ICE remains committed to ending human trafficking
In 2010, President Barack Obama declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the hopes of bringing an end to this inexcusable act of abuse that is a modern-day form of slavery.
Victims of human trafficking are not specific to sex, age, race or nationality. Many are recruited for their services through force, fraud or coercion. Those targeted by traffickers are often perceived as vulnerable. Undocumented migrants, runaways and at-risk youth, and oppressed or marginalized groups are among the high-risk population of human trafficking victims.
To the public, victims of human trafficking, which is exploitation based, often go unnoticed as they are voiceless and scared because, in a blink of an eye, they are without the control of their possessions, money and have found themselves in an unfamiliar culture without identification documents and are afraid for their safety and the lives of their families.
For U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes it investigates. As a result, ICE is serious about taking the necessary steps to end the crime.
In 2014 alone, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) initiated 987 human trafficking investigations and recorded 1,770 arrests, 1,028 indictments, 828 convictions associated to human trafficking and identified 440 victims.
Part of the process of ending human trafficking is education and awareness of the issue. In addition to the month of January being set aside, specifically, Sunday, Jan. 11 marked the observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
"Through awareness, the dangers of human trafficking have been brought to light more," said HSI Baltimore Special Agent Vaughn Harper. "Potential victims and the general public understand (human trafficking) more and are able to spot the signs."
According to Harper, the signs of someone who may potentially be a victim of human trafficking include a person who doesn't have any personal identification or travel documents, or seems to be coached, rehearsed or can't speak for themselves. While the process for fighting human trafficking is a tough battle, those who are being exploited can make the fight taxing.
"Many don't identify themselves as victims and don't realize they've been taken advantage of and exploited because of psychological trauma and the fact that they have developed relationships with those exploiting them," Harper said. "It can be a challenge when victims have to recount their experiences to investigators and ultimately in court in front of the people who were exploiting them."
In its commitment to end human trafficking, ICE relies on tips from the public to dismantle these organizations. ICE encourages you to keep your eyes and ears open to suspicious activity.
"Here at ICE and HSI, we are robust in our efforts to combat human trafficking, because it's one of our priorities," Harper said. "As the old adage goes ‘if you see something, say something.'"
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
by Alejandro Mayorkas
While we would like to think of slavery as a relic of the past, we know that it is not. Today, millions of women, men, and children around the world are subjected to forced labor, domestic servitude, or the sex trade at the hands of human traffickers. What many do not know is that this crime occurs right here in the United States, in our own cities and towns.
By Presidential proclamation, January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Sunday, January 11 was Human Trafficking Awareness Day. These powerful reminders that slavery endures in the United States compel us to work together to end human trafficking.
We as a Department do so much in the fight against human trafficking. We fight through law enforcement investigations, collaborations, and training; through public outreach and awareness; and through assistance for victims. We coordinate these efforts through the Blue Campaign, the Department's unified voice to combat human trafficking.
I encourage you to watch this video to learn more about the work of the Blue Campaign, and how you can get involved in the fight against human trafficking.
The Blue Campaign recently launched a new, re-designed website with information and resources for federal, state, and local governments, non-governmental organizations, first responders, and the public.
All of us can increase our awareness of the crime of human trafficking so that each of us can be more vigilant where we live and work. Human trafficking is, after all, a tragedy that occurs not only internationally but also within our own borders and inside our own communities.
Let us renew our commitment to fight human trafficking, and let us do it together.
Saving lives of human trafficking victims with soap
by Patricia Montemurri
A few weeks ago, at the beginning of national Human Trafficking Awareness Month, at seamy metro Detroit motels where rooms rent by the hour, Aleksandra Andjelkovic and other members of the Grosse Pointe Soroptimists came calling.
The Soroptimists brought flyers bearing information about Michigan runaways, and they offered the proprietors specially-wrapped bars of soap. Save some money by placing these bars of soap in each room, the Soroptimists pitched the motels. ... And maybe save a life, the volunteers said.
The bars of soap were wrapped in labels that feature the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number (888-373-7888). The wrapper asks: "Are you being forced to do anything you do not want to do?''
"We go to the kind of hotels most of us wouldn't walk into," says Andjelkovic, 47, of Grosse Pointe Park, a licensed mental health therapist. Some motel operators signal total disdain, but she starts the conversation by talking about missing children because "it's hard for them to turn away when you say you are looking for a missing child."
Every January for the last several years, the local Soroptimists have passed out the soaps at motels, strip clubs and other spots. A similar effort is under way this week at motels in Phoenix, in advance of the Feb. 1 Super Bowl.
Special events, with large diverse audiences, such as the North American International Auto Show and the Super Bowl provide an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the issue of human trafficking, says Homeland Security Supervisory Special Agent Michael Ball, who leads a metro Detroit human trafficking task force with other law enforcement personnel.
"It's a global problem, but it's taking place here locally, too," said Ball. "This is an ongoing process where we have these outreach campaigns throughout the year. It's just that awareness seems to be heightened at these times when we have international visitors to this area.
"One of the biggest problems is that you have victims or people who know the victims, who are aware," said Ball. "But they are afraid because of the countries they come from, or are intimidated by the people involved, and they are afraid to report their situation to law enforcement."
A way to freedom
Human trafficking moves through a world of misery and hurt — from foreign-born women smuggled into the U.S. to work as indentured servants to local teen runaways who find comfort with drug dealers who pimp them as prostitutes them on the streets.
The toll-free number and message on the soap bars, said Ball, can make a difference.
That's what Theresa Flores, 49, a onetime Birmingham school student, thought when she came up with the idea. Flores started the S.O.A.P. program (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) because she thought hard about what might have helped escape her torture.
Flores was a track-running sophomore at Birmingham Groves in the early 1980s, when another classmate and his older cousins drugged her, raped her and blackmailed her for more than two years as they trafficked her to older men in the suburbs. They kept the money for themselves, threatening to reveal humiliating photos of her if she told her parents or the police.
It took Flores years before she could talk about what happened to her, even as she received bachelor's and master's degrees in social work. Now living near Columbus, Ohio, she has become an advocate for human trafficking victims and is the author of "The Slave Across the Street."
"People are drawn to her story because they're shocked that this happened to her. She's the girl next door. She isn't the typical person you think would be trafficked," said Heidi Lenzo, the outreach director for Be Free Dayton, an Ohio nonprofit working against sex-trafficking. Flores' S.O.A.P. program is run under its auspices.
It started when a boy in school gave Flores attention and compliments. "I thought it was courting, but it was grooming." One day when he gave her a ride after school, he took her to his house. "He ended up drugging me and then raped me," says Flores.
Ashamed, she didn't tell anyone, including her parents. Several days later, the boy told her his cousins had taken pictures of her being raped and "you have to earn them back or else," she recalls.
"They would take me to homes all over Birmingham, Rochester Hills and Farmington areas to different men," Flores says.
The physical abuse ended when her father was transferred out of state, but the psychological scars continued for decades. She's never confronted her abusers, she said, and when, as an adult in her 30s, she talked to police, she was told too much time had passed.
"They didn't even have the word trafficking. Whenever I got up the nerve to do something, I hit a brick wall," said Flores. In Michigan, for her to have a chance at bringing her tormentors to justice, she would have had to come forward within six years of the crimes.
That has changed with new Michigan laws designed to thwart human trafficking, including a provision to remove the statute of limitations for people who were forced into prostitution as minors. The new law is named the Theresa Flores Act.
This week, Flores is in Phoenix, passing out the soap bars with other volunteers.
Grosse Pointe Soroptomist Andjelkovic won a Liberator award from Flores' group for her efforts locally to promote awareness of human trafficking's impact.
Andjelkovic said one clerk last year recognized a face on the flyer, and gave the group some more details — the young woman's street name and even a description of a tattoo. They passed the tips on to authorities and they heard it later led to the girl's rescue.
"It does produce results," said Andjelkovic. "It's raising more awareness, because it would be very ideal if we can prevent this instead of react to it."
But even Flores has had doubts about whether her efforts make a difference.
But last summer, Flores said she was addressing a group in Columbus, Ohio, when asked what kind of impact her program had.
"I had to say I don't really know," Flores recalled. "I just have faith that it does."
Right then, she was approached by a young woman in the audience. The woman said she'd been a prostitute getting beat up by a john in a motel in Romulus. Running into the bathroom, there was a bar of soap with the hotline phone number. Flores says the woman told her that was her first step to getting help and into a recovery and rehab program.
"We approached 95 places, and 86 accepted a total of 17,000 bars of the special soap" in metro Detroit, Flores says. "I have faith someone will call."
New Michigan human trafficking laws
Among some of the provisions:
~ There is no longer a statute of limitations on prosecuting anyone who forced minors into prostitution, pornography or forced labor. Previously, such victims had to come forward within six years.
~ Minors arrested for prostitution will be treated as victims rather than criminals. The law now says minors are "presumed to be coerced" into prostitution. The change makes them eligible for services such as state-sponsored medical and mental health care.
~ Harsher penalties for human traffickers. Human traffickers of minors also can be charged with kidnapping, which could bring a lifetime prison sentence.
~ Making it easier for victims of prostitution to have prostitution-related offenses vacated.
~ Making it easier for human trafficking survivors to seek damages and compensation from traffickers.
Warning signs of trafficking victims
Here are some behaviors that are warning signs of people who may be victims of human or sex trafficking. Help from law enforcement is available by calling the Human Trafficking Hotline number: 888-373-7888.
~ Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
~ Has a child stopped attending school?
~ Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
~ Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
~ Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
~ Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
~ Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
~ Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
~ Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
~ Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
~ Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
~ Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
~ Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
~ Does the person appear to have all their belongings in a plastic bag, easy to grab if forced to quickly move locations?
~ Is the juvenile using a false ID or lying about his or her age?
~ Does the person have tattoos on the neck or thigh?
~ Does the person appear to not be familiar with his or her surroundings, e.g., not know their location?
Source: U.S. Homeland Security
How to learn more
The PBS network begins a three-part series on human trafficking, "A Path Appears" at 10 p.m. Monday locally on WTVS-TV (Channel 56), Detroit
National Human Trafficking Resource Center: This is the agency that handles the hotline, which operates around the clock and can provide assistance in multiple languages. The resource center also can provide resources and handle tips about possible human trafficking situations. Call 888-373-7888. www.traffickingresourcecenter.org
Michigan Commission of Human Trafficking: www.michigan.gov/humantrafficking
Be Free Dayton and the S.O.A.P. initiative: www.traffickfree.com
Grosse Pointe Soroptimists efforts against human trafficking: www.grossepointesoroptimist.org
The Soroptimists are cosponsoring a Human Trafficking Forum 5:30 -7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Wayne State University Student Center Ballroom. Among the speakers are representatives from the state Attorney General's Office and local agencies that help human trafficking victims. The event is free and open to the public and does not require registration.
Metro Detroit trafficking cases
Within the last decade, federal investigators broke up a ring that enslaved a dozen Ukrainian women to work as strippers at a Detroit club.
When the FBI conducted a nationwide sweep in July 2013 targeted at human trafficking rings in 76 cities, agents arrested 18 pimps in metro Detroit, the most of any of the 76 cities targeted. That same sweep rescued 10 children from the sex trade in metro Detroit, second only to San Francisco. The children were recovered from private homes in Flint and Romulus and motels in Madison Heights, Farmington Hills, Southfield and Detroit, according to the 2013 Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking report.
Federal law enforcement has stepped up efforts against human trafficking. In 2014, federal human trafficking investigations resulted in 828 convictions and the identification of more than 440 victims, according to government statistics.
SEXUALITY MATTERS: Who has “The Talk” with foster youth?
by Maria Marcelin
Youth in foster care and homeless shelters are more likely than their peers to have experienced physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or abandonment. During adolescence, foster youth show higher rates of substance abuse and self-injury, earlier ages of onset for sexual behavior, and higher incidents of STIs and unplanned pregnancies.
Clearly they face many challenges, yet they seldom have access to adults with whom they can develop trust and take emotional risks associated with discussing issues of sexuality. Where, then, do they get access to reliable information about sexuality? Whose responsibility is it to create and nurture an atmosphere of trust and safety so that a young person can ask honest questions specific to his or her experiences?
As a foster parent, I witnessed how remarkably resilient and bright these individuals are, as well as how vulnerable and alone they can be made to feel. In a system in which it appears no one is responsible for the education of a child, all professionals in that system bear a responsibility to that child. Foster and placement youth are no different from other children and teens in terms of need; they differ in terms of access to the people and resources that meet the needs all developing individuals have. They report the same dreams, goals, curiosities, and fears as other youth. Each girl or boy in placement has a formative history unique to them, despite being reduced to a stigmatized, stereotyped, singular identity of “foster kid.” Like all youth, these individuals absolutely need sex education.
There is currently no standard sex education program for foster youth, of whom there are hundreds of thousands nationwide. Each agency is trusted with incorporating all necessary Life Skills training into their program, yet most discussions on sexuality follow the abstinence-only model. Independent Living Programs aimed at helping older foster youth transition into adulthood provide clients with more access to information and services, but these are limited in their scope and begin late in adolescence.
There is clearly a link between education and well-being. The fact that foster youth are among the least informed about sexual health and wellness is not an indicator of their internal, intellectual deficits, but of the external, systemic limitations on their access to sexuality education. A teen who understands the physiological mechanisms of pregnancy or infection is able to make informed decisions that could prevent an unintended consequence of a sexual encounter. This fact was the basis for the addition of sex education to public schools curricula as a Public Health need.
However, education needs to be about more than impregnation and infection. Youth engaged in comprehensive sex education learn to understand and care for their bodies, talk about sexual behaviors before experimenting with them, and about how to express love in safe and appropriate ways. They can discern between media portrayals of sexual intimacy and what a safe relationship really looks and feels like. They feel less shame in having questions and are more likely to look for the answers from reputable sources. Youth who not only lack access to this level of sex education, but to familial connections and trusted educators in general, are left out of the conversation on sexuality. “The talk” is replaced with messages gleaned from media, including pornography, and peers.
Steeping the foster care system in comprehensive knowledge on sexual health and wellness is one proactive solution because all individuals who have contact with foster youth – foster parents, social workers, resident counselors, educators, youth advocates, medical professionals, etc. – should take responsibility for the role they play in a foster youth's new community and choose to be ready with answers. We should opt for quality where we have no control over quantity, allowing each child to know that they can approach a trusted figure when they have any question. Most importantly, we must connect. We must ask questions and learn about these young people and their lives, remembering that a toughened exterior and limited vocabulary can belie the deep, existential questions many children in placement are forced to confront, too often all alone.
A. Maria Marcelin is a former foster parent and sex educator. She has a B.A. in Psychology (Forensic) and is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work and M.Ed. in Human Sexuality at Widener University.
Falls man who impregnated 11-year-old gets ‘life sentence'
by Rick Pfeiffer
LOCKPORT -- Jacky Berry may never be a free man again.
Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon sentenced Berry on Friday to 15 years in prison and 20 years of post release supervision for fathering a child with an 11-year-old girl. The judge then told the two-time child sex offender that when he is released from prison he faces the possibility of continued civil confinement .
“This is, in essence, a life sentence,” Sheldon said.
Berry, 53, in a deal with prosecutors, had previously pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree attempted course of sexual conduct against a child. He had originally been charged with both predatory sexual assault against a child and predatory sexual assault.
Though Berry refused to speak to probation officers prior to his sentencing, he told Sheldon he was sorry for what happened.
