NCSU students developing nail polish to detect date rape drugs
by Jay Price
Four N.C. State University students have dreamed up a striking way to detect date rape drugs that's getting some major media buzz.
It's also generating a backlash from people who say it doesn't get at the root causes of rape.
The idea: nail polish formulated to change color if you dip your finger in a drink spiked with one of the incapacitating drugs, such as GBH, Rohypnol or Xanax.
This simple approach fired the imaginations of journalists around the world this week, just as the college fall semester was getting underway.
It also has caught the eye of at least one local investor, who has reportedly pumped $100,000 into the project. It won $11,250 this past spring in the university's Lulu eGames, a contest sponsored by Lulu.com and the university's Entrepreneurship Initiative that's aimed at encouraging students to develop solutions to real-world challenges.
The startup is called Undercover Colors, and its slogan is “The First Fashion Company Empowering Women to Prevent Sexual Assault.”
The idea isn't entirely new. There were already startups promoting date-rape detectors built into drinking straws, coasters, drinking glasses, lip gloss and a small device you dip into your drink. Another company also claimed to be developing a similar nail polish, called Dip Tip, this spring.
Few seem to have actually reached the market, but interest in them has been high, and all generated media splashes.
And now it's Undercover Colors' turn. Stories on the fledgling company have appeared this week in the Daily Mail and The Guardian in Great Britain, Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Reddit.com, Salon.com, USA Today and Buzz Feed, among others.
It's unclear how far along in development the nail polish is, or when it might come to market. The students who started the company, all of them men in the materials science and engineering department, are declining interviews.
“At this point, we are early in the development of our product and are not taking interviews or doing stories,” wrote Stephen Gray, a spokesman for the group, in an emailed statement.
Stepping into a minefield
Even so, they have not only got a whirlwind taste of the startup world with the wave of attention and investment, they also stepped into a societal minefield: the politics of sexual assault.
One question about the nail polish is precisely how big a problem it seeks to solve.
Susan R.B. Weiss, associate director for scientific affairs for the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, said that data on the subject are sparse but that the use of date-rape drugs is probably not common. Alcohol is by far the drug most likely to be involved in rape, Weiss said.
For various reasons, it may never be clear just how common it is for surreptitiously planted drugs to be used in rapes. In part that's because most rapes aren't reported, and when they are, it's often after any trace of drugs has worked its way out of a victim's system.
There are at least some data, though.
A 2007 study of college students by RTI International in Research Triangle Park supports the notion that alcohol is the drug most linked to rape. The researchers found that 11.1 percent of undergraduate women had been sexually assaulted while incapacitated, and the large majority reported that what had knocked them out was alcohol.
Only about 0.6 percent reported being certain that their sexual assault occurred after they were given a drug without their knowledge or consent. Others thought they had been drugged but weren't sure.
Alcohol a greater risk
“Clearly, undergraduate women are at much greater risk of sexual assault that occurs in the context of voluntary consumption of alcohol and/or drugs or that is physically forced than sexual assault that is drug facilitated,” concluded the researchers, who were funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Anti-rape activists have begun voicing objections to the nail polish.
The fact that date-rape drugs aren't a major factor in sexual assaults is one issue, said Rebecca Nagle, co-director of a group based in Baltimore called FORCE.
“These four young men took an approach based on some pretty popular mainstream views about how sexual assault happens and who it affects,” Nagle said. “We need to have conversations about how sexual assault really happens, and we have to be talking about it accurately, because basing our fears on assumptions actually doesn't get us very far.”
Rape is an epidemic in the United States, Nagle said, and one factor that allows that is victim blaming.
The nail polish would perpetuate that, she said. Suddenly, it would be a woman's responsibility to use the polish. Otherwise, if you become a victim of assault, then some would say that the rape was your fault because you didn't test your drink.
It would simply put another burden on women when the real causes of rape are elsewhere, she said.
“Yes, we need to take steps toward ending rape and preventing rape, and it's really not the responsibility of people who might be raped to do that. It's actually the responsibility of two groups of people,” she said. “One is the perpetrators. People need to stop raping people. And then it's also the responsibility of communities and our country.”
On Tuesday, Undercover Colors co-founder and CEO Tyler Confrey-Maloney posted what appeared to be a reaction to the backlash on the company Facebook page:
“We are grateful for and encouraged by the support we've received over the past few days … We hope this future product will be able to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators, creating a risk that they might actually start to get caught.
“However, we are not the only ones working to stop this crime. We are taking just one angle among many to combat this problem. Organizations across the country need your support in raising awareness, fundraising, and education.”
Among those Undercover Colors recommends, he wrote, were: The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network; Men Can Stop Rape; and Raleigh-based InterAct.
Coming to grips with child abuse
Kids' HOPE Center brings awareness of child abuse in Coos County; 248 children seen by center last year
by Kristen Hair
COOS COUNTY — A nonprofit organization is trying to use the month of April to shed light on an issue that affects everyone in the community: child abuse.
The Kids' HOPE Center, Coos County's child abuse prevention center, has been bringing awareness of child abuse in the county and educating the community on how it can prevent abuse cases.
Coos County needs it.
In 2014, the center served 248 cases of child abuse and neglect in Coos County, 135 of which were sexual abuse cases, according to the center's data.
"Nobody wants to talk about child abuse and nobody wants to believe that it's happening," said JoAnne Shorb, program director for the center.
On Wednesday, the center held its annual Pinwheel Planting ceremony, which brings awareness of child abuse to the community by planting colorful pinwheels that represent all the child abuse and neglect cases it has served.
Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said on Wednesday the ceremony is an excellent way to bring awareness to this issue and is a great asset to the community.
"This year, we are putting out 248 pinwheels," Frasier said. "That's 248 kids we saw last year. Unfortunately, that's an increase. The year before it was 197."
For Shorb, while the center, along with law enforcement and DHS, has been using the resources it has to tackle this issue, the community also has a responsibility to help and protect its children, she said.
"It's our collective responsibility to protect our kids," Shorb said. "If we don't do it, who's going to?"
The situation is dire for Coos County, and though the center and DHS are helping, both are coming at the issue with limited resources.
There are currently only two employees, including Shorb, at the center and though the center desperately needs more employees, there isn't any funding to support it.
Shorb said while the center served 248 cases last year, it is only a piece in the child abuse puzzle and that is not including the number of abuse and neglect cases handled in a year.
Child abuse and neglect is an extremely complex issue. Shorb said even the numbers don't tell the whole story, and for every case served there is at least one case of child abuse or neglect that goes unnoticed.
"With the 248 kids that we (the center) had, assuming that there's at least one kid for every one of the ones we saw that didn't report or didn't come to our attention, let's say that's a round number of about 500 kids," Shorb said.
"That is more kids than every single child at Hillcrest Elementary School."
In Coos County, 24.3 per 1,000 children were subject to some sort of abuse or neglect in 2011, according to Children First for Oregon's data book.
On a national level, the numbers are even more alarming.
The U.S. Child Protective Services agencies receive about 3 million reports of abuse and neglect in a year. Of these reports, 60 percent are investigated, according to the Society for Research in Child Development.
Children are at the greatest risk for abuse or neglect before the age of 3, which is an extremely important time for a child developmentally, and the issue does not come cheap. New cases of abuse or neglect are estimated to cost $80 billion to $124 billion for medical and mental health services, lost productivity and crime.
Taxpayers pick up the majority of the bill.
For Coos County, what can communities do to address this issue?
Shorb said community awareness is most important.
"There are the sex abuse cases that make the paper that are like a really big deal or people think of physical abuse and picture the kids with black eyes and the bloody, fat lips," Shorb said. "It's so much more than just that. There's a lot of neglect that happens in this area.
"In fact, there is more neglect than there is physical and sexual abuse, and kids are just not being tended to. They're not being fed, they're not being clothed, they're being left to run wild and they're getting hurt or getting hurt by other people because of that neglectfulness."
Shorb said on top of the neglectfulness, there are the children in this area who are exposed to domestic violence between parents and children who are exposed to drug addiction, which cause myriad issues.
Shorb said once those in the community are educated and aware of this issue, then they can recognize and act on it.
"It's not fun and nobody wants to be sticking their nose in other people's business, but these are our kids," Shorb said. "If the adults around them are seeing stuff happen and don't say anything, who knows how long (the children) will deal with it."
Shorb said the best thing to do if someone sees a child being neglected or abused is to call DHS and report it, even if that person doesn't have all the information.
Although reporting cases to DHS is the first step, it's not foolproof, and people should cross-report to law enforcement as well.
There are misconceptions about what DHS can do. The organization can only intervene in cases that involve immediate family members. If the abuse is coming from a third party, it will close the case.
For Shorb, though, this issue is a huge problem in this area and it is not an easy thing to address, the people in the community give her hope, she said.
"As limited as the resources are here, the really neat thing about Coos is that the community cares," Shorb said. "The community does the absolute best it can to wrap around kids."
Survivors fight child abuse
by JAY POWELL
In 2007, Braylon Gonzales, an 18-month old from Michigan, was beaten to death by his father. Two days later, Braylon's parents wrote a hot check to Walmart for a blue storage bin, potting soil, two bags of concrete and a little suit. Their son's body was discovered two years later, mummified, wrapped in plastic and was being used as a living room TV stand.
Braylon's story is just one of many that go unheard of in the U.S. and a group of Central High School students are trying to change that. While most teenagers fight to survive puberty and finding their place among peers, the members of Child Abuse Awareness Resource Education are fighting to enact change in the legal system.
C.A.A.R.E. members each have one thing in common; they are survivors of child abuse who have found a way not only to understand their past, but also have a voice to change the legal rights of abusers and their victims. Putting a stop to child abuse was the group's mission when it was first established in 2002 by former Miss Tennessee USA and child abuse survivor Valerie Whatley, who says their motto is “Walk it, don't talk it.”
Whatley said the group originally dissolved twice, but not without grabbing the attention of city officials. The fact it is now run by students is the reason it has taken off since giving it a third try in 2012.
“We had tried it, but with adults only, and every time you get with adults they will tell you, ‘We're not allowed to investigate and they won't tell us anything,'” Whatley said. “As adults, you hit a brick wall and there are things, by law, you can't do.”
The group now has a 5-year plan, first playing host to an event at Woodland Park on April 18 to honor its seven kids who have died from child abuse. It is also applying to be an official 501(c)(3 )nonprofit.
Having a voice when no one will listen
Each year, more than 700 cases of child abuse are reported to the Department of Children's Services in Maury County, Whatley said. For every one of those, three go unreported.
Local Department of Children Services agents deal with, on average, five cases daily, Whatley said. What concerns her is DCS agents deal with so many cases and what role, if any, the child has in the legal system. Having an on-site police officer in the room is required by law, she says, but many children have reported not having an officer in the room when being questioned by an agent.
To her, this raises the question if this is a violation of a child's rights or if the child even has rights to begin with.
“They're trying to get everybody to understand why you never hear about the crime, because children don't have any rights by law. So, therefore they aren't allowed to tell if there is even a crime,” Whatley said. “DCS is up at Central High School alone 8 to 10 times per day, but nobody wants to talk about it.”
The legality of child abusers is also a glaring concern, she said. When it comes to consequences for first time violators, they pale in comparison to a domestic assault charge, Whatley said. It is also more costly, according to statistics.
“According to Forbes, domestic violence has cost the U.S. $8.2 billion and we hear about it all of the time. Child abuse has over $120 billion and we don't ever hear about it,” Whatley said. “It is also the only crime in which law enforcement has no control of the outcome or the say-so of the victim or the crime.”
Regina Vargas, a 17-year-old Central High senior, has been president of C.A.A.R.E. for the past three years. When she joined the group, she wanted to be an attorney and one of the voices to enact legal change. She has worked alongside State Rep. Sheila Butt, Sen. Joey Hensley, Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland and other local and state officials.
Although she still fights for legislation change, Vargas said God called her to another, more humbling path to help others like herself, but in a more face-to-face kind of way.
“I wanted to be a corporate lawyer when I got older, but last summer God called me to be a missionary. It changed, but even though I wanted to be a lawyer, I still have the same opportunities,” Vargas said.
On April 9, C.A.A.R.E. members plan to travel to the state capitol to shadow attorneys, judges, the district attorney general's office and other state officials to learn the ways of the legal system. The students participate regularly in programs like these to learn how to get involved, even going to the source.
“DCS has now opened up to allow some of the children to even shadow them, because DCS can't handle the number of cases,” Whatley said.
Born into suffering
Each member of C.A.A.R.E. is a survivor of child abuse in some way. Some suffered daily beatings, starvation, being chained, used for sex or left for dead. To some, it was all they knew for the first years of their lives and each day since has been a fight to make sure it doesn't happen to someone else.
Before she could reach her first birthday, 8-month old Adrianna Baker was taken by her father and wasn't seen again for five years. Living out of his car, she endured daily abuse, overexposure to the elements and was used as accomplice to her father's other crimes.
“We lived in a car for most of those five years and I was beaten every day, raped by various people who were with him,” Baker said. “I had to steal from churches, gas stations, stuff like that and was told what to say or do while they took everything.”
Although she doesn't remember much from such a young age, she does recall the moment it all turned around and how far from home she had traveled in those five years.
“I think it was Washington state,” Baker said. “We broke down on the side of the road and my dad had put ‘Help' on notebook paper. The person that had pulled over, I guess he must have known I wasn't being taken care of very well because I was wearing flip-flops, shorts, a tank top and my hair hadn't been brushed. You could clearly see I hadn't had a bath or brushed my teeth because my teeth were rotten.”
Columbia attorney Brent Cooper sent out an APB and that was how police were able to locate Baker and return her to her mother in Tennessee. Once she was safe in DCS custody, she began the long journey home to Maury County. Now, at 15, she is pursuing a career helping others through mission work.
Maneika Loggins has an opportunity this week she said she never would have expected: the chance to intern with pediatric and neonatal nurses at Maury Regional Medical Center through the “match” program, which grants high school students a week of one-on-one shadowing with professionals in the field they wish to pursue in college and beyond.
Loggins wants to be a pediatric physician because she believes what is lacking in the neonatal field are enough people who understand the effects of abuse and can easily spot it on a patient.
“There's so many cases that come in and you need those neonatal nurses, those pediatrics. They will examine and know this baby was dealing with child abuse by the evidence,” Loggins says. “We need more people like that and that's why I'm giving back. I'm going and getting my career so I can help abused kids, to pray for them, do the medical research in that way.”
There are six children the group “has,” which means these children have died as a result of child abuse and the families have signed over the rights to publish their faces and tell their stories. Having the children's stories to share is the strongest component because so many go untold, Whatley said.
Jack Stark was one of the group's first kids. The 8-and-a-half month old was severely beaten at Ft. Campbell outside Clarksville by a family member. He died after clinging to life for four and a half days, Whatley said.
After learning about C.A.A.R.E., Jack's mother sent a letter praising the great deeds that came out of her son's death and how many people his story has reached since being given to the group.
“C.A.A.R.E. and my son's precious little face have been seen on six of the seven continents. That, to me is just completely outstanding!” she said in the letter.
Sandra Kates, who is related to Whatley and 14-year-old C.A.A.R.E. member, Kaylee Miller, was only 8 months old when she was viciously beaten to death by her mother's boyfriend. The boyfriend previously served 11 months and 29 days for a previous offense for beating his 7-year-old son, only to strike again less than six months later.
Braylon Gonzales is the seventh child to be added to the group. It was his mother that signed over the rights after she heard of C.A.A.R.E. and what it does, Whatley said.
“Braylon's mother is seven and a half years into her 15-year prison sentence and when she found out about these six, she wanted her son to be with them so he can be remembered for fighting back, not about how he died, but the difference he can make like the other babies and children who don't have a voice,” Whatley said.
Support victims of sexual violence, child abuse
April is both Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month, and it is no coincidence these topics are recognized in the spring.
Spring is when we think about new life taking hold around us, trees with tiny green shoots, flowers emerging from their dormancy, and neighbors emerging from hibernation after winter's blast. Therefore, spring is the perfect time to shed our silence about uncomfortable topics that impact every community: sexual violence and child abuse.
Statistically, each of us has a family member, friend, neighbor or coworker who has been a victim of childhood or adult trauma.
They may have difficulty in school or work, battle substance abuse issues, eating disorders, or high blood pressure - each condition a possible after-effect of assault and/or abuse.
I share these details not to overwhelm you, but to underscore that each of us is impacted - and each of us plays a role in breaking the cycles of abuse and victimization.
So what can you do? First and most important, believe and support the victim. Let them know that what happened was not their fault. While that sounds like common sense, the practice of victim blaming - or responding to violence with questions like: "Why did she drink so much?" - is still alive and well.
Second, to borrow a line from airport security, if you suspect something, say something. You can safely report your concerns to your local police, to the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and you can refer the victim to New Hope's round-the-clock, confidential hotline (1-800-323-4673).
Finally, educate yourself and insist that your schools, community groups and faith communities integrate these public health issues into their education curriculum.
Talk to your elected officials about legislation and activate your social networks to change laws to increase the safety and security of survivors.
Volunteer at organizations like New Hope, who deliver care to adult and child victims of violence. In the words of Hillel: "If not now, when? If not you, who?"
The writer is executive director of New Hope Inc., a nonprofit working to end domestic and sexual violence in our communities.
Victim of sexual abuse struggled before finding healing through therapy
by Tracey McManus
Terri Allen didn't really start living until well into her 40s.
Until then, she traveled through life never especially liking who she was or believing much in anything. She couldn't get around to finishing college and bounced between jobs. She had trouble prioritizing everything from paying bills on time to quitting toxic relationships.
In 2008, when Allen was 48, she got a call saying that her father, a man she had tried to forget decades ago, had died after a long illness.
During a conversation with a friend over lunch soon after, she opened up about her father, the touching, the years of him watching her when she thought she was alone in the shower.
Her friend referred her to University Hospital's Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Services center, something Allen had never considered herself qualified for.
But after only a few sessions of trauma resolution therapy, all of Allen's insecurities and dead-ends made sense for the first time.
“If I had something like Rape Crisis to go to when I was younger, the whole trajectory of my life would have been different,” Allen said. “(The abuse) was ruining my life, and I didn't even know it. It was ruining every relationship I had, my sense of trust, my boundaries. When I went to therapy, I felt like somebody just handed my life to me.”
Through nearly a year of therapy, Allen was able to understand how childhood sexual abuse stunted her success as an adult. The closure helped her settle into a career as a home care aid, improve relationships and love herself.
Though her recovery is ongoing, Allen has used her journey to help other survivors of rape and sexual assault by working as an advocate in emergency rooms and speaking at awareness events.
“This is beauty from ashes,” Allen said. “I can take my experience and let people know, look, if you can talk to somebody, talk to somebody and don't let it ruin your life. You don't have to live in that hell. I did, and I feel like my life just started a few years ago.”
ALL YEAR, but especially during April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Rape Crisis works with advocates like Allen to support survivors and to help progress society's views on sexual violence.
Rape Crisis Director Anne Ealick-Henry said sexual violence is a complex public health issue because it affects men and women of all races, ethnicities and ages. Her youngest client at Rape Crisis was 6 weeks old, and the oldest was 99.
“We've got to be able to talk about these kinds of crimes so there can be more research to understand the dynamics of a person who commits these crimes as well as what victims are going through,” she said.
After nearly 30 years of advocacy work, Ealick-Henry said she has seen cultural and political shifts in addressing sexual violence but that
much more work is needed.
She said that when she started in the field in the 1980s, rape was only thought of as an attack by a stranger that caused major injuries and left physical evidence. Over time, research and awareness has helped the public acknowledge child molestation, mental manipulation for sex, incest and other forms of sexual violence as crimes.
Despite a spike in government funding for sexual violence support services around the country, Ealick-Henry said challenges still exist. There is still a lingering mentality among some to blame the victim by questioning their dress or behavior before an attack, she said.
FOR ALLEN, it was hard for her to come to terms with being a victim of sexual violence until she had help processing her childhood growing up in Ohio.
Allen said her first memory of abuse was from age 3, when her father took naps with her and touched her in ways she didn't understand.
As she got older, Allen said, he would ask her to pose for pictures and watch her as she undressed in her bedroom or took a shower.
His behavior made Allen afraid to be at home. She kept the abuse from her mother and two siblings after her father promised that if she told anybody, he would go to jail and she would be shipped off to some horrible place.
“I was constantly looking over my shoulder, I tried to take baths when he wasn't there,” she said. “I was a nervous wreck, and my mom never understood why. I became very combative.”
The abuse stopped at age 15 when her parents divorced and her father moved away. But the trauma never ended.
In high school, Allen had no self-esteem and stayed mostly to herself, fearing that everybody knew what she had gone through and would shame her for it.
She moved to Augusta to live with her grandparents after high school but never really thrived as an adult. Allen said she always dreamed of being a nurse but dropped out of Augusta College after breaking up with a boyfriend and feared facing the other students. She had a series of failed relationships and floated between jobs as a bartender, grocery store clerk and waitress.
Allen gave birth to her only son at age 25, which she said provided her first sense of fulfillment and love.
Her mother questioned her about her father's abuse when Allen was in her 30s, but even that didn't help.
In 1995, Allen married a man she met and fell in love with on a blind date. Even though she struggled to love, Allen said it was comforting to find her soul mate and best friend, whom she is still married to today.
The real change, however, happened when Allen heard of her father's death. That closed chapter helped push her to therapy and understand herself on a new level.
