that shows women will experience 36 incidents of abuse before seeking help.
Councillor Sarah Russell, assistant city mayor for neighbourhood services and chairman of Leicester Community Safety Partnership, said: “We know that incidents of domestic and sexual violence are under-reported. For many people, it's not a simple choice of talking about abuse or remaining silent. Many factors influence this decision, including fear and shame.
“Councils, police and other agencies are working together to make sure men and women know how to get the support that's available. This campaign is telling people that they do have choices, and that they are not alone.”
Nationally, 76 women and 15 men were killed by their current or former partner in 2012-13. This is 50 per cent of murders of women and 7 per cent of murders of men.
The campaign has been funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader.
The posters ask questions such as: How many times – will you try and block out what has happened? and How many times – before the abuse affects your children?
The campaign will include the release of a film that illustrates the role of friends and families in stopping abuse, and a drive to recruit community champions who will be trained to spot the signs of domestic violence and to support people in getting help.
The campaign is being launched tomorrow with the planting of two trees in Castle Park to represent that on average two women die every year in Leicester and Leicestershire at the hands of a violent partner. It will coincide with national Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls Day.
Confidential advice and support is available on:
Domestic violence 0300 123 0918.
Sexual violence 0300 333 6533.
Domestic violence (Rutland residents) 0300 365 0112.
Domestic abuse (county residents) 0300 303 1844.
The charity Mankind also has helpline 01823 334244.
Rape is genderless
by Roshni Nair
The tendency to center our sexual abuse discourse on the male perpetrator-female survivor prototype is a threat to the well-being of those who don't fall into this category, finds Roshni Nair
'Boy can't be sexually abused: Cops', screamed the headline of a Bangalore tabloid in late October. This was a statement allegedly made by the Mysore police when a distressed father filed a complaint about his four-year-old son being sexually abused. The instance highlighted the addition of yet another spoke in the wheel of archaic thought — a spoke representing the belief that only females can get sexually abused.
A 2007 study of 2,211 children across 13 states by the Ministry of Women and Child Development revealed that 53.22 per cent children reported being sexually abused. Of these, 53 per cent were boys and 47 per cent were girls. An environment propagating the assumption that males can't be abused does further harm to those who've not only been subjected to molestation or sodomy, but also what Radhika Sharma calls 'non-contact abuse'.
Sharma manages the Healing Unit of Arpan, a Mumbai-based NGO dedicated to helping survivors of child sexual abuse. Around 37-38 per cent of their work, she says, has been with male survivors. "Many — mostly second and third graders — are forced to watch pornographic photos or clips by older boys. They feel confused at first, but are conditioned into thinking it's 'cool' by their seniors," she says. Sexual bullying, she adds, is another cause for concern. "There are boys who either get groped or picked on over their anatomy in a sexual manner."
Ironically, the same patriarchal mindset that places blame on women for 'inviting' rape in some way also denies male survivors the help they need to overcome their trauma. The synonymity of shame and helplessness with sexual abuse and society's pedestal to mardaangi doesn't give males the means to acknowledge that they too can be abused. For this reason, says Sharma, the sense of denial can be more pronounced in male survivors.
Psychiatrist Pavan Sonar agrees. "Many men who've been abused don't seek help for fear of being perceived as 'weak'. The self-blame is amplified because men then hold themselves responsible for not being able to fight back physically," he says. Some even start questioning their sexuality or believing they deserved it if they get an erection during the act. "It takes intensive therapy to convince them that bodily responses are no indicators of consent or complicity," underlines Sonar.
Denial is something Broadway doyen Martin Moran was once familiar with. Through his critically-acclaimed plays The Tricky Part and All the Rage, Moran recounts his eventual coming to terms with being a survivor of abuse. He's come a long way from attempting suicide and using sexual compulsivity as a coping mechanism. "Much of my anger was self-directed. It took me years to direct righteous anger towards the man who was idiotic and sick," says the 54-year-old about the abuser he simply calls 'Bob'. Moran, now married to long-time partner Henry Stram, was even asked whether it was the sexual abuse that 'made him gay'. "Being abused has nothing to do with your orientation. I know many heterosexual men who've been abused," he points out.