“I would like to apologize to the (victirm's) family for the situation that took place, and my family,” Berry said.
That comment brought a quick rebuke from Sheldon.
“Your family has to stop blaming the child for this,” the judge told Berry citing reports that the victim was being harassed on Facebook by members of his family. “If that's true, that is disturbing to the court.”
Berry denied his family was harassing the victim. His defense attorney, James Faso, said Berry was remorseful.
Our View: New child abuse laws a positive step
Of all the states that are sensitive to how devastating child abuse can be, Pennsylvania likely is near the top.
The Jerry Sandusky scandal put the horrific issue front and center for us several years ago, and it remains there.
Rightfully, Pennsylvanians want to do what we can to prevent any case of child abuse. But those steps don't always come easily, or without additional cost.
The Legislature has passed more than 20 new laws in response to the scandal. Several Midstate school district administrators told The Sentinel last week that those changes likely will result in more paperwork, greater expenses and the risk of deterring volunteers.
While that sounds daunting, the causes seem more reasonable when they are outlined.
South Middleton School District Solicitor Gareth Pahowka told the school board policy committee last week that legislation created a new section of the Public School Code. The “Employment History Review” will require all applicants for school district jobs to not only list their current employer, but every prior employer, school-related or not, where the applicant had contact with children. This could even include such jobs as lifeguard, babysitter or camp counselor. The district would then seek written confirmation from every one of these employers on whether the applicant was ever investigated for misconduct, had his license or certification revoked or had been disciplined, discharged or asked to resign amid allegations of abuse.
New laws change how abuse should be reported. Teachers and teacher aides were in compliance if they reported their suspicions to the building principal, who in turn would contact child protective services, Pahowka said. That now is expanded to volunteers, and they must report abuse directly to child protective service agencies. Volunteers would be required to undergo background security clearances before they could interact with children.
While it's a great deal of work, we don't think these changes are overreaching when we're talking about hiring people to work with children. However, we also understand how school administrators feel they will be difficult to carry out, especially in the face of budget shortfalls.
Cumberland County Children & Youth Services already has hired three new employees to handle the increased caseload. Director Wendy Hoverter said the department has had an uptick in cases. Again, those changes come with a cost: about $175,000 for an intake supervisor and two additional caseworker positions. The county will pay $34,898.70 and the state the rest.
Child abuse can't be eliminated, but these laws are a positive step toward addressing the problem.
Some costs are worth paying.
Royal Commission Hearings Into Alleged Chabad Child Sex Abuse Coverups To Be Streamed Live
The hearings begin in Melbourne on Monday, February 2, and will last up to two weeks. They will be streamed live each day from 10 am to 4 pm.
The Age reports:
Police have been swamped with reports of child sex abuse following evidence given in public hearings, as well as stories told in numerous private sessions.
Commissioners investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse have reported more than 480 cases to police forces across the country since hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began in 2013.
More cases may emerge from new hearings due to start soon in Melbourne. Melbourne and Sydney's Orthodox Jewish communities are bracing themselves for the hearings, which will examine how Orthodox yeshiva centres dealt with numerous cases of child sexual abuse across decades.
The commission will look at the handling of individual cases involving Aron Kestecher and convicted sex offenders David Samuel Cyprys and David Kramer, who both pleaded guilty and were jailed in 2013. All were employees of St Kilda East's exclusive [Chabad] Yeshivah College or its umbrella [Chabad] Yeshivah centre.
Abuse survivor and Jewish victims' advocate Manny Waks said he had been caught off guard by the announcement that Kestecher would be probed as well. But his inclusion was significant because the alleged offending took place in the past decade, unlike the offending of Cyprys and Kramer, Waks said.
In November 2013, Kestecher, then 28, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on six charges of abusing boys in 2009 and 2010. The charges included sexual penetration of a child and indecent acts with a child. He had been due to face court again in June 2014. He was found dead in his home in March 2014.
Melbourne's Orthodox Jewish community has been deeply scarred by the yeshiva revelations, amid accusations that the organisation covered up Cyprys' and Kramer's offending for decades. In 2012, magistrate Luisa Bazzani said it was "unfathomable" that [Chabad] Yeshivah College teacher [and school head] Rabbi Abraham Glick was unaware of Cyprys' offending at the time it took place. That year, Melbourne's [Chabad] Yeshivah Centre offered an unreserved apology to victims of child sexual abuse.
Last year, Fairfax Media revealed that Kramer had completed his sentence and had since been deported. He is believed to be living in the United States.
[Chabad's] Yeshiva College Bondi [i.e., Sydney] will also face scrutiny for its handling of allegations surrounding Daniel ["Gug"] Hayman, a former yeshiva director. Last year, Hayman pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault dating back to his time as a volunteer in the 1980s. He received a suspended sentence.
Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) president Dr Cathy Kezelman said the royal commission was imperative so "perpetrators and those complicit in covering up crimes [could] be brought to justice". She said victims who came forward needed ongoing support, including counselling and redress, even if the abuse was decades old.
The yeshiva hearings begin in Melbourne on Monday, February 2, and will last up to two weeks. They will be streamed live each day from 10am to 4pm at childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au
For help, phone ASCA's professional support line on 1300 657 380.
Super Bowl 2015 commercials: Will sponsors help mend NFL's image?
Super Bowl 2015 commercials: Why you may see some Super Bowl ads about 'real men' during the biggest game of the year.
by Samantha Laine
(Video on site)
The National Football League has struggled to keep a positive public image over the past year. With cases of domestic violence from NFL players gracing headlines – such as the suspension of Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson for child abuse and the Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice domestic violence case – the NFL had credibility and consistency issues.
In December, league owners endorsed a policy that includes clearer guidelines, funds for counseling, expanded services for victims and violators, and a new special counsel for investigations and conduct, reported The Monitor. The new policy clearly outlines how the NFL will respond in future cases, alleviating some of the public discomfort with how they handled the previous.
But during the height of the domestic violence cases, multiple NFL sponsors issued statements criticizing the league's handling of the situation, and some threatened to pull sponsorship. The Wall Street Journal reported that Nike Inc. suspended its endorsements of both Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice. Other sponsors, such as Campbell Soup Co., CoverGirl, and McDonald's Corp., distanced themselves from the situation and issued statements condemning domestic violence. But with NFL games providing 17 million viewers on average, it is a difficult decision for companies to pull advertising and lose that audience.
"In a world where you can't get a big audience anymore, where the hell are you going to go?" said one major NFL advertiser, reported The Wall Street Journal. "Obviously, we don't condone violence against women, but how is it the right thing to do for our shareholders to pull out of the NFL?"
It now appears that some advertisers will use the premier TV venue for promotion – the Super Bowl – to more subtly address the domestic violence problem.
For example, Dove has already unveiled online, a 30-second commercial it plans to run on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1, showing men's #RealStrength can be found in more places than just the football field.
The clip, a version of which ran in honor of Father's Day in 2014, features children of all ages yelling, crying, and exclaiming variations of “Dad” and “Daddy.” The dads in the video snuggle, giggle, throw their kids in the air, celebrate happy moments, and console tears while striking an emotional chord in the viewer. At the end, the ad concludes in on-screen text:
“What makes a man stronger? Showing that he cares.”
Jennifer Bremner, the director of marketing at Dove Men+Care, said in a statement that the commercial is part of a larger conversation about masculinity. It uses footage from its “Real Dad Moments” campaign that also went viral.
“We know that men today are embracing their caring roles more than ever, and that these experiences are fulfilling and strengthening them,” said Ms. Bremner. “Especially at a time when fans are overwhelmingly hearing about physical feats on the football field, we wanted men (and women) to hear at least one voice saying, ‘Care Makes a Man Stronger.'”
USA Today reported that Toyota will focus its Super Bowl ads on “bold dads.” They declined to give details, but Jack Hollis, the group vice president of marketing at Toyota, said the campaign is about “the bold choices we as parents—fathers—have to make every day for our families.”
A Doritos Super Bowl ad features a toddler saying his first word, which his father anticipates will be "Dada." Sadly, it's "Doritos."
Of course, many of these ads don't have any agenda beyond selling their products and reaching the NFL championship game's primary audience: men. In the past decade, the TV audience for the Super Bowl is about 10 percent more male than female or 55 percent male to 45 percent female.
And the NFL has been running its own a series of NO MORE domestic violence public service announcements aired during NFL broadcasts. Will it take prime Super Bowl ad space to run these ads?
Tulsa woman sentenced to five life terms in sex abuse of young boy
by AMANDA BLAND
A Tulsa woman has been sentenced to five consecutive life terms after pleading no contest to sex crimes with a young male relative.
Melissa Kay Anderson, 35, was charged with five counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12 in September after the boy told his father about the crimes, and he contacted authorities. She entered a plea of no contest in November.
Three of the counts pertain to sex acts that Anderson performed on the boy and made him perform on her. The other two counts accuse her of having sex with Michael Burris, her boyfriend and co-
defendant, in front of the victim and showing the victim pornography.
As she sat in the courtroom's jury box Thursday awaiting District Judge Caroline Wall's arrival for her sentencing, a red-faced Anderson wiped her eyes with a tissue and appeared to stifle strong emotions.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray argued for Anderson to be incarcerated for life, calling the case the worst of its type he's seen.“I don't believe Ms. Anderson should breathe fresh air again,” Gray said.
Public defender Chuck Sullivan countered that the system had failed Anderson from a young age by not properly addressing and treating abuse she suffered as a child that resulted in her being placed in foster care. He maintained that a life sentence would be “excessive” and akin to failing her a second time by not allowing her to seek rehabilitation.
When asked whether she'd like to make a statement, Anderson's sobs became audible as Sullivan leaned close to decipher her words. He relayed to the court that Anderson said, “I'm sorry.”
Aside from finding her guilty and issuing a sentence, the judge had few words for Anderson. Wall imposed life terms on all counts and then stated that based on “the heinous nature” of the crimes, the sentences will run consecutively to each other.
The author of Anderson's presentencing investigation report, which is issued by the Department of Corrections, noted that she said the crimes occurred while she was high on methamphetamine and that she did not recall most of the incidents. However, she did state that she knew the victim would not lie about what had happened.
Burris, who remains in the Tulsa Jail, is charged with one count of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12 and one count of permitting child sexual abuse. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a jury trial on May 11.
California father arrested after his 3-week-old baby is found dead
by The Associated Press
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after his three-week-old baby girl was found dead near their Southern California home.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials say the infant had been reported missing by the father and mother on Friday night.
After a search, the baby's body was found Saturday morning in the front cab of a pickup truck parked in a Santa Clarita apartment complex.
Deputies arrested 30-year-old Matthew Warner on suspicion of murder.
Det. Holly Francisco said Warner led officers to an area where he believed the child may be.
Francisco says the child's distraught mother is cooperating with investigators.
The child was found about a half-mile from Warner's Newhall-area home.
The coroner's office will try to determine the cause of death.
Bill that would combine child abuse, DWI for drunk drivers with kids in car to be introduced
by Stephanie Claytor
A Bernalillo County state senator is working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to go after people who drive drunk with children in the car.
State Sen. Lisa Torraco, (R – Bernalillo), said she plans to introduce a bill Monday that would combine child abuse and DWI. Ben Lewinger has been working with her several months to craft the bill.
"If you're an offender who's driving intoxicated and you have somebody in the car under the age of 15, this would be a mandatory child abuse charge that would be assessed to every single person in that case," Lewinger said.
Currently, if someone is driving drunk with children in the car, they often get charged with DWI and/or child abuse. But they don't often get punished for both.
"Typically, when there are multiple felonies in a case - especially if there's not a fatality or injury - they usually stick with the DWI. So the child abuse felony falls off the way side and it's something that's not pursued."
There are many cases like this, including Ebony Pettiford's. Albuquerque Police said she was driving drunk with her six-year-old son in the car on Nov. 16, 2013. She pleaded guilty to the DWI, and the child abuse charge was dismissed.
Lewinger said dismissing the child abuse charge is a big problem.
"In New Mexico, lots of people have one or two DWIs and it's something that's almost glorified with reality stars and celebrities through social media,” said Lewinger. “But child abuse has a stigma. People are still going to be responsive to being charged with child abuse.
He also said the proposed child abuse DWI charge would be a misdemeanor.
"I don't think we'll see more jail time, but enhanced probation, maybe the use of an interlock device for a longer period than if the offender didn't have a young person in the car and also endanger that life," Lewinger said.
What to do if you suspect child abuse
by Pamela Escobar
CHARLOTTE, NC -- What if you thought a child was being physically abused? This week a father shared a video on WBTV's Facebook page depicting what appears to be child abuse. He claimed he couldn't get authorities to intervene. WBTV, however, wanted to make sure police got involved.
The video shows a woman beating young children with a belt while holding them from their ankles. The children are screaming, and she appears to continue hitting them in another room. WBTV has decided not to show the video in its entirety.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say they are investigating the video. WBTV also sent it to Mecklenburg County DSS.
The father in this case, who shot the video, said DSS did come out and check in on the children but that they were still in their mother's care as of Friday afternoon. After the story aired at 6 p.m., the man told WBTV that DSS took the kids away from their mother to an undisclosed location.
DSS would not comment on the specifics of the case because of privacy issues, but gave information about what you should do if you suspect there is child abuse happening in a home.
They said they receive 800 to 900 new reports about children every month.
"We don't need video in order to investigate a child abuse case, but video evidence we would use and review and determine what level of risk may be present for a child," said Charles Bradley, the division director of Youth and Family Services.
They urge people to contact them directly if they are concerned about a child in eminent harm. "Immediately. Yes, you should be making that call immediately," Bradley said. He added that they have 100 investigators to determine if a case is true.
"I think the work is very challenging. We're walking into situations where we are assessing families and working with parents," Bradley said. "Not all situations warrant a removal."
A judge makes the ultimate decision if a child is removed.
"Parents have to discipline children. Discipline is a part of raising children but there is a line where that discipline may become abusive if it's physical," Bradley said.
But it's not just the physical abuse that DSS responds to.
"If any citizen has a concern about the well-being or safety of a child, they should make a call to our department. Again, we are available 24-7, 7 days a week," Bradley said.
The man who posted the video says he took it Monday, contacted DSS Tuesday and filed a police report Thursday. Investigators have classified the case as an aggravated assault and listed six victims ranging in age from an infant to 12-years-old.
If you need to report a suspected case of child abuse, you can call 704-336-2273.
Center for child abuse victims opens in E. Lansing
by Kevin Grasha
LANSING – A center where child victims of abuse and neglect are interviewed has moved from a small room to a business complex in East Lansing.
For the last few years, Small Talk Children's Assessment Center has been housed in a small room at Sparrow's St. Lawrence Hospital. The space was donated.
Last month, the center moved to the new location, officials announced this week. The nonprofit's ultimate goal is to raise enough money to buy a house. Executive Director Carrie Gregg said she hopes that happens within the next few years.
The center now provides all its services — interviews and crisis counseling — in one location. Previously, crisis counseling took place at the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office.
The center provides services to about 200 families each year. It's a child-friendly, comfortable environment that ideally promotes complete disclosure by victims.
For more information or to donate or volunteer, go to www.smalltalkcac.org or call 253-0728.