“I knew God put me in her path for a reason,” Allen said of her Rape Crisis therapist, Kathleen McKeown. “She helped me fill in the blanks. I knew I really wanted to be free of this stuff. She helped pull it all out.”
Allen said being able to hold the hand of a child in an emergency room or speak to a woman who called the Rape Crisis hot line has given her a sense of purpose after her own healing. Her marriage “went from good to great,” and she was proud of a career she was building taking care of the elderly and sick.
She said she hopes other victims understand they can get to that point, too.
“I don't want any man, woman or child to go through what I did,” she said. “I didn't know there was somebody to talk to. … Now I love myself, and all I want to do is give back.”
Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Services at University Hospital provides no-cost support for survivors and advocates. Services include:
24-hour crisis hot line at (706) 724-5200
Advocacy for survivors at the hospital or court proceedings
Community education programs
Call (706) 774-2740 for more information or visit www.rapecrisisaugusta.org
Double standard minimizes the sexual abuse of males
by Jim Struve and Chris Anderson
Recent reporting about allegations that Brianne Altice, a teacher at a Davis County School, had sex with 3 students has exposed a shadow side of biases when sexual assault involves male victims. Similar to news reports from other media outlets, an article in the March 30th edition of the Salt Lake Tribune illustrates a common misperception by stating that Ms. Altice "… is accused of having sexual relationships with three students …"
We challenge the use of the word "relationship" in this reporting about incidents of sex between adults and children. Unfortunately, this is an especially frequent descriptor when the alleged offender is an adult female and the victim is an adolescent male. Sexual assaults involving male victims generally remain invisible or underreported. Female on male sexual "abuse" or "rape" is minimized even more when couched in terms of "relationship." Whether intended or not, such language expresses a prejudicial double-standard that causes real harm.
Language influences our responses to trauma such as sexual assault. It is important that the news media pay particular attention to their role in perpetuating myths that continue to minimize or disguise the prevalence of male sexual victimization. Using terms that imply a "romantic" relationship to describe abusive, potentially criminal behavior, makes it far more difficult for us to educate, and therefore protect, our communities from the high levels of sexual abuse that exist.
In reality, 1 in 4.5 males will experience some form of sexual victimization during their lifetime, often during the span of childhood. Too often, the impact of sexual abuse is minimized when a female sexually victimizes a male. In Utah there is an abundance of news reports that cite alleged sexual assaults involving a female offender and a male — often an adolescent — victim.
While it is commonly presumed that a teenage male who engages in sexual contact with an older female is lucky, the fact is that situations like this usually lead to a great deal of harm — although oftentimes disguised — for the male victim. When the abuser has a position of authority and/or influence in the community, consent becomes impossible. While it may seem difficult to apply the label of child to a teen in high school, legally and developmentally they are still defined as children.
According to the 2010 CDC's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, there are estimated to be more than 25 million male victims of sexual violence of all forms in the United States. Millions of those men never come forward to disclose the abuse they experienced. One of the major contributing factors to the silence around male victimization is the repeated use in our culture of language that minimizes and dismisses boys and men who are raped and sexually assaulted.
An accused person should always be afforded the presumption of innocence. However, that does not require using language that minimizes and marginalizes the harm experienced by the alleged victim. Sexual abuse is abuse, not a "relationship." Terminology that minimizes, or blatantly avoids, referencing the harm that can befall survivors of abuse and assault makes it much more menacing for a young person who has been sexually assaulted to feel safe enough to disclose their trauma and trust that they will be believed. This is especially pertinent for male victims of sexual assault.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This provides an excellent opportunity for each of us to increase our awareness of sexual assault. We invite you to seek out resources to expand your knowledge about male sexual victimization. We also challenge you to commit to using language that decreases minimization and shame about sexual assault when a male victim is involved. If each of us individually commit to using accurate language, we will make a collectively larger contribution to creating an environment of safety for all victims – male and female – to speak truthfully about their experiences of sexual assault. We invite the media to join us in this commitment by refraining from using the term "relationship" when describing situations of sexual assault.
Jim Struve is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Salt Lake City. He is co-chair of the MaleSurvivor.org Weekends of Recovery program. Chris Anderson is executive director of MaleSurvivor.org
Phoenix House promotes sexual assault awareness in campaign
by Mike Brownlee
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and catholic charities Phoenix house is promoting its “see something, say something” campaign.
The organization Defines Sexual assault as when someone forces or manipulates someone into unwanted sexual activity. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence including children, teens, adults, and elders.
“Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals or strangers,” Martha Wight with Phoenix House said. “Sexual violence is not just a woman's issue – it affects women, men and children throughout their lives and can be devastating for individuals, families and communities.”
Phoenix House provided some facts about sexual violence:
• “Chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted.”
• Sexual violence affects people of all genders, ages, races, religions, incomes, abilities, professions, ethnicities and sexual orientations.
• By age 18, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted.
• An absence of injuries to the victim does not indicate the victim gave consent.
• It doesn't matter what someone is wearing or how they are acting – no one deserves to be raped.
Wight noted that schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, campuses, and cultural or religious communities might feel fear, anger, or disbelief if a sexual assault happened in their community. But if a crime has occurred, it must be reported.
“See something, say something.”
The costs to communities when sexual violence occurs includes medical services, criminal justice expenses, crisis and mental health services fees and the lost contributions of individuals affected by sexual violence.
“Each survivor reacts to sexual violence in her or his own unique way. Whether an assault was completed or attempted, and regardless of whether it happened recently or many years ago, it may impact the individuals in their daily functioning,” the Phoenix House said in a release.
Common emotional reactions include guilt, self-blame, fear, distrust, shame, shock, anger, confusion, and denial. Psychological reactions may include: nightmares, flashbacks, depression, anxiety, substance use or abuse, low self-esteem and post traumatic stress disorder.
“Sexual violence can violate a person's trust and feeling of safety and ultimately endanger critical societal structures through climates of violence and fear,” Wight said.
“See something, say something.”
“We want to encourage victims of sexual assault to stand up and say something, but the responsibility for saying something cannot be placed solely on the victims,” Wight said. “As bystanders to any situation that may be questionable, we also have the responsibility to act. As a community, we can all do something to help end sexual violence. There is something that we can do not only after an assault, but before and during the incident. Being an active bystander does not always mean getting involved directly; you can help a victim simply by believing them, listening, and being supportive.
“If you are witnessing an incident, there are many ways to help. You can always call 911, ask for others to assist you with the situation, or distract the potential perpetrator from committing the crime. Most people are fundamentally good and don't like to see other people get hurt. Sexual violence is a community issue, and all of us need to act and be involved to support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable.”
Victims and/or those helping a victim are encouraged to call Catholic Charities Phoenix House.
“A trained advocate is available to answer your calls 24 hours a day. Advocates can also meet victims at the hospital and be present to provide support, accompany victims to court proceedings, assist in safety planning and provide emotional support to victims and their loved ones,” the release said.
The 24 hour crisis line is available at (712) 328-0266 or toll-free at (888) 612-0266 to reach an advocate for questions, support and volunteer opportunities.
Protecting youth: Questions remain among nonprofits as child-abuse requirements loom
by Naomi Creason
When a grand jury filed child sexual assault charges against former Penn State University coach Jerry Sandusky in November 2011, officials and parents started to question what laws Pennsylvania had in place to protect children.
The state in the last few years has addressed education regarding child-abuse awareness and issues of who comprises “mandated reporters.”
In December, the Legislature passed 23 laws that took aim at making rules stricter by investigating the people who would be the ones most likely to interact with children.
Among those laws are requirements that will go into effect July 1 that call for volunteers, as well as employees, to undergo a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance and a Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History background check.
With April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month and that effective date looming, nonprofits and youth organizations say there are still questions about to whom exactly those requirements are directed and if there is appropriate staffing to handle all of the requests.
Andrea Crouse, director of Carlisle Parks and Recreation Department, said her department is still in the process of finalizing its policy on what it has to do with its employees, volunteers and contracted workers.
She said the department has performed background checks previously, and not all volunteers are affected — some are there to clean up parks and will not necessarily have interaction with children. However, she said, the volunteers who run the department's after-school programs, as well as the contracted instructors who run the youth classes, will undergo those clearances.
“We just recently nailed down the policies and procedures of what needs to be done,” she said.
One way the department was able to do that is through consulting the borough's solicitor on the requirements of the law, which she said “has helped.”
That kind of law background has proven helpful to some area youth baseball associations. Attorney Doug Marsico is the president of the Upper Allen Baseball Association and created a PowerPoint breaking down the risk management requirements, as well as what associations can do. That presentation was then shared with other baseball associations in the area.
“I think Upper Allen helped significantly with this,” said Jon Fetterman, vice president of the North Middleton Athletic Association. “The good thing is organizations have tried to share notes on how everybody is tracking it.”
One of the questions that nonprofits have is who exactly is affected by the new law.
The Child Protective Services Law states that an adult will need clearance if he or she is applying to be a volunteer responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children. Direct contact with children is defined in the law as the care, supervision, guidance or control of children, or routine interaction with children.
However, there is no statute that expressly dictates the terms of interaction, only that child safety should be the “paramount consideration.”
That lack of information has led to some confusion as to which volunteers require clearance and which volunteers do not.
“No one really knows how far it goes,” Fetterman said. “Is it any parent on the field for any 10-minute interval, or is it someone who is consistently (interacting with children)?”
Fetterman and Marsico think that line is at least drawn at the concession stand, where associations often require every parent to sell food during the baseball season.
“I don't think it's that broad,” Marsico said. “Otherwise, that would mean every single parent would have to get one done.”
“We don't normally have kids in the concession stand,” Fetterman explained. “We'll probably make sure no kids are in the stand. If every parent had to get one, that would be extremely problematic.”
Fetterman said another concern for his association that was not addressed with the law is how they are supposed to protect those applying for clearances and background checks.
He noted that the paperwork would have personal information, such as Social Security numbers, birthdays and addresses, that the associations just don't need.
“Frankly I don't want someone else's Social Security number,” he said.
Something the North Middleton Athletic Association decided was to put one board member in charge who could field questions and concerns from parents and also take care of the documents without sharing that information with the rest of the board.
“I think that's the most important thing we did,” Fetterman said. “I don't think an entire organization can do all of this, especially with the personal information.”
Neither of the association officials thought the new requirements — despite the questions — would negatively affect the number of parents interested in being volunteers.
“Parents want to help, they want to be involved, and we encourage that,” Fetterman said.
Ted Dallas, acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, which handles the child-abuse clearances, said the number of clearance requests seem to indicate interest in volunteering is still high.
“There are a ton of people who want to volunteer to work with kids,” he said. “With the new requirement, there was doubt (that people would still want to volunteer), but from the volume, that's clearly not the case.”
Arizona Department of Public Safety's new program for officers leads to rescue of kids
by Bob McClay
PHOENIX -- The Arizona Department of Public Safety is calling a new program a success.
Two hundred and seventeen officers from six police agencies including the DPS underwent the two-day "Interdiction for the Protection of Children" program last July. It teaches officers how to identify and rescue missing and exploited children.
DPS Director Frank Milstead says so far, so good.
"Since the training started, we have rescued 11 juveniles who were either missing, runaway, or being exploited," Milstead said. "Four of them were runaways, five of them were exploited, and the remainder were actually exploited children that we were able to recover with a positive ending."
DPS assistant director Tim Chung says that all of the kids were found by officers who were on their normal patrols.
"They were initiated by an officer making a traffic stop in the course of his daily activities, and then furthering that based on what the officer has found," Chung said.
Milstead said Thursday that the DPS is stepping up the program. He says several three person teams of officers will hit the streets in a few months to rescue more kids in trouble.
He said that DPS still needs the eyes and ears of the public to try to rescue kid, and if you think you see a kid in trouble, call the police.
Child sexual abuse survivor shares story to help others
by Natalie Crofts
OREM — Based on outward appearances, Jacki Chilton likely appeared to have an ideal childhood.
Her family was wealthy, she lived in big houses and she attended private schools. What no one outside her immediate family knew at the time was that her father sexually abused her from ages 3 to 15.
While Chilton said the shame about what happened is still in every cell of her body at age 53, her courage is even stronger, and she has a superhero passion for life. She raised four children and has enjoyed a successful career that includes the experience of coaching contractors on their oral presentations for NASA and starting her own business, Salt Lake City Vocal Coach.
However, the road hasn't been an easy one. She shared the story of her abuse Thursday at Utah Valley University's Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Seminar because she knows there are other children who don't have the opportunity to be brave enough to share their stories yet.
“It seems that we are fighting an invisible war, a silent war that needs soldiers. The fact is, soldiers just aren't good enough,” she said. “We need some angels because angels make better listeners. Angels most often do God's work through compassion, shown from one person another, one moment at a time.”
The abuse that occurred during Chilton's childhood had a long-lasting effect on her, as it does on almost all victims. She said no child wants to be a victim, so she practiced denial in an attempt to be normal and learned to be obedient while someone hurt her.
She was often in a state of shock and was so terrified by age 10 that she would beg her mom to sleep with her. As a teenager, she felt devastatingly alone even in crowded school hallways because no one knew what she and her siblings were going through.
She said victims have a high chance of marrying pedophiles. When she was 20 years old, she married a man who ended up sexually abusing her 4-year-old daughter. She remarried, had twins and lived a happy life for 18 years, but got divorced and met a man who she described as a cunning perpetrator that abused her “horrifically” for 11 years.
“I was trapped, after all of that time, repeating the same childhood behavior,” she said.
The trigger for change came in 2013 when she watched the documentary “Happy” on Netflix. She said it talked about the principles people need in their lives to be happy, and she had none of them. She got the courage to go to an Al-Anon meeting and told a group of adults what was happening to her. With the help of a friend, she left her big house with nothing but the clothes on her back and obtained a protection order.
“Just going to an Al-Anon meeting helped to remind me that I was not alone in my suffering, but more importantly that I was not alone in my desire to overcome my situation,” she said.
“When a child feels isolated, when they lose hope, it diminishes their ability to face difficulties,” she continued. “If we remember that it is not just ourselves, but that everyone must undergo suffering, it gives a more realistic perspective and will increase our capacity to overcome our traumas. Developing a genuine sympathy for others helps to remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength increases.”
Chilton said it is incredibly difficult for those who have been abused to share their stories, but it needs to be done to allow scars to heal. She recommended survivors do specific things to learn happiness, including sharing feelings with trusted friends or relatives, showing compassion for others, exercising regularly, discovering greater meaning, showing gratitude and developing their unique strengths to improve their self-esteem.
“It took me a long time to realize that I cannot change my past, but I can change the way I react to it,” she said. “Today, every day, it is time for me to be brave.”
The Utah Department of Human Services has a statewide, 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) and a child abuse and neglect hotline at 1-800-323-DCFS (3237).
Child abuse case changes made after backlog found
by Stacey Barchenger
A computer monitoring and deadline system has been put in place in the Nashville District Attorney's Office to track cases involving alleged child sexual and physical abuse after officials say they discovered a backlog of cases in recent months.
District Attorney Glenn Funk initiated the new procedures after he said more than 130 case files were found in January and March. He said Friday he did not believe the files were intentionally left behind but said there was no tracking information to know the status of those cases.
Funk announced that a review of the files was ongoing Wednesday, the day after Brian Holmgren, the assistant prosecutor who supervised the division in which some of the files belonged, left the office. Holmgren told The Tennessean his options were "stepping down or walking out the door."
When asked about the delay of the public announcement regarding the 130 cases, which came two months after the first were discovered, Funk cited the need to first determine the status of those cases and review protocols. He said there was an interest in being "completely open, honest and candid" after the second group of files was found.
Seventy-four child sexual abuses cases were found in January, which began a protocol review, he said. When additional files involving child physical abuse were found in March, he decided to make the announcement, he said.
A team of prosecutors is reviewing the files, and they said 15 have led to indictments. On Friday, assistant district attorneys Pam Anderson and Stacy Miller said those cases involved the alleged rape of a child and others involved child victims who suffered broken bones or fractures.
Other cases will not result in charges, they said. On Wednesday, two former prosecutors who worked in the unit said the cases were not left without followup. They said the cases needed more paperwork or were not prosecutable, but were kept as records to show prosecutors' efforts.
Funk's new policy should keep better track of each case's status, prosecutors said.
"The new protocol, under that, we will actually have every case that comes into the office tracked on the computer, and there will be a 30-day report generated of each prosecutor" and the cases they have, said Anderson, a 26-year prosecutor who is helping review the 130 files.
The protocol includes a 60-day deadline to document the status of cases as well as a chain of command review. Funk will review the cases monthly. When a case is closed, it will be included in a memo in the computer program.
"The emphasis is on handling these cases much more expeditiously and effectively going forward, and we have taken these lists and the seriousness of this very much to heart and are working on it," said Assistant District Attorney Stacy Miller, who is also helping with the review.
Planned Mentoring Program Aims to Prevent Child Abuse
by Matt Hunter
In recent years in the North Country, numerous cases resulting in serious injury or death to young children and infants have called attention to the issue of child abuse. As Time Warner Cable News reporter Matt Hunter explains, while services exist to help victims and families, local leaders looking toward means of prevention.
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- When a North Country child is believed to be a victim of physical or sexual abuse, they're typically brought to the Warren-Washington C.A.R.E. Center.
"It's important they come in here and they feel comfortable, they feel safe," said Kassia May, the organization's outreach coordinator.
Inside the non-profit's kid-friendly interview room, which offers toys and brightly colored decorations, potential victims are eased into one, and only one, interview with a specially trained and certified professional, while prosecutors, law enforcement and Child Protective Services staff look on through a closed-circuit feed.
"The goal is to limit the number of interviews, thus limiting the trauma to the child," said executive director Michael Guglielmoni, a former detective with the New York City Police Department.
Eliminating the stress of numerous interviews, which used to be common practice, is just one of the ways C.A.R.E. Center helps victims and their families. With 264 children coming through their doors last year, staff and local leaders are now focusing on preventative measures.
"We are only dealing with the cases after the fact,” said Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan, whose office housed the organization when it was founded in the early 1990s. “What I really hope we're able to do is take it one step further."
With April serving as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, methods like a pinwheel garden planted in Glens Falls City Park seek to raise awareness. Hogan is spearheading a new approach that involves reaching young, teenage mothers before their children are even born.
"A lot of times these young mothers don't have the confidence that they need to succeed as being parents," May said.
In many of the North Country's high profile cases resulting in a child's death, the act was committed by a boyfriend or partner of a young mother.
"Those are the individuals that are actually perpetrating against those children," Guglielmoni said.
By pairing expecting teens with mentors from a local women's group, leaders hope to empower young girls and remove children from potentially dangerous situations before abuse can occur.
"For us to truly break the cycle of abuse, we need to intervene at that juncture," Hogan said.
That approach mimics the C.A.R.E. Center's philosophy that a little T.L.C. can have a life-altering impact.
"I think we truly will be actually preventing child abuse,” Hogan said. If we can prevent one child from being abused, we will have achieved a great deal."
For more information on Warren-Washington C.A.R.E. Center, visit the organization's official website.
Breaking the cycle of child abuse
by Michelle Woodruff
Texas Child Protective Services has been in the news lately for failing to protect children in the state's care. Many are just now learning about this tragic situation, but if we only focus on this issue when it is highly visible in the newspaper or on the morning news, it can be easy to miss the bigger picture.
This April, as we observe National Child Abuse Prevention Month and National Volunteer Week, it's important we recommit ourselves to ending the vicious cycle of abuse and to standing up for every child too young to speak for themselves. This month, and throughout the year, CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris counties encourages concerned citizens to come together to promote awareness of the child abuse and neglect that exists in our local communities.
CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris counties is one of the 71 CASA programs across Texas that works to ensure all children placed in the foster care system due to abuse or neglect can have the safe, stable and nurturing environments they need to thrive. CASA programs recruit and train everyday members of the community to speak up for the best interests of children in court to ensure that they are placed into loving, permanent homes as quickly as possible. These extraordinary people are called CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers.
Last year, more than 46,800 children were in the care and custody of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) due to abuse or neglect. CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris Counties, along with our statewide CASA community, provided 8,066 CASA volunteers who served 24,742 children in 207 of Texas' 254 counties over the course of the past year.
Children in foster care experience a tremendous amount of change and instability. Often, they don't have a consistent adult that they can rely on – someone to keep them safe and make sure their voices are heard. But children with a CASA volunteer spend less time in foster care and receive better access to support and services.
In a time when so many are focusing on the problems, CASA programs are collaborating with stakeholders and contributing to the solution. On Feb. 12, hundreds of CASA volunteers, staff and board members from the 71 local Texas CASA programs traveled to the Texas State Capitol to bring attention to the challenges facing children and youth in the child welfare system and discuss policy priorities aimed at improving outcomes and transforming CPS. The organization was also honored with a resolution introduced by Rep. John Otto along with the overwhelming support of many other elected officials in the House of Representatives.
The future of Texas relies on the healthy growth and development of all children. So this April, as we mark National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I call upon all citizens, community agencies, faith groups, schools, government agencies and businesses to increase their participation in efforts to support families and prevent child abuse, thereby strengthening our entire community. With National Volunteer Week coming up April 12-18, now would be the perfect time to get involved with the CASA cause.
Last year, almost half of the children caught in the child welfare system did not have a CASA volunteer to advocate for their best interests. Be that someone for a child in foster care – someone who speaks up to change a child's life forever. Consider becoming a CASA volunteer and take that first step in helping to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect.
