With work, we can overcome dark pasts
by Edith Cook
He said he hated his first name, which was his father's first name, who hated it equally. His mother had named him to spite the father, whom she blamed for a late-in-life pregnancy that became the unhappy boy who turned into an unhappy adult. The couple already had two children, ages 15 and seven.
The speaker was my late husband, who became my ex-husband before he died. He never did use the name Hobart but substituted his middle name, Darold, a variant of Harold, the name of the couple's firstborn. I never asked how he learned his unwantedness. Did his mother let on when he was young? It's unlikely the father would have done so. The mother died when Darold was in high school.
Being unwanted may have compromised his immune system. Darold contracted polio at age 6. I remember his father telling me how he and Darold's mother agonized over the question why their son was stricken in 1942 -- before the polio vaccine became widely available -- when many other children remained unaffected. His father seemed convinced it was God's punishment for his transgressions, though I doubt getting his wife pregnant would have ranked as transgression in the father's mind. Rumors of his philandering circulated among his children, likely prompted by their mother.
“My mother did not want me to be born,” begins a poem by Galway Kinnell, a remarkable writer who died last year at age 87. The poem observes that, because the mother was unable to love, she became exceedingly possessive: “When this more-than-love flowed toward me, it brought darkness,” a feeling the writer equates with the desire to die.
When I knew Kinnell, he was past middle age yet still seeking to mitigate “that enormous emptiness that seeks to be filled,” a desolation that “washes the entire world empty.” He mitigated by way of serial romantic encounters, the first victim of which was his marriage to Inez.
Kinnell's idol, Rainer Maria Rilke, was a German poet whose mother rejected him unmercifully. She had lost a baby girl the year before and hoped for another girl. Ms. Rilke used to play sinister games with her son, dressing him in girls' clothing and calling him by girls' names because “that bad Rainer is dead.”
I, too, lived through a childhood where the safety net of caring adults was all but absent. When, as parents of young children, Darold and I sought marital counseling, the therapist ventured that we were “two neurotics who found each other,” i.e., two rotten apples in a bushel of happy and healthy coevals.
As we made ready to leave, awkwardly milling by the door, I inquired about his fees. Darold had set the appointment without obtaining a fee commitment.
“I was waiting for this,” said the good doctor. “Frigid women always express their fears in terms of money.” (In those days, labels like “neurotic” and “frigid” were commonly used against women.) I wanted to bail, but Darold, transitioning from missile engineer to attorney, insisted we stick with it.
Eight months of “counseling” merely taught me that most apples in the bushels of life, including that forgettable counselor, are anything but healthy. Because children cannot distinguish whether parental rejection comes from spite or socially imposed hardships (famine, social ostracism), finding myself in a war zone terrorized my early years. Actually, this happens to combat troops also, no less than to the enemy to be harassed. Hence we sometimes pass to our children, without will or choice, complicated grief disorders that affect them later.
Diane Zimberoff and David Hartman are the authors of “Overcoming Shock: Healing the Traumatized Mind and Heart.” Soul murder, they state, comes from the “deliberate attempt to eradicate the identity of another person.” It results in spiritual shock or “trauma that comes from intentional abuse by those we trust and depend on.” Often that early trauma results in addictive behavior. Shock fuels addiction; addiction generates further shock states.
Through heart-centered hypnotherapy and group work and with the help of supportive participants, these therapists seek to reclaim the lost child by walking the client back to early trauma or shock, thereafter to “reprogram” the psyche like a technician reprograms a hard drive.
Addictive disorders due to adult trauma can be healed similarly. The authors cite a 2008 study showing good results in treating post-traumatic stress disorder in American soldiers at a combat support hospital in Baghdad. Compared with cognitive behavioral therapy and critical-incidence stress debriefing, heart-centered hypnotherapy proved to be the most effective. PTSD includes traumatic loss and grief that affects firefighters, first responders, 911 operators, victims of a serious accident, and survivors of rape. Some become sexually anorexic; others gorge on sex or food or alcohol. Still, recovery exists for suffers willing to change.
Local advocates protect rights of crime victims
by William Morris
OWATONNA — When a crime takes place, it's often difficult for the victims to know what comes next.
Court procedures, restitution, social services and more are specialized fields that can be overwhelming to anyone, especially those still dealing with the effects of a crime. It is to highlight efforts to help victims navigate the criminal justice system and ensure they are aware of their rights that National Crime Victim's Rights Week is held each year, including this year from April 19 to 25.
The National Center for Victims of Crime, a leading organization in identifying and providing services for crime victims, held an event in Washington, D.C., where it laid out policy goals for the next decade. The center and partner organizations honored the 30th anniversary of the Victims of Crime Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, major laws that laid the foundation for the rights of crime victims and the services available to them.
At the local level, National Crime Victim's Rights Week was fairly quiet, but that's not for lack of people advocating on the behalf of victims.
“April is [also] Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month,” said Sara Colby, executive director of the Crisis Resource Center of Steele County. “We have focused our efforts on both of those causes this month.”
The center is a non-profit organization that provides services to survivors of such crimes as domestic assault, sexual abuse or child abuse. It offers education programs, support groups, 24-hour crisis support and assistance with a variety of legal processes, among other things.
“Our community needs to have advocates available for victims of crime and services available, because many victims don't know what the legal process is and what their rights are as victims,” Colby said.
A large part of the center's work is in connecting victims with other organizations in the community that can address various needs, Colby said.
“We work really closely with the county attorney's office, so I think a collaborative effort in the community is very important also,” she said. “We work with multiple agencies from schools to churches to nonprofits to Minnesota Prairie [County Alliance] to other agencies.”
But victims don't need to go to outside agencies for help with the legal system. The Steele County Attorney's Office has its own victim services coordinator, Teresa Dudley.
“We provide services to victims of all crimes prosecuted by our office, whether it was committed by an adult or a juvenile offender,” Dudley said. “I aid victims of crime basically by providing assistance with regards to court procedures and also social services referrals. I am assigned every case involving a crime against a person.”
Dudley said victims have many rights established by law and that it's important to make sure they understand those rights.
“[Victims] have a right to be notified of hearings, and things like plea agreements,” she said. “They have the right to be notified if prosecution is declined, especially with domestic assaults, harassment cases or sexual assaults. They have the right to request restitution for any out-of-pocket offenses due to the offense. They have a right to be notified of the sentencing or disposition of the case, the outcome.”
The legal rights of victims extend from restitution and notification to actually taking part in the judicial proceedings, Dudley said.
“[Victims have a right] to know they can participate in the sentencing and provide a victim impact statement, which is basically saying what they think a fair sentence would be,” she said.
Dudley said the system works well for notifying most victims of their rights, although there is always room for improvement.
“The toughest part I think with victims is some of the property crimes,” Dudley said. “Collecting restitution for those offenses is difficult. ... [It's] based on whether the offender has the funds, whether the courts are willing to violate their probation for nonpayment. We always say it's the probation officer's responsibility to make a payment plan for restitution, and that doesn't always happen.”
As with the crisis center, much of Dudley's work also is conducted through referrals. She said victims in need of counseling, for example, are frequently directed to the South Central Human Relations Center.
“I think we do a fairly good job, but I think we do a fairly good job of working together, not just one agency working with victims of crime,” Colby said.
But while many services for crime victims are available, both Colby and Dudley said the difficult part sometimes is getting victims to understand and take advantage of those options.
“I also think the education component is very important,” Colby said. “You might think, ‘I'll never be a victim of a crime' … Anyone can be a victim of a crime.”
And that education extends not just to victims, but anyone else who might be in a position to help, she said.
“If you know someone who has been a victim of a crime, either ask them if they need help, or go with them to seek help should they need it,” Colby said. “It's not always easy to seek help, so maybe [you] making that initial effort to seek help is what they need.”
The National Center for Victims of Crime announced a 10-year platform on Wednesday for reforms and objectives to support crime victims across the nation. Those objectives include:
• Ensure that amounts collected for the Crime Victims Fund are released for their intended purpose, at levels necessary to meet the needs of crime victims and reduce the impact of victimization on individuals and society.
• Reform crime victim compensation to increase benefits, improve access, reduce barriers, and promote standardization across jurisdictions.
• Incorporate racial justice concerns in victim and survivor advocacy efforts.
• Protect the physical safety, emotional well-being, and financial security of all crime victims and witnesses.
• Pursue justice for all crime victims by continuing to reform our justice systems to increase transparency, ensure that victims' voices are heard, and provide meaningful accountability.
• Promote fair and thoughtful roles for institutions in preventing and responding to victimization.
Source: The National Center for Victims of Crime
Stopping child abuse a mission for us all
by The Observer-Dispatch
The good people whose lives are wrought daily with the tragedy of child abuse remind us every April that this is the month to raise awareness. Those who relay this message are truly gifts to our community, not to mention our world. They see and hear things that even time cannot heal. They are not paid nearly what they are worth, and they are, with few exceptions, overworked.
Nevertheless, we need to give them more to do.
We need to give them more to do by being eyes and ears in our community. Despite the most valiant efforts, child abuse is not going away. And not one of us can — or should — rest until it does.
Last year, the Oneida County Child Abuse Hotline received 4,170 calls. That's down slightly from 2013, when there were 4,328 calls, and the 4,570 reported in 2012.
But the decline doesn't necessarily mean that cases of child abuse are down. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, self-reported data consistently show that more than one in 10 children and youth experienced at least one form of child maltreatment in the past year.
Earlier this month, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente urged local residents to report suspected incidents of child abuse so that children and their families can get help.
In an interview last year, Oneida County Commissioner of Social Services Lucille Soldato said all hotline calls are investigated and abuse is usually confirmed in about one-third of the cases.
“Don't assume someone else is going to call it in,” she said.
You might be the only one standing between a child and an abuser. Children, especially very young children, are helpless. They rely totally on their adult caregivers — parents or otherwise — for their safety. When that safety is compromised, children have no where to turn.
Abuse comes in many forms. Physical abuse — hitting, kicking, shaking, burning or other violent acts — not only results in physical injury but can also trigger other health issues — mental health, social development and risk-taking behavior into adolescence and adulthood, the CDC says.
And while physical abuse may or may not be evident, emotional abuse or sexual abuse might be more difficult to detect. Abuse might also involve medical neglect or just plain neglect. In 2013, the CDC reports that more than 1,400 children died in the United States from abuse and neglect.
Help them. Children are so trusting and most of us cannot fathom doing anything to hurt them. But there are sick, depraved people out there who do. Many — teachers, coaches, youth leaders, day care providers and others — are in positions where they might see signs of abuse. Check out the warning signs and don't ignore them. Child abuse is a heinous crime. Many victims have no hope to be saved except for you.
-- Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance.
-- Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents' attention.
-- Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes.
-- Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen.
-- Lacks adult supervision.
-- Is overly compliant, passive or withdrawn.
-- Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home.
-- Shows little concern for the child.
-- Denies the existence of - or blames the child for - the child's problems in school or at home.
-- Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves.
-- Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless or burdensome.
-- Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve.
-- Looks primarily to the child for care, attention and satisfaction of emotional needs.
The parent and child:
-- Rarely touch or look at each other.
-- Consider their relationship entirely negative.
-- State that they do not like each other.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Place no limits on child sex abuse suits
For its victims, child sex abuse is a lifetime sentence, so we support a bill to eliminate New York's statute of limitations on lawsuits in these situations.
Now, victims of child sex abuse can file a lawsuit up until they turn 23. But their anguish doesn't vanish with their birthday. Their scars don't go away.
The victims must struggle every day to carry the weight of what they endured; why should the perpetrators be allowed, after a few years have passed, to move past the possibility that they could one day be called to account?
The chance to get justice is worth preserving.
Truth and justice are ideals, you might think, leaders of the Catholic Church in New York would celebrate.
But despite all the revelations of the past 25 years, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church still is not willing to stand firmly on the side of child victims of adult abusers, especially when those abusers are Catholic priests.
The unfortunate truth is that, in many cases of child sexual abuse — including several in our area — Catholic priests have been exposed as the perpetrators.
Church leaders have expressed sympathy for victims, and over time, the church has gotten better about exposing and firing abusive priests. But still the church has put its own interests first, even if that has meant cutting off the only avenue for redress that victims have.
Catholic Church leaders in New York are fighting the bill to eliminate the statute of limitations on lawsuits.
Many victims of sex abuse hide the cause of their suffering. It can take years for them to feel able to speak about what happened, more years to take action. It is cruel to tell people finally coming to terms with their abuse that it's too late, legally, to do anything about it.
The bill would also give victims of past abuse a one-year window in which to file lawsuits, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. After that, lawsuits could not be filed in cases for which the statute of limitations had expired before the law's adoption.
A statement from New York's Catholic Conference referred to the “evil actions of long-dead individuals” in reference to sex abuse by priests.
We're not talking about reparations for slavery here. We're talking about abuse that took place in the last few decades, or is still taking place today.
A law like this one, adopted in California, led to $1.2 billion being paid by dioceses there.
In New York, the conference said, such a law would cause “catastrophic financial harm” to the church.
The conference seems to believe Catholic priests victimized so many children, their lawsuits will bankrupt the church.
The Catholic Conference could be exaggerating the consequences of this bill. But if the choice is between justice for child sex abuse victims and a solvent Catholic Church, we choose justice.
Ohio must make sexual abuse of children a priority
by Erin Merryn
In the United States, elementary school students devote several afternoons each year to tornado drills and fire drills. They learn what to do if they are approached by a stranger or if a shooter enters the school building. They complete D.A.R.E., which teaches them about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Today, many of them even receive training about how to safely use the Internet or stand up to bullies.
While these all important things for young people to learn there is a problem we are failing to address.
Even though statistics show that a child is sexually assaulted every six minutes, unfortunately our students are not likely to hear anything about this, unless they live in one of the 21 states that have passed a version of Erin's Law. This legislation requires all public schools in each state to implement a common sense, prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program that teaches:
Students in grades from pre-K through high school age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult
School personnel how to recognize, address, and prevent child sexual abuse
Parents and guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse as well as offering them information about what resources are available for sexually abused children and their families
On Tuesday, I will testify before the Ohio House of Representatives in support of the law that bears my name. Right now, Ohio is one of 29 states that are either considering the law or preparing to introduce it. For the sake of Ohio's children, its families and its communities, Erin's Law must be adopted.
No one knows about the need for this law better than me. When I was just 6 years old, one of my best friend's uncles began sexually abusing me. The abuse continued until I was 81/2, when my family moved.
I thought my nightmare was over, but it only got worse. From the ages of 11 to 13, one of my teenage cousins — a member of my own family — assaulted me on regular basis.
Both men told me the same things: “This is our secret. If you speak out, no one will believe you, I know where you live and I will come get you. You will destroy our family. You have no proof that I am doing this.”
I believed them, because I had received no other messages about the need to speak up about sexual abuse. I kept my secrets painfully locked away in my diary, only breaking my silence when my little sister confessed that she was also being molested by this older cousin of ours. Together, we spoke out. I had begun to find my voice.
Today, I devote all of my time to raising awareness about sexual abuse and lobbying for the passage of Erin's Law. One out of every four girls and one out of every six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, and yet we fail to adequately educate our children, parents, and teachers about abuse prevention and treatment. A consequence of this failure is that only one in ten sexually abused children even report it to an adult, allowing many offenders to go unpunished and assault other innocent victims. Action is long overdue.
In addition to passing Erin's Law, Ohio can be a leader in ending sexual assault by bringing Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights' Speak Truth To Power human rights curriculum to its schools. This innovative, flexible curriculum uses the stories of the world's leading human rights defenders like Congressman John Lewis, Lech Walesa and Bishop Desmond Tutu to teach students that they can make a difference in the world.
The curriculum's latest lesson focuses on my experiences, using them as examples that empower students to commit themselves to helping end sexual assault. Students studying the Speak Truth To Power curriculum learn to identify as human rights defenders and abandon the role of bystander, taking an active role in making our communities safer. The program's success at educating and motivating young people is the main reason it is being adopted in classroom across the country.
By combining legislation and education, we can make a real difference for thousands of children across Ohio. We can help victims of sexual abuse find their voices, putting an end to the epidemic of silent suffering.
Erin Merryn is an activist who advocates the prevention of child sexual abuse and author of several books including An Unimaginable Act, Living for Today and Stolen Innocence.
A Ridgewood child sexual abuse victim finds her voice years later
by ANTHONY GIUDICE
After years of staying silent, a victim of child sex abuse from Ridgewood has found her voice and is working to help others bring their abusers to justice.
The woman is a longtime resident of Ridgewood and alleged that she was sexually abused as a child by a close family relative. Both her identity and that of her alleged attacker are being withheld due to the pending litigation.
The woman claimed the abuse started when she was just a toddler and continued until she was 9. She said that the relative would regularly engage her in sexual activity. Each time the abuse happened, the relative would threaten that he would harm her and other family members if she spoke up.
“I grew up in domestic violence. The rapist was an alcoholic and a wife beater,” she said in an interview with the Ridgewood Times. “So, him threatening me every single time that he would abuse me, and saying if I tell anybody he would kill my mother, and me seeing him beat my [family member] constantly to the point that she would have to go to the hospital, obviously I would be afraid of this man.”
When her mother discovered what was going on, she immediately called police. However, the victim said nothing out of fear for her own life and her family members' lives.
She remained silent on the issue for years, but the current law requires that sexual abuse cases involving minors must be reported within five years after a victim reaches the age of 18. The victim, now 41, is ineligible to make a case against her abuser under the current law.
“I feel like I fell through the cracks of the system,” she said. “Now I found my voice. I'm going to speak, I'm going to scream and I'm going to do everything I have to do because I am reclaiming my life.”
The victim is an active supporter of Assemblywoman Margaret Markey's Child Victims Act of New York (A2872/ S63), which passed the Assembly four times since 2006 but has never made it to the floor of the state Senate for a vote, The bill seeks to completely eliminate the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse and create a one-year period of time when victims of child abuse who are now adults can bring a civil suit against their abuser and anyone who has protected or covered for the predator.
After hearing about the legislation from a close family relative, she filed a domestic incident report against her abuser with the police department and reached out to Markey. Upon learning of her story, Markey invited the Ridgewood resident to Lobby Day for the Child Victims Act on Wednesday in Albany.
“With research showing that one in five of all children in the U.S. are sexually abused, it is not only important to raise public awareness about this scourge,” Markey said in a statement. “It is also vital that we reform outmoded laws to provide justice for victims and expose pedophiles and those who hide them, also helping to protect future generations of children from abuse.”
Opponents of the act include the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, which claims that the open-ended statutes could lead to litigation and settlements that could financially destroy the diocese. In response, Markey penned a letter to Pope Francis asking to schedule a meeting with New York survivors of childhood sexual abuse when he comes to the U.S. in September.
As of press time, Markey has yet to receive a response from the Vatican.
Call it slavery: Why we need the anti-human trafficking bill
by Caitlin Dickson
Ending weeks of bitter partisan bickering — and the longest attorney general confirmation process in three decades — senators voted unanimously this week to pass an anti-human trafficking bill that had gone from bipartisan no-brainer to intractable deadlock with the addition of an anti-abortion provision.
But with a compromise version of the bill out of the Senate's hands, and Loretta Lynch on her way to becoming the country's first black female attorney general, those following the recent drama are left with a better sense of the debate surrounding the anti-human trafficking legislation than the issue it was drafted to combat.
Despite the headlines, the term “human trafficking” is still a somewhat daunting and intangible one. It's a problem most Americans assume is confined to far-off developing countries.
In reality, human trafficking is as real and immediate an issue in the United States as it is throughout the world, implicating Americans of all ages, races and socio-economic statuses, whether they know it or not.
Human trafficking — defined by federal law as forcing, coercing or defrauding a person into labor services or commercial sex acts against his or her will (and, in the case of sex trafficking, if the person is under 18 years old) — doesn't just lurk in the dark corners of society. Though the majority of cases in the U.S. relate to sex trafficking, the Bureau of Justice Assistance-funded Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has seen a steady increase since 2005 in the volume of services provided specifically to labor trafficking victims — people who work in legitimate businesses like restaurants, hotels, home-care services, farming and manufacturing.