CPS: Anyone Can Help Prevent Child Abuse
People have a moral and legal obligation to report abuse or neglect
WESLACO -- CPS said anyone can help prevent child abuse and neglect in their community. Not only does everyone have a moral obligation to report any suspicions, but they actually have a legal obligation as well.
CPS workers in Austin take calls from all across the state from people reporting potential child abuse and neglect.
The agency said they will investigate every single one of those claims, and it is everyone's responsibility to let them know where their investigators are needed.
A mother's tears show the sorrow of her son's death. The investigation will show the facts.
The 13-month-old boy, Sebastian, arrived at a McAllen hospital in bad shape Wednesday morning.
Medical personnel immediately contacted police and Child Protective Services.
That is required by law. All professionals working for a state licensed facility must report suspicions of abuse and neglect within 48 hours of noticing that something is not quite right.
That includes nurses, teachers and police, to name a few.
“If we suspect anything, that they're being abused or neglected, we have a duty to report it,” said Bernie Garza with the Weslaco Police Department.
Garza said officers are trained to spot situations where children may be unsafe. All law enforcement can do when they have a suspicion is forward the police report to CPS.
He said, “We'll at minimum do an incident report with information.”
CPS said everyone has a responsibility.
“If somebody expects abuse or neglect of a child, they have an obligation under the law to make a report,” said John Lennan with Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Unexplained injuries, changes in personality or signs a child is not getting cared for at home can and should be reported.
Lennan said, “They should always err on the side of the child and be the voice of that child, make a report on behalf of that child.”
CPS said to always trust your instincts.
You can report suspicions of child abuse or neglect on the Texas Abuse Hotline. The law protects those who report potential cases in good faith, meaning your tip will remain confidential.
Texas Abuse Hotline - 1-800-252-5400
Darkness to Light program working to put an end to child sexual abuse
by Carolyn Callahan
COLUMBIA, SC -- Child sexual abuse is a serious problem worldwide.
A non-profit started in Charleston is working to put an end to the abuse.
Carol Hogue is program specialist with Darkness to Light, a non-profit with the mission to end the abuse. Hogue says that statistics say that one in ten children will be sexually abused from the continuum of birth through age 18.
It's clear child sexual abuse is a major problem.
For Hogue, it's a very personal goal.
"I have a child who was sexually abused," Hogue said. "If people who noticed things about the man who harmed my child had done what they were supposed to do and had taken steps, and had confronted him, then my child would not have been harmed."
The Lexington-Richland 5 School District offers the training to all employees. It's a voluntary online course going over things like policies and code of conduct.
"Adult sexual misconduct is a huge issue in our country and we felt like we needed to do something proactively to keep our kids safe," Chief Information Officer with Lexington-Richland Five Mark Bounds said.
A spokesman for the district says more than half of the district's employees have already completed the training.
At River Springs Elementary School in Irmo, Principal Melanie Cohen says all of the employees have been through the program.
"Certainly makes me feel that they're in a much safer place when they come to school knowing that every adult in the building knows those things to look for and is willing to step up to the plate and say something if something doesn't look right,” Cohen said.
For Hogue, the more people who are trained means hopefully less people who have to go through what her family has.
"This is something that does not have to happen to a child," said Hogue
The goal is to eventually have the statistics show no children experience sexual abuse.
The courses aren't just offered online, you can also sign up for a facilitator led workshop.
A spokesman for Lexington-Richland Five says they hope to have all employees complete the course by the end of the school year.
'I used to be a bully. How do I make up for it?'
Dr Petra Boynton, the Telegraph's sex and relationships expert, offers tips to a reader who's been contacted by an old school friend she used to treat badly
by Petra Boynton
was chatting on Facebook with old school friends when, coincidentally, a girl we used to know joined in. She told everyone I was the bully who made her life hell for years. How it had caused her problems with school, work and her marriage and taken her years to recover. I replied that it was a long time ago but I was sorry she felt bad. She then told me to never speak to her again and blocked me. Looking back, I know I behaved badly. I want to go and see her and explain myself. Help me make it up to her.
It must have come as a shock to you both to find each other on that Facebook conversation. But I'm glad you shared your story as there will be people reading this who were bullied as a child or teenager, or who were bullies themselves, and would like help in dealing with their past.
Making it up to her
I appreciate right now you feel shocked and upset and want to fix this. However I would advise leaving her alone.
When you were bullying her she was never in control. She has now had an opportunity to speak out and take charge, putting on record what you did and how that affected her. Encountering you on Facebook may have been very distressing for her and that is for her to cope with independently. But equally being able to challenge you and tell you to stay away may have given her a sense of closure and safety.
I'm unsure if your exact response to her was as you describe here. But if, after her telling you about the bullying and its impact on her life, your response was ‘it was a long time ago' she may reasonably feel you dismissed what she'd said and were not taking responsibility for your actions. ‘I'm sorry that you feel bad' is not the same as saying ‘I'm sorry that what I did to you was bad'.
Aside from seeming confrontational, going to see her gives a clear message that you didn't listen to her and are not respecting her wishes.
She wanted you to know what you did. She doesn't want you to help her. She doesn't want to make it better for you.
I appreciate this isn't the advice you probably wanted, or expected, to hear. When we encounter a problem it's human nature to want to fix it. And if we've been shamed in front of friends there can be a stronger desire to show you're trying to do the right thing.
In this case the right thing is to leave her be. If, in the future, she decides she'd like to talk about what happened then it's up to her to reach out to you.
Sorting things out for you
Letting her alone may not bring comfort to you. You may find there are things you'd like to reflect on or say that you are now unable to share with her. Writing down how you feel, perhaps in letters to her that you do not send, or via projects like We Were Bullies may be therapeutic. As may talking to friends about what has happened.
Be careful while you're explaining how sorry or ashamed you feel that you don't encourage others to try and sort this out with her. Third parties telling her she's being unreasonable, needs to forgive or move on with her life, or trying to make the peace between you both is another way of not respecting her boundaries. For that reason it may be preferable to state to your friends how you feel and how you'll leave her in peace as requested and you don't want to discuss it further. Important if your friends are liable to make this into a drama.
If you have not already done so, consider what happened in your past. Why do you think you were a bully? What was going on in your life at the time? My reply so far may well read harshly and I'm mindful often those who bully do so because of difficulties in their own lives. If you were neglected or abused by your family as a child, had been bullied yourself at school, or were struggling with other issues that led you to act as you did, it may be you also now feel reminded of past trauma and also need help to heal.
Support for survivors
Bullying, although often dismissed as not that serious, just part of childhood or simply people being oversensitive, can have serious repercussions on our physical and mental wellbeing. Those bullied in childhood do struggle with relationships, work and parenting, just as you have been told. They may also have physical and mental health problems and issues with drug or alcohol abuse or self-harm.
For anyone reading who has been a victim of bullying during childhood or adolescence, you can get more information from this guide to healing, from the website Bullying.co.uk or by reading Helen Kennerley's ‘Overcoming Childhood Trauma'.
Adult survivors may also benefit from writing about how they feel, talking to other survivors in support groups (online or in person), or seeing a therapist who specialises in bullying recovery.
There is a time and a place for in-depth discussions and making amends. Sometimes we do things to others that we cannot repair and trying to do so could cause more harm. Focus on your own life. And, privately, wish her well in hers.
Petra Boynton is a social psychologist and sex researcher working in International Health Care and studying sex and relationships. She is The Telegraph's agony aunt. Follow her on Twitter: @drpetra
Former Pa. volunteer firefighter charged with sexually abusing 14 children
by Elaha Izadi
Authorities in Pennsylvania charged a former volunteer firefighter on Friday with sexually assaulting more than a dozen children over a two-year period.
John P. Corcoran, 20, was arraigned on 161 counts of sexual assault, including rape and producing child pornography, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced. The 14 child victims range in age from 8 to 14 years old, according to Whelan. Charging documents also allege that Corcoran victimized a 19-year-old girl with an intellectual disability.
Corcoran, a former volunteer with Goodwill Fire Company No. 1, had been arrested over the summer on arson charges. A lawyer representing him did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Authorities allege that Corcoran orchestrated a series of sexual activities with children, the grim details of which were outlined in a news release Friday. Many of the alleged assaults took place in his bedroom, at a swimming pool and in a YMCA locker room; the charging documents include allegations that Corcoran even victimized multiple children at once and secretly filmed the acts.
“The defendant in this case lured these vulnerable children under the guise of his friendship, and then exploited them with the promise of gifts only to then sexually exploit and abuse them for his own deviant sexual gratification,” Whelan said in a statement. “The sexual exploitation of children is the most heinous crime because of the long-term physical and emotional damage it causes to the innocent.”
According to charging documents, authorities were first alerted to the alleged assaults when the mother of a 12-year-old boy discovered her son had “hard-core” pornographic magazines that Corcoran had given him.
The boy told investigators that Corcoran began sexually assaulting him when the boy was 10, and that he knew of others who were being bribed with money and toy cars.
Soon, detectives began interviewing other children, who told them Corcoran had befriended them and then used peer pressure and gifts to lure them closer before he committed the alleged assaults.
Charges include three counts of child rape, 11 counts of indecent assault of a child under 13, eight counts of indecent exposure and nine counts of dissemination of explicit materials to minors.
Corcoran was out on bail and awaiting his arson trial when police arrested him on child pornography charges in December. He failed to post bail and remained in police custody.
Federal lawsuit challenging Michigan Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect put on hold
by John Agar
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A federal lawsuit challenging the Michigan Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect has been put on hold pending a decision in a similar case in the state Court of Appeals.
The federal lawsuit alleged that the registry created a “black list” of parents who are unfairly listed as child abusers. The registry is easy to get on and hard to get off.
The plaintiffs, four parents in Kent, Calhoun and Jackson counties, alleged that they were placed on the list without any procedural due process.
They sought an order to be removed from the Central Registry and a permanent injunction to keep them off in the future. They also sought a declaratory ruling that the registry is unconstitutional.
They sought a permanent injunction against the state from maintaining a registry until the state could prove it provided due-process procedures both before and after listing someone on the registry.
The state, rather than responding to the lawsuit, asked that it be dismissed.
The state also asked that the case be stayed because another case, Nicastro v Michigan Department of Human Services, is pending before the state Court of Appeals.
U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney on Wednesday, Sept. 18, ordered the case be put on hold pending a decision by the state appeals court.
“This will be the first Michigan appellate court to issue a decision regarding the constitutionality of the state statute,” Maloney wrote in a 10-page opinion.
If the courts reached the same conclusion, it would be a waste of time and resources. If the courts differed, it would create a conflict between state and federal courts on Michigan law, he said.
“Finding neither choice optimal, the better course of action would be to abstain from resolving the constitutional question raised in the complaint and the motion to dismiss until after the Michigan courts have had a chance to make their own determination,” Maloney said.
Attorney Elizabeth Warner said that the state Department of Human Services removed three of four plaintiffs from the registry after the lawsuit's filing nearly a year ago.
They were voluntarily removed, while a fourth has to undergo a hearing before an administrative law judge, she said.
She said that shows that mistakes have been made in registry listings.
Warner said that the registry is shared with employers and organizations to use for background checks.
She said that someone can be put on Central Registry for life based on a child-protective services worker's opinion.
The law allows expungement, but critics say it is a long and difficult process.
New South Wales
NSW may extend time limit on child sex abuse claims
Royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse has shown survivors do not disclose or act on their experience until decades after abuse
by The Australian Associated Press
The NSW government is considering lifting the time limit in which survivors of child sexual abuse can sue for damages.
The NSW attorney general Brad Hazzard said the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse had uncovered widespread claims about abuse and the legal barriers survivors face in pursuing justice many years after the crime.
“It is well documented that many survivors of child sexual abuse do not disclose their experiences or act on them until decades after the abuse, well after the time period has ended,” Hazzard said on Friday.
The government has released a discussion paper on whether to amend the Limitation Act 1969 and wants to hear from the public.
Under the NSW Statute of Limitations people abused as children generally have between three and 12 years from the time of the offence to launch a civil claim.
“People who have suffered at the hands of others sometimes take 20, 30 years just to build up the courage to be able to say anything ... it's a bit strange that there's a limitation in the law that says you can't bring proceedings,” Hazzard told ABC radio on Friday.
The minister for family and community services, Gabrielle Upton, said the discussion paper was about giving victims the compassion, recognition and practical support they deserved.
The president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, Cathy Kezelman, welcomed the discussion paper.
“Child abuse victims face multiple barriers to pursuing a civil litigation process. It is high time that an understanding of trauma and its impacts inform the justice process,” she said.
The public have until 10 March to provide feedback and can do so on the government's Have Your Say website.
The Media Is Making College Rape Culture Worse
by Christine Hoff Sommers
The frenzy over college sexual assault now sweeping the nation was triggered by a specific event.
In 2010, a small team of investigative journalists published a report revealing, so they claimed, an epidemic of college rape. The report was a jumble of highly selective reporting and dubious statistics, as we shall see. But the reporters spread the news far and wide and no one thought to question their accuracy.
Federal officials were electrified by the findings and launched a draconian crusade. The term “rape culture,” previously limited to gender theory seminars, slowly found its way into the national lexicon.
Before long, otherwise sensible people came to believe that Yale, Swarthmore, and the University of Michigan were among the most dangerous places on earth for young women. Dozens of falsely accused young men were subjected to kangaroo court proceedings and expelled from college. By 2014, the panic produced outbursts of fanaticism—a young woman carried a mattress around Columbia in an attempt to expel a classmate who was found not responsible for sexually assaulting her.
Students demanded trigger warnings in classes at Harvard Law School. An angry mob vandalized the house of a falsely accused University of Virginia fraternity.
And it all began in 2010.That year, reporters at National Public Radio teamed up with the left-leaning journalism organization Center for Public Integrity (CPI) to produce and promote a 104-page “investigative reporting series” entitled “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice.” (PDF)
The executive director of CPI, Bill Buzenberg, summed up the plight of millions of young women on campus in a single word: “Nightmare.” According to the report, serial predators are roaming free on college campuses. The occasional victim who finds the courage to report her attack is unlikely to secure justice. More often than not, she will be “re-victimized” by invasive, humiliating, and futile proceedings.
Should she turn to the Office for Civil Rights, the federal agency responsible for monitoring the Title IX equity law, she is likely to be thwarted once again. The report depicts the OCR as a lazy, feckless watchdog that “leaves students at risk.” Exhibit A is the story of Laura Dunn.
On the evening of April 4, 2004, according to the NPR/CPI version of events, Dunn, then a freshman and member of the crew team at the University of Wisconsin, consumed so many raspberry vodkas at a crew party that the student-bartenders refused her more drinks. She left with two young men she trusted from her team. They planned to go to another party, but decided to make a quick stop at one of the men's apartment. According to Dunn, once they arrived, her teammates raped her as she fell in and out of consciousness. For many months, she tried to dismiss the evening as a “just a mistake.” Still, she couldn't sleep, she lost weight, she dropped out of crew.
Fifteen months later, Dunn attended a philosophy class where the professor was discussing how rape is weapon of war. The professor suddenly stopped the lecture, turned to the students, and told them she knew many of her students had been raped, and she assured them they could do something about it. A tearful Laura Dunn told NPR's Joseph Shapiro what happened next. “The moment that lecture let out,” she said, “I walked across to the dean of students' office and I reported that day.” She also reported the alleged rape to the campus police.