Indeed, self-stigma is common in adult males who've experienced abuse. Institutional rape, such as the kind that reportedly takes place in prisons, is one example. Data on prison rapes is extremely hard to come by, says Vijay Raghavan, Professor of Criminology at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). But that's not to say it doesn't exist. Prisons where undertrials are made to share the same space as hardened convicts can be particularly problematic. Alpha-male dynamics in an environment where inmates jostle for space and power triggers sexual abuse, feels Raghavan.
"Undertrials or short-term prisoners may be targeted by long-term or older prisoners, or those who've been given official duties. The prison being an institution of scarcity also witnesses sexual trade-offs. Prisoners who need access to basic items or services are sometimes forced to conduct sexual favours," he says.
Raghavan believes sexual abuse in prisons is more an expression of power, but psychiatrist Sonar thinks sexual frustration can be a trigger too. "Unfulfilled sexual desires and instincts could play a role. In such an environment, the victim may also become submissive since there's no way out," he says.
But what about those who don't fall in the male-female binary?
Urmi Jadhav, a transgender representative at Humsafar Trust, has plenty to say about this. In a doctor's cabin off a narrow corridor in the NGO's Vakola office, she tells this reporter about the heinous degrees of sexual abuse transgenders are subjected to. These include cases of gangrape, sex at knifepoint, and coercive unprotected sex. "One of my friends had her earlobe completely bitten off because she refused to be with someone who didn't want to wear a condom," she says haltingly, before adding. "Another had her nipple ripped off by a perpetrator so barbaric that he lost a tooth during the act."
Urmi says that up to 90 per cent of transgenders are engaged in sex work since it pays better than begging and dancing at weddings, et al. But as in the case of female sex workers, they're constantly told they invite abuse just for being in the profession they are in. "There's a mentality that transgenders are 'easy', that we are made for sex. A transgender who has been abused has no recourse because even cops think we ask for it," stresses Urmi. Complicating the situation further is the notion of 'unnatural sex' or an act that doesn't involve peno-vaginal penetration. "There's anal rape, oral rape, digital rape (the use of fingers and/or other external objects). People don't realise that," she shares. The limited understanding law enforcement officials have of the various forms of abuse — including verbal sexual abuse such as eve teasing — is a major reason why transgenders have little to no grievance redressal mechanisms.
Almost all transgenders in India have been abused in some way or the other, reckons Urmi. One wonders whether the transition from male to female has anything to do with this. Does the sexist view that women are 'easier' and weaker, or the ambiguity (and the 'taboo') associated with a body that's home to both masculinity and femininity — despite 'hijras' identifying as females — have anything to do with it? Urmi smiles when asked about this. "It happens a lot. Transgenders who're already transitioning mentally as children are most vulnerable," she says, chronicling her own struggle against sexual bullying in school. "I was sometimes forcefully kissed. Some boys would put their hands up or down my pants or corner me in the toilets. Anybody with the slightest 'hint' of femininity? is singled out," she informs.
There's no doubt that the majority of sexual abuse survivors — and victims — are women. But centering the sexual abuse discourse on a heteronormative fulcrum and excluding the possibility that boys can also be vulnerable to abuse is a disservice to those who've survived, but remain silent. This includes cases of women-on-women and women-on-men abuse.
The message is perhaps best summed by Arpan's Radhika Sharma. "Many parents, through their subconscious gendered lens, tell daughters to remain safe and vigilant," she says. "It's time they tell their sons the same."
If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused, reach out to:
Childline India Foundation helpline: 1098
Arpan (helpline number): 9819086444
Humsafar Trust: (022) 26673800
Helpline for women in distress: 1091
1in6.org: website that specifically helps male survivors of sexual abuse - 24x7 chat support, online therapy and active support groups
Sana Das, Coordinator of the Prison Reforms Programme at Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), on challenges faced by abused prisoners:
"In spite of statutory provisions and judgments, prison and medical health monitoring remain extremely weak. Prison monitors and medical staff are often not even appointed in many prisons, and if appointed, they often do not fulfil criteria.
Without regular monitoring and undoubtedly, sensitisation of prison monitors and custodians on this issue regarding vulnerabilities involved, consent, need for periodic checking of medical records of prisoners, regularity of visits by medical officers and a mechanism by which all of this can be brought on record, the preventing and minimising of sexual abuse in prisons appears to be an insurmountable task.