If you see abuse, report it to (800) 252-5400 or go to www.txabusehotline.org. If a child's life is in danger, call 911. If you want to leave a legacy of positive change, become a CASA volunteer.
For more information, visit www.BecomeaCASA.org or www.casatcm.org or call 903-717-8940.
Child abuse: an ugly picture
Picture 6,097 children.
Picture a crowd of girls and boys, enough to fill a coliseum.
Picture them laughing and playing.
Now, here's the real picture:
Last year, 6,097 children in Tarrant County were victims of abuse or neglect.
That's more than any other county in Texas.
Harris and Dallas counties have more people, yet both have slightly fewer child abuse cases than Tarrant County, according to a state report.
Now picture an Anglo boy or girl.
That's the most common victim.
More are girls ages 1 to 3. Four in five cases involve a parent, more commonly a young mother.
Hispanic children are the least likely to be confirmed victims, but that number is growing.
Eleven boys or girls here died.
Some parents know they need help with stress, say officials from the Parenting Center of Fort Worth.
At 4 p.m. April 18, city officials will join a “Fort Worth Fight or Flight” event on Crockett Street in the West 7th shops to promote parenting education.
Picture more help for young parents and a safer, happier future for children.
Amberly's Place to looks to increase awareness of child abuse
by Kevin G. Andrade
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and Amberly's Place has taken the somber occasion to remind people that such things do occur, even in Yuma.
“Children are looking on us to be their caretakers, and when we remain silent in front of abuse, the message to them is that ‘this must be OK,'” said Diane Umphress, executive director of Amberly's Place. “They are the next generation, and we want them to be good and strong."
According to statistics provided to the Yuma Sun by Amberly's Place, the organization helped 2,018 victims of abuse in 2014. So far, in 2015, they saw 212 clients in January and 169 in February.
Out of the 2014 numbers, 149 were child sexual abuse victims, a number which the organization knows to be much higher, since as many as one in 10 victims do not report an incident to anyone.
“Our statistics do remain pretty stable,” said Umphress. “But I'm pretty sure we're going to see a huge increase soon because we just opened our Somerton facility.”
Umphress says that the reason for a possible spike, in her estimation, is that there were no such services there before.
“When we opened up in San Luis that first year, calls went up 116 percent,” she said. “I don't think there's more abuse there than in the city of Yuma or other places.”
Umphress emphasized that it was the support of the mayor, city council and police in San Luis that made the program effective.
“There's a stigma attached to reporting someone; people feel like they're going to be looked down upon,” she said. “It's just that little bit of support that makes pick people pick up the phone.”
In order to increase awareness of Child Abuse Awareness Month, Amberly's Place, in conjunction with local municipal authorities, will be planting pinwheel gardens, the first of which will be setup at the Yuma Police Station, 1500 S. 1st Ave., on Monday at 9 a.m.
In addition to that garden, there will be another one planted at Castle Dome Middle School, 2353 Otondo Drive, on Wednesday at 9 a.m. That one is especially poignant since the average age of a victim of sex-trafficking in Arizona is 13 years old.
“Maybe, in that setting, they're going to see that law enforcement is there,” she said. “Children will ask questions and see that they're on their side.”
Students at the school make sock monkeys for Amberly's Place clients every year and will also be donating this year's batch on that day.
“When the kids come in and see those puppets, they ask where did they come from,” said Umphress. “When we tell them, they realize that they are not alone and have peers who support them.”
There will be two other gardens planted, at Southwest Junior High School, 963 N. 8th Ave., in San Luis, on Thursday at 9 a.m., and at the Somerton Public Works building, 348 N. Somerton Ave., on Thursday at 11 a.m.
If there's one message Umphress wants to get through to the community this month, it's that if you suspect abuse, you should report it.
“A lot of people will call here and ask, ‘Should I report this?'” she said. “If they're calling, chances are they should.
“Police investigate before they make those arrests because for someone to be charged with child abuse is a serious thing,” she continued.
Amberly's Place will be selling handprints to be hung up at Buffalo Wild Wings, 1317 S. Yuma Palms Parkway, and its thrift store, 812 S. Avenue A, in order to raise funds for its operations.
The objective behind all this is to ensure that victims of abuse have a fair chance of making it in the world.
“Just because you are a victim of abuse doesn't mean you are broken,” Umphress concluded. “We just have to provide a safe environment for them.”
For more information, contact Amberly's Place at 928-373-0849 or visit their website at www.amberlysplace.com.
Woman fights to change child abuse laws
by Drew Powell
AMARILLO, TEXAS -- An Amarillo woman is on a mission to improve the safety of children.
Wendy Branstine is hoping her actions from a letter campaign will lead to a change in what she feels is a loop hole in the legal system.
This implies to when states decide not to prosecute child abuses cases despite the reported crime occuring inside their state line.
"I think there needs to be cooperation amongst states," said Wendy Branstine, parent. "Especially in the case where Texas had done the investigation and had validated the abuse had already said this person is guilty. I think the other state where the crime took place should follow through with it, instead of having the power to decide that they don't want to spend their tax dollars on that because it's not a child of their state."
"It's a problem in the sense that many times when these kind of situations take place someone can slip through the cracks and not be prosecuted criminally," said Briar Wilcox, attorney.
Having gone through this experience of child abuse being reported where the abuse id documented to have reportedly happen in another state she is hoping by writing letters to elected officials there will some form of action taken.
"I'm very motivated to see that the law is changed," said Branstine. "i've started a letter writing campaign specifically to U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry also to the offices of State Rep. Four Prices and State Senator Kel Seliger. I plan to expand that as well."
Despite second thoughts about the letter writing campaign, she decided to proceed after her daughter urged her to go forward following a counseling session.
"I wasn't going to go froward with the campaign unless she was comfortable with that," said Branstine. "She visited with her counselor, came back and her response to me was if this keeps one child safe its worth it."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has called violence toward children a public health crisis.
In 2013 Potter County had 674 confirmed victims and Randall County had 304 confirmed victims of child abuse according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Pedophile Sentenced to 25 Years After Being Beaten By Child's Father
by Michael Miller
A man who was severely beaten by the father of a young boy he was allegedly molesting will spend the next 25 years behind bars.
Raymond Frolander, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, took a plea bargain with a Daytona, Florida, court on Thursday to avoid a mandatory life-sentence for sexually abusing a minor. Instead, he pled no contest to a charge of lewd or lascivious molestation of a child, NBC reports.
The story made headlines when pictures surfaced of Frolander's bruised and swollen face – the result of a brutal beating he suffered at the hands of the 11-year-old boy's father, who beat him unconscious after catching Frolander in the act.
"I just walked in and found a grown man molesting [my child], and I've got him in a bloody puddle for you right now," Jason Browning, the boy's father, told police on the day of the beating last summer, CNN reported.
No charges were brought against Browning for the assault.
Frolander was like a family member to Browning's son and had been molesting him for some time, Daytona Beach police Chief Mike Chitwood said.
When asked whether he had a problem with the apparent vigilantism, Chitwood told CNN, "Not as a police chief and not as a father."
When Frolander is released from prison he will be required to register as a sex offender and will be outfitted with a GPS monitor, according to WESH.
"He's going to learn in the next 25 years why I let him live," Browning told WESH after the verdict.
Metropolitan Y helps prevent child abuse in April
ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges has taken steps to be involved with the community for National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.
Child sexual abuse is a silent, secret and underreported crime that crosses every socioeconomic boundary:
It's estimated that one in seven girls and one in 25 boys will be sexually abused during their childhood.
In 90 percent of cases, the abuser is known and trusted by the child.
Nearly 75 percent of victims keep silent about the abuse for at least for a year and many never tell what was done to them.
There are an estimated 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the United States, where the immediate and long-term costs of the crime exceed $35 billion a year.
The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges, the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey serving 35,000 members, has taken a leadership role to combat child sexual abuse in the communities it serves.
Stewards of Children, a curriculum that teaches adults about child sexual abuse and how to identify unsafe situations and practices and react responsibly.
The Metro Y is one of only three organizations in New Jersey to achieve Partner in Prevention status from Darkness to Light for training more than 90 percent of its staff in Stewards of Children.
The Metro Y has launched the “Kids Matter” campaign to encourage adults to take the Stewards of Children training, which it offers free of charge online. The Metro Y also provides in-person training sessions.
Building on its commitment to protecting children, the Metro Y last year appointed a full-time child safety director to oversee training and other initiatives at its six branches.
During National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, help raise awareness about this predatory crime.
“We believe child sex abuse can be stopped if adults learn how to intercede and prevent it, and we're committed to taking a lead role to train 21,000 people over the coming years,'' said Metro Y President and Chief Executive Officer Richard K. Gorab.
For more information, contact Maureen Simons at 973-758-9622. The free, two-hour online Stewards of Children course is available at http://www.metroymcas.org/preventnow along with information about upcoming in-person training sessions.
Hidden Predator Act Heads to Gov. Deal
by Ian Margol
ATLANTA, GA -- The Hidden Predator Act, or House Bill 17, received final passage today, the 40th and final day of the 2015 legislative session. Sponsored by State Representative Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), House Bill 17 was passed in the Senate with slight changes on Tuesday, March, 31; the House then agreed to the Senate changes, sending HB 17 to Governor Deal for consideration.
“The Hidden Predator Act has had a long journey in the legislative process this year under the Gold Dome,” said Rep. Spencer. It has taken nearly two years to pass the final product that received approval from the House of Representatives. This legislation will move Georgia out of the worst category of states who deny justice to victims of childhood sexual abuse and into a more favorable position. The state is on new legal footing with this reform policy to change the civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse. The Hidden Predator Act will provide a path to justice for child sexual abuse so that the court house doors can be unlocked. Unlocking the court house doors will expose the child sexual predators that live among us who will never have criminal charges brought against them or ever be placed on a sex offender registry.”
Governor Deal's Floor Leader, State Representative Chad Nimmer (R-Nimmer), spoke to the bill's final passage in the House. Rep. Nimmer expressed his support and appreciation for the work that has gone into this legislation and spoke to the bill's significance of providing justice to victims across the state.
“Georgia now has the ability to now protect children from adult sexual predators and to help adults who unfortunately, have to try and remake their lives,” said State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford), who sponsored HB 17 in the Senate. “This new law will give both children and adults the tools to make heinous crimes against them right and deter future predators because they know they will have to pay the consequences in Georgia courts. We will no longer be at the bottom of the barrel hiding pedophiles with antiquated laws that have protected them instead of the victims.”
The final provisions of HB 17, as passed by the House and Senate include:
· The bill still gives an individual who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse under the age of 18 has until age 23 to file a claim, which is consistent with current law.
· HB 17 creates a two year “discovery rule” that would allow victims who have been locked out of the courts due to Georgia's short limitation to go to court until they understood that their problems in life (i.e.: depression, sexual deviancy, inability to hold a job, etc.) were a result of past sexual abuse. The language in the bill gives the survivor two years from the date the victim knew that the abuse was the reason for their injury (i.e., depression, addiction, etc.), which must be verified by a medical or psychological evaluation before any pre-trial discovery commences. The discovery language is only applied in cases going forward after July 1, 2015 if the bill becomes law.
· The bill allows the courts to determine from admissible evidence in a pre-trial finding when the discovery of alleged abuse occurred and that determination shall be required from the court within six months. This is another due process measure in the bill.
· Also included are two separate negligence standards that will apply differently to the perpetrator and towards a potential negligent entity or third party/vicarious defendant that knew of, or covered-up childhood sexual abuse within their organization. The perpetrator will be subjected to a simple negligence standard, while the potential negligent entity/third party will be subjected to a gross negligence standard.
· Additionally, there will be a retroactive civil “window” open for 2 years to anyone who has a claim to bring forward against their perpetrator if they were locked out of courts due to Georgia's current short statute of limitations. That window will open on July 1, 2015 and close on July 1, 2017 if HB 17 becomes law. The window will not apply to cases where settlements have already been reached, litigated to finality on the merits in court or towards entities or vicarious defendants.
· Lastly, the victim of child sexual abuse or their guardian will be able to access any investigation file if they or their child was the subject of an investigation only if a criminal case is closed in order to use the records as evidence in civil proceedings. Currently, Georgia law seals records of childhood sexual abuse indefinitely.
‘Day of Action' to raise awareness of sexual violence
by Marian Galbraith
April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and Coffee County organizations are doing their part to raise awareness about sexual violence and educate the community on how to prevent it.
April 7 will be the SAAM “Day of Action” to speak out against sexual violence.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, there will be a Quarter Auction for Haven of Hope at Tullahoma VFW, and April 29 will be “Denim Day,” encouraging supporters to wear denim to raise awareness sexual assault issues.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSRVC), sexual violence impacts both sexes of all ages in homes, schools, workplaces and in the streets, and Coffee County is no exception to the problem.
National statistics show that one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives, but the definition of sexual violence includes much more than just rape.
Incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment and voyeurism are all examples.
Sexual violence is said to occur any time someone is forced or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity without their consent.
Even more disturbing is the fact that the targets of these crimes are often the very young, and offenders are most often someone that is known and/or trusted by them.
National statistics show that one in six boys and one in four girls will experience a sexual assault before the age 18, and more than 25 percent of male victims in a national sample reported their first rape before the age of 10.
Many of these cases go unreported, however, because survivors fear retaliation by the offender as well as fear that others may not believe them.
Coffee County continues to rank high in cases of child abuse, and according to Joyce Prusak, director of the Coffee County Children's Advocacy Center, most of these incidents are sexual in nature.
“Last year, 80 percent of the 299 cases we handled were some form of sexual abuse,” Prusak said, “and 51 percent involved children under the age of 6.”
According to the “KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee,” published by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Prusak said Coffee County went from having 642 reported cases of child abuse in 2009 to 841 cases reported in 2013, and many of these were later substantiated.
“The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth reported that 8.5 percent of children in our community were involved in a substantiated abuse case,” she said.
“Statewide, the estimate for 2013 was 4.9 percent of the child population, so this means Coffee County's rate of substantiated child abuse cases was approximately 75 percent higher than the statewide average.”
Prusak has said in previous interviews that she is not sure why Coffee County's rates are so high, relative to nearby and same-size counties, but there are many contributing factors including drug and alcohol use and an overall lack of resources for families.
“Part of it may be that we do a good job within our county of identifying the children who are abused, so the rate appears higher,” she said, “but we're really not sure.”
Police Chief Paul Blackwell said his department is collaborating with the District Attorney's office, Haven of Hope, Harton Regional Medical Center, other medical facilities and area law enforcement to form a local Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).
The program, he said, is designed to help respond to incidents of sexual assault, focusing on adult victims.
“Sexual assault is of major concern not only for those victims that suffer, but for the many instances of that are never reported,” Black well said, “so the program is designed to encourage victims to come forward for assistance and resources.
“At present, there are two trained nurses at Harton Emergency Room that respond to the incidents of sexual assault and provide valuable investigation, comfort, and resources to the victims.”
Additionally, Blackwell said the police department is collaborating with the Department of Children Services (DCS) and the Coffee County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) to investigate incidents of child abuse in Coffee County.
“The CAC provides for trained personnel in the areas of forensic interviews and medical examinations,” he said, “and the partnership between these agencies provides for the safety and treatment of young victims as well as prosecution of offenders.”
The GFWC Women's Club of Tullahoma is supporting the CAC with a “pinwheel garden” planted on its Wilson Avenue lawn, with 299 pinwheels to represent the number of children served by the center in 2014.
In addition, 2,800 blue flags are planted along the roadside near the Coffee County Administrative Plaza in Manchester to represent the 2,800 children served by the CAC in the last 10 years.
DCFS late probing more than 300 child abuse, neglect claims: audit
by Duaa Eldeib
A new report released Thursday detailed additional problems at the state's troubled Department of Children and Family Services that could "result in further endangerment" of the children the agency is charged with protecting.
The report from Illinois Auditor General William Holland found that the agency failed to investigate in a timely manner more than 300 allegations of child abuse and neglect in fiscal years 2013 and 2014. While the number of reports represented less than 1 percent of total cases, the finding was compounded by the department's untimely determinations of abuse and neglect in 6 percent of those cases.
"Failure to make timely determinations of reports of abuse and neglect could delay the implementation of a service plan and result in further endangerment of the child, and is a violation of the (Abused and Neglected Child Reporting) Act," according to the report.
The finding was not new for the embattled state agency, which has had seven directors in three years and seen its budget slashed. The auditor general's office first reported the delays in determining abuse and neglect cases in 1998.
DCFS agreed with all of the new audit's findings, adding in its official response that it will "continue to make efforts to improve" and in some cases has already started making changes, according to the report.
Regarding the delays in initiating abuse and neglect investigations, the agency said that it will "make diligent efforts" to reach 100 percent compliance, and as such is rewriting some DCFS procedures.
The report also found that DCFS workers did not always complete reviews of child deaths within the 90 days required by law. Instead, in the cases reviewed by the auditor general, the average time frame was more than double that in 2013 and nearly that long in 2014.
In a number of the cases highlighted by the auditors, DCFS also failed to maintain complete child welfare case files, including basic records like medical and dental consent forms and the child's photo or fingerprints. In 88 percent of those cases, child identification forms were missing. The report also noted the agency used outdated forms.
The problems continued when it came to the department's financial oversight, with the report concluding that the agency "lacked adequate review procedures." After the auditors discovered "errors" in some of the department's financial statements, DCFS had to adjust its records by $4 million.
For its part, DCFS said it planned to "implement control procedures," seek bids from "reputable accounting firms" and fill a vacant fiscal administration position with a full-time employee.
"DCFS is working diligently under the direction of acting Director George Sheldon with the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner to offer real, concrete reforms that correct the mistakes of past administrations so that audits like this become a thing of the past as our state moves forward," DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach said.
Number of child abuse cases rising in Spokane
by Jeff Humphrey
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Spokane police are trying to figure out who's responsible for abusing a baby so badly he suffered 21 rib fractures and a broken leg.
No one seems to know why, but kids are getting abused almost four times more often than they were from this time last year. Fortunately, there's a Spokane organization – Partners with Families and Children – that works to prevent child abuse and doesn't hesitate to call police when they see it.
“We just try to give families resources for what they need to strengthen their family and be a good nurturing family for their children,” Carol Plischke with Partners with Families and Children said.
Partners puts a lot of time into preventing child abuse but its nurses and doctors have also become experts in spotting it and make regular trips to local emergency rooms.
“They, both here at our office and also occasionally get called into the hospital, to do consults for when there may be some suspect of whether or not child abuse is involved,” Plischke said.
On March 18 nurse practitioner Theresa Forshag was caring for a three month old boy with broken leg and multiple rib fractures.
“She does a very thorough exam, her documentation is amazing and when necessary, she will get police or child protective services involved,” Plischke said.
In this case, Forshag called Spokane police to Sacred Heart Medical Center and told detectives the baby's injuries were no accident. The infant's 17-year-old mother denied abusing the baby and so did her boyfriend who is not the child's biological father. Both of them have refused to take polygraph tests and so the baby is now in foster care.
Partners with Families and Children officials say they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of child abuse cases here in Spokane.
“We really don't understand why or what the reasons are but I know that our medical team, with Theresa and Michelle, they've been called to the hospital to do far more hospital consults this year than ever before,” Plischke said.
Police may never be able to prove who injured the baby and that means the boy's mother may never get her child back unless she tells detectives who abused her son.
New Initiative to Prevent Child Abuse
by Alexandra Leslie
BURLINGTON, Vt. - Every single day of the year, keeping children safe from harm is the mission of organizations like Prevent Child Abuse Vermont.
"These matters are ongoing and year round, so there's no time that's not a good time to step up," said PCVA Family Support Programs Manager Steve Ness.
Child Abuse Prevention Month started in Vermont in 1982, and was declared a national month of awareness a year later.
In the wake of two child deaths in Vermont last year, Child Abuse Prevention Month is more important than ever. This year, April 3rd is Wear Blue Day in honor of those children, Peighton Geraw and Dezirae Sheldon.
"The Wear Blue Campaign is one way that we can all come together and express our concern and interest and support of children and families in Vermont," said Ness.
And in the next few months, a new initiative to protect children is coming from KidSafe Collaborative in Chittenden County. The group is developing a multimedia online training program for mandated reporters, or anyone who works in a job that interacts with children. KidSafe is collaborating with the Department for Children and Families in Vermont.
"[The training is so] they know what to look for, and they know how to make a report and what to expect when they make a report, and also how they can support a child and family who is facing a challenging situation," said KidSafe Executive Director Sally Borden.
The training is free and open to anyone who wants to educate themselves, regardless of their profession.
"All adults need to look out for children, and it would behoove all adults to learn about reporting suspected child abuse and neglect," said Borden.
Borden said that when something tragic happens, we have a heightened awareness, and hopes with this training, that awareness becomes common knowledge. Later this month, KidSafe is hosting an award ceremony to honor those who have improved the safety and wellbeing of children and families in Chittenden County.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected in any way, call police or the state's child abuse hotline.
Four more cases of child abuse investigated at Bridgewater State day care center
BSU student Kyle Loughlin is charged with raping two children at the campus-run day care center.
by Maria Papadopoulos
BRIDGEWATER – Officials are investigating four more cases of child abuse at a Bridgewater State University day care center, a university spokeswoman said Thursday.
Eva Gaffney said campus police have filed four additional 51A reports – after the children's parents went to university police with concerns on Wednesday night, hours after BSU student Kyle P. Loughlin, 21, of Wrentham, was charged with raping two children at the campus-run day care center.