The investigation did not go well for Dunn. Because she reported the assault nearly a year-and-a-half after the event, one of the men had already graduated. The other insisted the encounter had been consensual, and since there were no witnesses or evidence, both the police and the university dropped the case.
Dunn felt betrayed. Not only did her attackers go unpunished, the university failed to protect her from retaliation for filing the charge. According to Dunn, while the case was under investigation, she ran into the remaining attacker at a fraternity party, who frightened her with a violent outburst and a warning: “My parents are Harvard attorneys. You won't win.”
Determined to fight an egregious injustice, she filed a Title IX sexual discrimination complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. Dunn accused the University of Wisconsin of multiple violations, including subjecting her to a hostile environment and failing to provide a “prompt and equitable resolution” of her case.
But in 2008, four years after the original incident, she received an 18-page letter (PDF) from the Department of Education with the verdict: “Based on its investigation OCR determined that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations made in the complaint.”
Dunn was stunned to find the OCR siding with the university. “The message they are sending victims,” she told the NPR/CPI team, “is that sexual assault is not something they take seriously.”
The NPR/CPI report created a sensation. There had been news stories about campus rape before, but never by such a distinguished team of investigators. The findings were widely and uncritically reported and won multiple journalism prizes, including a Peabody Award (known as the Pulitzer Prize for radio), as well as the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Justice and Human Rights Reporting and the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma. But the greatest triumph was described by Laura Dunn on her website: “The most important result of all this was that the U.S. Department of Education paid attention.”
Russlynn Ali, a little-known Education Department official, was galvanized by the NPR/CPI findings. And she was singularly situated to act. As the newly appointed assistant secretary for civil rights and head of the OCR, she was in charge of enforcing Title IX. When the NPR/CPI team presented her with the Dunn case and other findings, Ali promised action: “We will use all of the tools at our disposal including… withholding federal funds… to ensure that women are free from sexual violence.”
Secretary Ali made good on her word. On April 4, 2011, she sent her now-famous Dear Colleague letter to colleges across the nation providing detailed guidelines on the draconian steps colleges should take fight what she called a “plague” of sexual violence. Ali's letter advised schools to determine guilt by the lowest standard—a preponderance of evidence. And it instructed them to take measures to minimize the burdens on complainants, but didn't say a word about the rights of the accused.
Ali's Dear Colleague Letter was announced at a special ceremony in Durham, New Hampshire. Both Vice-President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan were present. So was Laura Dunn, who had been invited as a VIP guest of Biden. The date of the Dear Colleague letter had a special significance. April 4 is the anniversary of Ms. Dunn's alleged assault in 2004. As she would tell the Christian Science Monitor , “It was my justice.”
The Dear Colleague letter created havoc, but before describing that havoc, let's check some facts. Dunn agreed to make her records public as a condition of being a part of the NPR/CPI investigation. The 18-page letter (PDF) she received from the OCR is publicly available. It gives a detailed summary of notes taken by University of Wisconsin deans as well as the local police detective. As freelance reporter Derek Rose has pointed out, it tells a very different story from the one we heard from Joseph Shapiro on NPR's Morning Edition or from the CPI report.
To wit: When Dunn first spoke to the dean (15 months after the alleged rape), she said that “a portion of the sexual encounter was consensual.” (p.5) A few days later when she spoke to a campus police detective, Dunn said twice that she did not remember being raped by one of the men (the one still on campus). She found out about it only when the men told her what happened the next day (p.6). She also told the detective that in the months after the alleged rape that she went—twice—to one of the men's residence, where they engaged in consensual “physical contact.”
On one of these occasions both of the alleged assailants were at the apartment and they all watched television together. (p.6) None of these details were mentioned in the NPR/CPI report.
The anomalies continue. The NPR/CPI team fault the University of Wisconsin staff for dragging the case out for nine months—enough time for an “enraged encounter” (as related above) between the accuser and one of the accused men. According to the CPI team, when Dunn ran into the young man at a fraternity party, he stalked and threatened her. But Dunn told the police detective that she had initiated the encounter and when he walked away, she followed him into another room because she “knew he wanted to talk to her.” She also admitted she had hugged him. No mention of threats. (p. 7).
The young man's version comports with the police report, but he adds that when Dunn approached him, he was alarmed, pulled away, and told her he was afraid she would fabricate more lies. When Dunn started to scream and cry, he fled. (p.8)
The NPR/CPI report gives the impression that the university violated federal law by taking nine months to resolve Dunn's complaint. But according to the OCR letter, Dunn herself delayed the process by insisting the official assigned to review her case be replaced. Dunn found her to be too “adversarial and accusing.” Not only that, she was Hispanic. As Dunn explained to University officials, her own mother was Hispanic, and she was experiencing “transference of tensions.” The Hispanic official recused herself and a new investigator took over. (p.10)
These details do not prove that Dunn's teammates did not assault her. And it is possible the deans and investigators at her university failed her in some way. But the case is far murkier than the NPR/CPI team let on. Anyone listening to NPR's Morning Edition on February 24, 2010 not only heard the sanitized version of the Dunn case, they also heard a “chilling” statistic: “A study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1 out of 5 college women will be sexually assaulted.”
This comes from the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study (PDF), commissioned by the National Institute of Justice. But as critics have noted, it was based on an online survey, with a low response rate, vaguely worded questions, and a non-representative sample of college women.
The best study available at the time of the NPR/CPI report was the Bureau of Justice Statistics' 2003 Violent Victimization of College Students (PDF) report, which shows that approximately one in 40 college women is a victim of rape or sexual assault over the course of four years (assault includes verbal threats as well as unwanted sexual grabbing and fondling). More recent BJS data suggest the figure to be 1 in 53—far too many, but a long way from one in five. And, according to the BJS, 80 percent of these victims never report the crime.
That is a genuine problem we need to address. Instead, NPR and CPI diverted attention to a phantom rape epidemic encompassing 20 percent of female college students.
The NPR/CPI team not only exaggerated the number of victims, it promoted the idea that any male undergraduate implicated in a campus sexual assault is likely to be an incorrigible repeat offender. On March 4, 2010, a little more than a week after the initial report on Laura Dunn's case, NPR's Morning Edition ran a segment entitled Myths that Make It Hard to Stop College Rape. Steve Inskeep and Joseph Shapiro told listeners about new research that "may cause people to rethink what they believe about sexual assault on college campuses.”
They were referring to the work of David Lisak and a co-author—who concluded that college officials are dangerously wrong when they assume that young men deemed guilty of sexual assault by a campus disciplinary committee are decent young men who made a mistake because of too much alcohol or miscommunication.
These are not individuals who need some counseling, stern warnings, or temporary probation, Lisak warned. “These are predators," he said on NPR. For a 2002 study (PDF) on campus rapists, Lisak analyzed questionnaires distributed to male passersby in a busy pedestrian area at the UMass-Boston campus. Those who returned them—1,882 over a period of seven years— were paid $3 or $4.
One hundred and twenty—or 1 in 16—admitted to committing acts that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. More than half of this group admitted to raping more than once and also confessed to crimes such as choking an intimate partner, deliberately burning a child, or forcing a child to perform oral sex.
In her excellent critique of Lisak's study, Slate's Emily Yoffe points out that the participants were hardly typical. Most college students are age 18 to 24. Lisak's subjects were 18 to 71. UMass Boston is an urban commuter school with no campus housing and a four-year graduation rate of 15 percent. Lisak admitted to Yoffe that his study probably needed to be replicated on a more traditional campus.
I taught philosophy at UMass Boston in the early 1980s. Things may be different today, but at that time most of my students were adults with full-time jobs, and more than a few had been in jail.
Their crimes, however, were more in the direction of bar fights and stealing cars—not sociopathic predation. Because Lisak's results are based on a non-random, self-selected sample of students, we cannot be sure of their relevance —even to UMass Boston.
I contacted two of the lead reporters, Kristen Lombardi (CPI) and Joseph Shapiro (NPR), to hear their side of the story. I first asked Lombardi why her report so confidently asserts the much-disputed one-in-five sexual assault number. She agreed the figure was controversial, but she said it was not critical to the report. She recalled it coming up only once—and that was in the introduction, written by someone who did not do the reporting. In fact the statistic appears five times in the report and is used strategically to establish the urgency and scope of the campus assault crisis.
When I inquired about the report's account of the Dunn case, she assured me it had been thoroughly fact-checked. But shouldn't readers have known about the complications—such as Dunn's further sexual and social encounters with her alleged rapists? Lombardi seemed to be unfamiliar with the contents of the OCR letter, and explained that she had not written that part of the report. She suggested I call her colleague Kristin Jones—the author of the section on Laura Dunn.
Jones had read the OCR letter, but she didn't think Dunn's subsequent consensual encounters with her alleged attackers were worth mentioning.
She had heard from “people who are experts” that victims are often in shock and they sometimes try to feign normalcy by continuing to socialize with their attackers. She could not recall any names of the experts, but in a follow-up email, she suggested I contact David Lisak. I did, but so far he has not replied to my queries.
I also attempted to speak with Joseph Shapiro at NPR but he declined in a polite email: “Our policy is to let the stories speak for themselves.”
NPR and the Center for Public Integrity are well-respected news organizations. They were alerting Secretary Ali to a catastrophe: Millions of women were sexually assaulted by ruthless criminals, and both college officials and the Office for Civil Rights were frustrating their quest for justice.
The secretary was already planning to make changes in OCR protocols for campus assault cases. But once these reporters presented her with their nightmare scenario, nothing short of drastic action would do. As Kristen Lombardi would later tell a reporter, “Since the Center for Public Integrity series ran, OCR is much more aggressive.”
The aggression came in the form of Ali's Dear Colleague letter of April 4, 2011, which created a national sensation. Colleges rushed to meet the new requirements. They revamped their disciplinary committees and hired Title IX officers to run programs with Orwellian sounding names like the Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution. Political leaders, including President Obama, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sen. Claire McCaskill propagated the one-in-five statistic and demanded action. Soon a dizzying number of sexual assault task forces, listening sessions, tool kits, commission reports, and laws materialized.
Journalists such as Vox's Ezra Klein joined the frenzy. Mesmerized by the one in five statistic, Klein defended harsh campus policies that he acknowledged would punish the innocent. Men, he said, “need to feel the cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter.” Jonathan Chait spoke for civil libertarians everywhere when he questioned Klein's endorsement of false convictions as a strategy: “This is a conception of justice totally removed from the liberal tradition.”
By 2014, OCR was investigating 90 colleges for possible Title IX violations in their handling of sexual assault complaints. Campuses were in full panic mode—with calls for censorship and trigger warnings for sensitive material. At last count, 56 young men found responsible for sexual misconduct were suing their schools, alleging that they were denied due process and fair treatment in star chamber proceedings.
When Rolling Stone published its apocryphal article about a sadistic and premeditated fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia, many who should have known better took it seriously. It was a Gothic fantasy nurtured by specious statistics, poorly designed studies, and panic. The writers and editors at Rolling Stone are to blame for publishing the story. But it was the investigative journalists at NPR and the Center for Public Integrity who made it all seem real.
“Let me say this respectfully and with as much clarity as I can: you do not know my work.” Those are the words of an anonymous student affairs officer in an open letter published by Inside Higher Ed soon after he received the Dear Colleague letter. The frustrated official is addressing both Secretary Ali and the NPR/CPI journalists who inspired her. He and his colleagues have to cope with ambiguous “she said/he said” cases like Laura Dunn's every day. The cases he manages, said the official, are “enormously complex, full of truths, lies, reversals, angry parents, hungry lawyers, and empowered supporters.”
Before Ali's Dear Colleague letter, clearly criminal cases were typically turned over to the police. Campus officials are not detectives. They cannot adjudicate felony rapes any more than they can murder cases. But for confusing, volatile, evidence-free cases like Dunn's, the old system allowed school officials to deploy their skills as educators or counselors —they might send the young men for alcohol counseling, or put them on social probation.
The Dear Colleague letter tacitly assumes the truth of Lisak's predator theory. So it rules discretion out of order and mandates strict legal procedures and harsh punishments. The Inside Higher Ed author says he wrote anonymously because, in the current environment, to protest the new rules publicly invites charges of being “soft on sexual assault” by the media and by victims' rights groups. It could also provoke an investigation by the OCR. The writer protests that the voices of reasonable and experienced professionals have been left out of the debate.
But Laura Dunn's voice is fully present. Not only was she Biden's honored guest at the April 4, 2011 event releasing the Dear Colleague letter, she would later serve on a White House Task Force on Sexual Assault and be recognized for her advocacy on the U.S. Senate floor. In April of 2013, Dunn and Lombardi were guests on Diane Rehm show.
When asked about her assault, Dunn changed her story yet again. The 15-month delay had become “about half a year.” Her sudden realization that she had been a raped no longer took place in a class with a feminist professor talking about rape as a weapon of war, but rather in an “amazing educational program on campus that talked about alcohol-facilitated sexual assault.”
Dunn now runs SurvJustice, an advocacy group for rape survivors. She was one of the experts cited in the Rolling Stone UVA rape story. After the tale unraveled and Rolling Stone issued an apology, Dunn defended the original story and denounced doubters as “rape denialists.”
The journalists at NPR and CPI painted a false picture of campus life. That picture inspired Ali to take aggressive action, which created havoc in the media, at the White House and in Congress, and on campuses across America. In the current environment, anyone critical of the new sexual assault policies risks being denounced as a sexual assault enabler. Large numbers of professors, deans, and college presidents are privately dismayed by the OCR zealotry—but most have run for cover.
An honorable exception exists in the 28 Harvard Law School professors who issued a statement on October 15 challenging the moral and legal foundations of the OCR policies.
They noted that in a free and democratic society the goal is not to do everything possible to eliminate all traces of what can be characterized as sexual abuse. The goal must be to address sexual abuse while at the same time respecting the rights of the accused as well as the privacy and autonomy of romantic relationships.
One of the signatories, Elizabeth Bartholet, an expert on civil rights and family law as well as a feminist, made a powerful “have-you-no-shame Senator” observation: “I believe that history will demonstrate the federal government's position to be wrong, that our society will look back on this time as a moment of madness.”
Rape crisis activists believe this madness serves a worthy purpose: It dramatizes a real problem. Whatever the numbers, far too many women are being harmed. As Ezra Klein says, “Ugly problems don't always have pretty solutions.”But this is exactly wrong. We know from objective research, and some of us know from experience, that sexual assault, although not epidemic, is a serious problem on campus, and victims too often suffer in silence.
But hysteria over a rape culture sheds no light and produces no solutions. Panic breeds chaos and mob justice. It claims innocent victims, undermines social trust, and distracts attention from genuine cases of abuse.
“Pity, wrath, heroism, filled them, but the power of putting two and two together was annihilated.” These words are from E.M. Forster's 1924 novel A Passage to India . He is describing the panic among “good citizens” following a highly dubious rape accusation. But he could have been talking about the current hysteria over the campus “rape culture.” The frenzy will die down when the stories of the falsely accused become too much for the public to bear.
Eventually the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, the President, Senators Gillibrand and McCaskill, and even the Ezra Kleins of this world will recover the ability to add two plus two. But our detour into madness might never have happened had those investigative journalists at NPR and the Center for Public Integrity resisted their “nightmare” narrative and just reported the truth.