Accurate human trafficking statistics are nearly impossible to come by, as it is an immensely underreported crime. According to data from the federal Anti-Human Trafficking Task Forces, OVC provided services to 3,221 potential trafficking victims nationwide between January 2003 and June 2010. But calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline suggest the scope of human trafficking in the U.S. has grown considerably since then.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and operated by the nonprofit Polaris Project, the NHTRC hotline receives calls, emails, texts and other communication relating to human trafficking cases and connects potential victims with the local OVC branch nearest them. According to Polaris' latest report on hotline statistics, the NHTRC received 24,062 “signals” (phone calls, webforms and emails) relating to a total of 5,042 cases of human trafficking in 2014 alone.
FOX 4 investigates human sex trafficking in the metro
by John Holt
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Janine Montgomery remembers her painful teenage years in a suburban, middle class upper Midwest home.
“I come from a good home, a very loving home,” she insists.
But new to the town, and lonely, she admits she was vulnerable. So when a 13-year-old supposed “friend” talked her into going from a mall to a house party to meet her “twenty something” boyfriend, Janine balked, then went.
Once there she felt uneasy. Older men, smoke in the air, porn on a TV. And the so-called boyfriend coaxing her into a back bedroom for small talk. Where did she live? What about her family? Pets?
“He got every bit of information out of me that he needed to hold over my head for the next four years in that short conversation,” she recalls. “And then he raped me.”
And so began four years under his control. His threats, and eventually an addiction to drugs, essentially made her a slave to his ring of women he controlled.
“There were house parties like the one I was raped in, where men were there and I was expected to service them all night long. And my trackers always had me home before school the next day.”
By day a daughter, sibling, student. On many nights, essentially a prostitute. Experts call it grooming, and Janine was a textbook case.
“There's a misconception in the greater Kansas City area among adults. They think that sex trafficking means a white van pulls up on Troost, grabs a girl off it and disappears,” said Russ Tuttle of the metro based “Stop Trafficking Project.”
“That's not what's happening.”
Instead Tuttle and other experts say, what's happening is criminals who prey on young vulnerabilities, in everything from shopping malls, to schools, to yes, social media.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, the average age of entry for a child victim in the United States is right where Janine was when she entered: 13 to 14 years old.
The United Nations says it's a $9.5 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone.
“I think it's happening in every city in the country,” said Cynthia Cordes, an attorney with Husch Blackwell, and founder of the firm's Sex Trafficking Law Clinic.
In 2006 as an assistant U.S. attorney, Cordes helped launch the Human Trafficking Rescue Project in the Western District of Missouri. She gathered various federal, state, and local agencies to outline the new effort aimed at stopping human trafficking in the Kansas City area. She had a hunch it was happening. Most law enforcement at the time, did not.
“While we might be able to make an occasional case out there, that it would not necessarily be something that would justify a large unified continuous effort by the law enforcement agencies,” remembers Chris Budke, then a special agent for the FBI. “Well, I was wrong.”
Wrong, because after the first few cases broke, and got media coverage, more tips, leads, and witnesses stepped forward, leading to even more cases and prosecutions. The task force was off and running by late 2007, and became the top prosecutor of sex and labor trafficking cases in the country according to Cordes.
“We have victims coming out of Johnson County. We have victims coming from really out of all the areas in the community.”
Cordes joined Husch in private practice in 2013 and helped launch the clinic, which now provides free legal help to human trafficking victims nationwide. Lawyers in the firm volunteer their time.
Budke retired from the FBI and joined her as an investigator.
Meantime, Tuttle spends his time talking to schools and parent groups to warn them of the dangers that lurk out there and the signs to look for. Following a recent presentation, about a dozen teen girls lined up to talk to him.
“And everyone of those 12 girls had some story of being in the grooming process.”
That's the process of befriending, gaining trust, and then using coercion in the form of threats, even violence, to entrap the victims.
Janine managed to escape when she “aged out” by graduating from high school. She eventually moved on, and now is married and living in the area.
She too, tells her story, to help others, and to warn all:
“Trarfficking is no respecter of persons. It can happen anywhere.”
Kansas City, she is asked?
“Kansas City, absolutely.”
During FOX 4's investigation, the various experts we spoke to identified signs parents, educators, or caretakers can look for to identify possible human trafficking on children and teens:
* Changes in behavior including disappearing for lengths of time
* Mood swings
* Eating disorders
* An older person entering their life as boyfriend, girlfriend, or just as a friend
* Changes in appearance and fashion, use of make-up to look older
* Expensive gifts provided by an older stranger
* Unexplained injuries or bruising
* Drug or alcohol addiction perhaps fed by traffickers
Here are some links to resources that can help you learn more about human trafficking and help prevent or report the crime:
3rd Plum high school teacher charged in connection with student-sex case
by Megan Guza
Plum police on Wednesday filed witness intimidation charges against a Plum high school forensic science teacher.
Drew Zoldak, 40, of New Kensington, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of intimidation of a witness or victim.
Zoldak was arraigned just after 11:30 a.m. in front of Magisterial District Judge Linda Zucco.
According to the criminal complaint, after investigators from the Allegheny District Attorney's office interviewed Zoldak, he apologized to his class for being absent from class and singled out as the cause a victim one of the other Plum teachers is accused of having sex with. According to the complaint, Zoldak then called the victim to the front of the class and asked her if she would be okay with the following week's topic: sexual assault.
“The charges against Zoldak are of great concern to the District Attorney's Office because at the very least they involve conduct which is extraordinarily insensitive to the rights of a child victim by a person who, by virtue of his profession, is obligated to protect that child and at worst, it is an intentional effort to use this child's peers and the school setting to make her uncomfortable and keep her from speaking freely about her victimization,” said Mike Manko, spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr.
“This being the third arrest in this investigation, the investigation should be considered expansive and ongoing,” Manko said.
One hour earlier, Zucco held for court all charges against Jason Cooper, a Plum high school teacher accused of having sex with a student.
Those charges include institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors, furnishing alcohol and witness intimidation.
In addition, the prosecution added two charges — one relating to corruption of minors and one relating to witness intimidation.
Formal arraignment is scheduled for June 9.
Human infant remains discovered in South Los Angeles
by Kate Linthicum and Matt Stevens
Authorities are asking residents of a South Los Angeles neighborhood to search their yards and trash cans for “suspicious items” after detectives discovered the remains of a human infant somewhere along a residential street.
A homeowner in the 1500 block of West 104th Street reported the remains Saturday morning, investigators said in a statement. Deputies arrived, contacted the homeowner and confirmed the remains were human.
“The remains are that of a 1- to-3-day old infant,” the statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. “The infant appears to have been dismembered. Significant portions of the body are still missing.”
Sheriff's Deputy Don Walker did not specify where detectives found the remains.
The department's statement said detectives “are continuing their investigation” and “would like to speak with any females who were recently pregnant, are no longer pregnant and the baby is absent."
NY Catholics show up in force to lobby for Child Victims Act
by Jamie Manson
While many folks around the world marked April 22 as Earth Day, in Albany, N.Y., State Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey used the occasion to host a Lobby Day to promote awareness of child sexual abuse. Across the country, April is known as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Markey and sixty other assemblymembers have called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend the proclamation to New York state, which ranks among the worst for the way in which it deals with victims of child sexual abuse crimes, according to a survey by Professor Marci Hamilton of Cardozo Law School.
Unlike some states that have either no statute of limitation or an extended statute of limitation, in New York, victims must bring criminal or civil charges against their abusers within five years of their 18th birthday.
For years, Markey has sponsored the Child Victims Act, a bill that would "reform New York's archaic criminal and civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse crimes," according to a press release from Markey's office.
"The Child Victims Act calls for the total elimination of the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes in the future, with a complete one year suspension of the civil SOL to benefit older victims," the release also states. More than one-third of the members of the State Assembly have joined Markey to co-sponsor the bill.
The latest breaking news right to your inbox! Sign up for NCR email alerts. Among the organizations supporting the Albany Lobby Day, five were Catholic groups, including the Catholic Coalition of Conscience, an umbrella group comprised of Call to Action Metro NY, Call to Action Upstate NY, Voice of the Faithful NY, and Dignity/NY.
Two of the event's speakers, Fr. Jim Connell and Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Maureen Turlish, were from Catholic Whistleblowers, a group of canon law experts and religious leaders. Turlish previously helped lead a successful drive to enact statute of limitations reform in the state of Delaware.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Child Victims Act has proven unpopular with Catholic bishops throughout the state. Their ongoing campaign against the measure has been called "shrewd and relentless" by The New York Times.
Bishop William Murphy of the diocese of Rockville Centre has been especially vocal in his opposition to the bill, most recently charging that it "seeks to penalize only the Catholic Church for past crimes of child sex abuse."
Art McGrath of CTA Metro NY and Mariann Perseo of VOTF-NY acknowledged institutional resistance to the bill but insisted that their religious tradition calls for these kinds of reforms. "Catholic theology and the Catholic Catechism call for reparative justice for the victims; consequences for the perpetrators; and protection for child victims," they said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Markey published a letter that she wrote to Pope Francis, asking him to meet with survivors of child sexual abuse during his upcoming visit to New York City in September. The letter cites the pope's strong message to Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors on Feb. 2, 2015, and asks Francis for his "help in convincing New York Bishops to bring their views in alignment with yours on the subject of abuse."
Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston and chair of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was also copied on the letter.
An online petition of support for the Child Victims Act was also announced at the Lobby Day.
"There is no limit on what is a lifetime of suffering and anguish for so many victims of child sexual abuse," Markey said. "Nor should there be any limit on holding accountable those institutions and organizations that have deliberately protected and hidden perpetrators."
"Their actions make it possible for pedophiles to continue to prey on new victims," Markey concluded.
Child Abusers Shouldn't Be Able to Run Out the Clock
by Ariel Zwang
At Safe Horizon, we help thousands of abused children every year to tell their stories, often detailing horrors that most adults would find unimaginable. And then we work closely with the police and prosecutors to bring those who have harmed them to justice. However, there is another side to this story.
We know from our work that too many child abusers are never held accountable for their crimes. This can happen because the abuse was never reported, because it wasn't investigated properly, or because there simply wasn't enough evidence to prove the case. Sometimes it happens because a parent makes the difficult choice to shield an already traumatized child from testifying in court.
And the fact of the matter is, many abused children don't have the emotional strength to face their abusers until adulthood. But here in New York State, adult survivors are faced with the devastating news that if they are over the age of 23, they cannot file civil or criminal charges against their abusers.
For victims of childhood sexual abuse, the consequences can last a lifetime. So why is there a statute of limitations on holding abusers accountable?
There are many stories that inspire us at Safe Horizon to advocate for the removal of the statute of limitations, but one particularly stands out for me.
During a routine check-up at her doctor's office, Kathy*, 25 and pregnant with her first child, unexpectedly broke down in tears. After witnessing her breakdown and suspecting Kathy had endured a terrible trauma, Kathy's doctor referred her to Safe Horizon's Counseling Center, the only state licensed mental health facility dedicated exclusively to treating trauma resulting from violence and abuse.
It was here that Kathy spoke -- for the first time in 13 years -- of the childhood sexual abuse she had faced at the hands of her own father. From age seven, Kathy's father had repeatedly sexually molested her. When Kathy confided in a trusted family member at age 12, she wasn't believed. Alone and disheartened, Kathy didn't speak of the abuse again until she arrived at Safe Horizon's offices.
Kathy's counselor helped her realize that the trauma of her childhood sexual abuse had resurfaced because she was now bringing her own child into the world. With therapy, Kathy was able to come to terms with the abuse and finally begin to heal.
For many victims, part of the healing process involves speaking out about the abuse and seeking to hold their abusers accountable. For Kathy, it was heartbreaking to learn that it was too late to bring her father to justice. Worst of all, she was tormented by the possibility he might still be preying on children.
Many states have already adjusted the time limits for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse who seek justice. New York is one of only five states that have not yet extended their statute of limitations for survivors of these crimes. That's why the Child Victims Act is so important.
The Child Victims Act is a bill to reform the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse and enable justice for more victims of this heinous crime. Child predators should not be able to simply run out the clock. We are grateful to the champions in this effort, including New York State Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, and dozens of their colleagues in the New York State Legislature who are sponsoring the Child Victims Act. Safe Horizon is also a proud advocate of the bill.
What will this legislation do? It will eliminate the statute of limitations for felony-level sex crimes against children and it will create a one-year window for adult survivors like Kathy to seek civil damages against their offenders.
Please join us in standing up for justice by signing our petition in support of the Child Victims Act.
Most victims of childhood sexual abuse continue to struggle with the impact of the abuse they experienced long after the abuse ends. The Child Victims Act will allow victims to move on with their lives knowing that justice has been served. Just as crucial, it will protect additional children from suffering abuse at the hands of serial offenders by getting these abusers off our streets.
Please sign our petition supporting the Child Victims Act now.
*Name has been changed to protect the victim's identity.
Preventing abuse takes all of us working together
by B.B. Beltran
I t is up to each of us to do our part in creating a culture that supports survivors of sexual abuse and promotes safety. Sexual violence can be prevented, and it is our responsibility to change society's complacency. Everyone benefits when our community is safer.
April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month and national Child Abuse Prevention Month. In recognition of these events and in the spirit of working collaboratively, Sexual Assault Support Services has participated in planning local activities with groups and agencies such as Parenting Now, the Relief Nursery, the 90by30 Initiative and Womenspace, as well as the Associated Students of the University of Oregon Women's Center and the Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention.
This year's national Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign slogan is, “It's time to act: Safer campuses. Brighter futures. Prevent sexual violence.” The slogan aims to raise awareness about the issue of sexual violence on campus as well as engage the community in creating a campus environment in which sexual assault is not acceptable, minimized or condoned.
Campus sexual assault has long been an issue, and it is more visible than ever. As many as one in five women is sexually assaulted in college, according to the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault Study by Christoper Krebs et al. The same study found that while in college, one in 16 men is the victim of an attempted or completed assault. The effects of sexual assault can be wide-ranging and long-term. Many people — from college campuses to the White House — are taking action. It's time for all of us to act.
While focusing efforts on improving the response to sexual violence is critical, preventing such trauma before it happens is the ultimate goal. This year in Lane County, the focus of Child Abuse Prevention Month is creating meaningful connections with our fellow community members, because connecting is preventing.
According to the recent Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Climate Survey conducted by the Center for Prevention of Abuse and Neglect at the University of Oregon, 34.4 percent of adults in Lane County were abused or neglected as children. That means nearly 100,000 adults in Lane County are survivors of childhood trauma.
While these numbers are daunting, they mean that people everywhere in Lane County either know someone who is a survivor or are themselves survivors. The effects of childhood abuse extend into adulthood. However, there is much that can be done to prevent abuse and mitigate the trauma.
Preventing child abuse and sexual violence takes more than one agency, department, community member or student. It takes all of us working together in big and small ways.
There are many ways to get involved in local Sexual Assault Awareness Month and national Child Abuse Prevention Month efforts. Talk to your neighbors and be willing to look out for one another's children.
Be a friend to the parents you know and offer support when needed. Attend an event focused on these issues — such as the annual Take Back the Night March, Rally and Speak Out on April 30, which is co-coordinated by the ASUO Women's Center and Sexual Assault Support Services.
Use social media to spread the word and post what you are doing online. Learn more about the issue and educate others.
For more information about ways to get involved in reducing child abuse and neglect please visit www.90by30.com. For more information about ways to get involved in ending sexual violence, or if you need support, call the SASS 24-hour crisis and support line at 541-343-7277 or 800-788-4727.
Whatever your level of participation, I hope you will join SASS in recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month and national Child Abuse Prevention Month and creating a safer community free from violence.
B.B. Beltran is the executive director of Sexual Assault Support Services.
Child sex abuse, No longer a family secret
(Video on site)
by Marcos Ortiz
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The numbers are shocking.
Nearly five children in Utah are sexually abused each day.
And most often it's not a stranger but the child's own parent who is behind the abuse.
For years it's been treated as a family secret. But experts say it is time to bring it out in the open for the sake of children.
"At the time it was a perfect storm for incest,” said Deann Tilton who grew up in the 1970's and claims her father molested her.
Steven Ewell is currently an inmate at the state prison in Gunnison.
“For some reason I had an attraction to my daughter,” he told a hearing officer during a review of his case.
In 2011 in a Provo courtroom, Judge David Mortensen told Keith Brown of his role in life.
"It is obvious a home should be a refuge and a safe place and a parent should be a protector," said Judge Mortensen.
Brown, father and manager of Utah's well known pianist group, "the 5-Browns" was not a protector but a pedophile.
He's serving up to a life sentence for sexually molesting his two daughters.
"As a teenager I felt alone,” said Deondra Brown. “I felt really alone. I felt shamed and dirty.”
It turns out Brown is not alone. According to the Department of Public Safety in 2013:
- there were 1,661 cases of various types of sex abuse between a parent and child.
- 623 cases involved a grandparent and grandchild.
In 2012, DPS reports:
- 929 children were sexually molested by a parent.
- 715 grandchildren were molested.
"Often, very sad it's been passed inter-generationally for many, many years within families,” said Joann Schladale, executive director of Resources For Resolving Violence. “And the people who have perpetrated it come to me and say it was just done in our family."
Prison inmate Ewell started molesting his four year old daughter and the abuse spanned almost a decade.
“I would go in the mornings and lay down with her and stick my hands under bra and underwear,” Ewell said. “I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew I needed help. I was scared.”
Jackie Chilton remembers a frightening childhood because of her father.
"Even at 4 and 5 years old I knew something was wrong because I was afraid of him," recalled Chilton.
Chilton says her dad molested her for years before she got the courage to tell her mother.
But growing up in the 70's, the abuse was kept quiet.
"I dropped out of high school I couldn't focus I was in a constant state of shock,” she said.
Tilton who has now become an advocate at the University of Utah, grew up in Spanish Fork.
"I never forgot the abuse. it was very confusing behavior for me," she said.
She grew up afraid of dark for a different reason. Night time was when her dad would sneak into her room.
"My dad said don't tell mom about this," she said. "It was first time it was validated. He had a grip on my mind and the fear of punishment and the fear of breaking up the family."
She never told anyone.
Being a survivor herself, Deondra Brown of the 5 Browns understands why.
"It's a very solitary crime and because of that the victim doesn't realize there are so many others out there like them," she said.
At a recent seminar focusing on treatment, experts hoped to shed light on a disturbing problem. There's always been resources for victims who come forward. But Schladale said it starts with prevention and the tools to empower children to speak up.
"I believe it is the parent's responsibility to teach little toddlers healthy boundaries, things about touching themselves. to have healthy boundaries within that family," she said.
Bobbie Pugh is a mother and a therapist with a non-profit group for abused children.
"Teaching them that they have a voice, 'this is my body, it's my body if i say stop you stop,'" Pugh said. "It's important to let children know that they have a voice."
The state legislature passed a new law extending the time when a victim of sex abuse can report the crime and still get it prosecuted.
And efforts to make schools teach children about sex abuse begin next year.
"My father considered me his property," said an elderly man who is speaking about his abuse years ago.
He is featured in a new campaign by the Attorney General's office. The public campaign is called "One With Courage." It launches April 28th.
According to an early release statement by the office it's mission is "Protecting children is the responsibility of every adult. One With courage is a campaign that provides adults with the tools they need to keep Utah's children safe from sexual abuse."
"Life gets better, but it's not an overnight process," said the elderly man featured in the campaign.
And through support groups, survivors are learning ways to move on.
"It is not my fault," said Brown. "I can still go on and do all amazing things I would hope to do in my life."
Brown and her sister set up a foundation for survivors. She said it's a way to let others know they're not alone because there's too much at stake.
"When I feel overwhelmed some days, I look at her (daughter) and think, I really am optimistic that you are going to have a better life than I did and I will do everything in my power to protect you as your mother," she said.
In addition to the links previously posted, there are other resources available for victims and their families.
The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Prevent Child Abuse Utah
The Family Support Center
Why Latinos Believe Domestic Violence Goes Under-Reported
by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee
Among the Latino community, the fear of getting deported, having their children taken away, or facing more violence are the top barriers perceived to prevent Latino immigrants from reporting domestic violence and sexual assault, a new report found. At least 41 percent of surveyed Latinos believe that the main reason that Latino immigrant victims don't seek help is because of deportation fears.