A 51A report is the legal mechanism under which the state Department of Children and Families can investigate alleged abuse or neglect of a child under the age of 18.
The reports filed Wednesday bring to six the number of children who are suspected to have been abused at the campus day care center after Loughlin's arrest by campus police on Tuesday. He was charged with two counts of rape of a child with force and three counts of aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14, according to court records.
The victims were boys, ages 4 and 5, and the alleged offenses occurred on March 20, March 24, and March 27, according to court records. No additional criminal charges had been filed by 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Also on Thursday, the MetroWest YMCA, which is headquartered in Framingham but has a summer camp in Hopkinton, issued a press release verifying that Loughlin was a camp counselor there for four summers.
The release reads in part: “We are aware of the charges facing Kyle Loughlin, a former camp counselor at our Hopkinton Summer Camp during the summers of 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Because these charges are unrelated to Mr. Loughlin's past association with the YMCA, we have no comment on them.”
The release further states that the Y “conducted thorough criminal background checks, sex offender registry checks and reference checks on Mr. Loughlin before hiring him” and then it lists a series of measures the Y takes to ensure the safety of its campers.
Loughlin pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Brockton District Court on Wednesday. He was ordered held without bail until a dangerousness hearing on Monday. Officials said Loughlin admitted to police what he had done after he was placed under arrest.
Multiple agencies are investigating the campus-run day care center in the wake of Loughlin's arrest, including the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Early Education and Care, and law enforcement, Gaffney said. The university is also hiring an independent investigator to review practices at the center, she said.
Revelations about the criminal charges and additional investigations into the day care center came as university officials planned to meet with parents tonight to discuss the situation.
Gaffney said counselors would be made available for parents during the 6 p.m. meeting on Thursday in Burnell 132B, a room adjacent to The Children's Center. The meeting is closed to the media, she said.
"This is a volume of children, face it. This is not one or two children. We'll be seeking help from a variety of resources to meet the demand," Gaffney said of support services.
Loughlin had worked at the day care center for two years as part of his course of study, Gaffney said. He studied early childhood education at BSU before his dismissal from the program after the arrest, Gaffney said.
The day care center is used as a teaching lab for students in the program, officials said. Children in the center are ages 33 months to 6 years.
Campus police went to Loughlin's dorm Tuesday about 11 p.m., and found a box containing at least 100 pairs of boys underwear, pull-ups and diapers, some of which belonged to the alleged victims, according to court records. Loughlin consented to the search, according to officials.
Gaffney said a total of "seven or eight" parents went to university police on Wednesday night with concerns.
"Of those, police are filing four additional 51As, because the parents weren't sure and why not investigate it," Gaffney said. (Parents are) not sure and when they are unsure, our police are making note of that and are filing 51A accordingly."
In a statement Thursday, Cayenne Isaksen, a spokeswoman with the Department of Children and Families, said the agency is investigating.
"DCF has received a report and is investigating and will continue to cooperate with the Department of Early Education and Care and law enforcement in their investigations," Isaksen said.
Child sex abuse cases up in Montgomery County
by Mark Gokavi
DAYTON — Although the number of child neglect and physical and emotional abuse investigations declined in Montgomery County last year, sexual abuse cases slightly increased, officials announced.
But child abuse can be prevented if everyone in the community helps, Montgomery County leaders stressed at Thursday's kickoff to Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.
“We always want you to call, and call our (937) 224-KIDS number whenever you have a concern about possible abuse or neglect,” said Deb Downing, assistant director for children's services at Montgomery County Deptartment of Job and Family Services. “We have staff who are dedicated and trained to make those determinations as to whether or not investigation is warranted.”
The number of such investigations in Montgomery County fell from 3,621 in 2013 to 3,450 in 2014. And while neglect, physical and emotional investigations dropped, sexual abuse cases rose slightly. Overall, officials said the numbers are consistent from year to year.
Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said that nationally, an abuse report is completed every 10 seconds, nearly 1,700 children in the United States will die as a result of abuse or neglect in 2015 and that 30 percent of children who are abused will abuse their own kids.
“These are kids that are never given a chance,” Heck said at the gathering at Haines Children Center at 3304 N. Main St. “And that's just so tough, I think, to really understand unless you deal with it every day. These are not just stats, but these are living people. These are children that you're dealing with and helping to make a difference.”
Montgomery County Commissioners Debbie Lieberman and Judy Dodge and CARE House director Libby Nicholson joined Downing and Heck at the event. They were surrounded by case workers and other children services employees.
Thousands of calls of suspected abuse or neglect come into children services and are evaluated each month. Downing said, “Sometimes, those calls are just … we can connect people with community services so that we can strengthen them and get them the services they need.”
Downing said the causes for child abuse and neglect vary but reflect problems in society.
“Of course drugs are a huge issue in our community, but it's (also) family isolation, not having support systems, the stresses of modern day life,” she said. “If a parent is having drug or alcohol issues, oftentimes that becomes their priority rather than tending to the needs of the children,” Downing said.
Some calls result in connecting families with resources.
“Our focus is on working with that individual family and trying to strengthen that family and … what services are needed to help them, and of course sometimes despite our best efforts, you know we can't help that family and so we have to make alternate plans for the child,” Downing said.”A lot of our cases never rise to the level of a criminal prosecution, so those criminal cases are really the most extreme cases that we deal with.”
Heck echoed others' comments that it takes someone to take a stand and have courage to report child abuse.
“It takes all of us,” Heck said. “Not just children services case works, not just law enforcement, not just the cops, not just prosecutors, it takes all of us to be involved if we're going to prevent child abuse and hold those responsible for child abuse …. and bring them to justice.”
Blue pinwheels made by children adorned the entrance and lobby of the Haines Center. Downing said community members are urged to wear blue to work April 8 and to send photos to Kevin.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Montgomery County Children Services -- Abuse/Neglect Investigations 2014 2013
Physical Abuse: 895 905
Sexual Abuse: 318 295
Emotional Abuse: 722 883
Neglect: 1,421 1,443
Medical Neglect: 92 95
Stranger Danger: 2 na
Total: 3,450 3,621
Man gets 4 years for sexual encounters with dementia patient he befriended in church
by Aimee Green
If his wrists and ankles hadn't been shackled and if he hadn't been wearing a blue jail uniform, Richard David Vandenberg wouldn't at all have looked like a man about to be sentenced to four years in prison for sexually preying on a woman with dementia in her Southeast Portland assisted-living home.
Vandenberg had what some might describe as a nonchalant air about him -- perhaps almost sporting a small smile -- as he took his seat at the counsel table in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Seconds later, he turned to look back at the three adult children of the woman he'd been accused of repeatedly raping and sexually abusing, and it was clear from their expressions how they felt about him.
"All she knew of you was fear," they wrote in a letter read aloud in court, moments later. "And all we know of you is disgust."
As part of a plea agreement, Vandenberg pleaded no contest last month to attempted first-degree rape and attempted first-degree sexual penetration. If the case had gone to trial, the prosecution would have argued that Vandenberg, now 60, repeatedly sexually assaulted the woman, who was 72 and 73 at the time of the alleged attacks from May to August 2013. She died a few months later.
But defense attorney Joe Calhoun said he and his client believed they could have proved the sexual contact was consensual. The result, Calhoun said, was the plea agreement.
Authorities say Vandenberg befriended the woman at church, then began visiting the woman at her home at the Hawthorne Gardens Senior Living Community at 2828 S.E. Taylor St. The prosecution alleged the woman was unable to consent to the sexual contact because of her dementia.
The alleged abuse had a profound impact on the woman, her three adult children said in the letter read aloud by a victim's advocate during Thursday's sentencing hearing. The woman's children sat in the courtroom gallery, holding each other and wiping away tears as the letter was read.
"The only relationship you had with her was one of fear, grief and pain," the letter stated.
"We have no doubt that if there was even a shred of truth that you shared a relationship with our mother, she would have talked to us about you, yet she never mentioned you to any of us," the letter stated.
"This speaks volumes to the great fear and shame that you caused our beloved mom, to the point that she was ashamed to tell us what was happening to her," the letter continued. "In fact she felt so trapped and disgraced by you and your repeated assault, we believe that she went to a place inside of herself to block out the atrocity of what you were doing to her, thus speeding up the progression of her disease and shortening her time on earth with us."
The woman's children said their mother became so afraid that Vandenberg would attack her at night that she cried and resisted going to bed in her room. Instead, she slept on a small couch in a "populated living area" of the senior facility.
"You did that," the letter stated. "You made our sweet mother feel too unsafe and afraid to be in her room alone."
The woman died in December 2013, before Vandenberg's arrest in July 2014. When given a chance to make a statement, Vandenberg said he would like to, but he would follow the advice of his attorney to stay silent.
Multnomah County Circuit Judge Eric Bergstrom then followed the terms of the plea agreement by sentencing Vandenberg to four years in prison, followed by 10 years of post-prison supervision. He must register as a sex offender. He also must refrain from visiting any senior communities or, with the exception of his mother, having contact with anyone over age 70 without permission from his probation officer.S
Parents charged after boy found dead in septic tank
by Russ Ptacek
DUBLIN, Va. — The parents of a 5-year-old boy found dead in a septic tank have been charged with abuse and neglect, authorities said.
Paul Thomas, 32, and Ashley White, 30, were charged Thursday with two counts of abuse and neglect of children, according to the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office. Their son, Noah, was found dead March 26, five days after he was reported missing.
"It came to a point where the evidence that we had we felt was sufficient to arrest them for probable cause," said Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Fleenor of Pulaski County, who has been gathering evidence since Noah's body was discovered.
A 6-month-old baby was removed from the parents' custody the day after Noah's body was found, officials said. Dublin, in southwest Virginia, is about 240 miles southwest of the District of Columbia.
Authorities have said Noah was watching cartoons around 8 a.m. ET March 22 when White went to take a nap with her infant. When she awoke about 10:35 a.m., Noah was missing.
Results from Noah's autopsy are expected to take weeks to become available. Officials say his cause of death will be the critical information in the case.
The defendants each face two charges — one involving Noah, another linked to the infant. They're being held without bond in New River Valley Regional Jail.
It was unclear whether they had a lawyer who could comment on the charges.
Child abuse cases going unsolved, experts encourage you to speak up
by Hannah Buehler
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - More and more cases of child abuse in Western New York are going unsolved, and experts say it's because people aren't speaking up.
Judith Olin from Child & Adolescent Treatment Services deals with the severe cases of child abuse each and every day.
"We all want justice when we see a child being hurt," Olin said.
Her office works with law enforcement to provide a safe place for children to be interviewed and recover from abuse.
Much of the problem in solving these cases, Olin says is that children can't speak for themselves, making it take longer for police to bring the person or persons responsible to justice.
Statistics show that 47% of child abuse victims are under the age of six. One in ten children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
Last week 7 Eyewitness News told you that a six-week old baby from Cheektowaga was in women and children's hospital, recovering from serious injuries.
Cheektowaga police say they're working on leads, and compiling a timeline of who had contact with the infant.
Almost one year after her death was ruled a homicide in Jamestown, 16 month old Nayla Hodnett's aunt is still looking for who killed her baby girl.
"A lot of times you hear babies crying you just walk away or turn your head because you're worried about that person and the adult.....well what about the baby? Camille Hodnett said.
If you or someone you know is a victim of child abuse, experts urge you to call this phone number to report it: 1-800-342-3720.
Is a Sexual Predator Lurking on Your Kid's Team?
by Fred Engh
Ever since Jerry Sandusky became a household name and rocked the national sports landscape, it also shined the spotlight on a chilling topic that all too often gets shoved to the side because it's too uncomfortable and unpleasant to talk about.
Welcome to today's child molester. They don't look menacing and lurk in the shadows; they're smart and skilled in their own twisted way. I know through personal experience, since my high school and college wrestling coaches were both suspected pedophiles. I experienced the issue, also, with suspicion when my son's coach who one day decided to drive my son home from practice and on the way stopped to buy him a new baseball glove.
Child sexual predators operate in the public eye at ball fields and gyms in everyone's community while harboring some of the most appalling motives and, most disturbing of all, they know how to connect with children.
Sadly, youth sports can be a haven for sexual predators. Just think about it. Here's a group of kids who, for the most part, are left alone by their parents with some person they barely know. According to our research, the average length of time a coach spends with practices and games throughout the season is roughly 80 hours. That leaves a lot of time for pedophiles to make their move.
I have always marveled at how the rules of many school systems don't seem to apply to the rules of those youth sports groups that use the same facilities. Let me explain.
In order to enter the elementary school that my children attended, you had to have a pass issued to you as you came in the door. This was obviously done to prevent the unwanted from entering the building. Yet around three in the afternoon on the fields out back of these same school grounds were hundreds of kids with their coaches. Nobody ever issued them a pass. They just showed up and spent the afternoon with their team. Granted, the overwhelming majority of kids' coaches are wonderful and caring people, but that doesn't mean a parent can relax.
Pedophiles can be your neighbor, your friend or a long time community member. They can be white or black; male or female; it doesn't matter. They are out there.
"They are often attractive, competent, charming and successful," says Dr. Bob Shoop, director of the Cargill Center for Ethical Leadership at Kansas State University. "They are very good at what they do; molesting children."
Child sexual predators use grooming techniques to gain the trust of not only their victims but even the child's unsuspecting parents. It's a horrific and methodical approach to gain access to children, abuse them for their own pleasure and then make sure that what happened is never repeated by their victim.
Combine children who are vulnerable and not able to reason effectively at this point in their young lives with parents who think abusive coaches only operate in other communities, and it becomes a gold mine of potential victims for the predator.
With more than 100,000 youth coaches annually as members of our organization, a crucial part of their training for the past 20 years involves protecting children from abuse and understanding the warning signals that a youngster may be suffering at the hands of an abusive adult.
The Crimes Against Children Research Center reports that one in five girls and one in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. The math is startling. That's potentially three girls on a 15-player soccer team; or one boy on a youth football team.
I headed a youth sports organization early in my career and the words of one parent still rings in my ear when she said, "We would never have dreamed in a million years that he was a child abuser."
If you have a kid playing sports it becomes a little scary, right? Well, it was scary for me too. That's why I founded the National Alliance for Youth Sports -- www.nays.org -- where we train administrators, coaches and parents on how to look out for child predators.
Child abuse, trafficking confronted at conference
by Anna Rumer
The risks children face even in supposedly safe environments such as schools and churches will be the focus at the Unforgettables Foundation's second annual Children and Families in Crisis Conference on April 10.
The day-long conference, "When Havens Become Horror Stories," will be held at the Indian Wells Theater at California State University San Bernardino, Palm Desert and will discuss child abuse and trafficking.
The Unforgettables Foundation is dedicated to helping low-income families who have experienced the death of a child with a dignified burial, memorializing those who have passed and educating caregivers on how to confront risks to children's health.
The conference will feature lectures and discussions from keynote speakers such as Dr. Clare Sheridan-Matney and Dr. Ken Druck.
Sheridan-Matney is an internationally respected forensic specialist on pediatrics and child abuse at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital and director of the San Bernardino County Children's Assessment Center.
Druck, the author of books such as "The Secrets Men Keep" and "How to Talk to Your Kids," is a renowned presenter on child resilience and the founder of the Jenna Druck Foundation.
The conference will also feature panel discussions in which audience members can interact with local and national authorities on the subject.
The morning panel discussion is entitled "How Law Enforcement Confronts the Horror Stories," and will be moderated by San Bernardino County Deputy Sheriff and Assistant Coroner Robert Shaw, District Attorney Michael Ramos and Sheridan-Matney.
The Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children, a conference partner, will later host a discussion on the process of the teams that deal with suspected child abuse and the multiple disciplines they use to do so.
"We are thrilled to welcome The Barbara Sinatra Children's Center as a conference partner this year," founder of the Unforgettables Foundation Chaplain Tim Evans said in a press release. "They are the ideal strategic partner in such a conference and have invaluable experience to add to this difficult topic."
Closing out the evening, the 117 children who have died in Riverside County this year will be honored at the "Lights for Little Lives" dove release and candle lighting on the University Mall Lawn.
The full-day program begins with registration at 8 a.m. To sign up, visit unforgettables.org or call (909) 335-1655. Tickets are $99 and include the price of lunch, however full scholarships are available by calling (909) 855-3130.
Louisville families share stories of child abuse to raise awareness
by Stephan Johnson
LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- Broken limbs, fractured skulls and sexual abuse happen every year to thousands of Kentucky children. April is dedicated to raising awareness of the issue.
That's why child service agencies across the state held a rally on Wednesday at the Big Four Bridge to bring awareness to child abuse, and they used real people and real stories to get our attention.
"I was so hurt and just devastated, you know those moments when you just drop to your knees," said Lori Brent, Mother of child abuse victim.
It was an alarming discovery about her son Jake that brought Lori Brent to her knees.
"He was fussy, I didn't know what was going on," Brent said. "I had taken him to my pediatrician and she said, 'you need to go to Kosair'."
At Kosair, Brent learned Jake had been the victim of child abuse.
"When we got to Kosair, he had a broken and arm and leg and also had a broken bone in his leg that was healing, so it was devastating," she explained.
Police eventually arrested and charged a local babysitter, Tammy Hedges, but by then the damage was done, and the Brents soon learned they were not alone.
"Nationally, four to seven children die everyday in this country from child abuse and neglect," said Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad.
Wednesday morning, dozens of people gathered at the foot of The Big Four Bridge for a rally to end child abuse. Chief Conrad has seen a lot, and says child abuse comes in many forms. "It can be physical, it can be sexual, it can be emotional," he said.
Experts say in 2013, there were 18,000 child abuse cases in Kentucky.
"That's really frankly only the tip of the iceberg because we know that not all cases of child maltreatment are reported to the authorities," said Dr. Melissa Currie, with Kosair Charities.
Dr. Currie has treated thousands of victims -- including Jake.
"Jake was one of our patients back when he was a baby, um, and yes, he had multiple bones broken by a babysitter," she said.
That's why the Brent family joined the pinwheel campaign and face it movement; both bring awareness child abuse.
"You have got to spread the word, you have got to face it, it's real. It happened to us, it can happen to anybody," said Brent.
Experts say some of the signs of child abuse include unexplained injuries and a change in behavior.
If you need to report a case, you can call the child abuse hotline at 877-KY-SAFE-1 or simply call 911.
El Paso Hopes strives to prevent child abuse through $1.6 million grant
by Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has awarded a grant of $1.6 million to help five different El Paso non-profit organizations form one collaboration of agencies geared toward preventing child abuse in the Borderland.
The collaboration, also known as El Paso Hopes, includes direct services delivered by the Child Crisis Center of El Paso, United Way of El Paso, AVANCE, and Paso Del Norte Children's Development Center. The El Paso Center for Children is the primary grantee and serves as the administrator and fiscal manager of El Paso Hopes.
El Paso Hopes formed in August of 2014. Organizers said the primary goal of the organization is to prevent future child abuse cases.
"We are proactive, prevention and intervention," said Sarah Torres, Marketing Director for El Paso Hopes.
El Paso Hopes provides assistance to parents who do not have a CPS case, but admit they need a little help raising their child.
"Parenting is stressful, there's not really a handbook for parent," Torres said. "If there were it would be easy and we would all do it."
Torres said one of the risk factors for child abuse is stress.
"We're not saying that you're going to abuse your child but you know there's no need for a parent to be stressed if we have support programs like these," Torres said.
Through the United Way, parents can receive Parents as Teachers (PAT) home visitation and parent education. The Child Crisis Center provides Wrap-Around and Case Management Services to all famliesfamilies served by El Paso Hopes.
The Paso Del Norte Children's Development Center also helps provide curriculum to parents of children with special needs.
In December, 43 families received services through El Paso Hopes. But now, Torres said there are 229 families receiving those services.
"We're growing rapidly, we're growing rapidly," Torres said.
"This grant is necessary because parents are looking for the support systems, parents are looking for assistance in raising their children and the overall goal it to strengthen families and end child abuse with El Paso Hopes," Torres said.
The grant was awarded in September 2014 and enrollment of the families began in December 2014.
Below are the requirements for families who receive services through El Paso Hopes. To qualify a family must:
1. Reside in El Paso County.
2. Have a child age newborn through 5 years of age or be expecting the birth of a child.
3. Not have an open Child Protective Services CPS investigation or previous CPS investigation that was founded.
For more information on El Paso Hopes, you can call 915-562-7955 or go to their website at www.elpasohopes.org.
Crisis Nursery helps reduce child abuse in Illinois
PEORIA - Wednesday kicked off the start of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) said their abuse hotline has received more than one million calls over the last four years.
That number may seem alarming, but a number of Illinois agencies are working to reduce that number.
One in central Illinois is the Crittenton Center in Peoria.
“We, unfortunately, see a need every single day of people who need our services,” said Kelsey Gareau, the Crisis Nursery Coordinator at the center. “The phone rings every single morning.”
The agency's Crisis Nursery provides 24/7 child abuse prevention services to kids that are newborns to age six. If you're in a domestic violence situation, facing extreme stress, or find yourself in the middle of any instance putting your kids at risk, you can turn to the agency for help.
“We do our best to be that support system for them,” said Gareau. “Sometimes it's support of needing diapers and formula for their kiddos and sometimes it's a listening ear and someone to take their kiddos for a couple hours so they can destress and have a couple hours to take a deep breath and have a hot shower and take a couple minutes to themselves. “
Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford County parents can drop off their kids for up to 72 hours. The agency is stocked with food, clothes, beds, and everything needed to keep the child safe.