Twin 9-Year-Old Boys Left Basically Alone for Months
The boys were left to fend for themselves while an uncle only checked in every few days
by Sarah Begley
Twin 9-year-olds were left virtually on their own for four months in a Manchester, N.H. apartment where an uncle would only occasionally check in on them.
The boys' parents and three siblings left for Nigeria in July with the intention of returning the next month, but were delayed, the Associated Press reports. In the mean time, their 25-year-old uncle, Giobari Atura, was supposed to stay with the boys. Instead, he says he checked in on them every few days.
Police finally became involved in November when the boys' school alerted them that they'd been living alone, getting themselves up in the morning and taking the bus to eat breakfast and lunch at school. The only edible food found in the apartment was ramen.
The twins were initially placed in foster care, but have now been returned to their parents, who came back to the U.S. shortly after learning of the situation. While Atura was charged with endangering the welfare of a child in December, the parents will not be charged since they left their sons in the care of a relative.
Maintenance work on canal in Sunrise, Fla., leads to discovery of car linked to teen couple that went missing in October 1978
Dana Null, 15, and boyfriend Harry Wade Atchison III, 19, were last seen in the 1969 Dodge Coronet near Fort Lauderdale. The Dodge was found at the bottom of a canal in Sunrise, a few miles to the west, on Thursday. No remains were found inside the vehicle.
by Rachelle Blidner
The murky waters of a canal in southern Florida concealed a secret for more than three decades: a car linked to a missing persons case from 1978.
The 1969 Dodge Coronet was driven by Harry Wade Atchison III, 19, with his girlfriend, Dana Null, 15, as a passenger, in the hours before they disappeared in October of that year, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
On Thursday, South Florida Water Management workers doing routine maintenance on a canal in the town of Sunrise, just off State Road 84, when they discovered the long-lost Dodge, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.
It was corroded and partially deteriorated. But no human remains were found inside.
The couple was driving in Fort Lauderdale, not far to the east of Sunrise, when they were last seen.
Null and Atchison had fought in Atchison's trailer after attending a Foreigner concert with friends, according to missing persons reports. Atchison then got in his car to drive off, but Null stopped him and entered the vehicle before they drove off together.
They haven't been seen since.
The vehicle identification numbers affixed to the car's windshield were still legible and allowed investigators to connect the barely recognizable vehicle to the missing persons case, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Divers searched the canal for remains on Thursday night, NBC Miami reported.
Investigators previously suspected the couple may have accidentally driven off the road and crashed into the canal, according to a 1995 Sun-Sentinel article.
Human trafficking victim shares her story
by Ryan Masters
WATSONVILLE -- Deborah Pembrook is an advocate for victims of human trafficking. She is also a survivor of the human sex-trafficking trade.
On Tuesday night, Pembrook joined a panel of community leaders which included police officers, social workers and representatives from faith-based organizations for a community conversation about human trafficking in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.
Described as one of the fastest growing problems in the Monterey Bay region, human trafficking is a misunderstood epidemic that requires community education, increased dialogue and greater trust between victims and support services, according to members of the panel.
As a child and teenager in Ohio, Pembrook was sexually exploited for financial gain by a trusted adult in her community. Unfortunately, like most human sex-trafficking victims, the support she needed was not readily available. She eventually escaped the cycle of abuse by moving to California at the age of 17.
Yet even after arriving in the Santa Cruz area, she had a difficult time finding resources to effectively help her cope with the traumatic experience.
“Although each survivor's story is unique, they are all sadly similar,” Pembrook said. “The average age of entry into the human sex-trafficking trade is 12.”
Human trafficking in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, however, is not restricted to the sex trade.
“There's a myth that it only occurs in brothels and massage parlors,” said Capitola Police Chief Rudy Escalante. “It can also be committed at legitimate businesses like restaurants, nanny services and the agriculture industry.”
Another commonly believed myth is that the victims are only foreign nationals or immigrants in the country illegally — 50,000 Americans are currently exposed to human trafficking, Escalante said.
Although immigrants in the country illegally are highly susceptible to human trafficking because of their tenuous legal status, they may also be eligible for help in the form of a “T” or “U” visa, which allow victims to remain in the U.S. in exchange for assistance in law enforcement's investigation or prosecution of human trafficking cases.
“These people are afraid of deportation and are hesitant to approach or trust law enforcement,” Escalante said. “But all they have to do is fill out an application to qualify for a ‘U' Visa. It does not require a successful prosecution. It doesn't even have to be filed.”
According to organizers, Tuesday's conversation in Watsonville was a preliminary step towards creating a formal coalition against human trafficking in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.
“This community needs a plan,” said Julie Schneider, a victim advocate for the Santa Cruz Police Department. “When we ask victims to trust us and escape the situation they're in, they have to know there is a solution to step into.”
“One service can't do it alone,” said Jennifer Mendoza, a social worker with the Monterey County Department of Social Services. “We have to do it collectively and collaboratively — that's why we need this coalition.”
To report suspicious activity or identify someone who may be a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888-373-7888.
Diocese Releases More Names Of Priests Accused Of Sexual Abuse
by Linda Kor
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup has released the names of 31 priests church officials say have sexually abused their parishioners. The diocese, which serves 55,000 square miles in Arizona and New Mexico, including tribal lands, posted the names on its website last month.
A story published in The Tribune-News in 2011 reported on the admission by the diocese that a now deceased priest who had served in both Winslow and Holbrook had been a known pedophile within the church. Clement Hageman served as a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Holbrook from 1942 until 1953 and at the Madre de Dios Parish in Winslow from 1965 until 1975. That admission by the diocese allowed individuals who suffered abuse by Hageman to come forward to begin healing and to pursue legal options.
Last month the diocese released the names of 30 more priests who served in the diocese who have been identified as having credible allegations of sexual misconduct made against them. Although many of those priests are now deceased, the diocese has not indicated the status of those who are still living. Of the clergy included on that list, nine served in Holbrook, 14 in Winslow and one in Snowflake.
Those priests who were assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Holbrook include Clement Hageman, who was assigned from 1942-1952, and is now deceased; William Allison, assigned in 1958, now deceased; David Enrique Viramontes, assigned from 1960 to 1961, now deceased; Samuel Wilson, assigned in 1961, now deceased; James Burns, assigned in 1964, now deceased; Douglas McNeil, assigned from 1969-1971 and again from 1973-1974; John Boland, assigned in 1975; Joseph Coutu, assigned from 1981-1983; and Jose Rodriquez, assigned from 1990-1992.
Those priests assigned to the St. Joseph Parish in Winslow include John Newton, who was assigned in 1955; David Enrique Viramontes, assigned from 1959 to 1960 and is now deceased; George Baz, assigned in 1968; Douglas McNeil, assigned from 1969 to 1970; Lucien Meurneir, assigned from 1972 to 1973, now deceased; Jose Rodriguez, assigned from 1975 to 1976; and Michael Aten, assigned in 1978, now deceased.
Those priests assigned to the Madre de Dios Parish in Winslow included John Degnan, who was assigned in 1961 and is now deceased; John Sullivan, assigned from 1961 to 1962, now deceased; Samuel Wilson, assigned from 1964 to 1965, now deceased; Douglas McNeill, 1969 to 1970; Raul Sanchez, assigned from 1975 to 1976; Robert J. Kirsch, assigned from 1963 to 1964, now deceased; Clement Hageman, assigned from 1965-75, now deceased; and John Boland, assigned from 1980-1983.
Jose Rodriguez was a priest assigned to Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Snowflake from 1994 to 2000.
David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), knows the struggle that victims go through as old memories surface and emphasized the importance of reaching out to others. “I am begging every single person who suspects they observed or experienced abuse to come forward. Contact the police and help protect others who may become victims,” said Clohessy.
He explained the importance of reporting the crime, not only to law enforcement first, but also to an independent source. “These crimes were committed and concealed because it was not in the best interest of the church to expose them until now. You cannot tell me that over the past years in Arizona that with hundreds and hundreds of church employees no one, not a priest to a janitor, saw that abuse was taking place. It is counterintuitive to go to the diocese first,” stated Clohessy.
He explained that prosecutors and law enforcement officials have become more assertive, creative and successful in getting convictions related to older sex crimes. “These people use liquor, pornography, and will obstruct justice and destroy evidence to protect themselves, so even if the statute of limitations for one crime has expired, that doesn't mean that another crime could not prosecute an offender. I don't mean to sound trite, but if there's a will, there's a way,” said Clohessy.
In The Tribune-News story four years ago, Joseph Baca spoke of becoming one of those innocent victims at the age of 10 when he was an altar boy in the Madre de Dios Parish in Winslow. He suffered for years under the abuse of Hageman, but through his own healing, chose to reach out to others through SNAP.
“This has ruined so many lives. Several victims have ended up in prison, committed suicide or lead destructive lives. My hope is that they will come forward and begin the journey of healing,” he stated at the time.
Clohessy shared that sentiment, stating that parents need to be aware of self-destructive signs that may indicate abuse, even if those behaviors began years ago and those children are now adults. “They need to contact their children and talk to them about this. They may not have been able to help them then, but they can now,” he stressed.
For the complete listing of priests provided by the diocese, go online to: www.dioceseofgallup.org
For more information and assistance for individuals who are victims, contact SNAP at: www.snapnetwork.org
To contact the Diocese of Gallup victim assistance coordinator, call (505) 906-7357.
Sex abuse book injunction had ‘chilling effect on free speech'
by Kunal Dutta
A ruling that a British performing artist cannot publish a book detailing the sexual abuse he suffered as a child has had a “chilling effect” on free speech, the Supreme Court was told today.
The Court of Appeal had granted an injunction last October barring publication of parts of the performer's memoirs after his ex-wife argued that reading it could cause severe psychological harm to their 11-year-old son, who suffers from a number of disabilities.
But the performer appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that it was vital that the voices of survivors of sexual abuse are not stifled.
At the hearing in London yesterday, Hugh Tomlinson QC said that the injunction would have a “chilling effect on free speech” arguing there was a “clear public interest in publication”. He added that the boy and his mother did not live in the UK, but in a country where the book may not be available.
“There are no immediate plans to publish the book in the country where the child lives and it is clear that proper steps need to be taken to ensure that the child does not obtain access to it, as steps are doubtless taken to avoid him being exposed to other books and material written for adults,” he said.
Mr Tomlinson told the court that the book was a “true autobiographical account” and that it was a bad thing for courts to become involved in editorship and “matters of taste”. “An injunction preventing the worldwide publication of a performing artist's autobiographical account of the consequences of childhood sexual abuse and his recovery plainly places a severe restriction on that individual's right to freedom of expression and the concomitant right of the public to receive that information,” he said.
Justices are expected to continue analysing the case today with a ruling expected later this year. They have ruled that no one involved can be identified in media reports or on social media channels.
The psychological well-being of the boy was “contingent on three factors”, Mr Tomlinson argued. “First the child finding relevant passages from the book quoted or referred to on the internet; second the child reading and understanding these passages; and third, the child suffering psychiatric harm as a result of reading those passages.
“None of these can be said to be certain or even likely,” he added. “By contrast the benefit conferred by the publication of the book is certain.”
The case has drawn interest from a number of high-profile authors and advocacy groups.
Last year 20 leading writers, including David Hare, Michael Frayn, William Boyd and Tom Stoppard, wrote an open letter to The Telegraph arguing they were “gravely concerned about the impact of this judgment on the freedom to read and write in Britain”.
They added: “The public is being denied the opportunity of reading an enlightening memoir, while publishers, authors and journalists may face censorship on similar grounds in the future.”
Minnesota anti-abuse bill puts children first
by Don Davis
ST. PAUL — Hank Marotske's mother allowed her children one meal a week.
“That pot of whatever she cooked had to last a week,” he said.
When the food ran out one time, his mother caught Marotske trying to sneak food out of a cabinet.
“She threw me from the counter, across the trailer and stomped on my stomach so hard that I coughed up blood,” the Twin Cities man told a Minnesota House committee on Wednesday before it unanimously passed a bill that supporters hope will help prevent child abuse.
Marotske said he was in eight school districts by sixth grade, and while he stayed with foster parents, he always was given back to his mother.
“All of my case management meetings were all around what was my mom going to do,” he said.
One of the key changes in the bill, which still must pass several more committees before reaching the full house, is to focus on the children instead of parents.
Marotske said his life would have been better had his needs, not his mother's wishes, governed child welfare decisions.
The goal of the bipartisan legislation, Sen. Kathy Sheran said, “is to place stronger protections for children facing possible maltreatment.”
The Mankato Democrat and Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, wrote the bill after the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean in 2013 in west-central Minnesota. News stories indicated that multiple reports of child abuse had been ignored.
Kresha said that the bottom line of the bill is finding ways that courts, law enforcement officers and child protection workers can better coordinate efforts to protect children.
Children, Kresha said, are “our most valuable and vulnerable” resources.
Allowing child abuse investigators to look at 5-year-old records should help, he said. That is a year longer than now allowed.
The change could help alert investigators of problems, which usually happen to children 5 years old or younger, he said.
The proposal also allows more communicating among those involved in child abuse work, and requires law enforcement agencies to get more of the reports.
The bill, Sheran said, “will give the professionals information they need.”
Sheran said that about 70 percent of child abuse reports are dealt with by “family assessments” that do not involve law enforcement. Those assessments do not prioritize child safety, she added.
Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, said part of the problem in investigating child abuse cases is that governmental entities tend not to work with each other well. The bill would require more cooperation.
The bill would cost the state money, but how much has not been determined.
Sheran said that $42 million in state money has been cut from child abuse programs in the past decade.
Kresha said that he hopes Gov. Mark Dayton includes money for child abuse help in the budget he releases on Tuesday.
Kresha said that in many rural areas, such as where he lives, that cooperation is easier than in urban areas. Often, he said, rural agencies involved in child abuse investigations are housed in the same building, while in big cities they may be in buildings scattered over a wide area.
However, Kresha added, urban areas often have more resources than rural Minnesota.
How Doctors And Police Detect Child Abuse
Sioux Falls Police investigating second child abuse case of 2015
by London Swan
Every year, more than three million reports of child abuse are made in the United States. And already this year, Sioux Falls Police are investigating two separate cases of child abuse.
It's not even three weeks into the New Year, and already two babies have shown up at local hospitals with head injuries.
The first case happened over a week ago when a three-month-old boy was taken to the hospital by his parents. The latest happened over the weekend when parents brought a seven-month-old baby to the hospital.
Both cases were first reported to police by doctors who knew something wasn't quite right.
It shouldn't hurt to be a child.
“If we have any inkling of abuse or neglect, we're required to report it,” said Dr. Shari Eich, Avera McGreevy Clinic.
Avera McGreevy Clinic doctor Shari Eich says when an injury doesn't match the story given, suspicions start to rise.
“We'll get the story that a child rolled off a couch, but yet they have a skull fracture when they landed on carpeting, which shouldn't cause a fracture," said Dr. Eich.
“I think the most concerning thing is just the fact that these children are helpless,” said Officer Sam Clemens, Sioux Falls Police Dept. “They're looking for somebody to provide care for them and raise them in a safe environment. When we have injuries like these, it's disappointing.”
Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens says investigating a child's suspicious injury is never an easy thing.
“It doesn't take a lot of force to damage a child and some of those injuries could have long-term effects,” said Clemens.
But it becomes even more challenging when the victim can't speak.
“What we're doing is trying to back-track,” said Clemens. “Find out who the children were with, who was responsible, who the caregivers were, anybody that may have had contact with them, and trying to figure out what happened."