The other aspect is the role of the lawyer and magistrate when the prisoner is produced in court. It is the duty of the lawyer to put forward the complaints of his client, particularly vis-a-vis his treatment in custody. Bad treatment would definitely raise the merit for bail or protection in custody which would act as safeguards against prison rape. But very often, prisoners go unrepresented at the time of their hearing. Lawyers, both legal aid and private, fail to be present in court at the right time, with few having made efforts to have met their clients in private to put forward accurate details of treatment. As a result of these lapses in effective representation, the magistrate might end up refusing bail, sending the person back to a risky environment and prolonging the period/extent of abuse, with all its hazardous consequences.
As regards the magistrate, it is his duty to insist on the physical appearance of the accused if he is arriving from prison/judicial custody and to directly interact with the prisoner to find out about his safety and sanctity. But throughout the country, there is a problem of undertrial prisoners being physically produced in court regularly as per the terms of law, which is at least every 15 days, if not sooner. This lapse is due to various administrative bottlenecks to do with the availability of police escorts who ferry the prisoners from jail to court and back. So in the absence of the accused, the absence of the lawyer, absence of the application of mind of the magistrate who is to ask after the presence and well-being of the prisoner, the likelihood of prevention, detection and action vis-a-vis prison rape and other prison offences become very bleak."
Child abuse cases are 'tip of the iceberg' in sexual exploitation of young people, warns Theresa May
by Nigel Moris
The cases of child abuse exposed so far are only the “tip of the iceberg” of the extent of sexual exploitation of young people, the Home Secretary Theresa May has warned.
Ms May spoke of her dismay over the number of abusers who have been able to operate with impunity both in the past and today.
She said it was impossible to assess whether the activities of a paedophile ring involving senior figures in public life were covered up in the 1980s, but insisted an independent inquiry into historical sex abuse would establish the full facts.
“It's not possible to say whether there was a cover-up, that is why I think it is so important we have the inquiry so we get at the truth,” she told the Andrew Marr Show.
“There is a real issue here about how was it that in the past, but continuing today, the very institutions of the state that should be protecting children were not doing so. Why was it these abuses were able to take place and nobody was brought to justice as a result of that?”
She added: “We must, as a society... get to the truth of that and because I think we we've already seen revealed is the tip of the iceberg on this issue.”
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, pledged that the full truth of sex abuse claims - as well as a new allegation that a boy was murdered by paedophiles in the 1980s - would be established by his officers.
He told the programme that it would be “silly to speculate whether there was a cover–up”. He added: “As an investigator you have to go with an open mind, if people make that allegation I will take it seriously. But I can assure you there will be no cover-up while I'm here.”
He said the 40 detectives looking into the fresh claims were often confronted by a huge mountain of paperwork involving thousands of boxes as well as the “real challenge” of filling in the gaps when files were missing.
“There are a series of claims over quite a long period of time and not all of them are linked, although in the public imagination they may be in that it is child abuse,” he said.
“You have got the extra complication of people in power and was there a cover-up? I'm determined we will get to the bottom of this so we are talking to the witnesses and all the people who have got information.”
Sir Bernard said: “I think everyone will understand that this long after the event it can be quite hard to get to the bottom of the claims and complaints. We will do but it can take a little long than people might expect.”
Community Seminar On Child Abuse
According to national statistics, one in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18, usually by someone they know and trust. The Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center is leading a community initiative to protect children by creating a broader understanding of the issue.
It will host a free community seminar on Mon., Dec. 1, 5:30-8pm, at the Leelanau County Government Center to give adults the knowledge and tools to protect children from sexual abuse.
(Note: This seminar is not appropriate for children).
For more information or to RSVP, contact Hannah Rodriguez at 929.4250 or via email. More seminars will be held in other communities in the coming months.
Prevent Child Abuse providing local services
by Delaney Walker
Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee recently opened an office in Bradley County to help first-time parents and caregivers establish a healthy, strong bond with their children.
Executive Director Kristen Rector said the statewide nonprofit is excited about the latest addition to its network.
“I think it is a great opportunity for families in the county,” she said in a recent phone interview. “Our stakeholders asked us to do that. They saw a need in the community. It is a need we feel we can address to really support the parents and families in that community.”