“We see on average just a little over 400 children a month so if you can imagine how many diapers that goes through how many bottles and clothing and all those things.”
The Crisis Nursery is doing a “Fill the Crib” campaign. They're taking everything from diapers to educational materials. You can drop them by the Crittenton Center or click here for more details.
Also if you're in a situation where you feel it's best to surrender your newborn You can do so anonymously and legally. It falls under Illinois' Safe Haven Law. If you know you can't take care of the baby, within 30 days of birth you can surrender them at any police or fire station or hospital.
Child abuse victim shares survival story
by Wendy Aguilar
An alarming rate of child abuse cases were reported in the Rio Grande Valley and local organizations are urging adults everywhere to be advocates for children.
The 19th Annual Cameron County Candlelight Vigil was held on Tuesday at Monica's House Child Advocacy Center in Brownsville.
One woman broke into tears as she shared her story of many years of abuse which started at home.
“I can remember being in pampers to have it removed to be abused,” said Amanda Banda, a victim of child abuse.
Banda said the abuse did not stop there as years later she was victimized again.
“It turned into physical abuse in middle school by a boyfriend at that time,” Banda explained.
Banda is not alone. More than 168,164 allegations of child abuse were investigated in Texas last year, and 151 children died at the hands of a parent or other caregiver, according to Child Protective Services.
Willacy and Cameron County had zero deaths from child abuse, according to Nathaniel Navey, the assistant District Attorney with the Cameron County Child Abuse Unit.
He said the zero deaths are a result of efforts from law enforcement agencies, local organizations and the community.
“Everybody is taking it a little more seriously and just realizing that this is a problem and we're getting better at reporting these cases,” Navey said.
Banda said it is important to take a stand against abuse.
“If you see a friend being abuse, help them, tell somebody, let your parents know, let your school administration know,“ Banda said.
As a survivor she wanted to send a message to others.
“I think it's important to have hope and know that there is help out there,” Banda said.
Child abuse survivor urges Brevard: 'Walk in my Shoes'
by Sara Paulson
Lauren Book was 16 when she disclosed she'd been enduring sexual abuse by her female nanny for five years.
"There was a perception out there that child sexual abuse happened in 'those' neighborhoods over there, to 'those' kids," explained Book, 30, whose ordeal spurred her into an advocacy role. "I wanted people to realize that child sexual abuse can happen to any child. It cuts across all socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural, religious …we need to do more.
"It does happen to the blonde-haired green-eyed girl in your school, and can and will happen if we're not aware," Book insisted.
That's why Book's "Walk in My Shoes" trek from Key West to Tallahassee exists — to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse and encourage survivors to speak out about their experiences.
Her 1,500-mile journey began March 14 and travels through Brevard County on Saturday. The 9 a.m. walk starts at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto, goes to Canova Beach Park in Indian Harbour Beach and back to the Melbourne site. Walkers are asked to arrive at 8 a.m.
About 85 people are signed up to participate in the 9-mile Space Coast stretch, said Jacqueline Ares, victim advocate with The Women's Center. In conjunction with Sexual Abuse Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month, short presentations and a signing for Book's children's book addressing sexual abuse are planned.
Book, whose abuser was convicted and sentenced to prison, said through her "horrific experience, I realized I had a platform and an ability to bring about change."
"We know that one in three girls and one in five boys will become the victim of childhood sexual abuse before the age of 18, " Book said of national statistics. "I started looking at the issue and learned that 95 percent of sexual abuse is preventable with education and awareness. That became my mission and sole focus."
Ares said The Women's Center has worked with Book since the annual walk began in 2010. The center assisted 1,080 domestic violence victims through their Melbourne and Titusville locations in 2014, she said. Those victims encompass adults who have been sexually assaulted, as well as adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Ares said the walk helps bolster victims' courage to share their stories — and inspire others.
"It's an epidemic that we are dealing with," Ares said. "The more we talk about it, the more we bring it to the front line. Hopefully we can bring a little light into this dark topic."
Lauren's Kids, which became a 501 (3)c in 2007, is based in South Florida. The nonprofit aims to educate and prevent child sexual abuse through in-school curricula, awareness campaigns and speaking events worldwide.
The walk is set to end April 22 in Tallahassee with a rally at the state Capitol. Book is supporting various bills that aim to crack down on childhood sexual assault.
If you go
What: The Women's Center and Lauren's Kids walk for Sexual Assault Awareness Month
When: 9 a.m. Saturday; walkers are asked to arrive at 8 a.m.
Where: Melbourne Hilton Rialto
Info: The walk will start at the Hilton, go to Irene H. Canova Beach Park in Indialantic then return to the Melbourne hotel. Call 321-242-3110 ext. 2106 to learn more. More on the Women's Center at womenscenterinbrevard.org and Lauren's Kids at laurenskids.org.
Crime, public safety laws clear governor's desk
by Steve Terrell
Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday signed three crime-related bills recently passed by the state Legislature.
All three bills passed both chambers of the Legislature with virtually no opposition and relatively little debate.
House Bill 101, sponsored by Rep. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, makes hiring or offering to hire a child between the ages of 14 and 16 for sex a second-degree felony. If the child is 13 or younger, it will be a first-degree felony.
HB 174, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, will require cellphone and pager companies to issue Amber Alerts for missing children to customers. Amber Alerts help law enforcement quickly enlist the eyes and ears of the entire community to help bring a child back to safety.
Senate Bill 510, sponsored by Sen. Bill O'Neill, D-Albuquerque, will expand the list of crimes for which victims can seek reparations from the Crime Victims Reparation Commission. Specifically, it adds misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and stalking a household member. To pay for these new services, courts will order anyone convicted of a misdemeanor a $50 penalty assessment on top of other fines and court fees, while assessing those convicted of felonies a $75 penalty.
Also on Tuesday, Martinez signed HB 91, which will allow licensed drivers to take a refresher safety course at a younger age. The new law lowers the age at which drivers are allowed to take the course to 50 from 55. Those who take the course receive a discount from their insurance company. This bill was supported by the American Association of Retired People.
Child abuse victim shares survival story
by Wendy Aguilar
An alarming rate of child abuse cases were reported in the Rio Grande Valley and local organizations are urging adults everywhere to be advocates for children.
The 19th Annual Cameron County Candlelight Vigil was held on Tuesday at Monica's House Child Advocacy Center in Brownsville.
One woman broke into tears as she shared her story of many years of abuse which started at home.
“I can remember being in pampers to have it removed to be abused,” said Amanda Banda, a victim of child abuse.
Banda said the abuse did not stop there as years later she was victimized again.
“It turned into physical abuse in middle school by a boyfriend at that time,” Banda explained.
Banda is not alone. More than 168,164 allegations of child abuse were investigated in Texas last year, and 151 children died at the hands of a parent or other caregiver, according to Child Protective Services.
Willacy and Cameron County had zero deaths from child abuse, according to Nathaniel Navey, the assistant District Attorney with the Cameron County Child Abuse Unit.
He said the zero deaths are a result of efforts from law enforcement agencies, local organizations and the community.
“Everybody is taking it a little more seriously and just realizing that this is a problem and we're getting better at reporting these cases,” Navey said.
Banda said it is important to take a stand against abuse.
“If you see a friend being abuse, help them, tell somebody, let your parents know, let your school administration know,“ Banda said.
As a survivor she wanted to send a message to others.
“I think it's important to have hope and know that there is help out there,” Banda said.
New safe house will shelter victims of domestic abuse
by KAYLA J. MARSH
During the past five years, 180 Turning Lives Around has provided safe shelter for more than 400 adult victims of domestic and sexual abuse and 500 children, but the nonprofit has had to turn away just as many individuals.
To meet the growing need for safe shelter, the nonprofit organization recently broke ground on a new safe house for domestic abuse victims. The location of the safe house is not being made public.
“Today marks a milestone for our organization and victim services throughout the state,” Anna Diaz-White, executive director of 180, said at the ceremonial groundbreaking on March 3.
The new facility will be the largest safe house for victims of domestic violence in New Jersey, according to Diaz-White.
For nearly 40 years, the Hazlet-based nonprofit has assisted victims of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse in Monmouth County through hotlines, shelters, counseling, court assistance, therapies, transitional housing and more.
“180's work would not be possible if it were not for the outstanding staff and volunteers who are on the front lines serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse each and every day,” Diaz-White said at the event, which was held at New Jersey Natural Gas headquar- ters in Wall Township. At the groundbreaking, 180 Turning Lives Around launched a $7.65 million capital campaign to build the new facility in Monmouth County — the location is confidential — and Diaz-White said more than 75 percent of the campaign goal has already been raised.
“We hope to raise the balance in the coming year with help from the community at large,” she said.
In a March 6 interview, Diaz-White said having to turn away so many people in need of help has been a significant concern for the nonprofit's board.
“It has been a five-year court battle to build this shelter, mainly just because of where the new shelter will be, but during that time — to the extent possible — we have always tried to refer those who need assistance to other organizations and shelters in neighboring areas,” she said. “Many of these individuals we know have been able to receive help at other shelters, but many others we do not know what happened to. Our capital campaign was created in response to this terrible situation.”
She said the new facility, which is expected to be completed by year's end, will increase living space to up to 45 beds and will feature 12 family bedroom suites, which will include communal kitchens, dining and living areas, private baths, counseling rooms, a resource room, creative arts studios and more. “The need for services for victims of domestic abuse is great. … Our new facility will double our capacity so we can meet the demand for emergency sheltering in Monmouth County,” Diaz-White said. “We can do better, we know we should be doing better, and we hope this new shelter will show the community they can be doing better, as well.”
At the groundbreaking, several organizations, including New Jersey Natural Gas, Verizon Wireless, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, and the Faith and James Knight Foundation presented the nonprofit with $100,000 donations toward the capital campaign.
“To be on the front line of any social issue is not easy, nor is it an easy road for a traumatized parent or child living in a home affected by domestic violence to rebuild their lives,” said Mimi Rice, executive director of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. “We hope the financial support to this project will encourage others to join the effort to bring about an end to domestic and sexual violence in our community.”
State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), who is former advocate with the program, commended the nonprofit and its volunteers for their hard work and dedication.
“180 is definitely one of the shining stars in this county in terms of the work they do, and this [safe house] puts a positive light where there was none before. And those we were not able to help before, now we will be able to help,” Beck said.
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno applauded all the “heroes” in attendance at the groundbreaking — from the victims to the volunteers to all the organizations showing their support.
“It takes courage that is beyond words and that is what today is about,” Guadagno said. “And I don't think we should ever forget what we are really doing here — and that is saving lives.”
Madigan announces Illinois anti-sexual assalt effort
by Tribune News Service
CHICAGO – The Illinois attorney general and the Cook County state's attorney on Tuesday announced a statewide task force to improve the evidence collection, investigation and prosecution of sexual assault.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan compared the numbers of reported rapes to the numbers of people who sought assistance at an Illinois rape crisis center to point out what she called “critical failings” in the system.
In 2013, 80,000 rapes were reported across the country to law enforcement agencies, 4,000 of those in Illinois, according to the FBI.
But during the same time period many more people in Illinois – nearly 9,000 adults and 9,000 children – sought assistance at one of the state's rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers.
That means that in Illinois, the vast majority of survivors never reported their crimes, she said, which signals that the system's response is ineffective.
“Too many survivors of sexual assault unfortunately believe they will never find justice,” Madigan said. “When sexual assault goes unreported, however, we don't just have a survivor whose life is damaged. We also have a situation that means that rapists will continue to be in our communities. They will continue to victimize the girls, the boys, the men, the women whose lives will be forever damaged potentially by these horrible crimes.”
Individual agencies have been making steps to address problems such as a backlog of untested rape kits and a lack of trained sexual assault medical examiners, but a more comprehensive approach is needed, Madigan said.
“I've learned over the years that at every single point, there seems to be a new problem that arises,” Madigan said. “I would say this is a systemic structural breakdown that we can all plainly see.”
Alvarez said that her office has implemented mandatory training about sex assault for assistant state's attorneys, including how to deal with cases of non-stranger and alcohol-related rape. Her office has also started to make sure that a supervisor reviews the facts before a rape charge is declined.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, who is also spearheading the task force, said that there is inconsistency in how sexual assault is investigated across the state, partially because of varying attitudes about the crime. He also said there is too much time between when an offense is reported and when decisions about prosecution are made.
Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the task force aims to reduce the length of time a victim and law enforcement agency must wait for completed DNA analysis.
“When this can take as much as 12 months ... it can be demoralizing to the investigator and it can be a deterrent to victims to stay invested in the case,” Poskin said.
Members of the joint working group also include the Illinois State's Attorneys Association, the Illinois Associated Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Sheriffs Association, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Hospital Association, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, the Chicago Police Department, Rape Victims Advocates, The Center for the Prevention of Abuse, the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services, and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The work group will meet monthly, Madigan said.
RI ‘recommits' to combating sexual assault
by Kelcy Dolan
One in five women and one in 16 men will experience sexual assault while at college and throughout their lifetime; one in three women will be sexually abused.
These numbers are so concerning and yet, 60 percent of all sexual assaults go unreported to the police.
To combat the growing concern of sexual assault, especially on college campuses, Day One announced Monday the creation of a new statewide task force to address the concerns of adult sexual assault.
Day One is the only agency in Rhode Island that handles sexual assault as a “community concern,” offering educational, preventative, treatment, intervention and advocacy services for Rhode Islanders.
Day One hosted the State House press conference to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), which is April.
Representatives from colleges and universities in Rhode Island, policy-makers, legislators, advocates and student activists as well as survivors of sexual assault attended the event.
Peg Langhammer, executive director of Day One, opened the conference imploring everyone to help bring the issue of sexual assault “out of the shadows.”
Currently, sexual assault is still one of the most underreported crimes in the nation.
Governor Gina Raimondo, who had visited Day One before her election, said the state needs to “recommit” to combating sexual assault.
“This issue is important to me as governor and it is important to me as a mother,” Raimondo said. “What if this was to happen to my child? We need to address this issue with the same urgency and commitment we would if the victims were our own kids.”
Providence Police Chief Colonel Hugh T. Clements Jr. said the state needs to “roll up their sleeves” and get to work addressing this issue.
Currently, the Providence Police Department has one detective assigned to sexual assault, but will add three more.
Clements said state guidelines need to be established so that victims can navigate the system, having access to necessary resources of support, without being re-victimized or forced to relive their experiences over. Clements also mentioned that the public needs to do their part in recognizing and reporting sexual assault.
The statewide task force organized by Day One will be a “multi-disciplinary team” with representatives from state and local law enforcement, advocates from Day One, prosecution, medical professionals and institutions of higher education.
The task force will act as a support system and a resource for the victims of sexual assault by following cases from the beginning when it is first reported, through treatment and support as well as any investigation and prosecution.
Langhammer said, “It is important to note that all of this is possible thanks to the bravery, the courage of the survivors and the strong leadership of the state.”
Attorney General, Peter Kilmartin said, “The reality is that we should be aware not only every month but every day because that's when sexual assault occurs, every day.”
He said Rhode Island is in a “unique position” not only as a state but also with the task force because all the stakeholders can come together in one room to collaborate on initiatives.
Kilmartin said sexual assault is a national issue, one that isn't currently, but needs to be brought to the forefront.
“We need to act in a collaborative way that first and foremost protects the victim, helping them find the resources and support they need to ensure they are not re-victimized by reliving the assault,” he said.
The press conference focused on sexual assaults on college campuses. As of late college, sexual assaults have become increasingly prevalent and as such representatives from colleges and universities across the state attended the event to show support.
Late last year, Brown University made national news as students protested against the school's handling of sexual assault cases after two students accused a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity of assault and spiking drinks with a date rape drug. The university did not hold a judicial hearing on the matter.
An activist and senior at Brown University, Katie Byron, spoke at the press conference. She is part of Brown's Sexual Assault Task Force and said students and survivors not only deserve but need to be a part of the conversation to how sexual assault is addressed, especially on college campuses.
She said, “This is not a new issue, but there has been a new and unprecedented visibility on campuses across the country because of the courage of survivors.
She said student survivors are now holding their “schools accountable and humanizing the issue” by putting a faces to sexual assault.
Student survivors, Byron argued, have a very unique experience after an assault because they have to balance their healing, academics, social life and any investigation in close proximity to their assaulter.
Seventy-three percent of all assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, and for college students that rises to 80 percent.
“We can all be doing better to listen with compassion and support, respecting survivors' agency and choices. We need a community built on trust that will believe someone when they come to report and finds out what they need before forcing out details to relive and re-victimize survivors,” Byron said, to which she received a standing ovation.
Raimondo said, “When you hear the stories of survivors it breaks your heart, but their bravery is astounding. Students deserve a campus where they can learn and be free from the dangers of sexual assault. Addressing this issue will help Rhode Island become a better place, a stronger place, and a safer place.”
For more information on Day One visit: www.dayoneri.org
Day One will be hosting several events throughout the month of April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, including a 5k race on Sunday, April 12 at 10 a.m. To register for the race visit dayone5k.com
There will also be a daylong conference on April 30 with a half day pre-conference the day before on April 19. For more information or to register for the event visit www.dayoneri.org/get-informed/training-events-calendar.
If you have and/or are experiencing sexual assault or abuse call Day One's 24-hour support help line, 1-800-494-8100.
The Warwick Police Department also has their own Day One Advocate, Tara Carrier who can be reached at 468-4372.
EVERY DAY: Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, who has worked very closely with Day One said that the issue of sexual assault needs more than one month of awareness and dedication, reminding all at the press conference that sexual assaults happen every day.
ACTIVISM: Pictured from left to right are Governor Gina Raimondo and Brown University senior and activist Katie Byron. Byron gave a moving speech about the need to address survivors' needs both mentally and physically before requiring details and making them relive their assault.
A CONCERNED MOTHER: Governor Gina Raimondo said that she is interested in the issue of sexual assault not only as a governor but also as a mother. She said Rhode Islanders need to act with the same urgency they would if the victim of sexual assault was their own child.
Toddler nearly starved to death: DCS documents shed light on child abuse case
by Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- A toddler nearly starved to death in Sierra Vista. Documents released to KGUN9 sheds more light on this disturbing case of child abuse.
9OYS was there when Cochise deputies arrested the boy's mother and her live-in boyfriend back in September -- identified as Megan Gerhart and Robert Hollenbough. KGUN9 just obtained the 11-hundred page report from the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
For two years, Child Protective Services -- now DCS -- had been getting reports of neglect.
They lived in tight quarters -- three adults and three children in a single wide one bedroom trailer.
In June of 2012 -- a child case worker investigated a report that the nearly 1 year old boy did not have enough food -the case worker discovered "NO FOOD IN THE FRIDGE."
April 2013 -- Another report of neglect -- stating the "CHILD IS ALWAYS HUNGRY."
And January 2014 -- CPS is alerted again that the 2-year-old boy is 'THIN, AWAYS HUNGRY.
Each case -- investigated -- and closed.
But it wasn't until September 1st of 2014 that something was done about it. Cochise County deputies responded to a call on an unrelated matter and discovered the nearly 3 year old boy in horrible shape.
The boy appeared to be a "SKELETON WITH SKIN DRAPED OVER HIM," his "FACE SUNKEN IN," and the boy's "SKULL APPEARED TO BE NOTHING BUT BONE."
A detective, Sgt. Tal Parker, had described to KGUN9 what he saw. "I was in the Marine Corp. For several years. I have not seen a child like this since Somalia. Just skeletally thin." Just 17 pounds -- half the weight of an average 3 year old.
The documents said the boy was dirty -- living in a "HOUSE that SMELT LIKE GARBAGE."
Gerhart and Hollenbough are still behind bars. The documents show the young boy also couldn't speak. He just made noise. He was in the hospital for nearly three weeks, where he gained 5 pounds and was re-taught how to eat.
He's now under DCS care.
See something, say something when it comes to child abuse
Video of kids climbing into car trunk has officials asking residents to speak up
by Crystal Moyer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A recent video circulating on social media shows at least three kids climbing into the trunk of a white car outside of a Cici's Pizza on Jacksonville's Northside.
"It's deeply disturbing when you see people being treated this way because there's obvious risk. If you're placing children in the trunk of a car you're talking about possible suffocation, possible serious injury, especially if the car gets hit from behind," John Harrell, a spokesperson for the Department of Children and Families said.
The video was taken by a bystander and posted on Facebook Thursday, but DCF says they didn't find out about the video until days later, which is becoming a problem.
"It is interesting that they'll post on social media but not make the contact. I think that's part of society. If you look at something and think it's really wrong, you really have an obligation to tell somebody," E. Lee Kaywork, CEO of Family Support Services, said.
In fact, according to officials, it's the law to report any suspected child abuse.
"If we're not contacted abuse could get worse, the neglect could get worse, and this has happened," Harrell said.
DCF hasn't said much about the ongoing investigation into this case, but said that they are actively looking into the incident and everyone involved.
Directors at local family service centers have said that in some cases, the parents aren't aware that their actions are neglect, and the kids may not be taken away from the family. Instead, they'll receive parenting guidance and counseling.
"We'd work with the family to identify where that frame of mind is coming from and look at ways to promote better habits in the future," Prudence Williams, program director of the Exchange Club Family Center, said.
Officials are asking residents who may suspect any child abuse or witness anything suspicious to contact the abuse hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.
The Office of Child Abuse Prevention
by Daniel Heimpel
Fostering Media Connections releases its third Los Angeles County Child Protection Checkup, as all eyes turn to the new Office of Child Protection's efforts to stop child abuse before it ever happens.