“Often, the parents don't have the coping skills to deal with a child,” said Dr. Eich. “They may be fussy kids, they may have colic. Or parents will be tired and not have the patience."
And Dr. Eich says unfortunately, parents lose their patience, and things happen that shouldn't.
“It is never right to shake a child, to hit a child, or take out frustration on a child in any way,” said Dr. Eich.
Officer Clemens says anytime children are taken into protective custody, that's a decision by law enforcement. He says once the children are placed, the parents are notified of the initial court hearing, and that's when it's up to the judge to decide what happens to those children.
If you're aware of child abuse or neglect, go to http://dss.sd.gov/cps/protective/reporting.asp for more information on how to report it.
Impact Child Abuse with CASA
DOVER — It's a tragic fact that child maltreatment occurs thorough our state, in every community, yet most of the time we are unaware of it because it rarely makes the news.
Identities are protected, services put in place; we go on with our lives thinking all is well. Have you been troubled about recent news of child abuse in NH? This is your opportunity to make a difference in young lives.
CASA of NH, as a statewide non-profit, provides guardians ad litem to be the voice of these children in court proceedings; to identify and advocate for what is in the child's best interest in these cases, to ensure that child grows up in a safe and permanent home.
The Dover CASA office will offer a daytime training in March for men and women who wish to volunteer their time and talents in advocating for their community's abused and neglected children. The work is challenging, but rewarding.
We especially need more volunteers to serve children from the Rochester court. CASA/GALs have impacted the future of New Hampshire's children for 25 years, and the goal as we enter 2015 is a CASA for every child in need. Help us reach it.
Visit www.casanh.org/onlineapplication to apply, or call 603-626-4600 today.
Florida toddler finds his father's gun, kills himself
by Katie Mettler and Zack Peterson
EAST LAKE -- A toddler died Wednesday afternoon after he found his father's gun in the family car and shot himself, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.
Kevin Ahles had left his 2-year-old son, Kaleb, in the front seat of the car and returned to carrying boxes in preparation for a family move to Hernando County. Kaleb somehow crawled across the seat and opened the glove compartment, where his father kept a .380-caliber handgun, deputies said.
Kaleb then lifted the gun, turned it so that it faced his chest and squeezed the trigger.
Ahles, 23, heard a loud pop and sprinted back to the dark-colored Nissan. Kaleb's mother, Christina Nigro, 23, performed CPR. Deputies responded to the home at 1094 Misty Hollow Lane at 4:47 p.m. and an ambulance took Kaleb to Medical Center of Trinity, where he was pronounced dead.
At a news conference in Misty Woods, the family's neighborhood, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said detectives were able to confirm that Kaleb fired the gun and that he was not shot by someone else.
"He probably barely got the trigger pulled," Gualtieri said, adding that it was a lightweight weapon usually carried in a pocket or on a hip.
There was no wrongdoing, Gualtieri said, and the parents are not facing criminal charges. Nobody could punish the parents more than they'll punish themselves, he said.
"It appears to be another tragic situation," Gualtieri said. "It's just one of those things that happens where everything happens the wrong way."
The toddler's grandfather, a retired Tampa police detective also named Kevin Ahles, said he received a call about what happened to Kaleb and immediately drove to East Lake. Standing outside the police tape, he summed up the tragedy.
"A great little kid was killed today," he said. "That's all there is to say."
Erin's Law designed to help kids fight sexual abuse
by Piliar Pedraza
WICHITA, Kan. -- Would you know if your child were being sexually abused? Statistics say no.
"Every parent will talk to their kids about stranger danger. But they just don't imagine that someone they know and trust would do this to their children," said Erin Merryn.
But a Kansas lawmaker hopes to change that with Erin's Law. It's named for an Illinois woman who was a survivor of child sexual abuse.
The idea of Erin's Law is to provide training at schools across the state for teachers and students, to help them recognize child sexual abuse and speak up about it.
"As I like to tell legislators, there are 42 million survivors, in America alone, of this. Three million of those are children," said Merryn.
Erin Merryn has made it her mission to help save others from the abuse she suffered as a child, first molested by a family friend, then a family member. She didn't tell anyone for years.
"It was sadly finding out that my younger, 11-year-old sister, was also being abused by this same family member," she said.
And she doesn't want other children to go through that. So she's trying to get Erin's Law passed in all 50 states.
It would require teachers to get special training every year to help them recognize the signs of child sexual abuse. It would also teach the children about things like safe and unsafe touching and safe and unsafe secrets.
"Trying to give them a voice and being able to report instances of abuse," said Rep. Russel Jennings, (R) Lakin. He introduced Erin's Law here in Kansas. "I think people need to know that this is going to be one of the very few bills this session that can actually do some good and I think protect children at a higher level."
He told Eyewitness News he knew child sexual abuse was a bigger problem than most accepted because of his career involved with law enforcement. But it was Erin Merryn's story that pushed him to propose Erin's Law.
"Because without it, the only message kids are getting is through the perpetrator," said Merryn. "'This is our secret, no one will believe you.'"
She says some parents are concerned about sexual abuse being brought up in the classroom.
"I'll have very concerned parents tell me, 'Erin, this is a conversation that should be left in the home,'" she said. "But sadly the majority of the time children are being abused in the home."
Most of the rest of the time, she added, parents stop with discussing stranger danger. Except, she said, 93% of the time the perpetrator is someone the child knows and trusts.
Merryn says this is the second try to get this law passed in Kansas. She says it fell through the cracks due to unrelated issues last year.
It is currently in committee, but Rep. Jennings is hopeful it will soon be on the House floor for debate.
Merryn says to date 20 states have passed Erin's Law. She hopes someday to get it passed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
* Erin's Law on Facebook
* Erin's Law website
* Erin's Law as proposed in Kansas
Experts: Fla. Sibling Shooting Exposes 'Incest Loophole'
by Julia Dahl
According to police documents, the siblings and their 3-year-old sister were left alone with their 16-year-old brother while their mother accompanied their father on an out-of-town trucking job on Jan. 5. The girls told police that their brother locked the older sister in a room with just a blanket and a bucket to use as a toilet. While the brother was sleeping, police say, the younger sister unlocked the door and helped the older sister get a gun, which she then used to shoot and kill her brother as he slept on the living room floor.
Then, as more information about the homicide began to trickle out, it became clear that the girls accused were not strangers to trauma and violence. In 2010, the children's aunt went to police when she found a memory stick belonging to her husband with video of him sexually molesting the oldest sister. The uncle was eventually convicted and is serving life in prison.
And the abuse did not stop there. The family began locking the girl in a room - once for 20 days - and reportedly pulled her from school due to "behavioral issues." And among the reports released by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office is a heavily redacted document that suggests that in 2011, when the older sister would have been 11 or 12, her mother found the girl and her brother having sex in the house. But, according to the incident report, "the case was closed as unfounded and no criminal acts were disclosed."
"We treat sexual abuse of children in the family as a social and psychological problem and not as a crime - and it is a crime," says Grier Weeks , the executive director of the National Association to Protect Children.
The Florida Department of Children and Family told 48 Hours' Crimesider that they are investigating the incident but cannot reveal whether they were involved with the family prior to the shooting.
According to Daphne Young of Child Help, a non-profit organization devoted to the prevention and treatment of child abuse, 68 percent of child sex abuse victims are abused by a family member. Jennifer Marsh of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) says that 40 percent of the people who call the National Sex Abuse hotline say incest is their primary or secondary reason for seeking help.
And yet, perpetrators who sexually abuse family members can be subject to lower penalties than they would be had they assaulted a neighbor or stranger. In Washington State, for example, the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative Law allows an offender to receive a lighter sentence if he or she had "an established relationship with, or connection to, the victim."
Weeks calls this "the incest loophole," and finds it mind-boggling: "The toll on a child [abused by a family member] is devastating. She was not protected by the very people who should have loved and protected her."
Even in states where no "incest loophole" exists - like California and New York, where Weeks says legislation closing the gap was approved over the past decade - RAINN's Marsh says that "incest can be particularly difficult to investigate."
Victims, she says, fear having their family torn apart: "The idea of a loved one going to prison is more horrible than dealing with the evil they already know." Because of this, victims "may be uncooperative and downplay abuse. If it has been going on a long time, they may not even see it as a crime," Marsh says.
Actress and incest survivor Alison Angrim, who played Nellie Oleson on "Little House on the Prairie," told Crimesider that she was sexually abused by her older brother for six years starting when she was six years old. When she read about the Florida case, she said the first thing she thought was: "Why were those children still in that house?"
"The police wrote off the sibling incest because they were close in age," she says. "But the question is balance of power. Apparently, her brother has the authority to lock her in a room. He wasn't a brother who was on the same footing, he was a prison warden with access to a gun. Had he kidnapped her off the street and she'd shot him while escaping, we'd call it self-defense."
The two Fla. girls were initially charged with first-degree murder as adults, but earlier this week the state's attorney announced they would both be charged as juveniles, with second-degree murder. The girls' parents are still behind bars on neglect charges. Their 3-year-old sister is in state custody.
Children given iPhones in exchange for sex
Vulnerable kids plied with technology by perverts who then exploit them
by Jilly Beattie
Vulnerable children targeted by perverted adult predators in Northern Ireland are swapping sex for iPhone5s, the Mirror can reveal.
A counselling service for survivors of sexual abuse is now working to help young people develop the skills they need to protect themselves from sexual exploitation.
But the workers have been shocked by the huge level of intervention and care needed to try to keep vulnerable youth safe.
Helena Bracken, Nexus regional manager for Derry and Enniskillen, said: “We knew it was needed but we didn't have the finance or wherewithal so it just didn't exist and the Big Lottery Fund gave us the ability to carry out this vital work.
“But now it has opened a Pandora's Box. We didn't realise just how great the need was and the reality of what we were facing.
“It would be terrible if this service no longer existed when we are finally making inroads and recognising that these young people are being exploited.”
The Nexus support workers based in the Western and Southern Health Trust areas are helping those targeted by child sexual exploitation, both online and in the real world and online pornography.
Their biggest obstacle so far has been convincing young people that being lavished with “love” and gifts in exchange for sex is actually abuse. Mary McLaughlin, one of three support workers employed by Nexus on the project, said: “Exploitation is the new buzzword but in fact it has been happening for ever.
“It's always existed it's just no one ever really considered it as a form of abuse because no one knew to say ‘don't do this'.
“It was perceived as being consensual and was very hard to identify.
“It is hard for a person to realise they are being exploited. In their own minds they think they are willingly doing what they are doing.
“In one group of five I worked with, three of the young people thought it was ‘a good deal' to have sex with someone if they were getting an iPhone 5.”
Their New Possibilities for Vulnerable Youth project is supported by the Big Lottery Fund's Empowering Young People programme.
Many of the young people Mary and her team are dealing place no value on themselves because they have never felt valued.
She explained: “When someone is nice to them, they lap up the affection they crave, which often leads to exploitation.
“Getting them to value themselves is a real difficultly. For many young people in care, abuse has started at home.
“By the time they reach their teenage years, they're embarking on risk-taking behaviour, drinking or taking drugs, leaving them vulnerable – and their need to be cared for makes them especially easy targets.
“Keeping in with their peers influences them as well.
“At a young age they are being introduced to a sexual world online and that is where some are getting their sexual education and that's not even realistic. And boys can be as vulnerable as girls.
“It's survival, they have to have this tough facade to survive and then you have outsiders looking in on these young people who they see as hardened, cheeky and they think, ‘well, they deserve what they get'.
“That's not the case, it's what has happened to them. They feel the need to put this hard shell
around them so they don't get hurt again.
“People need dignity and for a lot of these young people it has been taken from them.”
The service Mary in the Western area and her colleagues Orlaigh McKenna and Gail Ratcliffe in the Southern area offer is that of an open and honest adult.
But that's without any of associations of those already involved in the young people's lives, such as social workers, teachers or police officers.
That frees the young people from the embarrassment they may have about asking questions of a personal or sexual nature.
Mary said: “The young people get the basic information that they have missed out on up to that point in their lives.
“They have heard of sexual health but may not have grasped what was being taught at school. I explain to them about exploitation – it's not a ‘good deal'.
“We teach them to recognise it and that it shouldn't happen. They have to give their consent, even if they are in a relationship. Boys are under pressure too. I want them to understand that and that there is someone – be it at Nexus or elsewhere – if they want help reporting something.”
The Mirror spoke to one young man who has been helped by the Nexus project.
Luke, 25, not his real name, explained: “I spent my childhood between the age of three and
10 either in foster care or in a children's home.
“The children's home was like a big family to me and I didn't want to leave.
“I had suffered the loss of my mother and separation from my other siblings at an early age.
“At the age of 10 I moved back home. Life at home was hard. I found it difficult to cope – I was a train wreck.
“I left home at 16 to go into sheltered housing. I started to self-harm very young and tried to end my own life several times in my late teens.
“I had started drinking at 11 and was drinking heavily by the time I was 14.
“As a young teenager I didn't have the confidence to challenge exploitation and I put myself in harm's way.
“I took part in the New Possibilities programme while living in sheltered accommodation.
“I am good on computers but I didn't really understand the consequences that things like posting drunken photos online can have.
“So this helped me understand what sexual exploitation is and made me a much stronger person.
Luke said he recently encountered a situation which made him realise just how much the programme has helped him.
He added: “A man who worked in a position that brought him into contact with vulnerable young people made an inappropriate sexual advance to me. I reported it to his employer.
“I did this to protect any other vulnerable young person this man might come in contact with in the future.
“The organisation took my report very seriously and action is being taken. The fact that I spoke out and was listened to makes me feel safer.
“I now help take sessions about sexual exploitation with young people and would like a career in youth work.
“It feels good to help them by answering their questions honestly and to know my advice may help them or their friends if they are in a bad place.”
Helping young people in care is just one strand of the project, which also works with young people with learning
disabilities and educates young people in schools and youth clubs about online grooming.
The three-year project is funded with a £221,076 grant through the Big Lottery Fund's Empowering Young People's programme.
Fiona: sex abusers using age and health as a 'cop out'
by Ruaidhri Giblin
ABUSE survivor Fiona Doyle has said too many paedophiles are using their advanced age and ill-health as a "cop out" when it comes to serving time in prison.
She was speaking as the Court of Appeal outlined its reasons for finding the sentence handed down to her abuser father Patrick O'Brien (75) was unduly lenient.
O'Brien pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 16 sample counts of rape and indecent assault committed against his daughter at Mackintosh Park, Pottery Road, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, between 1973 and 1982.
Trial judge Mr Justice Paul Carney had described it as one of the worst cases of abuse one could possibly find. Mr Justice Carney, taking into account O'Brien's health problems which include a heart condition, lung problems and arthritis, last year sentenced him to 12 years in prison, suspended the final nine and granted him continuing bail pending an appeal. Bail was taken from him a few days later.
Last month, the Court of Appeal found that O'Brien's sentence was unduly lenient. Yesterday, President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, said there was no rule which prevented people who were ill from being sent to prison.
Speaking outside court yesterday, Ms Doyle said: "Age and health was not an issue when he was abusing me so I don't see why it should be an issue now."
O'Brien began abusing his daughter the night before she made her First Communion and the abuse continued until she was 16. The abuse continued regularly and frequently so that it became routine.