PCAT supervisor Sharon Madison said she was approached by multiple individuals with requests to extend the service to Bradley County.
“It is a great program,” she said. “It really is. I am just so excited to have Bradley County [in the network].”
The nonprofit primarily works through its Healthy Families Tennessee program.
Rector explained home visitors stop by for an hour once a week to help build the skills, resources and knowledge of first-time parents. The Bradley County home visitor is Gloria Ortiz.
All first-time parents, or parents with a child 3 months old or younger, are encouraged to contact the office.
Madison explained a referral leads to a screening and a parent survey to judge whether the program is the right fit for the family.
The next step in the process is another home visit and an appointment for enrollment. The home visitor will add the family to the weekly rotation.
According to Rector, there are no set guidelines for the parents. She said “parents” means the primary caregivers of the child. This can mean single parents, grandparents or foster parents.
Enrollment into the program opens the moment parents know they are pregnant until the child is 3 months of age. The home visitor will keep in contact with the family until the child enters kindergarten.
The weekly home visits include parenting advice, connections with outside support and resources, educational activities for children and developmental advice.
“We want the parents to feel capable and confident in their parenting so they can have that good relationship,” Rector said. “We know it contributes long-term to a healthy bond between parent and child.”
The local office will provide service to both English and Spanish-speaking parents.
Madison said PCAT has already received a good response from the community. She encouraged every new parent to check out the office's services.
“We see the needs they have,” Madison said. “We can help them with support levels anywhere they want. Are we going to do the work? No, we are going to empower them.”
She explained the weekly home visits will continue through the child's first year. The visits will then move further apart as the family graduates through the program.
She said the curriculum used is both fun and interesting.
“We invite families to really take an opportunity to do this,” Madison said. “This is a volunteer program. If it is something you are not interested in, there are no strings attached.”
All services offered through the program are free.
Madison said the first point of contact can be made at a neutral location, instead of the family's home.
More information can be gathered by contacting either Sharon Madison, 463-5759, or Gloria Ortiz, 785-6690.
Mom charged with trying to kill baby left in drain
by Associated Press
SYDNEY — A 30-year-old Sydney mother has been charged with trying to kill her newborn son by abandoning him in a roadside drain for five days before passers-by heard his cries, police said Monday.
The week-old baby was in serious but stable condition in Westmead Children's Hospital a day after cyclists found him in a 2.5-meter (8-foot) deep drain beside the M7 Motorway in the suburb of Quakers Hill, police said in a statement.
His mother, Saifale Nai, did not appear in court to answer the attempted murder charge. Her lawyer did not enter a plea and the magistrate formally refused her bail.
Nai will remain in custody until her next court appearance on Friday. She would face a potential maximum sentence of 25 years in prison if convicted.
“Police will allege the baby, believed to have been born on Monday (Nov. 17), was placed into the drain on Tuesday,” the police statement said.
Andrew Pesce, a gynecologist, obstetrician and former president of the Australian Medical Association, said such an ordeal could leave a newborn with long-term problems such as brain damage.
“There would still have to be some concerns about the baby,” Pesce said.
“I would have thought that it wouldn't have been able to survive for much longer if it didn't start getting fed,” he added.
He said healthy newborns have reserves to cope with relative malnutrition and often lose 10 percent of their birth weight because their mothers can take a few days before producing sufficient milk.
Helen Polley, a senator in the opposition Labor Party, said the near-tragedy could have been avoided if emergency hatches were rolled out at Australian hospitals, police and fire stations where babies could be safely abandoned.
She called for the repeal of laws that make child abandonment a criminal offense, which she said encourage the problem to be hidden.
Cyclists riding along a bicycle lane beside the motorway heard the baby on Sunday morning.
“We actually thought it was a kitten at first, but when we went down there we could hear exactly what it was — you could definitely tell it was a baby screaming,” cyclist David Otte told The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
It took six men, including three police officers, to lift the 200-kilogram (440-pound) concrete lid that covered the drain, the newspaper said.
Police suspect the baby was squeezed through the drain's narrow opening and dropped to the bottom.
The baby was found wrapped in a hospital blanket, and police used hospital records to find the mother.
The baby would likely be taken into state care when he was discharged from the hospital, officials said.