Last week, the University of Southern California School of Social Work held a panel discussion exploring how research can be used to improve public systems that serve children.
Among the guests was Fesia Davenport, Los Angeles County's newly minted “Director of Child Protection.” Davenport, whose Office of Child Protection is central to the County's ambitions to overhaul the way it contends with child abuse, said that a more apt title for the six-person unit would be “the office of child abuse prevention.”
While subtle, the semantics here are critical.
The idea for an office to oversee child protection in the county was first officially floated in a December 2013 interim report submitted by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection (BRC), which disbanded in April of last year.
The two triggers to the BRC's creation were a report leaked to The Los Angeles Times in early 2013 that tore into the county's system of responding to child abuse, and the May 2013 Times story of Gabriel Fernandez, which exposed the very same problems in horrific detail.
“There is widespread agreement among the Board, DCFS leadership, social workers and citizen activists that the child welfare system and the manner of investigating critical cases of child abuse is dysfunctional,” reads the June 2013 board motion establishing the BRC.
While the commission quickly became a catch-all for everything child welfare – from the intersection of education and foster care to issues facing youth as they transition out of the system – its true purpose was to do a better job of identifying which children were at highest risk of abuse, and find ways to better protect those that were.
And it is here — in the realm of child abuse prevention — where there is the most promise for deep, real impact lies.
Today, the organization I founded, Fostering Media Connections, released its third Child Protection Checkup. These Checkups are an attempt to synthesize our reporting with public documents and news stories published by Los Angeles media outlets to describe the pace of child protection reform in the L.A. County.
Since our last Checkup, released in November, the county has made concrete steps forward, including, but not limited to:
Promoting Davenport to the Office of Child Protection
Opting into state funding to equalize foster care payments for non-relative and relative caregivers
Passing a motion to pair public health nurses with Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) social workers on certain child abuse investigations
Approving a county-wide mission statement centered on child protection
“But what may be more profound than these concrete examples of progress is the slow turn of a county, one that has more children than most states, toward putting children first,” we wrote in the current Checkup.
What has emerged over the past two years of child protection reform is the possibility of a countywide orienting principal wherein all the public agencies that touch children are made to realize their roles in child abuse prevention.
The strength of that child abuse prevention orientation will come at the confluence of new data sets that reveal risk factors associated with child maltreatment before it ever happens, and the county's ability to look to agencies and community-based organizations outside the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) when attempting “real” child abuse prevention.
In the pages of The Chronicle of Social Change , we have devoted significant attention to the application of predictive risk modeling tools to preventing child maltreatment. This has been made possible by groundbreaking data linkage projects forged by researchers at USC and the University of California-Berkeley, wherein vast data sets on child abuse reporting made available by the California Department of Social Services has been linked with birth records.
What has emerged is an ever-clearer picture of which children are at highest risk for abuse at their births, begging the question of what resources this county or any public system should throw at preventing child abuse. In the coming days, we will publish stories chronicling efforts to introduce predictive analytics into child abuse prevention in New Zealand and Allegheny County, Pennsvlvania, which could help inform Los Angeles' efforts.
Jacquelyn McCroskey, co-director of USC's Children's Data Network, argued in a February 2015 Huffington Post blog post that support should be provided to foster county “coordination with cities, schools, community-based agencies and grassroots groups that work with potentially susceptible families and children on a daily basis.”
This sentiment, that public services should comingle with community-based efforts, was echoed by Miranda Sheffield, a peer advocate with the Children's Law Center of California. Sheffield, who experienced foster care, and now works to ensure that youth involved in the juvenile dependency system, was featured in a story on predictive analytics that ran in The Chronicle in October of last year.
For her, it is no surprise that recently released county-level data from the Children's Data Network shows the highest reports of abuse and neglect in the county are found in South L.A. and the Antelope Valley.
“The department [DCFS] is doing exactly what it was made to do,” Sheffield told me recently. “It's an engine that is on auto-pilot with continuous detentions in certain communities that are continuously targeted.”
Instead of relying on DCFS to wade into the community, she sees what the county is doing through the Office of Child Protection as a chance to do what she calls “real prevention.” As opposed to pushing new monies to DCFS to “prevent abuse,” something outside its job description, Sheffield said: “It means that there has to be more of allowing these communities to do what they have to do.”
In an interview a few days after the USC Social Work event, I described Sheffield's reasoning to Child Protection Director Davenport. She agreed that child abuse prevention is more the provenance of other public agencies and community-based organizations than DCFS alone.
“I think that unfortunately there will always be need for child protection in a conventional sense,” she said. “You would want to strengthen families and empower communities to empower families to reduce the numbers of children that come through the pipeline.”
Now we watch and see if such a goal can be accomplished outside of the confines of DCFS alone.
Daniel Heimpel is the founder of Fostering Media Connections and the publisher of The Chronicle of Social Change.
Indiana woman jailed for “feticide.” It's never happened before.
by Sarah Kaplan
When Purvi Patel showed up in the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center's maternity ward, bleeding and showing a protruding umbilical cord, Dr. Kelly McGuire immediately knew something was wrong.
“There should have been a baby at the end of the umbilical cord,” he testified in an Indiana court room.
McGuire, who is obligated to report cases of suspected child abuse, called the police, he told PRI. Informed that officials were heading to her home, Patel told her doctors that she'd had a miscarriage and had left her stillborn fetus in a dumpster behind a shopping center. Still in his hospital scrubs, McGuire followed police cars to the scene and examined the fetus, which he pronounced dead on arrival. Patel was charged with child neglect, and later with killing her fetus, and on Monday she was sentenced to 20 consecutive years in prison.
The verdict makes Patel the first woman in the U.S. to be charged, convicted and sentenced for “feticide” for ending her own pregnancy, according to the group National Advocates for Pregnant Women (“NAPW”). Though Patel said she had had a miscarriage, she was found guilty of taking illegal abortion drugs. The Indiana statute under which Patel was convicted bans “knowingly or intentionally terminat[ing] a human pregnancy” with any intention other than producing a live birth, removing a dead fetus or performing a legal abortion.
Monday's sentencing brought an end to Patel's trial, but it may be only the beginning of the public debate about the details of her case. Patel's conviction has many pro-choice activists alarmed that feticide laws, initially passed as a means of protecting pregnant women from providers of dangerous illegal abortions and other sources of harm, are now being used against them.
“Prosecutors in Indiana are using this very sad situation to establish that intentional abortions as well as unintentional pregnancy losses should be punished as crimes,” Lynn Paltrow, executive director for NAPW, told the Guardian in August of 2014. “… No woman should be arrested for the outcome of her pregnancy.”
According to local CNN affiliate WSBT, Patel, a 33-year-old from a family of Indian immigrants in South Bend, Ind., told a police detective she had been aware of her pregnancy for three weeks when she left work early because of cramping back in July 2013. Eventually the pain sent her into the bathroom, where “it all came out,” she said. Among the blood, she found her fetus, which looked lifeless. She tried to open the baby's mouth and resuscitate it, but was unsuccessful.
When asked why she didn't call 911, Patel said she was in shock at the amount of blood she was losing. Because she “didn't know what else to do,” she put the body in a plastic bag and took it to a dumpster, then showed up at the emergency room of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.
Later in her interview with the detective, Patel said she didn't want her parents, who are strict Hindus, finding out.
“About the encounter with [the father] or about tonight?” the detective asked.
“All of it,” she replied.
Though Patel said her baby died in a miscarriage, prosecutors argued that she had attempted to induce her own abortion, basing their argument on text messages found on Patel's phone in which she told a friend she was taking abortion drugs online. But a toxicologist was unable to find evidence of drugs in Patel's or her baby's body.
Meanwhile, prosecutors pursued a second charge of child neglect, arguing that Patel's baby had been born alive. McGuire, the doctor who examined the fetus when it was first found by police, said that the baby was about 30 weeks old and could probably have survived after birth. A pathologist for the prosecution also testified that the baby's lungs passed a “floating test” — the science of which has been contested — indicating that the baby had drawn breath.
Patel's defense attorney, along with plenty of commenters in the media, argued that the prosecution couldn't simultaneously accuse Patel of killing her unborn child and of abandoning a living one.
“It really should have to be one or the other. … That the jury convicted Patel of two crimes when only one was possible suggests that this was an attempt to punish Patel for failing to meet a social ideal of pregnancy more than any actual crime,” Amanda Marcotte wrote in Slate after Patel's conviction.
But Indiana prosecutor Ken Cotter said that a person can be found guilty of feticide even if the fetus survives, and Judge Elizabeth Hurley ultimately rejected the defense's argument. A jury found Patel guilty on both counts in early February, though Patel's attorney plans to appeal the verdict.
At the sentencing Monday, Hurley said that Patel was in a position to legally end her pregnancy, but opted for an illegal method, and later “ensured that baby's death by placing him in the trash can with the other bathroom trash.”
The decision has activists like Sara Ainsworth, director of legal advocacy at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, worried that women will be less likely to seek out doctors in cases of abortions or miscarriages.
“Indiana should not join these countries where young pregnant girls are committing suicide at alarming rates; pregnant women are avoiding medical care for fear that any problem in pregnancy will be reported to law enforcement; and mothers are not only going to jail for having abortions, but also for suffering miscarriages and stillbirths,” she said in a statement after Patel was charged.
David Orentlicher, a medical ethics specialist and former Indiana state representative, echoed that fear.
“Any time a pregnant woman does something that can harm a fetus, now she has to worry, ‘Am I going to be charged with attempted feticide?'” he told PRI. “If you discourage pregnant women from getting prenatal care, you're not helping fetuses, you're harming fetuses.”
Local rape center closed over funding problems
by Tavia D. Green
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The Sexual Assault Center provided counseling and support services to Clarksville's sexual assault survivors – both adults and children – for almost 20 years.
But in September 2010, the thriving Sexual Assault Center, formerly known as the Rape and Sexual Abuse Center, closed its doors due to lack of consistent funding.
Their exit took away Clarksville's primary resources for sexual assault victims.
“We were consistently serving 100 clients a year,” said Tim Tohill, president of SAC for 21 years. “But even that high number wasn't meeting the need. That was the capacity we were able to do.”
Now that rape victims have to make the trek to the SAC in Nashville, the number of victims seeking services has plummeted.
Only nine clients from Montgomery County have received services at the Nashville SAC since July 2014, according to statistics from the SAC.
That's a drop from about 11 victims helped per month to only 1 per month.
Although the number of victims seeking services is much smaller, the number of sex assault victims is not.
In 2014, 41 sexual assaults were reported to the Clarksville Police Department and Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.
Police Chief Al Ansley said CPD does not have a designated advocate for rape and sex assault victims, although they do house a domestic violence unit. MCSO also has a Domestic Violence Unit, but not a designated person to assist sexual assault victims.
Fort Campbell does have a sexual assault coordinator through its Criminal Investigation Division.
Most sex assault victims in Clarksville are referred to the SAC in Nashville for services, or they might arrange their own counseling through a local therapist.
Services offered at SAC include counseling using an individualized treatment plan for each client, according to Jessica Labenberg, advocacy coordinator for the SAC in Nashville.
The SAC offers Spanish-speaking counselors; a 24-hour crisis and support line for victims, survivors and their supporters; and advocacy coordinators who can assist with victim compensation, help victims navigate the criminal justice system, obtain community resources such as medical care, emergency shelter, transitional housing and legal assistance and support them through their entire healing process.
“We stayed busy. There is a huge need for the services we provide,” Tohill said. “To my knowledge there's no one that provides those specialized services in the city of Clarksville.”
Loss of funding
In 1991, the state of Tennessee provided government funding for the SAC to open an operation in Clarksville.
“At one point we had three therapists with a support staff person. ... We have a policy that we will not refuse treatment to anyone for lack of ability to pay. This is all we do, work with sexual assault survivors. Our staff are specifically trained to know what to do and know how to help,” Tohill said.
But starting around 2008 as the economy began to falter, their sources of funding began to dry up.
“Over the years, the state cut back on the funding and eliminated any specific funding for the Clarksville operation,” Tohill said.
The local United Way stepped in to compensate for the loss, and that kept the center afloat for a time.
“The significant thing that happened that made us close, was over the years as the state cut back, we started charging fees for our services. We were able to collect insurance. The state was saying rather than provide funding, we should collect TennCare,” Tohill said.
“Our goal was to hire a therapist, get them licensed, and once they became licensed, they could collect TennCare and generate funding.”
But that goal was thwarted when TennCare changed its policy.
“It takes two years for a therapist to get licensed after they get out of school,” Tohill said. “The therapist we hired we were working with them to get them licensed so they would be eligible to collect TennCare. That's when the rules changed and it would be an additional three years. We were trying to look at what could we do to sustain ourselves in Clarksville. ... We struggled in Clarksville because we weren't able to find the licensed therapist to collect the TennCare dollars.”
The SAC relocated and tried sharing rent and office space with the Child Advocacy Center. They tried holding fundraisers in Nashville, an option they soon abandoned.
“The fundraising took place in Nashville because that's where our board and staff were,” Tohill said. “We finally had to realize it wasn't fair to ask people in Nashville to offer funding when were were operating in Clarksville,” he said.
The inevitable became clear.
“We weren't going to be able to make it in Clarksville,” Tohill said.
Tohill said they would love to provide services in Clarksville again, and it could be possible with strong support from the community and local leaders.
“We need a consistent source of funding. If someone said we have $100,000, it doesn't take long before you spend that,” he said.
“How do we continue to make it work? It has to be a consistent funding base to make that happen. Depending on what that is, we could have one therapist or two or three, and would need a place to operate with reduced rent or donated space. It all gets down to that consistent funding. We don't want to go in and do it for a year and have to pull back.”
Clarksville has few, if any, resources for adult victims of sexual violence, with most services being offered at a state level.
Luckily, there are counseling services for children of sexual abuse. In November 2013, Centerstone announced a trauma treatment therapist would be moved into the Child Advocacy Center.
Yet adult victims are left searching for their own therapist and often using their own money and insurance.
Dorlisha White reported being raped in the summer 2014, and the working mother of two found herself suffering from depression and post traumatic stress syndrome, unable to function at work, care for her children or face her family and friends.
When she sought services in Clarksville, she was left even more defeated.
“I didn't find any. I gave up, literally,” White said. “I had lost everything: my house, I kept getting calls about my car being repossessed. I realized I couldn't fix it by lying in bed, and I wanted help.”
Many of the hotlines and services she inquired about were state agencies located in Nashville. With her financial and emotional situation, it was all but impossible to get to those resources.
She called her insurance company and began paying for her own counseling sessions despite being in dire straights. Even today, she continues to pay out of pocket for her counseling and medication.
Labenberg said survivors of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from PTSD, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, four times more likely to contemplate suicide and may suffer from feelings of guilt, shame, confusion fear, low self-esteem and anger.
Survivors may also experience difficulty in forming close relationships, trust/intimacy issues, and body image issues including eating disorders.
“The best prognosis for healing from a sexual assault is for the survivor to be believed and supported by those to whom he/she discloses,” Labenberg said. “The most important thing anyone can say to a survivor is, ‘I believe you, I support you, and I know this was not your fault.'”
With a growing population and a growing need, it's clear a rape center in Clarksville would be a welcomed program.
“I know the people in Clarksville deserve to have this specialized service for survivors of sexual assault. The community needs to be willing to come together and provide the resources to make that happen,” Tohill said.
“We would love to be providing services in Clarksville. The community is large enough to support something like that.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Following are incidents reported and cleared by arrest.
•Clarksville: 4 rapes since January. All under investigation.
•Montgomery County: 4 sexual assaults, cleared: data not complete.
•Clarksville: 37 rapes, 11 cleared.
•Montgomery County: 9 rapes, 3 cleared.
•Clarksville: 43 rapes, 19 cleared.
•Montgomery County: 9 rapes, 1 cleared.
•Clarksville: 44 rapes, 22 cleared.
•Montgomery County: 8 rapes, 0 cleared.
•Clarksville: 60 rapes, 25 cleared.
•Montgomery County: 11 rapes, 3 cleared.
•Clarksville: 55 rapes, 19 cleared.
– Data provided by Jamie Dexter, MCSO, Misty Mackens, CPD, Tennessee Bureau of Investigations
Sexual Assault Center of Nashville, 101 French Landing Drive, Nashville, TN 37228 615-259-9055
Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, 2 International Plaza Drive, Suite 425, Nashville, TN 37217, 615-386-9406 and 800-289-9018
24 Hour Crisis and Support line: 1-800-879-1999
Colorado rolls out new statewide child abuse hotline
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- April 1st marks the start of child abuse awareness month. As part of Governor Hickenlooper's Colorado Safe Children initiative, Colorado is rolling out a campaign to raise awareness for its new toll-free child abuse hotline.
The new hotline is statewide, allowing anyone in the state to report child abuse, which will especially help out smaller counties.
"There are a lot of smaller counties throughout Colorado that don't have staff on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week,” said Mesa County Department of Human Services Coordinator Angeline Roles.
The easy to remember statewide number will make reporting child abuse more straight forward. Calls to the generic hotline number will be re-routed to the correct county.
"Before there were 63 different phone numbers to call depending on where someone lives,” said CASA's Janet Rowland. “So the simplicity will be helpful.”
Mesa County currently has its own child abuse hotline and operators work around to clock to answer calls of reported child abuse.
"Right now we take in about 50-80 calls in a 24 hour period,” said Roles.
She says this statewide hotline isn't a replacement for Mesa County's, but rather an additional layer. It enables call centers to capture critical information like number and duration of calls and operators will also be able to take a greater number of those calls.
"Nobody is going to be sitting in hold or having to leave a phone message and have someone return their call,” said Roles.
Roles says right now, most people don't report child abuse because they're not sure if it qualifies as abuse.
"It's better to make the call and let a professional make that final decision.”
She expects the number of child abuse reports to increase with the new hotline.
"Anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of our calls will increase as that new number rolls out and people start becoming used to it,” said Roles.
Rowland says we need it now more than ever.
"What we have seen lately is an increase in the severity of child abuse and the ages of the children are younger and younger.”
The new statewide hotline number is 1-844-CO-4-KIDS and the local number is (970)242-1211.
PSA Sheds Light On Child Abuse In America
TV and Film Stars Lend Their Voice During National Child Abuse Prevention Month to Raise Awareness for the Childhelp #FiveTooMany Campaign
PHOENIX, March 31, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Childhelp, the nation's oldest and largest nonprofit advocating for abused and neglected children, has partnered with soap opera stars, "E! News" correspondents and film actors to raise awareness of the staggering statistics surrounding child abuse in the U.S. The PSA was filmed in Los Angeles during a celebrity bowling tournament, hosted by Childhelp Celebrity Ambassador and "Day of Our Lives" actress, Jen Lilley. The #FiveTooMany PSA brings to light the fact that nearly five children in the U.S. die each day from child abuse or neglect and that is #FiveTooMany.
Link to Download PSA: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2lei9j6koqdxkd4/AAAFut7OX_NtMPcLxdHhW2lEa?dl=0
The PSA, featuring stars of TV and film, will air in April during National Child Abuse Prevention Month and for the Childhelp National Day of Hope on April 1.
"Childhelp has built a 56-year legacy of dedication to the prevention, intervention and treatment of child abuse and neglect," said Sara O'Meara, co-founder, CEO and chairman of the board for Arizona-based Childhelp. "The commitment of our supporters and celebrity ambassadors who have lent their names to this public service announcement proves that the world is filled with caring people who want to help end child abuse in the U.S."
In 2000, Congress passed a resolution designating the first Wednesday of each April as the Childhelp National Day of Hope. This day is held for honoring and remembering the children who have lost their lives due to abuse and neglect and provide hope and healing to those still suffering in silence. It is the central gathering during National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, a time of remembrance enacted by Congress and signed by President Carter.
Actors featured in the PSA include:
Ian Buchanan, Actor, "General Hospital"
Billy Flynn, Actor, "Days of Our Lives"
Ginger Gonzaga, Actress, "Ted"
Finola Hughes, Actress, "General Hospital"
Stevie Lynn Jones, Actress
Jen Lilley, Actress, "Days of Our Lives"
Eric Roberts, Film Actor
Chrishell Stause, Actress, "Days of Our Lives"
Scott Swartz, Actor
Gregory and Lawrence Zarian, Actors and "E! News" Correspondents
"I want to do everything I can to help end child abuse in the U.S.," said Jen Lilley, actress and Childhelp Celebrity Ambassador. "Lending my name to this cause and asking my friends to do the same is the least we can do to combat the fact that five children die each day in America because of abuse and neglect. We want to change that number and we hope the #FiveTooMany PSA will provide essential information so victims can get help."
A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds and nearly 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made annually. Childhelp's programs work to solve these issues daily. For more information visit www.childhelp.org/end-five-many/.
Since 1959, Childhelp® has brought the light of hope and healing into the lives of countless children as a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping at-risk children. Childhelp's programs and services include residential treatment services, children's advocacy centers, therapeutic foster care, group homes and child abuse prevention, education and training. Childhelp created the Childhelp National Day of Hope®, held each April during National Child Abuse Prevention Month that mobilizes Americans to join the fight against child abuse. For more information, log on to www.childhelp.org, facebook.com/childhelp or twitter.com/childhelp.
Grosso bill eliminates statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases
D.C. City Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) has introduced the Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act of 2015 that would eliminate the statute of limitations for the recovery of damages arising out of sexual abuse that occurred when a victim was a minor.
The bill creates a two-year window for individuals whose claims were previously time-barred.