Ms Doyle said the ruling of the Court of Appeal will give hope to other victims.
"It gives hope to other victims, and despair to other paedophiles out there and I hope they will always be looking over their shoulder, that us survivors, they have us the adults we are today. We've had to fight all our lives and battle to get through all our lives and they've made us the strong people we are today.
"You will always be looking over your shoulder because one day your victim will find a voice and will come forward," she added.
Under the original sentence, Ms Doyle said her father would have been due for release in April this year, having served two years and three months.
She said she still struggled with the legacy of her shattered childhood.
"I'm still in counselling, I still battle flashbacks, I still battle nightmares and I still battle certain issues and that will go on for the rest of my life, so him serving two years and three months compared to the sentence I'm serving is very unbalanced."
The Court of Appeal will hold a hearing next Monday to determine O'Brien's new sentence. O'Brien remains in custody and was present in court yesterday.
‘This is rape, by definition': UK is giving 10-year-olds contraceptive implants, records show
by Steve Weatherbe
British girls as young as 10 are being injected with long-lasting contraceptive implants untested on anyone under 18—on the taxpayers' dime.
Pro-life and pro-family organizations have spoken out against the revelations, brought to light through freedom-of-information enquiries by the Daily Mail , on the grounds they encourage the exploitation of underage girls for sexual purposes.
“Doctors who do this think they are helping the young girls deal with their own sexually active lives but they are actually part of the problem, by encouraging their sexualization and the sexualization of the culture,” Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, told LifeSiteNews.
Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust agreed. He told the Daily Mail , “Fitting young girls with contraceptive implants is quite simply indefensible. It is giving them the green light to engage in illegal sexual activity and robbing them of the protection that the age of consent law is intended to give.” The age of consent is 16.
And Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told LifeSiteNews that under no circumstances should a 10-year-old be enabled to continue sexual activities. “A sexually active ten-year-old is being abused, by definition. Ten-year-olds can't give informed consent, and certainly can't give consent for sexual activity.”
According to the Mail , three 10-year-old girls were given the implant, a heavy dose of the hormone progesterone, since 2010, along with one 10 or 11-year-old, 53 12-year-olds, 281 13-year-olds, 3,000 girls aged 14 and 6,300 15-year-olds.
Though never tested on anyone under 18, the implant is known to cause nausea, mood swings, acne, and headaches among adults. The Daily Mail quoted several unnamed sources in defense of the practice, including one at the University of Leicester, which implanted one of the 10-year-olds. Said he or she: ‘Only under extremely rare circumstances would a patient under the age of 13 ever receive a contraceptive implant,” while another health official insisted the police, social workers and parents would all be informed.
The problem with that claim, said Tully, is that the law does not require parents be informed when a minor is given contraceptives of any kind, or abortions, if the doctor deems the child to be mature enough to make the decision.
Tully's fear is that prescribing contraception to girls under the age of consent allows predators to coerce them into sexual activity without fear of being discovered. “This is likely to be regarded as a green light by those who wish to exploit these girls.”
What is more, he said, the prescribing of contraceptives to preteens will promote the agenda from some lobby groups to reduce the age of consent. “There is constant pressure on younger and younger youth to engage in sexual activity,” he said. Not only such organizations as the Family Planning Association, but teachers, schools, legal authorities, the advertising and film industries all promote the sexualization of youth, and, he added, “for whatever reason the age of menarche (the onset of menstruation) is lowering among British girls. This means that 10-or 11-year olds could get pregnant, and makes contraception seem merely prudent to many.”
“Our concern is that the child taking contraceptives is much more vulnerable to pressure to have sex and to having an abortion,” Tully said.
Tully said that there is also pressure on the legal, medical and counseling professions to acknowledge a “de facto lowering of the age of consent from 16 to 13.” Not only civil libertarians, but religious groups such as Quakers and Methodists in Great Britain were arguing as early as 1972 to lower the age of consent to 14 in recognition of the practices of youth themselves. But a BBC poll in 2010 showed 84 percent of Britons opposed.
Tully said doctors, school nurses, social workers, and police all should respond to children younger than 16 seeking contraceptives with counseling but an effort should be made to change their behavior. “In general, the law should be upheld, but I'm not saying there should be lots and lots of prosecutions.”
Dr. Harrison took a harder line: “This should be a criminal child sexual molestation case. Physicians who administer long-acting contraceptives without involving a police investigation should be considered complicit in the crime of child sexual molestation.”
If the girl's parent or guardian does give consent, a doctor should notify police on suspicion of child trafficking, Dr. Harrison added. “There are zero circumstances under which it is OK to allow a 10-year-old-girl to undergo continuous exposure to sexual activity. Zero. None. This is rape, by definition.”
Nicolette Winn ... and life after child abuse ...
Where does one start?
by Zita Henneberry
“To me, positive isn't pretending that everything is always wonderful but rather acknowledging what's happening and working through it,” said Nicolette Winn, founder of the No Longer Silenced Movement (NLSM).
Winn recently published her first book, “One” through Amazon. This publication, she said, is one facet of her continued work to help survivors of child abuse.
The three-year pursuit of writing “One” has been a great personal struggle for the young author.
“It was hard to go back to that time in my life because it hurts so much,” admitted Winn, adding some family members have not been so eager for her to publish her book. However, she said, “One” is the first of many books to come.
Winn aims for her book to aid her in gathering information on what survivors of child abuse need to succeed.
“Then, I want to build it for them,” said Winn.
The knowledge Winn collects will eventually be applied to her non-profit organization No Longer Silenced Movement.
“The goal of No Longer Silenced Movement is to unite teen and young adult survivors of child abuse with positive, concise resources to help them succeed in life after abuse,” said Winn.
Currently exploring the geographical and legal foundations for the movement, Winn admits the fine details of organizing the NLSM are challenging.
However, Winn continued, “I'm excited to build something that our country needs!”
Due to her love for the South, Winn currently hopes to move and construct her NLSM out of Houston, Texas.
The 2009 graduate of Princeton High School does not plan on ever returning to Princeton, her hometown.
“I've wanted to move south since I was at least 13 years old, and I currently just made that transition,” said Winn.
Currently, Winn is working toward her M.S. in industrial organizational psychology at Angelo State University. As a lead research assistant for two psychology research labs, she is greatly focused on completing her education and bettering her future.
The young Texan said, “I've been striving to become a better, healthier person. I constantly work to improve myself because I believe that by improving ourselves, we can improve our world.”
And improving the world is exactly what Winn intends to do. Through her NLSM, Winn hopes to reach out and improve the lives of child abusive survivors in need of a helping hand.
“I'm hoping to help others know that they're not alone and that people will believe them,” she said.
The NLSM is gathering attention among a variety of people ready to help Winn make a difference. She takes great pride in working with the array of people and organizations teaming up for her cause.
“People kind of forget about their differences for awhile and all work together to make the world better. I'm proud to be leading that,” Winn said.
After leaving what she defined as an abusive environment, Winn struggled trying to achieve her goals on her own.
“I read that there are millions of cases of child abuse reported every year, so I figured that others must have the same issue,” said Winn, “I thought that if I could find a way to help them, I could help a lot of people have better lives.”
The NLSM is a lifelong pursuit, and Winn is ready for the challenge. The passion she feels for empowering child abuse survivors is matched only by her drive to succeed.
“Nothing is going to stand in my way of making it happen,” said Winn, “I want people to know that no matter what they are struggling with ... they're not alone.”
Those wishing to order Winn's book can do so at amazon.com.
Child grooming offences up by 32% in a year amid warning abuse is happening in every town and city
by Matt Chorley
The number of child sex grooming cases uncovered by police has soared by a third in just a year, ministers have admitted amid warnings abuse is happening in every town in the country.
The Home Office has revealed that 495 sexual grooming offences were recorded by police in the year to June, up 32 per cent on the same time in 2013.
It comes as council leaders hold a summit today on how to protect youngsters from being exploited by gangs of sex offenders.
Police say they have been inundated with reports of child sexual exploitation, including historic cases and allegations of grooming and trafficking across the country.
It follows high profile historical cases involving celebrities such as Jimmy Savile and revelations about sex gangs in Rotherham and Rochdale.
Fleur Strong, director of Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace), told MailOnline last month that this type of abuse is 'in every town' and warned that people retreated to a 'comfort zone' of thinking grooming and abuse only happen 'elsewhere'.
Challenged about the remarks, Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone insisted the risk of child abuse and grooming was not limited to certain areas.
'We know that child sexual abuse and exploitation are not confined to any particular areas of the country,' she said in response to a parliamentary question. 'It can take on many different forms.'
Revealing the sharp rise in sexual grooming offences recorded by the police in England and Wales of 32 per cent, Ms Featherstone added: 'This Government is absolutely determined that every case of child sexual abuse or exploitation is fully investigated and all perpetrators prosecuted, we will do nothing to jeopardise those aims.'
Today the Local Government Association (LGA) is holding a high-level summit to examine what more can be done to tackle historic weaknesses in councils in dealing with child abuse.
David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's children and young people board, said: 'Keeping children safe is the most important thing that councils do, but we know we cannot do it alone.
'Protecting children does not fall only to councils, but to the police, health services, schools and local groups. Inspections must reflect this.'
But Labour MP John Mann criticised the event, , claiming victims were being excluded from the platform at the LGA 'talking shop' in Westminster.
He said: 'There has been a shameful lack of support for the survivors of child abuse. I met with a constituent last week for example who was refused support by local mental health services.
'It doesn't appear that a single representative of survivors' groups will actually be speaking at the meeting ... in London and unless they are members of the LGA it will cost them over £345 to even attend.'
Also today experts involved in the Government's troubled child sexual abuse inquiry will appear before MPs.
The inquiry set up by Home Secretary Theresa May has stalled following the resignations of the two people appointed to chair it and uncertainty about how it will be granted extra powers.
Two members of the inquiry panel and the body's expert adviser Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the damning report on sexual exploitation in Rotherham, will appear before the home affairs select committee.
Mrs May revealed in a letter last month that she was considering standing down the panel in favour of a royal commission or a new inquiry on statutory terms.
As well as Prof Jay, the MPs will hear from panel members Drusilla Sharpling and Professor Jenny Pearce as part of their investigation into the inquiry, which is without a chairman following the resignations of Baroness Butler-Sloss and Dame Fiona Woolf after each became entangled in allegations of conflict of interest.
There has been a rise in reported cases of abuse following revelations about sex gangs in Rotherham and Rochdale.
But campaign groups and the police warned parents and officials not to assume the problem was restricted to some areas.
Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation has warned of an increase in people using so-called 'legal highs' to groom youngsters for sex and the crime was widespread across Britain.
A major problem for police and social services is that where teenagers have been groomed they are not even aware that they are being abused and often believe they are in a loving relationship.
Ms Strong said last month: ‘It's a global crime so the concept of it only happening in a section of the country is wrong, it's across the whole country. This type of abuse is in every town.'
She said one of the problems was that parents and other adults prefer to think that child sex abuse is not the sort of thing that happens where they live.
'We are all in a much better comfort zone if we think this type of abuse happens elsewhere and its other people who are affected and it's other people doing the crime, that there is another ring going on.
'And it's something that we need to try and change.'
She said she knew of serious cases involving families in Exeter, Norfolk, East Anglia, Cumbria, the Borders and Torquay.
She warned that it was wrong to think only children in major cities were at risk.
Campaign raises alarm over child sex abuse
by Les Reid
A CAMPAIGN to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in Coventry is under way for the new year.
The See Me, Hear Me campaign will be seen on buses across the West Midlands region to raise the profile of abuse, and help keep children safe.
The number of children in care in Coventry at risk of abuse and neglect has remained stubbornly high at over 600, while the number of children in vulnerable families assigned a child protection plan has soared in the wake of the Daniel Pelka tragedy.
The campaign's harrowing message is: "Memories last a lifetime... Everyone has memories of their first love, but for some they won't be happy ones".
The aim is partly to highlight the horrific crime's lifelong impact on victims.
Advice on how to spot the warning signs of sexual exploitation in children and young people is featured on the campaign website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk. It also features educational films, and posters to download.
Campaign organisers - including West Midlands councils, police and other agencies - warn CSE can affect any child, anytime, regardless of their social or ethnic background.
Warning signs include having friends who are older, persistently going missing, secretive relationships with unknown adults, truancy from school, chronic fatigue, constant calls on a mobile phone and the possession of money or new things.
The campaign highlights that child abuse can involve perpetrators grooming their victims including via mobiles or online.
It can also exist in a "seemingly consensual relationship", or a young person being forced to have sex in return for some kind of payment, such as drugs, money, or gifts.
Councillor Ed Ruane, Coventry City Council's cabinet member for children, welcomed local authorities working jointly together in the battle against CSE.
He said: “Hopefully the campaign will encourage everyone to take responsibility for combating this horrific crime. I hope that it will prompt people to share any information and be more vigilant."
Stephen Rimmer, West Midlands lead for tackling CSE, said: “Sexual exploitation of children and young people thrives on ignorance, manipulation and vulnerability. No one in the West Midlands should suffer this crime, and the bullies, abusers and perpetrators need to be held to account.
“This campaign will help ensure that we all understand the threat – right here right now – and what to do about it when we see it.”
Anyone who is concerned about a child's safety should call West Midlands Police on 101, speak in confidence to Barnardo's on 0121 359 5333 or in an emergency call 999.
Childline also has counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk
Officers become the pupils through "Stewards of Children"
by Erin Calandra
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Centre County agencies that help children are on a mission to train 5,800 adults on how to prevent child sexual abuse. The program is called The Stewards of Children, and on Monday, dozens of police officers were the pupils.
The NCAA gave Centre County agencies $500,000 for this program. It's been around for about two years, and once all of the local officers are trained, they'll be close to their goal.
“Fifty-eight hundred is the tipping point,” said Centre County YMCA Outreach Director Jamie Sanfilippo. “We believe every child in Centre County will be in contact with an adult who has taken this training.”
The YMCA of Centre County provides the Stewards of Children training, and they said it's an evidence-based program providing tools for the public to help prevent child sex abuse.
“It's very empowering,” said Sanfilippo.
And now, some of the people who are typically in the front line of child abuse, are the pupils.
“Often police officers are first called for child abuse investigations,” said Chris Fishel of the State College police.
Once this round of classes are done, about 5,100 adults will be certified, but organizers said it's their mission to reach the last 700 needed for their goal by the end of February.
“Whether you're a parent, teacher, police officer, anybody who has contact with children, who care about children, we recommend training for everyone,” said Sanfilippo.
But they won't stop there.
Organizers said they will continue to educate as many people as they can, not just in Centre County, but across the state.
There are now 38 YMCA's in Pennsylvania providing the Stewards of Children training.
Anyone who would like to take the training can attend a free public class being held Tuesday night at the YMCA in State College from 6 to 8 p.m., or you can take the free class from the privacy of your own home by visiting the YMCA of Centre County's website here.
Missouri 9-month-old fatally shot in his crib by 5-year-old brother, police say
by Abby Phillip
A 9-month-old boy was shot and killed by his 5-year-old brother in a Missouri home on Monday, police said.
The boy found a .22 caliber magnum revolver that was being kept on a shelf built into the headboard in the master bedroom, according to Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White. The baby was in a crib in the same room when the gun went off. A bullet struck him in the head.
The children, their mother and two other siblings were reportedly staying in their grandfather's home in Elmo, Mo., according to a neighbor.