Culling interviews from 800 Latino men and women, the No Más report found that 56 percent of surveyed Latinos know a domestic violence victim, while one in four people know a victim of sexual assault. Among the younger Latino generation, the pattern of violence was about the same: half of all surveyed Latinos under the age of 30 reported that they know a victim of domestic violence, while one in four reported that they know someone who was a victim of sexual assault. The top reason that Latinos indicated that victims don't come forward or seek help is because of the fear of deportation, closely followed by having their children taken away, and facing more violence.
Juan Carlos Areán, senior director of the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities*, told ThinkProgress, “the fear of deportation comes from anecdotal evidence … though it's not prevalent, when immigrants call the police, they might end up getting arrested themselves because of the suspicion that they're undocumented. This.. builds enough fear for the community to be afraid.”
One domestic violence victim threatened with deportation is Delfina Rojas Ayona, who married a man that beat, strangled, and threatened her. According to a biography provided for ThinkProgress, Rojas Ayona's husband reportedly “bludgeoned her in the street with a wood board studded with nails” and “beat her with a loaded gun as she held their four-year-old daughter.”
When Rojas Ayona's husband crossed the southern U.S. border from Mexico where they lived, she said that his family continued to abuse her as she struggled to work and support her children. She later made the journey as well. When she arrived in the United States, Rojas Ayona's husband continued to abuse her, but now additionally threatened her to call the “migra” (immigration officers) if she didn't do what he told her.
The turning point in her decision to contact the police came when he tried to kill her by choking and suffocating her with a pillow when she was asleep. Her children were hurt when they tried to intervene and her brother was stabbed protecting her. She finally called the police who took her husband away, but was released the next day. Rojas Ayona was granted an order of protection, but she remained fearful that he would come back to kill her.
Rojas Ayona has since been able to apply for a special visa known as a U-visa, which provides potential legal status to victims of violence who cooperate with police. After three years of continuous presence in the United States, U-visa holders can apply for lawful permanent resident status. She now works to educate female survivors of domestic violence.
Rojas Ayona is considered “lucky.”
“In terms of the U visa process, it's a complicated process and not everybody qualifies,” Areán said. “There are some serious conditions, like you have to be married and you have to cooperate with the police. When a woman is afraid for her life, it's an unreasonable burden on her.”
Just last year alone, there were 26,023 U-visa petitions for the 10,000-per-year annual cap. The Los Angeles Times reported that there was “even a wait to get to on the waiting list” since the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stopped reviewing applications submitted after December 2013.
Another female survivor of domestic abuse, Julieta Garibay, is also now drawing strength from her experience to help undocumented immigrants fight for significance in the United States. Garibay, the deputy advocacy director at United We Dream, came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 12. Garibay got married in 2010 to an U.S. citizen, who emotionally abused her and threatened to withhold petitioning for her legal status.
Her ex-husband warned her at the time, “If you were to get deported, I would keep the children in the U.S.” Garibay told ThinkProgress that they didn't have children but often talked about it during their nine-year relationship. “That was overwhelming because that had never been brought up before.”
Garibay said that she struggled telling her mother about her divorce. “That's the hardest part to tell people you love. At least for me … from the Latino perspective, when you get married, you get married for good.” Garibay has since been able to adjust her immigration status last year through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which allows immigrant victims to self-petition for lawful permanent resident status without the cooperation of an abusive spouse, parent, or adult child. As the American Immigration Council explained, VAWA “allows the victim to confidentially file the self-petition and attain lawful permanent resident status without separating from the abuser, thereby allowing the victim to leave the abuser after lawful permanent resident status has been obtained.”
Areán is hopeful that the campaign could help raise awareness about domestic violence. “One of the things we felt so strongly about the No Mas campaign is that … there is extraordinary strength. There is a lot of good news in this study too. Latinos are already intervening with victims, the majority of responses said that. And the great majority are hopeful of solving — about changing the situation.”
The No Más report was commissioned by the Avon Foundation for Women for Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network and NO MORE and conducted by Lake Research Partners. The findings are going to help shape a No Más campaign to be launched in the fall with help from Verizon.
As the Huffington Post pointed out, “immigration advocates often cite domestic violence as a key reason to keep police out of immigration matters. Police sometimes arrest both parties at first and then charge only the abuser, but simply taking the victim's fingerprints could put the victim at risk of deportation. Law enforcement in many jurisdictions has resisted working with immigration authorities in part to encourage victims to feel safe in coming forward.”
Immigrants are also afraid to report other types of crime. A 2013 survey of more than 2,000 Latinos found that more than four in ten Latinos are less likely to report crime and 45 percent are less likely to volunteer information about crimes. when local police are involved in enforcing immigration law. The same survey found that 70 percent of undocumented Latino immigrants indicated that they would neither file a police report for being a victim nor for being a witness because “they fear that police officers will use this interaction as an opportunity to inquire into their immigration status or that of people they know.”
*Areán explained that his organization name uses the atmark (@) symbol because “Spanish is a very gendered language…our feelings is to create language that is more inclusive. We don't have permission yet, but the at[mark] is meant to replace the [Latin]a and the [Latin]o, which are the genders. But the problem is that we don't have a way to pronounce it yet.”
The Holocaust's Last Taboo: Talking About Nazi Child Sex Abuse
by Itay Lev
TEL AVIV — One day, six years ago, while working on a documentary for Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day, television producer Ronnie Sarnat came across a strange story.
"I sent a crew to film testimonies of Holocaust survivors and the crew came back deeply distraught," she says. "One of the survivors came out to them, crying and yelling, and refused to be filmed. He told them, 'forget about me, forget my name, go away.' Any documentary filmmaker would mark this as something to come back to, but it was immensely difficult to find him again. When I did get to him and interviewed him, I found a broken man, a person whose entire life had been devastated because, when he was 13 years old, he was raped by a German soldier. Since then I realized I want to address this topic that nobody dares talking about."
Sarnat says this man was "the first letter in the story," and she began her search for others. "I found out that there was nothing documented regarding sex in the Holocaust, and it got me wondering why. The entire commemoration enterprise, innumerable testimonies and endless footage — and no mention of sexual abuse.
"I tried studying the topic through the official, institutional sources, only to face fierce opposition. They argued that mentioning sex and Holocaust in the same sentence stains the memory of the Holocaust. I had a dilemma between this view and the authentic historical truth, what actually happened. In a few years there will be no one left to tell this story and I think denial is a mistake. I decided to embark on a quest for truth. It was a long and painstaking journey, progressing by word of mouth — someone who knew something, someone who knew someone else ... I knew the research would make or break this documentary."
After six years of a slow, persevering quest, during which time four of the protagonists died, the result, Screaming Silence , was broadcast on Israel's Channel 1 TV on the latest Holocaust Memorial Day last week.
In striking candor Holocaust survivors sit in front of the camera with their names and faces, telling — some for the first time ever — what they went through when they were children. Apart from a few photos illustrating how young the victims were at the time, the film uses no archive footage.
"At first I interviewed experts," says Sarnat, "An Auschwitz expert and a criminologist. They added an interesting dimension, but after I watched the testimonies again I thought they needed no explanation. Their authenticity and the difficulty some of the people had to tell their story really stood on their own."
How do you deal with that? "Some of the descriptions are indeed graphic, there is no point making reality prettier. I was concerned with a sense of snuff, but once you show the person, make them a character and describe everything that happened before and after, the story about the rape is not pornographic — it is part of the overall story."
One of the woman interviewed, who has since died, said "the rape was nothing." She was so young she didn't even understand what happened, what they had done to her. Another says in the film, "I won," because even though she was raped, she never told them who provided her with fake documents.
Sarnat says, "I think that if the details of the rape were left out, it would have done injustice to these people because they wanted to tell us about this. You don't leave the film with a pornographic feeling, but mainly with the question: How come this topic hasn't been addressed before?"
There is a common belief that the Nazi eugenics prevented the Germans from having sex with Jews, who were considered by them to be an inferior, filthy race. But the testimonies in the documentary reveal a different reality.
Not only does the film bring evidence there were Jews in the Auschwitz brothel, it also gives new credence to the writings of Yehiel De-Nur, whose descriptions of Nazi rapes of prisoners were denounced as being pornographic.
"When he published the book some said it's not true, that it's just sick imagination. But in my film the victims are mentioned in a firsthand testimony from a youth who knew them. The shed managers took young boys, often with a feminine look, to be their servants, even sex slaves."
Are the protagonists in the film united as Holocaust survivors or rape victims?
"I think the fact they were child rape victims is more significant than the fact they are Holocaust survivors. As an adult you can understand that you were the victim of a rape and it's not your fault. A child feels they were raped because they had done something wrong and this is the punishment — so the sense of guilt is carried for the rest of their life."
How did they deal with this?
"Each of the participants in the documentary has his or her own story. Some tried to hide the story from their children, who are now in their 50s, their entire life, for fear it would become a lifelong badge of shame. One of them has issues with sexual identity to this day, another had many wives in his life, and yet another is concerned her children would disown her. It's different for each person, so it's impossible to generalize the way this trauma is dealt with."
It's difficult to see a firsthand testimony of a person who says, "yes, I was raped." Who benefits from such brutal exposure of the truth?
"That's one of the questions that concern me most: Is the Israeli society open enough to face rape testimonies? Daring to complain about rape is not trivial, coming out and saying openly 'I was raped' is an important and rare thing even today. And still, after so many years of hiding, people stand up and say, 'We were raped by the Germans and their accomplices.' I think there is nothing you can add to this message, so these people deserve great compassion and respect. I don't know if this exposure will do them good, I can only hope their children — once they understand what their parents went through — will embrace them with even more understanding and more love."
Domestic violence is child abuse
by Jennifer Lainheart
Myth: It's only child abuse if a child is hit in a home where a parent is experiencing domestic violence.
Fact: False. Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects every member of a family. Abuse does not always leave visible marks. Even if a child is not physically abused by the perpetrator, the emotional abuse and/or stress of domestic violence can be just as damaging.
Home should be a safe place. However, it is estimated that 3 to 10 million children in the United States have witnessed domestic violence (National Center for Children Exposed to Violence, 2011). For these, home is far from safe.
Children living in homes where domestic violence is present are at a significantly greater risk of being harmed either physically or emotionally. They tend to exhibit low self-esteem, depression, developmental delays, a higher risk of dropping out of school, acute anxiety, rage, conduct disorders, chronic fear, self-blame and heightened suicide risk. They also are more prone to be violent towards others.
True/False: Children who grow up in homes where domestic violence occurs are more likely to be victims or abuser themselves.
Answer: True. Children learn best by modeled behaviors around them. Parents are their child's greatest teacher. For a child growing up in a home of violence, this is not a good thing.
From watching their mothers being battered, children learn that this is an acceptable way to treat women.
Some will identify with the batterer because doing so may decrease their likelihood of being abused themselves. This behavior may put them at risk for being an abuser when they later become involved in intimate relationships as adults.
Other children may identify with the victim, feeling fearful, withdrawn and depressed. They may grow into adulthood believing that violence is the norm in relationships, never breaking the cycle of abuse.
Children in violent homes learn poor boundaries and how to use lying, deceptiveness, cheating and violence as protection.
Fact/Fiction: There is no hope for a child raised in a violent household. He or she will be just like their parent, mean and abusive, or weak and a victim.
Answer: The outcome depends on the parents and their willingness to make a change in their situation. Violence is never acceptable. It is never the answer to problems in a relationship or in a home.
Children are affected, especially if their situation or environment doesn't change for the better. However, if a positive change occurs in a child's life, if they are given a healthy safe environment to live and grow in, their future can be limitless. They do not have to live within the stigma that their parents create as abusers or victims.
If you and your children are living in a violent home, don't be fooled into believing there is nothing better for you and your family.
Remember, abuse does not always leave physical marks. Even if a child is not physically abused by a violent parent, the emotional abuse and stress of domestic violence can be just as damaging and is still child abuse.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Make a decision to affect your child's future in a positive manner by choosing to leave a violent home. Hope's Wings will help you take the first step of providing safety for your children. Please call us at 859-623-4095.
The psychology of child abuse: long-term effects
by Elissa Belknap
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) About one in four children will experience some type of trauma in their lifetime, including child abuse. There are four main categories of child abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect. The effects of abuse can be devastating and stay with the victim long after the actual abuse is over.
Aftermath of Child Abuse
Every child is different and can react differently to trauma. According to Wedgwood Christian Services, some of the most common effects include:
Feeling scared, sad, angry, jumpy, anxious, lonely, guilty, or depressed
Behavioral problems including acting out, fighting, or being “out of control”
Difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, stomachaches, headaches
Nightmares, obsessively thinking about the abuse, not remembering things
Keeping to themselves, avoiding things that remind them of the abuse, or becoming overly social
Refusing to attend church, being angry with God, or developing excessive connection to religion
The effects of abuse can interfere with everyday life and can cause long-term problems with school performance, self-medication with alcohol or drugs, and most seriously, suicide attempts. Parents or caregivers can help guide children through these experiences with open communication and support.
What Parents/Caregivers Can Do
Keep in mind what the child has experienced. Let him or her know you appreciate the seriousness of the situation, and reassure him or her that things will improve over time.
Encourage the child to talk about their feelings and what is still bothering them.
Understand how the child is feeling without being critical. For example, don't say things like, “stop complaining,” or “you should be over it by now.”
Be patient and tolerant, especially when they talk repetitively about the abuse.
Understand anger is part of the reaction to the trauma of abuse. Try to be tolerant and encourage the child to talk about what is bothering him or her.
The trauma that results from abuse can also be caused by other things, like a devastating fire, major lifestyle change, or a death in the family. If your child or a child you know is experiencing a traumatic situation, get help by contacting one of several child abuse resources in West Michigan. If the child requires more in-depth care, Wedgwood Christian Services provides Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Call (616) 942-7294 to schedule a screening.
Child abuse cases tied to drugs growing problem in Iowa
by Cynthia Fodor
DES MOINES, Iowa —State officials said they're seeing more child abuse cases where children are exposed to illegal drugs at an early age.
The problem has grown so much that Wednesday Gov. Terry Branstad proclaimed an awareness day to draw attention to the issue.
Just last week, a 1-year-old boy living in a Newton apartment tested positive for methamphetamine. The couple charged with caring for the baby were arrested and charged.
Also this month, Deshawn Trombone was arrested and charged in connection with the drug overdose that killed a 5-year-old girl in the Vine Street Lofts in downtown Des Moines.
Blank Children's Hospital Child Protection Center deals with the young, innocent victims. They see new victims exposed to drugs every day.
Young children can grab and ingest the drugs or be exposed to the smoke or chemicals.
State official said they are seizing more candy that contains illegal drugs, especially after the legalization of marijuana around the country.
Last year, Iowa Drug Enforcement Task Forces referred 300-cases to the Department of Human Services. DHS reports 1,334 cases of drug related child abuse. The children were often neglected in deplorable living conditions.
Iowans are being urged to call authorities immediately if you suspect a child may be in danger due to drug use.
Revealed: child sex abuse gang 'with tentacles that go round the world'
Full details of paedophile ring's activity can be reported for first time after trial of two of them, John Denham and Matthew Stansfield, ended with convictions
by Steven Morris
Seven members of a paedophile gang were involved in the rape and abuse of babies, toddlers and children in attacks that were streamed on the internet and seen on every continent.
The sex ring – described as having “tentacles that go round the world” – preyed on the families of the children they targeted, in one case grooming a mother and father before their baby was born.
Members would frequently travel long distances to carry out the attacks together or watch the abuse over the internet, often using the dark web, if only one of them had access to a victim. Online chat revealed that members of the gang, who lived across the UK, would offer advice and guidance to others on drugging their young victims.
Seven men, aged between 30 and 51 and including three convicted sex offenders, were brought to justice following an investigation led by the National Crime Agency.
The details can be reported in full for the first time after the trial of two of them, John Denham, 49, and Matthew Stansfield, 34, concluded at Bristol crown court with their convictions. Denham was found guilty of conspiracy to sexually assault a child under 13. Stansfield was convicted of two charges of conspiracy to rape a child under 13.
The others – Robin Hollyson, 30; Christopher Knight, 35; Adam Toms, 33; David Harsley, 51, and Matthew Lisk, 32 – pleaded guilty earlier to the charges they faced.
Hollyson, who was previously known as Robin Fallick, Stansfield and Harsley are convicted sex offenders while Denham, who changed his name from Benjamin Harrop, was a respected youth football coach.
In total they faced more than 30 charges, including the rape of a child, conspiracy to rape a child, sexual activity with a child and administering a substance with intent against three victims – a baby, a toddler and a pre-school-age child. Investigators, who spoke before the verdicts, believe there are other victims.
The gang hid behind a veil of respectability with careers and families to habitually target children under the age of five in Yorkshire, and the south-east and south-west of England.
Robert Davies, prosecuting, told the jury in the trial of Denham and Stansfield: “This prosecution will take you into a world you wished did not exist. The evidence exposes the shocking interest a group of men had in sexually abusing babies, toddlers or pre-school children.
Police described the men as “monsters in disguise”, working together to commit some of the most “vile and depraved” child sex offences the authorities had ever seen.
The NCA, which led the investigation, said the men met after discussing their sexual interests in young children on legitimate social media and adult sex sites. The gang was described as “incredibly skilled” at grooming victims' families, even striking up relationships with pregnant women to abuse their babies.
The men, who did not know each other outside of their involvement in the abuse, led outwardly respectable lives and concealed their activities from the outside world until they were unmasked.
Graham Gardner, deputy director of investigations at the NCA, said: “They don't stand out as monsters, but they are monsters in disguise. We rarely see criminal behaviour involving the sexual abuse of children to this degree. This is serious organised crime at its worst.
“The men involved in this group actively targeted families to facilitate the sexual abuse of their children, toddlers and babies. The depravity of these men appeared to know no bounds and is without doubt as vile as we have seen.”
The NCA launched its investigation, codenamed Operation Voicer, last September after Toms contacted police and admitted he had abused a child. Their inquiries led to the unmasking of the ring operating across the UK, which had links to other paedophiles across the world.
In the weeks that followed, the other six members were arrested and a further two victims were identified. Another 21 children have been the subject of safeguarding measures in relation to the investigation.
The NCA has worked closely with the Avon and Somerset, Bedfordshire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Humberside, Wiltshire and Sussex police forces, as well as the Crown Prosecution Service and nine local authorities.
Police combed the suspects' electronic communications and established that contact between them began on adult online sex forums, which are publicly accessible and legal to use. Investigators recovered Skype chat logs that recorded conversations between the men, which police described as disgusting and abhorrent.
The exchanges – which were never meant to have been discovered as the men went to great lengths to destroy their online activities – included references to “nep”, a term investigators had not come across before. It is a shortening of “nepiophile” – a word used to describe those sexually attracted to babies and toddlers.
There were also references to controlled drugs and over-the-counter medicines, with members of the ring openly discussing what dosages were needed to drug children of different ages.
Police said an “incredible” amount of planning went into gaining access to victims.
Ian Glover, senior investigating officer, said: “We've encountered grooming where the family have been groomed prior to birth of the baby. They go in that early with the sole intention of abusing that baby once it's born.”
Extensive planning went into enabling the abuse to be screened over the internet to co-conspirators and also other paedophiles around the world.
Members of the gang were “savvy” in establishing a way to broadcast their activities without transferring files in a way that could be easily traced, instead using video conferencing site Zoom to stream their abuse. They also used the dark web – a way of hiding online activity – to communicate with each other.
Images of abuse in this case are believed to have been seen on every continent and British police have circulated evidence about other suspected paedophiles to authorities in Europe, South America and Australia. There was no business element to the activities, with no evidence of any payment being received.
Greg McGill, head of the CPS organised crime division, said: “It is difficult to find the words to describe the activities of these men, and the harm that they have done. The families of these children have endured a horrendous ordeal and I would like to thank them for their invaluable assistance in securing these convictions.
“Fortunately, the CPS, NCA and police forces were able to coordinate a swift and effective response when matters came to light, which resulted in the arrest and prosecution of these men. The efforts have resulted in guilty pleas from all involved, followed by further convictions secured after a trial for other offences.”