“There are few actions more depraved than sexual violence or abuse against children,” said Grosso. “Because most victims of childhood sexual abuse do not come forward until much later in their adult lives, we need to ensure that the statute of limitations is not a barrier to justice. A person who victimizes a child should never be able to hide behind time.”
Currently, there are seven states that no longer have a civil statute of limitations for claims of childhood sexual abuse. Earlier this month, the Utah state legislature passed similar legislation, removing the statute of limitations for civil actions against perpetrators of child sex abuse.
7 Ways for Parents to Help Stop Sexual Abuse
by Sarah MacLaughlim
I shared a savvy piece on my Facebook page last week from Lauren's Kids about how smart parents miss sexual abuse. It got more shares than anything else I posted last week. Or the week before. Or the week before that. Since it struck a nerve, here are some additional tips and resources on this tough topic:
1. Be mindful of the messages you are sending. Do not prep children with these types of directives when you drop them off for a playdate: "Be good," " Do what you're told," or "Listen to the grown-ups." Praising compliance is a slippery slope. "Well-behaved," obedient, passive, quiet children are often targets for grooming, boundary-pushing, and abuse.
2. Stop using punishment as your go-to parenting approach. Punishment creates an "us vs. them" dichotomy that can erode your relationship with your child over time, leaving them not as inclined to come to you when there is a problem or difficulty. Children need to know that you are on their side, no matter what.
3. Pay attention to parenting style. Authority and parenting style are most effective when moderate. All the research shows that an authoritative, "firm and kind" approach, that is emotionally attuned and validates feelings, is healthiest. Punishment's main motivator is fear, and fear of you is not preferred when you have a child faced with a problem as big as inappropriate sexual behavior from an adult in their life -- most likely one you know and trust. The US Department of Health and Human Services' 2010 report on Child Maltreatment noted that only 2.8% of abused children are abused by someone they do not know.
4. Set firm boundaries -- yours and theirs. Pay attention to when you need to say "no," and make space for children to say it, too. Encourage body autonomy by not requiring them to hug or kiss anyone they do not wish to hug and kiss (yes, even grandparents!). In the same vein, I recommend not forcing the issue on eating new foods. Even the "one bite rule" encourages kids to not listen to their own bodies. (Yes, I know they will tell you they are hungry only for cookies. I'm not talking about THAT kind of nonsense.)
5. Teach the proper names for body parts. All the body parts! Get support and practice beforehand if needed. The best approach is not "The Talk," once, and in adolescence. Early and frequent discussion about bodies and their functions, in a developmentally appropriate way, is what's required.
6. Encourage children to be self-referencing. Ask them often, "How do you feel?" and "What do you think?" Help them identify when they feel nervous and get a "funny feeling" in their tummy. If your little ones believe that you find them important and deserving of patience, they will be much more likely to come to you if they are ever in a situation in which they feel uncomfortable.
7. Grow your own emotional resilience and competence. When we indicate to our kids that certain things are unspeakable, or that we can't manage strong feelings, or that we would, "never get over it" if X happened, we send a scary message. We convey emotional frailty, and our kids will hide information to protect us from that which they believe we cannot handle. Having emotional resilience and competence does not mean repressing our feelings. It means owning and feeling them, boldly and bravely. This will show our kids that we will rise to the occasion and help them with any problem they may face -- even the ones in our worst fears.
Why puppetry is so much more than entertainment
In play therapist Cheryl Hulburd's Fernie, British Columbia, office, the 4-year-old picked up the witch and dog hand puppets to re-enact the fights between his mother — a witch hand puppet — and his father — a dog hand puppet.
“You're not going to get away with this,” the witch said.
“I just want what's best for our son,” the dog replied.
The puppets couldn't undo the emotional damage from family fights and a long custody battle, but they could help this child make sense of life at the center of a messy divorce. To child therapists like Hulburd, that's their power.
“Kids heal in a play room,” Hulburd said. “You feel safe around a puppet. You can't communicate when you feel threatened. In order to feel safe, we have fun.”
It's been 60 years since Jim Henson made his first Kermit the Frog puppet and added a new chapter to a centuries-old art form, helping generations of kids learn everything from their ABCs to emotional intelligence.
Puppets aren't just for entertainment anymore. They're important tools in child development and bringing kids back from the void of emotional trauma, Hulburd says.
Working fist as a social worker and then as a children's play therapist with the Canadian Association of Child and Play Therapy, Hulburd has used puppets to help children with all kinds of trauma. But she says despite how much her work helps children, most people don't know about it.
“Play therapy is so crucial for kids, but most people don't even know it exists,” Hulburd said. “But there's nothing like it — it works. It's magic.”
Trauma is difficult to treat in any patient, but treating a child trauma victim presents unique challenges, said Massachusetts General Hospital child psychiatrist Steven Schlozman.
“My job would be very difficult if I didn't have toys, especially puppets,” Schlozman said.
An adult's brain and a child's brain deal with traumatic events like abuse or a sudden death in similar ways, Schlozman says — whether young or old, a brain that's experienced a traumatizing event will continue to be troubled by it because the brain doesn't know how to categorize or “file” the information.
“(When trauma happens) everything shuts down and the reptilian brain kicks in — the part that's in survival mode and dictates fight or flight,” Hulburd said.
But children younger than 7 or 8 have an even harder time than adults verbalizing their feelings — something that has to happen for trauma to be treated.
“A traumatic narrative is like garbled stories. If you're having surges of fight or flight feelings as a memory is being laid down, it makes it that much harder to tell the story again,” Schlozman said. “But kids already lack sequencing — they don't have the ability to tell a cohesive story until about age 8.”
That's where non-threatening helpers like puppets and other tools like therapy dogs come in — they help the kids relax while working their volatile emotions out in a way that makes sense to them, whether they can put it in words or not.
“Trauma is almost mathematical — it transcends language, and not in a good way,” Schlozman said. “The puppet can get it into words. It moves us into this place where you talk about something that stands in for the thing or event rather than dealing with the thing itself.”
The imitation game
One of the reasons puppets make such effective therapy tools is that they bring kids closer to reality even as they create distance from it. Puppetry creates a kind of double-sided imitation game, Hulburd says — while the kids imitate reality with the puppet, the puppets can imitate behaviors the therapist hopes the kids will adopt.
Hulburd has put this practice to use through her own puppet, Herman the Turtle. Herman has adapted to the needs of countless child patients, Hulburd says, which helps the kids feel that they can identify with him and later, open up. Hulburd says she raised her daughter with the help of a bear puppet named Bear-nice, who would sit at the dinner table and convince Hulburd's daughter to eat her vegetables.
“He's shy like some of the kids are at first. He can work through his fear of talking with their help, he can be slow like the kids with ADHD need to learn to be,” Hulburd said. “He's perfect for therapeutic settings.”
The absorbing nature of puppetry separates it from other forms of play, making it perfect for therapy, says veteran puppeteer and Iowa-based Eulenspeigel Puppet Theatre director Monica Leo. Because puppet play and puppet shows engage so much of the mind and senses, it helps get things out the child may not even know were there.
“Puppetry is the original multimedia. It involves so much of the senses that it takes you outside of yourself and allows you to fade into the background,” Leo said. “It's compelling because you can not only create your imaginary world, you can invite others into it."
The act of externalizing strong feelings or bad experiences is the crux of treating trauma, Hulburd said, which is perhaps why puppets are most important for children healing from emotional or physical trauma: Puppets can stand in for kids who haven't yet learned how to stand up for themselves.
“Puppets are very powerful and they're brave when kids need them to be,” Hulburd said. “And if one puppet isn't brave, the kid needs a braver puppet.”
Making time for kids? Study says quality trumps quantity
by Brigid Schulte
Do parents, especially mothers, spend enough time with their children?
Though American parents are with their children more than most any parents in the world, many feel guilty because they don't believe it's enough. That's because there's a widespread cultural assumption that the time parents, particularly mothers, spend with children is key to ensuring a bright future.
Now groundbreaking new research upends that conventional wisdom and finds that that isn't the case. At all.
In fact, it appears the sheer amount of time parents spend with their kids between the ages of 3 and 11 has virtually no relationship to how children turn out, and a minimal effect on adolescents, according to the first large-scale longitudinal study of parent time to be published in April in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The finding includes children's academic achievement, behavior and emotional well-being.
"I could literally show you 20 charts, and 19 of them would show no relationship between the amount of parents' time and children's outcomes. . . . Nada. Zippo," said Melissa Milkie, a sociologist at the University of Toronto and one of the report's authors.
In fact, the study found one key instance when parent time can be particularly harmful to children. That's when parents, mothers in particular, are stressed, sleep-deprived, guilty and anxious.
"Mothers' stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly," said co-author Kei Nomaguchi, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University.
That's not to say that parent time isn't important. Plenty of studies have shown links between quality parent time - such as reading to a child, sharing meals, talking with them or otherwise engaging with them one-on-one - and positive outcomes for kids. The same is true for parents' warmth and sensitivity toward their children. It's just that the quantity of time doesn't appear to matter.
"In an ideal world, this study would alleviate parents' guilt about the amount of time they spend," Milkie said, "and show instead what's really important for kids."
But if Milkie's study makes clear that quality, not quantity, counts, then how much quality time is enough? Milkie's study doesn't say.
"I'm not aware of any rich and telling literature on whether there's a 'sweet spot' of the right amount of time to spend with kids," said Matthew Biel, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Research does show that in highly stressed urban environments, having involved parents and even strict parents is associated with less delinquent behavior, Biel said.
In truth, Milkie's study and others have found that, more than any quantity or quality time, income and a mother's educational level are most strongly associated with a child's future success.
"If we're really wanting to think about the bigger picture and ask, how would we support kids, our study suggests through social resources that help the parents in terms of supporting their mental health and socio-economic status," she said. "The sheer amount of time that we've been so focused on them doesn't do much."
Amy Hsin, a sociologist at Queens College, has found that parents who spend the bulk of their time with children under 6 watching TV or doing nothing can actually have a "detrimental" effect on them. And the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that children also need unstructured time to themselves without the engagement of parents for social and cognitive development.
Still, the amount of time mothers and fathers spend with their children has been climbing since the 1970s. Fathers' time has nearly tripled from 2.6 hours a week spent with kids in 1965 to 7.2 in 2010. Mothers' time with children rose from 10.5 hours a week in 1965 to 13.7 in 2010. In roughly the same period, the share of working mothers with children under 18 rose from 41 percent in 1965 to 71 percent in 2014.
In fact, working mothers today, an earlier groundbreaking study of Milkie's found, are spending as much time with their children as at-home mothers did in the early 1970s. It was that surprising finding that led Milkie to wonder - does all that time make a difference for kids?
In her current work, though she looked at father time and parent time together, Milkie focused specifically on mothers. She wanted to test the widespread belief that there's "something special" about mothers' time with children. Milkie predicted mother and parent time with kids would matter. She was shocked when she found it didn't. "I was really surprised," she said. "And we don't find mothers' work hours matter much at all."
The one key instance Milkie and her co-authors found where the quantity of time parents spend does indeed matter is during adolescence: The more time a teen spends engaged with their mother, the fewer instances of delinquent behavior. And the more time teens spend with both their parents together in family time, such as during meals, the less likely they are to abuse drugs and alcohol and engage in other risky or illegal behavior. They also achieve higher math scores.
The study found positive associations for teens who spent an average of six hours a week engaged in family time with the parents. "So these are not huge amounts of time," Milkie said.
The researchers analyzed the time diaries of a nationally representative sample of children over time, looking at parent time and outcomes when the children were between the ages of 3 and 11 in 1997, and again in 2002, when the children were between the ages of 12 and 17. Researchers looked at both "engaged" time, when parents were interacting with their children, and "accessible" time, when parents were present, but not actively involved with children. They focused on sheer quantity, not quality, of time. They did not look at time with children from birth to the age of 3.
Nomaguchi said mothers' guilt-ridden efforts to spend as much time as possible with their children may be having the opposite effect of what they intend.
"We found consistently that mothers' distress is related to poor outcomes for their children," including behavioral and emotional problems and "even lower math scores," Nomaguchi said.
Much of that stress, the researchers contend, is driven by what they call "intensive mothering" beliefs that have ratcheted up the standards for what it takes to be considered a good mother in recent decades. The idea that mothers' time with children is "irreplaceable" and "sacred," they contend, has led to mothers cutting back on sleep and time to themselves in order to lavish more time and attention on their kids.
"There are a lot of cultural pressures for intensive parenting - the competition for jobs, what we think makes for a successful child, teenager and young adult, and what we think in a competitive society with few social supports is going to help them succeed," Milkie said.
Low-income mothers, who have traditionally not been associated with time-intensive, middle-class "helicopter parenting," Milkie said, not only have more financial and day-to-day stress, but may also feel stressed that they don't have the resources to keep up with intensive parenting expectations. "They're getting the same message, that spending time with kids is important," she said.
Nicole Coomber, a management professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and mother of two boys, said she feels that pressure to intensively parent more than her husband does. "No one ever asks him how he's managing to balance it all," she said. And sometimes she puts higher expectations on herself. "I don't know why it is that I'm trying to be the perfect mother, but I definitely am. That voice in my head is not very gentle."
Her husband, Bob, wants to spend more time with their children than his father, a traditional breadwinner, spent with him, and mornings are chaotic as he gets the kids out the door and to child care. But he doesn't feel the intense pressure to spend more time with the children and meet high parenting expectations like his wife does.
"It's like I have the role model of my dad, and I'm kind of following in that model," he said. "But she thinks she has to be my mom, who stayed at home with us for most of our formative years before going back to work, and be a successful professional. And it's impossible to do both."
Jennifer Senior, who chronicled intensive parenting in "All Joy and No Fun," attributed the guilty feeling that parents - mothers especially - can't spend enough time with their children to a nostalgia for the past and a continuing ambivalence about working mothers. The General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans' attitudes and opinions since 1972, for instance, still asks whether children would be better off with mothers at home, and whether working mothers can form strong bonds with their children. The results are mixed. The survey does not ask the same questions about fathers.
"Perhaps if you were part of a culture that actually felt less ambivalent about mothers working, and had a system of child care in place where it was okay for mothers to work, I think you would automatically feel less guilt and pressure to spend more time with kids," she said.
The study's findings shook some parents, many of whom had built their lives around the idea that the more time with children, the better. They quit or cut back on work, downsized their houses or struggled to cram it all in.
Mari Kosin, of Seattle, quit her full-time job in 2013 to stay home with her two children, ages 7 and 4, because the strain of managing work, the commute, child care, activities and home demands, and the guilt of being away from her daughters, or being snappish and always feeling rushed with them, got to be too much. The family has burned through its savings and is striving to afford living on a single income. Her reaction to the study: "Oh, I was afraid of that," she said. "I can see from my own experience how time with your parents is more important in adolescence. But, you know, the relationship with your child isn't built all of a sudden when they're teens. It takes time early on."
Building relationships, seizing quality moments of connection, not quantity, Milkie said, is what emerging research is showing to be most important for both parent and child well-being. "The amount of time doesn't matter, but these little pieces of time do," she said. Her advice to parents? "Just don't worry so much about time."
Mother Charged With Second-Degree Murder In Death Of Toddler At Midtown Restaurant
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Police have arrested a woman after her 1-year-old son was found unconscious in the bathroom of a midtown Manhattan restaurant.
Police say 35-year-old Latisha Fisher faces charges of second-degree murder in the death of Gavriel Ortiz-Fisher.
It happened at the 5 Boro Burger on Sixth Avenue near 36th Street at about 2:45 p.m. Monday.
Police say a worker at the restaurant became concerned after noticing that the woman and child were in the bathroom for an unusual amount of time.
The worker entered the bathroom, saw the boy unconscious on the woman's lap, and called 911.
When asked what she was doing, the woman allegedly said, “I put my hand over his mouth to put him to sleep,” WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported Monday.
Chris Coffee was one of the witnesses inside 5 Boro Burger after the boy was removed from the bathroom.
“Hear a little commotion in the corner, get up, see boy sitting there, like, kind of unresponsive looking,” Coffee said. “Staff is talking about how this woman's in the bathroom, and how she won't come out; she's locked herself in.”
Police say the boy was in cardiac arrest and taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sources said the boy's mother later said, “The devil made me do it.”
“Anytime I've seen her around she was happy pushing the baby with the father and everything and I guess you just never know what goes on,” neighbor Carolyn Lawson told CBS2.
It wasn't immediately clear if Fisher had a lawyer.
The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations arrests 200th criminal alien convicted of sex crime under Sex Offender Registration Initiative
One of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) priorities is arresting child predators and bringing them to a court of law where they face justice, or in some cases, sending them back to their home countries.
But first, convicted child sexual predators, some of whom are in the country illegally, must be located. The Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) and Fugitive Operations Teams (FOT) of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) tracks and targets criminal aliens convicted of sexual crimes against children.
ERO's Sex Offender Registration (SOR) initiative, which started two years ago, has so far resulted in the arrest of 200 criminal aliens convicted of sex crimes, with the most recent arrest taking place on March 1. On that day, FOT officers from New York City, acting on a lead from the FOSC, located and arrested a 28 year-old criminal alien convicted of felony sexual abuse and sexual contact with a child under the age of 14. The subject is now in ICE custody and awaiting removal from the United States.
The 200 criminal aliens arrested were convicted of crimes such as sexual assault and battery, rape and indecent exposure. A 39-year-old Iraqi national was convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor via telecommunications; a 31-year-old Salvadoran national was convicted of 3rd degree rape of a victim under the age of 17 and a 22-year-old national of Thailand was convicted of lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under the age of14.
Those arrested were from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Vietnam, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Liberia, Sudan, India, Nicaragua, Canada, Pakistan and Sierra Leone, among other countries.
The success of SOR is due to the collaborative effort between ICE's Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) and FOSC, both located in Williston, Vermont. Here's how it works: LESC gathers sex offender data and identifies criminal information with an immigration nexus. FOSC develops this information into actionable leads for investigative follow-up. Armed with this information, ERO offices across the nation conduct enforcement action.
Each week LESC generates an alien sex offender list, which is sent to the FOSC where review, research, correlation and examination of records take place. Leads are then provided to FOTs and other ERO enforcement personnel who strategically plan and conduct operations to take down targeted criminal aliens.
"Child predators prowl around in search of young victims who are inherently innocent, inexperienced and trusting by nature,” said Francisco Madrigal, ICE Deputy Assistant Director for the Fugitive Operations and Training Division. “SOR has proven to be a successful and collaborative tool that allows us to focus our resources on arresting convicted sex offender aliens. Furthermore, through ICE's immigration enforcement authorities, the agency often removes these threats from the United States."
FOSC was established in 2006 to assist the National Fugitive Operations Program with the targeted enforcement goals of reducing the fugitive backlog and addressing the criminal alien population in the United States. To learn more about ERO's Fugitive Operations, click here.
ICE deports Canadian man wanted for raping disabled child 4 decades ago
LOS ANGELES – A Canadian man accused in his native country of raping a disabled girl four decades ago was turned over to Canadian authorities in Vancouver, British Columbia, late Tuesday culminating a nearly two-year legal effort by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to gain his deportation.
Raymond Douglas Charles Macleod, 72, was repatriated under escort by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers on a commercial flight that departed from Los Angeles International Airport. Macleod is facing trial in Canada for the 1974 rape of a 5-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. A news release issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Wednesday advises Canadian authorities issued a nationwide warrant for Macleod's arrest in 1980, but he was never located.
Macleod's deportation Tuesday comes following 17 months of litigation by ICE to secure a final order of removal. Macleod was arrested in October 2013 by ERO officers and Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies at a San Dimas trailer park where he had been living under an assumed name. ICE placed Macleod in removal proceedings and an immigration judge ordered him deported in March 2014. Macleod subsequently appealed the judge's decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ultimately, both panels concurred with the original ruling, paving the way for this week's removal.
“For the victim in this case, justice has been a long time coming, but she can take consolation in the fact that her alleged assailant is now being held accountable,” said David Jennings, field office director for ERO Los Angeles. “I applaud my officers and the ICE attorneys whose perseverance made this happen. We will not allow our country to serve as a safe haven for those who commit reprehensible crimes.”
Since October 2009, ERO has removed more than 900 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.
ICE reaches out to 8,000 students in Puerto Rico during largest iGuardian event ever held
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Approximately 8,000 students from the public and private schools in Puerto Rico received tips on how to avoid falling victim to online sexual predators Tuesday through Thursday at the Antonio R. Barcelo Coliseum in Toa Baja. The presentation is the second child abuse prevention and education summit organized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Juan, and the largest Project iGuardian outreach since the inception of the initiative in March 2015.
As part of Project iGuardian, HSI special agents in San Juan organized the Internet safety outreach for kids 12 to 16 years old to provide them with the necessary tools to make smart decisions when navigating in the Internet. HSI San Juan made the massive event possible by soliciting support from both the public and private sector. Toa Baja Mayor Anibal Vega Borges and his team took care of all the logistics. The Puerto Rico Department of Education arranged for the transportation of students from schools in the Bayamon Education Region to the Antonio R. Barcelo Coliseum.
Mayor Vega Borges and the first lady of the city, Ivelisse Rivera, as well as Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Rafael Roman attended the event, described it as unique and necessary and expressed their commitment to continue supporting HSI's initiative. All heads of federal agencies represented in Puerto Rico participated of the event and provided their personnel and equipment for the exhibits that followed the Internet safety presentations. According to the participating agencies, cyber safety education not only aids in prevention, it also frequently generates valuable case leads.