White happened to be near the phone when the children's mother, Alexis Widerholt, made a frantic call to police just before 9 a.m. on Monday, pleading for help.
“A lady told me that she needed an ambulance. She said her 5-year-old son had shot her 9-month-old in the head with a paintball gun,” White told KMA. “We dispatched an ambulance and law enforcement to the house. It was determined that the 9-month-old had in fact been shot in the head with a .22 caliber magnum revolver.”
The baby was rushed by air ambulance to a hospital in Kansas City, where he was pronounced dead.
A neighbor told WDAF television in Kansas City, Mo., that when she heard the commotion next door, she rushed over and brought the remaining children — who she said are 5, 3½ and 1½ — to her house.
“They're not very old so they have no clue what was happening, you know,” said Kathy Arementrout.
Police said they have no reason to believe this shooting was anything other than accidental, but it is still under investigation.
No one knows exactly how many people are injured or killed accidentally after being shot by a child. Gun control advocates estimate that nine children are unintentionally shot every day in the U.S. There are no official nationwide statistics on either phenomenon.
In the small, rural town of Elmo where guns are common, the sheriff says the incident is just a tragic, if cautionary, tale.
“We're big supporters of firearms around here,” White told KETV in Omaha. “We live in a rural area, we have a lot of people that own weapons. They hunt, they target shoot, they do all of those things.”
“And most people are very safe with them and this was just one of those cases where everything went together in the wrong way.”
Full Disclosure: Child abuse should not be kept under wraps
by James Eli Shiffer
More transparency. Less secrecy. Those are rallying cries of a task force examining how Minnesota could better safeguard the lives of its most vulnerable children.
That task force was launched after the Star Tribune's reporting last year on Minnesota's deeply flawed child protection system. That reporting would have been difficult if not impossible without juvenile court records, which investigative reporter Brandon Stahl relied on to tell the stories of children failed by the system.
Yet while that task force was meeting at the Capitol last fall, a different committee was drawing up plans to seal off many child protection records from public scrutiny. The reasoning: Protecting the privacy of abused and neglected children.
This spring, the Minnesota Supreme Court will adopt new rules of public access to electronic records, recognizing that it's time to join the mass migration of public records online. Access to child protection records could be collateral damage in the worthy goal of making court files in state courts available on the Web.
If the court follows the committee's recommendations, it would reverse more than a decade of openness in juvenile court that has served its purpose well.
To understand why restricting this information is such a troubling idea, it's helpful to know why these very sensitive records were made available in the first place.
After years of conducting child protection hearings behind closed doors, the court system began to experiment in 1998 with opening select courtrooms to anyone who was interested. It became statewide policy in July 2002.The result: The public could read the petitions when county social workers asked judges to take action to protect abused and neglected children. They could also read the reports prepared by these social workers and guardians ad litem, the advocates appointed to represent the children's interests.
“At the time, this was hailed throughout the country as a major reform,” said Mark Anfinson, a media lawyer who served on the court record public access committee. “It was largely predicated on the notion that problems which are kept invisible to the public are unlikely to receive a lot of public support and attention.”
These records make for difficult reading. They expose personal and painful details of the abuse and neglect of children, whose plight became a legal matter through no fault of their own.
Yet over the past decade, access to these hearings and records has not led to widespread invasion of privacy. In fact, it accomplished exactly what was intended: Provide a window into how Minnesota protects children, one of government's most important roles.
But a group of judges, government lawyers, court staff, family law attorneys and others who met last fall concluded that the openness experiment had gone too far. Under its recommendations, child-in-need-of-protective-services petitions would be remain unavailable on the Internet. More significantly, the social worker reports and guardian ad litem reports would become confidential.
The latter recommendation came on a 7-6 vote, according to a summary of the committee meetings. Members of the committee said in interviews that it was a tough call.
“I do think there's a real tension between the need for transparency in this system and protecting vulnerable kids,” said committee member Jessica Maher, a Minneapolis family law attorney. Said Joanna Woolman, a professor and director of the child protection program at the William Mitchell College of Law. “I am a transparency person. … You have to weigh that against having something remotely accessible. That's a kid that hasn't decided they want to put it out there publicly.”
According to its report, the committee acknowledged that some of these records remain mostly unexamined by outsiders, except for the Star Tribune's multiple requests last year. Still, the committee wrote that the reports are submitted mainly for internal use by the court and the task of editing out nonpublic info “renders public access impractical and inefficient.”
In a statement Friday, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, who's co-chair of the child protection task force, said her agency did not play a part in the committee's recommendation. “The recommendation to limit access to court records is not consistent with our efforts at DHS to increase transparency in the child protection system,” Jesson said.
If the high court approves the rules as recommended, the secrecy may protect children's privacy. But it won't protect their lives.
Caregivers who fail to report child abuse could face felony
by Dave Gram
MONTPELIER – Any caregiver who knows a child is in danger of abuse but doesn't report it could face a felony charge carrying a 10-year penalty under pending state legislation.
House and Senate judiciary and human services committees were given details of the bill by legislative staff on Wednesday. The legislation comes in response to the 2014 deaths of two toddlers who had been under state supervision.
Vermont currently has a mandatory reporter law, which makes it a misdemeanor for certain professional groups like teachers and nurses to fail to report suspected child abuse.
The bill would broaden the reporting requirement to include anyone having custody, charge or care of a child and would toughen the penalty. Mandatory reporters currently can face up to a $500 fine or a year in jail for failure to report signs of abuse.
A violation under the new language could bring a 10-year prison term and/or a fine of up to $20,000.
The new provision would expand those required to report to include a baby sitter or a grandparent who watches a child for the weekend, said Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"If a baby sitter allows her boyfriend to rape the child and does nothing about it, then she could be charged," he said in an interview.
He added that lawmakers are in the very early stages of considering the 43-page bill and that changes are likely as it winds its way through the legislative process.
Luke Martland, chief of the Legislative Council, the Legislature's research and bill-drafting staff, told lawmakers the legislative language was designed to hold accountable those who know of but fail to report child abuse. He also said there are cases in which one family member is reticent to provide information against another.
The possibility of a 10-year felony charge "may provide an inducement for them to cooperate in the investigation," Martland said.
Two-year-old Dezirae Sheldon, of Poultney, died in February from blunt force trauma to the head, and 15-month-old Peighton Geraw, of Winooski, died in April of blunt force trauma to the head and neck, skull fractures and broken vertebrae. Second-degree murder charges have been filed against Dezirae's stepfather and Peighton's mother in the two cases. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Too much emphasis on reuniting children with their families, heavy social worker caseloads and absent communications among agencies were contributing factors in the deaths, according to the November findings of a special state panel.
Lawmakers launched a separate inquiry, with a special legislative committee hearing from more than 600 people in hearing testimony and written comments.
Can an algorithm predict child abuse? LA County child welfare officials are trying to find out
by Andrea Gardner
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services has long been under fire for its handling of child abuse cases. At times it was criticized for leaving children in unsafe homes; at other times for tearing too many families apart.
To help with the tricky decision of determining when a child is at risk, officials at DCFS have been quietly testing an algorithm they said could one day soon rank children according to their risk of abuse, and give social workers more access to information that would help them make smarter decisions.
“I think one of the biggest challenges is not having enough time - having limited time to look into all the safety needs of every kid and every family,” said Amy Reitsma, a DCFS social worker who spent more than five years investigating abuse allegations before being promoted to work on more specialized cases.
She and others at DCFS said social workers at times struggle to complete investigations into abuse and neglect within the 30 days required by state law. In part, it's because of large caseloads, which can top 30 children per one social worker in any given month.
Another barrier is uncooperative families - and just, plain complicated cases.
DCFS officials said when some parents realize they are being investigated, they do not answer the door or telephone, and will not tell social workers about any criminal, substance abuse, or mental health issues in the family. This forces social workers into a long, murky process of piecing together a family's history, delaying them from the important work of helping the family overcome the chronic issues that lead to abuse.
Francesca LeRue, a division chief at DCFS, said a new project called AURA would jump start the investigative process. AURA stands for Approach to Understanding Risk Assessment.
Along with the algorithm, AURA also calls for providing social workers access to some county records they don't automatically see now - such as electronic documents showing a family's past interactions with the county's departments of mental health, public health and probation. That, she said, would give social workers a fuller picture of a family's life instantly, on their computer screens the moment they receive a new investigation.
“L.A. is being very innovative in thinking about whether we can make better decisions around safety, better decisions around services, by making use of data that we have not historically used in a certain way,” said Dr. Emily Putnam-Hornstein, a researcher who heads up the Children's Data Network at USC's School of Social Work.
Under Putnam-Hornstein's leadership, the Children's Data Network has published groundbreaking research on rates of child abuse in California and risk factors among young children.
She said data risk-modeling is a relatively new concept in the public sector, but many public agencies around the country are experimenting with it.
“Our child protection system is a resource-constrained body. We don't have enough service slots for everyone, and so – this provides a tool for triaging families into the services that will be most effective, and for those families that most need them,” she said. “We're still figuring out what is possible with the models, and what are the ethics of doing this kind of work.”
She pointed to child protection officials in Florida and Pennsylvania, who are also using data mining to discover ways to identify risk factors more quickly. Beyond the realm of child protection, other public agencies are testing data models to improve outcomes. Los Angeles County's Social Services Department uses analytics to identify welfare fraud in the CalWorks program. On a national scale, the U.S. Army is testing a methodology to reduce suicide rates among vets and service members.
To develop the AURA algorithm, DCFS hired statisticians at SAS, a private contractor that provides data risk modeling to the public and private sector in the U.S. and abroad. In creating the methodology, SAS used key indicators that have long been associated with higher rates of child abuse.
For example, a wide body of academic research suggests that children under the age of 5 are at high risk for abuse, with babies at the highest risk. Boys are abused in higher rates than girls. Children with parents who struggle with mental illness or substance abuse are also considered to be at greater risk of abuse. Children with young parents, in their teens and early 20s, are also abused in higher rates.
All of these risk factors are part of SAS's methodology, which L.A. County officials said was proprietary. Details of the algorithm are only known by SAS personnel.
To test the algorithm, DCFS gave SAS 2013 county records for families who were investigated for serious abuse, along with demographic information, such as the ages of the family members. These records were "de-identified" which means names were kept anonymous, and replaced with numbers.
The algorithm gave each child a score ranging from zero to 1,000, reflecting each child's risk of abuse. Children who score 800 or above would be considered at highest risk of serious abuse, giving social workers a clear indicator to act quickly.
LeRue said SAS's algorithm accurately identified children in the 800 or higher range - the most serious cases of abuse — 76 percent of the time.
Next, SAS will test DCFS's 2014 child abuse data. DCFS will validate SAS's results. If they check-out, AURA will move into a pilot phase in Los Angeles County. That could launch within six months.
LeRue acknowledged the ethical concerns — and some legal questions — surrounding whether DCFS has the authority to give social workers access to some county records, like a parent's mental health or hospitalization history.
The county's lawyers are trying to figure out what's possible, she said.
If the legal challenges become too great, LeRue said DCFS may pare down the AURA system, giving social workers access to AURA scores only, but not providing social workers with the records that inform those scores.
LeRue said, the score and the records are just two pieces of the puzzle, stressing that social workers must still do the very important work of communicating with families to fill in the rest of the puzzle, and give them the help they need.
12 things the media should have highlighted when a 5-year-old was murdered in Lahore
by Zehra Kamal
Having worked on child rights issues and more specifically against child sexual abuse, a highly prevalent and often not talked about menace of the society, for the last 16 years, the sad and tragic incident of the rape and murder of a five-year-old earlier this month in Lahore, did not come as a shock to me.
However, what did come as a shock and disappointment was how the media missed the opportunity to highlight, through its vast network, the importance of educating children, parents and caregivers about the issue of child sexual abuse; the need for strong and effective legislation against child sexual abuse; or the dearth of specialised care and rehabilitation for survivors, their families and the juvenile sex offenders. Most of the media ended up with sensationalised coverage of the case, highlighting gory details of the event and later, after the murderer was apprehended, asking irrelevant questions and details to cause further shock and awe.
Dear media, what really needed to be highlighted for parents and caregivers, who read, listen and watch you, were these points:
1) Children are sexually abused every day with media reports of the cases being just the tip of the iceberg. It is high time we open our eyes to the reality that our children are vulnerable to sexual abuse.
2) Children are vulnerable regardless of their educational and socio-economic background. After all, neither educated parents nor the schools teach children about body protection, so how can it be automatically assumed that education leads to more awareness about these issues among children? The few parents who worry and do end up telling their children are looked down upon and labelled as ‘paranoid' and ‘a bit too modern', while the schools who bravely decide to educate its students are labelled as ‘westernised' and ‘un-Islamic'.
3) Boys and girls are equally vulnerable, and while girls are more vulnerable throughout their lives, even as adults, young boys are not safe either.
4) The abusers are mostly adults that the child knows, trusts and respects, not always a stranger. After all, the only thing we have been good at is to warn our children about strangers from the day that they start to understand and comprehend their surroundings.
5) The abusers cannot be recognised simply by their appearance. They could be the friendliest, most loved and respected members of the child's family, circle of acquaintances and society.
6) Sexual abuse does not always involve physical force and coercion. The children may at times be threatened of dire consequences, yet a majority of them are lured by the abusers through love, affection, care, candies and/or money.
7) It can never ever be the child's fault if he/she is sexually abused, no matter what the situation. By blaming the child for repeatedly going to the abuser, not saying no, not telling an adult, not putting a stop to it, we help make the abuser strong.
8) Most of the sexually abused children are not murdered and we will never get to know or support them because we have never taught them to talk about or share these things with a trusted adult. They will suffer in silence for years with the effects of it continuing in their adult life.
9) The experience of professionals and organisations globally working to address the issue, as well as local ones like Rozan, shows that the best way to deal with the issue is to break the silence around it. The more the children know about the issue, learn how to say ‘no', the more able they will become at identifying potentially abusive situations and the more quickly they will confide in an adult who can help protect them from further threat and danger of abuse. We cannot wait for and expect naively that stronger laws alone will make the problem of child sexual abuse go away without educating and empowering our children ourselves first.
10) Giving age appropriate information to children about child sexual abuse will not make the children ‘sexually active' or ‘promiscuous'. How can simply telling children the difference between a good, bad and secret touch, or what to say and do if someone touches them uncomfortably anywhere on the body, especially the private parts, corrupt their minds? On the contrary, it will make them more aware and confident about dealing with abusive situations.
11) Giving the information sternly, uncomfortably or scaring the child will only give him/her the message that discussing such issues should be avoided. The comfort with which we talk to children, allow them the space to ask questions and repeat this information like all other basic safety rules, will increase the chances of children opening up to us and sharing their concerns about sexually abusive situations.
12) Children who are sexually abused are ‘survivors' and can heal from the trauma of abuse if they are provided with the right kind of support after the incident.
Information of this kind and training in skills to avoid such situations will most definitely help children protect themselves better than those kids who have no information. What we must not forget, however, is that there will always be situations where children, despite knowing about the issue, are unable to protect themselves due to their age and other vulnerabilities. Thus, the importance of telling a trusted adult must be repeatedly stressed. The sooner they share with a trusted adult, the sooner the adults will be able to support them through this and the sooner they will be able to heal. We have depended on inadequate laws for too long, it's time to take the security of our children into our own hands.