The gang will be sentenced together at a later date.
Bill to allow recording of child sex abuse passes through Fla. Senate
by Dave Elias
LEE COUNTY, FL -- UPDATE -- This bill that would allow children to record their sex offenders has passed unanimously through the Florida Senate Wednesday
The lawmaker who wrote a bill that could soon allow children who are being sexually abused to record the act as evidence sat down with us to discuss how the bill could potentially save a child from a life of abuse and help put sexual offenders behind bars.
Right now in Florida it's against the law to secretly record anyone. Senator Lizbeth Benaquisto wants to change that.
She's introduced a bill that was inspired by a young Lee County girl who recorded her stepfather molesting her.
He was ultimately found guilty but now the State Supreme Court is giving him a new trial because the victim never told him she was recording the abuse.
Benacquisto wants to make sure the crime is never repeated.
“I could not imagine the unspeakable horror for that young girl,” said Banacquisto.
She is talking about the abuse a Lee County teen suffered at the hands of her stepfather.
“A very sweet young girl who endured six years of abuse by her stepfather and folks did not believe her unfortunately,” said Benacquisto.
However when she recorded her abuser the evidence was used in the trial. Richard McDade was found guilty. As he serves his time, the State Supreme Court has ordered a new trial that's because McDade was recorded without being told.
Benacquisto's bill changes that.
“It gives them the ability record it lawfully,” she said.
The bill has already passed the House of Representatives.
“This was tough because in Florida you have the constitutional right to privacy,” said State Representative Matt Caldwell.
Caldwell and his colleague Representative Dane Eagle favored a child's safety over privacy concerns of the abuser.
“It gives children a fighting chance against egregious crimes against our vulnerable children,” Eagle said.
Not everyone though agrees. Attorney Chris Cosden represented Richard McDade. He feels arming a vulnerable child with a recorder puts them at risk.
“If the other person involved were to realize that the encounter is being recorded that could certainly escalate and put the juvenile in grave danger,” said Cosden.
However Benacquisto believes the danger already exists.
“Passage of this bill will allow children who are otherwise afraid to tell or people don't believe, they can make a recording and it's then used as evidence,” Benacquisto concluded from her Tallahassee office.
The bill allows anyone 18 and under to record the sexual abuse. It passed the house 115 to 1.
The senate is slated to vote on the matter this week. Benacquisto does not expect opposition. Upon passage is will be forwarded to governor Rick Scott's office
Let's keep talking about child abuse in Elkhart County
Candy Yoder, CEO and president of CAPS of Elkhart County, says the community benefits when we discuss child abuse.
by Candy Yoder
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and in Elkhart County this issue has recently received much media attention. Is that a good thing, you might wonder?
No one wants to hear about children being harmed, especially by adults who are supposed to take care of them. These events are unsettling, troubling, and make us worry about the safety of children we love and care about. I think this worry is a good thing. Yes, I believe worrying about the safety of our children is OK, especially when it comes to child sexual abuse. I want to explain why.
The vast majority of child abuse is committed by adults who are very well known to the child and their family. In the case of sexual abuse, more than 90 percent of abused children know their abuser. One-third of sexually abused children are abused by a family member. About 60 percent of sexually abused children are harmed by people the family trusts. According to some studies, about one in seven girls and one in 25 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. And this happens in families across all social, economic and cultural lines. So the children in our families are at risk. Therefore, adults SHOULD worry about keeping children safe.
Beyond worry, adults can take action to keep kids safe. According to the Darkness to Light organization (www.d2l.org) there are five simple steps to protecting our children:
Learn the facts
Talk about it
Recognize the signs
Child sexual abuse is often a secret held only by the offender and the child victim. When parents don't proactively talk about sexual abuse, their children are not prepared to handle situations that make them uncomfortable. So often, a child believes that this behavior must be normal, and they don't have the words (or permission) to speak up about what is happening to them.
We make sure our children are in seat belts and car seats. We walk them across busy streets. We ask our teens who they will be with and where they are going. We take many precautions to keep our children safe. Yet when it comes to talking about sexual abuse, we are often silent. Give voice to this issue. Talk to your children in age-appropriate ways about their bodies and boundaries. Teach children what body parts others should not touch. Use everyday opportunities to talk about sexual abuse. Start early and talk often. When there are stories of sexual abuse in the media, use that as an opportunity to have a discussion within your family and circle of friends.
Talking about child abuse is good for children and can keep them safe. Talking about child abuse is good for our community as it raises awareness that this very real problem exists in our community, and we can take action to keep our children safe. Let's keep talking.
Candy Yoder is the chief executive officer and president of Child And Parent Services in Elkhart, an agency that fights child abuse and promotes healthy families and parenting. For more information about the programs of CAPS, go online to www.CAPSElkhart.org.
Maplewood woman charged for ignoring child abuse evidence
by Jon Collins
The mother of a young girl killed in the basement of a Maplewood home in February has been charged with child endangerment for ignoring evidence of abuse.
Lia Pearson, 37, lived in Farmington but left her 5-month-old daughter Genesis Xiong with Pearson's boyfriend in Maplewood. The young girl was found dead by police on Feb. 12 with bruises on her face, stomach and back.
According to the criminal complaint:
Pearson's boyfriend at the time, Leb Mike Meak, 35, told police that he spanked the girl every time he changed her diaper, but not to where she "passes out of anything." He also admitted that he "roughed her up little bit," and that he may have squeezed her too hard and caused her death.
Meak was charged in February with the girl's death.
Pearson and Meak had known one another for about five years, and started a committed relationship in August. Genesis had been staying with Meak for about a month before she died. Pearson attributed a large bruise on the baby's forehead to the girl bumping into a weight set.
Two of Meak's sons also lived with Meak during the time Genesis was in the house. The boys told investigators that they'd repeatedly warned Pearson that Meak was hitting the baby. One of the brothers said Pearson seemed worried, but then told them not to tell their dad that they had told her. Pearson told investigators that she thought the boys just didn't want to live with the baby.
Pearson denied being in contact with Meak after he was charged with the baby's death. But a number of phone calls were recorded between the two at the jail from Feb. 21 to April 14. Pearson told Meak that the baby forgives him for her death, said she wants to be his life partner and discussed Pearson's ring size. She also said she enlarged a photo of Meak to poster size and put it in her room.
"I am yours," Pearson told Meak during a phone call at the jail on April 2.
Pearson will make her first appearance in Ramsey County District Court on May 15 at 1:30 p.m.
Sex Offender 'Tried To Pick Up Kid Using Stolen School Bus'
A convicted sex offender allegedly stole a school bus and tried to pick up a child at her home in Utah, according to authorities.
Patrick James Fredricksen, 30, was arrested on Monday after the Emery County Sheriff's Office received a report of a suspicious man driving a school bus. An investigation showed that Fredricksen — who is on parole —was working for a landscaping company in Huntingdon, Utah, when he walked off the job and stole a car, NBC affiliate KSL reported.
"After stealing the school bus and using a list he found in the bus containing names and directions, Fredricksen attempted to pick one child up at her home and was asking directions to a second child's home," the Emery County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. It said Fredricksen faces multiple charges including theft of vehicle, attempted child kidnapping.
Fredrickson's prior convictions include unlawful sexual activity with a minor, impersonating a police officer, forgery, theft, possession of an altered prescription, and criminal mischief, KSL reported.
U.S. cracks down on female teachers who sexually abuse students
by Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A "Saturday Night Live" skit about a male student having sex with his female high school teacher painted the relationship as every teen boy's dream, but drew a firestorm of criticism on social media.
The reaction to the comedy sketch reflected a growing view among law enforcement and victims' advocacy groups that it is no laughing matter when a woman educator preys on her male students.
In U.S. schools last year, almost 800 school employees were prosecuted for sexual assault, nearly a third of them women. The proportion of women facing charges seems to be higher than in years past, when female teachers often got a pass, said Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education, who tracked the cases.
This year's numbers are already slightly ahead of last year with 26 cases of female school employees accused of inappropriate relationships with male students in January compared to 19 cases the previous January.
Female educators who sexually abuse their students are facing tougher prosecution in part because there are more women police officers. There is also a greater awareness among prosecutors, judges and the general public that students who are victimized by an authority figure, regardless of gender, experience trauma with life-long consequences.
"Law enforcement is increasingly feminized, and women are much less prone to the old attitude: 'Oh, this is just some kid who got lucky,'" said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center. "They recognize the issues involved and they go after women who violate the statutes."
Depression, low-self esteem and difficulty maintaining future relationships are among the long-term consequences that male victims face, according to experts. Those problems are sometimes compounded by confusion and guilt over whether they are actually victims since their adolescent bodies involuntarily respond to physical contact.
Child abuse experts agree it appears female teachers are being prosecuted more vigorously than in the past.
The crackdown is the result of "two seismic shifts," said Christopher Anderson, executive director of Male Survivor, the largest U.S. advocacy organization for male sex-crime victims.
"One is a recognition that it does not matter who the perpetrator is or what the circumstances are. A teacher has absolutely no business engaging in sexual contact with a student," Anderson said. "The second is a shift in the culture where boys and their parents are feeling empowered to come forward to say that something has been done."
In recent weeks, a Stamford, Connecticut high school English teacher, Danielle Watkins, 32, whose case was prosecuted by a female state's attorney, was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for having sex with an underage male student.
In Michigan, a female judge sentenced Kathryn Ronk, 30, a Spanish teacher at Bishop Foley High School in Madison Heights, to up to 15 years in prison for having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy, saying "the law does not recognize a double standard."
In New Jersey, a female prosecutor said the most lenient plea deal she would offer Nicole Dufault, 35, a Columbia High School English teacher accused of sexual relationships with six teenage boys, was 15 years in prison.
There are contrary examples, such as Pennsylvania's Erica Ann Ginnetti, 35, the Lower Moreland High School math teacher who had sex with a 17-year-old student and was sentenced to 30 days in jail by a male judge who said, "What young man would not jump on that candy?"
That was after a female prosecutor reportedly said in court that the victim's senior year became a nightmare, his grades plunged and he still struggles with social interactions.
But the Twitter furor ignited by the April "SNL" skit in which a male judge fist-bumps a boy who had sex with his "hot" teacher indicates how attitudes are changing.
"Appalled by the #SNL sketch glorifying sexual abuse of a male student by female teacher. Sends the worst message &minimizes real experiences," tweeted Heather Timmis @hnt108.
An SNL spokesperson declined to comment.
There is no central U.S. reporting system for tracking female teachers who prey on male students, according to federal education officials, but Abbott has been charting the crimes from news coverage. His research showed that female teachers far more often than male teachers use social media to lure students, creating an electronic "paper trail" that may aid prosecutions.
School districts are increasingly moving to ban private social media contact between teachers and students, sometimes in an effort to prevent inappropriate relationships.
"Social media enables the behavior to start," Abbott said. "There is no way that a teacher is going to walk up to a kid in the hallway and say, 'Hey, would you like to see a naked picture of me?' They won't do it. But they will do that on social media. It's like it erases what used to be that barrier."
(This version of the story corrects to say Bishop Foley High School, not Madison High School, in 12th paragraph)
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Scott Malone and Andrew Hay)
New York State
Adult victims push for change in child abuse law
by George Richert
AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local victim of child abuse is on a lobby mission to Albany this week.
Tino Flores will accompany his attorney William Lorenz to the State Capitol Wednesday to lobby for passage of the Child Abuse Act which would end the statute of limitations for adult victims of child abuse who want to press charges against their abusers.
Under current State law people have five years after they turn eighteen to press charges against someone who sexually abused them. Flores says that's not enough. He says he was molested by a priest and it took him thirty years to come to terms with it.
“We need change. we need people to listen. We need the adults and the children that are abused to open up and spill their guts,” said Flores.
The Child Abuse Act would also create a one year window in which child abuse victims could press charges against someone who abused them decades ago.
Vanessa DeRosa says that she was abused by a teacher at a Catholic School in Niagara Falls thirteen years ago.
“Imagine being abused as a child and maybe you don't have the courage to talk about it, or face it, or report until you're say twenty five, and imagine going to the police or law firm, or anybody and them telling you ‘there's nothing we can do'. That shouldn't happen.”
The State Assembly has passed it's own version of the Child Abuse Act, but the State Senate has yet to pass its similar version.
New York State
Sex abuse victims, including former speedskater Bridie Farrell, to call on Albany to eliminate statutes of limitations for future cases
EDITOR'S NOTE: By way of full disclosure, I was among the cosignatories of the petition involved with this event. One of the several states in which I was sexually abused as a child, including kidnapping, was New York, although even an extended statute of limitations probably won't have an impact on my case. We were notified by Marci A. Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, NAASCA family member, leader of the www.SOL-reform.com movement.
by MICHAEL O'KEEFFE -- April 20, 2015
Andy Gabel had represented the United States in three Olympics and won a silver medal in the 5,000-meter short track relay at the 1994 Lillehammer Games when he moved to Saratoga Springs to train for the 1998 Olympic trials. Gabel, then 33, was already an icon in the sport - especially to a local high school kid who hoped to compete against the world's very best.
Bridie Farrell was 15 years old and a promising junior skater when Gabel moved to her hometown, and she admits she was "starstruck" by Gabel, especially after he took an interest in her budding career.
Gabel drove her to the practice rink at 5 a.m. every morning, taught her how to properly sharpen and align her skates and even gave her tips on technique, Farrell says. Gabel also repeatedly molested Farrell over the course of several months in 1997 and 1998 she adds a secret she kept for years. Gabel later acknowledged he had an "inappropriate relationship with a female teammate."
"I didn't think anybody would believe me if I came forward," Farrell says. "He was getting ready for his fourth Olympics and I was a nobody and that was my mindset. It is a lot for a kid to carry."
Farrell is unable to pursue criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit against Gabel because New York statute of limitations on sex abuse cases bars victims from bringing charges after their 23rd birthday. That is why she will join other sexual abuse survivors and their advocates in Albany on Wednesday to lobby state lawmakers to approve the Child Victims Act.
The bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) calls for the elimination of criminal and civil statutes of limitations for future child abuse victims; it would also open up a one-year window for victims of past crimes to pursue criminal and civil cases. Markey has asked Pope Francis to meet with survivors of childhood sexual abuse when he visits New York in September. She's also asked the pope to persuade the New York Catholic Conference of Bishops to drop its opposition to her bill.
"There is no limit on what is a lifetime of suffering and anguish for so many victims of child sexual abuse," Markey says. "That is why there should be no limit on the ability of victims and society to prosecute abusers."
Attorney Kevin Mulhearn, who has represented victims from Poly Prep, Horace Mann, St. Francis Prep and Yeshiva University, says New York's statute of limitations encourages institutions to cover up sexual abuse.
"The law gives incentives to administrators to not report sexual abuse and hope the problem goes away," says Mulhearn, who will join Farrell in Albany to lobby for the bill. "You might as well call it the 'sex-abuse cover-up success statute' because that is how it works."
Farrell and Gabel both say they did not have sexual intercourse, but Farrell says the veteran athlete inappropriate kissed and touched her. He penetrated her with his fingers, she said, and placed his hands on his genitals. He always told her not to tell anybody about the abuse.
"Almost two decades ago I displayed poor judgment in a brief, inappropriate relationship with a female teammate," Gabel acknowledged in 2013 in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. "It did not include sex, however I know what happened was wrong, and I make no excuses for my behavior. I apologize to her, and I am sorry for bringing negative attention to the sport that I love."
Young athletes - especially elite athletes - are especially vulnerable to sexual predators, Farrell says. They devote hundreds of hours practicing and preparing for competition. Their families spend big bucks on coaching, equipment and travel. Farrell feared she would be booted from U.S. Speedskating's junior team if she reported the abuse.
Farrell continued to compete long after the abuse stopped, but she was dogged by depression for years. She tried to block it out by focusing on her skating, and later on her studies at Cornell University.
"A lot of it was keeping so busy I didn't have time to think about it," she says. "I tried to numb myself out."
Farrell found that she could run from the memories, but she could not hide. A professor at Cornell encouraged Farrell to seek therapy after she wrote a paper about her abuse for a human development class.
"I realized it was life-changing, and being molested by this guy was really hard," Farrell says.
Farrell went public with her story in 2013 with a reporter from NPR's WUWM affiliate in Milwaukee. She told her story, she says, because she wants to raise awareness of sexual abuse in sports, not because she wanted to lash out at Gabel.
Another skater, two-time Olympian Nikki Meyer, came forward after Farrell went public to say she had been raped and abused by Gabel in the early 1990s.
"There are a lot of positive points to this person, and coming forward was hard for me because it hurt Andy Gabel's reputation," she says. "But in my mind, these are non-negotiable acts."
Anti-human trafficking bill expected to pass Senate
WASHINGTON (AP) - Bipartisan legislation aimed at helping the victims of sex trafficking is set to pass the Senate after lawmakers ended a partisan dispute over abortion that has sidetracked the bill for weeks.
The legislation, which looks likely to pass by a wide margin this afternoon, would boost law enforcement resources and create a new fund to help victims.
Its approval would clear the way for a vote on President Barack Obama's pick for attorney general, federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch, whose nomination was put off by GOP leaders until the trafficking bill could be resolved.
The Lynch vote could come Thursday. She would replace Eric Holder and become the first black woman to hold the nation's top law enforcement job. Democrats have railed against the months-long holdup on her confirmation, with Obama last week calling the delays "embarrassing."
The trafficking bill had appeared set for easy passage in the Senate earlier this year until Democrats started raising alarms about language they said represented an expansion of existing prohibitions on spending federal money to perform abortions. A deal negotiated by Sens. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, and two Democrats - Patty Murray, of Washington and Harry Reid of Nevada, ensures that a new pot of nonfederal money in the victims' fund - paid for by criminals' fines - could not go to pay for any medical services, and therefore abortion restrictions wouldn't apply.
A second stream of money would also go into the fund and be available for medical and health services. It would be money previously appropriated by Congress for Community Health Centers, which is already subject to federal prohibitions on abortion funding.
"All this legislation is designed to do is to help the victims of human trafficking get rescued and then begin to heal and to get on with their lives," Cornyn said. "This body's consideration of this bill has proven that compromise and bipartisanship need not be relics of the past in today's Washington."
The House has passed a similar bill.
Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House was reserving judgment until it had a chance to review the final language in the deal, but he also said the endorsement from some Democrats was "certainly an encouraging sign."
"If we see strong Democratic support, including from champions for women's health care like Patty Murray, that certainly seems like the kind of thing the president would be able to support," Earnest said.
The pot of money at issue was quite small, but outside interest groups, including Planned Parenthood, got involved and the bill stalled, even as lawmakers in both parties bemoaned the Senate's inability to advance such a bill.
Tuesday's deal allows all sides to claim victory: Republicans for ensuring money for medical procedures is subject to the existing abortion restriction, and Democrats for establishing that the existing restriction isn't expanded to a new source of money.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, applauded the agreement, saying, "Thankfully, Sens. Reid and Murray and other women's health champions held the line" in the negotiations.
Cullman Caring for Kids Remembers Children Lost to Abuse, Continues Fighting for Others
CULLMAN – The local non-profit organization, Cullman Caring for Kids (CCK), along with a few dozen advocates and supporters, gathered around the courthouse recently to pray for the leaders of the county. A balloon release followed to remember those lost, and to send a message to children that are being abused that there are people who care.
The 2015 Walk for Children began with the handing out of white crosses and signs to participants. Each cross bore the name of one of the 18 children who were killed in Alabama this year from abuse and neglect. Participant Lana Thornton, who works as a court appointed advocate for CCK's program, held tight to Cullman's own victim Hoss Wayne Benham, who was killed in spring of 2014.
“When it came out in the news about the details of what happened to Hoss and how he was tortured, it hit me hard,” said Thornton. “I mean this happened in Vinemont and I am from Vinemont. Just knowing that there were people that saw some of the signs and didn't want to get involved or do anything was just so sad to me. So I just wanted to be involved and help.”
Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry attended the event to remember the children and the struggles they face as it is a struggle law enforcement knows all too well.
“It's an issue that we have to face every day as law enforcement officers,” Gentry said.
“It is something that is near and dear to our hearts and we just keep on every day trying to educate the public. Events like today are important to educate people, because our goal is to stop child abuse.”
After a reflective prayer walk around the courthouse, an emotional speech was given by Javon Daniel, director of Cullman Caring for Kids, before releasing the balloons atop the parking deck at Cullman Savings Bank.
“Child abuse happens every minute of every day,” a passionate Daniel said. “Right here in our community. It's not in a a far-off place, it's right here, and last year there were 849 cases of child abuse reported to DHR in Cullman. In Alabama, 18 children died, and that is why we are releasing these balloons. This is to remember those who have died, those who are still victims, and those who are survivors. The important thing about today is that children are abused, and the only people who can do something about it is us!”
One hundred blue balloons, which represent the bruises of all the children being hurt, gently drifted up into the sky as they served as a remembrance, but also a sign of hope for any child that is suffering. The release of the balloons served as a reminder that people do care, and that they are fighting to stop the madness and useless violence committed against innocent children every day.
For more information on upcoming events and information on child abuse visit, Facebook.com/CullmanCaringForKids.
If you suspect child abuse, do not hesitate, call anonymously to Cullman County DHR at 256-737-5300 or call 911.
Professional experts talk reporting child abuse
by Adrea Cope
National Child Abuse Protection Month drew a panel of experts to the Ruth Pike Auditorium last night to discuss a topic that is familiar to the Penn State community.
Penn State's Network on Child Protection and Well-Being partnered with the Child Advocacy Center of Centre County to present a panel of professionals who spoke about what it means to be a reporter of child abuse.
Jennie Noll, director of the Network on Child Protection and Well-Being and a human development and family studies professor, said the venue was held to talk specifically about what happens after a report is made.
The panel included both local and national experts who have worked and conducted research in the field of child abuse.
Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance, said her career originally began when she spoke to students in schools about body safety and self-protection.
“When you're sitting in a circle talking about the prevention of child abuse, inevitably a child would disclose that they were being physically or sexually abused,” Huizar said. “I felt strongly that I was on the wrong end of this, I wanted to do something to make that response.”
Studies have shown that child mistreatment has been proven to eventually shorten the victim's life, Huizar said, citing a specific incident where her co-worker's daughter suffered from drug addiction and mental health issues after being the victim of abuse.
She passed away from those health complications at the age of 40, Huizar said.
“Her death certificate said one thing about what her cause of death was, but ultimately she died of child abuse,” Huizar said.
Kristina Taylor-Porter, director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Centre County, spoke about the proper steps to follow after an incident of abuse has been reported.
Porter discussed the process followed in the Centre County Center and said the center aims to create a “neutral environment.”
“Law enforcement offices are very intimidating,” Porter said. “We often watch interviews [with children] from another room, to avoid re-traumatizing them in the process.”
After a report is filed, an investigative team will go out and gather information about suspects and the case, Porter said.
“It's important to remember that 95 percent of the time, even a little more, we do not have evidence in sexual abuse cases,” Porter said. “But because it's not there doesn't mean it didn't happen.”
The Centre County Women's Resource Center has a very active program of volunteer counselors, Director Anne Ard said.
“Our 24-hour hotline is answered primarily by volunteers who have had pretty extensive training,” Ard said. “They assist with doing crisis intervention and emergency services.”
The volunteers include a significant number of undergraduate and graduate students, Ard said.
“It's a long process to go through the legal system,” Ard said. “Having a system of support in place is really helpful.”
When asked what her biggest goal for the field was. Teresa Smith, coordinator of outreach and training at the Northeast Regional Children's Advocacy Center, said it was the future.
“We're training the next generation to come forward and do this work,” Smith said. “That's very exciting.”
The panelists noted the importance of community awareness to child abuse.
“There's a public assumption that ‘it won't happen to people I know,' ” Ard said. “The reality, in fact, is quite different.”
The Centre County Women's Resource Center puts the child at the center of the work that is done, Ard said.
“You have an ethical obligation to children,” Porter said. “If you see something, you do something about it.”
Child abuse has countless victims
by John Cook
It's easier to imagine that child abuse happens elsewhere and because of that, we often fail to acknowledge its existence in our own community. Almost every day, abused and neglected children are being placed under court protection right here in Fairfax County. In many of these cases, the emotional trauma remains with these children long after the physical scars of abuse have healed. While the abused child is the primary victim, child abuse has repercussions across the entire community. Fairfax County leaders and organizations are going to great lengths to protect children who have been victims of abuse and neglect, and to prevent it from happening in the future.
Children who are abused or neglected are likely to suffer from a variety of problems and disorders that can follow them into adulthood. In fact, abused children are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as juveniles, and 28 percent more likely to be arrested as adults. They are also 30 percent more likely to commit violent crimes. Any time a child is abused in our county, it affects the community as a whole.
Several organizations around the county have come together to offer an array of services that provide families with the help they need. Youth and Family Services works in collaboration with many nonprofits to treat the children and families that find themselves in these delicate situations, but more importantly, these organizations strive to raise awareness and to prevent child abuse and neglect before it starts.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program is one such organization working to provide children with advocates to protect their fundamental rights. Since its founding in 1989, CASA volunteers have worked on behalf of over 6,550 children. Currently, 160 volunteers are helping the 225 children in open abuse and neglect cases, and their efforts are paying off. Children involved with CASA have better outcomes and achieve permanency more quickly than their peers.
It's easier to imagine that child abuse happens elsewhere and because of that, we often fail to acknowledge its existence in our own community. Almost every day, abused and neglected children are being placed under court protection right here in Fairfax County. In many of these cases, the emotional trauma remains with these children long after the physical scars of abuse have healed. While the abused child is the primary victim, child abuse has repercussions across the entire community. Fairfax County leaders and organizations are going to great lengths to protect children who have been victims of abuse and neglect, and to prevent it from happening in the future.
Children who are abused or neglected are likely to suffer from a variety of problems and disorders that can follow them into adulthood. In fact, abused children are 59 percent more likely to be arrested as juveniles, and 28 percent more likely to be arrested as adults. They are also 30 percent more likely to commit violent crimes. Any time a child is abused in our county, it affects the community as a whole.
Several organizations around the county have come together to offer an array of services that provide families with the help they need. Youth and Family Services works in collaboration with many nonprofits to treat the children and families that find themselves in these delicate situations, but more importantly, these organizations strive to raise awareness and to prevent child abuse and neglect before it starts.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program is one such organization working to provide children with advocates to protect their fundamental rights. Since its founding in 1989, CASA volunteers have worked on behalf of over 6,550 children. Currently, 160 volunteers are helping the 225 children in open abuse and neglect cases, and their efforts are paying off. Children involved with CASA have better outcomes and achieve permanency more quickly than their peers.
For those within our community looking to get involved, there are a number of organizations looking for assistance. Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to putting an end to child abuse and promoting the well-being of children, is asking local businesses, families, and community groups to participate in their “Pinwheel Partners” program. This April, participants throughout the community are raising awareness about child abuse and neglect and are raising funds for child abuse prevention programs.
For more information on how you can participate visit: www.scanva.org/support-scan/pinwheel-partners/
All children deserve a loving and supportive family and keeping children safe is the very best investment we can make in our community. If you have reason to believe that a child may be at risk, or if you are looking for additional resources, please contact Fairfax County's Child Protective Services Hotline by calling 703-324-7400.
Child Abuse Workshop will be an invaluable resource
Children in West Virginia are under siege, as they are too often the unnoticed victims of the many challenges we face - economic uncertainty, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and mental health woes - and it is up to each of us to do what we can to protect those kids.
Thursday at St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Parkersburg, the public has an opportunity to learn about ways to do that, with the workshop "Making a Difference: Mandate to Report, Responsibility to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect." Attendants will learn how to identify abuse and neglect, and develop ways to protect against it.
In case you are wondering about the "Mandate to Report," West Virginia state code says certain people are required to report suspected abuse and neglect:
"Any medical, dental or mental health professional, Christian Science practitioner, religious healer, school teacher or other school personnel, social service worker, child care or foster care worker, emergency medical services personnel, peace officer or law-enforcement official, humane officer, member of the clergy, circuit court judge, family court judge, employee of the Division of Juvenile Services, magistrate, youth camp administrator or counselor, employee, coach or volunteer of an entity that provides organized activities for children, or commercial film or photographic print processor who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is neglected or abused or observes the child being subjected to conditions that are likely to result in abuse or neglect ..." and,
"Any person over the age of eighteen who receives a disclosure from a credible witness or observes any sexual abuse or sexual assault of a child ..."
That is a pretty large segment of the population required by law to report suspicions of abuse and neglect, and that would benefit from attending the session being conducted by the Children's Home Society and Wood County Partners in Prevention Team. Take the extra step to make sure no child falls through the cracks growing ever wider in the Mountain State.
NY bill would nix statute of limitations on child sex abuse
by The Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. - (AP) -- A group of advocates who work to fight child sex abuse is asking New York state lawmakers to eliminate the statute of limitations on certain sex crimes committed against minors.
Legislation that would eliminate the time restraints on the reporting of child sex abuse is pending in the state's Legislature. Advocates plan to gather at the Capitol on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers and speak out in favor of the change.
Under the state's current law, for charges to be brought a victim typically must report the allegations before they turn 23. Critics of that law say it must be changed to allow more victims to get justice and to recognize the seriousness of child sexual abuse.
No easy solutions to child and sex abuse, panel says
by Kristen Cates
The alarming number of child abuse and sexual abuse cases in Cascade County will not simply be solved by addressing the abuse, according to multiple officials who spoke at the Great Falls Tribune's community forum on the topic Tuesday night.
Panelists said the issue is multipronged, but the two dominant themes presented were addressing mental health issues in Cascade County as well as the drug problem.
"You tackle the drug problem — that's the cycle right there," said District Court Judge Greg Pinski, who received applause from the crowd of approximately 75 gathered in the Cameron Auditorium at Benefis Health System.
Pinski cited statistics from the Montana Supreme Court that show in the last five years, child abuse cases in Cascade County have increased by 71 percent. In Billings — a much larger population — the increase has been 48 percent and the statewide increase is at 31 percent.
In Cascade County District Court, there have been 104 cases of child abuse or neglect filed since January.
"That is six children a week in Cascade County alone entering the foster care system," he said.
Kory Larsen, deputy Cascade County attorney, told the audience there has been a large increase in methamphetamine cases in the last two years. Out of the 109 criminal cases he has right now, only two of them don't involve drug use.
But Janet Duffy, executive director of the YWCA and Mercy Home in Great Falls, said mental health is also a critical component. And providing adequate services to victims of any kind of abuse is critical as well. She said the national average shows it takes a victim of domestic abuse seven times to finally leave his or her abuser. Victims need tremendous support when the leave those negative environments.
Great Falls' numbers of reported abuse and sexual assaults are higher than the rest of the state, but Noah Scott, a detective with the Great Falls Police Department who investigates crimes against children, offered a different perspective on perhaps why it is such a prevalent issue here.
"Is it a situation where less child abuse is being investigated everywhere else?" Scott asked. "I know people in Great Falls are good about calling (to report abuse)."
Panelists reviewed the intricacies of the work they do and the delicate nature of the people they meet. They talked about the difficulties of trying a sexual abuse case and the trauma it can cause to a victim. Nichole Griffith, director of Victim Witness Advocate Services, said there have been positive advances made in child victims testifying in sexual abuse cases — they can testify via video in another room so they don't have to experience the trauma of appearing in court. But by and large, Griffith said even with her office trying to help victims navigate the court system, it can be a discouraging process — especially when a trial gets delayed.
"That's a long time for someone who is broken to stay strong," Griffith said.
Audience members asked questions of the panelists about what they would do to solve things and how to notice the warning signs that someone has been the victim of abuse. Duffy said often a woman's self confidence will begin to wilt if she's in an unhealthy relationship. But it's harder to identify the abuser as such.
"When you meet an angry, controlling man, he's usually Prince Charming," Duffy said.
Audience members said they were motivated to attend Tuesday's forum for various reasons.
Cindy Dolan used to work with teens in crisis and said she wants there to be more resources out there for teenagers looking to find their way out of a violent and unstable situation.
Kristina Davis, who used to direct the Montana Children's Defense Fund and still serves on statewide organizes committed to children's issues, was glad to see a community discussion on the topic, but legislatively she thinks the focus should be shifted.
"Legislatively, the discussion is punitive," Davis said.
She wants to see more resources put into intervention and prevention of abuse and neglect.
Six Nonprofits Team Up for Emotional Abuse Awareness Campaign
Foothills Child Advocacy Center News Release
Six local nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving victims of abuse have joined together to launch Words Hurt, Too, a campaign to increase awareness of the impact of emotional abuse in the courts and community. This effort has been made possible by the generous support of concerned individuals.
The six organizations are dedicated to serving child and/or adult victims of all types of abuse in the geographical area of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and surrounding counties. They include: Foothills Child Advocacy Center; Piedmont Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA); ReadyKids; Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA); Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE); and The Women's Initiative.
Representatives from the organizations will present a panel discussion, “Words Hurt, Too: The Impact of Emotional Abuse” from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, April 30, at CitySpace, 100 5th St NE, Charlottesville, for all interested members of the public. Topics of discussion will include: what emotional abuse is; the signs of emotional abuse; the ways in which emotional abuse affects adults and children; and the resources each organization offers to help victims of abuse. Registration is required at: http://www.wordshurttoo.org/register.html
Emotional abuse is also referred to as mental or psychological abuse and happens to both adults and children. The impact of emotional abuse may affect a person throughout their lifetime, especially if they do not receive help.
The results of the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey suggested that “nearly half of all adult women and men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” According to the American Psychological Association, a recent study has shown that “Children who had been psychologically abused suffered from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, symptoms of post-traumatic stress and suicidality at the same rate and, in some cases, at a greater rate than children who were physically or sexually abused.”
The campaign focuses on the slogan, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me – NOT!” A website, wordshurttoo.org, has been developed to serve as a clearinghouse of available information and resources.
For more information about the Word Hurts, Too, effort please contact Cathee Johnson Phillips, executive director of Foothills Child Advocacy Center, via e-mail at email@example.com or phone at 434-971-7233, ext. 4.
About the Members of the Collaborative
Foothills Child Advocacy Center is a non-profit, accredited agency designed to provide a coordinated system of effective response and intervention to children who have been victimized. Foothills works to minimize trauma, promote healing, and ensure child safety. For more information, contact Cathee Johnson Phillips, executive director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Piedmont CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recruits, screens, trains, supervises, and supports volunteers who are appointed to advocate for abused and neglected children and youth in the court system. For more information, contact Alicia L Lenahan, president and CEO: email@example.com
ReadyKids provides trauma-informed mental health counseling to child victims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect. For more information, contact Shannon Noe, Youth Counseling Program Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA) provides trauma-informed mental health counseling and advocacy for child and adult victims of sexual abuse. SARA also provides primary prevention education at area schools. For more information, contact Becky Weybright, executive director: email@example.com
Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) helps families, many of whom have experienced domestic violence and abuse. Services include a 24-hour hotline, shelter, counseling, case management, and more. For more information, contact Cartie Lominack, executive director: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Women's Initiative provides mental health counseling to adults, many of whom have been victims of abuse as children and/or adults. Services include individual counseling, support groups, workshops and social support, and a walk-in wellness clinic. For more information, contact Elizabeth Irvin, executive director: email@example.com
Failing to provide for kids leads to aggression and delinquency, according to new study
Prevention is a matter of building better social skills
by Bert Gambini
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A new study by two researchers in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work has shown that parents who chronically neglect their children contribute to the likelihood that they will develop aggressive and delinquent tendencies later in adolescence, and the one factor that links neglect with those behaviors appears to be poor social skills.
While child neglect can include many different aspects, the study examined two: failure to provide for a child's basic needs and a lack of adequate supervision.
Failure to provide, which includes not meeting a child's basic needs for food, shelter and clothing, was the key aspect of neglect that linked to later aggression and delinquency. The study also found that lack of adequate supervision did not link to the same outcomes, even after accounting for the contributions of other forms of maltreatment.
“When you have a neglected child whose basic needs are not being met, they're not getting the socialization that enables them to grow to be a happy adolescent and adult,” says Patricia Logan-Greene, whose study with Annette Semanchin Jones will appear in a forthcoming issue of Child Abuse & Neglect.
Logan-Greene says failing to provide for children may result in poor hygiene or a tendency toward illness, making some of them unappealing to their peers.
“These children are often rejected and lack the kind of social stimulation that would lead them to have positive, strong, social ties,” she says.
“We expected lack of supervision — leaving children unattended — to be more contributive that it was. So that was a surprise; but remember, this is different from parental monitoring: knowing who their friends are or what they might be getting into when parents are not around.”
The groundbreaking research adds to a growing body of literature highlighting the effects of chronic neglect on child development, an understudied research area despite neglect being the most common form of maltreatment in the U.S. and among the most costly segments of child welfare systems.
“Neglect is hard to study,” says Logan-Greene. “It's not like physical abuse or sexual abuse where there are specific incidents that we can ask people about. It's more difficult to answer the question, ‘How often were you neglected?'”
Logan-Greene says neglect is quietly insidious and it took a long time to understand its powerful impact.
The absence of a consensus definition also compounds the difficulty of studying chronic neglect. There is no clinical threshold that establishes the point at which neglect becomes chronic.
For this study the researchers considered neglect in terms of a continuum and examined effects of neglect across development using LONGSCAN, a comprehensive resource of maltreatment data, tracking not only neglect, but physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and exposure to violence.
Their findings and the presence of a social connection suggest possible prevention strategies that Logan-Greene says are obvious and simple.
“Give them interventions that improve their social skills,” she says.
“We have these interventions now; they exist and we know they work on other levels. So there's a lot of promise that we can prevent these behaviors from occurring.”
The researchers also found that boys are more likely to respond to chronic neglect with aggressive or delinquent behavior than girls. Although the research did not address what's responsible for that difference, historically boys have been more prone to engage in aggressive behavior than girls, but over the past 20 years that margin of difference has been decreasing. Women are the fastest growing population in both the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, according to Logan-Greene.
Combined law enforcement groups combat child abuse
Project Safe Childhood brings together SAPD, BCSO, DA, FBI and DHS
by Courtney Friedman
SAN ANTONIO - Children in communities in Bexar County and all over the world are being abused in many different ways.
From physical assault and sexual assault to child pornography, child exploitation and child trafficking, all are different and equally concerning types of abuse.
But local, state, and federal agencies are working together to keep children safe.
"Victims are left with permanent physical, emotional, and psychological damage," said Department of Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Harry Jimenez.
Jimenez said that to save children from these nightmares, the combined agencies formed Project Safe Childhood in 2006.
"We could pool our resources and identify and rescue as many children as possible, and to prosecute those responsible for the exploitation of children," said Project Safe Childhood coordinator Tracy Thompson.
The San Antonio Police Department, the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are all working on Project Safe Childhood.
"None of us are here looking for credit," said Jim Wheat, with the District Attorney's Office. "We're looking to get the results."
Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said it's working.
"Just last week, an individual was given a life,sentence for being a child predator," she said.
But there's still a long way to go.
"There are parts of this issue, especially with human trafficking of children that often is difficult to prosecute (and) difficult to prove because of the laws that are in place," Pamerleau said.
She said she wants to call attention to the Texas Legislature, which is currently considering legislation that will provide better tools for agencies to prosecute these crimes.
Fears thousands will swamp child abuse unit
Police Scotland yesterday officially unveiled its new National Child Abuse Investigation Unit, which will have 50 dedicated officers across Scotland.
Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said a key objective of the unit was to encourage abused children to come forward now instead of waiting until adulthood.
But Alan Draper, an academic who has helped lead the campaign for a public inquiry into historical abuse, said he expected that potentially thousands of victims could come forward once the inquiry's terms of reference are known, leaving the police unable to properly investigate all the allegations.
The launch of the new unit came as the Crown Office said sexual crime, including child sex offences, now accounted for up to three-quarters of the cases prosecuted in the High Court.
Based in Livingston, the police unit will also have officers working in Inverness, Aberdeen and Dalmarnock in Glasgow.
ACC Graham said: “Emergent forms of child abuse, such as child sexual exploitation, have demonstrated the need to have suitably skilled people able to provide assistance with these often complex inquiries.
“We welcome the object of a public inquiry. We've yet to see what the exact terms of reference will be, but we will support it fully and one of the requirements to support it will be that police will provide information about activity that we've been responsible for as legacy forces in the past. That job will come to the unit as well.
“We know that most children will wait until they are an adult to report they have been abused. Part of the remit of this unit is to turn that around to make sure children can come forward and report at an earlier stage.”
But Mr Draper, a representative of the group In Care Abuse Survivors (INCAS), who compiled a report for the Catholic Church in Scotland on how to deal with historical child abuse, said he was worried the new unit was under-resourced.
He said: “We're pleased that it's getting off the ground. Our concern as a group is the resources they have been allocated. I think that if the inquiry scope is right, then thousands of survivors will come forward. Are the police geared up [for that]?
“You can't go back decades without getting thousands of victims, given the sort of appalling criminal behaviour that has taken place.”
He added: “Survivors will still be very suspicious of people in authority because they have been let down so often.”
Speaking at the launch of the unit, Kathleen Harper, head of the Crown Office's National Sexual Crimes Unit, said sexual crime had gone from making up around a quarter of prosecutions in the High Court less than a decade ago, to between 65 and 75 per cent today.
After Sexual Violence, Hope Grows in Honesty, Trust and Loving Relationships
by Eric Stiles
All too often, male survivors of sexual assault do not come forward or have support. Hope keeps them going. Hope kept me going.
The people who abused me told me that no one would believe me.
The isolation I felt while growing up chilled me to the bone. I did not know what was happening to me. I did not know boys could be raped. I did not know which words to use to describe my feelings.
I often was picked on at school for being different. I was seen as "gay" or "not male enough."
Throughout this rejection, the adults in my life told me that I should learn to toughen up. They did not think to ask if I was ok. They said I was "going through a time" and implied that I should be "more of a man."
I guarded a flicker of hope for a better day, a day when I would be loved by others and feel a sense of belonging. I would turn to the safe ones in my life, my pets and nature. I would not let others in. If I was going to be without other humans, I at least had the love of animals.
A realization came to me while healing from child sexual abuse: Hope is guarded in isolation and from rejection. Hope grows through honesty, trust and loving relationships.
I began to meet rejection with sarcasm and wit. It was easier to laugh at myself and keep a shred of hope for a future full of love than to be silent and alone.
During my journey, I found an honest person. It wasn't the first person I turned to. It was a sexual assault counselor. The type of honesty I am talking about is the honesty that comes with truly seeing a person, truly being present and being open to saying "I don't know everything."
This counselor did not try and make me feel better about what I was going through by using statistics. She believed me. This belief in me fostered me to trust her and, more importantly, to trust myself down the road. Sexual violence creates mistrust, not only of others but of oneself. The question, "Was it my fault?" took so much from me. Her ability to listen and show compassion helped me find my way to hope again.
Hope is what keeps us all going: That hope for making a connection with someone. Hope that the world can be a better place. Hope that the pain stops and you find joy. Hope that it is not all in vain.
When males come forward to speak about being a survivor of sexual violence, believe them, listen to them, be honest and show them compassion. This will create space for them to grow hope.
We all play a role in changing the world for the better.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To learn more about the NSVRC and how you can help prevent sexual violence, visit here. Read all posts in the series here.
Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.
You can join the effort to prevent child abuse
by Phyllis Barkhurst and Jeff Todahl
April is both Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Why do we designate specific months to draw attention to certain issues locally and nationally? Why did the mayors of all 12 cities in Lane County take the time to make proclamations this year? One answer is that such proclamations remind us that child abuse, child neglect and sexual assault persist at unacceptable rates in our community. Perhaps a more important reason is to remind us that real solutions exist to prevent them.
At 90by30, a local campus-community initiative to decrease child abuse 90 percent by the year 2030, we began the search for solutions by gaining an understanding of what we believe about child abuse and neglect. Do we see it as a current problem? Do we see solutions? Do we see a role for ourselves in these solutions?
To find out, we conducted a scientific survey of 503 Lane County residents and found that 70 percent agreed that child abuse and neglect is a problem in our community, 20 percent reported that they simply did not know, and 10 percent were convinced it is not a problem. With an average of 4,200 cases of child abuse reported in Lane County every year in the past five years, it is clearly a serious problem.
According to the survey, Lane County residents overwhelmingly — 98 percent — believe that adults should do everything we can to ensure that “all children” in our community are safe. An identical percentage agreed “one of the most important responsibilities of adulthood is to ensure that children are safe.” And almost 85 percent agreed that “there is a role for each and every person, neighborhood, group, organization, business and entity to prevent child abuse and neglect.”
This is a pretty clear message: Most of us believe child abuse is a local problem, almost all of us think we should do something about it, and almost nine out of 10 believe there is a role for us all. The missing link is how to go about it.
This is where 90by30 comes in — by building on the strong foundation on all the work that has gone before and continues to grow to protect children and families, and by adding new community-based prevention strategies to our current local efforts conducted by schools, nonprofit organizations and units of government.
90by30 is housed at the University of Oregon College of Education and is a community-based effort. We began this work in 2012 by talking with and surveying folks from all over Lane County. We have now met and talked with more than 4,000 residents. We wanted to know how people outside of government and nonprofit organizations felt about becoming part of community-based strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect.
The resounding answer has been yes, I want to take part! If there is a mechanism that makes it possible to become part of the solution, residents from all across the diverse population that makes up Lane County are willing and able to join in.
Our organizing method has been to form regional leadership teams; we started in rural Lane County with support from the Ford Family Foundation to help lead the way. There are now seven 90by30 regional leadership teams formed or emerging all across the county.
The Eugene and Springfield teams are just now emerging and are looking for caring people with time to give to join in the urban efforts. In the end, it is local residents, through these teams, who will choose and implement the particular blend of proven strategies in their own neighborhoods.
More than 30 strategies are being considered for local implementation by these teams, and they fall within quite a range. One strongly supported idea is bringing back the Welcome Wagon as a specific method of breaking isolation and increasing connections to people and families as they move into neighborhoods. Increasing connections is a proven protective factor in preventing child abuse.
Another strategy that has gained local support is Safe Families for Children, a faith-based effort to provide concrete support to families, from respite care to clothes to child care. This effort is designed to prevent families from entering the child protective services system.
In the field of school-based programming, 90by30 has been chosen as one of only four sites in the United States to implement Roots of Empathy, a school-based strategy that pairs a local infant (and parent) with a classroom and a particular curriculum over a school year. It has great evidence to support the idea that children who learn empathy are more likely to support each other over time.
This program has been shown to immediately decrease bullying in schools, and, over time, help in creating empathetic adults who are unlikely to harm children or other adults in their lives.
This strategy is the No. 1 funded prevention effort in Canada and in Scotland. Additionally, these strategies are aligned with local expert Dr. Tony Biglan's emphasis on creating nurturing communities as a key way to prevent child abuse.
Another way to find out more about local strategies and planning is to attend the 90by30 annual conference, which will be in Eugene on Saturday. We are featuring a team from Australia's National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. They are 27 years into a program entitled “Play Your Part” that invites all Australians to become active as individuals, organizations, and groups to prevent child abuse and neglect in Australia. The team is going to share with us the lessons its members have learned, and the successes they have had in creating a national movement to end child abuse and neglect.
Also at this conference will be the debut of Lane County's “What Would We Do?” video project. We film local amateur actors depicting actual scenarios that have happened in Lane County (disguised for the sake of confidentiality) where child abuse or neglect was happening and people did not know how to respond. Eventually, this video series will be available online as a skill-building tool through our website. To join our conference, please go to 90by30.com to register. Twenty-five sponsors of the conference have made scholarship funds available so that cost is not a barrier to participation.
The 90by30 conference will be the last official activity of the Lane County Child Abuse Prevention Month efforts as organized by a group of agencies, individuals and organizations who believe a connected and collaborative community holds greater capacity for change. To reflect this belief, the planners chose “Connection is Prevention” as this year's theme.
More than 100 local organizations and schools are participating in Child Abuse Prevention Month efforts this year through children's fairs, proclamations, displays, art projects, speaker series, and newspaper articles and opinion pieces in every Lane County newspaper.
Something is happening almost every single day this month. To find out what is happening in your community, go to Lane County's 2015 Child Abuse Prevention Month calendar of events.
There are opportunities for each and every one of us to play our part to prevent child abuse and neglect in Lane County. Join in existing efforts, become a leader, help implement new and exciting strategies, and find your place. Please contact 90by30, and we can assist to connect you to any of the hundreds of opportunities available.
Phyllis Barkhurst is director of 90by30 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Jeff Todahl is director of the Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect in the University of Oregon College of Education. Brittany Hinchliffe, an urban outreach worker for 90by30, and Megan Schultz, director of Court Appointed Special Advocates and a 90by30 Steering Committee member, helped write this essay.
Local advocates push child abuse prevention
by Amy Marchioano
With April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, local advocates say it's important to raise awareness every day, not just this month.
“It's OK to ask for help,” Renee Magdeburg, director of maternal child health at Schuylkill Health, said Monday.
To help raise awareness, the hospital is giving out blue ribbon-shaped pins and bookmarks to pediatric offices and children. Magdeburg said parents of every baby born in April will receive a pin and 10 tips on how to prevent child abuse. The tips include spending time together as a family, looking for positive aspects of family members, listening to children and speaking to other people about any problems.
Dr. Carol Bilinski, a pediatrician with Integrated Medical Group, Blue Mountain Pediatrics, Schuylkill Haven, donated the pins. She said child abuse is a problem in the county. She said parents have many stresses to deal with and should reach out to someone who can help them.
“It's a very challenging job to be a good parent,” Bilinski said.
She urged people to call family, friends or a pediatrician for help.
Schuylkill Medical Center is doing its part to try to help parents. On Monday, they put out a bassinet for parents to place children up to 28 days old. The hospital is a Safe Haven as are all hospitals in the state. Parents can place their children at the hospital or given to a police officer at a police station without questions if the child is not harmed, according to state law. More information about Safe Haven is available by calling 1-866-921-safe or by visiting www.secretsafe.org
Bilinski said caring for newborns can be especially demanding on caregivers. Children require a lot of attention and parents need to be responsible.
“If you're impaired, you can't take care of your baby,” she said about parents who may be consuming drugs or alcohol and trying to care for children. Local resources are available to help you such as Schuylkill County Drug and Alcohol.
Heidi Eckert, child abuse supervisor with Schuylkill County Children & Youth, said there were 431 child abuse investigations in the county in 2014. From Jan. 1, 2014, to April 20, 2014, there were 132 investigations.
During that same time span this year, there were 182 investigations, Eckert said. She said the increase can be attributed to new regulations and that people required to report will receive a citation if they do not. Changes to state law have expanded the number of people who must report suspected child abuse. People who are classified as mandated reporters must, by law, report suspected abuse. Mandated reporters are those who come in contact with children, such as school employee, health care worker or police officer. More information on mandated reporters is available at email@example.com
Nationally, at least 1,400 children died in 2013 from abuse and neglect, the latest information available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It's all preventable,” Bilinski said about child abuse.
Kids Count director: Rising poverty and mental health cuts spawn child abuse and neglect
by Lawrence Porter
Jane Zehnder-Merrell, project director for Kids Count of Michigan, spoke with the WSWS about the fate of Michigan's most vulnerable population, its children, and the drastic impact of social inequality in the state.
While she couldn't speak to the case of Mitchelle Blair in particular, Zehnder-Merrell pointed to the huge increase in child abuse and neglect as a result of Michigan's growth of poverty.
Detroit has more children living in extreme poverty than any of the nation's 50 largest cities, according to a recent national report released by Kids Count. Over one-third of children (35 percent) in this state live in a family where no parent had a full-time, year-round job.
Zehnder-Merrell said there was a staggering 77 percent increase in cases of abuse or neglect in Detroit between 2006-2013, and cited the corollary development—the city's child poverty rate has increased to 59.4 percent. (The grossly inadequate federal poverty level is pegged at an income of $23,300 for a family of four.)
The vast majority of Detroit children, 82 percent live below 200 percent of poverty, a level of income considered “economically insecure.” And 36 percent of Detroit children live in the relatively new category of “extreme poverty,” that is, less than 50 percent of the federal poverty level.
Zehnder-Merrell said that the numbers give a glimpse of the dreadful situation facing families in Detroit, Michigan and nationally. “A lot more families are economically insecure, and we have a much less robust safety net. When you don't provide solutions that help people on one end”—she said, referring to the cuts in welfare—“it shifts to another agency… It is sort of like what we did with mental health and prisons. We cut back a lot on mental health services, and now we have a lot of mentally ill people in our prisons.”
Zehnder-Merrell emphasized that, “when you see escalations in these numbers you also see escalations in abuse.”
When the Kids Count report was issued, Zehnder-Merrell called the “steep cuts to social services that coincided with the recession” a “double whammy.” She said, “First you have this recession, and then at the same time you cut social services that used to help people get through the hard times. [Michigan's] response has been to cut services to families.”
Speaking to the WSWS, she gave the example of Michigan's Roscommon County. “41.5 out of every 1,000 children have suffered abuse or neglect in the county, which has a poverty rate of 22.2 percent.” Similarly, the northern counties of Roscommon and Lake have the largest rate of participation in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) in the state, with roughly three of every five children in the federal food program.
Between 2006 and 2012, the official number of cases of abuse or neglect of children in Michigan increased from 158,000 to 207,000, according to Zehnder-Merrell and Kids Count. This is the highest number of cases in the last 22 years.
“Neglect” is defined as a child not receiving basic needs such as food, clothing or shelter, or not being protected from harm.
“The rate of children in a family investigated for abuse or neglect rose by 41 percent between fiscal years 2005 and 2012—jumping from 64 children of every 1,000 to 90 children among every 1,000,” the 2012 report states. In only two Michigan counties did the rates decline, but in roughly a dozen the rate at least doubled over that period.
“(For) a family that is struggling from one day to the next to keep food on the table, to keep their home warm, to keep a roof over their head even though it leaks, making sure a child develops developmentally is a lower priority,” said Dr. Herman Gray, vice president of pediatric services at the Detroit Medical Center, in comments to the Detroit News .
“First and foremost, they're fighting for survival. We also see abuse, both physical and non-physical maltreatment, when you have a family living under extreme stress due to poverty—they are more likely to lash out against their children.”
Zehnder-Merrell pointed out an astounding statistic to the WSWS. She said that Medicaid now covers a full half of the state's live births. (Medicaid eligibility is 185 percent of the national poverty level.) In fact, this trend tracks the national drop in income in the wake of the 2008 economic crash. George Washington University of Public Health recently reported that Medicaid births nationally increased from 40 percent in 2008 to 48 percent in 2010.
Moreover, Zehnder-Merrell continued, “The data shows that half of the women (who gave birth using Medicaid) have symptoms of depression, and 10 percent have severe depression.
“They really need therapy of some kind. And we know that kids who live in situations where the parents are depressed, this has a tremendous impact on them because they don't get the feedback that is needed in order to have appropriate brain development.”
The Kids Count director also spoke about how poverty, mental illness and sexual abuse compound one another. She mentioned several studies on how sexual abuse leads to severe health and psychological problems, including the California Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, which found that adults who experienced ACE had severe health problems.
Traumatic childhood problems lead to an accumulation of risk factors. Such children are more likely to abuse substances, suffer depression and/or become ill, Zehnder-Merrell said.
Three-quarters of Michigan's state psychiatric hospitals were closed between 1987 and 2003. Today, as Zehnder-Merrell said, the mentally ill are largely housed in prisons. A 2010 study by the University of Michigan found that more than 20 percent of the state's prisoners—roughly 10,000 out of 45,000 inmates—had severe mental disabilities.
Prevent Child Abuse -- Never Shake a Baby
by Marisa McPeck-Stringhyam
I remember the first time I saw Elijah's Story. I had just given birth to my first child, I was exhausted, hormonal and frustrated that nursing wasn't the easy, natural experience I was promised. I desperately wanted to be discharged from the hospital so I could go home and get some real sleep without a nurse taking my blood pressure every hour. My nurse rushed through the discharge paperwork, but then made my husband and me stop and watch a movie about "shaken baby syndrome." I wasn't prepared for the impact Elijah and his story would have on my life. Elijah was a toddler who was violently shaken by his father and then died on Christmas Eve in 1997. Watching Elijah's loved ones talk about what happened to this beautiful boy was heart-breaking for my new mommy heart.
A few months later, I was the frustrated parent at my wit's end. I was trying to transition my 1-year-old daughter from a bottle to a sippy cup and she was not having it. I had worked a long shift at a very physically taxing job and my husband was gone at his job. I was home alone, exhausted, aggravated and my toddler wouldn't do the thing I needed her to do. I wanted to hurt her and those thoughts and feelings scared me. I remembered Elijah and I put her in her crib and walked away. I sat on the steps of my back porch and cried my eyes out while my baby cried her eyes out in her crib. We both survived that day because I took a deep breath, put her in a safe place and walked away until I calmed down. Elijah's story saved us both.
Thirteen years later, I was interviewing for a position at The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. As a social worker and a CASA volunteer, I was already committed to the safety of children and preventing child abuse and I was impressed with the Center's commitment to keeping all babies safe from harm. In my research for the position, I re-watched Elijah's Story and remembered the impact it had on my life and the lives of my four children. I parented differently because I had been taught as a new parent through the Center's mission of education and prevention how to control my anger and walk away before doing irreparable damage. I was excited to be hired to work for an organization that directly impacted my life and my children's lives for the better.
Child Abuse Prevention Month
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child abuse cuts across every socio-economic, racial, gender and sexual orientation boundary. No community is immune from child abuse, but there are things we can do as individuals and parents to prevent it. The American Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse determined that the number one factor to combating child abuse is education through public awareness. Through education parents can learn coping mechanisms and skills that can help them deal with frustrating situations, like Elijah taught me to walk away and calm down.
Keeping babies safe from harm is the belief statement of the Center and one I whole-heartedly embrace. My co-workers and I do this through our SBS prevention program, The Period of PURPLE Crying©, which teaches parents about normal infant crying patterns, how to soothe their babies, that crying is the number one trigger that leads to SBS and how to cope with crying, which can aggravate and stress out even the most well-rested parent. Parents and caregivers who understand that crying is a normal and healthy part of infancy can greatly reduce their own stress and frustration with incessant crying. The difference between a parent or caregiver who abuses a child and one who doesn't is education, coping skills and self-control. Prevention is our number one goal and education is the key.
Facts about Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of child abuse deaths in the United States. This is a very sobering statistic. However, the good news is that shaken baby syndrome is 100% preventable through education. It's important for anyone caring for an infant to know the symptoms of shaking a baby. They are:
• Trouble sucking or swallowing
• Decreased appetite
• Trouble sleeping
• Increased fussing or irritability
• Difficulty breathing or turning blue
• Change in level of awareness
• Inability to suck or swallow
• Loss of Consciousness
Shaking a baby can cause devastating injuries, which can include traumatic brain injuries and bleeding in the eyes. These injuries are seldom found together in any other kind of child abuse, medical condition or accidental trauma, and are often found with other child abuse injuries like bruising, broken ribs, broken long bones and skull fractures.
Sadly, 25 percent of all victims of SBS/AHT die as a direct result of their injuries. Those who do survive often suffer severe, lifelong disabilities including: learning disabilities, motor/cognitive difficulties, cerebral palsy, blindness, paralysis or coma.
What Shaken Baby Syndrome Isn't
Every week, I have worried parents calling me wondering if they have caused damage to their children by accidentally jostling them. Often, they are crying and worried that they have done irreparable harm to their child. I have to reassure them that shaking injuries are not caused by casual or accidental handling of a baby. Shaking injuries require massive, violent force. They are not caused by:
• Tossing a baby in the air
• Sudden stops in a car or driving over bumps
• Running, jogging or bicycling with a baby
• Bouncing a baby on your knee
• Short falls
While some of these activities may be dangerous and are not recommended, they will not likely cause SBS/AHT. However, I recommend parents have their children checked by a medical professional if they are worried. Doctors are never too busy to make sure your child is OK. At the very least, the visit will give parents peace of mind.
What can you do?
Whenever I get a phone call from a parent or loved one who has lost a child to shaken baby syndrome, I often think of Elijah and how he would be in high school by now if he had lived, but because of an impulsive, split-second decision his father made out of aggravation and anger, his family will never get to see Elijah grow into the young man he could have become. So much potential was taken away in a split second and it all could have been prevented. Although his family has moved on and live full and complete lives, their grace in sharing Elijah's Story with the world has benefitted thousands of parents, me included.
Please, if you're a parent do everything you can to keep your baby safe from harm. Take care of yourself, ask for help, walk away when you are frustrated, and remember Elijah and who he could have become if he had been allowed to grow up.
To learn more about Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma please visit dontshake.org
If you suspect a child is being abused please call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
Stop the Silence forum addresses association between child abuse and human trafficking
by Talia Richman
Sophomore Sarah LeBarron said two of her closest friends were raped before they turned 18.
“It was the worst thing in the world,” said LeBarron, a psychology major. “I didn't know what to say. You can try and understand what that person is going through, but you'll never really get it.”
After becoming a member of this university's chapter of Stop the Silence, an advocacy group working to fight child sexual abuse, LeBarron learned that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 4 boys will go through something similar by the time they turn 18.
At Stop the Silence's first Human Trafficking Symposium last night, a crowd of more than 150 gathered in the Art-Sociology Building to discuss the correlation between child sexual abuse and human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a hot-button issue, and there's a huge association between the two,” said Savannah Doane-Malotte, president of Stop the Silence: University Movement. “Ninety-five percent of teen prostitutes were sexually abused as children.”
Pamela Pine, the founder and CEO of Stop the Silence, said that of the people in the audience, it's likely that between 30 and 40 had been sexually abused in some way, and that most assaults are committed by someone the child knows.
The “pandemic,” she said, results in about 50 million child sexual abuse survivors in the United States who face issues such as poor school performance, depression and a greater likelihood of getting involved with prostitution.
During the event, the group watched and discussed the documentary Flesh: Bought and Sold in the U.S. , which tells the story of trafficking survivors abused as children and whose pimps were people they believed they loved as teenagers.
“When you are abused by someone who is supposed to be taking care of you and loving you, your boundaries and sense of connection with people who later come into your life and say that they love you can be very skewed,” Pine said. “Your antenna may be very off because you've had someone mess up your whole view of your place in society.”
This state is a “hot spot” for human trafficking, according to the state Human Trafficking Task Force. The state's location “has facilitated its development as both a pass-through state and a destination for human traffickers,” according to the task force's website.
“We have the money, we have the income disparity, and we have the mobility because of I-95,” said Denene Yates, the founder of Safe House of Hope, which provides support for human trafficking victims in Baltimore. “We have a large international airport, the casinos, the major sporting events.”
The task force helped 217 victims of trafficking in 2013, and the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force has identified 46 child trafficking victims in this state since January 2013.
“There are few actual statistics out there, but when you talk to these women every day, you realize just how prevalent it is,” said Melissa Yao, the anti-trafficking specialist for The Samaritan Women.
Pine said people are often uncomfortable discussing these issues. She recalled how, 15 years ago, when she'd make calls asking for contributions, people would hush their voices and struggle to say “child sexual abuse.”
“But as each incident is reported, it becomes part of our sound — it's awareness, it's education, and it's a recognition by our entire population that we have a problem, a public health problem, and we need to change it,” Pine said. “But it's hard because it's so personal.”
On their way out of the event, many students signed a petition in support of the Combat Human Trafficking Act of 2015 in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee aimed at strengthening human trafficking victims' rights.
“This event was really eye-opening, and it made me wonder: What I can do to combat all these injustices?” senior communication major Brandon Katz said before he reached over to sign the petition.
Child abuse victims to assemble in Albany to ask for new law
by Matthew D'Onofrio
In accordance with Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Month, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, D-Maspeth, is inviting advocates for her Child Victims Act (A.2872/S.63) to join her at The Well on Wednesday, April 22 to meet with lawmakers in support of the legislation.
"There is no limit on what is a life-time of suffering and anguish for so many victims of child sexual abuse," said Markey. "That is why there should be no limit on the ability of victims and society to prosecute abusers. Nor should there be any limit on holding accountable those institutions and organizations that have deliberately protected and hidden perpetrators. Their actions make it possible for pedophiles to continue to prey on new victims."
Starting at 9:30 a.m. an informational exhibition, open to the general public all day, will be held covering the subject of child sexual abuse and the statute of limitations for those crimes. A press conference will follow at 1 p.m.
The supporting organizations expected to be present are Catholic Whistleblowers, Downstate Crime Victims Coalition, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, Catholics of Conscience and Horace Mann Action Coalition. Two Buffalo child sexual abuse victims Vanessa DeRosa and Tino Flores, New York schools Horace Mann and Poly Prep Day School, as well as USA Speedskating star Bridie Farrell, will also be in attendance.
The Child Victims Act would eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes as well as suspend the civil statute of limitations for one year in order for older victims to get retribution.
The Assembly has passed this bill on four separate occasions since 2006 but it has yet to reach the Senate floor. The bill is currently sponsored by Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, in the Senate.
Riviera Beach pair accused of locking children in closet for days
by Jason Hackett
RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - They say they were often locked in a closet -- shut off from everyday life, school and basic medical care.
It's a chilling story of alleged neglect coming to light in Riviera Beach, and now two people, Quincy Hazel and Sabrina Golden-Hazel, sit in the county jail facing charges.
According to a police report, a neighbor tipped off police and brought a 17-year-old boy to the Riviera Beach Police Department.
The boy said he ran away from home and was staying with the neighbor.
He then told police of the horrific conditions at the Hazels' home located at 3125 Avenue T.
The boy said he and a 12-year-old girl were locked away in a closet for days -- never seeing sunlight or attending school.
The children would kick and punch the door, pleading for help that they said never came.
He says the Hazels' fed them only rice and neck bones, but the food wasn't enough, so they had to eat out of the trash.
The children also claim they were forced to urinate and defecate in a bucket.
In the report, an officer says many of the boy's teeth were missing or had holes in it, and that “when he opens his mouth you can smell decay”.
Psychotherapist Fran Sherman said if it all proves to be true, the road to recovery won't be easy for these children.
“This is probably the worst most horrific thing I've ever heard,” said Sherman. “They've been locked in a closet with no light, no air, no peers, no nurturing…they might recover a bit, and we can only hope and pray that they do, but it would be almost really impossible for them to ever be able to have a normal life."
Quincy Hazel and Sabrina Golden-Hazel are each charged with two counts of child neglect with great bodily harm.
They're each being held on a $100,000 bond.
The two children have been released to new guardians by the Department of Children and Families.
Utah mom who killed 6 newborns jailed for 30 years to life
by Michael Winter
A Utah mother was sentenced Monday to 30 years to life in prison for admitting she murdered six newborns because she was too overwhelmed by drug addiction to care for them.
"In some small way, I wanted to help them avoid the terrible life I would have given them," Megan Huntsman said in a statement her attorney read aloud. "I deprived my little babies of the opportunity of life. … Those babies aren't coming back, and they never will because of my actions."
The 40-year-old mother of three from Pleasant Grove pleaded guilty in February to six counts of first-degree murder for killing the infants shortly after home births between 1996 and 2006, and storing their remains in boxes in the garage. Her estranged husband, Darren West, discovered them and the remains of a still-born infant during spring cleaning after he served a prison sentence for drugs. Tests showed he was the father of all of the babies.
Huntsman attributed her actions to methamphetamine and alcohol addiction, an abusive marriage and depression.
Her sister read letters from two of Huntsman's three daughters. Her mother also made a statement of support.
Huntsman's youngest daughter wrote of being "shocked and heartbroken" by her mother's crimes.
"This is not the Mom I know," her letter reads. "The Mom I know was the one who had dinner for us every night, a clean house and was a loving mother. Nobody could guess my mom would do anything like this."
Separately, Jamie Huntsman told the court her sister "is not a monster. She's not evil. From what I understand, she was scared."
Nonetheless, Provo Judge Darold McDade sentenced her to the maximum term, which will make her eligible for parole in 30 years.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said, however, he doubted Huntsman would ever be released.
"These were very cold and calculated killings," Buhman said. "She was a woman who was remarkably unbelievable and incredibly indifferent. She smothered or strangled six of her own flesh and blood."
We must not trivialize sexual assault of boys
by Michael Crawford
Not even 24 hours after ABC's romanticized coverage of Mary Kay Letourneau — the former teacher who raped her 12-year-old student and later married him — “Saturday Night Live” performed a sketch that mocked, sanitized and glorified the sexual assault of male students by female teachers.
The sketch played out like a how-to guide for silencing male survivors through harmful messages around masculinity —that all forms of heterosexual contact are desirable and that sex is what makes a boy a man. Rather than treating these survivors as real victims, SNL told them they should be high-fiving everyone they meet.
Rape is not funny. Ever.
Sexual violence is an epidemic in our country — nearly 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before turning 18. These serious crimes and their harm to people, families, communities and society are preventable. However, prevention requires an informed society, and the press has a considerable role in providing this information.
It is outrageous that so many outlets distribute misinformation and distortions of rape. Words like “relationship,” “scandal” and “affair” hide the crime while making it more difficult for survivors to come forward about their experiences and easier for people who commit sexual assault to justify their behavior.
At 53, Letourneau is still convinced her sexual interactions with her 12-year-old student were consensual. It is a crime for adults to commit sexual acts with children because children do not have adult-level maturity. The inherent imbalance of power between adults and children — let alone adults in positions of authority over children — is impossible for children to navigate.
We recognize this in numerous settings. A 12-year-old child cannot have a bank account without an adult co-signer. He cannot purchase alcohol, tobacco or other products that can compromise health. He cannot consent to his own medical care. Adults have to sign permission slips for nearly everything—including sex education in many school districts. A 12-year-old isn't even permitted to sign up for Facebook.
Letourneau and people like her tell themselves that a 12-year-old is mature enough to father a child and commit to a lifelong partnership. It is how they justify their criminal actions. SNL's sketch and ABC's presentation of Letourneau and her now-husband as star-crossed lovers only serves to solidify those distorted thoughts.
Consider the press release issued by ABC: “In an exclusive interview with Barbara Walters, Mary Kay Letourneau Fualaau and Vili Fualaau sit down together on the eve of their 10th wedding anniversary, sharing intimate details about their headline-making marriage. ... Mary Kay tells Walters what makes their marriage work in spite of the huge difference in their age. ... Vili Fualaau, meanwhile, discusses his bouts with alcoholism, depression and why he believes the system failed him while he was still a minor.”
Sexual assault is complex and difficult to talk about. It is critical for the media to present facts about how offenders operate and promote a dialogue and an understanding of sexual violence that will help Americans make the needed cultural shift in how we perceive, respond to and treat sexual violence victims and perpetrators within both the criminal justice system and society at large.
We all have a shared responsibility to identify and respond to toxic messages in the media we consume. We can start with the understanding that sexual contact between a student and teacher is not comedy or a “rite of passage.” It is rape.
It is important that we, as a society, understand that if we do not challenge the presentation of sexual assault in the media, we only silence survivors and enable perpetrators.
Michael Crawford is a communications assistant for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. This op-ed was co-authored by Kristen Houser of PCAR and Christopher M. Anderson, executive director of MaleSurvivor. Find resources at pcar.org and MaleSurvivor.org
The Grey Area of Rape Culture in the Black and White World of Jewish Orthodoxy
by Esther Tova Stanley and Juliet C. Bond
"Yeah, but he's a man.”
That was the actual reason I was given as to why a Rabbi's sexual predatory behavior was OK. Well not , “OK,” but y'know, understandable.
In the wake of sexual assault allegations brought against Elimelech Meisels, a “Rabbi” who had controlled and operated numerous seminaries for post high school girls, a very unseemly side of our Jewish orthodox culture is raring its ugly head, yet again. The side that excuses men for being unable to control their sexual urges and, on occasion, even have the audacity to blame the victim for it.
“Well, what was she thinking getting into the car with him?”
“She's troubled; she misunderstood what really happened.”
“She's a crazy, manipulative liar.”
Yes, these are actual responses I got when I asked community members why they continued to support this sexual predator/Rabbi.
Was I surprised? Unfortunately, I was not.
You see, there's an odd relationship between male authority figures (“Rabbis”) and female students that is considered “normal” within the post high-school year abroad programs. It not only accepts, but actively encourages a relationship in which an adult male takes young female students under his wing in the name of “kiruv” (loosely translated to bringing someone closer to G-d.)
The Rabbis do this by cultivating a false sense of trust, telling the young students that they see something special in them, encouraging them to share details of their personal lives and sometimes offering (inappropriate) personal details of their own. As my seminary Rabbi once said to me in reference to “his girls” and his method of kiruv, “I like to break them and then make them.” This creepy comment was followed by an even creepier wink. (Lucky for me, I left that school almost as fast as I got there.)
The idea is for this relationship to inspire the student, spiritually. To see that living an ultra-orthodox life is the only REAL way to truly LIVE. Those Rabbis who engage in it are seen as possessing a gift, are considered selfless for giving up so much of their time to educate and uplift young, easily influenced souls and bring them onto the path of observance. It's considered a mitzvah (a good deed.)
Are you gagging yet? If not then just wait, this next part is the real kicker. You see, in order for these Rabbis to inspire and guide the young women, they bypass their own set of ethical and behavioral rules in the name of “saving” a soul. A perfect example of this is breaking the laws of yichud, a concept in Torah law which prohibits a man and woman who are not married to each other from being in seclusion (ie: a room with the door closed, a car on a quite road at night, basically any situation where no one could see what happens between them.) But often, seminary Rabbis host private meetings with their students under the guise of counseling them.
While the above is clearly a violation of Jewish law, there are other situations where the lines are not so clear. For example, many seminary Rabbis will meet their prey (ooops, I meant students) at a café to talk, or even at a bar. This is said to be part of their higher purpose since it shows the girls that they can be religious AND cool.
Wow, how selfless of these 40+ year old men to go out late at night to a café or bar with an 18 year old girl. Tough job! *sarcasm intended*
There are numerous problems with this type of kiruv, but the one that is the most harmful, in my opinion, is the compromising position it puts young women in. These blurred lines are a very dangerous set up for a sexual predator to take advantage of his position and get away with it. If she is taken advantage of, who will believe her? And even if they do believe her, they'll blame her, or excuse him… but either way, there's no justice. His crime is often not taken seriously, making her pain and confusion exponentially more hurtful. And protecting future victims? That's not even on the table. Because then the community will have to admit (and act on the fact) that this highly esteemed Rabbi is a threat, and that is too threatening to their own frail beliefs.
And on a final note, try explaining this: How is it that these seminary “Rabbis” who are considered prominent and righteous, even held up on a pedestal, so quickly revert to the status of “just a man” when it's discovered that one of them has been acting inappropriately with his students? The juxtaposition is deafening.
Although, as a community, there is a resistance to waking up to the harm of sexual predators in black and white clothing, there are some individuals who can see. Some even try to help others gain perspective and make a change. But finding those willing to take a stand is rare; it requires both brains AND courage, a rare combination. Yet not extinct.
For example, in the case of Meisels, there are three men in the synagogue that he attends weekly that have spoken out loudly against his actions, in spite of the negative responses they receive in return. There is also a Chicago Beit Din (Rabbinical court) that deals exclusively with cases of sexual misconduct. It's the first of its kind. And there are now organizations that help and support victims who speak out, for example Jewish Community Watch aalthough they deal mostly with CSA, a sick culture of its own, the fact that they exist and have so many who support them is a major feat.)
So while the road to a new and honest way to view sexual predatory behavior in the Jewish orthodox culture is long, with many obstacles to overcome, we are on our way!
Esther Tova Stanley is the founder of Courage Unsilenced, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the long term effects of child sexual abuse in the Jewish Orthodox world. Being both an abuse survivor and an orthodox woman, she brings an informed perspective to the inner workings of an insular world that she finds both inspiring and in need of honest emotional dialogue. Esther Tova started her journey in Lakewood NJ, studied Illustration at Pratt Institute in NYC and then moved to Israel. She currently lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children, working as a content manager for a variety of websites and still finds time to sew (sometimes), paint (almost never), and hang with friends (every chance she gets!)
CALM Highlights Child Abuse Prevention Month with Practical Tips to Help Year-Round
Nonprofit organization hosts open houses, tours to talk about mission and annual ‘I Will Not Be Silent Campaign'
by Gina Potthoff
We've all seen it. A child threatens and then launches into a tantrum in a grocery store, a relative's home or at school.
How parents — and adults in general — can handle that type of frustrating behavior was the subject of a discussion Friday at the downtown Santa Barbara headquarters of CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Meditation), which is hosting a series of open houses this month to raise awareness for April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Many don't think child abuse occurs locally, but “it happens at every socio-economic level and ethnic group,” CALM development director Lori Lander Goodman said.
CALM was established 45 years ago after the death of a local infant, she said, killed by a parent struggling to quiet his child.
The free open houses highlight the nonprofit organization's fourth annual “I Will Not Be Silent Campaign” in Santa Barbara County. The campaign is a chance to touch on an uncomfortable subject.
Parents, grandparents and community members gathered Friday for a tour of the 1236 Chapala St. office before sitting down to lunch, where they swapped stories about strong-willed kids and listened to CALM therapist Miriam Cislo in a talk titled “Encouraging Acceptable Behavior in Your Child.”
CALM served more than 2,000 individuals last year, but its therapists cater to more than abuse cases.
The organization helps children and their parents or guardians better understand each other through positive intervention, words or actions to calm a situation instead of exacerbate it.
Cislo said CALM was one of the few local places using parent-child interactive therapy, in which a therapist is behind a one-way mirrored glass while a parent interacts with his or her child and wears headphones to listen to cues from the therapist.
Most of the children going through CALM are between 2 and 7, and Cislo offered helpful hints to attendees, including reflecting what a child is saying to show you're listening, or describing what a child is doing so he or she can better focus on those actions.
Praising was another suggestion, telling a child what you specifically like about what he or she is doing — i.e. sitting quietly in a chair instead of just saying “good job.”
“It really makes the parent feel good to give the praises, and it makes the child feel good as well,” Cislo said. “Ultimately, the child wants the attention, negative or positive.
“A lot of the work we do is helping the parent calm down. Don't ignore the child but ignore the behavior. This is a process.”
A mother with a 4-year-old daughter wondered if parents should give the same consideration to their spouses, since kids seem to be watching.
Another asked about tantrums and knowing when to give in.
“It is important to model,” Cislo said. “The therapists are models to the parents, too. We're the caretakers and we need to take care of ourselves. Be easy on yourself.”
Attendees asked questions as a pseudo support group, gaining confidence and learning they weren't alone.
CALM's remaining open houses are from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, April 24 (“Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse”), and Friday, May 1 (Understanding Your Child's Anxieties Through Art”).
The organization will also host its annual “Ladies Get Loud for CALM” fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Santa Maria Country Club, 505 W. Waller Lane.
Click here for more information about CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Meditation), or call 805.965.2376 in Santa Barbara or 805.614.9160 in Santa Maria. Click here to make an online donation.
Kansas DCF: Child abuse leads reasons for removal from home
by Jonathan Shorman
The state of Kansas is removing children from homes for abuse and neglect far more often than for other reasons – a departure from the past few years.
Statistics from the Department for Children and Families show that when it takes a child from a home, 59 percent of the time during the current fiscal year it has been because of abuse and neglect. Non-abuse and neglect reasons account for the remaining 41 percent.
That's different than the past several years. In 2014 abuse and neglect accounted for 51 percent of removals. Non-abuse removals accounted for 51 percent of removals in 2013. And in 2012, abuse and neglect removals were evenly matched with non-abuse and neglect removals.
In years before that, the state actually removed more children for non-abuse reasons. In 2009 and 2010, 55 percent of removals were for non-abuse reasons.
“I think we are trying to make a conscious effort to work with families in their home if it is not an actual safety issue as related to specific abuse, to try to keep the family intact, and apparently that's reflected in these numbers,” said Phyllis Gilmore, DCF secretary.
Reasons for removal due to abuse and neglect include physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Other reasons, such as lack of supervision and abandonment, can also be cited.
Non-abuse and neglect removals can stem from a parent's alcohol abuse, a child's behavior problem, a runaway child, a parent in prison and other similar reasons.
“We've been working really hard with our field staff to make sure when we are removing children we're removing them for a abuse and neglect reason and not for a non-abuse and neglect reason and we're capturing that abuse and neglect reason as the primary reason for removal versus the non-abuse and neglect removal,” Susan Gile, DCF deputy director, said.
According to data posted to DCF's website, between July 1, 2014, and Feb. 28, 2015, physical abuse accounted for 16 percent of removals while physical neglect was the primary reason in 15 percent. Five percent of children were removed for sexual abuse.
Nine percent were removed for lack of supervision and 7 percent were taken for emotional abuse.
Parental drug abuse – classified as a non-abuse and neglect removal -- made up 11 percent of removals. Use of methamphetamine, counted separately, made up 5 percent.
In fiscal year 2014, Kansas received more than 65,000 reports of child abuse or neglect. Fifty-six percent of those were assigned for further investigation and 1,400 cases of child abuse were confirmed. More than 3,000 children were removed from their home during the same time period.
Substantiating a claim of child abuse in Kansas requires “clear and convincing” evidence – a high standard. A total of 1,400 cases of confirmed child abuse represents about 3.8 percent of the approximately 36,400 the state assigned for further investigation in 2014.
At a ceremony marking Child Abuse Prevention Month on Thursday, Gov. Sam Brownback found the numbers less than positive.
“Unfortunately, the numbers are not good on what's happening on child abuse. We've just got to continue our efforts and be very strong and be very vigilant about this in helping these children in every bit and every way that we can,” Brownback said.
Reports of abuse and neglect have climbed 16.9 percent since 2010, though calls actually dipped slightly between 2013 and 2014.
Dianne Keach, DCF deputy director, credited the increase not necessarily to an increase in abuse, but rather awareness.
“Certainly, education and awareness is one of the number one reasons that people are calling,” Keach said.
We must work together to prevent child abuse
by Richard Opper
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. It's safe to assume that every Montanan is against child abuse. But tragically, it happens all the time, the incidents of child abuse are actually increasing and the impacts of abuse on the most vulnerable of Montana's citizens -- our children -- often last a lifetime.
Twenty years ago, the Centers for Disease Control studied the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), or childhood trauma, and the physical and behavioral health problems of children as they reach adolescence and adulthood. The study concluded that children subjected to high levels of trauma (high ACE scores) are much more likely to face a future of behavioral problems like alcoholism, smoking and early pregnancy, as well as physical problems like obesity, heart and liver disease.
People with high ACE scores are more likely to enter the correctional system, commit suicide or face an early death. It's not a stretch to conclude that childhood trauma is largely responsible for the high populations in Montana's correctional and mental health systems, our tragically high suicide rates and our increasing health care costs. An ACE score of 4 or higher seems to be the tipping point, and Montana is in the top three in terms of states with the highest percentage of children with ACE scores of 4 or higher.
But here's the good news. A high ACE score predicts but does not condemn a child to a dark future. There are things we can do to improve children's chances of success. One thing that studies in the state of Washington and elsewhere have indicated is when caretakers are educated on the impacts of trauma on children's brain development and behaviors, people react with more compassion and understanding to the children in their care. Compassion and understanding are exactly what these children need. It helps them build resilience, and it brightens the outlook for their future.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services touches the lives of children throughout the state. We oversee the state's foster care and children's mental health systems. We investigate reports of child abuse and neglect. We manage the Healthy Montana Kids Program. We license and inspect child care and Head Start facilities.
This year, DPHHS will become the first fully trauma-informed agency in the state, and perhaps in the country. All 3,000-plus DPHHS employees are now required to undergo at least some level of ACE training. We believe this will have ripple effects throughout the state in the three places children spend their time: at home, in child care facilities and in schools.
DPHHS is leading by example by partnering with ChildWise Institute (www.childwise.org for more information about ACEs) and others to increase public awareness of the impacts of childhood trauma and the importance of helping children develop the resilience they need to achieve success in life. As all of us learn about the lasting effects of trauma, we will better appreciate the importance of prevention and the need for compassion for those who have experienced it.
By far, the best way to honor Child Abuse Prevention Month is to prevent abuse from occurring in the first place. We must all work towards that end. Learning about trauma is an important first step for all of us entrusted with the sacred responsibility for care of Montana's children, and it will ultimately lead to prevention of child abuse in our future generations.
There's no excuse for child abuse!
by Bob Weir
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. But, at Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County (www.cacdc.org) it's an everyday goal. There are thousands of children living in abusive situations. They live with it because they're too young, innocent, and powerless to break free.
Whether it's sexual abuse, or repeated physical assault, these future adults suffer in silence in a world that must appear cruel and hostile to them. Those who have been fortunate enough to grow up in loving, nurturing households cannot begin to understand the torment and self-devaluation that these children face each day. Living in a world of giants, they need to rely on the decency of those who have authority over them. When their trust has been violated, to whom do they turn?
Hopefully, someone will recognize evidence of their distress, and intervene. Perhaps a schoolteacher notices that one of the student's academic grades has taken a downward turn. Maybe a next-door neighbor has, from time to time, observed unusual bruises on a child. Or, as is the case very often, the non-offending parent might file a report with the police, alleging misconduct toward the child. That's when the child protection agencies swing into action. Providing a safe, non-threatening atmosphere, the Denton County Children's Advocacy Center offers a child friendly environment so necessary during the early stages of trauma reduction.
There was a time, not long ago, when investigations were conducted in the cold, severe surroundings of a police station. Such an atmosphere can further traumatize a child who has already been struggling to survive in an oppressive climate. In addition, the CACDC provides professional counselors who serve an emotional healing function that gently moves the child from a state of confusion and shock, to one of comfort and security. It is especially important at this time to reduce the fear and anxiety of a child who will need to be involved in the criminal justice process subsequent to the offender's arrest.
As part of a capital campaign to raise funds for an expansion of CACDC's facilities, my wife Annette and I sponsored an event on Saturday, April 18, at my sister-in-law's home in Flower Mound.
Lucy Weir, always a gracious host, opened her lovely home to about 35 guests who came out on a stormy evening to learn more about the efforts of CACDC to prevent child abuse. It was not a fundraiser, but merely an opportunity to get the word out to some of the influential and compassionate residents of the North Texas community.
Flower Mound Police Department Detective Joe Adcock, who directs the Crimes Against Children unit, spoke about the interaction between the police and the CACDC. Dan Leal, Executive Director of CACDC, talked about the proposed new facility and how many more children's lives could be positively affected by it.
The featured speaker for the event was Texas State Rep. Tan Parker who gave an eloquent review of the legislation passed over the last few years dealing with harsh treatment of child abusers. In addition, he cited laws that deal aggressively with sex traffickers in the state. Rep. Parker, Chairman of the House Committee on Corrections, who was recently elected Chairman of the House Republican Caucus, is also on the Advisory Board of CACDC and is an indefatigable advocate for child abuse prevention.
We were thrilled to have so many caring people attend this very important gathering. Sheriff Will Travis, one of the hardest working elected officials in the county, promised he'd be there, albeit a bit late, after attending the 20-year memorial to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. True to his word, Travis showed up, even as the hurricane sirens and ominous clouds were raucously grumbling in the night skies.
Once again I'm moved to say that we are fortunate indeed to live in an area in which so many decent people dedicate themselves to the protection of the most vulnerable among us. Working as a team, they form a compassionate bridge that reaches out to those who formerly believed they had been abandoned by an unsympathetic world. Had it not been for the commitment of a devoted few, their belief might have been justified.
Sex trafficking victim shares story
by Katie Eubanks
On her sixth birthday, Liz Williamson was sold into the sex industry.
Her mother wanted to make money off child pornography.
Then, through age 18, on most nights, Liz was raped.
It happened in her house on the East Coast and throughout the United States, including in Jackson.
Men paid to have sex with her, and her mother told her, "Smile, look pretty, and do whatever he says if you love me," Liz said.
Liz got away from her family in college, but fell back into sex trafficking. She got out for good at age 23.
The catalyst for her escape? Jackson native Jenny Williamson, who eventually adopted Liz and helped her start healing.
Williamson is the founder and CEO of Courage Worldwide, a 501c3 nonprofit that builds "Courage Houses" for children who have been rescued from sex trafficking.
Jenny and Liz Williamson spoke Thursday night at "Not in My City, Not in My State," a benefit at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison. Jenny Williamson hopes to build a Courage House in Mississippi.
Before the two met via email five years ago, sex with strange men was a regular part of Liz's life.
As a child, Liz she tried to run away, but well-meaning hotel employees would tell her to go back to her room and be polite to her "family."
Or she would simply be locked in her room.
"Being raped got so ordinary, I forgot it was wrong. The first time somebody didn't listen to my 'no' and didn't get off me, why would I fight after that?" she said.
Liz's one respite was reading and writing. She would often hide school books in the room where she was trafficked.
After graduating high school, she left home for college.
But when winter break came around, she met a
man who started pimping her out.
"I was with him through all of college. He tolerated me getting my English degree. But he was a master manipulator. I was naive to think he loved me."
Then she saw a video that connected her with Jenny Williamson.
Jenny and husband Michael Williamson, both from Jackson, moved to California in 1992.
In 2008, Jenny Williamson was in church in California and heard about the problem of human trafficking.
At first she just gave a donation. But after more research, she eventually decided to start building Courage Houses.
While Jenny Williamson was in the process of getting the first house off the ground, a music video was released for a song written to raise awareness about sex trafficking.
Jenny Williamson's name was connected with the video, and Liz saw it.
"Liz sent me an email saying, 'It's too late for me. But please build this home,' " Jenny Williamson said.
The two women continued communicating, and Jenny Williamson encouraged Liz to get out of her situation. After about six months, she did. She stayed in a homeless shelter for about another six months and kept talking to Jenny.
"I would tell her about the home and what we were doing, but I never mentioned we were bringing her there," Jenny Williamson said.
Later, Jenny Williamson said she wanted Liz to move to California and be her daughter.
"I just said yes," Liz said.
Jenny Williamson also met a younger sex-trafficking victim named Crystal at a benefit concert and adopted her as well.
Liz and Crystal split their time between the Courage House and the Williamson house before moving out on their own.
At Thursday night's benefit, Jenny Williamson announced Courage Worldwide's plans to open a Courage House in Mississippi. Also speaking at the event were state and local officials, including Mississippi first lady Deborah Bryant.
Attendees watched the documentary "In Plain Sight," about human trafficking in six U.S. cities, and a panel of experts and advocates spoke as well. Finally, the church took up an offering for Courage Worldwide.
State officials have been bringing greater recognition to human trafficking over the past few years, with a new state law closing loopholes for offenders, and Gov. Phil Bryant appointing a statewide task force in 2014. The task force will present its findings and recommendations to Bryant by July 1 .
One prosecution so far has happened under Mississippi's new human trafficking law: Montavious Cortez Warner pleaded guilty to human trafficking this year after being arrested in last April at the Red Roof Inn in Ridgeland.
Police returned Warner's 16-year-old victim, a female runaway from Jackson, to her mother.
Mesa uses undercover operations to prevent child sex trafficking
by Jenny Ung
An effort to prevent child sex trafficking in Mesa is headed by undercover operations conducted by Mesa police.
Mesa police conduct undercover operations three to four times per year, Detective Esteban Flores said.
“Prostitution is a problem in any city,” Flores said. “We wanted to focus on child prostitution because it is a bigger problem. Obviously any crime dealing with children is serious, so we wanted to focus on that.”
The specialized focus started before the Super Bowl, Flores noted. When agencies come into the cities, prostitution rises, he said. Though the Super Bowl has passed, Mesa police wanted to focus on those still hanging around.
On March 28, an operation called “Blue Heat,” conducted by undercover officers posing as underage females, resulted in five arrests. Four suspects were taken into custody after arriving at an arranged designation to pay for sex with an undercover officer posing as a 16-year-old girl, a police report said.
“What happens is we put out an advertisement on different social media sites and different Internet sites, and wait for people to respond,” Flores said.
David Diego-Miguel, 27; Aaron Mancera-Rogue, 44; and Robert Lopez, 42, were arrested by Mesa police for child prostitution, while Sergio Antunes-Martinez, 33, was arrested for prostitution and Anton Miles, 32, was arrested for two counts of pandering.
“We received responses from a bunch of people and these were the ones who had probable cause to charge them,” Flores said.
There are several types of pimps that work to get children into sex trafficking, said Norma Salas, public awareness manager for Street Light, a non-profit focused on helping prevent child sex trafficking in Arizona. The “Blue Heat” suspects were most-likely pimps that lurked online to find girls in order to groom them for personal information, she said.
The five suspects were arrested without incident, the police records said.
“When most people are confronted, they usually comply. I don't think anyone in that operation fought us or resisted arrest,” Flores said.
All suspects arranged to meet at a location to discuss details either immediately if they are in the area or by appointment, Flores said.
Another operation conducted by Mesa police, “Buyer Beware,” was conducted on Dec. 11, 2014, which resulted in five arrests, according to a media release.
“We arrested some pretty high profile people (in that operation), like a Catholic priest at a parish,” Flores said.
On average, there are between four to 10 arrests per operation, Flores said.
According to reports by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Maricopa County's arrests for prostitution have fallen from 1,453 in 2002 to 641 in 2013.
The police are working hard to educate people, Salas said. The vice squad in Phoenix is particularly helpful, Salas pointed out.
“(The Phoenix vice squad) started five years ago, when a girl was kidnapped,” Salas said. “A friend, who was more like an acquaintance, asked if the girl wanted to hang out at the mall. She agreed, and her friend said there would be a car to pick her up. When the car came, it was filled with strangers. They yanked her into the car and held her for five days, while men were coming in and out of the room to traffic her several times a day. One of the Johns called the police because they realized that she was only about 13.”
Once the situation was over, Phoenix police began to see the children as victims, Salas said.
“They've been teaching the department to recognize the signs of sex trafficking and educating older prostitutes on how to identify with these girls,” she said.
Advocates plan 'safe house' for victims of sex trafficking
by Anne Ernst
There is no such thing as a child prostitute, but there are children who are prostituted all over the world.
“No child chooses to be a prostitute,” said Calistogan Linda Scheibel.
And when children are able to break free of the shackles of a sex trafficker, there are few places for them to go where they can heal. It is why two local groups are spearheading the development of a safe house for girls who have been kept as sex slaves.
Scheibel and Kerry Forbes are co-founders of Napa Valley Resolved to End Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking (NVRESET) that is working with New Day for Children to establish a “safe house” in Napa County where freed girls who have been trafficked for sex can go to receive therapy and other services.
“There are fewer than 100 beds” in the state to house such children, said Nancy O'Malley, district attorney for Alameda County.
Yet it is believed that more than 100,000 women and children are enslaved in the commercial sex trade in the U.S., according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
California sits at the top for sex trafficking cases according to National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and every town has victims.
Napa Police report only one case in recent years that could be categorized as sex trafficking involving an underage female, but that doesn't mean there are not more, said police Lt. Debbie Peecook.
"I think it's a hidden, under-reported crime," Peecook said. As more people are educated about the issue, particularly victims, they will realize they are being exploited, she said.
Girls and women account for at least 75 percent of the victims, according to the AAUW (American Association of University Women), though “sex exploitation of boys is very high,” O'Malley said.
O'Malley is a nationally recognized expert in trafficking areas, including victims' rights and violence against girls and women. She was the keynote speaker at the “Human Trafficking is Modern Slavery” conference at Napa Valley College in March.
To O'Malley, the fact that hundreds showed up for the conference is testament to the community's degree of interest in ending modern-day slavery.
It's a crime that is happening everywhere in the country, and it is happening to American children more often than people might think.
“It is more of what we are seeing in California and across the country. They are American-born; they live here,” she said.
The crimes are committed in a wide variety of locations, too, not just seedy motel rooms, said Santa Rosa police Detective Chris Mahurin.
Recently, he closed down a house in Santa Rosa, that was “basically a brothel” where “numerous men” were going there daily.
“It was in a normal residential area,” Mahurin said.
The justice system isn't set up to appropriately punish the men who purchase sex with the girls, and the girls are lumped into the same category as commercial sex workers, officials said. O'Malley is working to change that.
There is a marked difference between a commercial sex worker – or prostitute – and a girl or woman being trafficked, O'Malley and Mahurin said.
A prostitute is an adult who shares in the fee collected for sex, and someone being trafficked does not. They are victims of false promises, force, or coercion.
Sometimes it's as simple as a man telling a girl she is pretty and pretending to be her boyfriend for a while before he coerces her into having sex with someone for money. Other times, girls are threatened with violence against themselves or their family.
Most of the victims who wind up in the system have been arrested, and it is there where the system needs to change, they said.
“One challenge that we always have in talking about minors is how we can house them safely,” O'Malley said. The first 30 days are critical to getting the victim in a place where they won't be at risk to going back out and returning to the trafficker.
A safe house is “immensely important to these teenagers who have been forced to commit sex acts,” Mahurin said. “They need special treatment for what they've gone through.”
“Maybe they don't want to cooperate (with law enforcement) now, but they need immediate services,” even the basics such as food and clothing, so they don't go back to the only person and place where they know they can get those things. “We need to help the victim break the cycle,” he said.
For safety, often a victim will be placed in an area far away from where they were arrested or where the trafficker is based. The Napa County safe house will be used in much the same manner and will help girls ages 10 to 18 recover from being enslaved. They will be given food, shelter, medical and mental health care, and education.
Sex abuse victims urged to ‘break free' by brave sisters
by Marion Sauvebois
BRAVE sisters who faced years of sexual abuse at the hands of their stepfather before finally bringing him to justice will urge victims to speak out and seek emotional support when they take part in a charity walk this summer.
Danielle and Amanda Brown will join hundreds of challengers at the 20-mile Walkley Midnight Walk, along the Ridgeway, on June 13 in aid of Swindon charity, Breaking Free.
The organisation is dedicated to providing support and counselling to female adult survivors of sexual abuse, including rape, whether they experienced it as children or adults.
The siblings were just seven and four years old respectively when they fell prey to their mother's new partner.
“This has been so hard for us to speak out about and it feels so uncomfortable, but we want to raise as much awareness as possible and we want to encourage others to speak out,” said Danielle, 30, from East Swindon.
“We've survived something really traumatic and we feel empowered and stronger now. We feel that we can do anything.”
While their stepfather was molesting both of them, the sisters only discovered each other's plight when Amanda spoke out at the age of 10 after running away.
Their mother left the man and the sisters moved on with their lives as best they could.
However, they said they never fully addressed what happened until four years ago, when Danielle set up her charity, the Youth Life Project, which aims to support children through difficult situations.
In 2012, she launched the #youthstory twitter campaign, urging users to share childhood anecdotes and memories. The initiative grew beyond anything she imagined and she invited people to write their stories, to be compiled into a book.
“People were starting to share personal stories and it inspired me to do the same,” said Danielle.
“I started typing and that's when it hit me. I thought, ‘he got away with it'.”
On the advice of a friend, she reported the abuse. He was charged with abuse, rape and sexual touching. In August last year he was found guilty on 12 counts and jailed for five-and-a-half years.
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Now Danielle and Amanda are ready to tackle the gruelling walk in the hope of breaking the stigma surrounding sexual abuse.
“This is us saying he can't hurt us any more,” added Danielle.
“It symbolises walking away from everything. We are just breaking free from all of it.”
“I want people to know, it doesn't matter how long it has been: it's never too late to stand up to your abuser. You may feel there is nothing to support your claim, especially if it happened a long time ago, but that's not the case.
"It's a gruelling process to go through and it's not easy confronting your demons but the outcome is freeing and liberating and is sometimes the only way to get that closure.”
Breaking Free founder Ally Spalding is delighted.
“We are very excited to work with these strong ladies who have shown so much courage in coming forward to help other survivors,” she said.
To sponsor Danielle and Amanda, donate to Breaking Free at: www.breakingfreesupport.co.uk
The charity is based at 159 Victoria Road and can be reached on 01793 514339 or 07547 680839.