HSI will be working closely with its partner law enforcement agencies in Puerto Rico to coordinate and conduct Project iGuardian presentations. The initiative builds on the outreach already being conducted by the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force in which local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to effectively pool their resources to jointly investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Through the task force, law enforcement officers are encouraged to share evidence, ideas, and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. As such, PRCACTF allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.
At the end of the event, Mayor Vega Borges passed the baton to the mayor of Ponce, Maria E. Melendez Altiari, who will host of the next massive event in March 2016.
In 2014, HSI San Juan held the first iGuardian summit in the municipality of Trujillo Alto and reached out to more than 5,000 students.
HSI is committed to combatting the sexual exploitation of children; as such, investigations of child sexual exploitation are among HSI's primary investigative priorities. The sexual abuse of children impacts the most vulnerable segment of our society.
HSI recognizes the importance of education and community awareness regarding the dangers of online activity. Project iGuardian aims to counter a disturbing fact: many online child predators are able to find victims online because children are not aware of how dangerous online environments can be.
HSI believes that providing children, teens, parents and teachers with information regarding the dangers of online environments and how to stay safe online can help prevent many instances of this crime. That is why HSI has partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's NetSmartz and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces to develop Project iGuardian.
HSI San Juan special agents reached out to more than 25,000 students in 2014 through 96 individual outreach presentations island-wide.
Land of lost children: Inside Britain's 18 abuse inquiries
Mountain of evidence suggests British police, parents and government ignored decades of child sexual abuse involving thousands of victims.
by Tanya Talaga
Jon Bird was 4 years old, playing in a park with other kids, when a man approached and offered him a shining coin to follow him into the woods.
“It was half a crown. More money than I had ever seen,” recalls Bird, now 56.
Once out of sight from the others, the man raped Bird.
Bird remembers being confused and crying as he ran to tell his mother, who promptly put him in the bathtub. She said if anyone ever tried touching him again, he should scream and run. She also said he should forget about the attack and never talk about it.
The police were never called. Bird never saw a doctor or a therapist. The rape was swept under the rug.
“I came from a well-to-do middle-class family. My mom was 45 when she had me and I was the third child,” he says, adding that his mother came from a posh background and was a “hands-off” parent.
“She didn't want to deal with it.”
A lot of England didn't want to deal with child sex abuse.
Bird's tale is now being echoed across the United Kingdom by the thousands. The stories suggest systemic sexual abuse of children and generations of police, parents and government officials who did nothing — or, worse, who covered up the crimes.
After decades of silence, victims are raising their voices together to say “Enough is enough,” and demand their cases get heard, their assaults get investigated and someone be brought to justice.
There are an astounding 18 child sexual abuse inquiries and investigations currently underway in the United Kingdom — everything from a sweeping, national probe into allegations of mass cover-ups to murder probes and investigations into the police themselves.
The latest, launched by the British government last July and led by New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard, is examining long-standing accusations that the most powerful public officials consistently ignored child sex abuse claims due to the prominence of the perpetrators.
In the relentless series of scandals — from serial attacks by TV personality Jimmy Savile to systemic sexual abuse of boys in Manchester by former MP Cyril Smith to allegations of years of depravity at Westminster covered up by members of Margaret Thatcher's government — one has to wonder: who knew what and when and why didn't they speak up?
The scale is staggering. Savile alone is linked to approximately 450 assault complaints, according to police probe Operation Yewtree. It has been reported that at least 144 complaints against Smith were dismissed by authorities over four decades. Manchester police say they are still looking into 23 complaints against Smith, ranging from rape to assault. (Both men are now dead.)
The Telegraph reports that 10 current and former politicians are being investigated for abusing children.
It's not just the powerful facing complaints. In the south Yorkshire town of Rotherham, police are investigating allegations that nearly 1,400 young girls — many not even teenagers — were abused by South Asian taxi drivers.
There are now so many sex abuse inquiries and investigations that the BBC has published a guide. The Savile scandal alone has four inquiries and another 14 separate abuse probes, all started (and some finished) in the last three years.
“We need to shout out about this. We need to tell the truth,” says Bird, now the operations manager for England's National Association for People Abused in Childhood.
“We need people to tell their stories. The more that happens, the more children are protected. It was the secrecy and the silence that allowed Savile and Smith to get away with it for so long.”
The association helps adults come to terms with their past. Its counsellors handle about 5,000 calls a year, a number that has risen exponentially since Savile's abuses hit the news in late 2012, a year after he died.
Many have spent their entire lives trying to forget what happened. Many thought no one would believe them, Bird says. Who would listen to a story about children in group homes being pimped out to be raped by pedophile rings by the people who were supposed to be caring for them?
“Before, the abuse was from stepdad or granddad or it was in the home done by someone known or trusted to the family,” says Bird. “Now, this is extreme stuff and the consequences of those who have to live with it are immense — no secure attachments in early childhood, severe mental health problems, eating disorders, self-harming, addiction problems and suicide.
“In a way, it is good those who have had these experiences can talk about it, because in the past they thought no one would believe them.”
From afar, news of the scandals and abuse inquiries must make it seem as though all of Britain is awash with pedophiles, he acknowledges.
“For people like yourselves, it does look like the whole country is riddled. I think it is just a huge backlog coming through all at once. But that backlog was allowed to develop. People like Savile and Smith felt they were above the law.”
The sexual abuse by Savile, a platinum blond, cigar-chomping, former dance hall DJ, spanned 60-plus years, from the mid-1940s to Savile's death in 2011 at age 84.
It seems no one was safe from Savile. The host of the TV music show Top of the Pops reportedly raised nearly £40 million for hospitals and charities during his lifetime. His larger-than-life persona and charity work masked sexual depravity as he moved from hospital to hospital unquestioned. He appears to have preyed on anyone — from extremely young girls and boys to the physically disabled to women in their 70s.
The earliest reported abuse happened in Manchester in 1955, according to the report on Savile titled Giving Victims a Voice, conducted by the Metropolitan Police Service and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
“The Top of the Pops was filmed here in Manchester for seven or eight years, at the BBC, before it moved to London. This is where it began,” says Duncan Craig, founder of Survivors Manchester, a support group. “Some of the things that don't get talked about is that he abused male victims as well as females. He abused boys in Manchester.”
But Savile's abuse went undetected until an ITV documentary in 2012 featured the claims of five women who said they were abused by Savile in the 1970s at Duncroft School in Staines during the filming of BBC shows.
Operation Yewtree followed. Even though Savile is dead, 30 detectives investigated claims against him, his friends and associates. Media reports prompted even more allegations. Six hundred people have contacted authorities with complaints, 450 directly connected to Savile and alleged sexual abuse. Most were girls aged 13 to 16 when they were assaulted.
Craig and fellow abuse counsellor Bird both say the Savile revelations were a watershed. It launched huge media coverage of sexual abuse and exploitation. The tabloid press exploded with lurid headlines almost daily.
“It is creating a landscape where people are being triggered,” Craig says. “They feel they need to get this off their chests. I think the media reporting of sexual abuse is having a profound impact on people's silence.”
Operation Yewtree spawned investigations into celebrity public relations guru Max Clifford, BBC entertainer Rolf Harris, and radio and TV presenter Dave Lee Travis, the BBC says. Last spring, Clifford was sentenced to eight years in jail. Harris was found guilty of 12 sex acts on girls. And a jury acquitted Travis of 12 sex charges, although in September he was convicted of one count of indecent assault.
Last month, former pop star Gary Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was convicted of six sex offences, including having sex with a 12-year-old girl. Gadd, 70, was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
In 2013, broadcaster Stuart Hall pleaded guilty to 14 cases of indecent assault that took place between 1967 and 1985. Hall, whose hit show was called It's a Knockout , was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his assaults on women and girls, the youngest 9.
Westminster and the corridors of power
Perhaps the most notorious rumours and whispers of cover-up target the centre of British power — Westminster, the seat of Parliament.
In February, British Home Secretary Theresa May appointed New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard to take over an independent national inquiry into how government authorities handled sexual abuse claims in England and Wales. An interim report is expected by 2018.
Goddard, 66 and of Maori descent, is the third person to lead the inquiry. The previous appointees — retired British judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf, former Lord Mayor of London — both stepped down due to their ties to the establishment.
Since the 1970s and 1980s, there have been rumours of pedophile rings operating in Westminster, rings that included members of the military and police. Allegations of a cover-up heightened after it was revealed the Home Office inadvertently destroyed or lost 100 files looking into pedophilia rings.
The immensely popular Cyril Smith, a nearly 400-pound politician from the Manchester district of Rochdale, is one of the former MPs being investigated. Smith, who died in 2010, allegedly groomed and sexually abused vulnerable boys living in group homes.
Lord Norman Tebbit, who served under former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, caused a massive stir after he acknowledged there probably was a cover-up of politicians abusing children.
“It was almost unconscious,” Tebbit said on the BBC's Andrew MarrShow , according to The Guardian. “It was the thing that people did.”
There are allegations of orgies with boys and teens in the 1970s and 1980s. Police are even probing the claim that three boys were murdered to hide the abuse.
Bird says old politicians learned to hide their problems and crimes while attending British private schools. “The elites who went to boarding schools — that is where they learned silence,” says Bird, who was sexually abused by a boarding school teacher in addition to being raped as a 4-year-old by a stranger.
Bird notes it is ironic that when Tebbit is questioned now, he can never seem to recall any names being mentioned concerning pedophilia.
“It was sort of played down as having an embarrassing interest in little boys. And that (knowledge) was used to control them by the party whips, ‘If you don't vote like we want — we'll release this to police.' There was a mucky sense of priorities in the 1980s and 1970s,” Bird says.
The Telegraph has reported that 10 current and former politicians are being investigated by police for abusing children.
Apparently, Thatcher was warned not to give Smith a knighthood due to the allegations of pedophilia. She ignored the advice.
Rotherham's 1,400 victims
Against the backdrop of decades of abuse and cover-up is a relatively new horror: Rotherham.
Over a 16-year period, it is believed nearly 1,400 adolescent and teen girls were trafficked and sexually assaulted by a ring of taxi drivers in the South Yorkshire city of 260,000 people.
In 2010, five South Asian men were jailed for their part in seducing, intoxicating and sexually assaulting underage girls.
Then, in 2012, investigative journalist Andrew Norfolk blew the story apart when he revealed in The Times that police in 2010 were aware of thousands of these crimes, committed by South Asian gangs, but were reluctant to investigate fully for fear of appearing racist. Victims, mostly from white families, reported the crimes but the accusations often fell on deaf ears.
Young victims were picked up in taxis, taken to quiet locations and often plied with alcohol and drugs before being raped, in some instances by more than one man. The girls were told to keep silent or they would be harmed.
“It wasn't as though (police) weren't going after (these men) for every other kind of offence . . . but over this sexual pattern there was trepidation,” Norfolk said in an interview with The Guardian HYPERLINK "END " last year.
Rotherham made the news again last month when the entire local municipal council leadership resigned after a damning report by Louise Casey, a prominent British civil servant. She concluded the council was “in denial” about what was happening.
“I want to be clear that the responsibility for the abuse that took place in Rotherham lies firmly with the vile perpetrators, many of whom have not yet faced justice for what they have done. I hope that this will shortly be rectified,” Casey's report says.
“But in its actions the conclusion that I have reluctantly reached is that both today and in the past, Rotherham has at times taken more care of its reputation than it has of its most needy.”
Craig, founder of an abuse survivors support group, has a different view on Rotherham. He believes abuse throughout society is far more widespread than most think.
“I've not seen any evidence to suggest this is happening any more in Rotherham, more than in Toronto or anywhere else in the western world. What happened in Rotherham is following the initial investigation as people started turning stones over and finding truths.
“If people still are saying this is not a problem in their area than for me that is wilful neglect.”
Bishop names late Tory MP Enoch Powell in child sex abuse, satanic worship scandal
Allegations of satanic worship and child abuse involving the late firebrand Tory MP Enoch Powell have been handed to staff investigating the VIP pedophile sex ring alleged to have operated in Westminster in the 1980s.
Powell, who died in 1998, is one of a series of high-profile figures named in a Church of England (CofE) review into historic sex abuse, which was given to Scotland Yard by the Bishop of Durham Paul Butler.
The claims are reported to involve the abuse of children, as well as satanic rituals.
On Sunday evening the CofE confirmed the names of both Enoch Powell and Leo Abse – an eccentric Welsh MP who died in 2008 – had been given to detectives of Operation Fernbridge, the police investigation into the Westminster sex ring.
Butler, who is leading the Church's review into sex abuse, said he was given the names by the former Bishop of Monmouth, Dominic Walker, who became aware of the allegations when he was working as a counselor in the 1980s.
Walker said Abse's name was given to him by three survivors of abuse during counseling sessions. He further gave the investigation the names of two former Tory cabinet ministers, neither of whom had been previously linked to the investigation.
Butler questioned Walker after discovering descriptions of counseling sessions with adult survivors in a book published in 1991.
“A number of survivors independently gave the name of a particular MP being involved,” Walker said. “I don't believe there was any collusion in their stories.”
“The name Enoch Powell was passed to Operation Fernbridge on the instruction of Bishop Paul Butler,” a Church of England spokesperson said.
The claims against the two former politicians come amid mounting allegations of an elite pedophile ring involving establishment figures, which was allegedly covered up by Special Branch police.
The historical sex abuse inquiry, set up by Home Secretary Theresa May in summer 2014, has been plagued with problems and was dissolved after two of the appointed chairs were forced to stand down.
May announced on March 12 the statutory inquiry would begin once more to determine whether state and non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales.
In February, the home secretary appointed Justice Lowell Goddard as the new chair.
The Metropolitan Police will be given access to files held on the MPs in the House of Commons archives in order to help their investigation into abusers.
Powell is famous for his career-ending ‘rivers of blood' speech, warning about the dangers of mass immigration. The rant saw him sacked from the shadow cabinet.
Daytona Beach social workers get specialized child abuse training
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Some 50 social workers in the Daytona Beach area will receive training to help them head off family abuse passed down for generations.
Community Partnership for Children CEO Mark Jones said Volusia County is one of only five areas in the United States selected for the specialized training. The training runs Monday through Wednesday.
Jones told a local newspaper that parents accused of abusing their children aren't often asked enough about their own histories because the questions are more investigatory in nature. He said investigators often miss opportunities to stop the multigenerational abuse.
Experts from the Chadwick Center for Children and Families will train 48 community representatives on the Child Welfare Trauma Toolkit. About a third of those will become trainers and teach the technique to others.
Nine online: Take action against child abuse
by Tom Ninestine
Sometime Monday morning, an army will descend on Palafox Street in downtown Pensacola to start coloring the town blue. It's the "From Blue to Better" campaign, which is part of April's Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The campaign seeks to get each of us to learn what we can do to prevent abuse and neglect; how to spot the signs of abuse; to support agencies that help the families; and to take action.
For several weeks, reporters here have been looking into abuse of children, the toll it takes on families, and the important role the Gulf Coast Kid's House has played in helping children and seeking justice in Escambia County. We're running many of the stories in April in connection with Child Abuse Prevention Month to start a community conversation and help prevent abuse.
In the meantime, I'm challenging each of you to help with supplies at the Kid's House on 12th Avenue. Kelly MacLeod, the hardworking development and outreach coordinator there, said the children taken to the house typically need clothing, toiletries and other items. Please consider visiting the house's "wish list" on Amazon.com and make a purchase. Here are some of the items that are needed:
•Underwear, socks and slippers for boys and girls
•Quart- and gallon-size plastic bags
•Granola bars, cookies and crackers
•Infant formula and pacifiers
•Pants and polo shirts for school uniforms
•Baby lotion and baby wash
•Shampoo and conditioner
"Every week we get Amazon packages," MacLeod said during a visit to drop off bows and posters.
The house also could use cash donations. It costs $20,000 a year to clean the building and $30,000 for electricity, she explained. (Why not donate a portion of your March Madness bracket winnings to the House?)
There also is a plan to raise money to send more children to summer camp.
There's a theory that more abuse takes place in the summer because children are home more, MacLeod said. Getting more children in daycare and at camp can help reduce the risk of abuse.
Thanks in advance for your generosity. Right now, there are children being neglected or abused. They need your help.
When you see the blue bows and posters downtown, make a commitment to help an abused boy or girl.
Want to help?
To join the From Blue to Better campaign, individuals, businesses and others are asked to hang bows and posters. Churches are asked to hang the bows and post a statement on their marquee. To get bows and posters email email@example.com or call 595-5800.
Coming in April:
•All month, look for public service announcements at Blue Wahoos games.
•Look for an interview on BLAB-TV's "The Daily Brew" on Thursday.
•The 17th Avenue "Graffiti Bridge" is scheduled to be painted blue on Saturday.
•The Chocolate Fest fundraiser is April 25.
For additional information or events, visit: http://www.gulfcoastkidshouse.org
Revisions in law target child abuse
by Anjani Amladi
Every 10 seconds a report of child abuse is made in the United States — more than 3 million reports involving greater than 6 million children per year. More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse, most under the age of 4. About half of child fatalities caused by abuse or mistreatment are not reported on death certificates.
Though it may be easy to convince ourselves that child abuse or mistreatment does not happen in our own backyards, the sad fact is that it happens everywhere. Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level and educational level, across ethnic and cultural lines, and, yes, in small, quiet cities and towns in Northeast Pennsylvania. In fact, the Children's Advocacy Center, Lackawanna County's designated child abuse center, provided services to 1,448 children and adolescents in 2014. Of these, 80 percent experienced sexual abuse, 16 percent experienced physical abuse, and the rest experienced a combination of both physical and sexual abuse and/or severe neglect.
The state's Child Protective Services Law has undergone many changes, which went into effect on Jan. 1. Perhaps the most important are lowering the threshold of what constitutes child abuse, expanding the list of people defined as a mandatory reporters, clarifying the mandatory child abuse reporting process and providing increased education to people who are defined by law as mandatory reporters.
Defining child abuse
Pennsylvania law (Title 23, Chapter 63) defines child abuse as intentionally, knowingly or recklessly doing any of the following through any act or failure to act:
(1) Causing bodily injury to a child.
(2) Fabricating, feigning or intentionally exaggerating or inducing a medical symptom or disease that results in a potentially harmful medical evaluation or treatment.
(3) Causing or substantially contributing to serious mental injury.
(4) Causing sexual abuse or exploitation of a child.
(5) Creating a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury.
(6) Creating a likelihood of sexual abuse or exploitation.
(7) Causing serious physical neglect.
(8) Causing the death of a child.
(9) Engaging in:
Kicking, biting, throwing, burning, stabbing or cutting a child in a manner that endangers the child.
Unreasonably restraining or confining a child, based on consideration of the method, location or the duration of the restraint.
Forcefully shaking, slapping or otherwise striking a child under age 1.
Interfering with a child's breathing.
Causing a child to be present anywhere a methamphetamine laboratory is being operated.
Leaving a child unsupervised with a person, other than the child's parent, who is required to register as a sexual offender where the victim was under 18, has been determined to be a sexually violent predator, or has been determined to be a sexually violent delinquent child.
For years, the designation of a mandatory reporter and the process for making a report have been cloudy, to say the least. The new law defines a mandatory reporter as anyone who is:
Certified or licensed to practice in any health-related field.
A medical examiner, coroner or funeral director.
An employee of a health care facility or medical provider that is responsible for the care or treatment of individuals.
A school employee.
An employee of a child care service who has direct contact with children.
A clergyman, priest, rabbi, minister, Christian science practitioner, religious healer or spiritual leader of any established church or religious organization.
A paid or unpaid person who accepts responsibility for a child (for example, youth coaches and troop leaders.)
An employee of a social service agency with direct contact with children.
A peace officer or law enforcement officer.
An emergency medical services provider.
An employee of a public library with regular contact with children.
An independent contractor.
A mandated reporter is required to make a report if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be being abused. An oral or written report must be completed and submitted within 48 hours to the state.
Act 31, an amendment to the Child Protective Services Law, requires that further training be provided for mandatory reporters. Anyone with direct contact with children, or an executive/facility director who provides services for care of children, who is applying for a license or certification must complete at least three hours of approved training regarding child abuse. This includes foster parents.
Also, anyone who is renewing a license or certification must complete at least two hours of continuing education per license cycle. At a minimum, the training must cover recognition of signs of child abuse, as well as reporting requirements for suspected or witnessed child abuse.
PAUL J. MACKAREY, P.T., D.H.Sc., O.C.S., is a doctor in health sciences specializing in orthopedic and sports physical therapy. He is in private practice and an associate professor of clinical medicine at the Commonwealth Medical College. His column appears every Monday. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANJANI AMLADI, a fourth-year medical student at the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, is the guest author for today's column. She was raised in San Ramon, California, and earned a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences at the University of California at Davis. She plans to become a psychiatry resident and specialize in child/adolescent psychiatry. She is the recipient of the 2014/15 TCMC Healthcare Journalism Award presented by Dr. Paul Mackarey.
NEXT WEEK: Preventing, identifying and reporting child abuse.
KAREN ARSCOTT, D.O., associate clinical professor in clinical sciences at the Commonwealth Medical College, was medical reviewer for this column.
Where to report potential child abuse:
ChildLine: www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis 800-932-0313
Children's Advocacy Center: 1710 Mulberry St., Scranton, PA 18510 - 570-969-7313 www.cacnepa.org
National Child Abuse Hotline: www.childhelp.org 800-4-A-CHILD
Other Resources: www.childwelfare.gov - http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov